I LOVE Christmas ! I love the anticipation, the excitement and the decorating. I love the decorating! This year as I'm no longer self employed I'm not so tired and distracted and it has become a pleasure again. We were really lucky to be sent a Christmas tree to review from Pines and Needles so the decorating started earlier than our usual week before Christmas, but today I finished it all off and I LOVE IT !
There has never been any discussion when it comes to Christmas trees in our home. It always has been and always will be "real is best". I love the look, the smell, the whole experience of going out each year and choosing just the right one. So I was thrilled to bits when the lovely people at Pines and Needles contacted me and offered to send me one of their best selling Nordman Fir Christmas trees.
years ago whilst on holiday I admired a couple who wore beautiful
sarongs around the pool, they also used them as towels and they were
perfect palest blues and grey stripes. When I returned home I was
determined to track them down. Unsure what they were called and not
seeing anything similar in UK shops I was stumped. Then one day out on a
visit to a small town in north Devon I came across a shop selling
beautiful bathwares and there on the shelves were my towels. I
immediately asked the shop assistant about them, who told me they were
called Peshtemal .
Traditionally used in Turkish baths the Peshtemel is a thin towel made from 100% cotton but with high absorbency. They are really lightweight and are therefore perfect to pack to take on holiday. Even though they are really thin, they are incredibly absorbent and get softer and better with every wash.
I also wear them around the pool or to and from the beach. Some of the larger, thicker sizes also work perfectly as a wrap or a throw on the sofa for chilly, snuggle nights. You could even use them as table cloths or as picnic blankets. They come in an array of colours (usually striped) and also plain white which I love in my home. People always comment on them when they see them hanging up, a really stylish alternative to the traditional fluffy towels we are used to in this country.
pictures from Pinterest
They are also really good value for money, very affordable and continue to look wonderful for a long time. The best place I have found to buy them is of course that well known auction site !
I am asked almost on a daily basis what paint would I recommend, how, why, what, when. I always try to reply to all the emails, tweets, facebook comments etc but have to admit its a bit time consuming. So I thought it was about time I got around to a writing a few tips down.
NO 1 : You do not need to invest your hard earned cash buying expensive designer paints. I'm not saying don't buy them,we all like to splash the cash on luxury items from time to time. Its just that to get a lovely paint finish you really don't have to buy blind just because you read somewhere its the must have paint. It is possible to obtain the matt chalky finish popular at the moment by using a good quality matt emulsion paint. I particularly love Dulux Trade Matt emulsions. They are expensive but are top quality, cover really well, are hard waring and go a long, long way. I also love Craig and Rose 1829 Chalk paint, it comes in a range of beautiful colours. To be honest any good quality emulsion paint will do the job. If you are unsure of colours buy the tester pots first. I find most of the good quality brands go a long way. I often manage to paint a whole chair from one tester pot.
NO 2 : It really is all in the preparation ! OK so some paints are marketed as one coat wonders with no preparation required but if you want you item to have longevity. You will need to prep it properly first.
a. Make sure the surface you are painting is clean from dirt, grease and grime. I usually wipe down with sugar soap, but to be honest good old soap and water usually works just as well or white spirit. Just make sure its completely dry before you continue.
b. Gently rub down all surfaces you want to paint. A light grade sand paper is best to ensure you don't scratch the surface wood. You don't need to exert too much on this just enough to give the paint something to bond to.
c. If you are planning to paint an old, dark piece of furniture or if the piece was previously painted with a gloss paint, was varnished or waxed it is best to also use a primer first. I recommend Zinsser B I N Shellac based primer. This will stop patches of bleed from the wood coming through with light coloured paint and acts as a great base coat.
Pic from Pinterest
ok so now you are ready to paint :
NO 3 : As I said you don't need to buy expensive designer paints but do buy the best brushes you can afford. Its really worth the investment. Cheap brushes loose their bristles which can be very annoying when they fall into the paint or get stuck to the piece you are painting. The best kind of brushes to buy are sable artists brushes for small areas or precise painting. I am always on the lookout at bootsales and charity shops for any kind of artist brushes. They are wonderful and give a great finish. For large surface areas I use natural bristle brushes like Pioneer spirit which hold the paint really well and give great coverage over large items. If you don't like to see brush strokes then foam rollers are good to cover large flat areas like the tops of tables etc.
NO 4: You can't rush ! If you want to have a lovely painted piece to be proud of you need to take your time painting it. Several light coats are a must. Apply a light top coat all over the item, starting at the top and working your way down the piece, try to not get distracted ! Its very easy especially when painting a large piece or a chair to get bored and move to another area, try not to do this as you may cause a patchy look to the finished item. Don't be put off by the look of the item when you have applied the first coat, it will look awful, we all have to start somewhere.
After you have applied your first coat, let it dry properly. Do not be tempted to start another coat otherwise you will cause drag and may even lift off the previous coat. The beauty of using Matt emulsion paints is they dry really quickly so you should only have to wait less than an hour between coats. When each coat has dried, give it a gently rub down with a soft grade sand paper to lift and smooth any imperfections.
NO 5 : Final stage, once you have finished painting and your piece is dry. Time to apply either a wax or matt varnish. I like to use wax which can be applied easily with a cloth or a brush and gives a soft sheen finish. For a more durable finish, a matt varnish is recommended and can be quickly applied with a brush. Once applied leave the piece overnight. The following day give the item a light buff with a clean cloth ( I use old cotton tee shirts).
I hope this quick overview has helped, please don't hesitate to comment below if you have any questions.
Last year hubby and I made a long trip to North Devon to collect two wardrobes I won on Ebay (that is another story in itself). When I laid eyes on this one I knew instantly I wouldn't be selling it. It was perfect for us to transform into the French style Armoire with chicken wire I had been coverting for some years.
I think it turned out pretty well.
I gave hubby the job of taking the door panel out and putting in the chicken wire.
Huge drawer at the bottom for storing all sorts of useful bits and pieces. Sorry couldn't take a pic of it open as it is full of unattractive bits and can't possibly photograph them on om blog !
Hubby put two large shelves in to give me lots of room to store my vintage china.
Unfortunately I can't find my before picture I took of the wardrobe, but here is the picture as it appeared on Ebay.
Looking forward to filling it up with wonderful white vintage finds.
I love white, all the rooms in my home have white walls but about 6 years ago I saw some stunning wallpaper in Laura Ashley called Summer Palace. It was on 70% reduction so I snapped up all the rolls they had left in the bin and hurried home to tell hubby he had some decorating to do. You can see it in the staircase makeover HERE .
Six years down the line Summer Palace has become really popular and the final nail in its coffin to keep it in my house, was when I saw it decoupaged on a piece of furniture in a shop ! Sorry hubby but time to decorate the hallway again. Luckily he agreed as the paper was starting to look a little grubby and faded.
On a trip to B & Q to buy paint supplies I noticed some beautiful, bright paper on sale. Again massively reduced and also the final batch as it was going out of production. Yippee, not only reasonably priced but also hopefully never to be seen again for sale so I won't have to suffer seeing it decoupaged somewhere (I hope). The only problem was it would mean I would have to also re-paint my beloved pink stairs !
I found this mirror at the vintage trading company in Exeter. A large gilt piece, I painted white and lightly distressed. Looks perfect.
I painted the chair in a dip dye style. I recently painted a dressing table for a customer in a similar style and loved it so much I have decided to paint a few more pieces.
Love my hubbie's attention to detail in how he matched the wallpaper up round the corner.
Sorry about the quality of the photographs I really do need to save up for a proper camera and stop using my phone !
I am always on the lookout for companies who support independent designers and sellers.
One of my favourite online sites is Made.com who make it their business to cut out the middle man ensuring the best prices are available to the customer. They do this by having no physical stores and by grouping together online orders every 7 days. The orders are then placed with the maker/designer to go into production and therefore only making what is required. Its a great idea and ensures the customer gets the best possible price for their piece.
You can normally save upto 70% on the high street retail value and the even better news is they currently have a sale on !
Some of my favourite pieces at the moment are :
Fonteyn Drinks Trolley Today's price £169 - Regular Price £239 - High street price £395
The Bowie Table Lamp Today's Price £49 - Typical high street price £373
Kitson stools x 2 todays price £99 - Typical high street £320
I am looking for something a bit special for my hallway. Think this might be on the shopping list, I love the industrial look of the Starkey Cluster Pendant light.
oh and just in case you were wondering, no this is not a sponsored post. I am popping it on my blog because I just simply love this company!
One of the perks of people knowing I upcycle and paint furniture is I am often offered items they are throwing out and on one occasion two massive pots of virtually unused paint ! The paint in question is not your ordinary everyday kind of paint. Oh no! Its the top of the range Dulux Trade Diamond Matt in the colour of the moment Dove Grey. This paint has superior durability, covers like a dream, as hard wearing as they come, can be wiped clean and most importantly has a matt finish. (so works well if you like a chalk paint kind of finish).
Normally out of my price range I was thrilled to receive the paint from the very lovely School mum friend and set to work immediately on dark wood items that needed a solid undercoat. Just about to start a commission for a customer, it was also a perfect colour for the job!
Once I completed the commission and still only halfway down the pot of paint ! (goes a long way does quality paint) I looked around for more items in my own home requiring a lick of paint. With the twins away at Grandma's and No 1 son away on his holiday in Turkey, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some decorating in the house. Time to change the staircase (AGAIN).
Newly painted staircase. Intend to put the stencil back on them again and still toying with the idea of putting a white stripe up the centre but I'll wait until hubby finishes the new wallpaper before I decide. Also think I might fill the very tall wall with bits and bobs I have collected on my thrifty travels.
Next I headed to the bedroom to start on the cupboard which houses my linens and has stared accusingly at me for the last few years. A lovely piece of stag furniture in its day it just had to have a paint job I'm afraid.
Sorry about the dress dummy, I use her to display clothes I sell online and she wears this beautiful silk nightie and dressing gown to remind me to try and stick to a diet for my holidays !
I even found these gorgeous grey candles on a recent (rare) trip to Ikea.
I am really pleased with the result. It still needs a bit more wax and a buff, but thanks to Helen's paint it transformed this piece of furniture and really brings the rest of the bedroom furniture together.
I picked this rocking chair up at a bootsale last year for £10. I nearly passed out when I saw it and virtually ran over to the stall holder. I have done nothing to it except clean it and absolutely LOVE it in all its chippy grey painted glory.
Found the grey slip ons in the Next sale for £14. Not normally a shop I go into these days, but was pleased I did on this occasion.
Mirror found on Ebay about 6 years ago. Paid very little for it. Grey and white designer throw on the bed purchased for £30 from TKMaxx. Silk (look) curtains purchased for a song in the sale at Dunelm mill. Bedside cabinets found in the recycling centre, pair for £10 and painted in Helen's perfect Dulux paint.
There you go, amazing what one tin of paint can do. Thank you again Helen !