After training as a fine artist and taking on commissions to paint murals in private homes, Annie Sloan launched her famed Chalk Paint in 1990. Since then she has been at the forefront of the decorative painting revolution. She lives in Oxford with her husband David
IMAGE: HARRIET MATTHEWS
Where do you live and why?
Off the Cowley Road, which is Oxford’s hip, multicultural area, with so many delicious restaurants! It is also pleasant walking distance to Annie Sloan Headquarters, where we make all the Chalk Paint for whole world. I live with husband David and work with David, too! It works for us.
What’s the first thing that you did to your home when you moved in?
Took all the smelly carpets up and painted the wooden floors I found underneath. It was definitely in need of a bit of love and TLC . Is there one particular colour you’ve used in your home that you especially love? I’ve got punches of Chalk Paint in Antibes Green, English Yellow, Emperors Silk and Graphite downstairs, which give the house a lovely colourful feel. While upstairs my bedroom is painted rich Aubusson Blue, which makes it feel extra cosy and snug.
IMAGE: ANNIE SLOAN CHALK PAINT IN ANTIBES GREEN WITH VALESKA STENCIL, HANDS STENCIL ON JUG AND FABRIC IN TACIT
What item or feature in your home might people be surprised by?
My weird jug collection? Or perhaps my unpainted antiques? Just because with Chalk Paint you can paint anything, doesn’t mean you have to! I have a couple of very old pieces I love as they are, in their original wood.
Describe your front door…
Very old! I need to restrip and repaint it but I’m struggling to decide on a colour so I keep putting it off! Spoilt for choice.
What’s at the bottom of your garden?
My back garden leads out into a private lane which is very useful for wandering back through after dinner and drinks on the Cowley Road.
What are the most memorable things that have happened in your home?
A treasured memory is watching the fireworks for the millennium, with my late mother.
IMAGE: ANNIE SLOAN CHALK PAINT IN BURGUNDY, WITH EMPEROR’S SILK PATTERN USING TALLULAH STENCIL
What was your childhood home like?
My childhood home was on a farm in Australia, which was stuffed to the gills with artworks. There was also a great sense of freedom. The nicest thing about childhood is that you have nothing to do and yet you keep yourself extremely occupied, and growing up on a farm really facilitated that!
If the objects in your home could speak, which would have the best story to tell?
When I came to England with my parents we came by ocean liner. During the voyage we stopped in Tahiti, where my father bought a carved figure of Tahitian woman. So it came with us from Australia to England, lived for some time on our farm in Surrey, then went with my parents to Africa and lived in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. They travelled there from Cape Town in South Africa by car – a Citreon Safari, aptly. When they returned to the UK it came back with them both and lived in Brighton, before eventually coming to my house. I’ve known it since I was 10 and can vouch that it went on some adventures during that time – and I would bet it has some stories to tell from before we even owned it, too!
I have souvenirs and photographs and paintings and all sorts of things from my life and my travels which don’t always work together, but they make me very happy.”
What’s on your bedside table?
My rather kitsch bird-shaped lamp, which I love, and always a book! At the moment it is the first business book I’ve ever read – Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek.
What makes your house a home?
I think it’s because it’s the opposite of a hotel! I spend a lot of time in hotels and whilst I often relish the absence of ‘stuff’, and all the space, I love coming home to all my treasures. I have souvenirs and photographs and paintings and all sorts of things from my life and my travels which don’t always work together, but they make me very happy. It’s those sentimental things which make my house so homely.
Annie Sloan has launched her new Chalk Paint Lacquer – a hard-wearing, water-based polyacrylic varnish with built-in UV protection, which can be used over Chalk Paint for a robust finish.