Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interior Designers find whimsy and charm at Mackenzie-Childs

               Do you recognize this iconic style?  

All Ceramics
There is a little shop tucked away on world famous Worth Ave. in Palm Beach, Florida where Interior Designers find the most amazing furniture, accessories, tableware and more.   It's Mackenzie-Childs!  

Did you know every summer they have a barn sale?  What...a barn sale? 

 Yes, that's because Mackenzie-Childs is actually located on a 65 acre former dairy farm in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. 

This year 21,000 bargain shoppers decended on the farm.  Some even camped out!

Lucky for me the Palm Beach shop is not far from me.  When I stopped in there recently I was delighted to see the most incredible hand made furniture, accessories and more.

All the products they create are crafted by talented and skilled artisans right there in the studio on the farm.
No two pieces are alike.

At first glance the abundant pattern and color can overwhelm your eyes but as I focused on one thing at a time I appreciated what attention to detail and design Mackenzie-Childs offers.

Pretty soon I could see certain patterns repeat themselves in a variety of ways.  Do you see a black and white checkerboard motif?  See it on the cocktail table above?  On the loveseat? On the rug?  Chairs?

How many ways do you think they might use this pretty gold polka dots on blue? (It's actually called Parchment Check.)  Here it is on a dining table base.

All Serving Dishes

Over the years their products and designs have expanded.  Their children's line is adorable.

Mackenzie-Childs on your patio or porch creates a festive and fabulous feeling.

Outdoor Furniture

        Or how about something more floral?

Flower Market Furniture

Greenhouse Furniture

If  I was decorating with Mackenzie-Childs I would use it as inspiration for my space or color scheme.  What fun it would be to build a whole room around one of their fabulous pieces.  What would you do?

I spotted a couple of rugs that would really cheer up my breakfast room.

I am also making a mental gift list for the holidays and special occasions.

Gifts for Kids & Baby

Gifts for Pets


Mackenzie-Childs style is just all over happy.  The charming designs and color combinations....not to mention how they love to combine patterns in the most delightful way is what has set them apart since they began in 1983.

How many different fabrics do you see on this striking chair?

This artful shelf makes me want to paint something!

Pressed Flowers Collection

                   The chandeliers are beautiful.  Why not add some fanciful Mackenzie-Childs shades and a tassel to your existing fixture just for fun?

                    Some love a roomful.

                         Others like just a touch.

What do you think?  Where would you like to see Mackenzie-Childs?  In your  living room, bedroom, childrens' rooms.....on your dining table, under your feet or over head? 

                  Add tile to your bath or kitchen backsplash.


                Change up draw pulls on a cupboard or chest.


                                  Or hang it in a tree.

Anywhere you see it, it will bring a smile to your face!

How do you like the Mackenzie-Childs style?  Does is make dizzy or make you smile?  Does it inspire you to paint something or start mixing patterns?  Have you ever used several complementary fabrics on a sofa or chair?  Do you like to mix china patterns and set a table with personal style?

Whether a little goes a long way or the more, the better, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box below.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Anyone want to go to a barn sale?

Happy Decorating!

If you would like assistance with a decorating project of your own, please email me at 

Friday, August 8, 2014

How to paint anything with Annie Sloane's Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint sounded to me like a type of paint made from chalk but actually it was named by its creator,  Annie Sloan.   It is simply paint that appears chalky when it is applied to a surface.  It comes is an array of pretty colors but what you see here is far from what it can turn out to be.

The idea of creating something new out of something old has always inspired me, so chalk paint is right up my alley.  When a designer friend introduced me to TLC Design Studio I was in heaven.  As I stepped inside I was delighted to see so many ways Jeanne Hall and her staff had given thrift shop finds a new life.

Of course you can paint a wood chair frame but did you know you can paint the fabric too?  Once it is dry simply sand it to soften the texture.  It takes on the feeling of suede.
An old buffet takes on a new look with  base of Louis Blue under a
Pure White glaze, even on the drawer pulls.
Stenciling over chalk paint is easy and adds a pretty detail to this chest.
Here chalk paint that has been sanded off reveals a beautiful detail on an old sofa frame.
A pair of old night stands gets a fun makeover.  Look at the contrasting color they painted in the drawers.  I might have to steal that idea!
A silver Guilder's Paste brightens up the decorative hardware on these drawers that were painted in two colors and dark waxed.   Changing the color or finish on cabinet hardware is such a great idea.

I was fascinated to learn that you can paint on almost any surface with little or no preparation.  That is my kind of paint!  No stripping sanding or priming necessary.   Painted or stained, shiny or matt, even laminated surfaces can be painted easily. Paint on wood, metal, plastic or terracotta. Use it on furniture, walls, ceilings and floors!  Of course you would wipe down a dirty or dusty piece with a damp rag but any real preparation is only needed if there is a large build up of furniture polish or wax.  For the most part just open the can, load up your brush and have fun!

This old dresser was in the process of being painted.  The first coat was washed with a lighter color which was wiped off.  Then a coat of clear wax was applied and wiped down followed by a coat of dark wax which was also wiped off and then buffed, leaving a dark build up in the carvings to bring out the detail.  This technique is easy on a small piece but labor intensive on something  this large.

As I looked around I became so motivated to paint a few things of my own.  Lucky for me Jeanne  gives classes right there in the studio.  A few of my designer friends and I signed up.

Jeanne shares her vast expertise and experiences with us as she begins the class.  On the wall behind her are boards with many samples of what you can achieve with Chalk Paint.  There are even samples of cabinet doors.  Yes you can paint your kitchen!
We start our first sample on a piece of picture frame.  Jeanne demonstrates a dry brush technique we will use when we do our finishing coat.
When you dry brush  you drag a lightly loaded brush  and drag softly over the surface.
Here we coated an unfinished piece of wood with several coats of very wet and dilluted paint.  We had to dry it well before sanding in between coats.  The result was a super smooth finish that looked so professional I amazed myself!

Who knew that hair dryers were part of a painter's tool kit?

There are many ways to get the paint to crack.  We tried one way by putting on a heavy coat of paint, swirling it around to create a pattern and then drying it with the hair dryer.  It crackeld as it dried and became more obvious after the sample was waxed and buffed.

You can also tint clear wax with paint.

Here is my sample that was supposed to crackle.  You can see the swirls in the thick application of paint.  A coat of tinted wax was applied and buffed to bring out the design.  A lighter coat is on the left side.  Just wipe off more of the tinted wax for a totally different effect.
Above is the picture frame molding seen in an earlier photo with two very different applications of the same color.  The left side is totally painted with French Linen, then Old White, then one coat of clear wax, one coat of dark wax and a final touch of Guilders Paste in German Silver.  There was a bit of light sanding to rub off the paint and buffing of the wax and Guilder's Paste.  You can see how differently the two sides look.  It was the same process but the left was a heavier hand.

Here we started with Duck Egg and a second dry brush coat of Old White with clear wax on top.  One side got a dark wax too.  Which side do you like best?  The right side is decided more "aged".
I was pleased to find out that Chalk Paint is non toxic (safe for baby's room), contains no lead, has zero VOC/s and has no odor. It is very eco-friendly.

Here are a few more examples of the different ways Chalk Paint can be used.

Stenciling over a painted surface becomes even more interesting, adding detail and depth.

You can use an impasto technique with a stencil giving a three dimensional effect like you see below.

A close up reveals a heavy coat of paint that was manipulated to create a pattern, then stenciled, dark waxed and buffed.  Now you can see the crackle!

Want to do something with old shutters?  Here they have been repurposed for the front of a counter/bar.
You might think this is an antique door panel but no.  It was once the top of a small table.  Nice thrift shop flip!
Chalk Painting can work well with any style of decorating.  The studio bookshelf highlights a few such as French Country and  Coastal, but is can be a great way to add personality to a more contemporary home too.  Can't you see this used in a Swedish style, Industrial style or even Urban design?
All you need is an old treasure that needs a little TLC, a can of Chalk Paint, a bit of wax, a few brushes and your imagination!

My first project is going to be my old secretary desk.  I have been cutting out pictures of different of finishes I like and color combinations.  What do you think I should do?  French Linen?  Duck Egg Blue?  Cream?  Should I stencil?  Crackle? Change the color of the hardware?  What color do you like for the inside?

 Let me know how you visualize this family treasure where my father used to pay our bills and write lengthy Letters to the Editor.  I have the glass doors. Should I put them back on?  I do not have the bonnet top, sad to say.

I look forward to your suggestions and invite you all share your painting and recycling experiences in the comment box.

Happy Decorating!