Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tough negotiations...

So far, my seven year old daughter hates just about everything I've done to her bedroom. She hates the cupboard doors as they're white. She hates the white walls. We both want to inject some colour but cannot agree on how to do it.

She'd like walls in purple or turquoise. I tell her she should have been born in the seventies. 

She'd like a sunshine yellow room. And I start questioning myself. Can she really be mine? Could there have been a mix up in the hospital where I had her?

Make it stop!

She has no interest in a vintage farmhouse style bedroom.

She doesn't believe in pale and interesting. She'd like her furniture to be hot pink.


I can't do it.
I'd like it to be grey.

She's appalled.

I threaten her. ''Don't you want to have your bedroom in a magazine?''
It seems this is not high on the agenda of a seven year old.

I'm not just being mean. There are some things I cannot compromise on. Colour and decorating being all of those things.

So my poor child is deprived of wild colourschemes. When she has her own place I'll gladly go over and paint it as garishly as she likes. I tell her this. But she's seven. She doesn't ever want to leave home. She's going to stay with us forever and marry daddy.

''What about an ice palace room like the girl in 'Frozen'?'' she says.

Hmm. This means white and cream doesn't it? ''Yes I think we could look into that..''

Damn it. It's purple.

''And silver furniture?'' she says.
Well that's grey isn't it? I think we could manage that. Wilkinsons even do a grey paint called 'A touch of silver.' I know it's not what she means but it's not really totally incorrect is it? I'll apologise for misunderstanding her when the furniture is all finished. It'll look so nice she might even like it.

For those of you who think I'm really mean, I HATED my 1930's brown bedroom set as a child. I LONGED to paint it. Replacing it or painting it was out of the question.

It probably made me who I am today!

And I did manage to compromise on one small thing. Her ceiling light is a beautiful vintage glass shade.

Very farmhousey. She wanted a chandelier. And even though I think it's way over the top in such a simple looking room, and what we had was far better, and I'm allergic to bling, I found one on ebay. It even has icicles.

See? I'm mother of the year after all.

Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Dirty Weekenders in France...

Thanks so much to Fiona of Made in A Muddle for tipping me off about this new Channel 4 series called Dirty Weekenders in France. I had no idea what it was all about. I hoped it might be about people with weekend homes in France who popped across the channel to demolish walls and rip out kitchens in their quest to create the perfect weekend escape.
No, it wasn't.
It was even better than that.

The programme is presented by Richard E Grant who apparently has spent the past twenty five years popping over to France to buy all manner of french junk. (Wouldn't you love to see inside his home?)
He says, ''I have an insatiable desire for beaten up old stuff. Distressed furniture, rusty light fittings, nostalgic paraphernalia...''

I had no idea men like this existed! Naturally I fell madly in love with him and set about googling in a new tab to see whether or not he was married so that I might abandon my husband and run off into the Provencal sunset with him.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Three minutes into the programme he walks straight from a courtyard into his hotel room, flings himself on the bed WITH HIS SHOES ON  despite there being an utterly gorgeous white quilted bedspread on the bed.

Uh. It was over between us before it began.

I was quickly distracted from my broken heart as he strolled around french flea markets  and brocantes full of french gorgeousness and it was clear he really was in his element. Old wooden chairs and rusty garden furniture filled the streets as Richard E made his merry way.

The programme also featured two other Brits who regularly channel hop on the lookout for architectural salvage, rustic country farmhouse homewares and honest, beaten up old furniture.

Stuart Paterson from London was looking for things to sell at an upcoming fair in Notting Hill. I loved his style. He sought out items to add to collections which he sold in large numbers. Like sixty five plates! He took it as a great compliment when someone described his pitch at the fair as 'pretty-ugly.' He explained that it was too easy to do 'pretty-romantic.' (I think he would love my ugly dresser.)

Matt Black, a furniture dealer from Hastings had to find a mind boggling three hundred 1930's leather club chairs in a two year period for an American client. He was lucky enough to find out about an old factory that was closing down with all of its fixtures and fittings up for grabs. He scored a stunning metal desk with chippy paintwork and some divine pigeon holes. The stuff that dreams are made of.

With a round trip to the south of France costing around £500 in petrol etc, it was fascinating to see what the dealers found, knowing what they could sell their items for in hopes of coming out with a profit.

I thoroughly recommend this series to those second hand shoppers out there who appreciate a bit of rust and patina. The only downside is that you'll be sorely tempted to channel hop with an articulated truck. Forget the van.

You can catch up on 4 od.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Faking it...

Recently I've been lusting after antique linens on ebay. I've been watching vintage linens monogrammed with my daughters initials and I've been put off by the hefty price tag.

It seems a vintage sheet, tablecloth or napkin is far more valuable if it's monogrammed...

These linens would have been stitched by young women for their dowry chest. That way they'd have a collection of nice linens ready for married life.

I thought it would be lovely to have a monogrammed cotton sheet on my daughters bed as part of her room makeover. The fact that she'd rather have some hideous poly cotton Littlest Pet Shop bedding is neither here nor there. I can't go there. It goes against every fibre of my being.

So I thought, how hard can it be to do this monogramming?
I picked up two vintage cotton sheets from the flea market for 50p each, found a monogram template online and printed it out the size I wanted. (Weird snobbery - I can't do new poly cotton but I can do 50p used cotton sheets.)

I pinned it under the sheet and traced over it in pencil.

Then I went round all the outlines in a small backstitch, using all 6 strands of white embroidery thread...

An embroidery hoop kept it taught while I stitched.

Next, I filled in the solid parts of the design with little straight stitches inside the backstitched lines.

It doesn't matter if it's looking messy. This is just to provide the padding when you go over it in your satin stitch.

With the satin stitch I sewed on the outside of the backstitched line going over and over with a nice smooth finish...

Ta daa! Okay, if you regularly embroider you'll probably be quite horrified and it's nowhere near as good as the examples above but I'm happy with it. It took one evening of sewing and I really enjoyed it.

My daughter? Not so much.

It looks better from a distance!

My daughter may not appreciate my beautifying efforts but Bad Bobby and Fat Freddy are REALLY enjoying the raised bed! It wasn't supposed to be a cat bed. I'm just glad they're not using it as a cat toilet!

More on my daughters room soon...

Thanks to those who nominated me for the MADs blog awards. I was unaware (again) and so missed the opportunity to beg for votes. Doh. They don't actually let you know if you're nominated. One year I'll be ready with my campaign! Thank you anyway!

Linking to


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Second hand scores...

Despite all your good wishes for our chazzing adventure in Fleet, we didn't do well at all. My only purchase being this mediocre jug...

and a new looking t shirt for my daughter...

I laid it out to photograph it and Freddy couldn't resist coming to lie on it.

My daughter fared no better with this tiny pile of treasures...

She's not really into sewing but the thimble and beads are for her Littlest Pet Shop animals that she likes to customise with sequins, beads, blu tack and pipe cleaners.

Fortunately the chazzing in our town has had much more to offer lately. I snapped up two rolls of vintage wallpaper. Yay!

And these utterly beautiful and comfortable Hush Puppies.

Hush Puppies may be granny shoes but I've already spent a day in them with no blisters at all so I must be at the age where comfort is more important than the connotations of the label.

In other news, my first batch of kitchen related products should be arriving next week and I'm dying to show you! Shame my kitchen isn't photo shoot ready. Soon....

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

20 minute makeover...

It's the Easter holidays and I promised myself that I wouldn't just stick my daughter in front of DVDs so that I could crack on with my work. The weather is perking up and we've got plans for the next few days so I won't tempted. But this little project was so quick, I allowed myself a little fix of DIY.

I picked up this little wooden ladder for £2 at the boot sale last week.

It's really sturdy but the top was a mess.

Such a lovely little label. I wonder if it's the same Twyfords who do sinks and loos?
I ordered a small piece of oil cloth from eBay and set about recovering the top as it wouldn't take long.

I'm not touching the woodwork as I don't mind the paint spots. And lets be honest, it'll only get more. 

But it's going to look pretty in my kitchen. Which is next on the agenda... after the hols.

Happy holidays to those who have kids off school. I'm truly blessed with a daughter who loves doing the charity shops. Tomorrow we're visiting a relative in a town with plentiful charity shops. Yay!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Plodding on...

Where does the time go?
I'm turning into such a slack blogger these days. My new business takes up more time than I thought it would. I thought I'd just have to send a few emails each day and the money would flood in. Not so I'm afraid. Worst of all there are tough decisions to be made. Like what colour to use. All painfully slow...

But I have made some progress on the domestic 'to do' list. First of all I'll show you how the bleached table top turned out....

 It still has the circular scorch mark on it but I love its paleness now.

Here's a reminder of the 'before' pic.

Much more orangey. (Orange is a colour I cannot cope with. Unless we're talking hair.)

 Sooo, what else can I show you?

My scaffold boards arrived and I spent a morning sawing them. I was going to hire a saw but I discovered that jigsaws can cut wood up to 7cm thick if you have the right blade so I just used that.

We have wood piles everywhere... pegs in the kitchen...

...scaffold boards in the dining room...

...tongue and groove leaned up against the wall. (By the way, these are my 'new' curtains for the dining room. £5 from the boot sale, still in their wrapper! Woo hoo!)

 ...and more on the other side. I think a wood pile adds a certain cosiness to a home, don't you agree?

So what is my cunning plan with this apart from turning the house into a timber yard?

 Raised beds of course!

A series of them all along here...

  But man, they're going to take some filling! The husband says I'm not allowed to spend any more money so that might prove tricky.

Anyway, I built that first one yesterday and today my arm is really hurting so I can do no more.

The other thing I've fallen madly in love with is these scaffold board tables...

Aren't they just heavenly with their rustic plankiness?

These are all on ebay for a lot of money. Not having a lot of money to spend on tables, I've decided to try and make one. Well, replace my table top with a scaffold board top.

But not just yet. We can live with the wood pile a little longer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

How to install skirting boards (and how not to...)

Well, the skirting boards have been installed. More importantly, they haven't dropped off yet.

It was a learning curve. Here are my top tips:

  •  Before you order excessively long skirting boards, you might want to measure your hallway so that you know they will actually fit through the door. 

  •  REMEMBER that many skirting boards are double sided (Ogee and Torus) so don't have a little freak out that they don't match and go running out of your house shouting at the delivery guys as they're pulling away, ''They don't match!''  You'll just feel like an idiot when they point this out. 

  •  Remember the double sidedness also when you're cutting and installing your boards. Unless you're going for an 'eclectic mismatched' look. (It's not going to fool anyone.)

Imperfect external corner... past caring at this point.

  •  Internal corners for some reason are meant to be like this...

The first is attached as a butt joint. The second has the profile of the first drawn onto it and you cut along the line with a coping saw. I don't know why you can't do an internal mitre cut. Perhaps because rooms aren't square?

If you want to do it like a pro, have a little practise with the coping saw on an off cut to make sure you can do it.

  •  Watch this guy...

He explains those strange corners far better than I ever could and makes it easy. It's also thoughtfully subtitled in case you don't speak Australian.

  • If like me, you're going for primed MDF boards, wear a mask when you saw as it's toxic stuff. 

  •  Get more adhesive than you think you need. If you don't you will run out half way through a board and have to scrape it all off. 

  •  I thought it would be a good idea to have a join under a radiator as it wouldn't really be seen. Dumb move. I totally cocked it up and ended up with two joins. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the room as you don't put furniture in front of a radiator. Doh.

Disaster! And don't look at that shoddy radiator, I shall paint that too at some point.

  •  Decorators caulk is your new best friend. It makes everything perfect. Or just perfect enough...

  •  Primed boards mean there's no hurry to paint them all. This is a huge plus because you'll be so bored of them by the end of installation, you really won't want to paint them.

It took me a day and a half with a simple mitre saw and no power tools. I have no muscles so it was tough going. I also had to cut a conduit whilst it was attached to the wall, without damaging the cable that was inside it. I had to remove other bits of architrave round the door and the cupboard which was a real faff.

I'm really getting no enjoyment from my DIY at the moment. It's going okay, but not spectacularly good. The worst thing is, when I finish something, I just think I have to do it all again in two more rooms and the landing so it seems never ending and a little overwhelming. There's my whinge for the day.

As I say, I've lost interest in skirting boards and haven't painted them yet. I always find, the best thing to do when you're 98%  finished on a project is to start a newer, much more exciting one. With this in mind, I dragged my husband off to Travis Perkins where we argued about timber and eventually ordered five 3.9metre long scaffold boards. Yeah baby! They come on Thursday and I cannot wait. I will not be scaffolding with them.
Watch this space...

Oh and that desk tidy? It's also great for keeping your cats tidy...

Bad Bobby.

Ivy and Elephants