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Shabby chic in New Jersey

Listed under Blog, hand-painted furniture Posted Oct 01 2008

This headboard and bed frame were in a shabby condition when we bought them third hand in New Jersey. After a great deal of preparation and several coats of acrylic paint, it was time to age the furniture. The trendy American style of the day involves an artistic attack on the edges with a sander. That’s the way for shabby chic in New Jersey.

Traditional decorative painting options would have been a dragged effect, or “glazing and wiping” using oil glazes. There is a big movement underway in the USA with decorative paint finishes, all done in acrylic. I am sure the water-based technology will improve, but in my opinion, oil glaze is still the medium of choice for a traditional look.

Update on shabby chic

Many years have passed under the bridge since this article was written. Oil glazes have evolved and water based glazes haven’t. In the UK shabby chic went through several stages.

At the beginning shabby chic was viewed as an easy decorative effect one up from rag rolling done badly. I suppose the trade didn’t take kindly to the somewhat slap dash approach. Slap dash, as in, not how we’ve always done it.

Over time the market for upcycling grew and painted furniture shops sprang up all over the country. Despite the fact that there was a lot of shabby chic work going on, the trade still looked down their noses. Rather work up ladders, me, than prat about with chalk paint.

Annie Sloan chalk paint not shabby chic

I picked up on Annie Sloan chalk paint in about 2012 and thought it was great. Plenty of potential for a professional painter to get stuck in to. Distressing is as old as the hills, and chalk paint lends itself perfectly to creating aged effects that go way beyond sandpapered shabby chic.

For perfectionist painters you can paint single colours.

You can sand chalk paint quickly with a dustless sander and abranet til it is glass smooth. If you want, you can wax and polish it up like glass too.

buffing up waxed chalk paint not shabby chic
Mirka CEROS with sheepskin cover

I got on well with a bain-marie approach to get the wax on faster. But still those sorts of tweaks as explained in this post didn’t really shift the needle with colleagues. The simple reason was the durability of the finish. It was as tough as, well, wax. Compared to modern acrylate enamels, the chalk paint plus wax system wasn’t in the same durability ballpark.

The last couple of years we had the pleasure of working with Annie Sloan and her tech team. Ron Taylor and Scot Hindley in particular nailed the way to spray chalk paint and clear lacquer finishes. The company went on to develop a genuinely tough clear lacquer, to protect chalk paint. There is no excuse now for hard core trade painters, especially sprayers, to diss the system. The only limit is imagination and knowing how to reach people who value their furniture enough to pay someone to paint it.

Shabby prices – no thanks

As with all aspects of decorating 2020, you need to offer value like never before. For furniture upcyclers that means going way beyond shabby chic into wow factor territory. Definitely look into Wagner’s HVLP kit for spraying Anne Sloan chalk paint efficiently. You can always be creative and texture-oriented on the second and third passes. The tech department at enquiries@anniesloan.com can help point you in the right direction.

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