After creating the paint line Chalk Paint more than 25 years ago, interior designer Annie Sloan has traveled across the pond from Oxford many times to share her design products and ideas, and next week she’ll be hosting free painting workshops and signing her newest book Annie Sloan Paints Everything at Junk Bonanza from April 20-22.
This will be Sloan’s first time in the Twin Cities, but she’s not skimping on the packing. She’s bringing the tools, the paints, the potential projects. Everything. “If someone stands up and says, ‘I want to know how to do X,’ or ‘I did something and it didn't work, why?’ I can talk to them,” she says.
If you can’t make it to the workshops or you just want a head start, here are some of Sloan’s tips:
1. Don’t psych yourself out—start with the basics. “Take a piece of furniture you like but don’t like the color of—maybe a bedside table because they’re often brown, not very exciting—and just paint it,” Sloan says. “Don’t be too scared of a little chest or drawers in Emperor’s Silk; it’s a bright red [color]. It might even look good, and if it doesn’t, you can just cover it over. You can always put on more paint if you don’t like the color.”
2. Use a paint color you love to figure out what colors to pair with it. “Take a strong color and add white,” Sloan says. “It’s a great way to do a room. If you have a color like a deep blue, add some white and put that on the chair; add even more white to that and put it on a small table, the edge of the table. One pot of paint can make many things.”
Chalk Paint doesn’t include black when it mixes hues, so if you’re looking to mix two different colors together (instead of creating tints and shades), don’t hesitate. The colors won’t become muddy as your creativity takes off.
Another method that Sloan recommends is to find a neutral. At least in her collection, “each neutral is a special blend, and in the blend are different colors,” she says. Sloan trains all of her stockists to pick out those undertones and use them as coordinating colors that aren’t too contrasting or too matchy-matchy.
3. Sometimes a coat of wax can give a project the finishing touch. “With painting you have a little different techniques, but in the end it’s simply painting a flat color,” Sloan says. There are whole lines of wax products to elevate your project, says Sloan—different colors, metallics—but for your first time using wax, she recommends a simple clear coat.
“Don’t make it too complicated,” Sloan says. “And once you’ve seen how good that looks, you’ll want to learn more [about different waxes].”
No matter what project you do, Sloan hopes that you won’t be afraid of color. “People are painting lots of grays and whites, which is useful in photographs, but in real life, it’s a little bit sad. Color makes you feel happy and lifts your mood. . . . If you have a room full of grays and neutrals, add a pink or a blue or a green, and it will just sing.”