DIY Quick Fireplace Makeover

This is a really quick way to update a fireplace without having to rip out an existing one.   This fireplace surround will eventually be replaced, but until then it is a fast makeover to make it less hideous!  Some tiles and paint can transform it into a much better looking feature.  I wanted to brighten it up and use some sort of patterned rustic moroccan style tiles in the inside area of the fireplace.

HOW TO DO IT:

This is the starting point; a pine surround with bricks inside and an insert real flame gas fire.  The house is in a city with smoke control laws, so it is a practical feature and seemed silly to rip it out.

STEP BY STEP GUIDE:

Start by painting out the orange pine with a primer and then eggshell paint.  I used a water-based version by Dulux in white which dries fast and is re-coatable in 2 hours. It took 3-4 coats to get rid of the orange wood.

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Next, measure the area you want to tile.  The side areas of brick were really slim, so I needed to find tiles that were quite small as cutting up large scale patterned ones would have jarred on the eye.  I hunted high and low, but all the tiles I found were large scale patterns and I was beginning to give up when I wandered into a high street tile shop and found these 10x10cm tiles.

They come in a faded grey and green and are from a selection of about 7 patterns which mix well together. I went for these two colours mixed up.  Even better, I managed to grab the sample tiles for just 50p each instead of having to buy them in the large amount they usually are sold in for £50.  I only needed about 26 tiles, so it cost just £13.  I LOVE a bargain!

I worked out a basic pattern, and started to cement the full sized centre tiles on first with tile adhesive.  Once I needed to start cutting tiles I measured the size I would need and used a water-jet tile cutter.  You can hire these if you don’t have your own.  They are really easy to use, although quite noisy.  Luckily I could cut tiles in half and use them down the sides and across the top and they fitted perfectly.

 

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This tile cuter is easy to use and fast

Use tile spacers if working on a vertical wall.  Here are the tiles going up..

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Once the whole area is tiled, leave it overnight to set hard.  Then grout the tiles.  I used a ready-mixed grout in white, and a grout spreader to fill it into the spaces in the main area.  In tight corner areas I just pushed it into the gaps with my fingers.  To get a neat finish you can use a plastic grout finishing tool, or just your forefinger to smooth the grout so it has a fine finish.   Finally use a cloth to polish off any grout left on the tiles before it totally sets.

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Tiles before they are grouted

THE END RESULT…

 

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Wallpapering Wardrobes

It’s raining, in August as usual, and I am sitting looking through a window at a waterlogged garden.  So I have a quick moment of calm to post about the cupboards that I mentioned recently were being built.  They were fitted in a day, have a load of space inside and then it was my turn to get going on them.

GUEST BEDROOM

Here they are going into the alcoves, this is in the room that has one built in wardrobe:

The room also had a horrible and ugly boiler cupboard, and my carpenters very kindly made me a new door and frame for free, (probably as it was so offensive in the room compared to the new one above!).

Once they were in they just needed a lick of paint.  They are going to be very simple and white so I had a plan undercoat applied in the workshop.  I will post more pictures once I have finished them.

MAIN BEDROOM

The main bedroom was due two wardrobes, one in each alcove.  We went right up to the ceiling to maximise space and brought the cornice around the front of the doors. I had already asked for a specific configuration of shelves and rails in advance.

As you my have gathered, I LIKE DARK WALLS!  This room was painted in the inkiest dark blue called ‘Hague Blue’ by Little Greene – it changes from inky blue to almost black depending on the time of day.  I have left the ceiling, cornice and skirting white along with the window woodwork.  The flooring is very pale too, so light can bounce around as I didn’t want it like a dark tomb.  The cupboards were also going to get a coat of Hague Blue, so the undercoat was in a dark grey to help speed things up.

The woodwork paint was the same colour in their new range of dead matt eggshell which is water-based, and which is supposed to have a very low 10% sheen.  It is also supposed to be very workable.  However, to be honest I was not that impressed with it.  I used brushes for detail mouldings and  foam roller for the flat surfaces and it dried really patchy, even after 3 coats.  Next time I am sticking to normal eggshell.

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See the streaky finish in the panel area?

However, my master plan meant that the finish on the flat panels did not really matter.  I have been waiting forever to use some House of Hackney wallpaper, and planned to set it into the panels of the wardrobes.  I had even asked the carpenters to make them exactly the same width of the wallpaper so there was no wastage, how sad am I?!

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Renovating a House – Part 2

Long time since the last post, but I have been working so hard that I just did not have time to write anything.  My hands look like a 90 year olds – all wrinkled and chapped from grafting, but the house is moving along now.

WEEKS 3-6

Since the last post lots has happened at the house.  The electricians have finished their main bulk of work.  They lifted pretty much every floor board in the house, chased cables into walls, drilled through external walls and upgraded the system.  I now have lots of down-lighters, plus where I needed them, extraction for the bathroom and so on.  A new consumer unit comes this week, to generally pump up the power in the house and make it compliant with regulations.

Following their main fix, the plasterer has been back to make good the walls and ceilings where the electricians had been hacking away.  Finally I could get on with decorating, I was hovering about waiting for them all to finish a lot and just made a lot of cups of tea.  We also had a heatwave in the middle of the work, so it got quite steamy especially when hanging off ladders using wallpaper strippers.  At one point it was 29 degrees and I was staring into a steam machine, it was like my very own mini swedish sauna.

Here is the kitchen roof before and after – from wrinkled, uninsulated dark ceiling to new insulation, plaster, roof lights, down-lighters, (oh and the hidden beams which cost a bomb!).

THE KITCHEN

I had a dream, just like Martin Luther King, but mine was more geared towards a shaker bespoke handmade kitchen with industrial leanings.  The kitchen roof saga has delayed this dream, mainly due to my very expensive new beams hidden beneath the plasterboard and the extra time and labour needed.  So the new kitchen can wait, but this was what was left and it offends my design sensibilities!

It is VERY orange.  So I got out my trusty paint pots and started to amend the offending pine with black, grey and white.  Farrow and Ball Lamp Black for the doors, new ironmongery and some industrial steel stainless shelving are creating a transformation that I can live with until we replace it totally next year.  Phew…

The walls are all dark grey, it is called ‘Grey Shingle’ by Valspar.  I removed the cheesy glass doors on two wall units and lined the back of the cupboard in trompe l’oeil wallpaper of metro tiles, then painted any orange wood bits left with white satinwood.  The shelves will be lined in trompe l’oeil marbled paper.

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MODERN BOTANICAL DIY PRINTS

EASY DIY BOTANICAL PRINTS WITH A TWIST

This is a simple way to create your own botanical prints with a contemporary twist.  This weekend I picked up two very nice simple black chunky frames on offer for 2 for £10 at Homebase, with mounts inside already cut to fit A4 prints.  I then made the prints myself at home, using downloaded botanical and paper images, normal photocopier paper and a printer.  I have seen examples like this on sale for a lot of money in smart home decor shops, galleries and on Etsy, but you can make them yourself which is far more satisfying and far cheaper.

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HOW TO MAKE THEM:

Start off by finding large sized botanical prints on-line.  There are lots of places to find them for free:  The Graphics Fairy and Botanicus are great paces to browse, especially the latter for thousands of botanical themes.  Download the picture you want to use, in Botanicus it comes as a large pdf of a botanical collection of the book’s plates, whereas at The Graphics Fairy is it just one image as a pdf or jpeg.  You do not need to print them out, but the below are examples of ones to look for, they need strong colours and lines to show up in the finished piece.

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Enclosed here is a ready to print dictionary piece of paper, (but you could use old sheet music cut to A4 size, or other old text paper you may have available).  Print this out in colour onto a piece of A4 paper, and make it fit the whole page as much as possible on your printer by using the ‘scale to fit’ option..

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When it is dry, reload this printed paper into the printer, and then print out the botanical flower of your choice straight onto it.  You may need 2-3 runs to get your grade right for your own tastes, (and not to do it upside down which I am guilty of a lot!). You can tweak your grade in your photo browser directly if it is a jpeg, or if it is a pdf you will need to convert it to a large sized jpeg first.

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Then frame up your print, and hey presto… done in a jiffy….

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Have a go, it is really not that hard to do and the possibilities are endless for printing images.  Just make sure they are dense in colour and line.  You can even do a 3rd print run with text on to personalise it for someone.

How to make your own scented soy candles

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Scented candles are incredibly popular at the moment, but can also be very expensive for long-lasted, heavily scented soy versions.  I love ones by True Grace, Diptyque, Tom Dixon, Kenneth Turner and the Cowshed -but they come at a hefty price tag, especially as I burn them constantly.

So I decided to make my own for a change, and have discovered it is REALLY SIMPLE and they smell AMAZING!!!

I wanted to make a variety of candles in both rich floral and then more musky scents, and they have come out very well.  They also work out so much cheaper than buying ready made scented candles. 1kg of wax costs approximately £7, and from that I made 5 candles, and reused old candle pots and a cup and saucer set.  I had a few bottles of essential oils lying around already, and you can get 5 bottle of candle fragrance oil for £5 roughly online.  Wicks are about £1 for 10.  have worked it out to be around £2.60 per candle, a lot better than the £28 upwards costs of my usual candle purchases!

Here is what you will need:

  1. 1kg soy wax flakes.  I used Kerawax 4015 as it has a good scent throw and adheres well to glass containers.
  2. Essential Oils or specific Fragrance Oil for candle making.  I like to mix my scents up as I am making the candles, so have a variety of both.
  3. Candle wicks with metal bases
  4. Glue Dots
  5. Wooden sticks
  6. Metal container
  7. Large Saucepan
  8. Glass Containers (but china also works well).

Instructions:

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Most Hit Posts of 2016

Today I have been looking back at last years blogging, sometimes done a bit intermittently I must admit, and noticed that the most popular posts always seem to be the DIY ones, so here is a round up of the ones that still get the most hits, and I only hope that as a result there are many Ikea hacks, Plaster Flowers and No-sew curtain pelmets floating out there now!  More DIY ideas coming soon as I tackle a spare bedroom in the coming  months.

Click on the photos to take you to the posts and tutorials…

DIY Plaster of Paris Flowers

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No-Sew Curtain pelmets

finished wide

Ikea Hack Bookcase

 

 

Slate Effect Painted Fireplace

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Moppe Drawer Makeovers

 

 

How to make your own Street Art

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ROLL OVER BANKSY… AND APOLOGIES TO DAVE…

I have been preparing for a gallery wall, and wanted to make some of my own artwork for it as well as using existing pieces.

I had started to hunt around for original prints, and found some images I really liked, but the artists’ works are REALLY expensive, and then they would need framing and so on.  So I thought I would pay homage instead and get creative for next to nothing.

I found this very cheeky artwork by Dave Buonaguidi.  He has worked in advertising for over 30 years, founding St. Luke’s, the world’s first Co-operative ad agency and most recently Karmarama in 2000. In 2003 he created the iconic MAKE TEA NOT WAR poster for the anti-war march. It now is part of the collection at the V&A and hangs in the Trento museum of modern art. He loves to make work that creates a reaction.  And this one really is a bit full on, but I like the text over a map.

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Obviously I needed to tone down the wording on my homage to this, I can just imagine the looks of horror from people visiting with kids if I copied the above verbatim!  So this is how I made my own version by changing the working to ‘I bloody love this place’, far less brutal text than the original but still a bit cheeky and a bit ‘English’.  I also have older teenage daughters who would not be offended than younger ones would be, so I think I can get away with it…. maybe… just!?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET ART

I had a vintage framed map of Milan lying around in storage.  It has fond memories for me as I lived there for a few months many years ago, and had a blast whilst there.  So I thought it was a personal piece that I could adapt.  This was going to be the base of the artwork.  I carefully opened it up, and cleaned up the glass on both sides. I measured how much space I had free on the part of the print which would be visible when re-framed.

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Download the free font ‘Marigold’ from fontspace.com, and then you can make any text you want and it is a lovely curly handwritten font.  If you don’t want the bother of making your own document I enclose a pdf you can use but it does have my wording on it, be warned!

I then printed out my wording, in my case on A3 paper as my print is quite big.  Print with black ink.

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Vintage Bottles – Labels Freebie

Well, sort of vintage bottles…. they will look it when you are finished.

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I was given a collection of clear glass bottles with corks, (without labels), and was wondering what to do with them.  Perusing online, I found some great old labels which were a whizz to download, print out and use on the bottles.

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Some of the titles are hilarious, I am especially fond of ‘White Oil – For Man and Beast’, what this was used for once upon a time I have no idea?!

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I enclose the files that you can use below, they are jpegs and good enough quality to print out and use yourself.  What will you use them for?

Old Chemist Labels 1Apothecary style labelsOld Chemist Labels 2Old Chemist Labels 3

Ikea Hack – Bookcase Unit – Part 2

How to hack a Kallax or two….

So it seems ages ago that I started on the Ikea Hack, which you can read my plans on here.  I spent 3 afternoons at my sisters building away, and it took ages to get around to photographing it due to flu, distance and time!  However, here it is finally.  Apologies in advance for the photos not being totally crisp, but the room has very little natural daylight so my flash was needed a lot…

Ingredients

We went down to Ikea and spent ages looking at the bookcases they had available. On reflection, we decided to forego the breakfront effect and go for a freestanding simple piece that could take all of her LP’s, books and more.  LP’s are deep, so they fit best in this type of storage system.  Kallax units seemed the best as they are extra deep.

As you can see they are very modern and graphic.  But they baskets are nice made from rattan and palm leaves, and give a future option for storage.

So we bough one 16 x cube Kallax and one 4 x cube horizontal Kallax.  We then headed home and I put them all together (top tip, electric screwdriver…)

Putting the Units together and joining them

The larger Kallax went underneath and the horizontal one was put on top.  This made the unit a good height.  Obviously it needed to be secured into one safe piece, so on the rear I used fixing plates at regular intervals to keep it secure.

Once that was done, we also added  simple 2 x 4 wood batons to the base at each end and in the middle so we had extra height for the base board we wanted to be attached.  I also added felt pads so that the piece can be easily slid on the wooden floors without catching and causing damage.

Now this was done we measured the sections we would need cornice for; top and bottom would be the same piece but inverted.  On the front of the piece is a double width horizontal section of front shelf where the two Kallax units meet, and so we measured this to make sure we got decorative moulding to cover it. You can see this wide section below. Continue reading

Master Bedroom gets a makeover

Farrow and Ball paint and things lurking under the stairs.

This week I was browsing a paint department, and happened upon a discounted 5L tin of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Brinjal’ matt emulsion.  This leaves me with 2 thoughts:

a) I need to get out more and stop loitering in paint departments when I have free time.

b) Loitering in paint departments can be seen as serendipity when bargains are to be had.

Anyhow, onto the paint… This is the most intense dark aubergine with red rather than blue tones, and I have always dreamt of doing a room in it.  Like an Olympian athlete I launched myself toward the paint pot it at high speed, and clutching my bargain I sped home.  I also managed to secure some bargains on some anthracite emulsion paint on sale, which have been stashed until I decide what to use them for, no doubt they will appear soon in a post….  (and if you don’t want to read through the procrastination and details, scroll down to the bottom of the post for the before and after photos.)

This is what the colour look likes… wow, it’s dark…

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Photo: Brinjal by F&B photo from Farrow and Ball Decorating with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw

The Existing Room

The Master bedroom is already shades of Khaki, (this paint is called Drab), with aubergine accents, but it has been like that for quite a while, so I thought I would use the paint to overhaul the room.  The ceilings are really tall, and the expanse of white from the picture rail upwards to the ceiling sort of annoys me, as the rest of the colours get lost in the room as the eye automatically goes up to the brightness and it is so WHITE.  I love aubergine, so decided to paint out the khaki walls with the new paint, but to leave the wardrobes as they are.  So I am sort of reversing the colour scheme.  I am happy with where the furniture is and accessories, so it is just a case of the walls and woodwork being changed. Continue reading