two degrees of separation.

two degrees title

You’ve all heard of the concept of six degrees of separation, right?  This is the theory that absolutely everyone is connected by no more than six other people.  This led to the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”.  Any other Footloose fans out there?

Well anyway, today I am officially two degrees of separation away from one of my earliest decorating idols, Rachel Ashwell!


Yep, I’m definitely a fan from way back …

ashwell books 2

I’ve got all of her books …

ashwell books

And now we are separated by just two short degrees!

A while back I was contacted by Chantelle from Bungalow 47.  They are the distributors for Rachel Ashwell’s new line of chalk and clay paint.

ashwell paint

She asked if I would be interested in sampling this new line of paint products.  My answer was “Um, YES!  Where do I sign?”  After all, Rachel’s shabby chic movement was what prompted me to begin painting furniture in the first place!

So I picked out a color, Caribbean Sea, and Bungalow 47 sent it off to me along with a can of their Clear Primer and their Clear Coat.

The next step was trickier.  It was finding just the right piece to paint!  I hemmed and hawed, and went round and round with myself.  I had a couple of dressers lined up to paint, including the ‘battle scar dresser’ from last week, but none of them seemed “Rachel” enough.  I also knew that I wanted to add some vintage wallpaper into the mix, so I needed a piece that had a spot for wallpaper.  I debated painting my own armoire, but decided it just wasn’t ‘vintage’ enough.  And then I came across this piece …

ashwell dresser before

A lovely linen press with two doors in front that would provide the perfect spot for some vintage wallpaper.  It looks as though at some point these doors had embellishments of some kind on them.  You can see a ghost of them, but whatever was there is long gone.

Painting the dresser was a breeze.  I followed my usual m.o. of cleaning my piece with some TSP substitute first.  Then I painted my first coat of paint straight up out of the can.  Once dried, I could see that I needed just a light second coat to get perfect coverage.  Bungalow 47 suggests dipping your brush into the paint first and then into water to get a thinner coat of paint, but I went ahead and actually poured some paint into a small container (another empty Talenti ice cream container if you must know) and thinned it out by mixing water directly with the paint.

After the second thin coat, the coverage was perfect.  Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic paint is a chalk and clay paint, and much like other chalk paints it dries to a very matte finish.  At this point I had some options about a top coat.  According to the instructions from Bungalow 47, I could have gone without a top coat if this piece didn’t need much protection from wear.  In that case their instructions are to buff the finish with a clean dry towel.

I also could have waxed this piece.  The Rachel Ashwell line doesn’t include a wax yet (they are working on developing one), but you can use another brand of wax with it.  The Miss Mustard Seed wax is my personal favorite.  But I’m all out at the moment.

So in the end I decided I should just try the Rachel Ashwell Clear Coat since they had taken the trouble to send it to me.  I don’t normally use a clear coat, so I have very little experience with them.  Chantelle had warned me about the potential for water based clear top coats to draw stain from under paint.  Are you aware of this?  I was not.  I should have listened to her when she explained this the first time, but you know me, I always prefer to learn things the hard way!  So, I went ahead and added two coats of Clear Coat to my dresser.  The next evening I proceeded with adding the wallpaper to the doors (to read more about how to wallpaper furniture, check out this post).  As I was doing that I noticed that there was some discoloration around the edge of one of the doors.  I thought maybe I’d gotten a little messy with the wallpaper paste, but then it wouldn’t wipe off.  A closer inspection revealed that I did indeed have stain bleeding through my paint.

ashwell stain bleed

The next day I ran home on my lunch break from the day job so that I could inspect the dresser in the light of day.  Sure enough, I had stain bleed thru in a few other spots too.  Yikes!

Luckily all was not lost at this point.  You can use the Clear Primer to solve this problem.  I painted a coat of the Clear Primer over the areas where I had bleed thru.  In my case, this was just on the sides and the right door of this piece, the top and the drawer fronts were fine.  Once the Clear Primer was dry, I painted another coat of paint, and then finished with another coat of Clear Coat.  Problem solved.

ashwell linen press cornr

So here’s the thing, even though I had to learn about this the hard way, you don’t have to!  You can just pay attention now and not make this mistake yourself.  Here are your options:

Option no. 1 –  Just start out with the Clear Primer.  If you know you are going to use Clear Coat or a similar water based sealer, then seal your piece first.  In addition, if you have a piece that you are pretty sure is going to be a bleeder even without the Clear Coat, one with a very dark stain, or a very red stain, just hedge your bets and start with Clear Primer.  Yes, you can also use shellac or a stain blocking primer for this purpose.  The benefit of the Clear Primer over shellac is that it can be cleaned up with soap and water and it isn’t as stinky.  The benefit of the Clear Primer over a stain blocking primer such as Zinsser or Kilz is that it’s clear.  If you are going to distress your piece, you probably don’t want to see a white primer underneath your paint color.

Option no. 2 – Wax your piece instead of using Clear Coat.  If your piece is painted and there is no bleed thru yet, you will be fine with wax.  The wax will not draw out the stain if it hasn’t already bled through.  The downsides of wax are that it takes some elbow grease to apply and it is not as durable as a clear coat.  If you are working on a dresser or similar piece of furniture that isn’t going to be subject to a lot of wear, wax is awesome.  Personally I prefer wax over other top coat options most of the time.

So, to recap, Clear Primer and Clear Coat together, or wax.  Got it?  I know I do now!

And after all of that, what do you think of the finished dresser?

ashwell linen press

Oh, and hey, did you notice?  Anybody?  I’m back in the photo cottage!  Spring has sprung here in Minnesota, for the moment anyway.  The snow has mostly melted and I can be out in the photo cottage without freezing my buns off.  It’s always a happy day for me when I get to head out there again.

By the way, I call this piece a ‘linen press’ because of the drawers that are behind the doors.

ashwell linen press interior

Once upon a time I read somewhere that these drawers were intended for storing linens and these pieces are called linen presses.  I kind of love that name, so I go with it.  I love the idea of storing one’s linens in a piece like this rather than in a closet in the hallway.

ashwell linen press angle

Did you notice that this color is almost exactly the same color as my new favorite vintage typewriter?

ashwell blue

There are 9 other equally lovely colors in the Rachel Ashwell line up.

ashwell wallpaper

If you are interested in learning more about the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic paint line, or if you’d like to order it online simply visit Bungalow 47.

If you are local and are interested in purchasing this lovely linen press, leave me a comment and I will email you with the details!

27 thoughts on “two degrees of separation.

    1. In classic Quandie fashion, I have once again neglected to take measurements before heading off to the day job. Darn! I’ll measure it tonight when I get home and email you Brigitte!


  1. Linda, thanks again for your clear and informative instructions for the bleed through! I like the idea of a water washable sealer instead of the stinky shellac. And the linen press is adorable. It would be perfect in any room, but I see it in a little girls room! And I’m sure you are glad to be back into your photo cottage. Oh, and I have always loved the Rachel Ashwell look and have several of her books. She bought a B&B close to Roundrock, TX – I bet it is fun to visit!


    1. One of the books pictured “Couture Prairie” is all about the decorating of the b&b. It looks like a fab place to stay! As for the primer and clear coat, I’ll definitely use these products again. Now that I know what I’m doing with them! I’m looking forward to using the clear primer on my next piece with bleeding stain!


  2. Love this SO much. I am in desperate need of a dresser. Any chance you could deliver to South Minneapolis for a fee? I am definitely interested. Would love dimensions as well.


  3. You’ve done Rachel proud, Q! It’s really lovely and the wallpaper adds even more charm. The typewriter is already coming in handy for styling, adorable! I really like that their line offers low VOC products, especially if you’re doing the painting indoors. How nice to be back in the cottage!


    1. Thank you so much Meggan! I am with you on the low VOC thing. When you paint as much as I do, I think it’s important to be careful about not using harmful products.


  4. Looks like another fabulous overhaul by Quandie! Beautiful work…love how it all came together. AND beautiful couple of days here in Mn too!


  5. Absolutely beautiful ~ it belongs in the next Shabby Chic book! I purchased my first can of Shabby Chic paint last week-same color-I’ve been in too much of a gray and white rut. Now I am really inspired to go through my stash for the perfect piece to try it out on.


  6. Hi Linda, just checking back. Not too concern about size but wondering what the price is for this piece. Thanks much!


    1. I sent you an email earlier this afternoon with the price ($265) and dimensions (40.5″ wide x 20″ deep x 41″ tall). I’m seeing that I have two different emails for you though, so maybe I sent to the wrong one. I’ll try again!


  7. I have long been a fan of Rachel’s look too and the addition of the wallpaper really gave this that vibe. This is such a darling piece. I can see it in a little girl’s room as well. Good info on how to handle a bleed thru.


    1. This piece would be darling in a girls room. It would also be great for a craft room with all of those pull out drawers. I can see storing scrapbook supplies in them, or fabric for quilt making.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.