My youngest has always had one of the smallest bedrooms in our house. I think that is generally what younger children get actually in the pecking order of families! Poor them… they are definitely overlooked a lot…. she also always got hand me down clothes for years, but I did always get her new undies and socks!
Our eldest has now moved out to go to Uni, and will only be back home for holidays, so we thought it time to do some switching around of bedrooms. We have 5, so are a bit spoilt for choice, but the youngest had always had what could be called a very small double. She is also VERY messy, so it was a question of bribery… ‘if you tidy your your room and keep it up for a while, you can move into a larger room…” It worked, and she made an effort, so I had to honour my word.
This then escalated and became a massive upheaval over Christmas, it actually always sort of escalates when I start fiddling around… I also had a pretty weeny budget and needed to be able to re-use and re-purpose existing items if possible. An existing spare room, (which had been decorated for my mum mainly when she stays over in a very granny-friendly style), was to become my youngest daughter’s room as it was much larger. And as such, it was not teenage friendly in terms of style. Here it is as it was… see what I mean…?!
And my daughter’s existing room was then meant to switch back over into being a spare room again.. this is the other room when my daughter was in it:
Crammed, no decent storage and hideous fake brick wallpaper which I reluctantly agreed to a couple of years ago as I was in no mood to chip off all the plaster for real. So definitely time for a change.
DAUGHTERS NEW BEDROOM:
I was shown pinterest boards with the most white, zen and minimalist interiors of dream bedrooms. ‘Wow’, I said, ‘NICE!’… But was I was really thinking was…’Yes, of course – it’s not like you don’t have loads of STUFF… and that STUFF does not stay in the allocated places usually.. and the STUFF is added too with lots of my china filled with various stages of decaying MOULD”…
But I agreed as she had tried to be clean, and then spent 2 days bent at odd angles totally whitening out the room. I forgot how much I hate rolling paint onto ceilings. 3 coats later, we had pure white. The floor is already lovely old pine stripped boats, and there is a pretty original fireplace and victorian sink.
We got her a new bed and mattress, and then I hunted through the house and found an oak desk, a beautiful needlepoint rug that I forgot I had and has been in the attic for years, cut work white curtains and a freestanding clothes rail (she wanted that sort of look, forget the dust!). The mirror was originally taupe, and it got a quick coat of Annie Sloane’s Graphite for an update.
A couple of weeks ago I was up really early doing an MOT on the car, and I had to wait a while for them to do it, so I went for a walk around my town. There is a furniture junk shop, which occasionally has some OK bits in it, and I meandered in for a nosey. At the back of the room, on its own was a chair. Not just any chair, but a Chinese Chippendale one.
This is the Jonathan Adler chair currently selling at £795
For those that follow the blog, you may remember my lustings for a set of Jonathan Adler Chippendale chairs. I managed to find a set of similar style bamboo chairs when I revamped my dining room and gave them a makeover, you can read about it here. Whilst they are lovely, they are quite large and not totally the real thing. The real ones are wood carved to look like bamboo with grooves and notches.
This is my earlier bamboo chair makeover
But this morning, this was the real thing. It is made in solid carved maple with a very girly upholstered seat, and I think it is late 20th century. Incredibly well made and sturdy, and the shape was totally the one it should be.
The man in the shop told me it had come from a very smart house in a very smart village nearby. And I could have it for £15. I kept a straight face and asked him to set it aside. He then mentioned there had been another 5 but they had already been sold individually…. GAH! I could have wept, but never mind I still got one at least. I then skipped off to collect my car, and didn’t even mind that it had failed the MOT and needed new tyres. As I waited to get the car fixed I was already scheming on what to do with my new chair when I got it home.
So here it is on its arrival home. It is very 80’s looking in colour and fabric. So straight away I removed the seat and stripped it back. Underneath is another fabric nasty, but I will leave it as a base for new upholstery.
Colours for upholstery
Previously I did my dining room chair versions painted white with groovy Thibault orange, orange and green irate fabric and cut velvet cushions. But this new chair needs to be moved around the house, where colours are darker and more traditional. It will probably start off in the sitting room. I am having an armchair upholstered at the moment for the same room in a large scale raised velvet damask and velvet, so I have some spare fabric available. The colours are spiced orange and neutral taupe. Thus it makes sense to use some of it on the chair as it will live in the same room.
Colours for the wood
Again, I don’t want it to look like the dining room chairs, although these chairs do look great in crisp white or a zingy bright colour. I have a few pieces of painted dark charcoal furniture which I really like so I decided to do a modern take on an ebonised Chinese chair.
And so, out comes the trusty Annie Sloan chalk paint. I have a pot of Graphite which is like the magic porridge pot in the fairytale.. It just keeps coming and never runs out.
A good sand was done all over first, as although chalk paint doesn’t really need it, this chair will get used a lot, so key areas that will be handled such as the armrests need to be have the paint really well attached.
A wipe down, and coat number one was put on, diluted 20% with water to get a smooth finish.
This paint dries very fast and looks very matt and chalky. After a couple of hours it was bone dry so I applied another coat which was not so diluted. Once that was dry, I applied Annie Sloan clear wax all over the painted areas with a brush so I could get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Once that it done it is buffing time. This is where you can chose how much lustre you want with the finish. I use a simple J-Cloth and polish away. You can almost feel the wax harden as you go. Once polished, leave it to harden more overnight.
Reupholstering a drop-in seat
This is where staple guns are the most amazing invention. I simply cut a square of fabric about 3″ larger than the seat pad, and made sure the design was centred on the fabric that will become the cover. Then you place that face down on your working surface, put the seat upside down on top and start pulling the fabric over and stapling it. I always start on each corner first with a holding staple and work diagonally so the fabric is pulled tight. Do the sides first and leave the folding corners until last
When you get to do the folded corners, its a bit like doing a hospital bed sheet. My seat had a shaped corner to the front so it was a little tricky, but you can always undo the staples if you are not happy until you get the neat edge you want. Pull it really tight as you staple. You need to get the seat to drop back into the chair frame so it cannot be too bulky.
The finished chair
Here she is… the whole project took a weekend, and out of that only about 6 hours was working on it. Much of the other time was waiting for the paint and wax to dry, interspersed with some Netflix box set bingeing…. I love it, and when I get bored with it , it will be really easy to repaint and re-upholster. Long live junk shops!
Not quite sure what is going on with me, but my recent redecoration of the dining room with pinging accents of orange, has created a need for hunting out more orange bits and pieces ready for the festive season. Tablecloths, candles, candles and so on. This is quite a hard colour to source, especially with good quality table linens. I never even liked orange much before I did this room, so finding things is quite hard as I don’t even have a mental stash of where I have seen things in the past that are appropriate. With Christmas approaching I also wanted to spend as little as possible as there is lots of other shopping ahead to do.
This is my earlier bamboo chair makeover
Some serious hunting for a table cloth online resulted in either horrible poly cotton banquet plain tablecloths which headed into neon territory, or 100% Irish linen dyed to order at eye watering prices. I also looked at buying fabric directly, but I kept choosing the most expensive fabrics and £120 a meter is not really budget-friendly. I also need an ENORMOUS tablecloth, as at Christmas I have my cunning extra large tabletop that comes out of storage and sits on top of the existing table. It seat 14 easily, and in the past I have had to either make cloths for it or adapt king size bedspreads. All were tastefully neutral, and not at all suitable for the colours in the room now.
I needed something to ping, and this is the sort of orange colour I needed. Really pumpkin-like.
And lo, along came ebay. I have not used it for a while, mainly as postage has got so expensive in the UK that people seem to have stopped selling on it so much. But I started to hunt for anything orange, and then this original 1970’s St Michael (M&S) bedspread appeared tucked away in the bedding section. It is woven damask in shades of orange, perfect for a pop of colour, and looks like something from dressing a 70’s TV sitcom. And Reader, I bid immediately. In fact no-one else bid on what looked frankly pretty awful in the picture, so I got it for a song. Here it is, looking a bit grim and dated on ebay.
It turned up yesterday, and actually it really works in the room!
It is really bright orange and yellow with lovely fat bullion fringing. It works with all the other soft furnishings in the room. And it is massive and will easily fit the Christmas table top.
Until then, I have used it in the corner of the room on a round table, replacing a ‘tastefully beige’ one. It would not work anywhere else in the house at all, but it does suit the dining room scheme. Job done, total cost £8.50.
I have been preparing for a gallery wall, and wanted to make some of my own artwork for it as well as using existing pieces.
I had started to hunt around for original prints, and found some images I really liked, but the artists’ works are REALLY expensive, and then they would need framing and so on. So I thought I would pay homage instead and get creative for next to nothing.
I found this very cheeky artwork by Dave Buonaguidi. He has worked in advertising for over 30 years, founding St. Luke’s, the world’s first Co-operative ad agency and most recently Karmarama in 2000. In 2003 he created the iconic MAKE TEA NOT WAR poster for the anti-war march. It now is part of the collection at the V&A and hangs in the Trento museum of modern art. He loves to make work that creates a reaction. And this one really is a bit full on, but I like the text over a map.
Obviously I needed to tone down the wording on my homage to this, I can just imagine the looks of horror from people visiting with kids if I copied the above verbatim! So this is how I made my own version by changing the working to ‘I bloody love this place’, far less brutal text than the original but still a bit cheeky and a bit ‘English’. I also have older teenage daughters who would not be offended than younger ones would be, so I think I can get away with it…. maybe… just!?
HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET ART
I had a vintage framed map of Milan lying around in storage. It has fond memories for me as I lived there for a few months many years ago, and had a blast whilst there. So I thought it was a personal piece that I could adapt. This was going to be the base of the artwork. I carefully opened it up, and cleaned up the glass on both sides. I measured how much space I had free on the part of the print which would be visible when re-framed.
Download the free font ‘Marigold’ from fontspace.com, and then you can make any text you want and it is a lovely curly handwritten font. If you don’t want the bother of making your own document I enclose a pdf you can use but it does have my wording on it, be warned!
I then printed out my wording, in my case on A3 paper as my print is quite big. Print with black ink.
My dining room is a multi-tasking space and so it is also a crafting room, office, homework spot and sewing space. So it has to work hard, yet be ready to switch back to a dining room in a second. Here it is in its current incarnation:
It has very tall ceilings, 3 meters, so the curtains on the french windows are always a challenge. The existing ones are goblet headed and were made to measure. The main wall colours are a pale stone colour with paler toned woodwork and wooden floorboards. The furniture is a mixture of antique woods and painted pieces. That huge dresser has to stay as it is the only wall clear in the house for its monumental proportions. I have already updated the fireplace with a paint effect, changing it from brown pine to make it look like slate.
Then after a while I got bored with the fireplace wall and painted it a deep olive which I liked as my convex mirrors looked lovely against it.
Anyhow, after a couple of years I have decided that I am bored with the same room. Who else gets that?! As I am in the room so much, I wanted to look up and see something else. I also could not be bothered to redecorate the whole room, mainly as there is so much furniture and stuff to get out to clear the room that it becomes a major operation.
As mentioned in my last post, I found some chairs that I thought I could do a good makeover on, and they would replace the incredibly formal Georgian chairs that I inherited from my grandparents. In my mind they would go from dark wood to Jonathan Adler inspired pieces:
After washing them down with sugar soap, I started to paint them by hand and used a satin finish water based wood paint instead of the usual chalk paint. Wow, nightmare! I would have been painting them up until Christmas as they were very fiddly and they would have needed 4-5 coats by hand. So I then hunted around for a paint spraying company, and found a couple within 50 miles, but that then meant hiring a van to get the chairs to them and back, plus extra costs. There had to be another way…. and then I found this beauty…
This is the most wonderful thing, a Wagner paint sprayer. I braved it, as I have never used one before, and purchased one.
It is really simple to use, you just dilute the paint, (about 10% water to my water-based satin wood paint), pop it in the white container and off you go. I built a very basic spray booth in the garden, (stepladders with dust sheets one them), and sprayed 6 chairs in an afternoon. It was a sunny but very windy day, so the paint dried in an hour between coats. The wind meant I looked like I was covered in fine snow from paint blow-back, and even the cats looked a bit whiter at the end of the day. I also learnt not to get too close on the first coat as sometimes drips appeared and ‘less is more’. But the result was amazing:
Any drip marks were sanded out after the first coat, and then the chairs sprayed again. Job done. This is a great machine, and no doubt many more things will get sprayed soon, including passing cats.
Or, Thank You to charity shops and modern house builders…
As summer slows to a halt and I start moving indoors more, I have started to cast the eye over the house once more. You know the drill… time to start tweaking and changing and improving.
I have had a bit of a purge recently of overflowing cupboards, and whilst doing it I noticed that a lot of my furniture and household items are bargains bagged from charity shops, auctions and even the odd skip. Not a lot is new at all, not that I would not love to go on a splurge in some of my favourite shops.
Most items of furniture that I have found have been mainly tall or long, and lingering in junk shops. We have very high ceilings in our house, so the taller pieces of furniture fit brilliantly and most people cannot fit them into their modern homes. As long as the basic shape of a piece is good, then it is amazing what some paints effects or a refurbishment can create. My friend Gaby has the best comment for when a bargain priced item is found, she says “it would be rude not to…”. Therefore in the politest fashion I can justify snapping things up.
This very tall Victorian glazed mahogany cabinet came from a Charity shop. No-one else wanted it as it is a whopping 10 feet tall. I backed the inside of the cupboard with some printed burlap that I had left over from an upholstery project, and it was ready to use. Total cost £90
In the hallway, this orange-toned pine sideboard was very large and lingering in another charity shop. A dash of Annie Sloane graphite chalk paint that I already had, and it was transformed. Total Cost: £80
Whilst at the same shop, I also snapped up this large mirror for just £10, a lick of paint transformed it:
This armoire came from the same charity shop as the tall glazed mahogany cabinet. A makeover with some leftover chalk paint, and a beautiful wallpaper in the panels turned it into a real gem. Cost: £40 for the cupboard and £42 for the wallpaper on sale down from £90, (costly wallpaper, but I loved it!). So a total of £82.
Well, sort of vintage bottles…. they will look it when you are finished.
I was given a collection of clear glass bottles with corks, (without labels), and was wondering what to do with them. Perusing online, I found some great old labels which were a whizz to download, print out and use on the bottles.
Some of the titles are hilarious, I am especially fond of ‘White Oil – For Man and Beast’, what this was used for once upon a time I have no idea?!
I enclose the files that you can use below, they are jpegs and good enough quality to print out and use yourself. What will you use them for?
The Armoire which caused so much chaos, see prior story about internet fraudsters, was finally sold to a lovely local lady. This left a gaping chasm in the hallway, and I needed to find something in which I could store art paper supplies, and general ‘stuff’. I trawled local ads and ebay, looking for an Architects Plan chest. But a) they are really expensive even in dire condition and b) the depth dimensions are large, and It would have been a little too deep for the space in the hall. So I needed something long, waist height so it did not interfere with the visual diagonal line of the banisters and with multiple storage options, oh and also to be as cheap as possible. The local charity shops proved fruitless and I was beginning to look online at more expensive and new options. But I do like a bargain, so that was not really doing it for me….
So I set off to a shop in my town that has house clearance stock and opens at strange random times. It is a hit and miss affair, but this time I struck gold. I found a dresser base style sideboard in full-on orange pine, all for under £80, brilliant!
Here is the offending item pre-makeover:
The sideboard is modern pine, solidly made but way too orange and dull.
GETTING STUCK IN
I felt like something dramatic was needed for the sideboard, and found some graphite Annie Sloan chalk paint left over in the stockpile. I gave it a really good sand and two coats of paint. This is the point when you start something and you always think “Uh oh…”, but there is no going back once you have begun! I used about a 5th of an Annie Sloan pot of chalk paint for the whole sideboard, (and that was 2 coats), and the half a tin of clear wax. I recommend dipping your paintbrush in water each time before you dip it into the chalk paint, then swirl it once before applying the paint, this creates a much smoother paint finish than neat chalk paint.
The original drawer handles were really pretty cup shape ones in aged brass which I thought would look great against the graphite, so I kept them, and added new matching knobs to the two cupboards.
A coat of clear wax was applied all over once the paint was bone dry. I also gave the top surface area another coat to add extra protection (my family brutalise the furniture a lot so better to be safe than sorry). I let it dry overnight and then gave it a serious rubbing to buff the wax up to a sheen.
I LOVE it! The grey is not totally 100% solid, so it has an interesting effect. And I have a fabulous huge surface area to play with for dressing. So I started with some glass domes:
This weekend I have been buzzing about all over the place. Distressing samples for mirror makeovers, going to a lovely wedding, then going to my first gallery exhibition opening, and ending today with a gargantuan task of upcycling the biggest mirrors I HAVE EVER SEEN!
On Friday, with my friend and accomplice-in-paint Claire, we tested out loads of samples for some huge mirrors that need to be revamped. They are for a lovely shoe and boot shop Ted&Muffy who are launching in Bath, London and Edinburgh very shortly, and the designers asked for some samples with combinations of blues, greys and whites. They asked if we could come up with a crackle glaze finish on very ornate carved mouldings. We started by testing the two colourways on a plain frame with chalk paints; Napoleonic Blue with Old White on top, and Anthracite with Original white on top:
To do a crackle glaze, you paint your base colour first, and then when it is dry you paint a coat of glaze on top of that. After 30 mins when it is seemingly dry/a tiny bit tacky, you paint the top coat on top of the glaze. This has to to be done in one coat/brush sweep only or the crackle glaze sort of mutates and fails. It is great on flat planes of wood etcetera, and the results show immediately.
So, this all looked good. BUT….. we were going to try and have to do the one sweep motion on really heavily carved frames, and so we tested a more ornate frame to see how it worked… it was really quite depressing!
So, the conclusion was that the glaze cannot work in any ornate areas, as if you work the paint into the mouldings then the sweeping one pass motion is lost/impossible and the paint looks like it is curdled, not cracked.
CHIN UP! we thought, in a very British gung-ho fashion. So I decided to do some samples using rubbing back distressing rather than crackle glaze on some more mouldings. Even when I got a bit clumsy and this happened, I kept my stoic British face on…
Chalk paint on deck, that was a bugger to get off….
The next mouldings again used the same colour combinations but I did the typical 2 coats, sand back method with the chalk paints, and wax to finish them off…, and I did a variety to send off the the shop designer to see:
Varied thicknesses of top coats
Details of soft and hard rubbing back
The different results
Using a tinted wax versus a clear one
So off the samples went, and I got changed and went to a….
I love weddings, and this one was for my friends the lovely Aaron and Jenny in the most beautiful location of Priston Mill near Bath. It is an amazing place with a choice of venues, all hidden in a valley reached via wiggly lanes. The sun was out, and it was one of those beautiful English evenings. We sat in a beautiful garden to start, with the most amazing herbaceous borders. The wedding had sunflower themed floral decor everywhere There was a brilliant self-photo booth with a polaroid camera, props for the models and a pin board to mount them onto. Little signs were everywhere, and it was just perfect…
The next morning my family and I headed down to Cornwall for the launch of Art & The Map of Cornwall where I had a piece in a group exhibition at POP Gallery. This is a great gallery which has very cool street art. All the artists showing were given a very old map of Cornwall and asked to go away and turn it into something new which referenced Cornwall. The launch exhibited the original artworks, and limited editions of them are available from POP gallery. I did a piece called the ‘Great Wave of Cornwall’, mentioned before in this post, and the original painting had already sold by the time of the launch. There are prints for sale via POP gallery, and they are all hand-finished. I also sold another large print that night, so it was a great start to the show for me! Here is the final original artwork piece…
There were some amazing pieces from the artists and everyone had such different ideas…. Here are some of my favourites:
We them stayed in Cornwall for the night, and meandered back yesterday after a lovely Brunch in Wadebridge.
BACK TO THE MIRRORS….
So this morning I headed to Ted&Muffy’s store to start work on the mirrors. The decision was made to not crackle glaze as it just was not working in the corners and on the mouldings, and to paint the mirrors in a very similar shade to the walls of the shops which are all being totally redesigned. I had a bit of shock when I saw them in the flesh…
Gulp… really quite huge
There are 4 mirrors, and they are at least 7 feet tall! The moulding is even more intricate than I expected in the flesh, (although I had seen photos), so I was really pleased we were going with a simple decorative scheme. I cracked on and had mixed up Dulux eggshell colour code 10BB83014 which is a really pale, pale grey and suits the decor of the shops. As it is an eggshell, it also needed a primer to go on first to the frames. I took the precaution of masking out all the glass, as eggshell is really runny to work with compared to chalk paints which I usually use, and I thought I might make a bit of a mess otherwise…
Before and after priming
It is the MOST fiddly painting to do, serious dabbing and stabbing to get into all the nooks and crannies, and there is also a beading around the frame almost like pearls on a string which took ages to get the paint behind. However, here they are primed:
Masking tape and newspaper to protect from splashes, all primed now
The primer has definitely saved me a lot of time, and the first coat of eggshell went on next:
Those are REALLY fiddly to paint but starting to look good
I will finish them tomorrow, and when the shops are launched I will post up how they look in their intended scheme.
But for now I shall be having a night off to rest as it has been really hectic but really fun over the last few days.
The Husband likes to attend car boot sales… Bit too early for my own tastes, although he does bring home some nice old saws for me to upcyle now that he is trained… and I get a lie-in, a wake up coffee and the Sunday papers along with his latest proffering at a civilized hour too, so all is well.
However, yesterday he appeared with some HIDEOUS pictures!!!!! They are nautical oil paintings in gnarly frames, but a bargain at £1 each. He was very pleased with his purchase, and wants them up in the house somewhere, (not that we have much wall space going, and they are not really going to sit alongside the Tracey Emin or Julyan Davis pictures that well…).
So an upcycle was in order after a lengthy discussion that went somewhere along the lines of:
HUSBAND: “Look! These are quality! They will look great hung up, I love them…”
WIFE: “Over my dead body matey…”
And so on and so on. We needed to reach some sort of compromise so I decided to at least have a go at making them look better.
The actual oil paintings are not too bad when out of the frames so I tried to find paint for the existing frames to bring out the colours in the scenes. I found some duck egg blue and taupe chalk paint in a cupboard, (yes, it’s an Annie Sloane moment again), to compliment the tones in the oils, then applied two different shades of wax to tone down the colours, and actually they now look much better. It took all of an hour, and equilibrium now applies to marital bliss.
1. Remove oils from frames
2. Sand down frames if they have any lacquer on (the inner frames did on these ones)
3. Apply a couple of coats of Chalk Paint (although I think any paint will suffice), and find colours to bring out the tones of the painting as well as to compliment your decor scheme.
4. When the paint is dry, first apply a coat of clear wax. Then add a smidgeon of darker wax straight away and blend in to create an overall darker tone/patina. Don’t overload the rag or it will end up looking very french shabby chic as the dark wax will get stuck in any crevices.
5. Buff to a soft sheen. Replace pictures in the frames and stand back to admire your amazing handiwork!