Friday, 28 October 2011

Shop of the Month: Making The Best

Each month, we'll be picking one of our favourite stockists to feature. This month, we've chosen Patricia Mellett's shop, Making The Best.


We can hardly believe that Making The Best is celebrating its first anniversary this year. It seems like the kind of shop which has been established for far longer. Today, we'd like to welcome Patricia to chat more about the shop.


Hi Patricia, what made you choose the name for your shop?

Well, I really believe in making the best in all circumstances, particularly in your home, so the name seemed fitting.


What led you to opening Making The Best?

I was thoroughly inspired by the growing number of small, good quality independent shops in Leighton Buzzard, where we're based. At Making The Best, we believe that we can do better by refreshing and reusing what we have, learning new skills and making our own.


What do you focus on selling?
We offer unique, stylish pieces of upcycled furniture, Annie Sloan's range of chalk paints, candle-making, soap-making, beer, wine and cider-making supplies, interior-related products and gifts. We sell what we are passionate about.


Why did you choose to stock Annie Sloan paints?

Annie Sloan's paints are nothing short of a marvel. After discovering wonderful Annie's shop in Oxford, it suddenly became easy to transform a tired cupboard or an old chest of drawers into a stylish and truly unique piece of furniture.

We love Patricia's excellent eye for display. The painted chairs in her shop window are just gorgeous. Visit the Making the Best Facebook page or the website to find out more.

Next week, we'll be starting our very own Annie Sloan link party, which we'll hold on the first Friday of every month, for you to come and link up your painted perfection or fabric favourites: any project related to Annie Sloan products.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Annie Sloan Interiors

This week, we're taking you on a mini-tour of Annie Sloan Interiors, located in the bohemian heart of Oxford. Annie first opened her shop to showcase her paints but it has evolved to reflect Annie's huge passion for home-making.


Annie has created the shop to be an antithesis of a typical hardware store. Instead of walking up and down long, soulless aisles, this is a place where you feel at home as soon as you enter: from the delicious scent of Annie Sloan's Home Fragrances to the glowing lamps dotted on tables. The atmosphere of the shop is one of visiting a friend - only you get to buy everything you like. What could be nicer?!

One wall is set aside to demonstrate the effect of adding Old White to each of our paint colours. The range of paints is designed to give our customers complete creative freedom in mixing their perfect shade.


Everywhere you look there are gorgeous details to admire, which we'll be looking at further in future posts: fabrics, hooks, cushions, curtains, furniture, lamps and our world famous Chalk Paints.

Next week, we'll be beginning a new monthly series, paying a visit to our Shop of the Month.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Annie Sloan Chalk Paints

Annie began to feel a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the range of decorative paints available. What she longed for was a product that made painting an absolute pleasure, that was easy to work with, environmentally friendly, and allowed the user to be creative....and so she headed to the lab to her design the perfect paint.

Annie says, "I disliked the complete uniformity of off-the-shelf paint. I wanted to create an artisan product that could be used in a whole variety of ways: with texture, or a smoother finish. One that would work as well when used like a wash, as when applied thickly.'

What came out of that time in the lab was the now deservedly famous Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. In future posts, we'll be looking at the huge number of ways of working with our Chalk Paints, as well as looking in more details about the colour range that Annie created.

One of the huge advantages of the Chalk Paints is that furniture does not need to be sanded and primed before the paint is applied, saving hours of back-breaking, laborious and dirty work. They are also fast-drying, which means a piece of furniture can be started and finished within day.

Another aspect of the paints which makes them incredibly versatile is that they can be painted on literally any surface...and they stick. They work as well on wood as they do on melamine, metal, and even glass.

In 2000, Annie opened her shop, Annie Sloan Interiors, in Oxford. The original idea was to create a place to showcase her paints but it has quickly grown into a whole range of beautiful things.

Next week, we'll be taking you on a guided tour.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Annie Sloan

We all know the name on the tin is Annie Sloan but we thought you might like to find out a little bit more about the face behind the name.

This week, we'll look at how Annie Sloan's background led her to where she is today.

Annie was born in Australia, to a Scottish father and a Fijian mother.  She came to England when she was ten years old but with spells in Southern Africa and connections to France, Cuba and the US, feels rather justifiably cosmopolitan.

After, a brief career with an all-girl rock band (yes, it's true!), Annie studied Fine Art at Reading University, before starting to accept commissions to paint murals in the mid-70s. This developed into Annie running her now-famous paint courses: teaching about paint finishes, gilding, decoupage, and furniture restoration.
Annie also worked, for a time, designing furniture and fabric for a children's shop in London but began to want to switch focus slightly, to find a better way to combine the work she loved with being at home with her family.
After moving to the Oxfordshire countryside, she began to write, alongside running paint courses, having a strong desire to communicate and empower people creatively, which is conveyed through all she does

Annie had her first book published, The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques, in 1988. There was a huge gap in a market that was hungry for well-researched, instructive yet accessible books and sales have reached 300, 000. Since then she has written over 20 books, all stemming from her passion for paint, pigment and art history, selling well over 2 million copies.

And then came a turning point. Feeling more and more frustrated with the limitations of the decorative products available, Annie wanted to create a completely new way of working with paint. She headed to the lab.

We'll be looking in more detail at what she developed and why next week......

 Images via Penny Millar and Christopher Drake