How To Paint French Provincial Style

I love the French Provincial look because to me it is timeless and easy to do.  It is a bit time consuming but this is the game with painting furniture.  The key is to just bring it a long slowly and do other work or have fun in between.

french provincial style painted furniture 
I like this French Provincial style mixed with modern bright pieces, colorful upholstered furniture.  It also looks good with bare Swedish furniture and Shabby Chic American type furniture.  Mix it up, you can’t go wrong. 

I have also done this look with a very architectural armoire with finials and arches, in gray with black dry brush and it looked gorgeous.

admit it this was just GROSS before
Here I choose a really creamy vanilla color as the base color.

I sanded the piece some.

I painted it with a base coat of white 1 or 2 times, only because I didn’t have tons of the creamy color, you go straight to painting without the base coat if you want.

Then I painted the creamy white color another 2 times.

This piece actually has a glass cabinet that I painted too and left out of the photos because I like the piece better just a credenza.

here's what it looks like with just cream colored paint

Once all the coats had dried I went over the piece with a dry brush of raw umber oil color.  A tiny tube I bought at the art store.  I mixed this dark color with turpentine and brushed it on a separate piece of wood (or cardboard) anything to take off the excess of the oil paint to make the paint sparse.  You can also add a drying medium to this mixture to make the oil paint dry faster.  Oil paint usually takes about 4 days to dry.

oil color even over the key and hardware

I paint with the dry brush only on the moldings
and detailing and slightly over the top

If you want you can add a clear coat of polyurethane over  it all to protect it, but it does make the look a little less antique.  I would wait 4 or 5 days for the oil paint to dry.

If this was going to be mine and not going to a client I would love to save it for my future loft.  I could cut two holes in the top and turn it into a double basined bathroom sink.  Put some curved silver 
faucets.  It would be so pretty with all the fluffy towels stacked on the shelves below.

I just love what a drastic change this look can accomplish.



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  1. Natalie, a great change really!!
    Have you ever tryed Chalk Paint? I'm working with it now and it's really fabulous.
    Thank you for your visit and lovely comment, you are welcome! Hope to hear from you soon =)

  2. Natalie,
    An upcoming project is to paint a vintage French Provincial
    sewing machine cabinet a soft gray. I've been debating as to
    the finishes, but will certainly give your umbre oil some
    Thank you for sharing this elegant piece with us!
    Visiting from Susan's!!!