Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The kitchen... not the best start...

You might be forgiven for thinking my kitchen is rather lovely...

It's really not. This is a pretend kitchen I made by leaning a bench against our one good wall and covering the joins with kitchenalia.

My kitchen isn't worthy of a nice splashback just yet. But for my next trick, using nothing but the power of my mind, some planks of wood and a tin of paint, I'm going to create a splendid kitchen makeover. I hope.

Here's the before...

It's never this tidy

This is an eighties extension with an eighties kitchen. There's not much about it that I like.

The cupboards are in good condition apart from the one under the sink whose bottom rotted due to a leak before we bought the house.

They're a bit dated though. As are the tiles, the floor, the ceiling and the sink.

Oh, and the worktops too.

Door to the garden.

This wall is okay because I already pulled off all the tiles and clad it in easipanel. That was back in  September 2012 and you can read about it here.

I painted the ceiling, stripped some wallpaper and coved this end of the kitchen. Then I got bored. 

Door to the office. Never even painted it.
The problem is, this is just the new extension. There's another part which was the old kitchen. 

This sits between the extension and the dining room.

Door to dining room, really ugly radiator and pantry that you must stoop to enter.

As you can see, I've stripped most of the wallpaper off. The walls beneath are dreadful. I've never really managed to get very far with the kitchen. The combination of dust and food prep is not a good one. Because it's basically two long thin rooms back to back there are lots of cupboards, bad walls and it seems a mountain of a task.

But I can't put it off any longer. I want to fit a splashback and I need a nice kitchen to do it proud.

I've made a start but it did go slightly wrong. The wall on the left of the door above was tiled. I pulled those off and started to remove the skirting. The skirting runs under the cabinets and I couldn't get it out. It moved very slowly like it might be secured to something. We wondered if it might be electric cables. We could see cables were behind the cabinets. Anyway, after much tugging, I gave up and sawed the skirting off.

The next day I could smell burning in that area. A kind of plasticcy electriccy smouldering smell.

I decided that the only way to see if I'd upset a cable was to dismantle the kitchen and look behind the cabinets. My husband was a bit cross.

I took off the worktop, wrestled with the drawers, unfastened the units from each other, unfastened the units from the wall and slid them out.

The cables were well away from the skirting and there was no sign of any damage having been done.

Pleased that the house wasn't going to burn down after all, I popped into town to run some errands. Then I had to rebuild the kitchen before the school run.

I then realised the burning smell was probably from the under cabinet lighting that was grimy and dusty and that I'd tried to fix by swapping the bulbs around. Oops.

So Day 2 saw no progress whatsoever apart from having vacuumed some cobwebs out from behind the units. But I do know how to build kitchen cabinets and deal with an electrical fire now. ( I rang my dad. Poor dad. I think he thought I was in the midst of a fire.)

Next time I'll share my plans for this space.I'm praying we don't have any more mishaps!

THANK YOU for all your kind comments, messages and encouragement on my last post! You rock.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

My new business...

I'm still to set up an online shop but I managed to take some pretty pictures so...[drumroll...]

Allow me to present my new business venture!

This is an enamel sign designed to go behind your cooker as a splashback. Being enamel, it's heat and fire proof, fade resistant and heavy! These are not cheap repros made from spray painted tin. The enamel is glass fused onto steel.

They're made in the UK which I'm very chuffed about.

Best of all, there's a distressed version!

This one is a prototype, I would probably go a bit more extreme with the distressing than this!

When the enamel is distressed you can see how the layers of different coloured enamel are laid on to the steel. The splashbacks distress in a very authentic old sign way.

This idea came about when I had a lusting for an old vintage advertising sign to be used as a splashback for my cooker. Unfortunately, anything food related was out of my price range and/or wouldn't fit my space.

I could have reproduced some original signs but the sizes are copyrighted so you can't crop them to fit your wall.

Hopefully these ones will provide the look at a fraction of the cost and create a real statement in a kitchen. Adding a touch of vintage. And we all like a bit of vintage!

I have a top London graphic designer who is able to interpret my vision and doesn't get cross when I'm indecisive. I'm really pleased with the design.

I still have to work out pricing but I'm thinking a retail price of £130 ish plus postage.

My dining room!

I want to offer other designs, all based on vintage signage and various sizes to fit range cookers aswell as standard cookers like this one. And plenty of colours too.

So go on, tell me what you think! Taking orders now ladies!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The ugly dresser...

Thanks for all your input over my last post. It's a good thing that this is not a parenting blog! I know those of you who think I'm a meanie are right. And I appreciate the comments from like minded decorators who struggle with/refuse to please their kids. I'm convinced we can find common ground that will please us both. Connie was horrified at the bad pictures I showed you and said she was embarrassed and was going to delete my blog! So if I disappear you'll know why. She no longer wants sunshine yellow. Result! We will get there. I haven't quite finished painting the skirting boards yet! Can't rush these things...

Over the Easter hols I was under a self imposed DIY ban. I decided that I should down tools and we'd do fun things together and have days out. Well, I managed if for two weeks and then on the bank holiday weekend I cracked.

Remember the ugly dresser?

I started to replace the missing back. The plywood you see here isn't original!

Starting with the base unit, I clad the back with cheap new tongue and groove. It looked very new.

And even though this is inside the cupboard and I'm the only person who will see it, I needed to change it.

I made a strong solution of tea and painted it on the wood. It failed.

I added a small dollop of black acrylic paint to the mixture and tested it on my off cuts. It looked good.

I painted it on with one brush, and wiped it off with a dry brush.

Once it dried it looked like this...

 It's not an exact colour match but the pine will darken over time and it might get closer in colour then.
 I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It almost looks like it might be the original back now. With real filth.

I did the same treatment on the tongue and groove for the top part. You can see the difference it makes here...

It really gives a dirty old pallet wood look.

 I can't fit the back on yet as I need to sort the paintwork of the shelves first. I'm keeping the boards as wood as I thought it would be a nicer contrast with the white ironstone china. 

I sanded the counter top...


I cut the edges off so the dresser fits the wall now. 

 I drew round a glass to make the corners rounded and used the same paint and tea stain to make the newly cut edges the same colour as the old.

So we're getting there bit by bit.

I can do no more for now. My products turned up from the factory and have taken over the rest of the dining room!

Oh my goodness! I urgently need a bank account and an on line shop. So much to do! I can't wait to share with you but I want everything set up first. And pretty photos.

Can you guess what it is though? If you guess correctly I won't publish your comment. And Vix, you're not  allowed to play.


Treasure Hunt Thursday

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