What have I been doing?


Well.  It’s been a long time.

At the moment, the house has taken priority.  We are having (one of) the grotty bathroom(s) replaced and it’s been 3 weeks of disruption.  While that was going on, I ventured into the Chalk Paint arena.  It is NOT the wonder paint some people say it is, although, to be fair, some of it is likely my technique LOL! I just cannot get it smooth and brush stroke free. And the wax?  A nightmare.  Now, some (most?) people will likely say that a) that is the beauty of chalk paint or b) why chalk paint if you AREN’T going to then distress the piece?  Well, I like the matte finish of it.  I liked the idea I could delve into a new area with little or no experience.  I liked that it was fast.

So we had these ugly chairs and table.  Here is one of them, in its unadorned state.  We bought it off Gumtree, I think it was, from someone who lived right across the street, for £40.  The idea was always to re-paint it and see if I liked the process enough to do more of it.

So the first chair, I painted with a brush.  I cleaned it but didn’t sand or do any other prep. It looks ok from a distance LOL!

Funny thing is that fabric? Came over in our storage unit shipment, after being stored for 16 years…it perfectly matched colourwise for my vision.

OK so a couple of things.  One coat of chalk paint is not enough.  The second coat seems to drag up little granular clumps that don’t smooth out. And yes, I stirred A LOT before I started – enough so I no longer felt the chalky residue at the bottom of the tin.   Even after the 4 hours dry time, the brush strokes are very noticeable, no matter how carefully you brush and with or against the grain.  This was a good brush, too, not a cheap one.  I ended up sanding the first coat and reapplying the next day, trying to go slowly and thinly, to get it even.  Not a lot better, to my mind.  I got a better result with a sponge roller or a foam brush, but the roller does soak up a lot of the paint.   This is the brushed on back:

This is the foam roller one.  Yes, I know, it isn’t close enough, but trust me, it’s miles better. And you can see the fabric better…

Next, the waxing.  OMG.  It take more skill than I have, and more time, to really do it well.  I think with more practice I might have managed a better job, but it is time-consuming and you need to really pay attention, working on small areas at a time.  Ideally, you need to rub the hardened wax layer with wire wool before buffing it to get a nice sheen.

On the right is the brushed on chalk paint, with the wax over it.  On the LEFT is the chair I spray painted with a HVLP spray gun, designed for fence painting (on sale at the moment at B&M!)

Not perfect, cause I still had to do some brush cutting in where the grey and the colour met, but a lot better to my mind.

The viscosity cup included will tell you how much water to add to get the chalk paint to flow thru the gun, and I added about 125ml to a partial can.  Not helpful, I know, but it could depend on your brand of chalk paint, how well you stirred it, and other factors.  I’ve seen 3 parts paint to 1 part water when I looked, so maybe start with that.

Another find is this stuff, from my local DIY store:

Freakin’ awesome stuff. Unlike most varnish, this dries to a dead flat finish, just like it says, and it doesn’t streak if you overbrush. Dries fast too! And unlike wax, there should be no need to re-wax it again and again, and it WILL protect from water damage.  It is what is on the left leg above. The satin version can be shined up to look like wax.

So the  chairs are nearly done.

For my first attempt I was probably a bit mad to go all multicoloured. Getting the joins between the grey legs and the coloured other bits is a pain.

Just cause painting them wasn’t enough of a task, I also added some wipeable wall paper to the backs:


I need one more bit of wallpaper to finish the last one.  I really should sand back the waxed one and re-do it but not sure I have the heart to do that.  Maybe after the table. It has a leaf that opens it out to a larger oval (it’s round now) so I have a few ideas on what to do with that!

So that would be why I have been MIA here for so long.  I’ve also painted a small bathroom, framed a ton of art, ready to hang, been working of curtains, unboxed, sorted, and found homes for 57 boxes of books, also from the storage unit shipment, and about 100 other house-related things. We still have to get thru another week of decorating (hubby’s home office) and get the new curtain rods hung so I can finish the curtains.  There is still the kitchen than needs replacing and the floor in the dining room needs lifting to see what is going on underneath.  Ideally the other upstairs bathroom needs some work, and the loo out the back off the laundry room needs insulating, re-roofing, and damp-proofing.

So it will be some time before I get back to regular blogging.  Still doing the book folding templates by request, as and when I have time, as long as it stays at a manageable level.


13 thoughts on “What have I been doing?

  1. Glad to hear everything is okay and you’ve been busy with your new home. The chairs look great. This is a very helpful post as I recently bought chalk paint to do over a book shelf that is already painted. Not sure what the equivalent product for that varnish wou be in the US, but I can google your product and find the ingredients. I’m sure that will help. Enjoy your home improving projects. Hope the rest go easier. TFS

  2. You’ve done a marvellous job on the chairs I bought Annie Sloan chalk paint and used it on chairs then waxed it what an awful lot of work and they also looked horrible but was just so disheartened by the price of the paint and wax I didnt do anything else with them. Love the look of yours especially that you used 4 colours and the fabric is perfect well done cant wait to see the table!! Very big pat on the back for a job well done! TFS

    • I felt the same. It took days to do the first chair and I kept trying to tweak it, smooth out the strokes, etc. Then the waxing – I THOUGHT I was using it sparingly, putting on a thin coat and spreading it evenly, but when I buffed it it just looked globby and patchy, thick&thin, ugh. It wasn’t till after I tried it that I found a vid where the woman scrubbed over the wax the next day with fine wire wool and then researching THAT it seems it’s an important step that isn’t often mentioned. People seem to want to imply it’s a stupidly simple process. Maybe it’s affiliate links, making money off people who get sucked in, I don’t know. But I consider myself fairly crafty and I struggled. And it took WAY longer. I did the other 4 chairs in the same time it took me to do the first one! The only issue was being so keen to test out the spray gun we did it on a pretty windy day, without an easy way to rotate the chairs. I would want to get a Chinese restaurant super sized lazy Susan for the table outside and also do maybe three thin coats. The spraying means you do not have to wait 4 hours between coats and so long as it is touch dry (10 mins or so) another coat can go right on.

      I am keen to at least try the satin finish version of the wax varnish to see what it is like. They do say for maximum hardness you can do a coat of the satin, maybe two, and then the dead flat over the top if the flat finish is what you like. That is what they recommend for kitchen cabinets, for example. Ours are dire, so that may be our next job 🙂 Must figure out a way to disguise the deep cut relief areas (I don’t even know WHAT you call it) on each door. SO fussy. Plus the damn barley twist and decorative finials!

      Sorry yours went astray too, and if I strip back and redo the first waxed chair, I’ll report in on what I did and how it went 🙂

      • I was wondering if you could do a template for “PROM?” for a book that has 450 foldable pages?

        • I don’t make a template to fit a particular book – I make the template and you count the lines and find a book to fit. There ARE people who will fit a template to a particular book but they will charge you for it. Mine are free 🙂 Here is a link to a Prom? one I have done for others in the past if it helps

  3. I’m exhausted just reading your post!!! lol
    Love how the chairs turned out and, let’s face it, surely no one is going to be so bad mannered as to scrutinise your painting? They will think you did a great job…. which you have.

  4. Forgot to tell you I’ve finished another Kennedy Word book . All of the grands now have one ,but just found out there is another one on the way. The book is always a first birthday gift.

  5. You have been working. it’s the floors that catch my eye. Beautiful floors.

  6. Love the chairs.

    Have you had stuff stored in the States and just now sent over? I bet that was like Christmas. Opening everything to see what treasures you’d packed away.

    • A bit 🙂 Esp. all the books – of course I would get the urge to re-read something and had bought another copy by the time I got them here LOL! The local charity shops see me coming and lock the doors…. We did have a LOT of art. Some things sized for US houses. One large print that barely fit between the picture rail and the dado. Not sure what we would have done if it had been a bit bigger DOH! Weird stuff too, like 1980s big shouldered sweaters, and kids stuff that I had forgotten all about! It was a fun, if backbreaking few days. No mac&cheese however – thank goodness!

  7. GAH! I love what you did to those chairs! Magnificant! Just beautiful…what an amazing transformation!

  8. Good job on the chairs.

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