Lockdown ennui setting in? Why not tart up tired wooden furniture with this newbie-proof collection of vibrant chalk paints.

Lockdown may have begun with grand plans, these cavernous hours ripe to be filled with the jobs that have been knocking around the house for years. The first week was pretty productive at our end, but as reality sets in, so our energy begins to flail and dip a little. The answer? Make it fun. Why not swap out sorting through dog-eared, dull-as-dishwater admin for a fun craft project? Now we’re talking.

We’ve been big fans of Annie Sloan’s chalk paints ever since we first tentatively tried out a lovely French grey out on a pine dresser a few years back and discovered, to our unending amazement, that the result looked pretty professional (ish), if we say so ourselves. That miracle was not, however, down to any latent decorative skills –alas, alas – but to the somehow magic ability of these paints to look good, no matter how sloppy the painter wielding the brush. And if you’re really ambitious, you could even try some Charleston-inspired patterns (though Annie Sloan does also sell stencils, which are a good way to try out a fresco with lower risk of creating less Sistine Chapel, more sludgy mess). The colours are, happily for the purposes of isolation, mostly inspired by dreamy Mediterranean holidays. Sigh.

We’ll be spending some of our lockdown ordering in supplies and painting garden chairs in a medley of summer colours that might just, if we squint, fool us into thinking we’re in Italy/ Greece/ the South of France (or any such idyll in the Med that is we’re unlikely to get to other than by means of make-believe this summer). Here are our very favourites.


View on anniesloan.com

We are always on the lookout for the perfect yellow: not too lemony; rich and warm; no hint of gloom. This is it. Cosy in winter, glowing with sunny warmth in summer. We think it’s ideal for a pop of colour on a small wooden child’s table and chair set, or even for an eye-catching window frame.


View on anniesloan.com

This gloriously vibrant green is redolent of Italian holidays, emulating the precise shade of the shutters that dot their way down every street in some of our favourite cities. If you are lucky enough to have such Italianate window arrangements, paint them this colour immediately. Otherwise, we have our eye on Florence for the front door.


View on anniesloan.com

This colour is pure summer. We want it on big earthenware salad bowls, rustic jugs and on mismatched plates. But we also love it on furniture like this little side table. Joyful.

Greek Blue

View on anniesloan.com

As lockdown trudges on, we are dreaming of Greek island getaways more and more by the minute. A hit of whitewash clusters of houses with little dots of this vital blue would make our soul sing. But if we can’t make like Odysseus this year, then we’ll bring the Greek dream to us (sort of). Use this brilliant colour arrestingly against white.


View on anniesloan.com

This easy breezy blue/green is as insouciantly chic as the southern France paradise that inspired it. We like it, as shown here, offset by a darker blue (this one is ‘Napoleonic’). It’s lovely as it ages and becomes slightly distressed on decorative furniture; it would add an irresistible shot of colour in the bedroom, for example, when painted on a pretty bedside table.

Scandinavian Pink

View on anniesloan.com

Pinks can be a tricky old business. Too dark and they can seem oppressive; too pale and they easily tip over into twee or insipid. We like this Swedish-inspired halfway house, which is strong but not overpowering. We’d use it on an old bookshelf in the bathroom, against white walls, for housing our old collection of magazines. Feeling brave? This would make a fresh candy stripe on the back of some shelving.

Emperor’s Silk

View on anniesloan.com

Now, we love red as a colour but remain a bit scared of it on walls. We blame too many readings of Jane Eyre/ screenings of The Shining/ student years when one daring soul would inevitably paint their room an angry shade of pillar box and then promptly go mad for a year. But this is a lovely red used, we advise, sparingly. It would be wonderful on a desk that needs sprucing up, or any eye-catching centrepiece of a room

Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan in Arles / Emperor’s Silk / Florence / Giverny / Greek Blue / Provence / Scandinavian Pink, all from £5.95 for 120ml.

April 2020
By Nancy Alsop


Guest Edit with Annie Sloan
8 Brilliant Online Craft Courses
Compton Marbling

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.