Wednesday, September 26, 2012

50 Shades of Grey . . .

 No, I'm not talking about the sexy book that everyone I meet is talking about, I'm talking about the vast array of different paint colours I have tried in my quest for the perfect shade of grey!  I have been on the hunt for this perfect shade of grey for years!  I think I've tried them all.  French grey, blue grey, shale grey, pale grey, silver grey etc, etc, etc.  I have finally found it!!!!!  At last.   It's an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint mix of Paris Grey with Louis Blue.  It is THE ONE!!!!

So now that I've found it I've been itching to paint something in my home in this colour (I've already painted half of the furniture in my shop in this mix!).  One piece in my dining room which is open to my kitchen was crying out for a make over.  I've had this lovely French style Armoire for years, lovely but bland and in serious need of a spicy transformation!  Up to recently it had a pink toile hanging behind the chicken wire but I have built up a small collection of various white pieces and I wanted to display them so thought this was an ideal piece to paint in my new favourite colour.  Here she is - a little drab and decidedly unsexy!

The problem with displaying white on white is that everything kind of blurs together so that nothing stands out.  Bland!  Then I saw this beautiful dresser (below) on my good friend Loi's blog Tone on Tone.   Not only is Loi's cabinet divine but the dark background inside the cabinet makes the white pieces stand out so well which got me thinking about my own piece.  Loi is the master of display (well actually Loi is the master of many things, interior design, gardening, photography . . . but it was his mastery of display that inspired me here!) for more inspiring display ideas and general all round inspiration you can check out his blog here.

Loi's Cabinet

You can see here my white cake stand is lost against the white background - time for some paint!

I opened a large can of Paris Grey (1litre) and mixed in a Sample pot of Louis Blue (100mls) and gave it a good mix.

I then gave the Armoire two coats of my perfect grey . . . (sorry for bad photo - took on iphone in dark - left camera in shop!)

When the grey paint was dry I then got a small brush and applied some Annie Sloan Old White chalk paint on the raised carving on the Armoire to make the detail stand out.   The minute I started painting the raised moulding the details just came alive, I hadn't realised how pretty it was!  I just dabbed a small paintbrush in a tray of paint and wiped most of it off the brush and then wiped the brush along the carved areas as I wanted  the beautiful grey to show through. 

When the Armoire was dry I then started waxing.  I wanted an antiqued finish so I used Annie Sloan clear and dark wax.  I first applied clear was all over the front of the piece.  I used a large Annie Sloan waxing brush, brushing on the clear wax on the flat bits and using a 'stabbing' action on the mouldings to get the wax in to the nooks and crannies.  Then I got some old lint free cloths, in this case old muslin squares (from baby!!) and I wiped the clear wax in to the paint taking the excess off as I wiped.   Now I getting somewhere . . .

When I had finished applying clear wax to the front section of the armoire I started applying the dark wax.  I used a mixture of 1 part Annie Sloan Dark Wax and 1 part White Spirit.  Mix these together well, mashing the wax in to the white spirit with an old fork.

Then barely dipping the brush in the mixture I applied in small sections wiping away the excess immediately.  You need to work quickly with the dark wax wiping as you go. 

Again, I used a "stabbing" action to apply the dark wax to get in to all the nooks and crannies.  Then when you wipe the wax off you leave the dark wax in the crevices which give a lovely patina to the piece.

I applied the wax in small sections working my way around the piece.

Here you can see a close up of the moulding, isn't it pretty?? completely lost when the whole piece was white.

Work in progress . . .

Rose detail . . .


 Close up of the difference between a piece finished in dark wax (on left) and clear wax (on right)

 the full piece antiqued on the left . . .  so you can see the difference . . .  In some areas I put a little too much dark wax on so just got a cloth put a little clear wax on it and wiped off some of the dark wax until I got the right colour.  When finished I then applied a final coat of clear wax all over the whole piece and wiped off the excess with a lint free cloth.

 AFTER . . .

The finished Armoire . . . from drab to . . .  something with a little more va va voom!

 As you can see my white pieces look SO much better against the grey background. 

I love that I can also now see the pretty details on the carved mouldings. . .

I had great fun arranging my French white dinnerware!   I cut a few hydrangeas from the garden (Hydrangea Limelight), I love hydrangeas - do you?? 

 I've also painted a few other pieces lately but haven't finished waxing them yet??  Yes, a few of them are in various shades of grey!   And no, I haven't read the book - . . .  yet . . .  have you?? what did you think??



PURA VIDA said...

this is awesome...especially with that pop of green life. You are very talented my dear!

Mrs. Sutton said...

Stunning - I LOVE it! I have exactly the same dinner service too - and yes, I keep mine in my French Armoire with chicken wire doors as well - Sharon, we were definitely twins in a former life - lol!

I've been painting a lot with Annie Sloan paints recently, but I haven't braved the two tone effect as yet. You make it look spectacular, so perhaps I may take a shot at it and try your colour scheme.

Lots of love,
Paula xxx
p.s. I'm ashamed to admit that I've actually read all three of the Fifty Shades books - I had to do something while waiting for that Annie Sloan paint to dry...

Loi Thai, Tone on Tone said...

Thank YOU, Sharon!! :) :) :)
You are so talented. I wish I could paint like you! The cabinet turned out fabulous. Love the colors.....the highlighting is brilliant. And you've styled it beautifully, I'd leave the doors open. Hope all is well ~

Vanisha @ Vanishas Life In...Australia said...

I'm in awe of everything that you do Sharon and how creative you are! Everything just looks stunning. I haven't read the book either but I see '50 shades of grey' every where now - like you did with this post, I hung out some washing and it was all different shades of grey! xoxox

Kifus said...

Oh my! What an amazing job, Sharon! Thanks for showing this step by step, it is very inspiring, makes me want to get my paint brushes out!

I love hydrangeas too!

Silvia Shabby Chic Joy said...

wonderful ... ciao Silvia

B. said...

Tutto che hai fatto vedere è molto bello: sia mobili che la porcellana. I LOVE IT!

Laura's Rose Garden said...

I love the transformation of your French armoire. You did a magnificent job! I love your dishes. What make are they?
Read the books!! Some parts are very kinky but I thought it was a great love story.
Regards, Laura

The Snowdrop Project said...

Va Va Voom is right!!
You've done a great job as always.
The armoire is now a brilliantly stylish home for your dinner service and china.
Hope you have a lovely day,

Susan T said...

Oh my word how beautiful and I love the china too. You are a very clever lady.

Leslie said...

Hi Sharon :)

What a great job you did! You've created the perfect patina! Loi has an amazing eye for design :)

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

Sharon, this is so beautiful. I love what you've done~ you have created a beautiful new home for your treasures.
xxx, Tina

French Grey said...

Hi Sharon,
Your makeover turned out fantastic! Love your French dishes as well. I agree, Loi has great style, love his blog!

Haven't read the books yet, but still looking for my perfect grey!


Sara Louise said...

Oh wow Sharon! It looks incredible! You did an amazing job x

Silvia C said...

Hello Sharon! I´m your newest follower (from the US). I love your blog! the color your chose for that piece of furniture is my most favorite. It looks fantastic! I´ll be back to visit you often.


Dee Sewell said...

Sharon I LOVE what you've done with that cabinet, it's totally transformed it, well done and thanks for the inspiration :)

Audrey said...

Spectacular result! I never knew I needed Annie Sloan paint and now you have me obsessing about it!

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