How to make coasters

Imagine my grief when the Mr put a cup of tea onto the newly painted drawer tables and it left a perfectly formed ring on the surface. After finishing the new side tables for the living room, my next project was to make some coasters to stop exactly this happening. It seems my crafting was a little too late on this occasion, but I still made these lovely set of four coasters to make sure no more marks will find their way onto my beautiful upcycled pieces of furniture.

I’ve seen these made in various magazines, online and on the TV and with a few quick buys and numerous samples of wallpaper, I got to work on a quiet Saturday afternoon. If you would like to stop partners (or guests) marking your items, these are a great idea. I am rather proud of them, and they match the living room scheme perfectly.

You will need:

Cork coasters – I bought my square ones from Hobbycraft. You can get circular ones if you prefer, or you could try making some sturdier versions from small, old tiles.
PVA glue and some strong glue
Paint brush for the glue
Scissors
As many wallpaper samples as you like
A length of felt – to cover the bottoms once you’ve finished. This will give a nice neat look and ensure the base is smooth and soft against the furniture
A little bit of time

Get all your things together ready to start making

Get all your things together ready to start making

Cut a piece of your chosen wallpaper and leave around 2cm around each edge. Stick the cork coaster in the middle and press

Cut a piece of your chosen wallpaper and leave around 2cm around each edge. Stick the cork coaster in the middle and press

Start folding over each edge neatly, pulling tight to make sure the surface on the front of the coaster is smooth

Start folding over each edge neatly, pulling tight to make sure the surface on the front of the coaster is smooth

If the edges start to lift up (despite lots of holding tight) use a little bit of strong glue to keep it in place

If the edges start to lift up (despite lots of holding tight) use a little bit of strong glue to keep it in place

Cover all your cork templates in your chosen design and paint a layer or two of PVA glue over them. Leave to dry completely. This took 24 hours when I did it

Cover all your cork templates in your chosen design and paint a layer or two of PVA glue over them. Leave to dry completely. This took 24 hours when I did it

All dried, cut a square of felt to the size of each coaster and stick to the back. Leave to dry again

All dried, cut a square of felt to the size of each coaster and stick to the back. Leave to dry again

Stack up your lovely display of new, unique coasters and take pride in your project

Stack up your lovely display of new, unique coasters and take pride in your project

Enjoy a cuppa and bask in the happy thoughts that there will be no more marks on your furniture!

Enjoy a cuppa and bask in the happy thoughts that there will be no more marks on your furniture!

What do you think of these DIY coasters? Will you be trying this craft project out for yourself?

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Ladder shelf loving

I have always loved how a room full of well-stocked bookshelves looks. There is something really cosy about a living room or study filled to the brim with books about all sorts of topics – travel, cook books, crafts, novels and true-life stories – and that have been bought from all sorts of different places, near and far. A lot of my books have been given as gifts, and a lot of them are either cook books or those full of ideas on thrifty home updates. These people don’t know me at all, clearly…

I love the use of the space here - and look how comfy it looks! (Image: Pinterest)

I love the use of the space here – and look how comfy it looks! (Image: Pinterest)

Stylish and functional (Image: Pinterest)

Stylish and functional (Image: Pinterest)

As well as functional, book shelves have got to look good too. There are so many different styles now available – high shelves, low units, thick, thin, geometric, cube shaped and even pyramid styles that make a real design statement, but all I really wanted was a set of lovely ladders. I have seen many blogs and Pinterest posts about reclaimed materials being used to create this look – which all work really well, but my choice came in the form of some gorgeous second-hand Marks & Spencer ones that I bagged for £40 on eBay. Given that these still retail at £129 in store, I am rather pleased with myself. We got the beech-veneer ones, which go well in the living room, but they also come in white, which would be nice in the bathroom.

Once positioned, they have become a home for my favourite books (ones that I flick through often when looking for recipes, upcycling ideas and general inspiration), as well as a host of graphic design books that belong to the Mr. The smaller top shelves have been adorned with lots of candles, photos and a few random knick knacks, including a piece of rock the Mr brought back after a recent cycling trip to the Lake District.

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Now, we still have a huge box of books in the spare room, which are yet to have a home. But seeing the ladders has inspired the Mr to build a larger set of his own for the dining room come office at the back of the house. I think I may be rubbing off on him after all…

Photo Friday: #1

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought, as a light-hearted new series, I would post a photo each week to gauge opinion, get ideas from some of the other lovely bloggers out there and to also show off some of the great things that I have seen in that week.

The first comes from the Mr’s Nan, who offered us this set of tables. I am still thinking about whether we should take them or not, as we are becoming a bit short on space. However, I think they would look great with a lick of paint in a lovely range of pastel colours, inspired by a country cottage. What do you think? To take or not to take – that is the question.

Should we take this set of tables? I think they would be great for an upcycling project

Should we take this set of tables? I think they would be great for an upcycling project

Drawer tables are a thing, right?

Now, I am quite fond of the saying: waste not, want not, so when faced with a couple of redundant drawers, I was eager to come up with a new use for them. Left over from my now made-over sideboard, these two drawers were in line to become wooden planters for the garden, hanging box/shelves things, or – quite brilliantly – side tables. It was actually the Mr who accidentally came up with this idea when we first moved into the house and had nowhere to put a cup of tea when relaxing on an evening, and he turned one of the drawers on its side and rested his hot cuppa on the top. Because the drawers are narrow, they fit perfectly either side of the sofa, something I think we would struggle to achieve with shop-bought side tables.

I quickly came round to the new table idea – so, one rainy Saturday afternoon turned into another upcycling/makeover project and voila, these little gems were born.

A few people have suggested this idea is a bit mad, but I for one am quite proud of this reuse, and they match the rest of the living room (bar the horrible red carpet) beautifully. Who’d want to waste them anyway?

Take two old drawers like this one

Take two old drawers like this one

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Paint grey – this is Warm Pewter matt emulsion by Dulux, which I used for the sideboard

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Mask off stripes and paint two coats of colour. I went for Banana matt emulsion by Habitat and gloss white by Johnstones Paints to bring contrast and to tie the colours to the sideboard further

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Once completely dry, carefully peel away masking tape to reveal the finished design

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This one fits snugly between the sofa and some shelves

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A great place for our side lamp (need a new lampshade – ideas please?!)

What do you think? Is this mad or savvy upcycling? The only thing I would change is to fill the holes left by the drawer pulls.

Furniture Makeovers: Simple techniques for transforming furniture by Barb Blair

It’s Saturday afternoon and I am waiting for the first coat of paint to dry on my sideboard project, which I have finally got round to doing. Keep posted for a blog on it when it is finished. I thought I would take this time to tell you about a great book that I was given recently.

Furniture Makeovers: Simple techniques for transforming furniture by Barb Blair is a great book filled with ideas and inspiration on how to source, strip and bring a bit of life back into an old piece. For anyone, myself included, who wants to transform their home with one-off pieces that have been sourced on a budget and repurposed with care and attention, Barb Blair has some of the best ideas on how to achieve this, and how to do so with simple and easy-to-follow technique using paint, wallpaper, stains, stencils and anything else you could think of pasting onto old wood.

Furniture Makeovers: Simple techniques for transforming furniture with paint, stains, paper, stencils and more, by Barb Blair

Furniture Makeovers: Simple techniques for transforming furniture with paint, stains, paper, stencils and more, by Barb Blair

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With a foreword by Holly Becker, founder of  Decor8 blog (take a look if you haven’t already – it’s full of great ideas), I was excited to get stuck into this book and try out as many of the projects that I could and even use some of the techniques and put my own spin on them.

An experienced finder of unloved pieces to make new again, Barb tells you where to look for the best items, the types of wood that will last a makeover, the conditions to look out for, what tools and materials to use, how to strip and repair pieces before painting and also how use various finishes, from wax to matt emulsion and stencilling to decoupage.

Each project in the book is named, such as Artemis, Blanche, Jules and Lottie, which features on the front cover. My favourite, particularly since I an undergoing a sideboard project of my own, is called Amabel. I would love to know the shade of grey used, as I think it is just lovely, and would be perfect in the living room. She has left the legs in the original state and stencilled on bold orange arrows on the top to add something a little different.

My favourite - Amabel

My favourite – Amabel

Lee and Cabbot - a great use of decoupage

Lee and Cabbot – a great use of decoupage

Lee and Cabbot were to unloved ends of a desk, which were chopped off to become two chests. They were made over using decoupaged paper and some lovely wooden knobs – I love the result.

Finally, as  I wouldn’t want to give everything away, there’s Barb’s milk men. By using white matt spray paint to cover an assortment of glass vases and milk bottles, she has created a display fit for any modern home.

I'm going to see if I can collect some nice jars and bottles to make some milk men of my own

I’m going to see if I can collect some nice jars and bottles to make some milk men of my own

In her introduction, Barb says, ‘I hope that this book will inspire you to discover a creative passion, see potential in the world around you, roll up your sleeves, and create furniture masterpieces of your very own!’. Well, thanks to you Barb, I now have plenty of ideas on how to make my new home, truly my own. I’m off to make a cuppa and carry on with that second coat.

New sofas: We finally found our bargain

You may remember the little story I told about missing out on a great bargain sofa at a local furniture clearance event, but never fear, every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. In my case, this lining came in the form of a successful bid on eBay for two nearly-new grey John Lewis two-seater sofas which came in at £200 for the pair. Given that these little babies usually retail at around the £600-£700 mark, I am well and truly thrilled with them.

My love/hate relationship with eBay ended with a great bargain buy

My love/hate relationship with eBay ended with a great bargain buy

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with said eBay, as just before I bagged my lovely settees, I lost out to another grey two-seater from Sofa Sofa at the very last second. I was so bitterly disappointed with the loss of another sofa, that I literally spent hours trawling through search pages to find a better option and found the John Lewis pair and my happy ending.

This all happened about a week before the big move and we organised the pick up (only about 30 minutes away from the new house – bonus) for moving day so we had somewhere to sit after a hard day of lifting, unpacking and assembling. The Mr would have been quite happy without a sofa or two for the first couple of weeks, but, for me, they were a necessity!

We got two of these John Lewis two-seaters for £200 on eBay

We got two of these John Lewis two-seaters for £200 on eBay

I love the colour and the beech feet...more on the cushions later

I love the colour and the beech feet…more on the cushions later

What do you think of my bargain sofas? I’d love to hear about your eBay finds!