Paint Storage Continued…. or is it baby poo?

So following my recent post about Paint Storage, which showed pastel paints looking great like the below, I spent the afternoon decanting my own paints into jars.

fcf65-paintinjarsI made some sweet labels for the lids, and put them into my own mason jars (free download at bottom of post which is editable).  I got rid of 4 large bags of old paint tins and was feeling super tidy, if not a little worried that I am developing OCD.


I am realising from the below photos that the colours in my house look like the insides of various babies nappies, all except one vivid aubergine.  Hmm, feeling that I need to up the ante on stronger colours now…  Hurrah, another reason to redecorate!

paint montageClick here for download of paint label


Painting a Piano – Before and After

My friend Anne-Marie has been given a piano, and although it is in tune and plays well, it was a bit battered around the casing and woodwork.  It is also very dark brown and stood out like a sore thumb in their living room which is very calm in design.  So she asked me to have a go at painting it to make it blend better into the room.  The room has pale creams, greys and a sage green in it, so I took those colours and used them on the piano.  We ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ about using decoupage, but as the piano will be situated next to curtains with a strong and graphic pattern, so we felt it better to leave it simple.


A lovely, but very dark piano

The piano was sanded back to get a really good key, especially on the lids and music stand which would get heavy use.  Then a base of Country Grey Chalk Paint by Annie Sloane was applied all over the piano:

Base of Country Grey

Base of Country Grey

Certain areas were picked out in Olive chalk paint, such any as rims and edges with horizontal lines on the lids and legs:

coat 2

Horizontal mouldings in Olive

Finally two coats of clear wax were applied and buffed heavily to create a soft sheen, and then the original candlesticks were re-attached.  They have an aged patina which works very well against the new colours:

detail 2Here is the finished piano, which now looks great against the colours of the room and lifts the piano into becoming a stylish piece of furniture in its own right:


Spice Jars Organisation

Like most people, my spice cupboard was a jumble of different sized jars, bottles and packets.  Being on my recent quest for order and function, (with a dash of style), I decided to make an assault on the offending cupboard.  I found some great printable labels online via Lia Griffith’s great website which are like chalkboard pre-printed labels.   You can download them here.  The labels come ready filled, but I had a couple of rogue items like Juniper Berries that were not available, so I used Powerpoint to add a new text box over an existing grabbed image of one of the labels.

Given that I have at least 25 different spices and herbs, I needed to find stacking and stylish containers to maximise storage. I love the little Kilner baby jars with wire clipped lids, but they are actually very small and waste a lot of space in cupboards with all the metal sticking out at angles.  So I went the trusty old Ikea route and used their jars called Ratjan, which are bargain at 4 for £1.50, and can fit in any style kitchen from retro to country cottage style.

I simply cut out the labels, used Modge Podge on both the back of the label and the front to seal it, and bingo, the most stylish spice jars ever.  I may even now plan a space where they are more visible rather than being hidden away in the cupboard as they are so pretty.  My precious Saffron is in a bottle from Marrakesh, complete with tassel to remind me of my travels.


Added August 2015:  I also recently found these free printable labels, which are editable as well and by Emily McDowell.

pantry-labels-2… lovely and also editable:

Easy DIY No Sew Window Pelmet Lambrequin Valance

I am not a natural seamstress, (and my relationship with my sewing machine is actually a bit tense), so when I stumbled across an excellent DIY tutorial by Little Green Notebook I was curious to see if I too could attempt a window dressing in a no-sew, no wood, no drilling way.  I had been quoted £200 per pelmet/valance to have it made by an upholsterer/curtain company, so this seemed worth a try at least.

My kitchen has recently been redecorated from greens to greys, and the two white windows were looking a bit stark against all the grey walls.  I needed to bring in some colour, but did not want curtains as they would block light and be too fussy.  So pelmets were the way to go.  I had an spare single curtain that was perfect for the colour scheme.

Curtain fabric used for the pelmets

Curtain fabric used for the pelmets

It is SO easy to do!  I recommend it to everyone who has a couple of hours free and some basic ingredients.  I used A1 Foam Board, an old curtain, fabric spray glue, a staple gun and wadding.  Plus the magical ingredient of Gaffer Tape.  My outlay was £10 for 4 huge A1 pieces of foam board, (and I have more than half leftover), old fabric, plus tape and glue I already owned so this is a highly effective budget creation.


Measure your window/windows and choose the depth of pelmet you want, I added 5 cms to each side length so it went past the window recess, plus a 6cm side return for each pelmet.  Cut the foam board with a craft knife to the lengths you think best.  You could scallop and shape the lower edge as it cuts like butter, but I left mine straight as the kitchen is quite simple in style.

I had two long windows so I had to join two pieces of foam board with tape to make a long enough front piece for each window:

Foam board made form two long pieces and joined with tape

Foam board made form two long pieces and joined with tape

I then reinforced the back of each pelmet across the join with a spare length of foam board just to make sure it was really rigid.

Reinforced back of main board

Reinforced back of main board

Then the sides are added on:

I then measured and cut out the wadding and fabric, I sprayed the wadding with fabric spray to stick it onto the board (although this is a step that could be skipped I think).  I then started to staple the two layers straight onto the back of the board, pulling tightly as I went so the fabric was smooth and tense.  Do the two long front pieces first, and then the two side ends.  I folded the fabric like I would when wrapping a parcel for the corners which I did last.  The basically staple gun it to heaven to make it all fixed and tight!

When the fabric was attached it looked quite messy from the back, and I did not want this to be seen from the outside as it is a ground floor window.  So I used hemming iron tape and knocked up two long neat strips of spare fabric to attach to the back to cover my edges and staples.  I used more staples to attach it, and hid them in the pattern so they are not evident.  It is not a perfect match, but not as ugly as it was!  When I went outside to look at the insides once they were up I could not see them anyhow, so it is probably just my OCD tendencies coming to light and you can ignore this step….

Hemmed back piece on the rear to tidy up the inside in case it is seen from outside

Hemmed back piece on the rear to tidy up the inside in case it is seen from outside

Hanging them up was next.  I had to get each side return to attach to a solid wall, (and I am quite impatient usually), so rather than using L shaped brackets and screws etc, I hammered in long brass nails at an angle at the back of the side returns straight through the pelmet and into the wall.  As these pelmets are so light due to the foamboard, I only needed one per side, and they seem pretty secure.

Here are the finished pelmets.  I think they look great and were so easy to make.  I am now going to use my leftover foam board to make some more around the house, and start doing some more interesting shapes.

Bathroom Makeover, and Nightmare!

We have a Victorian house rental property that ticks along quite nicely, and we had the loveliest tenant for a few years who really looked after the house.  However he moved on recently, buying his own home, so we had a 2 week turnaround to sort out the house ready for new tenants. I usually re-paint walls, varnish the floors and generally have a good tidy up ready for the new occupants.

But this time the bathroom was looking dated, and water seemed to be leaking where the previous house owner had installed wooden bead board around the end of the bath area.  This area frequently got soaked, so it seemed better to replace it all with tiles.  The window also needed replacing, so this seemed a good time to get it all done whilst the panelling came down.  I plan to move to this house in a few years, so decided to use my favourite tiles ahead of schedule, and was expecting to upgrade the sink, taps and flooring when I arrived in the future.  All I needed now was good quality fittings and watertight application!

So I got in some builders to re-tile the shower and bath area, replace the sink and window and re-lay practical vinyl flooring.  A few days to get it sparkly and new… or so I thought.  At that point the horrors started…..

It turned out that the previous homeowner had added the panelling and current tiles on top of a layer of older tiles.  Water had been slowly leaking for years under the bath onto chipboard flooring that had swelled like old cereal, plus up into the original plaster walls under the layers of tiles and wood.  Even the floor joists were soaked.  As my builder took off the old layers, the walls pretty much fell off, taking them right back to the original lathe and plaster structures.  We also found a chimney breast and fireplace opening with a piece of wood holding up the entire structure!

I nearly had a heart attack!  I had to call in a surveyor to check the fireplace was safe, and it had to be blocked up fully.  The costs were escalating as we were now going to have to lay new joists, floors, plasterboard, plaster and so on, and then on top of all of that the builder boy that I now call ‘The Wrecker’ stepped back a bit too fast and……

His foot went through the joists and ceiling below, leaving me with a rather large hole in my dining room.  I seriously was not very kind to him when he did this, and should have asked if his leg was OK, but instead some rather choice phrases came out!  He took it well I thought…..

So now the house was filled with dust while I was supposed to be redecorating each room and re-varnishing the floors ready for my new tenants.  So that was put on hold while they got on with the bathroom. It has been tiled with white metro bevel edged tiles using a dark grey grout, modern taps and shower, a new window with privacy glass, a clear glass shower screen and grey slate-effect lino on the floor.  If this is not watertight I will cry!  I was going to use a dark grey paint on the walls, but frankly after having to wait for plaster to dry and do mist coats I have lost all creativity and will to live!  The walls for now are brilliant white, and it is a bit stark, but I think I need a rest!

Here is the final result after what stretched into 8 long day of chaos, sorry I could not get a wider shot.

I have 2 days left to clean/paint/varnish the rest of the house before the tenants move in now that the dust has settled.  I also have to paint the new ceiling that was installed downstairs where ‘The Wrecker’s’ foot came through, yuck….my least favourite job in the world.

My lesson has been learnt yet again that old houses tend to be held up by either wallpaper or tiles.  It is now Easter weekend, so on Sunday once the tenants are in I shall eat a lot of chocolate to recover from the shock both from my hours of labour and costs to my wallet.