Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Stuff and Sense

Rachel Elnaugh
I recently listened to the lovely Rachel Elnaugh at a seminar. The premise of her talk was “Too Much Stuff”, clearly it was on the subject of our culture of mass consumerism and borderline obsession with owning “things”. 
I have to say I completely agree and with the economic downturn, for me as a retailer to exist AND make a living is somewhat contrary! 

My dilemma – sell stuff when the world has too much stuff! I have reconciled this issue by having a firm belief that I can offer for sale a selection of well chosen products which enhance a home, and help reflect the personality of the owner. We work hard and we should feel no guilt in allowing ourselves to be surrounded by things that basically augment our habitat and make us feel good. “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” To quote William Morris. Follow this advice and you won’t go far wrong!

The other aspect to dealing with the “too much stuff” issue is this:   I have realised that the country is awash with brown and orange furniture. Most of it made, with integrity, in the 20th century.  But it doesn't fit in to our 21st century homes. If you see a piece languishing in a charity shop, with the box-set of Friends and a mug tree on top of it. Buy it. Be it a desk, bureau, table, chair, plant stand….they can all be given a new identity and a new life and escape the prospect of entering landfill.  The beauty of being able to transform a rejected furnishing into something much admired  is a huge accomplishment and something which more and more people are embracing. One of my customers, Natalie from Harts and Crafts posted these photos which are case in point! 

Orange pine dresser....

......stunning painted unit!

 I sell the perfect paint (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) to use on furniture and offer advice and tips  along with workshops in paint techniques. I can advise on where to pick up great pieces of  furniture to anyone  new to  vintage sourcing and if it means that local charity stores are doing great business then it’s gotta be good news all round!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Annie Sloan..what a woman!

Last Saturday I attended a stockists course at the Annie Sloan "mothership"! It was a long way to go for me, Aberdeen to Oxford, but it was totally worth it.  I met the great woman herself who's knowledge, enthusiasm and belief in her products was inspiring.  It was also fab to meet other stockists and compare notes! The lovely girls from Home Barn and the talented Jenny from Fair Lilly were great company. Check out their sites and see the wonderful things they produce.

Here we are, beavering away like good students, not a drop of paint was spilled, despite me being the most clumsy person on the planet!  It was a great chance to refine our skills and tips were shared aplenty!  We all left enthused and our passion for painting all fired up, so watch out!

After the workshop there was time to look around Annies lovely shop.  So great to see pieces that I had seen in her books "in the flesh" so to speak!

This cute little bedside has been beautifully painted in Cream and Henrietta.  I was beside myself with excitement when I saw all the Annie Sloan fabrics. Tickings, checks, spots, toile, florals and my particular favourite, chickens!  I immediately had to purchase some to take home and all thoughts of  hand luggage only were swiftly forgotten. I have samples in the form of bunting in the shop so it's easy to see the fabrics together with the paint colours. 

 To have a range, of very reasonably priced, fabrics is very exciting!  Think of the possibilities! I have already made a lampshade, sample board and am working on a curtain and a chair! Phew!

I really liked this appliqued chicken cushion, clever, cute and relatively simple to make.

Finally, so immersed was I in all things Annie Sloan that when I was gazing out of the window on the bus from Oxford to Heathrow, my mind was in paint chart mode......

... I could see Paris Grey with a touch of French Linen, Old White with Greek Blue, Pure with Louis Blue and Olive with Graphite.  Yep, I know it's the most organic paint out there but there's definitely something in the mix!!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Re-Invent Your Shelf!

This set of shelves is typical of a piece of furniture which can be given a total make-over with Annie Sloan Chalk paint. Orange pine, nothing special and very dated! So before you think about throwing things in the skip, read on and see how easy it is to transform your old pine pieces!
I used a mix of Versailles and Olive.  The two colours are extremely complimentary.  Olive is now discontinued but I'm sure there are many stockists who still have pots, myself included.  Chateau Grey is a good alternative as it's a lighter version of Olive.



I decided that I would try mixing the paint together as I painted.  I poured both colours into my tray and didn't mix together, just allowed it to blend as I brushed it on.  This technique gives a lovely, interesting, relaxed effect.   They key is to not worry too much about an even colour.  I did two coats of the "mix" then used Olive round the edges.
Once I was happy with the overall look of the paint on the shelves. I applied a coat of clear wax then used dark wax around the edges and on the tongue & groove.  I think the dark wax gives real depth to the paint and makes the shelves look like they have always been that colour! I hope I have inspired you to give it a go!

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