Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do-It-Yourself Gothic Furniture or Paint it Black, Part I

Despite the fact the insomniac  prefers to spend her weekends in a recumbent position on the couch watching Sons of Anarchy, this weekend her Crafting Buddy talked her into registering for a furniture painting class. The class promised to “teach one the skills to create the look of distressed furniture pieces at a fraction of the cost” using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (most probably it was the fraction of the cost  portion of the description that piqued the insomniac's  interest). Before making the commitment to spend a Saturday somewhere other than her couch, the insomniac  did check to be certain Chalk Paint comes in black and, as luck would have it, a soft black shade called Graphite was an option. And although the insomniac  tends to avoid anything with the word Paris in it like the plague, a shade called Paris Grey appears to have potential, as does Emile (dull purple) and Emperor's Silk (crimson).

Imagine the possibilities of Graphite paint on Victorian furniture! Now, the insomniac certainly isn't advocating painting furniture of this quality, and is merely offering the following photos as a source of inspiration for the ebonized look ...

Late Victorian Ebony Kneehole Desk

French Ebony and Mother-of-Pearl Bookstand

Caption Not Required - The Piece Speaks for Itself

Now that the class is finished, the insomniac  has a great many grandiose plans. Firstly, repainting the entire kitchen and pantry cupboards in Graphite, which will be no small feat since the cupboards run from the floor to the 11 foot ceiling, each cupboard having many paned glass windows and small drawers which will require much steadiness of hand and probably a bit of alcohol as a reward once the job is complete. One anticipates this project will take at least three to four months and will render the kitchen (and therefore all cooking) impossible during that time, with the money saved in doing the painting oneself instead of hiring it out being spent on food take-out and delivery costs instead.

It's going to look so much much better
painted Graphite, isn't it?

When the kitchen cabinets have been finished, there are a number of other pieces to be tackled including, but not limited to, a bookcase built by the insomniac's  Sainted Father, an old dresser donated by the Brother-in-Law and a china cabinet inherited from the insomniac's  grandfather. Should these simple pieces turn out well, then an old carved sideboard that has been sitting in the basement since the arrival at the Gothic Mansion twenty-five years ago will be unearthed from beneath all the furniture stacked on top, to be reincarnated with a new finish. Once the piece has been exhumed from the basement and work begins, the insomniac  will certainly provide Before and After pictures of the project. Obviously, it pays off to save absolutely everything one has ever collected.

If one could only find shelves that didn't cost the earth, with the Graphite and Emperor's Silk paints one could reproduce this look exactly. Perhaps one should start scouring thrift stores for something similar, at a price more suited to one's budget.

Victorian Gothic Revival Ebonized Corner Shelves

Apparently, metal and all manner of materials can be painted with Chalk Paint, so all the vintage lamp bases that have been acquired over the years can now be refinished and fitted with coordinating shades embellished with antique beaded trim, of which the insomniac  has a rather large stash in the real third-floor attic just waiting to be used.

Whilst on the subject of vintage lamp bases, the following was a misguided eBay purchase and another compelling reason for the total moratorium on all 2:00 a.m. shopping until a potential purchase can be reassessed after a good night's sleep. Perhaps if her clothing were repainted in Graphite to emulate mourning fashion and a black and purple damask lampshade added, she might end up being a piece one could actually live with. We'll see ...

Unsure how this could have ever
seemed like a good idea, no matter what
ungodly hour it was purchased at ...

If you happen to live in the Calgary area, the insomniac  highly recommends the Chalk Paint Beginner Class at Lauren Lane Decor, so you too can start redecorating your Gothic Mansion using thrift shop finds and cast-offs that will surely end up being magnificent pieces using the fabulous Chalk Paint and Waxes.

The insomniac  is getting a short break from contract work at the end of May and is planning to complete at least a few pieces of furniture before heading back to work in July. Please stay tuned for Part II of the Paint it Black series later in June, once a few things have been finished ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... Goodnight, my pretties.



  1. Oh Insomniac - I was googling the words "gothic paint furniture how to" and imagine my surprise and delight when this old post of yours popped up third on my list! Anyhow, thinking of repainting the grandmother clock to age it and am looking for how to advice. I think I will read on.

    1. And look, lady M! You're the first person to ever comment on one of these old posts! LOL

      Not a very helpful post, I'm afraid. I hope you found other sources in your Google search that were more useful. I'm really excited to see what you're going to do!!

    2. When I get a chance, I think I will have to read the whole blog start to finish, just so I can understand the history behind the Insomniac's attic. You have some great stuff in your early posts.

    3. OMG, I can't believe you even said that. Make sure you have a very large pot of coffee at hand if you ever do ... I remember some of those posts being pretty darn boring. Not that the new ones are any better, mind you! :D