Chair Affair

A few years ago I claimed ownership of an antique captain’s chair from the basement of my grandparent’s home in North Dakota. The chair sat in their basement for well over 50 years. I remembered it from my visits as a child, and my mother recalls the chair being there for as long as she can remember. Needless to say, it has sentimental value, and aside from that, it’s got a comfy round back which hugs you in all the right ways.

I knew from the start this project would be a labor of love. It was clear from all the chippage, the chair had been painted at least a hundred times over (okay, maybe only 5-6 coats), and I had to assume at least one of those coats was lead paint. Although I planned to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP), I knew it needed to be stripped and sanded prior to painting. (One of the biggest perks of ASCP is the lack of prep work required for the paint to adhere and transform almost ANY material. I’ve seen folks use it on wood, veneer, plastic, concrete, ceramic, metal, leather and the list goes on…)

It took a few weeks to fully strip the paint and sand it down (by machine and hand), and then another week to paint and wax for the look I desired – a modern color with a well-worn finish.


before chair

before chair spindle




during chair3






Technique: I chose Aubusson Blue for the base coat, followed by a top coat of Provence + Old White (approx. 5 to 1 ratio with a dash of water to thin it out). I gave it a quick coat of clear wax and buffed, then distressed in “natural” areas (where you might expect wear…as opposed to random distressing which looks too contrived). I finished it up with a dark wax layer, followed by a final layer of clear wax to seal it all in. I’m happy with the chair as-is…it works with the color scheme in our living room, and can easily move from our main living area to a bedroom, if need be. Should we move or change the decor in the house, I’d be inclined to repaint this chair (knowing I don’t need to relive the tiresome and tedious prep-work stage).

Special Notes:

  • ASCP is truly easy to use and requires little to no prep work. However, it is wise to do a little research to understand the various techniques you can get from very simple tweaks or “in-between-coats-of-paint” steps. You can thin the paint with water, mix colors easily, sand between steps, wipe down or rub while the paint is still wet, distress before OR after waxing (though it’s less messy if you distress post-waxing), use a coarse brush on damp paint to create strokes, and so on…the paint is so versatile. I’ve read so many folks say they hated the paint because it left brush strokes (which can be avoided by thinning the paint prior to application AND a light sanding between coats). Basic tip: just do a little homework before you use this fab product.
  • If you want the darker, antique look using dark wax, be sure to ALWAYS APPLY CLEAR WAX FIRST.  So many folks slather the dark wax directly onto the top coat of paint and find it is streaky and difficult to apply. Applying the clear wax first, seals the paint and provides a smooth base over which to blend in the dark wax.

Favorite chalk paint project blogs:

My Mom Has Breast Cancer

And I hope she’s not upset I’m writing about it. We aren’t the type of family to brag about the good or broadcast the bad. So when cancer struck my mom this past June, I was unsure how to react. I was scared, curious, angry and motivated. I was comforted by asking a lot of questions, defining her type of cancer and learning its causes, treatment options and survival rates.

Earlier this year, my mom went to her doctor to examine a lump in her breast. While the doctor was not concerned with that particular tissue, he did find another area of concern and within a few days, she was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, a rare, but treatable, form of breast cancer. Luckily, she caught the cancer early, before it had a chance to spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of her body. Specialists at a nearby breast cancer center have already removed the cancerous tissue (via lumpectomy) and will administer chemotherapy and radiation over the coming months to destroy any remaining cancer cells in her body and (hopefully) ensure the cancer doesn’t reoccur.


(Gemma and Rainbow Bear cuddle with Granny after her first of two lumpectomies, Danville, IL, July 2013)

Debbie and Jill

(My mom and I the day before my wedding, Beaufort, SC, October 2005)

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is only fitting I just confirmed my appointment later this month with an oncologist at UNC to get a baseline mammogram, discuss my risk factors and determine whether I am a valid candidate for genetic testing to determine if I have abnormalities in my BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes. With my mom’s recent breast cancer diagnosis, combined with an aunt who died of breast cancer around 40 years of age, I’m taking steps to be proactive about my breast health.

The statistics are scary. One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. It’s a nasty disease but there are things we can all do to lower our risk of breast cancer.

  • Touch yourself every now and then. (Perform a self breast exam to check for lumps or unusual changes in your breast tissue.)
  • Get intimate with your doctor. (Don’t be shy to communicate if you’ve noticed changes in your breast tissue, have unusual weight fluctuations or changes in your energy levels; your doctor can perform a clinical breast exam to thoroughly examine breast tissue.)
  • Get a baseline mammogram. (This can provide medical staff with a picture of your current/healthy breasts so they can evaluate changes or abnormalities over time.)
  • Get active. (Exercise is good for your body. Period.)
  • Eat smart. (Healthy foods fuel your body and raise your immune system; researchers are finding diet to be responsible for 30-40% of cancers.)
  • Lay off the bottle. (Aside from the benefits your child receives, breastfeeding may lower your risk of breast cancer.)
  • Lay off the booze. (Alcohol may increase your risk of breast cancer by damaging DNA cells.)

I hope you’ll join me in praying for those who haven’t yet been diagnosed, honoring the women and men who have lost the battle with breast cancer, and celebrating the survivors who inspire us! Visit to learn more about breast cancer symptoms, treatments and how to lower your risk.