DIY Off-Piste

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If you are a DIY-er like me, then you know that projects do not always go according to plan… Sometimes, the thing you have envisioned so perfectly in your brain (which, for me, usually involves lying awake at night, figuring out how to make that vision into reality), ends up looking….well…. a bit crappy. There is even a big trend in the blogosphere of posting your most hilarious DIY failures.

But, sometimes, things work the other way and, though your finished project ends up looking nothing like your original plan, it ends up looking…. SO MUCH BETTER!
This is what keeps DIY-ers going– this SO MUCH BETTER THAN I IMAGINED result is the equivalent of DIY crack, Gentle Reader. It’s like seeing a unicorn.

I had just such a unicorn moment last week when I finally got around to making over a picture frame I picked up in the As-Is room at IKEA for a whopping $7.  I liked it because of the size of the mat– I am a sucker for an oversized photo mat, I must say. But I hated the cheap, damaged, faux-wood frame. Of course, as you know, I never met a bargain I didn’t want to paint, so home it came with me. My original plan was to  copy er, emulate these frames:

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I got started with my Annie Sloan chalk paint, but not even Annie would cover the weird, slick surface of the laminate frame. Frustrated and in a hurry (when am I not?), I wiped off the paint and gave the frame a quick sanding and then primed it. Next, Annie Sloan, but the colour was too yellow. So, I added a couple of coats of Farrow and Ball’s All White.

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And then, the unicorn moment: being in a hurry, I started to paint on the gold (how I LOVE this gold craft paint— it is soooo perfect!) before the white was totally dry, figuring I’d just go back and tape off the clean lines once things were dry and then fill in the gold up to the tape line. BUT, the gold paint goes on in a beautiful, sheer way and I really liked the way it created an ombré effect. Luckily, I had to sleep on it, as the paint was not dry enough to tape off. When I returned to the project the next day, I realized that the way the white and gold faded into each other really could not be improved upon.
Another coat or two of gold to add depth and I was done.

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And, then, I put the mat in and the sample of Timorous Beasties’ Thistle hand-inked wallpaper and there, Interwebz, was the unicorn: it looked sooooo good!  SO MUCH BETTER THAN I’D IMAGINED!
(Even M had to admit it was an impressive finished project. 😉 )

Also, just signed up for Bloglovin‘. I know. I’m very late to the party.

 

 

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Roses Are Red

 … and pink and white and orange and…

One of the spur-of-the-moment projects I found myself taking on this weekend was a make over of our china cabinet. We got this piece on sale about 15 years ago and it is wonky and endearing and I love it. We use it every day, as our dishes live in it (because our kitchen lacks space for them), but I suddenly thought it could use a little brightening up. And I wanted to use fabric, not paint, to do the job….

Useful, but ready for a facelift.

Useful, but ready for a facelift.

In the end, I remembered Elsie’s shelves and thought, “Hey! I could do that!”  I decided to paint part and “upholster” part of the cabinet’s interior. So I grabbed my (you guessed it) Annie Sloan Old White and painted up the shelves and interior sides of the cabinet. I wanted to use leftover ikat from the office, but didn’t have enough, so I had to find something suitable and suitably cheap to use for the fabric lining.

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I found a Ted Baker-inspired print chiffon scarf at H&M and knew it would look great on the back wall of the cabinet. I used a decoupage product that promised not to be sticky or to require a top coat (because that extra step seemed like the kind of thing I’d rather not have to do…)  and it worked pretty well, once I got the hang of it.  Working on a vertical surface made it a bit tricky, but once I figured out I had to work in tiny “slices,” rather than slathering the whole surface at once, things went more smoothly. The task was easy, but a pain in the backside, so only tackle it if you are feeling patient.

Best of all? The fabric can be easily removed if (who are we kidding? WHEN) I change my mind!

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I like the way the vintage china and glassware really pops against the new interior.

Dippity-do DIY

As M has (not so gently) pointed out, I am a bit obsessed these days with the whole “dipped” look. In getting our office makeover spruced up*, I have used that look as a kind of unifying motif.

When the time came to hang/rehang our pictures and artwork, I wanted to swap out all our dark frames for white and cream-coloured ones so that they provide some contrast against the deep, dark walls. I also wanted to add something that was not just a rectangular frame to the wall. Enter one of the wooden initials I picked up years ago and which have been leaning in various vignettes around the house.

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In under half an hour, I transformed the black M into a crisp, on-trend little item to add to our gallery wall in the office.

First, I painted the top of the letter with Annie Sloan’s Old White chalk paint, leaving the bottom unpainted. Once that was dry, I taped off the upper part of the letter, being careful to cover the whole thing and to keep the line good and straight. Next, I applied a few coats of gold spray paint and then peeled the painters’ tape away veeeeeery sloooooowly so as not to pull off any of the paint.

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I want to get something long and vertical to hang next to the M and to bring the “shape” of the frame cluster down lower, but for now I am pretty happy with the whole thing. I love the gold-dip on the letter and the way it sort of “pops” against the dark wall.  (You will have to trust me– it is very hard to take a good photo in a small room with dark walls, it turns out. 🙂 )

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Happy Weekend!

*we are nearly there, I promise!

Thanks Ever So!

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Recently my fella and I went away for a weekend to attend a Very Fun Wedding with his family. We had an amazing time (see: laugh until your sides are sore), but before we could go, we had to find someone to look after our fur children for us while we were away. Enter my fabulous friend, D. She willingly volunteered to be our cat-sitter and did a bang-up job of providing food, water, litter-scooping services and the all-important playing and snuggling duties.

Of course P arrived just in time to act as Supervisor and Photobomber-in-Chief.

Of course P arrived just in time to act as Supervisor and Photobomber-in-Chief.

I knew I wanted to thank D with a basket full of all the fixin’s for Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, but I had no basket. Our house is in an uproar, so all my crafty supplies are totally out of reach, leaving me without any suitable vessel for corralling the supplies. Serendipitously, I stumbled upon the perfect curbside find on my morning walk!

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A scrub, a few coats of paint, a bit of Liberty fabric to tie in the British theme and ta-da: a Pimm’s-worthy basket to load up with all the necessary ingredients to thank a kind friend.

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N.B. There is NO WAY to include a cucumber in a gift basket in a way that does not provoke snickering. Believe me, I tried. 🙂

Chalk it up…

…to the joys of experimentation.

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I loved the old, worn, peeling paint on this Very Useful Hutch I bought a few years ago. But it was time for a face-lift in order to make the piece work as part of Project Dressing Room. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what, exactly, I wanted to do in terms of giving the hutch a makeover. I knew, however, that my good friend Annie Sloan would not let me down and I was right!  I did prime, just because I did not want to waste my pricey paint on the very old, very dry wood– I figured it would just drink up all that paint and I’d need 6 coats to cover! I did no sanding at all, though (I was worried about lead-based paint, as the piece is over 80 years old)– I just painted Old White on the inside and Graphite on the outside, right over all the old, chipping paint. There is a bit of texture in the final effect, which I quite like.

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I wanted the hutch to have a slightly quirky, whimsical touch, in keeping with the somewhat irreverent, modern/vintage mix I am aiming for in the dressing room. Enter NEON pink craft paint! I ended up mixing it with some of Annie’s Old White for more opaque coverage, as the craft paint was very sheer and streaky.

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Finally, I added some chalk drawings and a soupçon of French (“but well, there you go!”) to the front. I can erase it and change it up any time I like. Also, it’s easy to remove if I get tired of the look and I can quickly paint out the neon legs if I decide I want a more sober, traditional look one day in the future. In case I ever When I grow up.

Not only does it provide very useful storage for all my handbags,
the finished product also serves as an outstanding cat perch.

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At Last

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Remember this cabinet? I managed to finagle it from the soft-hearted lady guarding the pile of trash at the transfer station in the spring and have been meaning to paint it ever since.

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Now that I have Annie on my side, I decided to abandon the colour I’d chosen (sorry, Sarah!) and go with my new favourite, Graphite. I painted the inside with Old White.

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Even M is impressed by the transformation, pronouncing the finished product “a very nice cabinet,” which is high praise indeed, coming from my taciturn fella.

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Now that it looks so much better, what the heck am I gonna DO with it?!
I will keep you posted and let you know if/when I find a home for it.
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It’s The Little Things

We are lucky to have a guest room in our little house.
We are also lucky to have two (perfect!) cats.
Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have guests.
Sometimes those guests are allergic to our furry babies.
To help mitigate this problem, I keep a few supplies on-hand for those guests who find themselves feeling a bit sneezy.

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BMad gave me this funky old silverware box and, with a coat or two of Annie Sloan‘s Emperor’s Silk, mixed with a dab of Old White, it is the perfect little spot to stash a few little essentials for our guests.

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I thought it might be nice to unify the packaging of the not-so-pretty allergy pills, so I made little envelopes from wrapping paper.

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I wrote the dosage on the outside of the package so that no one is in danger of overdosing on decongestants. 🙂

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I also included some tissues (we can’t have boxes of them because we have cats who enjoy EATING tissues…)
and the wi-fi password on a little card so that guests can log in and use their phones, laptops or tablets.

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Blackboard Jungle

I have been meaning for months to do this post, but until Annie came along, I felt a bit daunted at the prospect of dragging out my regular chalk paint (which is highly smelly/toxic) and so I just kept putting it off. But now that I can whip up chalk painted ANYTHING in mere minutes, there’s no stopping me! 🙂

You have probably seen similar on Pinterest,
but here is my version of how to make an erasable “chalkboard” notebook:

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I got my notebook at the dollar store.

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Ta-da! Quick, easy, inexpensive and fun to make. This would be a cute gift, don’t you think?
I think I’ll use some glitter tape on the next one I make.

A Little Jewel (Box)

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Here is the finished product!

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I started with a coat of Provence, but it looked a bit drab. To spice it up, I mixed a bit of Provence into some Florence and added a smidgen of Old White. It ended up being less pastel than I had hoped, but I still think it looks cute.

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The refreshed jewelry chest now sits next to my sewing machine, providing a home for bits & bobs such as ink pads, letter stamps, bobbins, mini-clothespins, gift tags and paper punches.

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