Customer Spotlight - Hiroe Sen
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Hiroe Sen, I’m Japanese and my husband is Korean. I’ve been in Singapore since 2013 and I have three kids, aged 16, 14 and 11 - two girls and a boy. My husband’s business is based in Tokyo and he’s in Japan most of the time, which made things difficult through COVID because he has been in Japan through the lockdown. I was a flight attendant for ANA (All Nippon Airways) from 1996-2004, but now I represent my husband’s company here in Singapore and focus on the kids. I relax by taking long walks in nature and playing golf when I can.
What was the first piece of furniture you painted and what colour(s) did you use?
It was the summer holidays and we wanted to move to a new condo. However, in the end, we didn’t end up moving, and I wanted to improve our existing home. We decided to paint my son's bed frame, so he did a search online and we came across Big Blue Trunk. That was a big surprise because we had no idea the store existed! We visited the store and loved the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® colours and the way everything was displayed in the store. It was just pure luck that we found it by doing a Google search! We started with Chicago Grey for the bed frame, and then did a sort of “top-coat” with French Linen. Both my son and I loved it! I waxed it to finish and the end result was great. I did something similar for my daughter’s bed frames too.
Why do you enjoy using Chalk Paint® and upcycling?
Big Blue Trunk is very inspiring for me, and Meeda (the Manager) gives me lots of ideas. Her suggestions are simple and straightforward and they’re not hard to execute. She gets to know you and suggests options based on your style. Once I started using Chalk Paint®, I found just the entire process was soothing and spiritual. I think of Marie Kondo’s ideas about what sparks joy...you get to know the piece as you clean it and get it ready, then the painting itself requires focus. I haven’t focused like that in a long time. I take care of my kids and do a lot, but that kind of single-minded attention to something was missing. Meeda and I talked about the idea of furniture upcycling being therapeutic and I didn’t expect it until I started doing it. Then I realised it’s true. It really is.
Any tips for beginners?
There’s a fear when you start painting furniture and it takes time to figure out what colours you like, what works and what you want to achieve. In the end, the whole process is great and I enjoy the DIY journey!
How many pieces have you painted so far, and what’s next?
I started with my children's bed frames. I’ve now painted a 3 chests, a cabinet, and a stool. I think I have painted about 7 pieces in total and all that in 2-3 months! I met another customer at Big Blue Trunk who gave me a tip about going on Carousell to look for inexpensive but good second-hand furniture. I found so many pieces that were so nice!
My first project was this small wooden box - I painted it in Provence and it has white and blue knobs, also from Big Blue Trunk. Since it was a small piece, I wasn't worried about experimenting.
I painted a large cabinet in Aubusson Blue with pineapple knobs. It used to be a kitchen cabinet, and now it’s a shoe cabinet. The colour completely transformed it! I love blues in general and there’s a lot of navy in my house, but I discovered there are so many more shades of blues. Apart from Oxford Navy, there’s the Aubusson Blue and Napoleonic Blue, both of which added such a bright contrast to the navy tones in my house.
For now I’ve painted a lot of furniture pieces with Chalk Paint® and there’s not much space left in my house to do more! Friends like what I’ve done and they want to try it too, so I might help them with their projects. People tend to think that using Chalk Paint is this huge project, but it’s actually not that scary and it has given me such lovely fun moments that I’ve enjoyed so much!