Create a look of limed oak for French style interiors

Are you looking to banish the banal from your home and curate a bespoke look that’s unique to you with cleverly sourced or upcycled pieces? If so, I have a great project for transforming orange pine to a subtler limed oak finish with ease and simplicity. You can use this paint technique on anything that is stripped back to reveal the grain.

Charity shops, car boot sales and antiques fairs are full of fabulous, well-made old furniture just waiting to be given a new life. Furniture painting and refinishing is a huge industry these days. If you’re a lover of real wood or find a piece like this with lots of detail and character, you might want to go for a subtler approach than flat painting, one that retains the character of your piece and is neutral and easy to live with.

I was gifted this contemporary French sideboard. It was bought from a house clearance in Paris and was beautifully made but had been sandblasted to remove the heavy varnish. This meant that the grain was really open and ideal for a soft faded finish to knock back the orangey colour that was fighting with the beauty of the detail. With all these ornate carvings on the door panels, drawer fronts and the pretty decorative legs, I wanted to retain the beauty of the wood without flattening it with a solid colour.

To do this I created a wash of Annie Sloan Old White and French Linen, I used the French Linen to cool those orangey tones of the piece.  For a wash, I would generally use 50/50 paint to water, but for this I mixed 100ml of Old white, 100ml French Linen and 100ml water to retain a little more pigment.

You need to work quickly with your wash, just using a medium chip brush, scrubbing the paint water mixture into all the details, working one section at a time such as a door or a drawer. Work it while it is wet and you’ll see the grain transform before your eyes. Then use a wet cloth to take a bit of the paint from the top surface, leaving the wash to sit in the details. Keep washing your cloth in water and ringing it out thoroughly before you remove paint again to ensure you are taking excess paint away and revealing a ‘limed oak’ finish.

For the top, I created 3 watered down mixes of paint and water in 3 separate bowls to prepare a darker overall finish before using dark wax to fill the grain. To get this subtle patina use Annie Sloan Honfleur with Graphite, French Linen and Old White each mixed to the consistency of cream. Watered down paint fills the grain really easily and allows you to work quickly. I moving paint around the surface, this time in organic stripes to blend colours to create the look of coastal timber.

To finish the piece, I clear and white waxed the base and dark waxed the top so the beautiful grain was highlighted in reverse in each section making an amazing contrast. For staging, I created a beautiful green backdrop using Autentico Venice in Khaki with a little Annie Sloan Olive and Autentico Sea Fizz to add natural distress of a crumbling chateau. It’s such an easy to live with colour palette, and an expensive look that’s affordable to create.

For all the paints I used visit your local Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist. If you’re looking for specialist products for backdrops like mine try Autentico

Autentico has very kindly offered to give anyone following my links to purchase their products 10% off.  I will receive a small commission as a thank you. 

Just head over to the Autentico site in your country and use code JMM for the discount (available with AutenticoUKAustraliaFranceIreland and Holland).

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