How to create French painted furniture

I wanted to paint furniture to look like the furniture in Annie Sloan’s book CREATING THE FRENCH LOOK .  Unfortunately we don’t have access to the special Belgian paint she used in her work.  This is my solution and it works beautifully.  It is easier than any painted furniture you’ve ever tried to do.  Here’s my secret to achieving The French look of beautiful and very expensive French furniture.  You use water-based primer of the very best quality, and ordinary flat wall paint.


I used Aqua Lock water based 100% Acrylic primer paint in Gullwing Gray.  Your paint shop will tint your water based primer.  They can tint any colour as long as it isn’t terribly dark.   And remember it has to be water based.  Gullwing Gray is a Benjamin Moore paint colour.  The final coat is Benjamin Moore Aura mat water based paint.  The colour is oc-66 Snow white.   To finish you’ll need 500 ml of clear wax and 500 ml dark wax.  If you can’t find dark wax colour your wax  yourself with dark shoe polish.  Just be sure it doesn’t have a reddish tint.   You need a two-inch paint brush to apply the paint and a second old paint brush to apply the wax.  And that’s it (oh yes some fine sandpaper and lots of old soft cloths)

After you’ve lightly sanded the furniture (to give the paint tooth),  wiped it clean.  Then give it a good scrub with  equal parts vinegar and water.  Dry well.

Turn your furniture upside down and paint all the undersides with the primer.   It is important you don’t skip this step as it gives your furniture a finished, professional appearance.   One coat should do it.  You are now  finished with the underside.

Now  apply the primer thickly in smooth all-direction strokes to your furniture.  Be mindful of drips.   Apply two coats  (allowing for drying time)for a good finish.

When this dry apply your mat white paint thickly in smooth all-direction strokes.  When this is dry use your fine sandpaper  to sand around the edges and any place you want wear to show exposing the gray paint underneath and even some of the wood.  Let this dry overnight.

To give the find old and distressed  look,  and protection  use a dark wax all over.  At first this looks very dark.  Don’t worry.  Apply with a brush and remove the excess with a cloth.  Work in small areas at a time.  If you think it is still too dark use a little of the clear wax to remove the darker wax.

Finish off with a layer of clear wax, which will remove more of the dark wax, but leave it where you want the finish to be darker.  The next day, polish to give your furniture a sheen.  This is the finished piece.  How French is this!

Voila! you’ve created a master piece.

I created the candle-holders  from old table legs using the same process.  Hammer a nail into the top of candlestick and snip the head off.  It will anchor your candles.   If you find really tall table legs you should make a base to support them.  Again easily done and painted in the same way.

4 thoughts on “How to create French painted furniture

  1. you created a beautiful vignette with the chest, candle sticks and chandelier….any chance that you will open an online shop?

    Susan from West Vancouver wants to know.

    • Almost everything in that vignette has been sold on line. I’ve used Craig’s list but I plan in the future to open an online shop. And with good reason. It is hard for me to pass up some of the treasures I find. But my Country Home is rapidly becoming filled to capacity. I virtually have no empty walls and there are stacks of art waiting to be hung. My linen cupboard is stuffed to capacity and I have more crystal and dishes than I care to talk about. Hmmm time to share.

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