Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint...

It seems that chalk paint has become the new "thing" to do in furniture painting, mostly because you don't need to sand or prime the piece first.  And it totally does give the piece of furniture you're doing that shabby chic look, which can look really, really awesome.

But honestly?

I think it makes it look cheap. 

I tried it on my last project, the Ellie. I tried it because here in Alberta, we get freak Spring snow storms and I really didn't want to go outside to sand the desk, so I thought I'd try out this chalk paint business.  And maybe, on the way, I'd decide that this was the best way of refinishing these pieces.  I mean, everyone else is doing it right?  It's no secret that this stuff is pretty wicked. 

I'll be honest though.  I'm sort of cheap.  You'll notice, if you go on Kijiji or Craigslist or any of those Facebook store fronts, some people sell their rehabs for a whole LOT of money.  That's actually why I started this little hobby of mine.  I saw this cute little hutch, with chicken wire windows, painted in the most dear sage green chalk paint.  And I figured, they couldn't want more than $200 for it. (It was a little bigger than a side table...seriously SMALL piece.)  And they wanted $695 for it!  I can't afford that, and I'm guessing that most of you can't either.  So I thought, I'll buy a cool piece, restore it and sell it for a lot less than my "competitors".  And my first piece sold in less than a week.  It's nice to be affordable!   ANYWAY, back to my original point - I'm sort of cheap.  So I researched chalk paint and found a bunch of restoration companies that didn't want to spend the $50 a quart price tag (on generic colours nonetheless!)  and they made their own chalk paint. 

Here's the recipe:

There are a bunch of different recipes but this is the one
I used because, A: Plaster of Paris was cheaper and
B. It came in a smaller bag than 20 lbs.

I put the plaster of paris and the cool water in a mason jar and stirred it up really well until it wasn't lumpy or gritty.  Then I added the paint and stirred that up a whole lot so everything mixed.  The consistency was a little thicker than regular paint - and watch out, this stuff dries fast!

First, I painted the insides of my drawers with it, because they were already a little roughed up and I figured it was hidden and I could always redo it if it turned out badly.  It went on great - three coats with amazing drying times of maybe 15 minutes between?  The colour was fabulous, the texture felt pretty nice and I didn't even need to varnish them because I could finish it with wax (whoa does wax smell!)

Stoked, I swiped a line of paint across the desk, just to see. 

I let it dry for three hours.

And then my 1.5 year old, Natalie, took a finger nail to it.  You can guess what happened. 

Apparently you DO need to sand the object before you paint it, because it wasn't adhering to anything.  Natalie chipped all the paint off.  Every last bit of it.  And left a lovely little pile of aqua flakes on the floor. 

So I left the insides of the drawers as chalk paint.  I definitely feel like it is durable in there and there won't be any flaking because the drawers were a little rough as it was.  As for the parts that really matter - the parts that everyone sees and falls in love with - I'm not wasting my time with chalk paint.  If I have to still sand and prime and paint, I'll stick with my Benjamin Moore.

What's your take on the whole chalk paint debate?  Do you like it?  Am I missing some part of the process? Got any tips?  Let me know!   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Ellie

The Ellie is a waterfall kneehole desk or vanity. 

The waterfall style of furnishings was super popular between 1920 through to the 1940's and notably called, Swing Era Furniture.  The waterfall type was known for their ability to be mass produced, since they don't have a frame as much as an outer edge and they usually are without drawer slides.

Are we sure that this desk was built that long ago?  Not at all!  But we do know it as built with outstanding craftmanship.

She came to us from a home that was most certainly ready to give her up, saying it was too small for their needs.  They nearly threw her out their front door!  What is one man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure!  We fell in love with her in a second!  She's got the most beautiful waterfall edge, flowing into two drawers on each side with one long drawer bridging them - perfect for pens, paper and stationary or any other little treasure you may want to hide inside.

Hidden surprises in every drawer!
This sweet little desk has been restored with a very light grayish white paint.  It has been finished with a layer of clear varnish to keep her strong through heavy use.  For a little surprise, open a drawer and find a hidden shock of light aqua chalk paint! Finally, she is finished with black cup pulls - a vintage touch for a vintage piece!


The Ellie is a fashionable and useful representation of Swing Era design and is sure to be the perfect piece for your home!  She would feel right at home in a small office, little girls room or even as a makeup vanity. 

Delivery to Calgary, Edmonton or areas is available for a $50.00 surcharge.

If interested, please email us at:

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Items!

Lordy, lordy do I have a busy day today!!

Found a unique old desk for sale in Innisfail AND an awesome old 60's - 70's hutch in Calgary.  The truck's going to put on the miles today!

Have some great ideas for both...think rustic black cup pulls, graywash, beadboard and chicken wire.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Clara

Own a little piece of vintage Canadiana with this beautifully restored dresser.  Built by the Bell Furniture Company in Southampton, Ontario between 1910 - 1937.  The original manufacturer sticker is still on the back!  All drawer fronts have dovetail joints and all drawers work, though a little bit sticky! This dresser has been restored with a very light grayish white paint and a clear varnish to strengthen its finish.  It is finished with old fashioned white knobs, keeping with the vintage feel of the piece. 

The Clara was a labour of love.  When we bought her, she was rough - three coats of paint and unfinished, scraped drawers.  As we loaded her in the truck, a wooden slide even fell off! 

Hours of hand and electric sanding, removed years of worn chippy paint, dirt and grime, and she started to revitalize!  One coat of primer and three coats of Martha Stewart's satin opal and four coats of  Stay Clear varnish, made this ugly duckling into a thing of beauty!

Her drawers were still awfully sticky, so they went through a process of cleaning, sanding, scraping and waxing until they all function just like they would have back in the early 1900's!  What's best?  They still have that old wooden smell and that old wooden scrape when you open them.  What's better than the smell of memories and nostalgia??


Clara is a beautiful representation of early century crafting and she would love to make your home hers!

Delivery to Edmonton, Calgary and areas is available for a $50.00 surcharge. 

If interested, please email us at:

Welcome to the Sweet Peep Design Company!

Located in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, the Sweet Peep Design Company specializes in restoring antique, vintage and otherwise unloved furniture.  What differentiates us from the competition is that we value the age and integrity of these beautiful old pieces and instead of turning them "shabby chic" we'd rather let them shine on their own.

With the help of paint colours that you would find in the days of yore - creamy whites, neutral wood tones and faded grays, our pieces blend beautifully into any room, but also stand out in their uniqueness.

We try not to risk the integrity of any of our pieces, so you will find the wonderfully nostalgic smell of old wood, sticky wooden slides on our drawers, knicks and scrapes in the wood and even a little staining that guarantees you a piece once loved and full of memories.  We do our best to restore these items to the highest quality we can, without taking away its character. 

We hope you love our work!