Update with Paint

Paint is the do-it-yourselfer’s secret weapon. A little elbow grease, time and $50 or less can produce refreshed rooms, furniture, artwork and more. Emily Biggs specializes in empowering others to achieve their DIY dreams with freshly painted furniture. Owner of South of France Furniture Studio, Biggs offers in-studio classes that teach painting techniques, specializing in chalk-based paint, faux finishing, stenciling and hand distressing.

Editors Nancy Pardue and Emily Uhland trolled area thrift stores for cast-offs in need of TLC and looked to Biggs for a crash course to refresh and renew their finds.

LEFT – Emily's Pick: Windsor-style dining chair from Habitat for Humanity Cary ReStore, $10.  RIGHT – Nancy's Pick: Country-style footstool from K 'n' B's Market Place, Fuquay-Varina, $4.

LEFT: A haphazard stencil applied in South of France’s Crème Fraîche over Parisian Bleu creates a unique detail on the seat back of this now colorful accent chair. Dark wax applied on the spindles highlights the chair’s details and ages the look.

“Now, this is a great guest room or desk chair,” said Emily. “The petite size is perfect for a small room and the stencil adds a pop of personality.”

RIGHT: The top of the footstool was transformed with a blue-green shade ot South of France paint called Tres Jolie, and a rolled-on bird-on-branch stencil in Creme Fraiche adds a sweet touch. Roccoco supplies a neutral look for stool legs.

"Who would think that a little footstool could become the catalyst for an entire room redo?" Nancy said. "I gathered complementary items from around my home to use in an upcoming bedroom makeover – the stool will work great with an old tea cart in my attic that I now plan to paint and use as a desk!"

Under the watchful eye of Emily Biggs, owner of South of France Furniture Studio, editors Emily Uhland, left, and Nancy Pardue sand their furniture in prepation for the first coat of paint.

Steps to Our Success

1. Clean – Biggs recommends washing your furniture with TSP (trisodium phosphate) heavy duty cleaner to remove built-up dust, grease and grime.

2. Prep – The existing finish will dictate the type of prep needed, typically light sanding or a coat of sanding sealer.

“Sanding sealer, rather than primer, works great if you want to distress back to the original color of the wood,” said Biggs. Consider testing an inconspicuous spot to asses the prep work.

3. Play with Color – South of France offers a custom line of chalk-based paints in 12 creamy colors. Don’t see what you want? Biggs can create custom colors in any shade.

4. Time to Paint – Apply a thin, even first coat with a brush or a roller. Don’t worry about perfection here, says Biggs; there are more coats to come. Chalk-based paint dries quickly and may be ready for a second coat in an hour or two.

5. Second Coat – One more even coat and your transformation begins to take shape.

6. Embellish – Biggs recommends multiple methods to add character to a newly painted piece, from wet distressing to paint washes to stenciling — all of which she introduces in her various workshops. Nancy applied a stencil and fine sandpaper distressing. Emily used wet distressing, a patterned stencil and dark wax aging.

7. Wax – Chalk-based paint requires a wax topcoat to produce a subtle sheen and protect the furniture. Push the wax into the paint with a thick, dense brush. Wipe off excess with a clean rag, then buff. The wax will feel tacky at first, says Biggs; buff until the finish feels smooth. Allow 24 hours to dry then buff again.

Editor’s Note: In addition to the chalk-based paint, South of France offers instructions and products in acrylic furniture and cabinet paint and glazes called Paint Couture.

South of France Furniture Studio
Harrison Square Shopping Center
1829 North Harrison Ave., Cary
(919) 415-0976

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