Country Traditions

October 30, 2010

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian

Filed under: decorating, farming, furniture, painting, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:44 pm
Antique French Bamboo washtand - black pink an...

Image by via Flickr

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

via Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

Style tips for the distressed home

1 Avoid the overly ornate. A curling French bed looks great in a sparse room with white painted floorboards, but straight-edged, blocky shapes work better under distressed paint as there’s less to distract the eye.

2 Colder, neutral tones work best – from dark to pale grey to blue-whites. Avoid creamy and yellow tones that will tip you towards Scotts of Stowterritory. If you’re brave and have an artistic eye, experiment with strong colours such as turquoise (très Provençal) or pea green (rather Bloomsbury set). But be warned – most of us don’t have an eye. For a safer strong colour, dark grey is always a winner – check out Downpipefrom Farrow & Ball.

3 Pay attention to handles – anything shiny or attention-seeking is out. Safest is to paint-in round wooden handles, which makes them disappear: the distressed ethos is about quiet elegance, not shouty dingly-dangly bits. Another alternative are half-moon handles, which are often sold in an aged patina.

4 Be inspired. If you’re commissioning built-in distressed furniture, collect pictures of the desired look to show your carpenter. Think about structure first. If you want blocky, Shaker styling, draw up trad panel doors. Bevelling, or perhaps mirror panels, on bedroom wardrobes? Colour and the level of distressing comes later.

5 Never underestimate the importance of the tester pot.

The basic technique

1 Remove all handles and other hardware.

2 Sand the piece thoroughly – boring, yes, but vital to the finished product. Don’t lose interest yet.

3 Apply a coat of primer. White is fine, but if you want to vary the look, use a toning undercoat (grey under white, say), which will show through at the distressing stage.

4 Apply two thin coats of matt eggshell. The more matt, the better. Farrow & Ball has a woodwork paint called Dead Flat. Say no more.

5 Once dry, sand it down again to expose tasteful glints of raw wood or primer. Go hard on edges, crevices and curves for that beaten-up look.

6 Wipe it all clean, then coat with a wax paste to seal the deal.

Make it age, and fast…

1 Cheap picture frames can be instantly antiqued using Rub ‘n Buff (in silver leaf or pewter) – try Amazon and online craft sites. Dab a small amount along the raised ridges for that Miss Havisham glint.

2 To age a modern mirror, brush flecks of grey paint into the corners where it meets the frame, especially if there are cracks or indentations. But do this sparingly and carefully. “It’s quite a delicate job,” warns interior designer Gill Richardson.

3 Painted floorboards scuff up all by themselves – as long as you don’t varnish them. Several coats of floor paint is enough to protect boards but malleable enough to scuff quite quickly. For perfection, varnish over the top coat. Lighter shades will age more quickly than dark floors.

4 Don’t forget the garden. Railway sleepers make great raised garden beds. Paint them with live yoghurt and you’ll get a beautiful patina of growing lichen – within hours.


September 12, 2010

Whitewash Tips

Filed under: painting — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 8:13 pm

white wash brick

white wash fence

Whitewash can be colorized in any recipe for whitewash. You can make whitewash paint with different ingredients. Whitewash painting takes a little practice, but you can match older finishes and be whitewashing like a pro with a bit of testing.

When I looked at the specifications for the room addition job 11 years ago, I thought I was seeing things. The architect had actually specified a whitewash finish! It made sense after you went to the jobsite to look at the original home. The house was built in the 1920’s and looked like an English cottage. It looked to me as if it was painted white and was simply in need of a new paint job but what I was looking at was a magnificent whitewash finish that was about 35 years old.

No Peeling!

One of the things that amazed me was the fact that the finish on the house was not peeling. There were bare brick in places and some places where you could barely see through to the brick below but that was intentional. The original painters had varied the thickness of the whitewash and actually left it off in places to simulate a faded or worn look. How clever of them! My challenge was to duplicate this old look on a new room addition. I’ll cut to the chase. I did it and if you were to drive up to the jobsite today you could not tell the difference between old and new. It took a few experimental attempts, but my painters and I got the job done.

What is in It?

Whitewash formulas and recipes are quite different. Some reference all sorts of different ingredients but perhaps the most important one is lime. If you have worked with cement or brick mortar then you know why lime is a key ingredient. Lime is a powder that does something special once mixed with water. When you add water to lime a chemical reaction begins. Millions of tiny crystals start to grow. These crystals allow the lime or whitewash to tenaciously grab onto whatever it is applied to. It is not unlike the small briars that stick to your socks and pants when you walk through the woods.

There are other strange ingredients in different whitewash recipes. I can’t tell you what they do or how they affect the final product since the whitewash I used only contained hydrated lime and salt.

Installation Tips

Once you mix up whitewash you usually don’t have to use it right away. In fact some of the recipes want you to let it sit overnight or for a day before you apply it. It is also a great idea to make sure the surface you are applying it to is clean and damp. The lime crystals will penetrate deeper into the wood or the masonry if it is slightly wet.

The whitewash usually goes on blotchy. It looks like it is not covering well. But wait till the next day! If you put on a normal coat as you would paint, it dries a brilliant white. The best thing to do is to experiment on small areas. See what you think about how white it turns out.


Whitewash doesn’t have to be white. You can make it look dirty by adding charcoal dust. You can make it look yellow by adding dry shake pigments. There are all sorts of ways to color it. The key is to experiment! Mix small batches and carefully note the concentrations. Always let it dry for several days to see the final color.

You can buy the dry pigments at businesses that sell special products to concrete contractors. These are special places that will be listed in the Yellow Pages under Concrete – Supplies. They also sell all sorts of wonderful epoxies, sealers and other things that concrete contractors need.

Remember, the key to success with whitewash is experimentation. You want to try it on a test wall or some spot to get the feel and look of it. Wait till you see it!

Create a free website or blog at