Back on what I think was the last day I felt vaguely normal before taking to my sick bed I had an amazing child-free day cashing in my birthday present from Mr C. Rather than buying things I asked for an experience gift and he came up trumps by paying for me to attend a workshop at local shop Lavender Blue.
The workshop I chose was one in which you take an old chair, very much like this one...
... and then use Annie Sloan paints and fabric to turn it into something quite special.
Before attending the workshop I'd got visions that much of my day would be spent sandpaper in hand removing all the old varnish from a chair before being able to paint it. How wrong I was.
The beauty of Annie Sloan chalk paint is that you can use it on pretty much any surface and the preparation that you need to do is minimal. In our case Lavender Blue bought these chairs from an auction for the purpose of the course, so we just needed to ensure that there was no sticky tape or stickers on them from the auction and to remove the seat.
And that's it. You really don't need to do anything more at all.
Choosing paint took a while, mainly because I'd been convinced before the workshop that I wanted to do something in a nice cornflower blue, but then I fell in love with all the shades of pink in the Annie Sloan range, in particular this gorgeous Scandinavian Pink. I mean how can you not love this colour?
The chalk paint is incredibly easy to apply and covers up original colours and surfaces so quickly. We were using Annie Sloan brushes and I have to say that although not completely necessary I think using a quality brush does help with the paint application. And it also removes the risk of cheap brush bristles ending up in the paint on your furniture!
It didn't take long to finish the first coat and it was amazing just how different the chair looked already.
Whilst the first coat of paint dried we turned our attentions to the seats. Now one way of doing this is just to cover the original fabric with a fire retardant fabric and then the patterned fabric of your choice. I decided that I wanted to try removing the original fabric though which was good in terms of experience, but also very hard work! Getting some of the old staples out was tough, especially around the lip bit at the front of the seat.
In the end I chose to use the Annie Sloan Faded Roses fabric, with the plan of putting one of the roses right in the centre of the seat. It was tough going attaching the fabric, but I certainly had a sense of achievement when it was finished.
We soon went on to do the second coat of paint and then apply the clear wax over it. This protects the paint and gives it a slightly different appearance. This was also the time to distress our chairs. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the distressed look so opted just to distress it a bit on a couple of edges so that you could get a glimpse of what the chair used to look like - an idea of its history.
And amazingly that's all we had to do! It's hard to believe that this was so dark and old fashioned when we started.
With the seat put back in place the chair was complete. I'm thrilled with how it turned out, even if it was nothing at all like what I had originally planned to do!
The course was fantastic in showing me what was possible with Annie Sloan paints in such a short period of time. I certainly had no idea how little preparation was involved, and that's something that had originally been putting me off doing furniture upcycling like this. I'm also really pleased to have something to show for my day - and it's great when people admire the chair in my kitchen to be able to say "well actually, I did that".
The other girl that was on the course with me chose much lighter coloured paint and also a striped fabric and it was fascinating to see just how different our finished chairs looked, despite starting with ones that were exactly the same. It just goes to show what is possible.
The workshop gave me so much confidence that I can try this at home and that's exactly what I plan to do in the new year. I'm keeping my eyes open in charity shops for pieces I could paint and I've also got much more of an idea of what's possible now. What a great way to spend a day!
Disclaimer: I paid in full for the Annie Sloan Take a Seat workshop at Lavender Blue and chose to blog about it because I enjoyed it so much. These views are all entirely my own and I have no hesitation in recommending this workshop to others.