My friend Anne-Marie has been given a piano, and although it is in tune and plays well, it was a bit battered around the casing and woodwork. It is also very dark brown and stood out like a sore thumb in their living room which is very calm in design. So she asked me to have a go at painting it to make it blend better into the room. The room has pale creams, greys and a sage green in it, so I took those colours and used them on the piano. We ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ about using decoupage, but as the piano will be situated next to curtains with a strong and graphic pattern, so we felt it better to leave it simple.
A lovely, but very dark piano
The piano was sanded back to get a really good key, especially on the lids and music stand which would get heavy use. Then a base of Country Grey Chalk Paint by Annie Sloane was applied all over the piano:
Base of Country Grey
Certain areas were picked out in Olive chalk paint, such any as rims and edges with horizontal lines on the lids and legs:
Horizontal mouldings in Olive
Finally two coats of clear wax were applied and buffed heavily to create a soft sheen, and then the original candlesticks were re-attached. They have an aged patina which works very well against the new colours:
Here is the finished piano, which now looks great against the colours of the room and lifts the piano into becoming a stylish piece of furniture in its own right:
After my last cupboard makeover, I decided to start on another one. I spotted this cupboard in a Charity shop which was a bargain at only £40. The quality is great; it has veneered wood to the panels on the front, ball feet legs, a carved pediment, and has immaculate joinery inside. I guess it to be around the 1930’s. However it is very solid in colour, and some of the veneer was beginning to flake on the panels. So I was happy to give it a makeover and not feel bad!
I am obsessed with ‘Snow Tree’ wallpaper by Colefax and Fowler at the moment, and decided to use the cream colour way on this Armoire. I managed to source some on Ebay for £42, down from the usual £58. I already had some Annie Sloan chalk paint in Olive, County Grey and Original leftover from other projects which suited the wallpaper’s colours.
I painted all large areas of the Armoire except the front panels in Country Grey to start, and the detail mouldings in Olive. At this point an issue came to light as the right hand door did not have beading on the inner left side, which would make wallpapering the panel neatly very tricky. I popped down to the local DIY store and bought a piece of 180 degree fine wood moulding for £1.80, and with my craft knife I trimmed off the flat edge so it became a pure semi circle. I then used my best friend, No More Nails, to stick the beading in place and painted it Olive. Bingo! Now I had a raised edge to abut the wallpaper so I had a neat edge.
I then added detail to the pediment, feet and any mouldings on the Armoire which were painted Olive, by dry brushing Country Grey very lightly on top.
Finally it was time to wallpaper. I started on the right panel, using wallpaper paste on the paper and letting it soak in for a good 10 minutes before pasting to the panel. I fold the paper onto itself as well so the paste does not dry out when this soaking period takes place. I then hung the paper, trimmed it to fit exactly into the space using a pair of sharp scissors, (I find craft knives always tear wet paper). A damp sponge then smoothed it into place.
To paper the left hand panel, I mentally ignored the two pieces of beading that separate the wallpaper and trimmed the wallpaper so it smoothly flowed across the entire front. Then it looks like the paper actually runs below the beading. I then left the paper to dry before the next steps. Time for a coffee!
Time for a coffee break.
The wallpaper has a very distinctive background of dragged paint marks whereas my paint to the Armoire was solid, so I decided to emulate the effect on the front of the armoire edges to match.
On a plate I put a blob of Country Grey, and one of Original white and poured a little water on top of all. Then using a rough and stiff paintbrush I gently painted lines in both colours on top of all the pale paintwork to the front of the Armoire, so it has paler and darker tones. It is not a total match, but I think it compliments the piece better than a dead flat colour.
Finally I waxed the whole piece where paint had been applied with clear Annie Sloan wax plus buffed it to get a good sheen. I also applied a dead flat clear glaze to the wallpaper to protect it.
Dragged brushwork to paint
Moulding on pediment highlighted with a lighter tone
The Final Armoire: the wallpaper pattern runs smoothly across the front
Sadly I have nowhere for this beauty to go, which is why it is currently standing in my hallway . I really do not want to let it go! But for a total cost of £94 I am pretty pleased with the results and hope it inspires people to get creative with wallpapering furniture.
I love curio cabinets. The Victorians excelled at collecting things, (which are now non-PC or probably extinct), on their Grand Tours around the world. My Great Great Uncle Bernard was one of these, and in the family we still have his amazing cabinets filled with butterflies and eggs that he collected voraciously. Nothing came in small measures, he would collect 50 perfect specimens of one type of butterfly rather than just one, plus the caterpillar of the insect as well. The smell when the cabinet is opened is overwhelming of camphor still, and when I was a little girl I would spend hours inhaling the smell and coveting the butterflies. I have quite a few little odd bits such as fossils, animals and coins, and wanted to group them in some sort of display case together, following the Victorian cabinets which are so inspiring:
My last post talked about buying at auction, and one of the items I purchased was a very cheap little oak wall storage box from, I think, an old power station/railway box. It is made of oak, and has the original sticker in the box. As it is plain oak, I decided to paint the exterior in a distressed grey/green effect using chalk paints. I left the interior oak as I wanted the items to stand out.
Once it was dry, I hung it on the wall and popped in my little items; a skull, a pickled lizard, vintage smelling salts, fossils, coins and my grandfather’s lead toy soldiers. Here is the finished cabinet:
Musings occured over the weekend over how to attack the reproduction pine fireplace surround in our dining room, see last week’s post, and I finally stopped procrastinating today and got on with the job.
I used chalk paint as it is really easy to manipulate when watered down in a dark grey and a white, and by wetting it with a damp brush you can work the colour and tones until you are happy with the results, plus I use a clear wax to finish and protect the surface. Here is the before and after picture:
The process is really simple, and you can always go back and paint over bits if you are not happy with them. The gallery here shows you how to paint this slate effect.
You will need dark grey chalk paint, white paint, brushes, water and finishing wax.
I keyed my mantlepiece top before painting as this will be a heavily used area.
Paint the whole mantlepiece in a dark grey.
While this dried I had time for a very nice Cappuccino, delicious!
I then used a plate as a palette, and put some white and grey either side. I then dropped water in the centre, and started to work on the mantlepiece using a brush and dabbing/splodging grey, white and water to create a cloudy effect on top of the base coat. This paint can dry out really quickly on the plate, so keep adding water to keep it liquid. It should look like mottled, cloudy grey tones, and work the paint in well to avoid brush marks.
You can also use a sponge if you want to dab on the paint, again as it dries so fast use small circular movements to blend and hide the initial sponge marks.
Cover all areas in this cloudy effect and leave to dry. It will look quite pale and dusty when it is dry, but do not worry as adding the wax at the end darkens it back down. Check you have covered all areas, and if you need to touch up do it now. Leave for an hour or so so the paint really is dry for the next stage.
Finally using a brush or old cloth, work clear wax into all areas you have painted. Brushes are good for getting the wax into nooks and crannies, and I prefer a cloth for large flat areas.. Leave to harden off for 20 minutes, and then buff to a smooth sheen. I used two coats on the top of the mantlepiece for added protection.
I am really pleased with the results which are much punchier to the eye, and wonder why I did not do it earlier. I was not sure about the all gold mirror above when it was finished, so slapped some black acrylic paint on parts of it to bring it into line with the slate look fireplace. Much better….
Remember the days when everyone had been travelling, went to India and came home inspired to create an ethnic look in their house? This cupboard was the result of my travels in early years, and has been with me for ages. However, it is really heavy, very dark, has ring marks on the top and did not fit in any more with the rest of the house, but it is a useful little item and so I thought I would give it a revamp so it sat better in the house.
This project was incredibly quick, took a couple of hours one afternoon and the cabinet has been transformed. First I slapped on some chalk paint, Annie Sloan’s Country Grey which is great neutral shade, all over the cabinet and on the inside of the door. I even painted the iron bars and the handle and catches.
Then I waxed the cupboard with clear wax and buffed it up to a nice sheen. The bars still looked a bit odd and very Jali, so I found some fabric I had lying around, which is a hessian printed with alliums. I cut a piece slightly larger than the opening in the door, ironed the hems back flat and neat and attached it with my staple gun.
To hide the staples I stuck on some ribbon, and then covered the corner joins with some buttons.
The finished cupboard looks lovely, and tricked my husband into thinking it was a new piece for a while. Job done!
I had decided to upcycle an old cupboard, and finally settled on a fantastic Colefax and Fowler wallpaper called Snow Tree which has brushstrokes and graduations of tone in the background. As a first attempt I decided just to wallpaper the inset panels and then to do a paint effect to match the background of the paper on the rest of the wood. I figured that if it went wrong I could remove the paper do a simple repaint…
Snow Tree by Colefax and Fowler
Here are the results, I am pretty pleased with it.
You will need: Charcoal, Original and Olive Chalk Paints (Annie Sloan) Clear Wax Earthborn wall Glaze Wallpaper paste Wallpaper Scissors Kitchen sponge Paintbushes How to:
Apply a coat of base colour over all of the wood that will be visible. Being chalk paint, I only needed one coat and it adhered straight to the existing varnish without any need for sanding down. Plus it dries really quickly which is a bonus!
Base coat applied to all areas that will not be wallpapered
Measure your wallpaper for the panel sections, give it an extra inch all over in case the piece is old and not even in its dimensions. Cut pieces, then one by one put paste on them, wait 5 mins for the paste to soak in well before hanging, and then stick to piece. Smooth well with a very slightly damp cloth, and cut off excess paper where needed with sharp scissors. Smooth down well again and allow to dry. I left mine for about 3 hours as we had the heating on.
Stage 2: Papered and painted with base colour
Mix up a separate small pot of a lighter version of the base colour with some white paint and water and start to randomly dry brush and streak it over the base coat using just the tips of the brush. At this point it looks quite brutal but do not worry. I did mine in a similar pattern to the wallpaper background. Allow to dry.
Rough dry brushing with a lighter tone
When dry, dilute some of the original base coat colour with water so it is quite runny and put it onto a plate. Then dab a kitchen sponge into it so there is just a little on the sponge and start to work it in small smoothing circles on the painted areas of the cupboard. This softens the highlights you made before without removing them.
Work away at the piece until you are happy with the effect.
Highlight any mouldings with a complimentary colour, I used Olive as it picked out the green in the leaves of the wallpaper.
Highlights picked out in complimentary colour
Once you are happy with the piece it is time to wax and glaze it. As the Chalk Paint is totally matt and the wallpaper had a very slight sheen I needed it to all have the same finish.
Wax the painted woodwork and buff to a sheen. This creates protection for the paint, and also very slightly darkens down the paint, even with a clear wax.
To protect the wallpaper I used Earthborn clear wall glaze, and roughly brushed it on so the strokes again matched the wallpaper’s background.
And voila, the finished cupboard. The sheen is the same all over and close up it is hard to tell it is wallpaper and not hand painted flowers:
I have had a Georgian cupboard for years, that I bought because it was quite scruffy and showed where at some point it had had a decorative paint effect applied. It looks like someone has applied a woodgrain oak effect on top of the original mahogany. But it is now a bit chipped and worn and needs an overhaul. As I think the paint effect is at least Victorian, I can never restore it to immaculate mahogany.
I have seen lots of pictures online with cupboards and shelves having wallpaper set into the back panels but not many when wallpaper is used to the outside of the pieces:
Photo from House to Home
I want to make my cupboard into something more exciting and came across this great piece by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. I love the fact it is totally wrapped, and it starts to look like something like marquetry or hand painting that you might see in a very grand old house.
I am going to go for it with the cupboard and aim for quite a dramatic finish with a very dark/black base all over, but not by wrapping it totally in wallpaper as I want quite a large design and I think it will be too overwhelming. I will start with papering the inset front and side panels and adding some brushstrokes of paint to those areas, and will then paint the rest of the wood to match the background of the wallpaper. Then with a glaze I think I can match the texture of all areas so it ends up looking like a hand painted piece, and slightly oriental if I use a shiny glaze.
The shortlisted contenders for the paper are below – I LOVE the House of Hackney paper as it is crazy close up with animals holding odd items but it is really expensive for a roll, and I also think the Snow Tree is a contender as the brushstrokes in the background can be replicated all over the other areas of the cupboard. Samples are on their way so I can see the paper with the naked eye as that will also affect the choice.
More to follow on the cupboard saga, and any suggestions also most welcome….
I owned a scruffy victorian cupboard, and had used it for general dumping for a while. It looked a bit sad, so I decided to have a go at making it into something more exciting. I wanted to turn into into something that looked like a faded old french shop fitting. I found some excellent template signs at The Graphics Fairy. These are a variety of french worded signs that you can print out in reverse and use as transfers for the below method. You need to print the transfers on inkjet printers as that ink can transfer onto your chosen item.
First of all I painted the cupboard in a mixture of ‘Mizzle’ by Farrow & Ball used on the tops and door panels and ‘Duck Egg Blue’ by Annie Sloan on the sides and door frames. It looked very pristine and bright, but I was going to add coloured wax after so knew it would darken down when applied.
I then used Modge Podge, (this is a US glue product available from Hobbycraft in the UK, but you can use PVA as a substitute diluted about 2 parts water to 1 PVA). I coated the front of the transfers with it so they were saturated. This then was stuck onto the panels, smoothed on very well on the areas of font and left to dry hard overnight.
In the morning, I soaked the paper with water so it was sopping wet, and very slowly peeled it off. It leaves an imprint of the print showing the right way around. After it thoroughly dried I sanded it back to make it look faded and old, I then waxed these areas very gently with clear beeswax. I then waxed all the other areas of the piece with clear beeswax, and then rubbbed in much darker bison wax into all the cracks and crevices. This gives a patina of age and use.
The finished cupboard looks so much better and it was an interesting process to try out.
I wanted to have wall lights in my bedroom, but without the expense and mess of an electrician coming in and hard-wiring the walls. In Ikea I spotted some very reasonably priced wall lamps called ÅRSTID with plug attached, but when I got them home they looked too modern, bright and shiny for my room. Rather than drive all the way back to Ikea, I got busy. Now they look very rustic and suit the room, plus I can move them if I want a change. First I made a bowl of 5 tea bags & hot water and dunked the shades in for a couple of minutes, this knocked back the whiteness of the shades. When dry I attached ribbon around the base of the lampshade with glue.
Then I painted the chrome bases with two coats of chalk paint. I used Annie Sloan paint. When dry I waxed them to withstand scratches and knocks.
When they were ready to hang, I attached them to the wall as per instructions, however the white wires looked awful against the dark walls in my bedroom, so I painted them in leftover paint from the walls so they were far less obtrusive.