Great Bookshelf ideas

I saw this post on House & Garden and there are some great ideas for displaying books here:

Get organised: stylish bookshelf ideas

From brilliant bookshelves built into stairs to floor-to-ceiling libraries, these bookshelf ideas for living rooms, the study and beyond are just as inspiring as the tomes that fill them. Fancy creating a clever book nook of your own? We have bookshelf ideas for every room of your home, from fitted and floating bookshelves to corner bookshelves (and even colour-coded bookshelves). How novel…

Here are few examples but head over the H&G as there are lots more amazing photos for inspiration.

  • The Italian Job
Secret bookcase door
A work space with a view (of books)
Modern classic
Ladder Bookcase
Desk Space
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Curio Cabinet Makeover

I love curio cabinets.  The Victorians excelled at collecting things, (which are now non-PC or probably extinct), on their Grand Tours around the world.  My Great Great Uncle Bernard was one of these, and in the family we still have his amazing cabinets filled with butterflies and eggs that he collected voraciously.  Nothing came in small measures, he would collect 50 perfect specimens of one type of butterfly rather than just one, plus the caterpillar of the insect as well.  The smell when the cabinet is opened is overwhelming of camphor still, and when I was a little girl I would spend hours inhaling the smell and coveting the butterflies.  I have quite a few little odd bits such as fossils, animals and coins, and wanted to group them in some sort of display case together, following the Victorian cabinets which are so inspiring:

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My last post talked about buying at auction, and one of the items I purchased was a very cheap little oak wall storage box from, I think, an old power station/railway box.  It is made of oak, and has the original sticker in the box.  As it is plain oak, I decided to paint the exterior in a distressed grey/green effect using chalk paints.  I left the interior oak as I wanted the items to stand out.

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Once it was dry, I hung it on the wall and popped in my little items; a skull, a pickled lizard, vintage smelling salts, fossils, coins and my grandfather’s lead toy soldiers.  Here is the finished cabinet:

good mid cu good good interior good interior 2 cu good

Buying at Auctions

I went to an antique furniture and effects auction this weekend, where the auctioneers were selling off a mixture of great, semi-great, awful and sometimes bizarre items.  I find auctions fascinating, and spent a fair bit of time milling about looking at items coming up for sale on the preview day.  Where else can you find a stuffed zebra head sitting next to a box of 1960’s Action Men figures, pre-eagle eyes and gripping hands to boot?

In my head I had gone to try and find an good shaped cupboard, chair or armoire to renovate.  However, there was a plethora of quite badly already painted shabby chic items – shabby and not chic to be frank.  It seems that people just attack anything now with chalk paint and muted F&B colours, and I don’t think they always sit well on a 1930’s dresser for example.

Some of the pieces at the auction which had the right shape were beautiful and made from excellent mahogany or maple, and would be ruined by paint, so by the end of the preview I had a huge list of items I liked and wanted to buy and none of which should be painted!  I also seem to pick items which have the highest guide prices, which could be a sign of immaculate taste or just bad luck depending on how you look at it.

I ended up picking 2 items to bid on that were useful and could be upcycled without sacrilege; a pretty little Edwardian wing chair with tapestry/needlepoint upholstery and an old wall cabinet from a railway control box:

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This is going to be turned into either a thread, bathroom or curio cabinet, depending on if I can swipe it from my husband.

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This is a sweet and well-upholstered chair in very good condition.

To make sure I did not end up getting out of control on the auction day, I electronically sent in bids for the two with my maximum price to the saleroom.  I didn’t register to bid live which is possible with a PC, (like bidding on ebay but with way more adrenaline).  This is a really good way to stop splurge buying as I call it.  I tracked the auction on-line on the day, (you can listen live on a laptop), but only as a viewer so I could not start bumping up my bids past my decided top price.  Pat on the back and well controlled, I salute myself!

In the past I made the mistake of going to bid at the auctions on the day which can end in disaster and erratic purchases.  The worst time was when I was selling a lot of furniture at an auction as we were moving from a large house and I had to lose some large pieces of furniture and taxidermy.   At the auction I got totally out of control and came home with more antiques: a table, firescreen, cabinet and more.  I only meant to go and watch my own things sell, but when you see a Georgian table going for a song I find it hard not to stick up my hand.  Therefore this time I was a good girl, and won my items for their estimated guide price.

DO’s:

  • Visit on preview day
  • Take a tape measure and a camera
  • If the item you are looking for is for a specific place in your home, know the space measurements before you visit the auction house so you can work out if it will fit
  • Realistically set a top price, remember that buyers premium is added on plus tax.
  • If possible, bid online to stop impulsive price rising and buys.

DON’TS

  • Do not let yourself get carried past your set price by a fellow bidder.  Adrenaline can get the better of you, it is not a competition!
  • Do not buy anything without seeing it first in the flesh.  Auction photos are usually one picture and can be deceptive.
  • Not all Auction Houses will deliver without prior arrangement, and usually items have to be collected within 4 days of the Auction.  Make sure you have sorted out delivery, especially on large items, before bidding.
  • Finally, never nip out to the pub if it is a long auction and come back to bid after a couple of glasses of wine.  I made this mistake once and still have two enormous stone urns in my garden that a) I am not quite sure if I like, and b) which broke my car suspension when getting them back home which cost a lot more money to boot.

I picked my chair and cabinet up today, and was amazingly gratified to find the original sale price for the chair on the bottom  saying £400- Edwardian Chair.  I bid and paid just £50 for it.  Bargain and such a good feeling!  I am going to attempt to modify it by reupholstering the back in a complimentary fabric to give it a bit of zest.  I saw the below chair with contrasting upholstery in Traditional Homes and I love the result:

8IMZXSince I have never upholstered anything, this will be a interesting challege!

12 Easy Furniture Hacks courtesy of Houzz

17 awesome uses for the space under the stairs

Useful ideas for under the stairs:

Becoration

The space under the stairs is always a dilemma in small houses… What can you do with it? Do you tear it down and make something new? Or do you leave it as it is? If you choose to take advantage of the space under the stairs, here you have some original ideas to make it useful and amazing at the s…

Original and full post in becoration

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Fireplace Makeover – Slate paint effect

Musings occured over the weekend over how to attack the reproduction pine fireplace surround in our dining room, see last week’s post, and I finally stopped procrastinating today and got on with the job.

I used chalk paint as it is really easy to manipulate when watered down in a dark grey and a white, and by wetting it with a damp brush you can work the colour and tones until you are happy with the results, plus I use a clear wax to finish and protect the surface.  Here is the before and after picture:

Slide1The process is really simple, and you can always go back and paint over bits if you are not happy with them.  The gallery here shows you how to paint this slate effect.

  • You will need dark grey chalk paint, white paint, brushes, water and finishing wax.
  • I keyed my mantlepiece top before painting as this will be a heavily used area.
  • Paint the whole mantlepiece in a dark grey.
  • While this dried I had time for a very nice Cappuccino, delicious!
  • I then used a plate as a palette, and put some white and grey either side.  I then dropped water in the centre, and started to work on the mantlepiece using a brush and dabbing/splodging grey, white and water to create a cloudy effect on top of the base coat.  This paint can dry out really quickly on the plate, so keep adding water to keep it liquid.  It should look like mottled, cloudy grey tones, and work the paint in well to avoid brush marks.
  • You can also use a sponge if you want to dab on the paint, again as it dries so fast use small circular movements to blend and hide the initial sponge marks.
  • Cover all areas in this cloudy effect and leave to dry.  It will look quite pale and dusty when it is dry, but do not worry as adding the wax at the end darkens it back down.  Check you have covered all areas, and if you need to touch up do it now.  Leave for an hour or so so the paint really is dry for the next stage.
  • Finally using a brush or old cloth, work clear wax into all areas you have painted.  Brushes are good for getting the wax into nooks and crannies, and I prefer a cloth for large flat areas..  Leave to harden off for 20 minutes, and then buff to a smooth sheen.  I used two coats on the top of the mantlepiece for added protection.

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I am really pleased with the results which are much punchier to the eye, and wonder why I did not do it earlier.  I was not sure about the all gold mirror above when it was finished, so slapped some black acrylic paint on parts of it to bring it into line with the slate look fireplace.  Much better….

IMG_0783paint mirrirfire and mirror

Flower wreaths made from paper and neoprene

Today I had to get some wreaths made up that had been ordered as gifts.  One with blue central pieces and one natural.  Since I had all the kit out, I tried to make a new version out of something other than old book pages that I usually use.  I wanted a fun and bright version with lots of bright colours.

The wreaths I make are usually very fragile and cannot go outside unless in a protected porch, so I made one out of something far more weatherproof, very thin neoprene foam.  It is a bit trickier to roll and staple, but I did get there.  Plus a hot glue gun works well on it and does not melt the neoprene, but my hands are really burnt after three wreaths in a go, those glue guns can be murder!

Verdegris Paint Effect candlestick DIY makeover

A tired pair of silver plate candlesticks had seen better days, and to re-plate them is expensive.  So here is a DIY refurbishment to make them look like old verdegris versions, and they look very realistic.  It is really simple to do, and these took about 40 minutes start to finish, (with cups of coffee included!).

Before and after:verdegris 1

verfegris 10You will need acrylic paint in black, green, turquoise, white and bronze.  Also a really scruffy old paintbrush (ie. a tatty one such as an old child’s school paintbrush), and a wider household brush.  Varnish is optional at the end, and if you do use it you will need a clear matt one.  This is a fast process once the base coat is done, as there is so little paint in each stage that it dries really fast between layers.

  • Cover the entire candlestick with black acrylic paint using the household paintbrush, amazingly it sticks to metal well and I did not prime it.  You could also use a paint formula like milk or chalk paint if you have it in black  Leave to dry completely.

verdigris 2

  • Starting with turquoise, dip the scruffy brush into the paint and then wipe off most of the paint onto some kitchen towel.  Very gently start stippling the paint randomly over the candlestick so that the black undercoat is still visible, leave to dry when finished.  In the picture you can see how dry the brush needs to be:

verdegris 4

  • Repeat the process with the green acrylic paint all over the candlestick using the same technique.  Leave to dry.  Then with the white paint, and again using the same technique, gently brush over just 3 or 4 areas on the candlestick, it will look a bit like dust.  If you think you are lacking any of the colours in areas or they are too dense, you can repeat the stippling with all of the paints until you are happy with the results.  You can also work it with the brush when it is dry to blend the colours a little.

verdegris 5

  • Finally, using the dry brush technique again, take some of the bronze metallic paint and almost gently tickle and lightly run the brush over the raised areas of pattern so that paint just highlights certain areas.  For flat areas gently brush on, and using your fingers smooth it into the surrounding paintwork.

verdegris 8That is all there is, and it looks extremely realistic and antique.  Brilliant!

Raring to go… next projects plans

My over excitement at recent transformations knows no bounds, and I am planning new makeovers, (and trying to work out which one I should do first and stop procrastinating and just get on with them…).

The Fireplace:

I have a working fireplace in the dining room which has a lovely cast iron insert, but a really uninspiring reproduction wooden surround.  I am planning to modify it with paint to look like slate.  The room is very neutral, with handpainted pale furniture so I think the surround needs a bit of darkness to create oomph.  I read once somewhere that Nicky Haslam, (genius), always has black somewhere in a room to ground the eye, and it is a great tip that I have followed ever since.

photoI have been looking for various ways to create slate trompe l’oeil via paint effect books, but most just have marble and sandstone effects, so I think I am just going to grab a slate tile and use it as my inspiration.  I did use once the textured stone paint on a fireplace, and although it looked great it is really hard to clean the mantlepiece shelf as it becomes rough and a magnet for dust.  So slate it shall be, and I can always try another effect if it does not work, such is the beauty of paint!

Wardrobe:

I picked up, nearly 18 months ago, a wardrobe in a junk store for £40 as it has potential and nice carvings.  The veneer has started to bubble in a couple of places, so it needs some TLC and is begging for a makeover.  It has been sitting in a friend’s garage since I bought it, and I have finally got it into the house ready to begin its transformation.  I think I shall be going for a wallpapered and painted effect again, and found some great bargain wallpapers down in Cornwall at Trago Mills last weekend.

Progress will be shared… procrastination must end!