A little bit of tartan…finally!

Remember my post when I said the Mr didn’t want any print of the sort in the house? Well, it seems that if it is free, even he can’t complain. Thanks to a lovely grandparent, we are now the proud owners of a lovely, wool throw, printed with a great red and grey tartan. Great for curling up under after a day at work, especially given that our front room radiator refuses to warm up completely (we even had to learn to bleed the thing with no success in solving the problem!).

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The fact that this is a sort of inheritance makes this piece even better and goes with my aim of styling the house up for as little money as possible – especially since we decided to move house three months before Christmas (not the smartest move financially!).

I am loving all things tartan in interiors at the moment, and it seems that the trend is set to stay around for a good few months yet, with a refreshing lighter tone style for Spring/Summer 2014.

I really like these items on sale now, but I have a feeling, a tartan throw might be as far as I can push this one…

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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?

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.

Upcycled sideboard

Inspired by good old Kirstie Allsopp, I have finally transformed my old sideboard (which I picked up for £15 at a local furniture clearance) into a practical media unit for the living room. I am loving grey and yellow as a colour scheme, so chose to do the sideboard the same. The Mr and I popped over the road to Homebase and picked up ‘Banana’ matt emulsion by Habitat and ‘Warm Pewter’ matt emulsion by Dulux. While the paint cost us more than the actual sideboard itself, the quality of the colours is worth every penny and I am looking forward to seeing what else I can paint to match our new piece.

To make room for our DVD player and Freeview box, I decided to take two of the drawers away (still trying to figure out another use for them) and painted the cavity in yellow. I continued the yellow on the inside of the drawers and left the rest grey. To pay homage to the original piece, I left the legs uncovered, as I really like the shape of them. After two coats and a few drying hours in between, I added some lovely ceramic drawer pulls from Pushka Knobs, which I discovered while working at The National Home Improvement Show last month.

What do you think of the finished result? All we need to do is drill a hole in the back for the cables and slide a shelf into the cavity to make room for more gadgets. I am really pleased at how this little project turned out – and it only took one weekend. Thanks Kirstie!

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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.

Organising art

I am a Virgo, so naturally a bit of an organiser, list-maker and neat freak. When it came to organising where to put the numerous photos and prints we have accumilated over the years in the new house, it was a task I was happy to take on. The idea for a wall of prints is one I found on Pinterest recently and having seen it done in numerous house case studies in the homes and interiors titles, I was eager to give it a go myself. I really like the sort of dysfunctional organised spirit of the whole thing and think the overall look is very effective, and one that you can look at with interest many, many times (as opposed to looking at the same single image over and over again).

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I found plenty of inspiration for my picture hanging project on Pinterest

I found plenty of inspiration for my picture hanging project on Pinterest

For a timeless and modern feel, we went for only black and white frames. While I am not against the use of colour in the home, I think the monochrome scheme works well for the wall of artwork and you can get some really nice chunky, ornate, textured and simplistic frames to give a sense of variety.

To start, I gathered all of the framed prints we wanted to put up in the hallway and organised them on the floor. It was easy to see which picture worked well alongside others this way and meant that I could play around with the layout before hanging them on the wall. Once I decided on the best selection and location for each, I took a picture for reference. This is my top tip for this project as once you start hanging them it is good to look back at the photo you took to remember the layout you liked.

My top tip is to lay out the frames on the floor before you start and take a picture of the layout to reference when hanging them

My top tip is to lay out the frames on the floor before you start and take a picture of the layout to reference when hanging

Conscious of not putting too many holes in our rented property’s walls, I used these nifty adhesive strips from Command which act like Velcro to secure your frames to the wall. All you do is bind the strips together, stick to the frame and them attach the other sticky side to the wall (note: it is handy to have someone else around when doing this to ensure you stick them on straight!).

These Command strips are a great idea to prevent putting holes in the wall

These Command strips are a great idea to prevent putting holes in the wall

There's plenty of room to add more prints when we collect them...

There’s plenty of room to add more prints when we collect them…

By arranging the different shaped frames in varying heights, we added interest and individuality

By arranging the different shaped frames in varying heights, we added interest and individuality

I even included this little fella... I think it is good to add some one-off pieces that hold sentimental value

I even included this little fella… I think it is good to add some one-off pieces that hold sentimental value

Once all of the frames were up, the display covered around half the length of the hallway, leaving plenty of room so that we can build our collection and keep adding to it when we find other prints that we like. I even included a little penguin sketch that the Mr did for me a few years ago as a joke, but I love penguins and it holds some strange sentimental value (although he thought I was being weird by putting it up!).

I love the new look of the hallway now, and as soon as the first picture went up, it instantly made the house feel more homely. I can’t wait to add more as time goes on, it’s like our own little piece of artwork, filled with our favourite things, and looks lovely and neat.

What do you make of the art display? Do you struggle to find space for all your pictures? I’d love to see new ideas for displaying your favourite pieces.

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!