I ran into some budget constraints whilst furnishing the house in Provence (namely my husband!), so I had to buy some cheaper pieces to try and finish the interior before the holidays. I’ve spent a lot of time finding antiques at the markets, so I needed these pieces to look like they’ve been around for a while to blend in with the rest of the furniture. I managed to find two nice pieces at French furniture company Maison du Monde at a really reasonable price, but they looked a bit cheap and flat in their pure white paint. So off to Ressource paint for some sample pots. I love their paints, they come in lovely powdery shades, packed with pigment, so you normally only need one coat, which is lovely for a lazy painter like me!
I’ve painted so many things in my life, in so many different techniques, and this was a really quick, easy way of making something look old with minimal effort. I hate sanding. I really REALLY hate sanding. So, my solution is to use universal undercoat. You can paint it over pretty much any paint, including gloss enamel, and then paint a water-based paint over it. Easy peasy. If you’d like your undercoat to be a different colour to your topcoat (it normally comes in white), the easiest would be to mix pigment straight into your undercoat. Otherwise, you have to paint at least 2 coats of universal undercoat, and then the undercoat in the colour of your choice.
So I started with two new, pure white pieces of furniture…
A little desk for the guest room
And a server for the living room.
Next, you have to age your piece. I do this by tying a bunch of old keys together with a piece of wire.
This was all I had in the toolbox, some washers and brackets, but it did the job! Now it’s time to take out your frustrations. Bash the piece all over with the bunch of keys. Make sure they’re old, in case one breaks! Work the piece most where it will naturally get dents and scratches over time, like on the corners and on the legs. It’s important for the dents to be irregular, so don’t use something like a hammer, the keys work really well. I got this tip from a painter at a factory specialising in ageing new furniture.
Next, I mix my undercoat with some wood shavings found at the local lumberyard. If your hardware store has a lumber section, you’ll find some wood shavings lying around. I take the bigger pieces out and use only the fine shavings. Then I add wall crack-filler in powder form (I used Polyfilla). I mix enough shavings and crack-filler in to make a paste, thick enough to give good texture, but thin enough to paint on. I then paint at least two layers of this onto the piece of furniture, with sufficient drying time in between each coat.
Not looking glamorous AT ALL in my husband’s t-shirt and cut off jeans…
Give the piece enough coats to create a good texture.
Once the undercoat was truly dry, I painted two coats of powdery blue water-based wall paint over the desk, avoiding the drawer inners, or you might have trouble closing the drawers afterwards.
On the server, I went with a dusty taupe.
And painted a slightly darker shade on the top, drawers, and in the grooves of the legs for contrast.
Now let your pieces dry for at least a day. Next, I painted antique-ing liquid over small areas at a time, and into all the grooves, wiping with a cloth as I go along, and then using a soft wide brush over the area to soften the strokes. This gives that lovely, aged look. You can buy all manner of antiquing liquids, and it’s usually in the craft area of the paint section. I only use water-based liquids. Once this is dry, I take a medium sandpaper, and sand the areas that would’ve naturally scuffed over the years, like the corners, around the drawer handles, and on the legs. This is where it’s lovely if you used a different colour undercoat, like blue under grey, or red under black, or cream under brown. Don’t overdo the sanding though, you can always do more later! If the piece is not going to get a lot of wear and tear, you can now leave it as it is. If, however, you want it to look even more aged and be harder wearing, and you’re not planning to re-paint it any time soon, you can polish it with some matt antiqueing wax. Or clear matt wax. I didn’t have the right colour, so I went without.
The finished desk in the same blue as the toile curtains, with some antique french books and an old chair found at the market. I just need a little tassel, and of course I managed to lose two of the little drawer knobs, so I need to find something else at the market.
Add some old books, a glass cloche or two, some baskets, and voila!
Now, what to do with all your leftover pots of paint?
Is this what your garage looks like? Do you have loads of paint cans with no idea what’s in them? Thought you could touch up that scuff on the dining room wall, only to discover a dried skin in the bottom of your custom mixed paint, and you can’t remember the code? Well, I love this post by Brooklynlimestone. Mrs Limestone has a label you can download on her site, to organise all your paint cans immaculately. Now, probably because I suffer a bit from O.C.D, this idea really appealed to me, and I rushed straight out to get some empty paint cans from my hardware store. You can use small jars too, but I prefer the cans, in case I drop one. Now you can also close your cans properly, so your paint won’t dry out. Doesn’t this look lovely?
Make sure to write all your codes and other information on the label, and paint some of the colour on the lid and the label, to easily identify your colour.