Mid-summer madness

A touch of mid-summer madness took over this past week when I decided to renovate this wooden bureau which has been in the family for at least four generations. Once in my workshop I was suddenly unsure how to proceed.

Family heirloom

My initial thoughts were to use  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ to finish the outside in Antibes Green with an Emperor’s Silk red interior. However, after some deliberation I felt this was a rather old-fashioned combination and not one that would give this ugly piece of furniture a contemporary feel.

Annie Sloan inspiration

Looking for inspiration I came across a project in the Annie Sloan Paints Everything book. Here she transforms a chest of drawers using her Oak Leaf stencil and a selection of Chalk Paint™ colours, most of which I had in stock.

Base coat; Paris Grey

For the base coat I chose an old favourite, Paris Grey. This immediately made the bureau look less imposing and more contemporary. Although it is not shown in this photograph I had  painted the internal surfaces in Antibes Green and the shelf in a a mixture of Giverny, Duck Egg Blue, and Old White.

Annie Sloan Oak Leaf Stencil

Before embarking on applying the stencilled pattern to the bureau I practised on a piece of card. Using a small sponge roller and the Annie Sloan MixMat™ I was surprised how easy it was to achieve the required effect.


Spurred on by a surge in my confidence I applied my first colour, Aubusson Blue, to the bureau. I was thrilled – it looked just like the photograph in the book!

Aubusson Blue Chalk Paint™

My next choice of colour was Antibes Green. Initially I mixed the blue and green together before transitioning to the green as a standalone colour.

Antibes Green oak leaves

I could have left it there but I had as I had some of the blue mixture leftover from painting the internal shelf I decided to add more leaves in this colour. This provided a connection between the internal and external colour schemes.

Blue mixture Chalk Paint™

The finishing touch was to add some warm colours in a random fashion using an artist’s detail brush. This brought the whole scheme to life and gave the impression of real movement in the image. A thin layer of clear wax was applied for protection.

Hand painted detail

I am absolutely delighted with this transformation. I was pleased to have been given the bureau in the first instance but it took a long while to decide how to bring out the best in it.

Transformation complete

I hope you agree that this wild and whacky scheme is an improvement and that this ugly duckling has turned into a beautiful swan. Sometimes a little mid-summer madness is a good thing!

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  1. Wow what a transformation!!

    1. Thank you Julia. The bureau makes me smile every time I look at it!

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