How To Use Chalk Paint Like A Pro


In my Just Ask category I receive dozens of questions about painting furniture and I love sharing ideas and tips that have been passed down in my family. Recently the questions pertain to chalk paint so I wanted to share how I like to use it and exactly what it is for my readers that are just learning about it.


What is chalk paint- Often confused with chalkboard paint which it is not. Chalkboard paint is also a favorite but you use it to create a chalkboard that you can draw on with chalk. Chalk paint is a velvety smooth, matte finish paint that is easy to use with just about no priming necessary and can be used indoors as well as outdoors.

Select Your Color– I adore Annie Sloans Chalk Paints, her colors are exquisite and feel fabulously antique and French. You can’t go wrong if you have a basic idea of the design aesthetic you are looking to achieve.

Select Your Finish– Which finish fits your design aesthetic best; sleek and smooth, a vintage distressed feel or a wash that allows the wood grain to show through.

Create A Smooth Finish- For a smooth finish add a little water to the chalk paint and use a flat brush. It is easy to apply and the results are always consistent.


Create a Distressed Finish– For a vintage feel thicken up the paint by leaving the lid off and apply with a bristle brush. Once fully dried I use a hand sander to distress the areas where natural wear would take place, sand paper also works.

Create A Wash– For a finish that allows the wood grain to show through with subtle color add more water. Don’t be afraid of mixing chalk paints or adding water, it is a very forgiving product to work with.

Protect Your Work– Use a clear wax to protect the finish, Annie Sloan has one or Minwax Clear Wax also works well.

The best part of chalk paint is that you can use it on wood, plastic and even metal. You can easily revitalize an old piece of furniture, increase your curb appeal by painting your shutters or give the floor a fresh feel, you are going to love it!


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A Country Treehouse



My obsession with treehouses and tiny homes is alive and kickin, I think it has to do with the idea of living more simply with exactly what you need verses want. Something I could probably never do LOL. Today’s “treehouse” tour combines the charm of cottage chic styling with attention to detail and function.

My favorite treehouse designs are those that blend in with their surroundings, seamlessly integrated into the environment. This treehouse does exactly that, built around the tree trunks incorporating vintage pieces and cottage design elements. It also has a wrap around deck to enjoy the beautiful views and sunsets. A pop of vibrant blue complements the antique stained glass window, lovely.





Every inch of the house it utilized including a sleeping loft, kitchen area and dining table. Simple lace is hung over the window and hand-made quilts are the perfect accessory.







Who says tree houses are just for kids? I think this is the perfect spot to settle in with a good book and a cup tea in the afternoon or cocktails at sunset, I really need to build one.


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Bikini Beach Bliss

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A while back I was introduced to designer Annabel Kwateng who launched her line during fashion week, Ashanti Brazil. I was intrigued by Annabel’s bold use of color and pattern, and how she drew inspiration from the vibrant colors of the environments that surround her, read more here. Today I am sharing her fresh new line of swimwear and the inspiration that makes this line come to life.

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African and Brazilian cultures are expressed in Annabel’s summer wear brand found in patterns and colors infused with inspiration from the beach and coastal living. As a designer I am often inspired by the latest fashion trends from swimwear to couture, looking at this line I am reminded that sometimes you just need to “go for it” when it comes to color and pattern. Enjoy those beach days friends!

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Just Ask A Designer: Kitchen Countertops


Q. I am preparing to replace my kitchen’s tile countertop with either granite or quartz. I am struggling with the appropriate color of the new countertop and specifically whether to go dark for contrast or light for a seamless look.  I have white cabinets and light colored flooring.  Are there any design hints you can share on how to think about this big decision? Thanks for your expert opinion!  Jill

PicMonkey Collage4 A. It is a big decision selecting the countertop for your kitchen, one that will have a huge impact on the overall design aesthetic you are creating. Based on the information Jill sent in there are several directions she could go in, lets start with exploring the options including the pros and cons of each.

Granite- Probably the stone I specify the most based on the variations in color, pattern, price point and durability. With white cabinets you can go with light or dark granite, it is a personal preference. I have been over the moon recently for honed (not shiny) black granite shown in the first image. This look works with light or dark floors and creates a design aesthetic that combines cottage and farmhouse influences. Left, white granite for a monochromatic look that is a more durable alternative to Carrara Marble. Kashmir white granite has a warmer hue but keeps the look light and airy with some horizontal movement if you are looking for subtle contrast to the cabinets.



Marble- Stunning and classic requiring slightly more maintenance and care than granite but worth the effort in my opinion. For my clients that want a true Carrara look there really is no substitute. Shown above in a thick slab for a real wow factor but typically specified in thinner slabs. Marble is porous and can stain easily, I recommend taking extra precautions when preparing meals and more frequent sealing. Sealing sounds intimating but it is actually a simple process; purchase marble sealant and a sponge, wipe the sealant onto the surface and allow it dry thoroughly, I recommend over night.


Soap Stone– One of my favorite choices when a client is looking for a darker color and interesting material. Looks similar to honed black granite but certain slabs can have some veining adding another element of character and charm.

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Quartz– A manufactured natural stone, I often use CaesarStone or SileStone based on the color and texture I am after, their quality is equal. Quartz countertops are virtually indestructible and the look is consistent. When you select a natural stone you need to select the slab because each slab can vary greatly. With a manufactured product like quartz what you see is what you get. The negative is that it is more expensive than most granite and marble, I like using it in bathrooms.


Concrete- Pictured above is a concrete countertop, it is such an interesting option that can be easily combined with granite in the same space. I use it mainly on kitchen islands to change up the look and add some character.


Wood– I like to use wood on islands for warmth especially when I cannot fit a dining table in the kitchen. I stray away from it on the countertops because of wear and mold concerns but love the look and use it sparingly.


When choosing countertops for your kitchen consider first the look you are after, then decide if dark or light stone fits this aesthetic best. Once you have made those decisions it’s on to which type of material you are going to use based on style, function and your budget. Don’t be intimidated when your contractor sends you to the stone yard to select your slab if you are going with natural stone. There are actually very few slabs that you will like for your kitchen and the right choice will stand out. For more tips on kitchen design and a step by step guide to designing your dream kitchen read more here.


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