Annabel was the proud purveyor of painted furniture - Painted Lady was her new enterprise and she had visions of becoming the next Rachel Ashwell. Her addiction to the painted and distressed was triggered by an overdose of homes and interiors magazines depicting endless rustic boltholes, Georgian rectories and restored chapels. Not a natural piece of wood or unadorned furniture were to be found in the pages of La Maison Francaise or Vintage Home Interior magazines. Giles, Annabel's husband, sensing that she could be directed away from her previous interest of breeding Labradors, stumped up for a painted furniture course for her birthday. Giles figured it would be cheaper in the long run to invest in painted furniture, rather than in futures of Labrador puppies (go long on Labradors!) and the inevitable destruction that followed in their wake.
The Painted Furniture course was organised by an ardent disciple of the cult of the Lazy Artisan chalky paint range - affectionately known as Lazy A to those in the know. Annabel was thrilled to learn that rubbing down, sanding and prepping were things of the past. Lazy A paint would cover a multitude of sins with minimal effort - perfect! Jilly, the efficient, no-nonsense tutor on the course, took the ladies through a multitude of paint finishes and techniques, with each daubing and dabbing at their boards to get the desired effects. At the end of the course, all were released back into the wild, having mastered stippling, stencilling, rag rolling, distressing and crackling. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and Annabel could hardly wait to experiment at home. No piece of furniture was safe from her ministrations. All went well until a very lovely Georgian mahogany tallboy, inherited from Giles' grand-parents, fell victim to the curse of the paint effect. Annabel gave it the full treatment with a Boulevard Grey base coat, topped with Madame Pompadour Lilac. Artful rubbing down and distressing lent the piece a suitably shabby demeanour, sealed by a thick coat of clear wax. On discovering his heirloom's fate, Giles retreated to the 19th hole at his golf club for some gin and sympathy.
Having exhausted her home supply of items to decorate, Annabel became a regular visitor at her local car boot sales - a new and alien experience. Dealers were delighted to offload their lumpen 1930s brown furniture, third-hand flatpack coffee tables and tannic orange Mexican pine blanket boxes. No piece of furniture was too ugly for Annabel to makeover - upcycling had became her watchword. The latest batch of Cinderella tables, chairs, bedside cupboards and the odd wardrobe would be squeezed into an already over-full garage awaiting their magical transformation. Giles' Lexus was permanently excluded from its quarters and had to live on the drive. Annabel would set to work excitedly running through the paint chart to choose the best colours. Her taste tended to direct her to soft greys and whites, but occasionally she would branch out and experiment with the Lazy A's latest paint colours - Jaundice Yellow, Poison Bottle Blue and Nuclear Orange.
Taking a stand at the Country Vintage Fair was Annabel's first foray into the world of fairs and markets. Her expectations were high as she unloaded her hired van packed to the gunnels. As she was the new girl on the block, Annabel was allocated a tucked away spot reached via stairs and heavy self-closing fire doors. Her nerves were in shreds by the time she had unloaded all her stock and pulled it into some kind of display. The public proved to be less enthralled by her offerings than she had hoped. Most rushed past her stand on their way to buy coffee and cake or to the disabled WC; those who lingered opened and closed every door and drawer, perhaps with a friendly comment but no sale. By the end of the day, her sales amounted to one folding chair and a small coffee table. Some fairgoers had taken her card, promising to speak to their husbands about specific items - she was pinning her hopes on a rush of sales after the fair.
Back home, Giles' enquiries about sales and the possibility of getting his car back into the garage were met with somewhat sulky responses from Annabel. And her froideur was further increased when Giles chortled about her paint-splashed arms and called her his very own Painted Lady. Perhaps Labrador puppies were the easier option after all.