Recently I was asked along to a workshop hosted by Annie Sloan at her colourful HQ in Oxfordshire. It was a real pleasure to meet her and to have a go at some paint techniques; learning from the lady herself was an honour. But I am well aware that within my readership base and followers over on social media, the topic of painting furniture divides you.
Some of you love it. You love crafting, upcycling and all things DIY as well as the antique French look and have fully embraced it in your homes and for some of you, in your work. But there is a large part of you that think it’s a travesty to add paint to alter the look and feel of a piece. Before I continue I want to make it clear where I stand on this issue.
I am a real believer that you should do what you love and not to answer to anyone else’s style rules. It is your home after all isn’t it? However I have to say that I strongly dislike painting collectible mid-century pieces that are in fabulous condition as it quite frankly de-values it. But if your item is beyond repair and a lick of paint will bring it back to life and give it a second chance; well that has to be a good thing rather than giving it to the tip.
So whatever you think of painted furniture I want to celebrate all that Annie Sloan has achieved within interior design over the last decade.
She has helped change the look of our interiors.
Over the last 10 years, the look of our homes has evolved from modern, matchy-matchy interiors into spaces that reflect our personalities more. As a nation we have embraced vintage, whether it be a reproduction look from the likes of Laura Ashley to genuine mid-century pieces. Annie Sloan has given us confidence to have some fun, add some colour and to be a bit more brave in our choices. The whole French shabby chic (a phrase she hates) look has been popular now for a while, and love it or loathe it, it is great that people are creating spaces that they connect with and feel passionate about.
Her paint techniques are so much more than a “slap of paint!”
Many people think that painting furniture with chalk paint is not technical, simply “slapping” it on to change the colour of the piece. Well Annie Sloan is not about this, but so much more. She creates amazing paint effects that take you back to another time; think about French chateaus, or a Baroque chaise longue. Her skilled approach to paint replicates some of these looks to the point where you look at it and ask if it is genuine. Her books share some of these techniques and are well worth a look.
She has encouraged us to recycle
Over the last 10 years Annie Sloan has encouraged people everywhere to recycle. So many pieces were destined for the tip, unrestorable, or simply ugly, and now people are updating them by painting them. Whether you are trying the old techniques, painting Victoriana furniture black for a gothic look or 1980s pine in cream, her paint has encouraged us all to save wood. Back in the 1960s and 1970s many people, including my parents, painted their gran’s utility 1940s furniture (again in black) to save money and to create their own look. 40 years later, we are yet again recycling old pieces which can only be a good thing.
She supports independent businesses
I love that Annie Sloan paint is not sold in large DIY sheds or on sites like Amazon, preferring to be sold through independents on our high streets. This supports smaller shops which is such a great thing – she could so easily make more money by doing a deal with the likes of B&Q but she has chosen not to. These indies also offer workshops to their customers sharing how to create the paint effects – providing training to the owners to pass on to their community. Anyone trying to get us to visit our local shops needs to be applauded.
She is a kick ass business woman
Annie Sloan has created an amazing brand of paint that everyone has heard of. She has also created a brand with her name at the helm, which is no mean feat. Elle Decoration describes her as a “household name” which she indeed is, but for someone coming from a fine art background rather than a business one, this is incredible. Her passion for colour, for design and for creating new ideas shines through in everything she does and the fact that she is so down to earth and wanting to share her skills with others is something to not only admire, but to love.
She is charity focused
Annie Sloan has just teamed up with Oxfam to create an exclusive paint colour called Lem Lem with proceeds going to the charity. Having visited Ethopia with them, she was inspired by the soft green colour of the alium fields, ran by local women to make money and more importantly to empower them. I have been sent some paint so watch my Instagram feed to see what I do with it.
She has given confidence to women
Finally this is the number one reason why I love what Annie has done. She has empowered women all over to find their creative edge and get away from the boring same old lifestyle, to get outside and to paint. I know young mums who feel trapped, discovering how peaceful they feel painting an old chest of drawers. Retired women, who have had senior jobs but now feel lost, discovering that painting a blanket box makes them happy. Anything or anyone who provides a creative outlook for women is wonderful. Thank you Annie.
My day with her was great, and I cannot wait to try some of the paint she gave me – she chose the colours to give me looking at my IG feed. And you guessed it; I got orange and teal paint!