Let me tell you a little story about my first adventure with refurbishing furniture. The year was 2001. I was in my early twenties, broke as all get-out, living about 2000 kilometres from any family, and having the time of my life. Like most twenty-somethings, I really didn’t own much of anything; I certainly didn’t own much furniture.
I was ‘gifted’ the ugliest secondhand couch known to humankind. Although it was free, its mission-position brown timber and poo-brown vinyl cushions were revolting. I mean, I was seriously considering taking that sucker to the nearest dump and sitting on a blanket on the floor instead—it was THAT ugly! But … having never restored furniture before, I decided it couldn’t be that hard, could it?
I learnt the hard way that hand-sanding an entire couch is time-consuming and, quite frankly, stupid. When I upgraded to a power sander I also learnt that the polyurethane finish wasn’t all that conducive to being removed.
Enter the paint stripper.
Here’s the thing—paint stripper is nasty, nasty shit. The moment I removed the lid I swear my nose hairs melted. But man, did it do a GREAT job of removing that old paint. Until.
Until a tiny piece of stripper-covered paint landed in my eye.
Safety directions are there for a reason. You know the ones that say always wear eye protection, use in a well-ventilated area, keep away from children under the age of 25. You really need to take heed of those! And I didn’t.
You know you’re in trouble when something hits your eye, stings then you have the briefest of moments where you think, ‘oh, that’s not so bad’. And then it’s all ‘Oh. My. Lord. Sweet. Baby. Jesus. My eyeball is on fire and I can’t bloody see!’ After blindly stumbling up stairs, tripping over the dog, shouting incoherent babble at my housemate, thankfully I was extremely fortunate and didn’t suffer lasting damage. My pride and my desire to refurbish old furniture died a quick death that day.
Fast forward 13 years.
I’m a parent now and I hate putting the health of myself or my family at risk just for the sake of keeping ugly furniture out of landfill. I equally hate beige. And that poses a problem. While I don’t live in Woop Woop, I live just down the road. That means I have limited choice: boring beige new stuff from the local furniture shop or mission-position brown from Vinnies. And every time I think of refinishing furniture my horror paint stripper memory raises its nasty head and I think maybe I should lie down and wait until the feeling passes.
Then I heard about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and how you don’t need to do pretty much any surface preparation apart from ensuring the piece is clean. Yeah, now that’s my kind of life-hack: which is just a fancy way of saying ‘I’m lazy and like shortcuts’.
Recently, I was very fortunate and scored an invite to the Annie Sloan Niche Networking Night at the ProBlogger Training Event. I got to hang out with uber-awesome Pip Lincolne from Meet Me At Mikes and most importantly I got to meet my bloggy buddy Anya Bykar from Clear Design Studio. I also got to play with paint, drink cocktails and eat amazing food. After learning lots, and painting lots, I fell in love with this paint.
I love that it’s water-based. I love that it has low volatile organic compounds (nasty compounds that cause other paints to smell ick and give me a headache), I love that it washes up in water, I love that it’s safe for baby and kiddo furniture, and I love that it comes in bright bold colours as well as lots of muted tones.
Oh, and I particularly love that I can avoid nasty paint stripper forever!
I came home armed with a small selection of sample pots and inspiration to paint the world. I will be sharing my projects here and on social media—so please follow me on Instagram if you want some sneak peaks as my works-in-progress take shape.
I promise you, there won’t be any beige in sight!
Have you upcycled, recycled or refinished furniture too? Were you happy with the result? Feel free to share your ideas below! And keep scrolling down for some more photos of the evening!