How to paint and distress furniture with Annie Sloan Paints

How to paint and distress furniture with Annie Sloan Paint

This month craft writer Clare Kelly headed to the Cotswolds to learn how to paint and distress wooden furniture using Annie Sloan chalk paint with expert Katie Bonas.

Before I attended this workshop, I spent a long time browsing the photographs of painted furniture on the Katie Bonas website and really doubted whether I’d be able to create anything so lovely.

Take a look and you’ll see vintage kitchen dressers loved back to life with country grey paint, a duck egg blue pot cupboard, elegant console tables, and many more beautiful antique pieces which Katie sells in her shop.

Katie Bonas Painted Furniture

Katie had told me to bring along a small item of furniture to paint, and I decided upon a little retro side table. Ok so it wasn’t exactly an antique, but I was pretty sure I could transform it from its current bright green colour into something a little more becoming.

Driving into the village of Yanworth in the Cotswolds where Katie lives and works, it seemed like the perfect setting for a day of painting – pretty, picturesque and very peaceful.

On arrival Katie showed me into her furniture showroom with its paint-filled workshop at the rear, while we waited for the other students to arrive.

Katie Bonas Painted Furniture

Then we all headed past Katie’s charming cottage to another workshop overlooking the surrounding countryside – a beautifully inspiring place to work, complete with original exposed beams, handmade bunting and vintage china.

Katie Bonas Furniture Painting Workshop

First of all, we were each given some wooden boards to experiment with the various painting and ‘distressing’ techniques, before getting to work on the furniture we’d brought with us.

Katie explained how she liked to work with Annie Sloan Chalk Paints, and we were all surprised to discover that the furniture requires very little preparation prior to painting as it covers all manner of surfaces.

Katie Bonas Furniture Painting Workshop

Our materials for the day included chalk paints, brushes, rags, sandpaper (grade 120), clear and dark wax, crackle varnish and ‘size’ (a glue-like substance for applying metallic leaf).

Tea, coffee and treats were provided and we all set to work following Katie’s expert instructions. We were encouraged to play around with the paints and waxes to see what different effects were possible.

Katie Bonas Furniture Painting Workshop

It was fun to try out different finishes and Katie showed us how to use some specialist products such as Annie Sloan’s Craqueleur – a two-part solution applied to the paint which creates a dramatic, well-loved crackle-glaze effect.

Annie Sloan Craqueleur Glaze

Towards the end of the morning, we gave our furniture the first coat of paint before heading out into the sunshine of Katie’s garden for a lunch of sandwiches (including egg mayonnaise made with eggs from local chickens), sausages, wine, juice and fruit.

The group chatted easily as we ate our lunch on blankets and cushions spread on the lawn – not one car drove past, making for a delightful picnic spot.

Applying the first coat of paint

Feeling suitably relaxed, we headed back to the workshop and Katie demonstrated the art of gilding, using sheets of metallic leaf so thin that they needed to be handled with a great deal of care.

These were adhered to the wood with a coat of ‘size’ to create a gorgeous shimmery surface that can be aged further with a little wax.

Applying the metallic leaf

The afternoon passed by quickly as we applied a second coat of paint to our furniture and pondered which techniques we would use to distress them. I opted for a little sanding in the areas where the table would naturally wear over time. And tempting as it was, I resisted adding gold leaf to the whole thing!

As the day drew to a close, I left with my table and lots of tips and tricks that I can’t wait to try out on other pieces of furniture back at home. Why not book yourself onto one of Katie’s furniture painting courses to see what you can do?

Katie Bonas Furniture Painting Course

If you fancy having a go at achieving something like the beautiful swedish look linen press, Top,  check out this video of Annie Sloan herself showing you exactly how…


To commission Katie Bonas or to attend one of her furniture painting courses, visit

To discover more about Annie Sloan paint, check out our directory

All images courtesy of Clare Kelly.

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