What’s the easiest and most cost effective Interior Design trick?

Paint of Course!

By Mary Ann Merfeld


If you want  to add a splash of color to your home, transform outdated pieces of furniture or even spruce up your kitchen cabinets, there are some amazing paint products available to make it easier than ever for the DIYer!

As a decorative painter for the last 20 years, I’ve used many varieties of paint and was always taught to sand and  prime everything before painting. Well, that’s not necessary any more! Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan, one of the most popular furniture paints, can be applied over almost anything with very little prep – varnished and polyurethaned surfaces, metal, fabric, floors, laminate, kitchen and bath cabinets. It is available in 32 gorgeous colors, it dries very quickly, there is no odor, and a quart of Chalk Paint® will cover 150 square feet.

Two of the hottest selling colors are Old White and French Linen. They are right on trend with the current neutral style of decorating. Chalk Paint® is so versatile that it can be thinned with water to create a super smooth finish on a surface. If you prefer a more “shabby chic” look, it can be layered and distressed to create an aged finish. Don’t be afraid to “make it your own” with Annie Sloan!

Another furniture paint that is really fun to use is Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. Milk Paint has been around for hundreds of years but Miss Mustard Seed has brought it into the 21st century by offering a beautiful palette of colors. It is created with all natural ingredients and is a powder that is mixed with water. Because there are no additives that make it “grip” to shiny surfaces, it will not always adhere the way that Chalk Paint® does. But that’s the quality that we love about Milk Paint – it will sometimes randomly chip and flake off and create and authentic aged look on a piece.

It is possible to use both Chalk Paint®  and MMS Milk Paint on the same furniture, depending on the look that’s desired.

Many times a DIYer may want to preserve a “wood look” on some areas of furniture, particularly the top of a table. But they don’t want the hassle and mess of stripping and restaining. For those projects, there is another awesome product that can either refresh the existing stain or create a new stain color on top of the existing surface. Gel Stain by General Finishes will adhere to a varnished surface with very little prep. The hottest color is called “Java”, which is a very dark brown espresso. Homeowners are using Java Gel Stain to transform bannisters, table tops, and even kitchen cabinets.

The Gel Stain is an oil based product so the drying time is a lot longer than Chalk Paint® or MMS Milk Paint. There is an odor and clean up is a bit messier, but it definitely has made it much easier to achieve a stained finish without stripping.

If you are trying to change the look of your home and are on a budget, remember that paint can be the answer. Even if you are not on a budget, don’t forget that it can be very satisfying to open a can of paint, turn on some music, and brush some French Linen on that old oak table to give it a face lift!


Mary Anne Merfeld and her staff create one of a kind painted and textured finishes that turn pieces of furniture into pieces of art. BrushStrokes by Mary Anne is located at Brannon Crossing in Cumming as well as two other locations in Alpharetta and Roswell. To find out more about the studios and their work, call 770-335-9170 or 770-366-5990. A collection of her creations can be seen at www.brushstrokesbymaryanne.com.