Annie Sloan’s World Domination

April 4, 2013


Annie Sloan has mesmerized multitudes of Americans. She has convinced us that every single piece of wood furniture in our homes must immediately be covered with paint. Not just any paint, but shabby, scruffy, worn and buffed Annie Sloan Chalk Paints.

We’ve managed to take the family heirlooms and make them look like something our Grandmothers would have thrown to the curb.  But for some reason, we love it! The Cottage – Shabby Chic movement looks like it’s going to be here for a while.

I think Annie Sloan’s ultimate plan is to make us paint all our furniture, then wait until the design pendulum swings the other way and make her second fortune selling us paint stripper.

Most Southerners can trace their family roots back to good ole’ country folk where “shabby” wasn’t so chic. My North Florida Grandparent’s home had beautiful old pine floors – which they covered with wall to wall carpeting.  “Why don’t you let your floors show?” I once asked.  “Those old pine boards? Why, they are just plain old wood!” was the practical answer.

Carpeting was something they didn’t have when they were young during The Great Depression, so as they furnished their first new home together, “new” was a sign of achievement.  They were perplexed when my husband and I pulled up our carpet and put down wood floors. There’s that design pendulum again.

My mother once burst into tears when she happened upon her Father-in-Law burning an old trunk. He thought it was just a dilapidated piece of junk, but she saw the beauty in the aged patina. He felt so sorry for her grief, that he went and found another old trunk in the barn, which made her happy, and made him scratch his head.

Somehow, old and beat – up, now looks fresh and new to us.  It’s casual. Fun. Lighthearted.  The furniture has an air of “I don’t really care how this old place looks, I have much more important things to think about than polishing and dusting stuffy formal furniture!”

Could it also be that we are longing for simpler times?  Times when formal dinners were just basic suppers with cornbread and dessert wasn’t picked up at a Publix, but made by a sweet Granny with a homemade apron around her waist?

Years ago, my Hartselle, Alabama Grandmother painted her china cabinet a queasy shade of 1960’s Avocado Green. When it came into my possession in the early 90’s, nothing would do except for me to strip the hideous paint. Days and days were spent in the sweltering Gulf Coast heat, wearing big gloves and inhaling chemicals.

This furniture has all been painted by local artist Debbie Holobaugh of Flower Child Designs in Fairhope. She will take your new furniture and give it a heap of “old.”

If I didn’t love her so much, Grandmother would have been cursed, right there under the Magnolia tree in my backyard. I declare, it was the closest I’ve ever come to breaking a real sweat.  Thank goodness for cold lemonade and good breeding!

The stripped cabinet now proudly sits in it’s glorious, original walnut beauty in a corner of my family room. I use Lemony Pledge on it every now and then to bring out the natural wood luster.

And honey, don’t you know, now I’m itching to paint it teal!  Kind of a beat–up, beachy teal would look fabulous! I’m trying to decide between Annie Sloan Provence or Greek Blue.

If I ever find the courage to paint the cabinet, I have a feeling that someday, my yet-to-be-born-but-promised-to-me-by-God-because-I’m-raising-two-mean-boys-Granddaughter, will spend days and days stripping off the bright paint.

But I’ll head off any animosity on her part by leaving a note tucked inside the china cabinet that tells her. . .

“Annie Sloan made me do it.”



  • I have a bedroom set that my Mom ‘antiqued’ years ago. It’s a very faded teal blue. When I looked inside one of the drawers on the highboy, it had a label saying it was made of elm. OMG, she painted ELM!! It really needs to be evaluated and perhaps restored by someone who knows what they’re doing, but I don’t (ALAS) have that kind of money……In her defense I grew up seeing her make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with a great many things, as we were downright poor. She loved to decorate, and it wasn’t unusual to come home from school and she had rearranged the furniture to the point where you would walk into something that wasn’t there when you left that morning. I had the bruises to prove it! LOL!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Your Mom sounds like a woman after my own heart! I could rearrange the furniture three times a day!

  • Love your post, sometimes I wrestle with that very thing, to paint or not to paint. I have a few heirlooms I would never touch, they look great as Is! Then I come across pieces that scream for Help!

  • You are so right about world domination…Annie Sloan paints are now available here in Australia!

    I came over to visit you to check out your pineapple vase post and I then found this post. I love your blog and your humorous writing style. I can’t wait to come back again soon!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  • HAH! I loved reading this wonderful post. The humor (and the truth in it) made me smile. I think we are such a peripatetic society in this country, not many people have things handed down any more, and so we try to create our own heirlooms where we have none. At least that’s my theory! Thanks for making me laugh today.

  • You’ve said exactly what I’ve been thinking only with a witty slant. You’re words are pricless.

    Home design changes like fashion and the day will come when our children will look back and say, “What were they thinking?” “Why did she want something that looks so nasty?”

    Annie Sloan has made a fortune off us!

  • Hi there. first visit here but not my last.thanks so much for the chuckle behind your witty words:)

  • Today I painted a table in the Old White! You are right one day many years from now people are going to say “why did everyone paint their furniture white?” Have a great week, Laura

  • I JUST finished having this conversation last week with a client ( I’m painting her entire mahogany dining room set inherited from an Aunt many years ago )
    I can’t believe it LMHO – told her not to worry – in 10 years Annie Sloan will have developed a stripper for her paints!!!!!!
    Still laughing my head off – what a coincidence LOL.

  • Ha…enjoyed your post! I love wood and if the piece is in good shape I won’t paint it. However if she needs to be refinished or the veneer is peeling…I’ll paint and I love AS paint. Just finished a piece and it turned out well. Hope you’ll come share at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

  • My mother put contact paper on a roll-top desk to try and ‘revive it.’ I sooooooo wish I was kidding. Not sure that was a memory I wanted to have resurface, lol!

    Your post was a good one. 🙂

    I’m visiting from Super Sunday Sync.

  • Oh, the memories you brought back:
    *my father cleaning out my grandparents house before it was torn down – I still remember the floor plan of that great farmhouse
    *my dad tossing out wonderful trunks with curved tops – 2 of my sister’s friends were headed off to college and each got a truck for the end of their beds in the dorm
    – stripping paint for days on an antique record cabinet that is now painted 3 different colors.

    I am going to stick with painted furniture even when it is out of style.

    thanks for bringing on the fun memories.

  • In 1970 before our son was born we acquired and stripped a very old Quebec baby cradle. It has been only given many coats of wax over the years. Later of course, we discovered that the traces of red paint were authentic and original and NOT to be removed…
    I still love the look but also have some “antiqued” pieces that suit our farmhouse. Our pine floors are a mess though. Pet paws and pine are a poor combination!

  • I like painting furniture – some of it – but I’m not a fan of ASCP. Tried it and didn’t like it! But you’re right, it’s been an ingenious marketing plan, hasn’t it?

    I have a trunk exactly lie the one you’ve shown – it was my grandmother’s – she took it to nursing school in the early part of the twentieth century.

    Thanks so much for joining in this week.


  • I should have my hubby read this! Every time I paint a piece of furniture he shrugs his shoulders and walks away!

    Big Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  • One good thing about this style– when the paint gets chipped, you don’t have to make a sprint for the paint can and brush.

  • In my opinion, it’s all about the quality of the wood. It’s a sin (IMHO) to paint over a beautiful wood; however, if a piece of furniture would be headed for the dump but for some chippy chalky paint, then paint away. That said, I’d paint over oak any day – just not a fan.

  • Still haven’t painted a stick of furniture, but I’m thinking about it, especially that tea cart I got from the thrift store. Hummm. Your post is swaying my indecision all over the place, but that’s one of my qualities. As someone once wrote, and it must have been about me, “she was a whirlwind of indecision.”

  • Well said! And very funny. I have had the same thoughts about AS selling us all a stripper in a few years. Some of the mess I see on the blogs is not to be believed, so badly done it is. Over the years I have painted with every technique known to man and many I developed myself as I went along. I think the smart user knows “when to hold’em and when to fold’em.” Or in this case, when and when not to paint.


  • I love “vintage-y,” beat-up furniture. That worn-in look. I love all of the pieces in your pictures. I think I could find places for all of it. 😉

  • How could we forget avocado green and harvest gold? My mama got caught up in that fad and “antiqued” the high chair from our childhood — green with a muddy glaze. Ugh. But I love all the white chalk painted furniture if you’re going for the cottage look.

  • Love this post. The same people painting will be stripping real soon:)

  • I guess I am a purist but all I can think about in regards to painting old furniture is how much it devalues an antique. That’s just my take on it.

  • I do not know where to start here except leaving a note to your God promised heirs is a brilliant idea. I am one of the few bloggers never to have used chalk paint. Largely because I am cheap. I do like the look.

  • I think giving an old piece of furniture new life is the most fulfilling thing. The furniture is usually good quality and has stood the test of time, not like the modern stuff we buy nowadays. It’s nice to have some nostalgia in our homes. Love it! Chel x

  • And I remember the antiquing craze where we painted beautifully varnished antique furniture some bright color, then wiped a glaze over it to make it look antique! Ah, I still have a small desk that needs stripping from that old antiquing!

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