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.

January budget blues

I’ve been away for a while on a kind of blogging hiatus. I have moved house twice, started a new job and begun a whole new adventure. Six months in and I have just about settled into my new home in a new area, met some great people and learned a lot. I am still making bread, baking cakes and perpetually hunting for bargains. This is my first post of 2013 – Happy New Year!

And with a new year comes plenty of new (new year, new you as they say) but it also comes with plenty of impending payments – car tax, car insurance and rent among them. Who else has a mild dislike for January, the longest month of all?

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Homemade birthday treats: Proving it’s the thought that counts

For a recent birthday in my family I was faced with a pressing issue of ways to get a nice and thoughtful gift that cost little. Deciding to combine my love of baking with a new found craft of card making, I ended up with a present that was tasty, looked good and was wrapped in my personal touches and filled with effort.

While most people visit the high street for upcoming celebrations (myself included, usually), I think going that extra mile is a nice way to show you care – and you can have a lot of fun creating your treats and gifts.

Here’s mine, have you ever made your own presents?

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Superscrimpers: Tried and tested

If you have ever watched Channel 4’s documentary programme Superscrimpers, you may have picked up some tips and tricks on how to save money on everything from car insurance, the weekly food shop, cooking and interior design. While some ideas are great (like cutting the top off your moisturiser when it is running low to get that extra bit out), others leave a little to be desired. But one thing that I am keen on doing is finding ways to get my pampering fix without breaking the bank. The experts of Superscrimers suggest making your own hot cloth face pack using olive oil and a hot towel, using talc as a dry shampoo and even using baking powder as a tooth whitener.

Always one for painting my nails and trying out new colours, I attempted to recreate a ‘leopard print’ design as seen on the TV using some bright varnishes in my make-up bag and a black liquid eyeliner. Yes, a liquid eyeliner – strange but it really works.

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Tastes better when it’s free

Just as my Cafe Nero loyalty card was full up with stamps, a new one has been started. Of course, I bagged my free drink (Caramelatte if you’re wondering) and it was delicious. I even took a little pic of it to emphasise this and to show off my freebie of the day. My wet feet drama is now a distant memory.

Lovely free coffee to soothe the rainy day outside.

Diamond Jubilee brings out the patriot in all of us

Jubilee weekend is just around the corner and I can’t wait. Not just for the long long Bank Holiday weekend, but also for the impending partiotic celebrations. After a quick trip (window shopping) to John Lewis, my fondness for the Queen and her 60 years on the throne have grown significantly and I have a sudden urge to get my hands on all things Union Jack and commemorative. From cute cake stands, bunting, paper plates and bowler hats with red, white and blue flags sticking out the top, there is defintely an air of being proud to be British flying around.

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