At some point in our life, we all do something for the first time.
I had never painted a door before. And yet, here I am in my new house, with 27 doors to paint. I had to start somewhere. And where better than the door to my atelier? The little entryway to my world of creation and imagination.
So I decided to take some risks. Work with colours and textures Inever would have combined before. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I would hate it and have to repaint the door. No big deal. With Frenchic chalk and mineral paint, I don’t have to sand off the existing finish or prime it. It’s a paint and go product. There really wasn’t anything to loose.
My first challenge was how to take my old aluminum door that everyone said I should dump, and convert it into the kind of shabby chic, romantic, vintage wooden door that I love.
The answer was Texture. Lots of it. A faux diy “cement”; layers of colours; blending, mixing... But first things first.
This door was dirty. It’s a shame I didn’t take a photo of the door before I started cleaning it.
It had old, half-ripped out stickers, dirt, dust and layer upon layer of what I can only presume is oil and grime. Even stuff that looked like some sort of fungus.
Keep reading to see how I went from a grime infested fest-pot; to my romantic, shabby chic dream door.
Frenchic Sugar Soap. Lots of it; and generous amounts. Since it’s a concentrate, I diluted it with lots of water and scrubbed the entire door with it, using a coconut fiber sponge (you could also use your regular kitchen sponges). It took a couple of washes until I realised that the hinges weren’t actually black!
A colour riot.
Although it seems like I randomly picked a handful of colours here; the process was carefully planned. First, I mixed Frenchic’s Pool Boy and Lipstick, with a little bit of Hot as Mustard to create a signature brown, which I painted on with a roller all over the door.
Over the brown, I added patches of 2 shades of blue (Ol’ Blue Eyes and Kiss Me Sloely: both from the Frenchic Al Fresco Range), 2 shades of green (Victory Lane and Apple of my Eye: also Al Fresco), 2 shades of Red (Lipstick and Flamenco from the Frenchic Original Range) and 2 shades of Black (Loof from the Lazy Range and Panther from the Original Range).
Making a faux cement
Creating a DIY “cement” took some planning. The idea was to turn this aluminium door into one that resembled an old-world brick, wood or concrete door. Something gravelly and chippy, with textures reminiscent of hundreds of years of weather damage and being exposed to the elements.
I ended up using a mix of Frenchic Lady Grey from the Original Range (the closest I could get to the colour of cement) and the Stamperia Texture Sand Paste medium in Snow White.
After carefully mixing it up, I applied haphazardly, here and there with a paint scraper and spatula, allowing it to harden overnight before lightly sanding off any chips that wouldn’t hold. To my surprise, less than 5% came off the vertical door; with over 95% of my “cement” still in place.
Playing with water
I generously spritzed the door before applying my combination of three pinks: Love Letter (Frenchic Lazy Range); and Ballerina and Nougat (from Frenchic’s Original Range).
Once they had dried, I kept spritzing them with water to reactivate the paint slightly and start creating runny drips. At this stage, I didn’t want to loose colour completely, which is why I allowed the paint to dry first.
This part was perhaps the most fun. I worked in constant layers of wet paint and water; blending, layering, spritzing, misting and sharp spraying all at once. Do this bit intuitively; unleash your inner artist and don’t be afraid to make a huge soppy mess.
To add dimension and depth of vision, I added Funky Dora (Frenchic Lazy Range) and Sugar Puff (Frenchic Original Range) to my mix of the three pinks.
When doing this, it is best to pour out your five colours into little bowls (otherwise, you will end up with mixed colours in your can), keep five individual brushes ready for each colour, as well as two additional brushes for blending. Also stay near to a source of water as you will need to constantly refill your water spritzer.
What I did was thoroughly wet the door first; and then paint all five colours simultaneously, sometimes blending with the additional brushes to mix the colours; other times spritzing at the fresh, wet paint so that the water distresses it. To get this look, i constantly changed the nozzle size on my water spritzer, going from a mild mist, to a sharp squirt (best to create chippy holes) and again to a spritz to diffuse the damage.
There were moments I honestly wished I had at least four more sets of hands.
A few times, my little four-year-old actually took over the reins and created his own damage on the door. (P.S. this is messy play at its best for kids. They love it, and hey, you can’t really go wrong here).
Be careful to cover and protect your surrounding walls. I didn’t, and it’s a hot mess now. Which means I need to repaint my walls again.
Once you’re satisfied with the results, leave the door to really dry out. At least overnight (I also switched off the AC in my atelier). Since I used at least 2 to 3 litres of water for this step, it’s crucial to not have any moisture trapped between layers of paint.
Step 6, 7 and 8:
Paint and repeat
I just repeated the above step of spritzing, painting, blending and water distressing about three more times. Always being careful to leave it to thoroughly dry out.
With a medium grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded the entire door. This would remove any last bits of “cement” that had not adhered (to my delight, not one grain of cement fell off!); as well as smoothen down the roughness and continue to distress through the multiple layers of the five colours of paint, down to the original 9 colours the door was base coated in.
Rolling in the deep
Now that the paint had done all it could to create my weather-worn look, the next step was to add texture, dimension and age through design. I wanted the door frame to pop; but I also wanted the rest of the door to look like decades of paint were coming through the worn out paint.
My way of doing that was with my IOD Decor Rollers. I poured out some Sugar Puff and mixed it with a little bit of Funky Dora to create a slightly earthy-creamy tone; on to a painting tray. Using the large Emoprium roller, I went over the entire frame. Since the roller surface is larger than the frame, it gave me the option of using whichever half of the roller I wanted, so as to play around with the design. Once I had done the frame, I still had a tiny bit of paint left over in the foam of the roller; which was perfect for creating that dry-brush stencil effect, but with the ease of a roller instead.
For the little strips surrounding the door frame, I changed to the smaller Roma design roller (also by IOD). I used very little paint (the same Sugar Puff and Funky Dora Mix) and with a nearly dry roller, just went over the door and the borders here and there; overlapping as much as I wanted to.
FYI, when used with the right amount of paint, these rollers are fab for creating an all-over effect for walls and furniture too.
Because this was the door to my atelier, I stencilled my When Shabby Meets Chic logo over it. It wasn’t easy because of the “cement”, but that actually added to the charm.
Once the logo was on, I sanded by hand again the entire door, to age the roller and stencil designs. Dusting it off, I then heavily spritzed it with water again, to make the paint run.
Seal your finish
The final step was three layers of the Frenchic Finishing Coat to seal the door and make it water proof.
Since every product I used is certified EN71.3, EU-approved environmentally safe and nursery friendly, I could do all of this indoors, without needed to open windows or have ventilation. There are no VOCs, odours, toxins or fumes in Frenchic.
And there you go, this is the final result. A perfectly aged door, that retained my vintage, romantic, shabby chic vision; with no traces of the metal nightmare it was when I began.
For me, there lies the beauty of our art. Creating beauty from ruin. Not allowing our old possessions to be thrown into landfill just because they don’t look the way we want them to. Plus, you can’t deny the thousands of dirhams you save when you go diy.