New projects 

It’s been a ridiculous amount of time since I last blogged. Life has been very hectic with a toddler, a return to work and a number of house projects underway! 

We’ve started putting the wheels in motion to extend our house. When we bought it this was always the plan and now feels like the right time to do it. We’re in process of getting plans drawn up so it’s very early days, but it’s very exciting as we’ll likely change the layout of the house downstairs a fair bit plus gain extra rooms upstairs. Lots of blog posts to come on that I suspect.

In the meantime we’ve been working on our spare bedroom. We thought this one day may become the bathroom so didn’t plan to do anything as yet but after discussions with our architect we now know it will definitely be a bedroom. So we’ve started doing it up for little B. We had to rip out some old cupboards which used to have the hot water system in, a lot of mess but it’s really opened up the room. I’m starting with a blank canvas, we’ve so far painted the walls and ceiling in Farrow & Ball’s Wevet. But I have a plan in my head for a mural wall and lots of other little features to make it a fun space for him that will hopefully work for a few years as he grows 

Step by step guide to painting old furniture

A good friend of mine is always laughing at us about our obsession with buying up old furniture to renovate, ‘Why don’t you just save yourself some hassle and buy new’ she often says. But where’s the fun in that?! Not only is up cycling a great way to save money, I love old things, imagining the stories behind them and giving a new lease of life to something with a bit of history.

I shared some images a while ago of my latest find, an absolute steal at £27 it was an old drinks cabinet (very retro, it even had a light inside to highlight your Baby Shams no doubt!).

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I wanted something for our revamped dining room to replace some awful shelving I’d had enough of and took a hammer to and this looked perfect for storage. I took some pictures as we went along with a view to doing this step by step guide (and to prove to my friend how easy it is!)

I’m by no means an expert but hopefully this will show how easy it is to do and encourage you to have a go.

What you’ll need…

  • Sand paper (a hand held sander ‘mouse’ is even better if you have one, although not essential)
  • Sugar soap
  • Paint brushes (including a really small one for any tricky details)
  • Good quality primer (we buy all our paint from Johnstones in Cambridge, if you’re local check them out)
  • Paint of your choice (we always use eggshell as I’m not a fan of anything glossy. But chalk paint is really fashionable at the moment)
  • Matt varnish (not essential but it does protect the finish. You can also use a wax, especially if you are going for a more distressed finish)

Step by step…

  1. Good preperation is absolutely key to getting a good finish. You’ll find that lots of older furniture will have layers of varish, polish or wax which you’ll need to rough up in order to get a good finish with the paint. Start off by giving the piece a good sand all over.
  2. Once you’ve sanded it, brush off the worst of the dust and then make up a sugar solution and give it a good wipe. This stuff is brilliant and picks up all the annoying little bits of sanded mess.
  3. A tip we’ve learnt as we’ve gone along is to make sure you tape up any edges you don’t want to paint. We’ve found that when painting furniture with doors, it’s best to leave the edges as it can affect how they open and close. Spend a bit of time properly masking taping edges and you’ll be glad in the long run!
  4. You’re ready to paint! Start by putting a coat of primer all over. Don’t forget the backs of legs and underneath. If you are painting a chair it’s a good idea to turn it upside down first and start there.DSC_0425
  5. Once the primer has dried, check it all over to make sure you don’t need to lightly sand again. If you do repeat step 2 again.
  6. Time to paint with your chosen colour. Most pieces will need two coats – allow enough time for drying in between and try not to be impatient. Try to keep your brush strokes going in the same direction.
  7. The next step is option – if you want a distressed look, use a piece of sandpaper (wrapped around a small block of wood usually helps) and sand any edges to give that vintage feel. Focus on areas where chips and scrapes would naturally appear to make it look authentic. This looks is usually more effective when you use a colour and then take it back to either the primer coat or the bare wood.
  8. Once you are happy with your finish, give it a coat of the varnish. This is especially important for pieces like dressing tables – make up will then easily wipe off!
  9. That’s it. Wait for it all to dry before putting it back together and then step back and enjoy your master piece!

 

 

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Bathroom planning

Excitement has reached fever pitch in our house now as we’ve a date for when work will start on our (currently beyond hideous) bathroom. Work is starting at the end of the month so in the meantime I’m desperately searching for a bathroom cabinet that’s not just a boring mirrored one –  I want something a little different but I’m not having much luck sourcing it. I think I’m set on my colour scheme – I want something in a deep colour that says luxurious and relaxing,  I love Farrow & Ball’s Stifkey Blue and have wanted to use it somewhere for a while and I think the bathroom will be perfect. Next up will be finding some lovely new towels and accessories, the fun part!

My top tips for planning a lounge

Now I’m sure they are just being nice but my friends often say how relaxing our lounge is. It’s a lovely compliment as we did put a lot of work into it. We wanted an elegant, yet cosy living space and that’s quite a tough balance to pull off. I’m by no means an expert but I’m often asked for advice on colours or furnishings and how we planned our room so this got me thinking recently about my five top tips I could share for designing a new living space…

1. Live in it first.

There’s always that temptation when you first move into a new home to make changes or go crazy with the paint brush but I really think it’s important to just live with it as it is for a while, especially for a lounge or main living space. See how the house flows, how you want to use the space and also how the light can change in a room throughout the day. If you’re just redecorating a room in a house you’ve lived in for a while you’ll already know all this – and that’s possibly why you’re wanting to redecorate.

2. Focal point.

You might have a feature that’s already part of the space that will be key to your new room scheme. For us this was our fireplace, which was why we choose to have cupboards and shelving designed and built to work alongside it. It’s worth sitting down and thinking about how you want the room to work around a focal point that already exists. If you don’t have something, or perhaps have a more contemporary home – think about what you want the eye to be drawn to when you walk in. I’ve a bit of a pet hate about TV’s being the focal point of the room, but that’s just a personal preference. I’d much rather have a sociable living room which will work for a number of uses.

3. Furniture

Very obvious I know, but always think about what furniture you want to incorporate. For a lounge – seating will clearly be key, have you got enough of it? If you don’t have a lot of room, think about soft furnishings (big cushions you can pull out for extra seats when there are extra bums) or furniture that has a dual purpose. We bought a gorgeous Laura Ashley footstool, which we can also use as a coffee table (with a tray on) or for extra seating when there are lots of us. Think about your storage options too – do you want to hide stuff away for a more minimalist look or display your finds for all to see (you all know I go with the latter!).

4. Colours

It’s tempting to reach straight for the paint charts – but I think if you spend a bit of time thinking through the design of the room first it pays off. Colour is very much down to personal choice – and your choices will no doubt reflect your personality. Colour can really affect the mood of the room – so think about what type of atmosphere you want to create. When I’m testing colours for a room I always put a bit on every wall as you’d be amazed how different they can sometimes look depending on light. Check test patches too in the morning and evening light as again at different times of the day colours can look different. Remember that different paint finishes can also change the way a colour scheme looks. I always use eggshell on our woodwork for example as I’m not keen on a gloss finish.

5. Enjoy it.

Lastly, there’s nothing like that feeling when a room is finally finished, the paint is dry, everything is in its place and you can sit down (in my case ideally with a glass of wine) and enjoy all your hard work. Be proud of it and show it off.

New arrivals

A whole pile of gorgeous new fabrics has landed at Walnut Tree Home.

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Quite a few of these fabrics are a little different than my usual style that I tend to be drawn to, and perhaps a little more contemporary.

There are some gorgeous bold prints, like these…

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I’m thinking I’ll turn these into quite large cushions, without perhaps any extra embellishment.

These pretty fabrics I may mix in with other things such as ticking…

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And then there’s the stripes, which at the moment I can’t quite decide what to do with!

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The finished cushions will all be listed on my Etsy shop once complete, but don’t forget that I also offer a bespoke service – so if you like any of these fabrics and would like something made to order, just get in touch.

Autumn’s arrival

imageI think it’s fair to say that Autumn has arrived, the leaves are starting to turn and there’s the beautiful sight of leaves turning shades of gold, brown and red – a gorgeous palette of colours. I secretly love this time of year, even though you can still have those gloriously sunny days the nights are getting a bit chilly and I just want to light the fire and snuggle up under a blanket. Which reminds me, I really do need to source something cosy for our new lounge. I have to say I am quite a fan of the range that the National Trust stock, I’ve one of their recycled woollen throws which at £14 are an absolute bargain, they come in all sorts of colours and are British made, well worth a look.

Itchy feet

It didn’t take long but that strange feeling of not having any DIY or decorating to do has turned into a mad discussion of “perhaps we could just redecorate the spare room, it won’t take long…”

Since finishing the lounge our (what seemed endless at the time) list of house jobs has seriously shrunk, we’re at a stage where we now need to bring in the ‘professionals’ (loosely translated as my little brother) for the last big project – replacing all the doors – inside and out, but we’re now looking at some of the rooms we did early on in a hurry (and with a very small budget) with a critical eye. One of our pet hates has been our guest bedroom. It’s the second largest bedroom and in context of the rest of the house, when we first moved in wasn’t in too bad a state. Ok so the walls were covered in some ghastly wallpaper, which once removed left a mismatch of holes and plaster that needed sorting, but a weekend of sanding and filling and stripping back floorboards left us with a room that wasn’t in that bad a shape. We slapped on some paint and I made what was one of my first sets of practice curtains, job done. A week later we both hated the colour and faced with literally every other room to sort we just ignored it. The room doesn’t have a feature, we know there’s a covered up fireplace that eventually we’d like to uncover (but I’m working on the hubby to let me take a sledge-hammer to the one that’s covered up in the dining room first!) it’s just never really worked and we’ve never added those final touches to it.

So, my challenge last weekend, was to completely re-design it without breaking the bank. Without uncovering the fireplace, and not wanting to have a feature wall my thoughts were to make the window (and the view out across the garden and fields) the focal point. I was given a gorgeous remnant of Laura Ashley fabric (thanks Mum) which is just enough to make a roman blind and I’m going to make some floor length thin curtains to dress it. The new fabric works with the existing colour on the walls and completely changes my opinion of it. A bit of tinkering around with furniture from other rooms awaits this weekend and some accessorising and I’m hoping we’ll be pleased with the results. I’ll post some before and after shots next week and you can all tell me what you think…