Cara's Blog, Decor, home & DIY

How I Became An Upcycling Queen


Let me start this post with a little fact about myself, I`m naff at DIY!

I’m finally ready to admit it, I’m the type of person who claims to love DIY, I always have a little project planned, “planned” being the operative word here, because I almost never get around to actually starting my projects. I love all things homemade and I love the feeling of accomplishment when you make something yourself, the problem is everything I make or do turns out crap. My cakes always sink in the middle, my sewing always gets tangled up in the machine, I gave up on cross stitch because it takes too long, I can’t even do mindful colouring without going over the lines because I get bored and sloppy!

My proudest DIY moment was probably putting our flatpack IKEA cot up while I was 7 months pregnant, it’s probably the only project I’ve ever completed without a hitch. I think my main problem is that I don’t plan my projects well enough, I just jump right in there! There’s nothing more annoying than deciding you want to do something now then realising you actually need to do a load of research and measuring and prep work before you can start. I end up bored of the project before its even begun and giving up.

That was until now! I’ve finally found something I’m amazing at and it’s something that I thought would take the most prep of all, upcycling furniture! I need to share this because I believe everyone should know how easy it really is, so easy even a total DIY failure like me can do it.

I love the shabby chic, vintage-y look and for years I’ve been acquiring furniture and promising myself that I will one day turn it into a work of art fit for a French country cottage. I’ve always envied the people who have completed these seemingly miraculous transformations, turning old junk into the type of furniture you would pay serious money for in a trendy little shop. But the prep I imagined would be involved always made me think twice, most of my furniture is varnished would take hours to sand down ready for painting.

So, I started asking around, talking to friends who had successfully “upcycled” bits and pieces, and they all told me they used the same thing, Annie Sloan chalk paint. so, I did a bit of research (I know boring, right?) and what I found out sounded too good to be true, it appeared that beyond a quick wash down your furniture requires absolutely no prepping at all before painting with Annie Sloan! Yes, you heard me, ZERO prepping! No countless hours of sanding and houses full of dust!

From the sounds of it I just needed to clean my furniture, apply a few coats of paint, distress it to my liking, then apply a thin coat of wax (I know this sounds like a catch but keep reading, I promise the waxing was the easiest part). I was like SIGN ME UP! Surely I can do this, this is my chance to redeem myself and end the cycle of DIY failure, I can be an upcycling Queen!!!!

tools and paint

Now I know Annie Sloan paint is expensive, but ask yourself, is it worth it to not have all the stress and mess of sanding? HELL YES! Also a little tin goes a long, long way! I got a tin of Old White and a tin of Paris Grey chalk paint, and a little tin of clear wax. I also got the special Annie Sloan brushes for my project, you can use normal paint brushes and a lint free cloth to apply the wax but you’re going to get a better finish with the proper tools.

before1So, for my first project I chose this dark wood bookcase I use to display my cloth nappes and slings, it was given to us by one of my nanna’s friends and I love it, but it doesn’t really fit in with the décor in our front room and I’ve always wanted to paint it. So, next time my nanna took Tom out for the day I cleared off all the stuff and pushed it into the kitchen on an old bedsheet to get started. I gave it a quick wash down with warm water and I was ready to go.

Remember to always paint in a well-ventilated room with the kids out the way because paint can let off some nasty fumes, I opened the double patio doors in our kitchen before I got to work painting.

Anyone else actually enjoy painting? I think there’s something quite therapeutic about the repetitive movement and seeing something transformed in front of you, I like how Annie Sloan paint is quite thick and gives good coverage even with only one coat, but you can thin it down with water if you want a more sheer finish. I used the Old White to paint the whole thing then went over the edging and detailing with the Paris Grey.

After my first coat dried I was contemplating leaving it as it was, I liked the effect and the fact you could still see the dark wood though the paint in places but Mark convinced me to apply another coat them distress it and it still turned out lovely. The paint dried so quickly, took maybe an hour or two? I left it over night between coats anyway just because I was so set on leaving it with just the one coat and I wanted to ask other peoples opinion.  After two coats, I whipped out the sandpaper and got to work on the edges and the detailing, trying to distress it around the areas that would get the most wear and tear naturally, I think I did quite well considering it was my first time.

I’ll admit I was wary about the waxing, it sounded like a faff on and I put it off for a little bit, the bookcase spent a few days in the kitchen waiting for me to bite the bullet and find the time between working and mam-ing. Looking back, I could have easily waxed it during one of Tom’s naps but I was unsure of how long it would take. With the special wax brush from Annie Sloan (looks a bit like a huge kabuki brush) the whole thing took about 15 minutes to wax, you only need a very thin coat and it spreads very easily using the brush, afterwards I gave the whole thing a quick wipe down with an old t-shirt to remove and excess then left it overnight to din room finishedry completely.


I’m over the moon with how it tuned out and now it looks so good in our front room. I still have about half a tin of the white left and almost a full tin of grey, more than enough for a few little projects. Now I have a list of things now lined up waiting to be upcycled and made into shabby chic masterpieces, so keep an eye out on my Instagram feed for more projects like this one.


There are loads of gorgeous colours to choose from and so many different effects you can achieve with this paint, so if you’ve been thinking about updating piece of old furniture but you’re worried about how much work it would take, I urge you to pop over to the Annie Sloan site and have a quick browse for inspiration, and feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll do my best to answer.


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