By Steven Hoffman
Decorative painting for do-it-yourselfers was revolutionized about 20 years ago when Annie Sloan developed her own kind of decorative paint and named it Chalk Paint. This paint is both versatile and easy to use for the do-it-yourself enthusiast or the expert faux finisher.
“You don't need to sand or prime before you paint,” explained Lisa O'Brien, the owner of Consign-It Furniture in the New Garden Shopping Center. In the six years since it opened, Consign-It Furniture has grown into a business with more than 1,800 consignors and thousands of items on display at any one time in the 6,000-square-foot facility. The most popular items are bedroom sets, chest of drawers, dining room sets, hutches, bookshelves, mirrors, and decorative accessories. O'Brien said that they will often use the Annie Sloan paint on some of the furniture that comes into the store to prepare it for sale.
“People really love it and they are coming back for more,” O'Brien said. “It's one of the hottest things out there in DIY.”
Annie Sloan is based in England and grew in popularity for many years before it became available in the U.S. O'Brien first learned about it on a blog and Consign-It Furniture started carrying Annie Sloan Chalk Paint about two years ago. It has proven to be enormously popular among local residents for a variety of reasons.
“You can paint on anything,” O'Brien said. “It's very easy to use. It dries quickly. You can transform a piece of furniture in a couple of hours.”
Chalk paint sticks to just about any surface—wood, concrete, metal, matte plastic, earthenware, and much more, both inside and outside the home. The paint is also quick-drying so a second or third coat of paint can be applied in quick order.
It's also economical. A quart of paint might be enough to spruce up three pieces of furniture.
“It's thicker than the latex paint so it will go a long, long way,” O'Brien explained.
Consign-It Furniture sells about 30 different colors of paint, but they can be mixed to create an
endless variety of colors. The store also offers workshops for people to learn more about the paint, and there are even color recipes to match the exact shade of a color that you are looking for. The workshops focus on different techniques that can be used to get different looks for furniture.
For a simple vintage look, one coat of Chalk Paint can be applied by moving the brush in all directions. To give a piece of furniture a two-color distressing look, apply two different coordinating colors as the first and second coats. Apply the second coat thinner than the first one. For a rustic look, leave the paint in the refrigerator for a few hours to get it thick then apply two coats, or even three in some parts, and leave the furniture to dry. Using a hairdryer to help it dry is a good way to get really good cracks.
Annie Sloan paints are very versatile. You can even get a smooth, modern finish by sanding the surface with medium-grit paper to smooth out any prominent textures and then watering down the paint before applying it smoothly and evenly with a brush in the same direction as the grain.
Workshop attendees can even bring in their own piece of furniture to transform it during the three- or four-hour workshop.
The Chalk Paint was developed specifically for furniture, but it can also be used in several creative ways. You can use Chalk Paint on exterior walls, garden furniture (except teak), metal, concrete, or matte plastic. It can be used on kitchen cabinets or floors.
The popularity of Annie Sloan has reached the point, O'Brien said, where people will drive a good distance to buy it. The paint is not available at big box stores and Consign-It Furniture is one of the few places in the area that has it.
Customers like Annette McNally of Downingtown are more than willing to drive in order to get the specific paint that they want.
“We drove all the way here from Downingtown,” McNally said. “I've tried many paints and none compare to this one for the ease-of-use and the results.”
McNally said that she has used the Annie Sloan paint at least ten times now and is never unhappy with the results.
“I paint a lot of furniture,” she said. “The color selection is fantastic and there isn't a bad color.”
Consign-It Furniture is located in the New Garden Shopping Center. The store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 610-444-9290 or visit www.consignitfurniturepa.com.