Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Plate rack problem...

Okay so for my dining room makeover I decided I needed a long flat plate rack. The room isn't big so it had to be flat so that people can still squeeze by it.

I got this one on eBay, I've shown you before...

Well, tragedy of tragedies. It's too small. My carefully collected wares (if it's under £1 I'll have it) do not fit on here at all.

So, seeing as I'm now a Master Carpenter I figured I could make one. I mean, how hard could it be? Men seem to manage it and they can't understand a garment care label or use a washing machine properly.
So I set about measuring my crapola and designed a larger plate rack.

It would have been so great. People would have been emailing me just begging me to reproduce it for them. I'd probably have had to start a new company.

But seeing as I'm car-less and struggle to get timber, I thought I'd have another little look on eBay. And I found one. It wasn't cheap but I had pay pal money from selling some junk so that makes it free really. And a lot less hassle than getting timber and having to start a brand new company.

You can see how much bigger it is...

Obviously the one I nearly built would have been just like this. Or better. 

I haven't got much further on at all with the room. The radiator man never came and I've been too busy to track him down. I forgot how hard it is to achieve anything in the school holidays between playdates and day trips. But I'm not complaining. Constance is great company and we are enjoying the lazy mornings.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Refurbishing a crate...

 I have a thing about crates. I cannot resist them. If they're plain I paint logos on them. If they have old writing on already, all the better but this can make them more expensive.

At last weeks flea market I saw a lovely crate that had some age, and writing on the side that said, ''Produce of Sweden.'' Now how perfect would that be for my fantasy Swedish country farmhouse dining room? Quite perfect. Apart from the fact that it also said, ''Pigs Kidneys'' which shattered my romantic dream. I left it there. The font of the ''Produce of Sweden'' wasn't that nice anyway.

Moments later I found this teeny little crate for £2.

I thought I might come up with some lovely font and do my own ''produce of Sweden'' crate that didn't involve pig offal.
So I said to Jason, ''What else do Sweden produce?''
''Volvo'' he said.
Not that helpful.
''Abba!'' he said.

These are two suggestions for words that I will not be painting on a crate. If anyone has any better ideas I would love to hear!

In our dining room we had a very boring old wine rack. I don't know why. We don't really drink wine. But every home needs one right? Somewhere to put those bottles we win at the bottle tombola, until we donate them back the following year anyhow.

But I've had this crate for a while so this is going to be our new wine storage.

I think it came from the flea market. Someone has waxed it. I hate that! Most of the crates on eBay are waxed. Stop doing this crate sellers! It means I can't do a driftwoody paint effect on them!

What also irks me about this crate is that the text on it is quite faint. I thought I'd try to rectify this. The last thing I want to do is make it look brand spanking new, I just want to be able to read it more clearly. I used a permanent marker pen in grey (NOT BLACK) from a stationary shop to go over all the lettering.

(not green either!)

The marker doesn't mind  the wax coating and just brings out the lettering subtly. If you're going to do this you need a fine tipped marker and you should apply really light pressure. Some parts of the crate were really dry and if you press too hard on the pen the ink can bleed over the lines.

Here's a shot of it when I'm half done so you can see the difference...

 It's just a little darker but still has transparent areas...

And here it is in the room...

A lovely new home for the alcohol. I don't even mind it not being Swedish.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Dining room lighting...

Time to think about lighting for my fantasy 'Swedish farmhouse rustic country dining room.'

Here's what we have...

Don't laugh! It was only meant to be temporary and I got it at the flea market. It's actually quite nice white glass and I thought it was a bit retro. But it's not screaming  'Swedish Country Farmhouse' at all is it? So this will be off to the charity shop.

I have 2 lights. Both came from car boot sales. The smaller one, I've had for years. In the loft. The size is probably better than the second but I'm a bit worried it's screaming 'PUB!' more than anything else...

I like the verdigris effect but I doubt it would stay that colour if I used it.

The second is probably too big for the room as we don't have high ceilings but it's not much lower than the white one we have. And I only bang my head on that when the table is out of the room.

When the table is centred under it, no one can cut their head open.
Now the black is not my thing but I like the shape. It's a chandelier without the bling. And I can cope with bling as much as I can cope with colour. So not at all really. If we had high ceilings I'm sure I could do bling.

I would change the candle sleeves for white ones. Or paint them? Ooh yes, I've just remembered I saw that once. And you can fake the wax drips with glue. That sounds like a fun activity for the hols.

So what about the black?
Well, as luck would have it inspiration has struck me in the form of this little candlestick I got at the boot sale on Sunday.  Only £2.

It's a sort of dirty crusty grey.

Now this does scream ' Swedish Country Farmhouse' to me. Not that I've ever visited a country farmhouse in Sweden. Or Sweden for that matter. So I could be very wrong. But this is my fantasy dining room (budget allowing) so don't argue.

So if I can get that grey look on the black chandelier we might be onto a winner.

Which would you have?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Rustic farmhouse table legs...

Well this has taken forever. It didn't help that I got struck down with tonsillitis! I thought it was a wintry illness for children. How wrong I was. You can absolutely get it when you're 43 in the middle of a heatwave. I think it must have been the stress of the arduous table lightening process that got to me. That and a school trip to the woods. In an un-air conditioned coach. It surely was a disease just waiting to happen.

 Anyway, I have scraped myself out of my sick bed (Sick bed? Fat chance!) to bring you the latest in the ongoing saga of our dining table. I think this is part four.Yes I probably do need to get out more.

Here are the legs before...

  ...and after...

...up close...

I tried some 'actual colours' and some blended techniques and it just looked pants. (But I really did try.) This was light brown home made furniture paint (plaster of paris) and  just emulsion over that. I forgot to sugar soap (slaps wrist) but I got away with it and I'm happy with the result. It looks a bit beachy.

I read on someones blog first that they always do the legs or body of a piece before they do the wooden top. I don't get this. I always do the tops first. You never know exactly what colour it's going to be until it's done and then you can choose your paint accordingly. The creamy colour here is ON DECK by Wilkinsons which was a perfect colour to go with the top and covered nicely in one coat. I did the top coat of the legs with just 2 tester pots costing £1 each. Bargain! Those tester pots go a long way.

I think I've decide on a wall colour which is a bit more sophisticated than the Pale Powder F&B that's there. And cheaper.

The plumber is coming to take off the radiator this week to allow me to get all the painting done. Then the floors and skirting boards can go in. And won't that make a difference? I cannot wait to say goodbye to the black floor!

I still have a lot to do. You're going to be so fed up of my dining room before I'm done! Back soon with dining room lighting...

If you want to see how I got the top so pale check my previous posts.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Wood bleach results...and a scrubbed pine table top

Well, I've been having a very interesting time in my chemistry lab otherwise known as the dining room. I'm pleased to report that there was no chemical reaction involving white spirit, lighter fluid and wood bleach and that I'm still here to tell the tale. (Don't try this at home kids! I left ample time for all sovents to evaporate before applying the next one!)

Let me remind you of the lovely table I started out with and accidentally ruined...

Good bye lovely patina!

Oops. But it is very clean now. That's got to count for something on a dining table?

Time to bleach!
I was pretty concerned during the bleaching process. It looked very patchy. Some areas had crusty white flaky bits. Others appeared unchanged. I applied it so liberally that there were puddles! I thought I'd stuffed it completely up.

But after one treatment with a 2 part wood bleach...

Oh yeah! Much better!  But you remember my experimentation on the oil smeared table leg?

After one treatment: oil can be seen...

Well, I experimented further and did a second bleach treatment on the lower section of this leg...

(Top: 1 bleach treatment. Middle: left alone. Bottom: 2 treatments)
And would you believe it? The oil spot is GONE! Yay! This is good news for the grease marks on my table top!

So seeing as I'm an all or nothing kind of girl, I thought I'd do another bleach treatment on the top because any wax or varnish will darken it...( you have to wait 2 hours between treatments.)

To be honest, I couldn't see a huge difference after the second treatment. I then used my table leg test zone and applied clear wax on one area and clear varnish on another area. This was hugely dissapointing. Both of them darkened the pine and brought out the orange again.

I realised that in order to get the paleness I was after, I would have to use paint which is exactly what I thought I could do without, having used the bleach. I made up a wood wash of F&B Cornforth White and water and applied this. You have to do this in the direction of the grain and drag your brush from one side of the table to the other with no breaks. If you keep lifting your brush you get a patchiness that looks like a bad paint job rather than an old bleached table top.

After the paint wash had dried I was REALLY pleased!

and up close...

Next I had to make another decision. Wax or varnish. Wax looks best as the wood still looks like wood. But I used this on my last dining table and it didn't stand up to grease stains. It's just not relaxing to have people over for Sunday lunch and have to scream at them if they spill the gravy on the table. Varnish can look very plasticcy and can sometimes detract from the wood. But it offers far greater protection.

Here's what I use- both. First a very thin coat of water based matt varnish following the wood grain. Then an incredibly light sand and one more thin coat dragging the brush from one side of the table to the other again, without lifting. This gives you a flawless smooth finish with no patchiness but you've got to work fast as it dries fast! If you're wanting a pale finish, NEVER use oil based varnish as it's always more yellow and darkens further over time.

This is what I use.

After the varnish dried I moved onto wax. I used the darkest wax I had. The table top was beautifully pale but also very new looking! I want it to look like an antique farmhouse table so it needed dark wax to add age and character. (All this obsessing with paleness and now DARK wax? Trust me, it works!)

If you use a matt varnish and wax, the wood still looks very much like wood. The matt varnish takes the wax beautifully. It gives you great protection against spills. (I'll still have to use coasters and mats for hot things.)

I also gave it a sound thrashing, firstly with a lingerie bag filled with screws, then a lingerie bag filled with teaspoons. Just to stop this looking all perfect and new. Hopefully.

Blooming heck, this is an absurdly long process! And I'm not even onto the legs yet!
Want to see the completed table top? Is anyone still out there and reading this? Does anyone care?

Sooo, the whole process without dark wax...

and with dark wax...

...just a bit older looking.

Ta daa! So today I'm hoping to start on the legs. I want a crusty old finish. I'm not entirely sure of all the colours I need.
Come back and see the completed table soon. Hopefully!

P.S. I have not been paid by Ronseal or Rustins (the bleach) for this post. I just want to tell you the products I used.
Furniture Feature Fridays

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My new desk...

I have a new desk!

Excuse the extension cable! We need a new socket.

Remember THIS?

Well, I just wasn't getting around to finishing the stool. So this poor thing has been shuffled around from room to room, driving the husband mad in the process. But I started thinking, would it fit in the living room? And we've decided to get rid of some furniture we never use, and this now fits beautifully. 

I went to the boot sale with my dear friend yesterday and scored some treasures. Most of them all from the same lady.

I love a bit of vintage wire! 

Possibly for the kitchen or the bathroom.

For my new desk!

  A beaten up old metal filing box.

  French sheet music with a lovely cover.

And at Fridays flea I got this lovely crate with a delightful label. 
Come on, you didn't think I could do a post about my new finds without there being a crate involved?

I love this label.

 One day I will show you the armoire type thing that sits on the upstairs landing where the crates live. We have a tiny bathroom with no storage so all the towels and things go in the armoire. Which is crying out for a makeover. Obviously.

Inside this crate, folded up in the bottom was this bit of paper...

I don't know if this shop still exists in West Ealing but we have family there so I can find out. I thought it'd be cool to paint onto a plain crate. And that might be mouse poo folded up in it. Nice.

I've done one bleach treatment on my table top and it's drying out as I type. I think I might do another tomorrow.

Come back soon to see if it's worked!