An English Yellow Transformation

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I found this chest of drawers at a summer sale sometime in June. It was a piece that was built by an older (my age!) man’s father. I am guessing the father was quite a meticulous person as everything seemed to line up and fit perfectly. I have to admire this kind of precision. Ordinarily, I would pass a piece like this because I tend to search for curvy lines or embellishments, but something in me admired the way it was solidly built, not to mention the sentiment of a man who seemed to get everything right. Actually, it was a piece my own dear father could have built. It also had great hardware.

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This purchase was also around the same time that I received Annie Sloan’s newest color in my store, English Yellow. Now I have to admit, my personal color palette does not include this color. I just have never been a “yellow” kind of person. I think part of this is due to my more introverted nature. I never want to embrace a color that stands out too much for my wardrobe or my home. All that aside, I am also one to embrace a change and a new idea.

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And, hey, who doesn’t turn their eye toward this luxuriant yellow? Saturated yellow with a saturated green, it doesn’t get any better than that.

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So I embraced the new English Yellow and painted my new solidly built piece of furniture on a very, beastly hot day a few weeks later in July. A few weeks later I was off to France with my husband and then a week after that our three grandchildren arrived for three weeks to stay with us in Portland. The yellow piece languished waiting to be finished. I had originally intended to use one of Royal Designs Studio Stencils. In fact, I had slipped the stencil in one of the drawers. It was “Small Scrollallover”, a really great furniture stencil.

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Last week one of my customers asked me how I intended to finish my English Yellow piece and I told her I was going to stencil it in Pure White. She suggested Graphite. I said, “What a great idea!” I painted the hardware in Graphite and added dark wax as well to these.

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But yikes, I hate the color of my store!! Funny, but when we were doing all the work inside, I was so strung out on decisions and stress that I mistakenly decided to try and match the tiles that were already in place, the yellow being the more predominant color than it is in this photo. I know the color it should be, but getting the time to change it is a bit of a stretch. Anyone up for a painting party before the rain starts? I will swing for the wine!! I am thinking of a lighter version of Graphite!

Exploring colors

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Today was a full day of exploring color and combinations of colors, just the kind of day I love to have in my shop. I started color consulting by appointment and it has worked out very well. These three colors were created to match a customer’s fabrics and rugs and furnishings.

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This woman was from Montana visiting Portland with her husband for an event that he was attending. She came into the shop wanting to layer a few colors and also explore some ideas for her kitchen cabinets. This sample piece we painted was layered with Duck Egg Blue and covered with Old Ochre, a color that looks beautiful with dark wax accents.

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Then I had a surprise visit from a very talented painter that was going to paint a monochromatic design on my workshop area wall for me. We had discussed colors and designs several times and when she was ready to paint I decided to have her paint on a board that I could carry with me to shows as well as move around for store display. I was so thrilled to have her bring the final piece by this afternoon. I loved her use of the Chalk Paint® and the exquisite beauty of her design.

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When I was in Paris six weeks ago I found myself taking numerous photos of painted doors. This reminded me of one of my favorite Annie Sloan colors, Aubusson Blue. I will be painting a piece soon in my shop using the amazing color with two color wash variations.

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I think we all love before and after photos. I had this cabinet in Mendocino in my workspace in a little house in our backyard. When we recently sold the house and moved everything to Portland I finally had a chance to re-paint this piece and have a space for my collection of fabrics, trims, and buttons.

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When my grandchildren were here two weeks ago, one of my grandsons helped me paint the piece Louis Blue. I then went over it with a wash of Old Violet and Duck Egg Blue.

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This morning during the furniture painting workshop, we had the best time playing with Emperor’s Silk as well as Florence and French Linen. There is always so much enthusiasm in these workshops and the heightened chatter as the morning wears on always makes me feel as if we women are there as much for support and friendship as we are there for honoring our creative yearnings.

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One woman decided to paint her chair Florence and add some dark wax and distressing too.

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She had never worked with the Chalk Paint® before, but when she was done she felt she had joined the group of confident achievers, ready to tackle another project and some other amazing colors!

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Another student decided the Emperor’s Silk was her chosen color, but she wanted to apply dark wax after she had applied the clear wax. The result was a beautiful, rich nearly oxblood Chinese red. Very beautiful! And she walked in saying she was really not a very good painter. When she was done she was ready to paint the rest of her dining room set!

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My friend, Wendy a woman of immense talent and taste and an interior designer as well, painted her beautiful table in Emperor’s Silk and then covered it with French Linen. She distressed it back in certain areas to expose the red underneath and it was stunning. I told her I needed to try her combination because I had not yet done this and the result was elegant, timeless, and sophisticated.

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Now the next two days I will be home sorting through our books and boxes that we moved from our home in Mendocino. It is slowly taking shape and soon I will be posting newly painted furniture that we did for our home decor “remodel”.

Back in states!

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I have had a love affair with France for as long as I can remember. I have been a visitor for the last 16 years with some stays as long as two weeks or as short as four days, but my husband and I would never go to Europe without a stop in Paris wherever we were headed. We love the country, every inch of it, and have had ongoing commitments to learn the language because of its beauty and musical quality. I secretly long to live there if only to become fluent in the language and culture.
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Paris is a city that captivates and steals your heart. The French people are gracious if you try to respect their culture and speak a little of their language. I have never had a bad experience in my travels there. (This is Sacre Coeur above Montmartre).
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Yesterday we left our hotel in the morning, our last day in Paris, and had an ambling, relaxed sort of day. We wandered over to the Luxembourg Gardens because my husband had spent several hour there the day before listening to an audio book. In all my travels to Paris, I had never been there. I was a little mystified by this. I love gardens and parks, so why had I missed this? This is truly a personification of how French people embrace their surroundings and enjoy those perfect serene moments in a day. Chairs are everywhere throughout the park, so you can simply sit down and rest or read or write in a journal or take in the sounds of your surroundings and simply watch people. It helps one to embrace the moment, slow down, and appreciate what is in front of you for a minute or maybe an hour. It is absolutely the treasured moment in French living.
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On our walks amidst the narrow winding streets and charming neighborhoods, I passed by the window that displayed the Fortuny book that I sell in my shop. There it was, a British flag composed of all manner of Fortuny fabrics. Wow! I nearly jumped up and down. What a treat to experience this! I think Annie Sloan would love this too!
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And we always stop by The Shakespeare Bookstore across from Notre Dame that has the most exciting literary history of any English speaking bookstore in the world!
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I always walk away with one or two more books to read with that special stamp they put inside. Really, it is a necessary and treasured pilgrimage for many. If you know anything about Hemingway and James Joyce and Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sylvia Beach, it would be a destination point on your map.

Puces de Saint-Ouen

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If you are planning a trip to France and would like to visit some flea markets, this is the best current resource available for research on the markets. It includes all the major ones in France and describes the area as well as what to find in each market and gives driving directions. I highly recommend it.
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The woman at this stall had the most beautiful array of metallic trims and ribbons. I was in heaven looking at all of this amazing collection. She also had tons of beads and this was really her specialty. Since I do not make jewelry, it would have been a feast for anyone that did.
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All of the indoor markets are in this hall on two floors. Primarily it boasts beautiful furniture and furnishings at pretty steep prices. I walked around here a bit and then headed out to the stalls that wind around narrow lanes. You can also choose different areas of the markets that specialize in certain items and this is where the book comes in handy.
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My husband and I had lunch and then ventured over to one of the smaller markets that specialized in textile related items. Here we found an actual store that sold the most amazing vintage clothing and antique dresses as well as drawers and drawers of ribbons, trims, buttons and passementerie. Some of the drawers were so jammed with items you had to tug to get them open. I could have spent hours and hours here!
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Unfortunately you could not take photographs inside the store, but to my surprise my husband had taken a few photos of the outside of the store where they displayed tables of more eye candy to buy.

Lyon Flea Market

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On Saturday we took the train from Avignon to Lyon in order to attend a flea market on Sunday. This was my least favorite market of the three, and if I had to do over again, I would skip this market and figure another one to attend before leaving for Paris Sunday evening.

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This market just seemed to not have a cohesive and organized feeling to it. Everything was fairly pricey, but I did purchase a few linens. However, I was over it way before I had worn myself out.

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Solon was waiting patiently taking pictures of unique things as well as listening to his book on tape.

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I was longing to return to our first place of lodging near Avignon, but it was time to board the train for Paris for our third and final day of flea markets.

Arriving in France

We arrived in Paris at 7:00 AM Thursday morning having left Portland 24 hours earlier. We waited another 7 hours in the train station waiting to board a train to take us south to Avignon where we were to visit a flea market on Saturday.  Needless to say our arrival at the hotel was a welcome respite.
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The grounds were beautiful, even magical. Beyond this whimsical statue of a man adorned with birds and cages was a lovely aviary filled with colorful parakeets.
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We ate breakfast in the mild weather outdoors for two mornings. This is when you pinch yourself to make sure you are really where you appear to be.
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The morning after we arrived, we ventured on to one of my favorite Provençal towns, L’isle-Sur-La-Sorgue. There are many beautiful antique shops in this idyllic, picturesque setting. I took a photo of a painted table in a window trying to guess what color it could be if one wanted to recreate it.
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How can one resist a beautiful candy shop? Lined up in clear glass jars were lollipops of every color! Tomorrow I hope to catch up to where we currently are in the city of Lyon. We arrived at our hotel just as the Tour de France has passed by! There is so much to share before we head back up to Paris tomorrow evening. I will be back soon with more enticing photos and flea market finds!
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My Dining Room Makeover

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Since I became a stockist for Chalk Paint® decorative paint. I have moved away from the brighter colors in my home.  It has not been a sudden change, but more gradual over time.  I have started to lean towards softer colors and looks.  I loved this dining room for a very long time and really gleaned a lot of enjoyment from it, but it was a time for a change.

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This is the newly painted room, yet to be put back together.  I chose a beautiful grey and took all the curtains off the windows.  I will probably put up some embroidered cotton voile curtains that were there originally because they allow for some light in the room plus privacy.

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I started with this buffet that I purchased at an estate sale.  My intent was to paint it and sell it in my shop, but I may keep it.  I am on the fence about this.

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I painted it with 1/4 quart of Paloma and 3/4 quart of Old White with clear wax and then a little dark wax in the detailed areas.  I painted the interior with Paloma, a color I absolutely love.  When I had my other store, I had painted a wall with this color and loved its quiet and simple beauty.  One of these days, I hope to remove the wallpaper I put up in our bedroom and paint the room with Paloma and the bedroom set in Old White.  Someday…..

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I added a little gold gilding wax to some of the details.  This wax is a dream to use, so easy to get an instant embellishment.  It is applied as the very last step.  If I were to apply it and then put clear wax over it then I would remove the majority of the gilding wax.

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My next piece of furniture in the dining room was a slant top desk I have had for over thirty years.  It has been through many moves and seen many homes, including a garage of a friend of my son’s who stored it for me while I was in transition between moves one year.  I debated selling this piece for the last ten years and then decided to paint it.

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I repaired some gouges on the top.  The desk has nice lines, good legs, and a slant top.  It is quite old and presumably is Italian but I have never been able to place the design in any time period.

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I chose Paris Grey with clear and dark wax.  This piece was great for a little distressing as the imperfections in the wood seem to lend the piece to this look.  It looks great in the room now and I am learning to love it all over again.

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My goal was to make it look more Swedish than Italian.  I think the Paris Grey inherently lends itself to a more Swedish appeal.

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I have had this piece in my living room for some time now waiting to be finished and moved to my store.  This last week I finally finished it and am happy to say that as soon it is out of the living room I can begin the revision of this room.  I saw this look in a magazine and wanted to try and duplicate the color with the gilding.  I started with the color Florence thinking I could tone it down with Old White.  It took a lot of experimenting to get the piece the way I wanted it and then I ended giving it a wash of Duck Egg Blue which finally achieved the color I was looking to duplicate.

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I love the hardware on this piece.  I added some of the gilding wax that I put on the dining room buffet.

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I applied dark wax after I covered the entire piece with clear wax, but only used the dark wax in areas that were recessed or detailed.

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Now I am back to my store to finish up some projects there, a chair that is sitting on my workshop table.  I leave today for LA to visit my youngest daughter, her husband and two little boys, one who is turning a year old.  I will be back in my store on Tuesday.  Solon, my husband will be minding the store until then!

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Where does a year go???

Stencil Crazy

I don’t know about you, but I like to follow a thread whether it is a story or a project or a creative impulse. So the last few days in my shop, I have been stenciling to my heart’s content.

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Forever changing things in my store, I decided to move a cabinet and clear the way for a space to sell painted furniture. The back of the cabinet was particle board….ugly. However, it loved the Chalk Paint® Coco, but it needed some additional interest so I added a stencil called “Oriental Toile”. I love this stencil because of its lace-like quality.

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This is a close-up of the stencil. I painted it in Versailles and then overlaid it with Country Grey and Old White.

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This window is really a great display piece to my store, but since it is separate and a bit removed, I decided finally to add a window stencil using one of Royal Design Stencils. I painted it using more Old White and a little Country Grey.

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Of course when one is on a creative roll there is really nothing to stop the momentum. I have these really great wood panels on the exterior of my shop. They are perfect for featuring something really special. Since I am in the mode of redoing a little bit of my store, I chose another of Royal Design Stencils to display a little damask beauty. I painted the background with Chalk Paint® decorative paint in a combination of one third Graphite to two thirds Old White. After that was dry, I stenciled the damask design with a combination of mostly Old White tinted with Country Grey.

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A close-up…

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And to end a note of further color beauty, my favorite all-time rose, David Austin’s Abraham Darby gave me the gift the last few days of its first rose and buds. Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful, nurturing mothers!

Drunk with Sunshine

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I used to be such a dedicated blogger and follower four years ago.  If I did not write a post three times a week and share a little of my life, I felt something was amiss.  Now with my shop and my husband home and retired, I find that there simply are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I have on my ongoing list.  One morning, on my routine walk, I took a photo of this tulip, and it gave me a chance to pause…..what is it that moves us in our lives?  I would have to say that every time I see a beautiful garden or flower in bloom, I am moved to arrest my pace and slow my life down.  Coupled with the warmth and the sunny days we have had in Portland lately, I have been feeling a little drunk with sunshine.  I think that is a good thing.

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If you have followed any of my postings on Facebook, you will know that I tried to adopt a store kitty.  When that did not work out, I decided perhaps having Sophia in the store for a few days might be the best way to expose her beauty and sweetness to the world.  It did not take long.  Sophia is one of those creatures that is so delightful and social that it is easy to fall in love with her.  She is moving to Seattle to be a big city girl with another very special girl who will love her immensely.  I am thrilled and so are all the parties involved that made this happen!

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Last summer I really neglected my garden.  I was just too busy with my shop and business to give it the attention and care that it needed.  With my husband home, I have had a chance to get back to it and nurture the beauty that to me is always a rose.  Yesterday as I was watering, I grabbed my phone and took a close-up of this rose.  I am a huge fan of Heirloom Garden Roses in Oregon.  They sell the most beautiful own-root roses. Last year when I was out there stocking up on a few things, I came across a table called “mystery roses”.  They were all on sale because they had lost their tags and could not be named.  Did I ever find a beauty!!  I really don’t care what she is called, but she must be one of the older roses, the singles that boast their beauty through simplicity and elegance. 

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Sunday, the beginning of my weekend, I decided to start the completion of a project that I have been working on for awhile.  I love painting furniture at home, but it is not a thing I can indulge in very often due to time and guilt.  Guilt?  When I am home, I feel I should be catching up on so many things that are pulling at me, laundry, cleaning, weeding, grocery shopping, the well known routines we all have.  But on this day, I just picked up my brush and started working.  I love the process of applying metallic leaf to a piece.  And I wanted to try my new product by Artisan Enhancements that I just brought into my store.

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I am so anxious to finish this piece.  I purchased the furniture almost a year ago when my neighbors were moving and having an estate sale.  The lines are beautiful and I love the hardware.  It will be moved to my shop soon, I hope.

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Many of you have come to know my husband, Solon by coming in the shop and being charmed by his polite Southern manner and greeting.  I cannot tell you what a boost he has given my business as well as my energy.  For a long time he has wanted to paint some outdoor furniture, primarily an Adirondack chair that we have had for some time.  He picked the color, Chalk Paint® Greek Blue.

ImageIt was a hot sunny afternoon on Saturday and Solon was determined to finish this and set it out in the side yard, where we seldom sit, so he could have a place to relax and get a different perspective of the neighborhood.

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I offered to finish it so he could mow the lawn.  I really love this color for summer furniture, and of course there will be no wax finish.  I cannot wait to see how it weathers and becomes even more beautiful!

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I cannot tell you how many times I have driven up to the house to see Solon sitting in this chair with the most peaceful look on his face.  This is not just girl’s paint!  Boys love it too!!