A fan of furniture from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, Mindy Jones balked at their "crazy expensive" price tags.

A fan of furniture from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, Mindy Jones balked at their "crazy expensive" price tags.

Instead of purchasing new pieces, Jones recreated hers in a "farmhouse look" that cost pennies on the dollar. That aesthetic pervades her new downtown Medford store, Pretty in Paint, which doubles as a supply outlet and classroom for other do-it-yourself decorators.

"The style we have is shabby-chic," says Jones, a 34-year-old Central Point resident. "Twenties and '30s is what I love."

It's a style Jones has perfected over the past few years with easy-to-use, all-natural chalk paint. She initially sold refinished furniture out of her garage, then at booths in Collectors Market and American Mercantile in Medford. Before long, she was peddling the paint, itself, and teaching customers how to imitate her brand of art.

"My husband said we need to open a store," says Jones. "People are always interested in DIY."

For Pretty in Paint's May opening, Jones stocked up on quarts of American Paint Co. colors and hand-picked goods from about 14 other local artisans to showcase. The resulting boutique at 305 N. Bartlett St. is a "destination" for gifts, home decor and painting essentials. Jones and fellow chalk painter Heather Smith plan to offer Pretty in Paint's first classes this month and next.

"It's so simple to redecorate your home on a budget," says Jones. "Better paint it than get rid of it."

It costs an average of $60 in paint, sealant, hardware and other sundries from her shop to refurbish a piece of furniture, says Jones. Students of Pretty in Paint classes pay $120 for more than four hours of step-by-step instruction and all the supplies, minus an item of furniture. The first class, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28, is nearly full, but a second "bring your own piece" session is set for Sunday, Aug. 4, and more will be scheduled based on demand.

Marketed as "no prime, no sand," the pigments in her store are the "best paint for the least money," says Jones, explaining that is costs more than $30 per quart but has no volatile organic compounds.

"It has no smell," she says. "You can do it in your living room."

The paint adheres to wood, glass, metal, plastic, ceramic, even upholstery. Sandpaper can be employed between paint layers, but "distressing" a piece for an antique look is as simple as swabbing the edges with a damp cloth, says Jones. Because it washed right off, the paint must be sealed with wax or polyurethane.

"People paint their kitchen cabinets with it all the time," says Jones. "People have painted their refrigerators with it."

Perhaps the most common application, says Jones, is on wooden dressers, hutches and buffets repurposed to display flat-screen televisions. Smith entered the genre by refinishing a dresser that she didn't want repainted with a toxic product.

"It absolutely looked like a brand-new dresser," she says.

Smith then applied chalk paint to patio furniture, metalwork chandeliers and fabric cushions using stencils. Now in business with Jones, she teaches all of Pretty in Paint's classes.

"It just made those projects a whole lot easier," she says. "Really anybody can learn to paint with it."

Specialty-foods manufacturer Aaron Clanton began dabbling in chalk paint to outfit his Made With Love Country Kitchens in Talent. His store's Americana theme caught on almost as fast as his bacon jam, and soon he was selling as many knickknacks as whimsically packaged condiments, more since Walmart left town.

"I'm hand-painting signs now," says Clanton. "I make my stuff a little more rustic and a little more aged."

His Vintage Made line of woodcrafts — picture frames, plaques and crates — is one local business represented at Pretty in Paint. Others include Southern Oregon Embroidery, Applegate Valley Lavender Farm and area photographers.

"We get a lot of salvaged stuff, too," says Jones, explaining that she and her husband scour estate sales, flea markets and antiques shows between Eugene and Washington about once a month. Occasionally hitting up yard sales and thrift stores, Jones says she wants to pass on lower prices to customers.

Most priced from $40 to $500, about 40 furniture pieces are in stock at Pretty in Paint. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.