The art of restoring, revamping, or what’s now known as ‘upcycling’ old furniture so it can be re-used is a skill I have often wished to master.

The problem is that I am rather artistically challenged. Painting by numbers is about the extent of my prowess with a paintbrush.

And so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to attend Hetty Green’s workshop, called Annie Sloan Paint Technique Essentials.

To put you in the picture (no pun intended), Annie Sloan is a range of chalk paint, and Hetty Green, which opened its doors last May, sells household items that have been beautifully restored by the lovely Lesley Snook and Nicky Sidoli.

Finding the place was easy enough. Hetty Green is behind The Oaks Garden Centre in Merley near Wimborne, and there were plenty of places to park.

When I arrived there were already around ten apron-clad ladies sitting at a large kitchen table equipped with notepads, brushes and pots of paint.

Our first task was to master three different painting techniques using the Annie Sloan chalk paints. We were all given a board and then shown how to create a distressed look, which is Annie’s signature technique apparently, using two different colours.

Next we learnt how to create a vintage look using a hairdryer for a crackled effect and dark wax and then an ageing technique layering up with paint and more dark wax.

But the good news is that you can’t really go wrong. Chalk paint is foolproof. You can paint it on anything and you don’t need to spend time prepping either. There’s no rubbing down, no priming, no base coat – if it goes wrong let it dry, give it a rub and then start again.

Once you’re happy with your work, you have to seal it with either a varnish or a wax, and it is so versatile you can use on absolutely anything, outdoor furniture, wrought iron and terracotta pots. You can even dilute it with water and use it as a fabric dye.

The workshop is a room off the main store which is tastefully adorned with painted dressers, bunting made out of doilies and chandeliers made out of vintage tea cups.

But rather than feeling out of my depth in such a creative environment, I felt inspired and left determined to give some tables and chairs in my home a new lease of life.

The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, there was plenty of laughter from the start, and a good supply of tea and home-made cakes.

Lesley, who lives in Poole, says she has always loved painting and started by making items for her own home.

“I started getting requests from friends to do similar items for them and it went from there. Gradually it started taking over the house, the garage and then lock-ups until we decided to look for somewhere bigger.”

Lesley met Nicky, a former arts student, at a local vintage centre. “Our work complemented each other so we decided to work together.

“We visit auctions, car boot sales, house clearance looking for items to restore.”
Now they are taking commissions for big clients such as the Poole-based cosmetics firm Lush.

Lesley explains: “Some people come in with items that they don’t want to get rid of because it was grandma’s and they either do it or commission us to.”

She adds: “I love it and find it very therapeutic. It’s very satisfying to find something that somebody didn’t want and give it a new lease of life.”

Hetty Green plans to host workshops every two weeks.

Nicky adds: “We decided to run workshops rather than courses because many people don’t have the time to commit to a course.”

For more information about Hetty Green workshops visit www.hettygreen.co.uk. Future workshops include Take a Seat with Hetty Green – where you learn to repurpose and take home a beautiful old chair; sewing classes including vintage patchwork cushions; a traditional bunting class using mix and match vintage fabric; and working with driftwood.