My best bargain purchases…

Or, Thank You to charity shops and modern house builders…

As summer slows to a halt and I start moving indoors more, I have started to cast the eye over the house once more.  You know the drill… time to start tweaking and changing and improving.

I have had a bit of a purge recently of overflowing cupboards, and whilst doing it I noticed that a lot of my furniture and household items are bargains bagged from charity shops, auctions and even the odd skip.  Not a lot is new at all, not that I would not love to go on a splurge in some of my favourite shops.

Most items of furniture that I have found have been mainly tall or long, and lingering in junk shops.  We have very high ceilings in our house, so the taller pieces of furniture fit brilliantly and most people cannot fit them into their modern homes.  As long as the basic shape of a piece is good, then it is amazing what some paints effects or a refurbishment can create.  My friend Gaby has the best comment for when a bargain priced item is found, she says “it would be rude not to…”.  Therefore in the politest fashion I can justify snapping things up.

This very tall Victorian glazed mahogany cabinet came from a Charity shop.  No-one else wanted it as it is a whopping 10 feet tall.  I backed the inside of the cupboard with some printed burlap that I had left over from an upholstery project, and it was ready to use.  Total cost £90

In the hallway, this orange-toned pine sideboard was very large and lingering in another charity shop.  A dash of Annie Sloane graphite chalk paint that I already had, and it was transformed.  Total Cost: £80

Whilst at the same shop, I also snapped up this large mirror for just £10, a lick of paint transformed it:

This armoire came from the same charity shop as the tall glazed mahogany cabinet.  A makeover with some leftover chalk paint, and a beautiful wallpaper in the panels turned it into a real gem.  Cost: £40 for the cupboard and £42 for the wallpaper on sale down from £90, (costly wallpaper, but I loved it!).  So a total of £82.

Continue reading

Grrr…. online scammers…… beware…

I have had my first near-miss experience of a totally revolting con via internet selling this week.  I am sharing with you, as a) cannot believe I was targeted and am loudly indignant, and b) apparently this is a well-used scam and a lot of people fall for it.  So beware if anyone does the same to you….

I needed to make room in my hallway as the Armoire that I did for a makeover is getting in the way.  I need to shift it, preferably with someone else having to move the thing…  So rather than ebay which is the usual mode of selling, I joined Gumtree as I can fix the price and it seems to work well for items.  I have bought before from it with no problems.  Here is the Armoire in question, which I put on for a very reasonable price as I need it out asap.

The Final Armoire Continue reading

Turning a useless cupboard into a rather sweet one…

Remember the days when everyone had been travelling, went to India and came home inspired to create an ethnic look in their house?  This cupboard was the result of my travels in early years, and has been with me for ages.  However, it is really heavy, very dark, has ring marks on the top and did not fit in any more with the rest of the house, but it is a useful little item and so I thought I would give it a revamp so it sat better in the house.

IMG_8832This project was incredibly quick, took a couple of hours one afternoon and the cabinet has been transformed.  First I slapped on some chalk paint, Annie Sloan’s Country Grey which is great neutral shade, all over the cabinet and on the inside of the door.  I even painted the iron bars and the handle and catches.

IMG_8834Then I waxed the cupboard with clear wax and buffed it up to a nice sheen.  The bars still looked a bit odd and very Jali, so I found some fabric I had lying around, which is a hessian printed with alliums.  I cut a piece slightly larger than the opening in the door, ironed the hems back flat and neat and attached it with my staple gun.

IMG_8853

IMG_8851To hide the staples I stuck on some ribbon, and then covered the corner joins with some buttons.

P1090637The finished cupboard looks lovely, and tricked my husband into thinking it was a new piece for a while.  Job done!

P1090635

Wallpapering furniture – The Result

I had decided to upcycle an old cupboard, and finally settled on a fantastic Colefax and Fowler wallpaper called Snow Tree which has brushstrokes and graduations of tone in the background. As a first attempt I decided just to wallpaper the inset panels and then to do a paint effect to match the background of the paper on the rest of the wood.  I figured that if it went wrong I could remove the paper do a simple repaint…

IMG_0242

Snow Tree by Colefax and Fowler

Here are the results, I am pretty pleased with it.

You will need: Charcoal, Original and Olive Chalk Paints (Annie Sloan) Clear Wax Earthborn wall Glaze Wallpaper paste Wallpaper Scissors Kitchen sponge Paintbushes How to:

  • Apply a coat of base colour over all of the wood that will be visible.  Being chalk paint, I only needed one coat and it adhered straight to the existing varnish without any need for sanding down.  Plus it dries really quickly which is a bonus!
IMG_0229

Base coat applied to all areas that will not be wallpapered

  • Measure your wallpaper for the panel sections, give it an extra inch all over in case the piece is old and not even in its dimensions.  Cut pieces, then one by one put paste on them, wait 5 mins for the paste to soak in well before hanging, and then stick to piece.  Smooth well with a very slightly damp cloth, and cut off excess paper where needed with sharp scissors.  Smooth down well again and allow to dry.  I left mine for about 3 hours as we had the heating on.

Stage 2: Papered and painted with base colour

  • Mix up a separate small pot of a lighter version of the base colour with some white paint and water and start to randomly dry brush and streak it over the base coat using just the tips of the brush.  At this point it looks quite brutal but do not worry.  I did mine in a similar pattern to the wallpaper background.  Allow to dry.
IMG_0251

Rough dry brushing with a lighter tone

  • When dry, dilute some of the original base coat colour with water so it is quite runny and put it onto a plate.  Then dab a kitchen sponge into it so there is just a little on the sponge and start to work it in small smoothing circles on the painted areas of the cupboard.  This softens the highlights you made before without removing them.
  • Work away at the piece until you are happy with the effect.
  • Highlight any mouldings with a complimentary colour, I used Olive as it picked out the green in the leaves of the wallpaper.
IMG_0253

Highlights picked out in complimentary colour

  • Once you are happy with the piece it is time to wax and glaze it.  As the Chalk Paint is totally matt and the wallpaper had a very slight sheen I needed it to all have the same finish.
  • Wax the painted woodwork and buff to a sheen.  This creates protection for the paint, and also very slightly darkens down the paint, even with a clear wax.
  • To protect the wallpaper I used Earthborn clear wall glaze, and roughly brushed it on so the strokes again matched the wallpaper’s background.
  • And voila, the finished cupboard.  The sheen is the same all over and close up it is hard to tell it is wallpaper and not hand painted flowers:

Wallpapering Furniture

I have had a Georgian cupboard for years, that I bought because it was quite scruffy and showed where at some point it had had a decorative paint effect applied.  It looks like someone has applied a woodgrain oak effect on top of the original mahogany.  But it is now a bit chipped and worn and needs an overhaul.  As I think the paint effect is at least Victorian, I can never restore it to immaculate mahogany.

I have seen lots of pictures online with cupboards and shelves having wallpaper set into the back panels but not many when wallpaper is used to the outside of the pieces:

Photo from House to Home

Photo from House to Home

I want to make my cupboard into something more exciting and came across this great piece by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek.  I love the fact it is totally wrapped, and it starts to look like something like marquetry or hand painting that you might see in a very grand old house.

Wallpaper Cupboard by Piet Hein Eek

I am going to go for it with the cupboard and aim for quite a dramatic finish with a very dark/black base all over, but not by wrapping it totally in wallpaper as I want quite a large design and I think it will be too overwhelming.  I will start with papering the inset front and side panels and adding some brushstrokes of paint to those areas,  and will then paint the rest of the wood to match the background of the wallpaper.  Then with a glaze I think I can match the texture of all areas so it ends up looking like a hand painted piece, and slightly oriental if I use a shiny glaze.

The shortlisted contenders for the paper are below – I LOVE the House of Hackney paper as it is crazy close up with animals holding odd items but it is really expensive for a roll, and I also think the Snow Tree is a contender as the brushstrokes in the background can be replicated all over the other areas of the cupboard.  Samples are on their way so I can see the paper with the naked eye as that will also affect the choice.

More to follow on the cupboard saga, and any suggestions also most welcome….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cupboard Reinvention

I owned a scruffy victorian cupboard, and had used it for general dumping for a while.  It looked a bit sad, so I decided to have a go at making it into something more exciting.  I wanted to turn into into something that looked like a faded old french shop fitting.  I found some excellent template signs at The Graphics Fairy.  These are a variety of french worded signs that you can print out in reverse and use as transfers for the below method.  You need to print the transfers on inkjet printers as that ink can transfer onto your chosen item.

IMG_7763

First of all I painted the cupboard in a mixture of ‘Mizzle’ by Farrow & Ball used on the tops and door panels and ‘Duck Egg Blue’ by Annie Sloan on the sides and door frames.  It looked very pristine and bright, but I was going to add coloured wax after so knew it would darken down when applied.

IMG_7772

I then used Modge Podge, (this is a US glue product available from Hobbycraft in the UK, but you can use PVA as a substitute diluted about 2 parts water to 1 PVA).  I coated the front of the transfers with it so they were saturated.  This then was stuck onto the panels, smoothed on very well on the areas of font and left to dry hard overnight.

IMG_7774

In the morning, I soaked the paper with water so it was sopping wet, and very slowly peeled it off.  It leaves an imprint of the print showing the right way around.  After it thoroughly dried I sanded it back to make it look faded and old, I then waxed these areas very gently with clear beeswax.  I then waxed all the other areas of the piece with clear beeswax, and then rubbbed in much darker bison wax into all the cracks and crevices.  This gives a patina of age and use.

IMG_7775

IMG_7783

The finished cupboard looks so much better and it was an interesting process to try out.