Tips & Techniques


The Shabby Chic French Look

Creating the Shabby Chic French Look

For the Shabby Chic French look use Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint – the only paint for painted furniture.The exciting thing about the ‘French Look is that there is not just one look but at least six distinct design styles.

This is partly because France is so big it encompasses the warm Mediterranean villas in the South, as well as the cosy cottages of the North.

It has long been a nation with a strong rural economy and out of this has grown a robust rustic decorative style. In strong contrast to this is the grand and highly influential chateau style that developed out of the powerful aristocrats and royal family in the eighteenth century.

And then we have Paris. The 20th century saw Paris flower creating an exciting and bohemian art scene, introducing to us new colour combinations and designs. On the other side of town the haute couture fashion world developed a cool elegant chic.

Whatever “look” you decide on here’s some useful tips and techniques that we’ve discovered that will really help you to transform your furniture into outstanding pieces. Don’t forget that we’re here to help so we run “Upcycling Workshops” where these techniques and many more are explained – and you get to try them.

  • Apply two coats* of Chalk Paint – painting with a big brush in all directions, then wax with clear wax using a big brush or a cloth. Work one side at a time and then use some fine or medium sandpaper to take off a little of the paint to reveal what’s underneath. Re-wax and then give it a bit of a polish the next day. Refresh every now and again with some more wax when needed. To clean use a proprietary spray cleaner.
  • Two coats of either the same or different colours. If different – then make the first coat thicker and less even – and the second coat smoother and thinner. Then sand with fine or medium sandpaper (100 grade) after waxing to bring some of the background colour through.
  • Painting with our paint should always be a pleasure. If it’s feeling like hard work then maybe the paint is too thick, add some water to make the paint flow easily.
  • Are you working with a small brush? Switch to a bigger one to get the job done quickly.
  • If it is hard work rubbing back with the sandpaper then use a coarser sand paper but next time paint a thinner top coat.
  • Don’t like the piece you are painting? Each piece of furniture, especially old pieces, respond in their own unique way to the paint.
  • Perhaps you had a very strong idea of the finished result? You may need to adapt that initial image.

And don’t forget – we stock “Creating the French Look” by Annie Sloan published by Cico Books which will inspire you with 25 step by step projects with paint and fabrics

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