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Hand Painted Shabby Chic Kitchen by Lee Simone

Listed under Blog, faux, hand-painted kitchen, Lee Simone Posted Oct 23 2013

Lee Simone traditional painter in Yorkshire goes into the nitty gritty of a Hand Painted Shabby Chic Kitchen he worked on recently.


This enquiry came from a couple in Stainton, near Barnard Castle.

The kitchen before it was painted

The kitchen before it was painted

They had been considering having their pine kitchen painted for some time, and after finding Traditional Painter on the web, got in touch with me. After a few email exchanges, and having given a guesstimate from the pictures they sent through, I headed up to Stainton to meet the couple in person.

The initial plan was to paint the units in a block colour but after discussing things over coffee and showing them a few of my ‘distressed’ samples, they really liked my ‘distressed & antiqued’ finish and chose to go down this route instead. In this particular instance, a subtly aged finish would be more in keeping than plain ‘off white’ units, which may have a looked a bit stark against the stone feature and other rustic elements of the kitchen.

Once colours were decided I booked the work in and it was agreed that I would take the doors and drawers away with me to paint in my workshop and return a couple of weeks later to paint the shell and re-hang the doors.

Kit to hand paint a kitchen

kit and kaboodle 004 - CopyBefore I began the project, I thought it would be interesting to set out all the kit I was going to use and take a pic.

The essential kit remains the same for any kitchen project though paints, primers and brushes may change.

The most noticeable differences to my normal kit for this distressed or ‘Shabby Chic’ kitchen are the tea lights (for the wax barrier stage), the Zinsser Bin 123 primer, the emulsion, the butter muslin, the tubed oil paint and the oil glaze.

If you’d like to see a full list of all the kit and caboodle then check out my  ‘Kit and Caboodle for Hand Painted Kitchens‘ Blog.

Preparation –

done except antiquing The kitchen itself had been hand crafted by a local joiner many moons ago and was made from some 150 year old pine that used to make up the pews of local church. There wasn’t much varnish left on them, but as with all kitchen painting projects, the first thing to do was to thoroughly clean all the units with my favourite citrus-based cleaner, Krudcutter Original, followed by a rinse with a cloth and water.

Neat trick for more authentic shabby chic

Once cleaned, I lightly sanded every inch of the doors to create the perfect key for painting. Before any paint was applied however I used my standard  ‘wax barrier’ technique and rubbed wax over certain areas of the cupboard that would have naturally received more wear and tear – the base, the edges and around the handle got the most attention.

This wax creates a barrier so the paint doesn’t adhere so when it comes to the sanding stage the paint ‘chips off’ to create a nice authentic aged ‘Shabby Chic’ look.

Priming –

The next stage is the all important priming.

cleaned, sanded, wax, 1 primer With distressed finishes I use emulsion as my top coat, so I prefer to use a water based primer – in this case Zinsser Bin 123. After the first coat of primer, the rustic nature of the units really showed up with many a gap, hole and imperfection becoming visible.

As you can see from the picture, the units look pretty ‘rustic’ to say the least, but I feared not as many a stage was still to come!

After filling/caulking all the holes and gaps I applied a second coat of Zinsser 123 and the transformation was well underway.

Cleaned, sanded, wax barrier, filled, 2 x primer

Cleaned, sanded, wax barrier, filled, 2 x primer

Paint top Coats –

For this particular finish I applied three coats of a Dulux ‘off white’ emulsion. The colour had a warm hue but as everything was going to be ‘antiqued’ the colour would change slightly, so it was really more of a base than a finished colour.

To apply the emulsion I used high density mini rollers from Dulux (actually designed to be used for oil based paints but I think they work great for this kind of project), 2 x 1.5” Purdy Monarch Elite, a  2” Purdy Monarch Elite, a 0.75” Nylon artist brush, a 0.25? Nylon artist brush and a *Picasso 2” Angled Oval  (available from mypaintbrush.co.uk)

Creating the Distressed Effect –

Once the emulsion had been applied – very lightly sanding between coats using 120 grit sanding pads (making sure not to sand so hard as to remove the wax barrier) – it was time for the really fun bit – the distressing.

Using 120 grit sandpaper and 180 grit Abranet abrasive sheets I gently sanded back the areas where I had applied the wax. As planned, it ‘chipped off’ beautifully and created an effect that didn’t look just sanded, but was more like natural wear and tear from years of use.

The ‘Antiquing’ –

Finally, to add a bit more depth of colour and make the kitchen look more authentically aged, I mixed up a transparent oil glaze with raw umber pigment and applied this to various areas using the stipple brushes, hog hair brush, the butter muslin and white spirit.

Sealing a distressed paint effect

Once the antiquing had been done and I was happy with the way it all looked, I had to make everything really durable and wipeable and for this I turned to Tikkurila and their semi matt Kiva Lacquer (available from Holmans Paints).

I applied two coats of Kiva using a mini roller, my Purdy Monarch’s and finally a * Wooster Flawless Tipping Brush.

End result

So, after many a stage and many a coat of primer, paint, glaze and lacquer, the kitchen was complete and the transformation total. This was a really fun project to do and I really enjoyed seeing all my hard work and patience turn into something that the clients loved and that looked really authentic in it’s surroundings.

june before and after 039


The utility room before it was painted june before and after 055 - Copy

june before and after 041 june before and after 046

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3 comments to “Hand Painted Shabby Chic Kitchen by Lee Simone”

  1. Charles Budd

    Im fascinated with the techniques and materials you used, I’d happily suit and watch a video of the whole process! The kitchen looks great.

  2. Imaginative Interiors Imaginative Interiors

    Cheers Charles, really nice to hear, glad you like it 🙂 Interesting idea about doing a video, will see what I can do when I get another similar project.

  3. Maggie Brady

    Hi Lee
    Was the emulsion a matt finish or an eggshell?
    |I like the matt on furniture sealed with wax.

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