Breakfast Room makeover reveal

I have spent the last two days clambering around my breakfast room with paint in hand, and turning it from a very sedate and calm green into a zinging, intense deepest blue.  It all started with some botanical prints that I spotted online at  vintage printables.

cropBotanical-Educational-Plate-Black-Palaquium-Gutta copy

Dramatic botanical prints free for public use

These were really intense botanical images against dark backgrounds, and I fell in love with them.  I sent them off to be scaled up into large prints for the princely sum of £27, and then framed them into the existing frames that I had for my paler versions…  here is the room before:

English Home - 03

English Home - 02

English Home - 01


It is nice, but I have lived with Farrow and Ball tasteful pale shades for too long! I chose a really intense colour for the walls, skirting and cupboard surrounds called Basalt by the Little Greene Paint Company.  It is a really dark, dark blue, like squid ink:


Basalt, a really very dark blue tone that looks black or grey in some light


It’s a bit dark ?!


Coat one on walls, too late to go back now…..


Beginning to think it might work now…

I wanted to leave the original Victorian doors, floors and cupboards in their natural state.  As one end of the room has pale painted panelling, plus the door frames and window frame, I though these would be too dark in the Basalt, so I used Lime White by Farrow and Ball for these areas to freshen it up.  The rest of the room was painted in Basalt, and woe betide me if I ever have to paint it out again with a paler colour as it is very dark indeed!

I upcycled the old picture frames with the new prints, (I had 6 printed), and first of all hung them as they had originally been.  But then I decided to make the wall more exciting as the dark background is a great foil for artwork.






Here are final photos of the completed room:

best wide


Storage cabinet awaiting transformation


Repurposed window frame as a mirror




Gallery wall detail


Gallery Wall

All that is left to do now is to is to overhaul the painted wood cupboard with the lamp on top, as it looks too pale for the room.  I am thinking a zesty green or something similar would work, and I may repaint the table legs to compliment it.


An educational Art Week for very little people….

Although most of the blog tends to be about Crafts & Interiors, I also tutor art to children and paint myself.  Last week I was in London to run an Arts Week for 4-7 year olds at a Primary School.  They are very small, and there are 3 classes per year group and three year groups.  So it worked out to be 270 children over the week, EEK….!  Actually it ran very smoothly….!

I had been asked to provide large scale works for the school, with each year group basing one on a specific genre of art and helping to make the pieces.  Reception Class  have Andy Warhol, Year 1 have Salvador Dali and Year 2 have Georges Seurat as their artist to study.   The school want large pieces to have as permanent exhibited pieces, and we will be making them with the children.

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My partner in crime Marianne and I, who run these weeks through Primary School Art, came up with ideas for large impact pieces.  For the tiny ones in Reception we  used Marilyn Monroe screen prints by Warhol as the theme, and prepared 4 very large canvases for the children to mosaic using EVA foams and glues.  As they are so little, we felt glue and cutting was ambitious enough!


Canvas’ ready to mosaic onto (bit of a painting by numbers theme going on here)

For year 1 we looked at Dali, so rather than do the expected dripping clock painting, we planned a 4 ft sculpture of ‘The Persistence of Memory’ instead.  This is using steel, concrete, wood, plaster, plastic wrap, and paint.  We  made a maquette below of the piece to see how the balance worked with a melting clock at an angle (all OK),  and it looked fun, if not challenging, to get it made in 2 days with the little ones.

Maquette of the main sculpture

Maquette of the main sculpture

Sculpture large 4ft base awaiting attention by the children next week

Sculpture large 4ft base awaiting attention by the children next week

Year 2 are doing Seurat, so we marked up a very large 5ft canvas with the ‘Bathers at Asnieres’, ready for them to get dotting on.  We planned to only be using 3mm diameter dots, and also using Seurat’s method of colouring using adjacent primaries to create new tones.

Colour washed canvas for the children to paint over

Colour washed canvas for the children to paint over

The week went really well, and here are the finished pieces by the children.  Each one only had 8 hours in total to create, minus breaktimes, and we managed to stay on track.  The children loved the week and the art is amazing considering they children range from 4-7 years old:


Reception Class mosaics


Year 1 Dali Sculpture


Year 2 Seurat pointillism

Breakfast room planning

I am planning to overhaul my breakfast room, which is has a botanical theme, as I have had the palette of colours for so many years that I think it needs an update. The room currently is a pale sage and has lots of botanical prints, flowers and my Portmerion Botanic Garden china.

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Then I saw these amazing botanical prints, I think they will set the tone for a much stronger room if I take them as a starting point:

Botanical-Educational-Plate-Black-Palaquium-Gutta Botanical-Educational-Plate-Black-Olea-europaea-L.

I came across the below by Charlotte Brown at Interior Design It Yourself, and I think it is great advice for what will hopefully be a much more intense look:

interior design botanical prints in a dramatic style with vibrant colors against a black bakground - simply stunning!

This is the perfect interior design with botanical prints look for anyone who loves a sense of drama, deep, velvety-rich walls and vibrant pops of color.

It’s the polar opposite of the previous schemes where we saw the botanical designs set against a pale (white) backdrop – here colorful flower designs are given maximum impact against deepest, darkest black.

Color Essentials

  • Dark background – black is ideal – you could also use darkest gray, plum, navy or bottle green
  • Splashes of ‘wow’ color – fresh (lime) greens, oranges, golds, pinks
  • Lighter touches – small amounts of paler colors are essential to keep the look fresh and not too dark and dreary
  • This is essentially a modern look – ideal for bedrooms, dining rooms, or living rooms.
  • When using darker colors, it’s always best to be aware that the colors will make the room feel darker and smaller, but this can be compensated for (but not for everyone) by your end-result feeling more cozy, warm and also more dramatic.
  • Just like the dining room look, earlier on, this is a great look for evening rooms where the dark colors will end up looking very velvety and luxurious in the dim lights.
  • A cheeky idea for this look is to use it in your smallest room (WC or bathroom)!  Although it goes against the ‘normal’ interior design rules (which try to keep everything nice, spacious, bright, light and airy), such dark and strong colors in tiny rooms can give a very dramatic impact – and a great result! (Plus, if you’re not sure about the impact, you won’t be spending too much time in there, anyhow!)

Essentials for this style

  • Keep backgrounds dark for maximum ‘wow’
  • Use as much botanical pattern as you dare!
  • Mix in vibrant colors, such as upholstery, bedding, curtains – these do not need to be tiny splashes of color – think of a whopper splash that you’d make off the 30ft high diving board – that’s what we’re looking for
  • Use 2 or 3 bright colors together – green, plus red, orange, pink, gold
  • Don’t forget some smaller accents of white or cream – we’ve still got to lighten it up a little to keep it feeling fresh
  • There’s so much going on with the color and pattern you need to keep everything else as simple as possible
  • Use dark or pale furniture, as your scheme requires
  • Very modern, striking look
  • Wow!

Inspiring colour palette

Marie Claire Maison has featured this interior shoot in April 2015 and the color palette is wow!  Although having been up in London recently, I am bit bearded-out so to speak as every man I saw had full facial hair.  I just always think of Mr Twit by Roald Dahl when confronted by facially hirsute men.

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Styling: Cristina Nava | Photography:  Lorenzo Pennati 

Tattoo Parlour Reveal – Main Entrance and Shop Area

Finally we are at the end of the long road to finishing the main reception and shop area at Rocket Queen.  All the furniture is in, the stock is displayed and we can now turn to finishing the other studios rooms. Scroll down to the bottom for the full before and after photos, quite a change!

The new Reception area has a desk for drawing out tattoo designs and artwork which we made from an old carcass as seen here:


Very basic desk frame in foreground

I wrapped the frame in faux leather, and then applied ribbon to hide the staples to the sides.  We then applied the initials of the business in aged brass studs: IMG_1370 IMG_1374To each side of the desk are display cabinets which show some items for sale of natural skulls, metal ones and metal stag heads.

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Looking across the room is the main seating area. The colours are meant to be pinging and vibrant, and the more they clash the better.  The large mirror can be used for clients to inspect their latest body art, and it also helps bounces light back around the room.

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Behind the sofa is a collection of old pinball machine parts hung on the wall to create a great, bright  and colourful display.  The coffee table is also made from a pinball machine top, with new legs added to make it horizontal as they are usually set on a slope.  The end section will be used to hold magazines.

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Over in the shop section we have used glass and metal shelving and a vintage shop fitting display cabinet to display the stock.

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The items we are selling in the shop range from taxidermy to oddities to antiques.  This is a bit of a home-made passion, and we are learning some taxidermy techniques as we go…

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Before and after:

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I will post the main tattoo studio room reveal very shortly….

‘The Great Wave Off Cornwall’ – Art & The Map of Cornwall exhibition

I have recently completed an art piece for an exhibition for the Cornish Gallery POP, who are running a show later this summer called Art & the Map of Cornwall. Various artists were given an old large map of Cornwall, and asked to create a new piece of work around the piece that is inspired by the county.  I am overawed to be in the company of artists such as Pure Evil, Ben Allen and Krisjana S Williams.

My piece in the show pays homage to the county via the famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai, and in particular, his image The Great Wave off Kanagawa. This image is so instantly recognisable that it has almost become a part of modern iconographic culture.  I have turned it into a pop art piece, with twists on the original print.

As the show is not yet launched I won’t be posting the finished work yet, so here is the original image as a teaser until the dates are announced.

Geriatric picture frame makeover…

The Husband likes to attend car boot sales…  Bit too early for my own tastes, although he does bring home some nice old saws for me to upcyle now that he is trained… and I get a lie-in, a wake up coffee and the Sunday papers along with his latest proffering at a civilized hour too, so all is well.

However, yesterday he appeared with some HIDEOUS pictures!!!!!  They are nautical oil paintings in gnarly frames, but a bargain at £1 each.  He was very pleased with his purchase, and wants them up in the house somewhere, (not that we have much wall space going, and they are not really going to sit alongside the Tracey Emin or Julyan Davis pictures that well…).


So an upcycle was in order after a lengthy discussion that went somewhere along the lines of:

HUSBAND:  “Look!  These are quality!  They will look great hung up, I love them…”

WIFE:  “Over my dead body matey…”

And so on and so on.  We needed to reach some sort of compromise so I decided to at least have a go at making them look better.



The actual oil paintings are not too bad when out of the frames so I tried to find paint for the existing frames to bring out the colours in the scenes.  I found some duck egg blue and taupe chalk paint in a cupboard, (yes, it’s an Annie Sloane moment again), to compliment the tones in the oils, then applied two different shades of wax to tone down the colours, and actually they now look much better.  It took all of an hour, and equilibrium now applies to marital bliss.


1.  Remove oils from frames

2.  Sand down frames if they have any lacquer on (the inner frames did on these ones)

3.  Apply a couple of coats of Chalk Paint (although I think any paint will suffice), and find colours to bring out the tones of the painting as well as to compliment your decor scheme.

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4.  When the paint is dry, first apply a coat of clear wax.  Then add a smidgeon of darker wax straight away and blend in to create an overall darker tone/patina.  Don’t overload the rag or it will end up looking very french shabby chic as the dark wax will get stuck in any crevices.

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5.  Buff to a soft sheen.  Replace pictures in the frames and stand back to admire your amazing handiwork!

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Mercury Glass

This is such a great craft to do, will be attempting it immediately…

happy day andi

I m so excited to share this project with you! I have been saving jars for years now. Like, I have them stored in so many cabinets in 20 years I am still going to be finding them hidden all over. But I think I finally found a purpose for them! Some of them, at least! I have seen the mercury glass jars everywhere lately and I really like how they look. No way am I paying for them though. I came across Wedding Party’s post and could not believe how easy it looked. Like, all I had to buy was the mirror paint? Really? Totally worth the try. And the directions were so clear! I really don’t even have any tips, other than follow the directions. The directions say to wait a 30 seconds before blotting your glass after spraying it with the mirror paint, but when I did…

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Cooking in the dark.

Love these ideas….

Sally White Designs







Main image. Use other shot for left hand planks.

The idea of using black when decorating can be a daunting thought.

However, it really isn’t as scary as you might think.

The colour black (or non-colour)  gives your eye something to focus on rather than drifting around a room full of pale neutrals.

If your kitchen doesn’t benefit from natural light you can combat this by using reflective surfaces, opt for a gloss finish or mix it with light neutrals.

Or begin by simply adding a splash of black whether it be a pair of lamps, kitchen chairs or a painted wall, the effect will instantly add depth to your room.

The beauty of black is that it can be used to create a sophisticated, modern look or to create a rustic, country feel.

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