Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What would you do?

The hardest part for me, when it comes to painting a piece of furniture, is deciding how to do it. This can take years and with some of our furniture it often does. Colours, techniques, styles all have to be seriously mulled over before I can take the plunge. I only want to do it once. I have to get it right.

Now, a few years ago I picked up this baby on ebay.

I thought it looked like a bedside table in the photo so I snapped it up for £30 as I thought it would match my french bed. When it arrived, it was HUGE! The measurements had been on the listing but I hadn't checked. This is a metre tall! Oops! ( Could be worse! I nearly bought dolls house furniture accidentally once!)
This is the ONLY thing I have ever had that I am frightened to paint.

It's old. It has a patina that can't be faked.

It's carved. These are not stuck on!

It's oak. And it has cute feet. ( My photo was too blurry).

But, (and this is probably why it was £30) some plonker has SCREWED the top onto the base!

Mmm, 4 whacking great screws in the top!

So what do I do? Does the fact that someone has already ruined this mean I should paint it? Or should I countersink the screws and fill the holes? (Will that look okay or like 4 brown blobs?) At the moment this is in the corner of the living room with a strategically placed lamp and coasters hiding the screws! The light was too poor to capture the detail so I dragged it into the garden as you do. (The neighbours must think I'm mad, frequently dragging furniture outside for photos!)

I like painted furniture with a wooden top but I don't fancy wooden furniture with a painted top.

I could mosaic it?

What would you do with it?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The ugly truth...

You've probably all seen this shot by now...


What I haven't shared is the other side of the hallway...

Not quite so pretty!

I decorated as far as I could without taking the radiator off. And it's been like that for almost a year!
With the new floor being laid very soon we finally got the plumber in to take off the radiator so I could finish the job.

Wahey! I took off the skirting too as that's being replaced along with the floor. It looks so much better. I was under the impression that having a radiator off meant we'd have to do without heat but the plumber just capped off the one radiator so I could work on the wall all weekend and not freeze. Genius!

I still need to paint the pipes...

Bit by bit the house is getting there. Slowly!

Despite not being able to put up a single Christmas decoration due to emptying half the downstairs for the flooring, Christmas spirit is well and truly here!
At the Friday Flea market I picked up this sweet vintage box with it's paper labels.

I'm not sure how I will utilise it yet but I love it.

And we went up the road to the garden centre to see Father Christmas arrive in style!

And Freddy is getting very excited!

This is the 'good' cat! He's only looking fed up as my husband wanted him to look at the camera when he wanted to sleep! He didn't mind the outfit at all. I think he has a future in modelling!
The 'bad' one would not tolerate such silliness.

Linking with Magpie Monday at Me and my shadow

Monday, 19 November 2012

Flea market finds...

I started a new job in a charity shop in Hitchin which was really good! I have never worked so hard in my life and my background is childcare so I think that is saying something! A kids party is a walk in the park in comparison. But it was so rewarding. I put away all the summer clothes as I thought it was a little chilly, and I went through ALL the kids clothes and put out some nice warm items and surprise, surprise, people were snapping them up!
I was up and down stairs, tagging, steaming and sorting and I really enjoyed it.
Then I spied a new donation of Christmas decorations containing some vintage glass lovelies so I boxed them up and stuck a £20 label on them. They sold the same day they were put out, to the surprise of the staff who would have sold them for £1. So I felt great about that.

I even managed to get up early and do the Friday Flea market before going into the shop and scored some goodies!

This little fella I haven't even paid for! I owe the lady the money and will give it to her next week as she didn't have any change. We are a trusting bunch in Hitchin! I think he's from the 60's and will add to my vintage Christmas decoration collection.

[I am dying to show you my Christmas decs and give you a guided tour of my favourite bits as I know I'm not the only bauble maniac out there, BUT... instead of getting it all up on Dec 1st and getting our moneys worth before 12th night it's going to be sooo late this year. The flooring guy comes on the 11th so all the furniture has to be removed from the living room and hallway as we are being screeded, then floored over 2 days (maybe three?) and THEN I have to put the rooms back together, put back all the books and games and THEN get the decs out. It will be a frustrating wait but it's taken us 4 years to be in a position where we can proceed with the flooring (wiring etc) so that takes priority.]

My favourite find was this pristine carpet bag!

I'm not really into shoes and bags like 'normal' girls but this just screamed 'have me!' and cost next to nothing. I am one lucky lady.

I found very little at Sundays boot sale apart from a lovely new friend, the beautiful Rebecca from Crivens Cottage who had never been to boot sale before. Unimaginable I know! Well, she took to it like a duck to water and scored more cool stuff than I did! Not to mention charming the regular stallholders!

I did find one very sweet thing:

A faded Christmassy box containing...

...teeny tiny Christmas crackers! 3'' tall, they are the size of boiled sweets...

...yet still contain snaps mottoes and charms! We were tempted to pull one to see what was inside but didn't want to ruin the unused set. Cost? 25p!


Linking with: Me and my shadow   A living space   Fath, hope and Charity shopping 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

What to do with Sheila the mannequin...

Remember Sheila my most recent boot sale mannequin?

Well, that blue fabric had to go. It was a foam backed synthetic fabric and the foam had degraded so Sheila was leaving piles of sand-like substance wherever she was put.
I removed the old covering and gave her a good scrub in the shower to get all the 'sand' off.

I mentioned that I wanted to try some decoupage on her. Let me show you my inspiration!

First up:

 This is by Ellinee from Ellinee journal where she gives a helpful tutorial too! Vintage sheet music! So beautiful!

Next up:

Vintage dress patterns used to give a corset effect! Isn't that great? This one is by Louise at

She also gives a tutorial on how to achieve this.

But I think the one I shall try to emulate, given the shape and style of my dress form is this one.

Now these don't look decoupaged at all, I think they are moulded card or something similar...but I figured I could try and achieve this look with brown paper. This picture is from Timeworn Interiors 
which is a lovely blog, so much eye candy...

Thank you ladies for giving me permission to show your images!

Back to Sheila:

She's stripped  and waiting! But I'm very overwhelmed as the wooden flooring has arrived, I have to empty the living room and rip off the skirting boards, I have to decorate behind a radiator that's off, and Christmas is coming. So don't hold your breath....

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The finished painted Mule chest

The house stinks of furniture wax. My husband wants to leave me for another woman. Any woman will do, so long as she doesn't keep altering EVERY piece of furniture that comes into the house.
But apart from that, I'm quite pleased with how it's worked out.

Here's the before:

Very useful but very orange.
Here's the after:

I think it's finished. I wanted to add a bit of folk art inspired pattern on the front but keep it very neutral and subtle...

Luckily I have every painted furniture book known to man, so I was able to trace this design onto the chest. And luckily, folk art can be a bit rubbish! Then I clear waxed and dark waxed. I use Liberon Beeswax with turpentine (clear and antique pine on a pale piece like this)

The pic above is after the dark wax. It just adds some age and dirtiness which I like the look of.

with clear wax (a bit too clean and new looking)
With dark wax, the difference is subtle but it adds more character

And here's the flooring sample that's my favourite so far:

Hopefully it will add Scandinavian chic. Vanilla oak. I've got paint on it! (start as you mean to go on)
I've been on the lookout for a large piece of fabric or curtain to use for a door curtain to make the house warmer and struck gold at this mornings boot sale with these:

Huge unopened cream cotton lined curtains! Five quid! Wahey! I can always embellish them if it's looking a bit too cream and white in the hallway. I'm really pleased. Don't you love it when a room starts coming together?

Linking up with
Knick of Time
 Elizabeth & Co
 Faith Hope and Charity Shopping 
 White wednesdays at Timewashed  
 From my front porch to yours  
 Miss Mustard Seed 
 Jennifer Rizzo

Friday, 9 November 2012

Pitfalls of painting pine...

The dawn of Annie Sloan chalk paint has turned everyone into a furniture painter. And that's a good thing. I think creativity is to be encouraged and up cycling is good for the planet. There is one type of furniture however that requires a little more forethought than just slapping a bit of ASCP on it.

The knottiness can ruin your work as the knots continue to seep resin for years and this will eventually discolour your paintwork and spoil your piece.

Traditionally you would use Knotting solution to seal the knots, but this is only suitable when being over painted with an oil based paint. Most modern furniture painting is done with water based paints like emulsion (latex) or chalk paint.
So what's a girl to do?

It's generally safe to assume a factory lacquered modern pine piece will have had the knots treated and should be okay to paint if you're not sanding and removing that treatment. But if it's waxed pine, untreated pine or you're just not sure, then a stain sealing, high adhesion super primer is the answer. It's water based so you can over paint with water based paints, no problem.

I use Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer. One coat over the knots and another coat over the whole thing. 

No they're not paying me to write this. It's just great stuff.

This is a large old pine chest that sits in my hallway. It's the most useful piece of furniture as all the bedding for the sofa bed fits in the top section, and the drawer at the bottom fits the dressing up clothes in. I think it's called a Mule chest.

This floor is NOT staying!

But I don't do pine. I'm totally with the Scandinavians on this. Orange as a colour is wrong and must be obliterated.
So, two coats of Blackfriars on every knot. ( I know I said do the whole thing, but I want to distress back to wood here not primer, and I'm using chalk paint next so I don't have to prime the whole thing.)

Then I chose three paint samples from Wilkinsons, only £1 each and they have some lovely colours.
I turned a few samples of a mid grey 'Mineral Stone' into home made chalk paint with plaster of paris dissolved in hot water then added to the paint. The ratio is 3 parts paint to one part plaster of paris and as much water as you need to make it the right consistency. Because this is a huge thing I had to keep adding more and more water as I went, as it kept on thickening up. Then what happens is the ratio of the paint decreases and the chalk paint becomes less and less opaque as you go. No matter, I did two coats of transparent grey chalk paint then finished with a coat of pure paint so I got the coverage I was after.
This piece of furniture has been previously waxed and that's why I wanted to use chalk paint. That's the beauty of chalk paint, you CAN paint over previously waxed furniture. All I did for preparation was sugar soaping and removing the handles.
Once it was all grey I rubbed the corners, edges and mouldings with candle wax. My chosen top coat colour was 'Coastline' from Wilkinsons. It's a gorgeous expensive looking cream. Now the piece had been primed with the chalk paint undercoat, I could just use pure paint without adding anything to it. Those sample pots go a long way, even on something this size.
And that's as far as I've got. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend. I want to add some embellishment to the panels on the front...

I've got paint all over the floor, but that's okay as I'm on the verge of ordering our new wooden flooring and these nasty tiles will be covered soon. You might think that after a four year wait I would know exactly what I want for the floor. Well, I did but when the samples came, I decided the grey washed oak I had wanted, looked a little too frantic. I've had to go back to the drawing board, you can only order 3 samples at a time and they take 5 days to come so it's a long process. It's a huge expense and I don't want to make a mistake! I was about to place an order yesterday, when I became paralysed by fear and ordered more samples instead. This could take some time...

You can see how the chest turned out here.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sunday Booty in the rain...

I was up at 6 and by the time I left the house it had started to rain and I did wonder if anyone would be at the boot sale. There were problems galore when I arrived at Hitchin market with no electricity, (the stalls are usually lit) and no tables for some of the pitches. But I managed to find  some goodies!
First, I'll show you what I got last week. This vintage triple mirror.

 It matches our fake French fifties furniture and will be painted when I get round to doing the set. I just need to decide on a colour. I'm sending away for some autentico chalk paint charts as they seem to have a lot more colours than Annie Sloan, and I'm too nervous to use home-made chalk paint on plastic that will be handled! Anyway this was only £10 and they go for around £30 on ebay.
This is in my daughters room, and is a little more grown up than the ladybird bookshelf that sat in the same place.

The ladybirds are my pride and joy and are the one thing I'd grab if the house was on fire! I collected them from boot sales and charity shops in the days before ebay and it took me 6 years to complete the sets! The Green Umbrella was the hardest one to find! The shelf is an old oak family piece that I had in my room when I was a child and I painted it a few years ago. They can't stay here on the windowsill as they will fade...

So, onto today. I got ANOTHER mannequin!

Oops. I can't help it. It's lost its legs and is called Sheila apparently. I want to attempt some decoupage on this! It was only £4. Sheila has an awesome pointy bosom.

I picked up this sweet vintage Davos sledge for £20.

 Not sure if we'll use it for sledging or display purposes but it was a bargain at £20, even if I did take it home on the bus, attracting the usual funny looks. Luckily the mannequin fit inside my Cath Kidston shopping trolley so I didn't look totally bonkers. I hope.

I found some funny tiny plastic clowns that sit on top of each other. I know nothing about them but they seem pretty old.

I wonder if they're toys or cake decorations...

Now all the Hallowe'en/half term high jinks are over I can get on with some painting this week. I'm getting very impatient to do something! It has been nice having a clear dining room but it won't last! The dining table is already vanishing fast under piles of junk...

Happy Sunday everyone. I hope your boot sales were plentiful.

Linking up with Faith Hope and Charity Shopping