How to Paint Furniture French Country Style

Dancers in Pink

The easiest way to add classic French country décor into your interior design is to use painted furniture. French country furniture is often painted. The French are very comfortable with painting furniture, unless it is a very fine wood. In this post I am going to show you how to paint furniture French country style using a simple wax resist technique.

Where can I find French Country Style Furniture?

You can find French provincial furniture, and good copies of French furniture with very nice faux finishes on them. But I prefer to paint my own. There is a lot of used furniture out there that needs a good home. And there are a lot of furniture pieces with the perfect shapes to look like French country furniture and provincial furniture.

All of that French Provincial furniture from the 1960s with the yellowish, slightly plasticky finish, for example, is in the perfect shapes, often quite good quality, perfect for repainting.

Facebook Marketplace is my go-to place to search for good furniture pieces, but I also love scouring local yard sales, thrift shops, and online and in-person auctions. Auctions just might be the place to score the lowest prices, although if you’re patient and persistent, great deals, I mean steals, are to be had everywhere. There is a lot of used furniture out in the world! HiBid.com is a great place to find online auctions in your local area.

You can easily do your own French country design with the perfect colors for you, at a fraction of the price of buying the real thing, or even good copies. And the furniture piece will be custom finished exactly the way you dream – no settling!

What kind of paint should I use to paint furniture French Country style?

I’ve painted furniture with Annie Sloan chalk paint, (sometimes abbreviated as ASCP) other brands of chalk paint, milk paint, and latex paint. To be honest, while I love Annie Sloan chalk paint, latex paint is my go-to paint. It’s the most inexpensive and easy to get. The range of colors available can be overwhelming at first, but as you paint more often you will naturally develop your own, go-to color palette.

How to Paint Furniture French Country Style Using Wax Resist Technique

This is a tutorial about a favorite technique of mine to paint furniture French Country Style. This technique gives a shabby chic, French country decorating style.

Wax resist means you rub a candle all over your first coat of paint before adding your second. Then, when you paint over that first coat, the paint doesn’t adhere to where you rubbed the candle, creating a subtle, layered look that oozes rustic charm and patina.

You can repeat the wax resist as often as you like, creating layer upon layer of gorgeous textures and highlights.

It’s a perfect technique for classic French country style, or French farmhouse style. In this tutorial I’m using the technique to create a dresser for a French country bedroom. I’m using a muted color palette of light pinks.

I’ve included a supply list of everything you would need to do this project here.

Supply List

You Will Need:

Dropcloth

https://bit.ly/3yoIFGc

Paint Brush:

https://low.es/37cXqQd

Painters’ Rags:

https://bit.ly/3yjWUMn

Wax Candles:

https://bit.ly/3yivBlw

Minwax Paste Finishing Wax:

https://low.es/3yoJwqo

Sherwin-Williams Pure White in any paint line and sheen:

https://bit.ly/2WKbi2z

Sherwin-Williams Azalea Flower in any paint line and sheen:

https://bit.ly/2TL9gOo

Video Tutorial

And here is the video I made for you about how to do a wax resist. If you prefer just to read, the transcript follows down below the video.

Transcript

Good Morning! This is Kathleen at oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I’m going to show you how to do a wax resist with paint to get a really awesome finish that looks like you sanded and have tons of layers but you didn’t, you just used wax.

It’s going to be a lovely French Country style girls’ French country bedroom set that I’m working on, so let’s get started.

Fine Art as Inspiration for French Country Style Painted Furniture

I always like to find a piece of art to use as inspiration, like a jumping off point when I start to paint a piece of furniture. In this case I found Edgar Degas’s, “Dancers in Pink.”

Dancers in Pink
Dancers in Pink, Edgar Degas

The way that their tulle skirts look is my – was my inspiration to do a wax resist with two different shades of pink on these dressers. I like to call these “Dancers in Pink” dressers.

Making Pink Furniture Subtle and Sophisticated, French Country Style

I’ve already painted the drawers with one coat of Sherwin-Williams Azalea Flower. My little girl really wants pink, and I wanted to knock it back and make it a little bit more sophisticated than just pink, even though I know she’d be happy with like, just a plain pink drawer. But Mama would not be, so we’re going to try to do a few lighter coats over a wax resist.

How to do a Wax Resist

So, how to do a wax resist? I’m going to take this – this is a little tea light candle that I popped out of its metal backing and this is easy to hold. It’s just like a little puck, and then I’m going to just rub this very firmly all over each of these drawers and the dresser itself.

I’ll get closer so you can see. I actually do want quite a bit of this pink to show underneath the top coats of paler pink and white that I’m going to put on. I really want a lot of it to peep through, so I am being quite aggressive with my wax, because everywhere that I rub this wax, the next coat of paint is not going to stick.

So I do want it to look layered, but I also want a lot of the pink to show, because my little girl does really love this color. I want this piece look like French country style furniture. It will also be very shabby chic, because of the delicate pink and white I’m using.

I’m hoping this is something that she’ll like for a long time. And then maybe when she’s a teenager she’ll want to ask for an update, and maybe by then she’ll be painting her own! Okay, so I have waxed all of these with my little candle, and I’m just going to brush – brush them off quickly with a rag because some wax crumbs from the candle inevitably gets stuck.

Mixing a Custom Paint Color

Now I’m going to mix my top coat, which is going to be a custom blend of Sherwin-Williams Azalea Flower in this Super Paint here, and it’s in a satin. And then this Sherwin-Williams Pure White in their Cashmere line, which is in a flat.

And I just want to say these two paints that I’m using are pretty much purely accidental. We had a friend who didn’t like this gallon of pink she ordered, and so she passed it on to me. And my little girl happened to want pink furniture and I said, “well this is the pink we’re using because I have a whole gallon of it.”

But I wanted to cut it with white, and so I went in and I just wanted their Pure White in the cheapest line, but they didn’t have it available because of the raw material shortages that are happening everywhere right now – or actually I don’t know if it’s that or – I can’t – yeah, something about material shortages.

So they had to give it to me in Cashmere, which is a higher end line of Sherwin-Williams. But anyway, the main thing is, the colors are Pure White and Azalea Flower. So I’m going to take a paper plate, here it is, and I am going to mix these by starting with the white.

Using Just a Paper Plate, Stir Stick, and My Eyes

So I’m just going to pour a little bit of white onto – or a lot – of white onto my plate. It’s a bit messy, big gallons of paint, here wipe my finger off. I’m gonna pour that onto my plate. So I have a – I have like, a full plate. These are the lunch size plates.

And then I’m going to take the pink and with my stir stick I am going to start mixing it in until i get a color that I like. My inspiration for this lighter pink that I want on top is from the Farrow &Ball color Middleton Pink, which yes, I think is named after our Duchess Catherine.

I’m just going to mix it until I like the hue. I’m just going to dip my stir stick in my gallon of paint again. I realize I’m going to get a little bit of white in there by doing that, but that’s okay. So this is just, like, another dip. And now I’m gonna stir this.

I’m not measuring in any way, I am just eyeballing the color until I get something that I enjoy looking at. That is the only criteria. I have a vision.

Okay, this is getting better. It’s starting to look blushy. I’m going to add this – this is actually just about perfect, but I am going to go ahead and scoop just one more – one more scoop with my stir stick from my gallon of pink and I think this should do it.

So I’m gonna mix until all of the – and again, it takes a while. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re two different types of paint or what, but it takes a while to blend in all the swirlies before they finally go away. I actually – I’m gonna do one more stir stick’s full into here. So that’s four, if you were counting. I dipped my stir stick four times and got a glob of paint, of the pink. And I’ve mixed it into a full plate, a full lunch size Walmart paper plate of white paint.

Okay I think this is gonna do it. I think this is pink enough to get away from the white. From – from the – even the impression that it’s white, which is what I wanted to get away from.

You Don’t Have to Custom Mix

And you could do this with any colors that you wanted to get a custom mix. Or, you don’t have to mix paint. If you had, you know, if you want to do a wax resist with two paints you already have, of course that would work just fine.

Painting the Top Coat Over the Wax

I’m gonna take my trusty Purdy two inch angled brush and I am going to put the top coat on. Kind of the the fun mystery reveal because, you know, you don’t remember, or you can’t really see exactly where you rubbed in all of that candle wax.

Painting Over Metal Handles

And just a quick note on these handles. A lot of times I will take hardware off when I paint, but when it’s metal, I often don’t because I really like the way that metal looks painted and then just rubbed back. So I’ll paint this, but then when I go to finish it, I’ll rub some of that paint off. I like the look of hardware that’s been painted and rubbed back a little bit and then waxed. I think it looks really nice.

Wax Resist is Subtle

When you are rubbing your candle on your piece to do the resist don’t be shy, because the paint is pretty assertive and it will go over even some of the places that you thought you waxed. It’s quite subtle actually, um, which is what I love about it.

I don’t like things that have that look of being very heavily or deliberately distressed, like something that you’d find at Hobby Lobby or something with this sort of factory distressed finish on it. I’m trying to do something a little more subtle than that. Sometimes it ends up looking like that, and I do like that look, don’t get me wrong. It’s very pretty, it’s just then it looks like you bought it.

Okay here is my first drawer finished with the wax resist. You can see where it just wouldn’t go over that, and then just compare that to – so here it is with the one coat of Azalea flower and then here it is with my custom mix over top.

Finishing With Paste Wax

Okay and then when you’re done with the painting, I like to go over my paint jobs with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax and I have this Waxwell brush. You can use just a rag if you don’t have a fancy wax brush. So yeah, you just take your brush and you push that wax brush or rag and you just push the wax gently but firmly into the paint. Don’t be afraid of really pushing it into the paint strokes.

After it’s dried a bit I take a soft cotton rag and I just buff it. If there’s any orange wax I rub it away and I just buff it to a soft, hand rubbed, beautiful sheen. You can see that coming up. I’m a sucker for that. I just think that is the prettiest thing on furniture.

French Country Girls’ Bedroom Furniture

Here is the finished dresser. Edgar Degas’s “Ballerinas in Pink” inspired wax resist two-tone dresser for my little girls’ room. The base coat is Azalea Flower and the top coat is a custom mix of Azalea Flower and Pure White. All paints are by Sherwin-Williams. I think it looks like a tutu. Makes me wanna go dancing right now!

pink dresser
Pink Dresser

If you love French Country style painted furniture, please check out my other posts, French Country Style: Give Your Furniture Parisian Patina, and Khaki Green Paint Colors for French Country Style.

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