One of my favorite things to do here at Maison Decor is custom paint jobs for our customers. For all of the Do-It-Yourselfers I get to meet, there seem to be almost as many people who would rather just have us handle the dirty work. Take for example this most recent project I undertook. About a month ago, I met a girl named Whit who had inquired about having me paint a piece of furniture that she didn’t even have yet. She came into the store on a Sunday and explained that she was on the hunt for either a vanity or console, and that if she found one she liked, she would like to have me paint it. A week later I received a series of emails, all with pictures attached. God bless modern technology. She sent me images of the piece she acquired and photos of another piece she found online. The picture she found online had the look that she thought she wanted. That’s usually how we do it here; somebody has seen something on the internet (often times from our very own website) and they want us to replicate it. Easy enough. A few days later, she came lumbering up the stairs carrying the vanity I was going to transform.
The vanity had awesome lines and solid construction, but the paint job was dated and tacky and had a heavily lacquered finish.
As you can see, it was a piece with lots of potential. The vanity was going to live in a loft, so we were going for a more masculine, industrial, and rustic look–basically the exact opposite of what you see above.
Although the original picture Whit sent me was of a silver finished vanity, she changed her mind upon returning to the store. Some of our most popular pieces have been painted in Graphite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®. It’s a very dark, masculine color and it makes a statement which is why I think people so often respond to it. Anyway, Whit saw one of our Graphite pieces and decided that was the look she wanted. Notice the canary yellow trim on the original piece. She wanted me to highlight the trim again, but with something less obvious than what was there. This posed a bit of a challenge, because almost anything will provide a stark contrast to the darkness of the Graphite. I suggested that we forgo paint altogether and use a gold gilding wax to give a cool black and gold effect, but she wasn’t having it. I told her that I’d experiment with some different accents, and email her pictures of the progress and we would go from there.
I consulted my mom Amy, the mastermind behind this whole operation and author of the original Maison Decor blog. She suggested I use Coco to give the piece a black & tan motif. I really liked this idea, but I was still worried it would be too drastic of a two-tone combo. The problem with two-tone? Well, nothing. But sometimes if you aren’t careful, a drastic contrast can lend an amateurish look with custom painted pieces. One of the great things about Chalk Paint® is its versatility. Leaning on that, I decided to mix the Coco with Paris Grey to soften it up a bit. I painted the accents with this custom color, and once that was dry, I then used a small watercolor brush and gave those same accents a Graphite wash. (To “wash” mix the paint with water and brush it on. Make sure to keep an eye out for the inevitable drips) This dulled the Coco-Grey a bit, blended a bit better with the Graphite body, and achieved a really cool vintage effect as you’ll see in the pictures below. Forgive the quality of my photos as I’m currently working solely with an iPhone and usually poor lighting conditions 😦
I’m extremely happy with the way this came out. As you can see, the vanity will be right at home inside of a loft. What was once a girly, 70’s looking vanity now has a completely different identity with a modern upgrade while maintaining a weathered, rustic finish.
One side note: Whit had told me that she had planned to scrap the original white hardware in favor of some of the cool glass hardware sold at Anthropologie. When I sent her the first round of pictures, I reattached the handles just to give the photos a more complete look. Upon seeing them, she decided to keep it, but asked if I could “rustic them up.” Of course I could. All I did was paint the white hardware with Graphite and after it dried, I distressed it a bit to reveal some of the white through the dark Graphite. I then added just a touch of gold gilding wax to give a rustic metallic finish.
What a difference, huh? It’s pretty freaking cool what a little paint can do. Holler at me if you want me to hook your old furniture up!