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Try your hand at crafty repurpose projects

 

Bella Bungalow sisters

Just last week, I was eyeing some vintage metal lawn chairs at a neighbor’s yard sale. The price was right for the pair, but I just couldn’t imagine finding time to strip the old paint off, sand down the surfaces, then apply several coats of paint, waiting between each application for drying time. As it turns out, there’s a much simpler solution.

The Bella Bungalow in Arlington is the area’s exclusive retailer (called “stockist”) for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The unique paint product can be applied to almost any surface with no advance preparation, it dries quickly and can be finished off with a paste wax within a few hours.

Sisters Kellyanne Smith and Kimberly Fischer, lifelong Arlington residents, are the owners of The Bella Bungalow, located at 431 N. Olympic Avenue in historic downtown Arlington. The store took over the space formerly occupied by the Olympic Tavern, and the new owners incorporated several fixtures from the tavern—including the original bar and a beer cooler-- into their shabby chic design aesthetic.

It all started a couple of years ago with a vacation to California for Kelly Smith and her family. Author Annie Sloan, who currently lives in England, was appearing at a book shop to promote her latest volume (she’s written more than 30 books on paints, colors, techniques and decorating), and Smith stopped in to meet Sloan. The rest, as they say, is history. Kelly was smitten with the woman herself and the products she developed, and when she returned to Arlington, she and her sister Kim started making plans to open a shop that featured the unique Chalk Paint.

The tavern space was available, although far from shabby “chic.” The women’s father, Montey Hagenston, a former Arlington City Councilmember and longtime Safeway employee, volunteered to help transform the dilapidated storefront into a comfortable retail spot.

The Bella Bungalow has been open just over two years, and was only the seventh U.S. retailer to stock the Chalk Paint line.

“We love being in downtown Arlington,” said Smith. “Since we’ve opened, several other retailers and restaurants have opened shop, and we feel a little like pioneers. It’s a great location for us, and we have customers from the Canadian border to Olympia who come here to find us.”

Chalk Paint is very easy to work with, according to Fischer. It very rarely requires any preparation, such as sanding or priming, and can be used indoors or outside, on just about any surface—wood, metal, even formica and melamine.

Smith added that the texture is easy to control. Add a little water to Chalk Paint to make it smooth, thicken it up by leaving the lid off, make it into a wash by adding even more water. Use flat brushes for a smooth look or bristle brushes for a more textured aged look.

The sisters offer workshops periodically (see the website for schedules), and they’ll even schedule a special private event for groups. Participants go home with finished furniture pieces created in just one evening.

In addition to 31 colors of Chalk Paint and paste wax created by Annie Sloan, The Bella Bungalow also has recently added Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, which gives an authentic distressed finish to old—or new—pieces.

From antique sideboards to “junk” furniture pieces and cookie cutter kitchen cabinets, Chalk Paint may be the answer to your decorating dilemmas, and sisters Fischer and Smith can help you create the perfect project.

The Bella Bungalow is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the website at www.thebellabungalow.com, or phone (360) 631-6224 for more information.

 

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