Sunday, 29 April 2012

making pretty - master bedroom

As part of making my house in Fentonbury livable, the bedroom has had a bit of a makeover. I've taken up some furniture and bedding from here in order to make it pretty. I made the word art frame specifically for this room, and the pillow, to tie in the reds I've used in the decor. I seem to have a thing about red at the moment... My little pig in the red jumper fits right in. Love that little guy.

You can read about how I made the artwork here.

The bedside table is a little 60's cabinet I found at an op shop a few years ago. It had a horrible laminate top which overhung the cabinet sides and those angled legs. I replaced the legs with solid little straight legs and lined the top with tongue in groove pine. The glass door is original but the brass knob was a new addition.

I love the swirly 50's carpet in this bedroom, though I know not a lot of people do. Then again, I love the big old rose carpets of the period as well. I saw them in a carpet shop not long ago and am so tempted... hehehe.

An old wicker chair, formerly used on the porch, sits in the corner of the bedroom creating a cosy corner to sit. My repurposed box/side table/bookcase on wheels next to the chair keeps books handy. It doesn't really fit in that room, but it will do for now.

I have a million more projects on the go, one of them might suit the room better once its finished. And if I ever get to work from home more, I'm sure I'll be making a lot more items of furniture for my home.

For now I'm taking it easy. Last night I had a terribly sore middle left hand finger (and I was not doing rude signs with it!) so I didn't do much. This morning the finger was swollen. Its not as sore, but its twice the size at the second knuckle. Who knows what I did. Maybe it was making semolina pudding the way mom used to make it. That frypan is darn heavy when its full.

Maybe it was cooking dinner - a mango curry which stained my dishes yellow.

If it was either of those then I have a good excuse for not making dinner tonight! :)


DIY - tealight holder or...?

When we first moved to the farm we found all kinds of goodies in amongst the piles of rubbish we are still battling with. Among the goodies was this:

I  had no idea what it was. It has holes at one end through which I presumed bolts would go to keep it clamped shut. Wayne said its something to do with locking up rifles. Since I have no idea about rifles I'll take his word for it.

Anyway, I thought surely there must be a use for it. Its an interesting item, the timber weathered and the paint worn off in places. In short: it was my kind of 'thing'.

I decided that if I clamped it together it could work as a tealight holder. A table centrepiece, if you will. I envisaged the pieces clamped together with leather thongs, tied in the many interesting knots which Wayne knows how to do, sitting on a table on our deck on warm summer nights.

Till then I decided I could make use of it in Gully Road. I found some tiny glasses, filled them with white decorative gravel, added a couple of drops of lavender oil... tied the blocks together with raffia - voila! A pretty, nice smelling addition to the bathroom.


Friday, 27 April 2012

decorating with imagination

As you know, I have a thing about decorating. I love looking at decorating books, websites and magazines. Last week I checked some books out of the library hoping to find some inspirations for our home (it pays to plan in advance) so I thought I'd share some photos from one book which really struck me as things to keep in mind.

Since I can't link back to a website for these photos here are the book details:
Hand Made Home - Living with art and craft by Mark & Sally Bailey, Ryland Peters & Small ISBN 978-1-84975-155-1

Of course the book was jam packed full of great photos, textures, colours, spaces and wonderful ideas. I couldn't include them all, but here is a taste.

This bathroom wall made from vintage ceiling tiles holds a collection of vintage garden tools. I just love collections of things. I have a few collections and I'm always expanding the number of collections and the collections themselves. So far, of course, the hands-down winner is the poodle collection. I don't think any of the others stands a chance against the poodles.

But then, there's only so much decorating you can do with poodle figurines and stuffed toys... unless you're aiming for "early Sandra Dee"...

A wobbly handcrafted bowl holds a wonderful collection of old coppy and brass watering can roses. Now I feel the need to find and collect watering can roses!

A weathered old table, a new sink & mixer tap, an old framed mirror stripped to bare wood create a rustic feel in this bathroom. Gotta love that combination of new and old.

Ditto here, new sink and tap on an old cupboard for the kitchen.

I probably won't do this in my kitchen, but I do want a butler's sink, a long gooseneck tap and chunky timber benchtops with white timber cupboards. I don't want a modern, all built-in kitchen, but I don't have that kind of space to play with.

I just love this free, expressionistic painting of chickens. I am inspired.... I want to make one of my own featuring our own chooks.

Below, gorgeous simple curtains made from stitching together natural linen towels with pieces of gingham for a bit of colour. And a curtain made from pieces of sheer fabric sewn together in a graphic pattern to form a sheer curtain which allows filtered light into the room.

Love these handmade apples made by artist Eiko Yoshida, using twigs, recycled paper, magazines, envelopes (complete with stamps) and corrugated cardboard.

Clever and very pretty. If I had the patience I think I could make something like this.

Now, that I've lulled you into a false sense of security regarding the beauty of this blog contents, here is a reality check.

I went into the office to find this the other day:

Yep. That was the new, still in its box, magnetic flyscreen I bought to try out on the outside door. And yep, Barney got bored and ate it.

This is Barney - a wiry haired black mut of mixed parentage.

This is Mischa. His poor long suffering mother. She lies in the office doorway, guarding and being good while Barney finds things to chew.

If he doesn't find some manners soon this house will once more become a Barney Free Zone.

Meanwhile, our plumber is finally here, replacing all those pipes. The yard actually looks worse now than when Wayne started digging up pipes over a week ago. Its rained this week, and let me just say, the poodles who were formerly white are now a dusty brown.

Hopefully this is it for the big jobs around here. For now at least. We're both over the big stuff. Oh, I know there is more big stuff to come (don't tell Wayne, but I have plans...) however it'd be nice to have water that runs out of the shower when it should, doors that close as they should, etc.

Then I can concentrate on the smaller projects I can take care of myself!


Monday, 23 April 2012

DIY - mosaic makeovers

I got the best comment from a reader the other day. A lovely lady from North Carolina wrote in to let me know that she loved my blog and that my makeovers had inspired her to do some stuff for her own house. Welcome to the blog Victoria. I hope my blog continues to amuse and inspire you.

Today I have two mosaic projects to share. They're easy to do and I know that when Merrill gave me a hand with one of them she became all excited and went off and did her own kitchen table top! It now looks a million times better and she's rightfully proud of it.

the school desk

My first mosaic project was a small school desk. This was an old school desk I bought at a country school fair for $2. I bought 3 of them... You can never have enough small timber tables. Or cabinets. Or frames...

Anyway, this is what the table looked like when I got it.

I cleaned it up and used it on the porch for a while, I have pretty much just moved in to my house in Fentonbury then.

When I started making the porch look pretty and inviting, I realised I needed a table to sit coffee cups and books on. I looked around and thought one of the school desks would do perfectly with a makeover.

I had never tried mosaic till then, but how hard can it be, right? I looked it up online and got my supplies. I undercoated the table and got right to it.

I decided to make a pattern using small square tiles (I did have to break some in the end) but I tried to keep it as simple as possible. Once the tiles were set in place with the glue, I grouted with vanilla coloured grout cause I didn't want it too whte.

Finally I gave the table a coat of Antique White USA (do you ever get tired of hearing that colour mentioned?) and it was done.

The table is now acting as a small desk in the purple room in Fentonbury with the small fold up chair I found at a farm auction a few years ago. I got it free cause no one else saw the potential of it and it was on the rubbish pile. Unlike the galvanised watering can I paid $50 for...

It was my first auction... I got into a war with a lady over it... Thats now on my list of things never to do again.


All I did to the chair was sand off most the peeling old red paint and estapol it.

the pine cupboard

Once upon a time there was a footlocker type cupboard... It was meant to sit underneath this wardrobe of Wayne's to hold shoes I imagine... But when we moved to Wind Dancer it wouldn't fit in the tiny room which has become Wayne's walk-in wardrobe. The ceilings are too low in this house for such high wardrobes.

For a while it sat on the small deck and did, in fact, hold boots and shoes. It was plain pine, and thus ugly in my opionion. I thought it'd look much better painted white, distressed and with a pretty top. The top wasn't meant to be seen so was just chipboard.

Sorry I don't have any before photos. It was just too ugly.

I'd found these old crazed green tiles at a tip shop, very old fashioned. They were the inspiration for the top.

First thing I did with that was move it from the porch to the garage where I would work on it. I figured that since it was heavy and since it needed distressing anyway, I would push and roll it up the driveway thus killing two birds with one stone: transportation and distressing.

The gravel gave it some nice dents and scratches.

I undercoated, then painted the cupboard a pale green which I tried to match to the tiles, then ... YEP! Antique White USA. (I have loads of the stuff, I gotta use it up!)

When the paint was dry I rubbed some watered down burnt sienna artists acrylic into the cracks and scratches to give it an aged look.

Next I broke the green tiles and after sacrificing one which, like Humpty Dumpty, could never be put back together again, I found a technique which allowed me to break tiles then put them onto the top in the right shape!  (Thanks Merrill - she helped with this!)

I used plain white tiles I found at tip shops, not all the same thickness, broke those and used them in a random fashion to achieve a contrast between the oblongs of green and the randomness of the white. The result is an uneven 'textured' surface with a sort of geometric pattern.

Of course, you always run out of grout before you finish...

And the edges were really rough. I had to find a way to finish those off smoothly which I did by some sanding and some imaginative grouting.

Lastly, the cupboard needed new handles. I got Wayne to make me some spoon handles. Very cute.

The cupboard was intented to live on the porch to hold boots and provide a spot to sit to pull them on, plus hold a pot plant or two. Since the porch is still a hold-all for timber and tools for other 'not quite finished' projects, its been useful in the grooming room to hold blankets.

For the time being its found a home in Fentonbury.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

making pretty - the living room

You already saw stage one of styling the living room, but here is a quick stage two.

Firstly, I got a globe for the lamp, that helps, then I cleaned the entertainment unit which had been sitting in Merrill's garage for over a year. It came up pretty well... amazing what a wash will do!

I got out my knitting needles and put them and some gorgeous white wool into a felt basket I couldn't resist on that infamous trip to Spotlight... (don't tell Wayne). I think it adds that homey feel. After all, I always have craft projects lying around my living room... the fact that I don't knit has nothing to do with it. I can learn!

Till now, the only use I've ever had for knitting needles is parting poodle hair!

The shelves below may be empty (I haven't taken up a DVD player yet) but the top looks nice with one of my favourite vases full of decorative sticks, the obligatory decorating magazines (well I have to find somewhere to put them!) and a pair of old wooden stirrups.

(forgive the blur...must clean my lense)

Looking the other way you can see the square coffee table (thanks Merrill) between the couch and armchair which creates a cosy sitting/watching tv or chatting arrangement. The lamp consists of two tip shop finds: the base from one shop and the shade from another.

And in case anyone with a keen eye notices the wierd fact that the back door has a solid timber panel in the middle of what looks like a french door... well, thats the window Bonnard went through one night a couple of years ago - almost slicing his front leg off in the process. Given that I was keeping Bonnard I opted not to replace the glass!

Ah, good times...

On the other side of the living room is an L which leads to the kitchen and to the bathroom. This is one of those spaces which is kind of nowhere... not really part of the living room, not really part of the kitchen. But in a way its the perfect spot for the armchair... its a great spot to sit and read if you dont want to go into the living room, not to mention a good spot to sit and chat to the person cooking (Wayne) or the person washing dishes (me).

I had a big bookcase along the long wall there for a while, then a huge painting and a display cabinet and a small chest. Now I have a comfy armchair (mate to the couch) and one of Wayne's cupboards I got my grimy little hands on a while ago (more on that later).

Lastly, a look into the living area from the kitchen.

Nice. Spacious yet cosy. Warm and inviting.


making pretty - the dining room

As you know, I've had my house in Fentonbury up for sale since December. We came within a whisker of having it sold but the sale fell through, partly due, no doubt, to the fact that the place was rented out and looked like one of those houses that bring down values in a neighbourhood.

You know the type: long grass, overgrown bushes, 5 cars parked all over the yard plus various motorbikes, quad bikes and trailers, a caravan (naturally), a trampoline and swingset, a loose dog, loud music echoing across the valley, a cloud of suspicious smelling smoke emanating from behind the shed, black plastic on the windows of said shed, a worm farm on the front porch and a dead wallaby decomposing in the back yard.... and that's on a good day!

Now the house is empty I've been working towards making it pretty again. Last week Merrill helped me take up some furniture, and today Wayne started trimming bushes in the yard. It was overgrown before. Now its like the Big Bush Massacre of 2012.

I tried to explain, there's a fine line between pruning and killing.

He insists he knows what he's doing.


Anyway, I thought I'd share some photos of the house now. Besides the furniture I have on loan from Rosie at 20th Century Artifacts in New Norfolk and the items Merrill has loaned me, I pretty much used what I had.

So... first tour, the dining room. Its the first room you enter when you enter the house. This room, as well as the living room, bathroom and hallway, were all wood panelled after I bought the house. The paint colour in here is Dulux Vast Escape.

The table is an old 60s table which we had in our kitchen when I was growing up. When I moved out Mom gave it to me. It went from Griffith, NSW to Athens, Greece, back to Australia to Melbourne and now to Tasmania. Its a pretty well travelled table.

The chairs came from a 2nd hand shop in Melbourne many years ago. Since the colour scheme of the day is deep red, I bought a dark red table runner and red roses for the table.

The curtains were recycled from Merrill's house to Wind Dancer's guest room to here. Swapping curtains is another hobby of mine...

My collection of white vases comes in handy as display on the built-in bookcase. A couple of my wildlife paintings to add a bit of colour and an old fan, some old books and an egg basket full of balls of twine add a touch of interest.

The fireplace was painted grey when I bought the house, but I stripped off the paint to expose the original brickwork. The brown over the fireplace is Dulux Columbia and matches the feature wall in the living room.


Since I didn't have any artwork to hang on the wall above the mantle, I've used empty frames, a shabby candle stick, a vase and some stars made of sticks and wire. Oh, and a small teddy bear I made with paper pulp - my first attempt at paper pulp and I really enjoyed it.

A cosy armchair provides a spot to sit and read near the fireplace on cold evenings. The hallway is painted a similar colour to the dining room, a shade darker, in Dulux Sand Dune.

The bookshelf next to the armchair holds some board games (cause I love playing on quiet evenings at home) and some art books. I added a lamp stand with a bare light bulb. I found this at the tip shop yesterday and love the height of it next to the armchair.

I needed a bit more colour in that spot and I had a basket... I went outside to where Wayne was hacking up a holly bush and grabbed some twigs...

 Some old books, a couple of jars of walnuts (why not?) and old kitchen scales complete the bookshelf.

That's all for now. I gotta get some sleep! Stay tuned for the kitchen - coming next!


Saturday, 21 April 2012

DIY - the many lives of a cabinet

I love collecting old bits of furniture. The only reason I dont live in a house with narrow walkways between towers of furniture is that I am also pretty good at controlling my urge to acquire.

Not having much money helps too.

As does the occasional purging of things I dont need. I have a good relationship with the owner of an antique shop in New Norfolk and have sold a few things through her in the past.

My biggest regret is that I can't buy all the bits and pieces I would love to have, to upcycle, renew and make over.

Actually my biggest regret is that its really not easy to find interesting old furniture at affordable prices any more.

There are days when I wish I didn't have to work so I could spend my days making over furniture... maybe one day...

So. The title mentions a cabinet so I guess I better get on with it!

I found this little cabinet in a 2nd hand shop in New Norfolk many years ago. I liked the shape of it and needed something for the bathroom so I grabbed it.

I didn't have to do much to it, clean it up and re-paint it to refresh it mainly. A good clean and paint inside mostly, cause it had been used in a shed and had paint stains on the shelves.

I kept the old handle though cause its interesting with the old paint chipping off.

This cabinet has been used in almost every room of the house so far. It started life in my bathroom in Fentonbury where it held cleaning products, soaps and bathmats.

It then got moved the bedroom where it was my bedside table for a while.

When we moved to Wind Dancer Farm, I put it in the guest room and kept spare blankets in it.

Now its back in Fentonbury, in the kitchen.

Yes... the skirt on the bottom is broken on one side. I didn't want to fix it cause imperfections are part of the charm. I love my little cabinet in all its wonkiness.