Paul and I often view our work with furniture as functional works of art. Something special and beautiful to look at, but also something that can be touched and used. This is why we choose special finishes, custom color mixes, an on occasion…bold graphics.
We both have our favorite artists, graphic designers and illustrators that inspire us and in a future post I’ll share some of those with you, but today I wanted to share some of our favorite pieces and talk about the inspiration and how we accomplished these.
The Mondrian Toy Box
I like straight lines and order, it’s just my personality. Paul and I both admire the more of Piet Mondrian so that's what we decided to use as inspiration for this piece. We loved the idea of juxtaposing something utilitarian with something sophisticated.
We selected Pure White Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan for the background color and deeper colors than the artist likely would have chosen for the design: Primer Red, Napoleonic Blue, and English Yellow Chalk Paint®. The design was created by simply using painters tape, a ruler and some chalk!
The Paisley Piece
For us, a simple boxy piece of furniture is truly a blank canvas. Paul loves the idea of asymmetry, where a design doesn’t have any visible order. He appreciates the randomness when elements of a design are placed where they are pleasing to his eye, not because of any predetermined order.
This paisley piece is a perfect example of this, and Paul chose a large-scale stencil, one that had movement and that he could wrap around the piece. His color choices were very deliberate, too, and it started with the background color. He wanted it to be neutral but instead of selecting a white or grey he chose Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint® which was a brilliant choice behind his palette of Napoleonic Blue, Barcelona Orange, Burgundy, and Arles. You can read more about how we created this piece in our blog post: The Paisley Piece.
The Record Cabinets
If you’ve spent time in our shop you know that Paul is a music guy. Our playlists are always unique and we always have customers comment on the music in the store. So, when we have a record cabinet to work on, Paul’s imagination runs wild.
For the one on the left, he was inspired by the Beatle’s Sargent Pepper album. Take a look at the top right of the album cover and you’ll see his inspiration. The stripe of the sleeve inspired the red and yellow strips and the hand is there, too. He used Emperor's Silk, English Yellow, Paris Grey, Pure White, and Graphite Chalk Paint® as well as a mix of Napoleonic Blue and Greek Blue Chalk Paint® for the hand.
On the right, he was inspired by the 1970’s in general rather than by anything in particular, so he selected a palette of colors that was influenced by that era: Antibes Green, Barcelona Orange, Pure White and English Yellow Chalk Paint®. Click here for additional photos of this cabinet.
The Cityscape Cabinet
This cabinet is all about moody drama and it shows how you can use something that seems like nothing special and use it to create something wow.
The inspiration here was an inexpensive print on canvas that we found in a thrift store. We both loved the grittiness and the abstract design. It was Paul who suggested using it on this small cabinet with its simple boxy shape and details that create a frame around the door, Perfect for applying an image.
Paul used Graphite Chalk Paint® on the cabinet then we removed the canvas from the stretcher, trimmed it, then applied it using Annie Sloan’s Decoupage Medium to the door. Once that it was dry, we gave it a cracked look using Annie Sloan’s Craqueleur Step 1 & 2 which created an all-over cracked look which we accentuated using dark wax. Read more about this cabinet in our blog post: The Cityscape Cabinet.
The Beatrice Armoire
This child-size armoire had been in our possession for a couple of years. One day I was inspired to work on it using Henrietta Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan as the main color. I also wanted to do an illustration that was French but didn’t want a stencil or simply an Eiffel Tower image and I was inspired by my niece Beatrice.
My sister had been living in Paris for almost 25 years and her daughter was born there and grew up in Paris. I was thinking about little Bea and decided on an uncluttered, wrap around design which I painted in Pure White Chalk Paint®.
You can see that bold, graphic patterns can be created in many different ways: stencils, decoupage, tape, crackler, and hand painting, just to name a few. Look around and see what inspires you!
The fun part comes in the challenge of trying to figure out how to execute your design. This isn’t always easy, so don’t get discouraged. Think big, jot down your ideas and think outside the box and you can create a real statement piece!
I studied fashion in school and like most people, very little of what I studied ever comes back to help me in my day-to-day life. The only exception is the semester that I spent in a class called History of Textiles & Costumes. I don't think a week goes by that I don't call upon something that I learned in that class. Although it was a fashion history class, it was taught from the perspective of how fashion is influenced by other design of the day, like art and architecture.
I’ve written about inspiration before, and for good reason. Paul and I know that inspiration can come from anywhere so it’s important to keep your eyes open.
A few weeks ago, during one of our Chalk Paint® 101: The Basics workshops, a participant named Barb added a little too much water to her 2nd paint color on the two-color wet distress. She was looking at it and feeling a little disappointed that it didn’t look like the finish created by another participant who used the same color combination. Paul however, was really taken with the finish.
We're Paul and Johanna and we write about our life in the furniture business. The things we love, the places we go, and the treasures we find along the way.