Anyone watching The Great Interior Design Challenge on BBC2 has picked up on the craze for painting furniture, and anyone one watching closely will notice that the top coat just gets slapped on bare wood. New products, readily available on the market, have made painting an unloved and unwanted piece of furniture desirable again, and as the GIDC designers prove- it’s a very fast and cost effective way to update a piece of furniture or item. I wanted to talk to one of the experts, ex- GIDC contestant herself, owner of Love Nellie design school, Lynne Lambourne to get the low down.
The craze for painting everything in chalk paint, what are your views on why is it so popular?
Chalk paint has become such a sensation because it’s so easy to work with. The piece of furniture you’re working on does not need preparation other than a quick wipe with sugar soap to get rid of the years of polish. The paint can be applied to most surfaces, wood, melamine, metal and even fabric. I love Chalk paint as it cuts out the hassle of preparing the piece making it so easy to use. I think people can get put off being creative as they think they are going to have to spend hours sanding something down or stripping off years of paint. But when you’re using chalk paint that whole laborious prep stage can happily be left out. The paint is easy to use as its water based. The secret to the success is that it all gets sealed with a clear furniture wax at the end which protects the painted surface from cracking or peeling and makes it very durable.
There are several brands on the market and more popping up each day but Annie Sloan is my favorite as I love the array of colours she has created and her books clearly show you how to mix and use her range of paints to come up with your own unique colours. Authentico is another very good brand and new brands are popping up all the time. Rust-Oleum normally famous for their fantastic spray paints even have their own range too.
What are your top tips on how to paint furniture? Are there any do’s and don’ts?
My top tips for painting furniture are remember to be in keep in with the period and style of the furniture. It just looks wrong to paint a mid century modern G plan sideboard and then distress it in a shabby chic effect. The two styles don’t blend. In my opinion only Antique style furniture looks good distressed and anything newer or clean lined needs a clean finish to match.
Next tip is to buy the best brushes you can afford. They will be worth the investment and actually make a massive difference to the finish. Watch out for large drips of paint when you’re working, don’t pop too much paint on your brush, you can always go back and do another coat as dried drips of paint looks rushed and amateur.
While this is a very quick process don’t rush things, enjoy the process. For me painting is actually very therapeutic, pop some tunes on and make it fun.
How do you choose a piece to paint? What’s are the signs that it might not be suitable, or even too good?
Always look for a label on a piece, and if you find something you can google the maker and see or if in any doubt at all then there is a useful website Valuemystuff.com which may be able to help. If in doubt always check. I also feel that if a wooden piece is in good condition and has gained a lovely patina over time, it’s often a shame to paint it as its taken years to aquire that look. However if the grain is stained or ruined, then slap the paint in to your hearts content. Pine and oak are mass produced fast growing woods but think again before painting over rare woods like mahogany.
Tell us about your Up-cycling workshops.
I run furniture painting and upcycling workshops from my home in Henley on Thames. The day-long courses, held in my workshop begin with a morning spent learning a few painting techniques and then in the afternoon we transform the piece of furniture that’s been bought along. Lunchtime is an opportunity to discuss design ideas and show people a few of the pieces in my home that I have up-cycled so they can grab some extra inspiration. Everyone leaves with a finished piece and hopefully the up-cycling bug! Its also a great social event and I often get groups of friends booking a days course so they can have a catch up but to learn something new and fun at the same time.
The Children’s Craft and Up-Cycling boot camps I run in the school holidays and I am passionate to show children how junk can be transformed in to something magnificent and useful again. Time is spent showing them where they can find things to up-cycle; charity shops, car boots and even Granny’s Attic! There is lots of fun to be had decoupaging old lampshades and picture frames, making snow globes in old jam jars, tie-dying t shirts and duvets and making works of art for their bedrooms with melted crayons. I have a workshop bursting with stuff I have salvaged for them to upcycle. Its so rewarding to hear what a fantastic day they have had. One parent reported back that after the last boot camp her daughter had pestered her all week to take her to a charity shop so she could find things to up-cycle. I just love that!
Why do you think the time is now that people are getting passionate about upcycling?
People have less disposable income so constantly buying new is not always the best option. Its forced a lot of us to think about how we could use something we already have in a different way. For example paint it, remodel it, recover it or simply change the door knobs.
Pinterest, You tube and design blogs are readily available channels to show people how they can do these things themselves, and there is a massive amount of information and inspiration out there that has awakened peoples creativity. TV shows like The Great Interior Design Challenge are also helping to demonstrate to people just what amazing things can be done on a limited budget with some creativity. I for one am totally hooked.
How did you get into up-cycling?
When I moved house from a Victorian terrace in London where all the storage was built in, I found we had no wardrobes and no cupboards and so nowhere to put anything. In our new house in Henley we only had a sofa downstairs when we moved in. I didn’t have a pot of cash to go and buy everything new so I needed to be creative and charity shop finds were within my budget but not necessarily the style I was looking for. I had to get creative and transform them in to something I loved and that’s when I was bitten by the up-cycling bug and there has been no looking back! I prefer the pieces I have upcycled to anything I can buy as they’re original to me and that’s very satisfying.
Tell us a little bit about your home and your own personal sense of style
My home is just that, a home. It’s not a show room of the latest style trends or what is cool this week. It’s a representation of what I love which is a mixture of pieces that have been handed down to me from my Grandparents or Nain and Taid as we call them in Wales, mixed with my charity shop up cycling finds and of course the odd piece from Ikea. It has a real Scandinavian feel, and it’s often used by location agencies for shoots for adverts and editorial features. I think this has a lot to do with the lovely natural light in the house and the fact that they get to use the things I have collected or upcycled over the years for styling their shoot. My old vintage skis are very popular!
Any exciting projects coming up in the future?
At the moment I am working on the Henley House and Garden Show, which is happening 28th February to the 1st March 2015. As well as helping to organise the event I will be running the Up-cycling section of the show and holding workshops throughout.
I have my Christmas Children’s Craft and Up-cycling workshops all sorted and spaces are filling up fast. There are also some exciting interiors projects in the pipeline that I am working on. Whenever there is a spare moment I am blogging on my facebook page ‘lovenellie’ and on my Love Nellie Daily Dose Blog
I’m incredibly busy but as I love what I do as it feels like I get to spend lots of time on my favorite hobby and meet lots of other likeminded interesting people along the way.
Details of Lynnes Chalk paint and up-cycling courses can be seen on her website www.lovenellie.co.uk