Moodboards making life more simple….

Today I have been preparing various moodboards to help visualise the styles available for a friend and client who wants a complete change in their living room.  They like a lot of very eclectic items from colonial to industrial to fantastic items from Anthropologie, so to try and narrow down to what it is they want to live with and what works cohesively, I have come up with the following boards.

I have instructions for no bright colours unless from Anthropologie, natural wood, creams and neutrals and statement pieces via lighting or furniture.  Hopefully the boards will start to whittle down what it is they really like and don’t like so I can prepare a final board for them.  They don’t have small children, and are happy to use pale fabrics on chairs and sofas, and they also love accent turquoise and teal which works well against neutrals and bare wood.

OB-Industrial classics Anthropologie mood board

ColonialThe boards are really useful generally for clients to let me know what they do and don’t like, plus they are also a good reference for me to keep generally.  I am LOVING the Anthropologie pendant flower lights, and may have to try and fit them into my own scheme in the near future…

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New cushion collection – your help needed!

Voting on cushion covers…I am personally in favour of the Palm leaves, but all of them are lovely. Vote away!

To Make A Home

I’m in the process of putting together a new collection of cushions for my Etsy shop and want to ask for your input!

It’s so much fun looking at all the choices of fabric out there, and while I have decided on some, I’m finding it hard to narrow down my final selection. I thought who better to ask than the great readers of my little blog? If you have a few minutes, thanks for looking through the fabric swatches below and voting for your favorite at the bottom. You can vote multiple times, so if you like several of these, just refresh and select again.

Don’t see something you like? Please leave a comment with your idea for a perfect cushion color or pattern. I really appreciate your help and who knows, your choice could end up on my shop come autumn!

Fabric buying

Thank you so much for your input!

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Tutorial – Plaster and Gold Leaf feathers

Plaster and gilt feather being prepared

I have had a couple of queries about my plaster and gold feathers, so I thought I would put a tutorial up about making them.  They are quite fiddly to make, but perseverance makes it possible!

They look great framed, or randomly lying about.  I balance mine on top of picture frames or keep them in pots.  They look like the most delicate matt china sculptures.

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INGREDIENTS!

Feathers – you need quite strong  and long ones such as pigeon/pheasant/seagull types.  Strong quills and dense tight plumage are best rather than ones that have fluffy edges.  Also, if you can get pale ones go for those as a preference.  If you cannot find real ones lying around, ebay sell great feathers in the fishing section (used by people for making fishing flies, and much cheaper than buying via Haberdashery or Craft sections and suppliers).  I have tried the ones from kids craft shops that are already dyed, but the colours are usually very bright and make it a longer process to create a pure white finished article.

Plaster of Paris – I use regular art shop/craft shop plaster.  You can go for expensive fine grade versions, but you will be building up layers so the former is just as good.

Gold leaf, or gold acrylic paint or gold spray if you don’t want to try gilding.

Washing Line – You will need to hand the feather to dry, so some sort of washing line or string home-made version.

Thin Garden Wire – this is to tie onto the end of the feather where the quill is visible, sort of like a little handle.

Plastic Jug – this has to be a t least 2/3rd of the length of the feather.

A hand whisk.

Separate jug/bottle of tepid water.

PROCESS

Find a plastic jug that will fit your feather in lengthways once the plaster is made up.  You will also need to fit a hand whisk into it so bear that measurement in mind.

Prepare the feather by twisting the wire onto one end, bend one end of the wire into a S hook shape for hanging the feather later

Mix up the Plaster of Paris.  I do it by eye instead of measuring.  Fill up the jug by 2/3rds and start adding the plaster to the water and whisking vigorously until it is like single cream in consistency.  It starts to thicken really fast so you need to work quickly now!

Take the feather by the wire end and start rolling it around it in the plaster, tilting the jug so you cover all areas of the feather.  You will find that the natural oils in the feather try to repel the plaster, so keep going until all the feather is covered.  Gently tap the feather to remove excess and hang up to dry.  You should have time to do one more feather with this mixture.  Don’t worry if not all areas take the plaster mixture, as you will do a second coat later if it is needed.  Some feathers take one coat, others need more…. luck of the draw.

After this, the remaining plaster will be trying to thicken, so add some more tepid water and whisk, you should get it thin enough to cover a couple more feathers.

Leave the feathers to dry totally and wipe out your jug asap before the plaster sets hard, use really hot water to dissolve what is left in the jug and flush the sink thoroughly for 5 minutes with hot water to stop drains blocking.

The plaster on the feathers feels damp and cold until it is fully dried out,  I leave mine at least 6 hours or overnight to harden off.  Then I run another plaster layer again on them if they need it.  Again, let them dry totally.  They will resemble very fine matt porcelain when finished.

When dry start the gilding.  I had never done this until recently, and it is much easier than people think, and it has such an amazing lustre compared to gold paint.

I use diluted PVA as my size, about 50% water added, and brush it thinly over the area in smooth even strokes, avoiding puddles and runs, (as the leaf is wafer thin any marks underneath will be visible when finished). As the size dries it will become clear with a tacky consistency. To test if the size is ready to accept the leaf lightly press your knuckle to the surface, if it clicks when you pull it away it is ready. Do not test using your finger tip as it will leave a print that will show through the leaf, or will remove the size from that area.

APPLYING LEAF

The tricky bit – Gold coloured leaf is available in genuine gold and imitation leaf, the genuine leaf will be richer in colour and finish, different coloured metal leaves are also available. I use transfer leaf, (attached to tissue paper), making it easier to apply.

Once the size is tacky place the gold leaf on the object and brush it gently with a very soft brush. Lay the next sheet of leaf down so that it overlaps slightly, and repeat until the surface is covered. When applying to raised surfaces you may need to use small pieces of leaf to fill crevices first, and use a soft bristle brush to tamp the leaf into the grooves.  Wait 30 minutes and then buff with a lint free cloth.  You can apply a clear varnish if you want to, but I don’t on my feathers.

Here is a useful video showing you how to apply the leaf if you have not done it before.

Framed gilded feathers

Framed gilded feathers

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Framed gilded feathers detail

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Selling at Artisan Markets

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I have been really busy recently redecorating the house, and have not been running stalls at Artisan or Craft Markets for over a year.  The last one I did was great, and I totally sold out and also took extra orders for my paper wreaths… but WOW was I knackered at the end!  Christmas is a time when people want the paper wreaths, so I need to prepare them early so I have enough, I definitely learned that last time.  However, the advance orders are also good as people can choose their colours to match their Xmas decorations.

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Genius quick fix that looks good!

I saw this link today for the most amazing backsplash, way easier than tiling, and it looks great… Thanks to Remodilista for sharing!

Good news for renters and rehabbers: Kitchen Walls, a new company out of the Netherlands, has developed a heat- and stain-resistant wallpaper that can be applied to almost any surface, creating an instant kitchen backsplash.

Made of PVC, the wallpaper is also impermeable to water, “so it’s usable behind your stove,” they say. “It can be cleaned with warm water and even the most terrible stains, such as grease or tomato sauce, will disappear without effort.” What’s more, it’s not only easy to apply (it comes with a special glue) but also removable—and reusable.

http://www.remodelista.com/posts/heat-and-stain-resistant-wallpaper-for-kitchen-backsplashes-and-more-from-design-company-kitchen-walls-in-the-netherlands

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Paint by Conran

I had no idea that Conran had a paint range until today when they started following me on Twitter.  

So I went over to their site and had a good look around, and they have some lovely colours, mainly in emulsion for the strong tones.  These ones from the Highland Range are my favourites, I love the Broken Heather and Rainy Slate.

They also have a lot of neutrals, and these greens in a range called Kitchen Garden which is mouth-watering:

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All the more reason to redecorate a room I think…!  I have a spare bedroom awaiting my attention, it is very light as south facing, and I think it could take some of these darker tones well.  Plus look how pretty the tins are!!!!

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DIY : Botanical Cupboard Makeover

My recent decoration of the Breakfast Room left one piece of furniture standing out like a sore thumb, a cupboard I had perviously overhauled as a shabby chic affair.  However, it was the wrong colours for the room I felt, and did not fit the new scheme.

IMG_0018I am really into using wallpaper on furniture at the moment, and spent ages scouring the net for something with dark backgrounds and botanical to compliment the room.  It needed a smallish pattern as I want to use it in the inset panels on the doors.

Everything I found that I liked cost at least £90 per roll, and some were an eye-watering £270… but they are stunning.

I wanted a very punchy green for the rest of the woodwork, and I had a pot of Annie Sloane Olive Green sitting around, but it is a very dark, sludgy colour and not as eye popping as I wanted.

The green chalk paint

The green chalk paint

At this point I gave up, thinking that I could not get want I wanted on a tight budget…. BUT…. THEN…..  HALLELUJAH!!!!!

I was in my local B&Q (a place I can found in very often actually – some like Prada, I like paint shops), and I found this wallpaper by Ideco Home in EXACTLY the colours I wanted for the piece… navy and chartreuse or lime.  And it also only cost £14 for a roll…. Bargain!

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It has beetles, flowers and everything that I need.  So I promptly matched some Valspar paint to the green, it is called Chartreuse:

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I painted up the cupboard in the green (eggshell, water based), and wallpapered the panels.  It looked very bright and had quite a sheen… maybe a bit too bright… so I was not convinced.

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So I then mixed up some of the ‘Olive’ Annie Sloane Chalk Paint with the Valspar eggshell, and mixed until I found a tone somewhere between the two.  This also was great as it turned the eggshell into chalk paint, which I much prefer to paint with.  A coats or two of clear wax after and I was done….

Starting to apply the new tone of green paint

Starting to apply the new tone of green paint

I warm up my wax to make it easy to get into crevices.

I warm up my wax to make it easy to get into crevices.

Here is the finished result, I love it and it suits the room much better.  I still have nearly a whole roll of the paper left over, and I was really tempted to use it on the chimeny breast, but then it all becomes a bit ‘matchy-matchy’?

The finished cabinet

The finished cabinet

Before & After:

Tattoo Parlour Reveal Part Two – Tattoo Studio

IMG_1758The day has come and Rocket Queen is now open for business with Charmaigne and Danny inking creatively in the fabulous new premises. Here is the tattoo studio makeover story…

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Textured walls, uneven floors and in a mess

When we started the room was large and full of shelving with bumpy concrete walls, a rubbish ceiling, uneven floors and generally in a very sorry state.  It took ages to clear it, and a full skip load of rubbish had to be taken away.

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The floor needed a total overhaul.

The room has 3 windows, all with security bars which need to stay as part of the lease, which then led to ‘Inspiration No 1’-  a prison cell.

This room has to be highly functional, and also very sterile for Health & Safety standards.  Bearing this in mind, we decided to go for non-porous surfaces which are easily cleanable.   I kept thinking about the film ‘Dead Ringer’s with Jeremy Irons in his operating room, so took the tiles idea as ‘Inspiration No 2′ – an operating theatre.

I did want to bring in an abbatoir feel as ‘Inspiration No 3’, and use chains from the ceiling to hand screens from, but was rightly persuaded that it might scare off the clients!

We tiled all around the room with metro tiles and used black grout to make them stand out.  A new ceiling and plasterboard was added to make the rest of the surfaces smooth and hygenic:

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A huge amount of tiling was needed

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Ceiling before replacement and the inspirational iron bars!

The new upper walls were painted in dark charcoal grey paint, (washable but with a matt finish), and the lowered new ceiling was painted white to reflect light.  The floor is high grade linoleum for hygiene in a dark grey with a slight sparkle finish and it is non-slip.  To keep the room very clinical, we installed a stainless steel medical sink, and chose a variety of storage furniture in enamel which continued the sterile look. The white cabinets came from Ikea, and the black trolleys are actually mechanics’ garage storage systems.  The tattoo benches are adjustable so that clients can sit or lie any which way for tattoos on any part of the body.

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Dark floors and paintwork on the walls

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Medical sink

As two tattoo artists work in this room, we bought and installed two medical privacy screens in case people want a private area during their sessions.  I changed the very dull plastic white pvc panels on these for new waterproof and wipeable fabric, (aka shower curtain fabric sewn into panels, and which is as slithery as hell when you sew with it!).  We used really cool retro patterns of tattoos and tattooed people for these.

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Love this fabric!

As the room is predominantly grey, black and white we added some punches of much needed colour, with posters and original artwork by artists like Jacknife’s Chris Hopewell.

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Before & After: really pleased with the transformation…..

Before

Before

After

After

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There are two separate treatment rooms, which have been decorated in much calmer colours; one for laser removal and the the other for reflexology and beauty treatments:

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You can see the first makeover on the reception and shop area here

Wedding Flowers

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This week I have been creating some lovely flowers for a country wedding that is taking place in the brilliantly named ‘Wick Bottom Barn’, which is an idyllic period barn hidden in the Wiltshire countryside.

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The interior of the barn is stunning; ancient beams, flagstones and a large fireplace which came from a French Chateau that was being demolished:

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Paper lanterns will all be lit in the evening

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The Barn being dressed for the wedding before the flowers were added.

My mother and I were asked to come up with a bright, country theme for the flowers.  We sometimes do wedding flowers, mainly via word of mouth, and know the family so were more than happy to get creative for them.  The Bride wanted the table flowers displayed very rustically, so a multitude of old tin cans, oil tins, bottles and jam jars were collected in advance.  We planned that each table would have at least 6 varied arrangements clustered in the middle using these containers.  We also made up arrangements to display in the outside covered Bar area, plus on tables outside in the grounds.

We chose a mixture of flowers and plants to use; Lisianthus, Gerbera, Alchemilla, Mint, Stock, Poms, Chrysanthemums, Carnations and Peonies.  We ordered them in vibrant tones of lime, pink, magenta, orange, purple, yellow and red.  They looked great in clashing tones as we started to arrange them.  The tables will have a collection of jars, tins and bottles on them, creating a really vibrant grouping of varied heights:

The flowers in the barn were prepared the day before the wedding whilst it was being dressed for the event, and then they left in the coolness of the barn overnight to avoid wilting.

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The flowers look stunning, and it is a real change to not work with oasis, tape and wires that we usually arrange flowers with for weddings, instead to use the eclectic pots and bottles and jam them full of clashing flowers was really fun.

On the morning of the wedding we prepared the Bridal Bouquet, four bridesmaids’ bouquets and six buttonholes for the Groom, Ushers and close family.  Again, sticking to the bright colours, we also added vibrant ribbons to the Bridesmaids bouquets, here are their posies:

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 For the Groom, Ushers and fathers of the Bride and Groom, we continued the bright theme with sweet little button hole posies in magenta and lime.  The two pink corsages were for the mothers of the Bride & Groom

IMG_9962Finally, the bridal bouquet was created with a long trail of Amaramthus and Ivy.  I sprayed the Amaranthus a raspberry pink, using Florists’ spray, to compliment all of the other jewel colours in the bouquet.  The Bride had asked for peonies in her bouquet as well as bright colours, so there were some wonderful cream and rose tipped ones in the bouquet.

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Finally, we popped some fresh flower petals into a rustic basket to use as confetti at the Church.  There will be more photos taken on their magic day, which I will post up when ready.

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