House Renovation: The Bedroom – part 2

There is another alcove in my bedroom that I didn’t show in the last post, it’s quite a difficult space as it doesn’t get a lot of natural light and it’s an awkward shape due to it being where the chimney breast runs up the house. dsc_0098_1502728683After a lot of thought, I fell in love with the idea of a glass display cabinet, ideally full of rows of my shoes. Yes, shoes again. I have a lot of them. To be fair I’ve been collecting them for years and years it’s very rare these days that I spend any money on myself, but the joy of my liking retro style heals is they never go out of fashion (as they are rarely in fashion!).dsc_0096_1502728672-1I spent a lot of time hunting on eBay for the perfect piece at the right price. The big problem is obviously no-one is willing to deliver glass so I got very excited when I found a cabinet on a charity auction site with postage costs and at a very reasonable price. It was in a bit of a state so was going to be a gamble, but the low price meant it wouldn’t be disastrous if it didn’t work out.s-l1600 copyIt was delivered by Parcelforce (I’m not kidding!) wrapped in a lot of bubble wrap and cardboard but survived intact. The wrapping was genius, if I remember correctly.

DSC_0172The first job was to try and revive the very scratched woodwork. For this, I went old school, and rubbed it down with an oil and vinegar mix and wow! DSC_0031What a difference it made. It was an almost miraculous recovery. It was so long ago that I’m not fully sure, but I think I then gave it two coats of Danish Oil before hunting down some old lock escutcheons on eBay. They were very cheap and once they arrived, I  liked the bakelite one best.DSC_0033As the door stayed shut nicely, I  just added a modern brass rabbit knob instead of trying to find a replacement key for the lock….just look at how pretty the wood looks in comparison to the top eBay sale photos.DSC_0042There is a matching rabbit used as a knob on the eaves cover just to the left. I used up all my leftover brass furniture handles and knobs on the eaves doors, so it’s quite nice as they are mostly mismatched, which I like; it was coincidence these two ended up near each other.DSC_0025I love this piece of furniture. It cost very little and works really well to fill the dark space as it allows light to pass through, is quite shallow in depth and, most importantly, I get to put pretty things on display!DSC_0038DSC_0032The light on top came from Graham and Green and the gorgeous candle which smells amazing as well as being beautiful was a Christmas present (it’s by Fornasetti).IMG_20190222_111532These were the original pictures in the space, but I’d promised myself that one treat when the room was complete would be buying new images as pay off for all the hard work (these ones have gone somewhere else – the wedding photo was my 18th birthday gift from my Mum, she found it in an antique shop and knew I’d like it, the tapestry was stitched by my Gran and used to be in my bedroom when I was a kid).DSC_0036 2The two framed photos are from King and McGaw and I absolutely LOVE them. They are both vintage Vogue photos.Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 14.06.40Vogue Early September 1960 by Don HoneymanScreenshot 2019-06-28 at 14.05.04and Felt and velvet mandarin hat by John French. They would really be nicer as larger images but I had to stay smaller to fit in the space.DSC_0056The final thing to go on the wall is a little frame with some of my vintage brooches on.DSC_0065It’s just a cheap photo frame from Sainsbury’s taken apart and a chunk of cork board covered with white linen put back in where the glass should be. It allows me to display my brooches but also take them down easily to wear and the sparkle from the stones is really nice in the darkened corner.

House Renovations: The Bedroom part 1

This is going to be a very photo heavy post and slightly for my own records really, so, sorry.

When we moved here the house was pretty much an empty shell, one of the bigger jobs was to convert the loft space and create a master bedroom, with en-suite bathroom.DSC_0285_2It was very exciting at the time (nearly 14  years ago, I guess).DSC_0223.JPGAll the plaster in the house was sprayed white at the very beginning and that’s pretty much where it ended in the bedroom. Even the blind was one I’d removed from the old house and adjusted to fit. The room didn’t even get skirting boards.DSC_0023Come 4 years ago and it was very much on my hit list to be done. I’ve become quite handy with basic woodwork so I put on all the skirting, sanded and oiled the remaining flooring (most had been done but there were a few patches still to do) and then moved onto the painting.DSC_0027One of the joys of being single is I get to do whatever I like to the house. I love that. After 10 years of all white, I was getting a bit bored and was in the mood for some colour. I took a lead from this fabulous vintage barkcloth fabric which I had in my stash (and hoped to use for the blind) and a notion that I really wanted to introduce some green to the room.DSC_0025 2After lots of tester tins, I went with Farrow & Ball Green Blue. It was only ever for the end wall and the alcoves, the other walls I intended to keep neutral.IMG_20170226_085538(1)The floating bookshelves are Umbra Concealed Floating Bookshelves (you can buy them on Amazon) and the watercolour is a vintage one by Yorkshire artist Angus Rands. I liked the colours in the painting (it’s one I inherited from Mum) and it’s propped there so I can use the colours as inspiration. I often do that, base a rooms colours on some fabric, or a painting.il_570xN.1084519279_sj9cThe problem was, I  struggled with the new paint colour. It felt slightly cold (this was back in March 2017, I think, – oh yes, that’s how long it can take me to finish and blog a project!) and when I’d been searching for fabric for blinds, I’d fallen in love with this amazing original barkcloth on Etsy. It nearly killed me to buy a second tin of paint and re-paint the wall, partly due to the cost of Farrow & Ball paint, but I  changed it to Breakfast Room Green and ordered the new fabric and then took that as my colour lead for the rest of the room. I am dying to use Arsenic somewhere in the house, but it didn’t go with the new fabric, sadly.DSC_0029The other walls were painted in Slipper Satin, which I love and use a lot.DSC_0007I had the added complication of needing to make a blind for the internal window that overlooks the studio (this was me creating the paper pattern). There wasn’t enough of the lovely floral fabric to use it on its ownDSC_0010so I paired it with some dark green linen and some amazing  Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn dyed linen/cotton which has a gold metallic thread running through it in Dusty Rose.DSC_0022The blind is attached with gold hoops stitched on with gold thread and hooked over gold capped mirror screws. It’s hard to explain but it folds back on itself and then gets hooked up onto the wall to ‘open’ the blind. If I’m honest, I rarely open it as the room gets quite good light from the windows and velux and I’m too lazy, even though it only takes a moment.DSC_0017The gold thread in the top pink fabric makes it hard to photograph as it reflects the camera flash and yes, that is some of my extensive Chie Mihara shoe collection. I refer to it as my ‘shoe shop’ corner, complete with a seat ready for trying on – ha ha.DSC_0045I’ve owned the chest of drawers for years – it’s from Habitat, as is the light.DSC_0052The dressing table is also quite old now and originally came from Made (along with the stool). The silk bedspread is one of my favourite things and was bought for a fantastic clearance price from Soak and Sleep.DSC_0061The little vintage vanity case is another of my favourite things and I keep my makeup in it as well as the ‘B’ case which came from Anthropologie.DSC_0059I especially like having some sentimental pieces around and this one was Mum’s – she gave it to me when I was a teenager and I’ve had it ever since, I believe it’s from the 1960s.

You can’t see it (as I forgot to photograph it!) but there are a number of hatches in this room allowing access to the small eaves spaces. I took all the fussy architraving off these and painted them in Elephant’s Breath (also by F&B) which is a kind of pink/grey colour. I just wanted the room to have clean lines and blocks of colour and I think it works really well, I’m very happy with it.

There is a part  2 to this post but I’ll keep it separate as it also contains a lot of photos 🙂

Gran’s Pouffe…

Continuing the ‘nibbling’ I thought it would be good to post some of the half-written blog entries; this one is from 2014 (!!???) and the reason it hasn’t been completed is that I never actually finished the inside of the pouffe so I kicked myself into action and got it done on Friday – hurrah! – another satisfying ‘tick’.

2014….


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Along with my attempts to work on winter things, I am also trying to make a little time to finish projects for myself and the home. Some are long overdue, like covering this pouffe which is past it’s best. It belonged to my Gran and she used it in her bedroom; it had a loose cover on top, in fact, one that I made to match her curtains (I remember, with great guilt, that it took me forever to get around to doing this for her), what you can see above is what was underneath the loose cover and it’s in a bit of a state.

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I believe Gran made it herself and in true sentimental ‘me’ style there is no way I’d ever get rid of it, despite it looking like a dog’s dinner. It has followed me around for many years from home to home (it came to me after Gran passed away) and at one point it had a Marimekko lose cover to match F’s baby room, but I’ve always planned to give it a more permanent finish.

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These photos were taken in November 2012 (2018 – insert eye roll here as even I am amazed it’s been in production for so long!), so I guess that’s when I actually started to put my plan into action. I was up for doing the job properly, I had furniture tacks and everything and with scant memories of upholstery classes whilst doing my degree I was full of enthusiasm but, the honest truth is that the staple gun won in the end and did a very decent job too.

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The fabric is Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric bought from Hus and Hem.

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I’ve had is squirrelled away for quite a while, but, I really like it and wanted to save it for a special project, which I think this is. I like the idea of a bold, slightly oversized print.  I must say, I am slightly worried about sun fade damage, which I think will happen quite quickly (2018 – it hasn’t faded that badly, but then it’s not in direct sunlight and I’ve gone on to buy some of the same fabric to make a door curtain in our utility room to match the bright yellow rubber flooring).

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The pouffe is built from a simple handmade wooden box, similar looking to a wine crate, that’s then covered in wadding and finally a layer of cream fabric.  All of this was base was in an ok condition so I kept it and simply covered over the top.

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Underneath, the original rubber feet had started to disintegrate so they had to go and I replaced them with Kendrick Shepherd casters because I have an obsession with putting everything on casters.  I used some linen that also came from Gran via my Mum (curtains that were left in the farmhouse when Mum and Dad moved in there) and some badly attached bias binding to line the edges.

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And this is where the pouffe got abandoned, as it’s easy to forget that the inside needs doing when it looks OK closed. So we jump to March of this year (we’re still in 2014 here, blimey I dragged this one out!), in the above photo.  I had forgotten I’d taken this, I tend to load photos into blank posts ready to add the words at a later date.  This is Smelly, my cat, I mentioned in an earlier post that she has been ill for a while and the vets couldn’t find out why, despite trying many things and spending a small fortune, sadly she didn’t make it and I had to have her put down at the end of the school holidays. Gutted. I’ve had her for 16 years and it was one of the many ‘pants’ aspects of the hols but, as I said at the start, let’s not dwell…(again, this is all from 2014 and we’ve had two other cats die since!! We also now have two alive and very healthy cats so it’s not all doom and gloom).

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I wanted to copy the original cover as closely as possible, I’d already done the same folding on the sides, next I made a copy of the fabric handles.  I love the bird pattern and wanted to make sure the handles didn’t interfere with the continuity (I spent FOREVER getting the pattern in a good position for the main cover and lid to give maximum appeal) so I took the time to match everything up and I think it works well.

2018

This is clearly as far as I got in both writing the post and the pouffe itself; it’s been sitting in the living room by one of the chairs where it has a lovely wooden chess board on top to stop anyone shoving a coffee cup directly onto the fabric!DSC_0082The hold up was the inside. I had bought some shot orange linen to sew a lining (similar to the original) but it just never got done and the idea didn’t sit well with me either. The original fabric lining was quite stained and dirty and the neat side of my brain couldn’t cope with the same thing happening again, I wanted something more practical inside and that could be wiped and cleaned, if needed.DSC_0087So on Friday, I bought a sheet of MDF and it got a permanent box lining instead. Today it’ll get varnished and then I’m attaching two brass chains on either side of the lid to stop it flopping back and toppling the whole thing over when opened.

Job done 🙂

Cushions and Curtains

I find it very difficult to make time to sew things for the house (or myself), these days, it feels like I’m ‘wasting’ my time when I have more pressing things to do, but I also get a bit down seeing daily jobs that need attention so I’ve really pushed myself over the past year to work through things from the never-ending list and I feel a lot better for it.IMG_20171109_092535Last week I took a day out to sew curtains and cushions for the living room. The curtains were desperately needed as it’s getting cold and the big square bay window can allow a lot of heat loss if not covered by a decent curtain.IMG_20171109_131320The curtains on this window are hung by an Ikea Dignitet wire. I don’t really do traditional curtains, in fact, I generally don’t do curtains at all as I prefer minimalist, modern coverings so most of the windows in this house have roman blinds (always hung outside the frame to allow for maximum light), but on this window blinds aren’t practical. The wire used to hang at the back meaning the small side windows allowed a lot of heat to escape plus it’s a bit creepy in the winter, I always imagine someone is out there looking in at me as I sit on the sofa in my pj’s, as you do. I moved the wire to the front and changed the curtain to one large one hung in a way that it folds neatly and mostly fits in the small side recess when closed, so you can barely see the curtain at all and it allows as much light in as possible. It’s hung oddly with the folds on the far side of the wire so that the curtain hooks show, which is probably not to everyone’s taste but I quite like this.IMG_20171109_131239I shrank the original curtains after washing them recently. Muppet. I’ve reused the fabric as it was expensive linen but I needed the new curtains to be washable and stiffer in order to get the neat folds I was after when closed, so I backed the entire thing in extra wide ‘Opera’ fabric from Tinsmith which has a canvas feel.Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 09.43.33It’s not something I’d normally chose but I really like the idea of it as a surprise backing fabric and it matched the pale green linen from the front perfectly, plus should I ever want to go floral I can reverse the curtains and have the birds and flowers on show instead of the plain linen. The curtain also has a thermal lining sewn into it and some regular curtain tape (purely for stiffness) sandwiched between the layers to aid the firm folds at the top. All the fabrics have been pre-washed and the curtain hooks are removable so it can be taken down and washed in the machine at home. IMG_20171109_093607I had some linen left over and it was a perfect opportunity to get some tapestry cushions made up that have been sitting on the spare bed for months. Everything has come from stock except the two pheasant tapestries, which I bought on eBay for pennies. I had planned to add piping cord but abandoned that idea knowing that these cushions will be heavily used and cotton piping tends to wear away quite quickly on the corners.IMG_20171109_131428In my mind they do look a bit ‘unfinished’ without some piping…or a twisted cord would have been nice too.IMG_20171109_131355But they are done and it’s another thing to tick off the list and that makes me VERY happy.

This weekend I am fitting skirting and painting, cooking Sunday lunch and baking the Christmas pudding! There is no rest for the wicked.

Merry Christmas

Well, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be, and I’m about to log off, relax and enjoy an afternoon glass of wine with (hopefully) some crap Christmas telly.dsc_0206I did finish some of the new aprons, but there wasn’t a chance to photograph them (red is very difficult in good light, but in winter, almost impossible). I’m happy to have the ‘reject’ one to keep and wear on Sunday (I always keep the one I am least happy with), the rest will be for next year now.dsc_0002I bought an extremely cheap box of tat from Ebay…dsc_0004to use with some tree rejects (the things that weren’t strung etc) to make a wreath. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I love it. It only took about 20 mins to make and then a painful hour to fix to the door!dsc_0007It’s on just in time for the weather to turn nasty, as the remains of Storm Barbara head our way. The door has a small overhead porch so I’m hoping it survives alright, but as pretty much everything on there is plastic, it should be OK.freddieSo that’s it. I’m quite excited about not leaving the house for a few days and for the first time in forever, we genuinely don’t have anything planned for almost a week (we do have guests, here and there, but I have a stocked freezer and cupboards, ready). I’m thankful we’re all healthy and happy and together for Christmas so I hope for the same for everyone I know.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 20017.

West Elm Wonderfulness

I’m writing this very early, whilst sitting in bed and drinking coffee, because the very rare occurrence of the boys being away for the weekend means that I can – hurrah! (Sods law I still woke at the crack of dawn, though)dsc_0196I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to work out the best way for me to balance making a living, with looking after the boys. My oldest finally has his official diagnosis and Charlie will (hopefully) be getting his in the coming year. Having children ‘on the spectrum’ means I am quite restricted in the hours I can work, especially with being a single parent, and having gone through a quite difficult transition into Secondary with Felix it just demonstrates to me how dependant the boys will be during certain periods of their lives. So, it really does have to be working from home (for the moment, anyway) as that offers the flexibility I need, and it has to be sewing, as I’ve already invested so much time into establishing a ‘business’, plus it’s the only thing I really know how to do. The difficulty is it’s getting increasingly hard to compete with commercially made items, especially now that ‘vintage’ (sorry, there are lots of quotation marks today…..always makes me thing of Ross in Friends and I cringe slightly that I use them so often!) is so mainstream, and handmade (resisted the urge to stick quotation marks there) is also so fashionable. I’m not complaining, I love how much lovely stuff you can buy these days, I just need to take some time out properly in January and plan how best to present my work to either differentiate it from commercially made things, or to compete on price. I see beautiful pieces of work on a daily basis where I think about the price versus how much I would have to charge for something similar in order to make it scale. Tricky, but doable. I have faith in me 🙂

So, in a slightly tenuous link to above, I’m bringing you some eye candy that you will thank me for.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-06-59-33Every year, I buy the boys some form of decoration critter that goes in their stocking, usually it comes from Anthropologie (See the top photo for this year’s bits and pieces) but as I was reading Facebook this morning, the cutest thing popped up in my targeted adverts from West Elm UK. screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-06-59-18Clearly I’ve shopped there before, for their link to appear in my social media, but I haven’t had a look for ages and I got sucked into a good browse this morning.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-08-24I love the collaborations with artists pieces and this year, I’m really excited to see they’re working with Erika Barratt again (I write again, but to be honest I didn’t know they’d worked with her before until I did some research). How cute are these little ornaments? They are in the sale at the moment on the UK site (sold out in the US, I think).screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-02-15They also have Mimi Kirchner owls!!! screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-06-13Sooooo cute.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-05-22I was a bit gutted to miss out on a Doug the Pug from the ASPCA Animal ornaments (F would have LOVED one of those!)screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-00-31but I did get a couple of Brimley Cats, which the boys will be very exited about (in case you don’t have internet crazy kids, this collection is inspired by famous internet pets).screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-23-29On the US site you can even get tea towels!screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-01-39If the above don’t work for you, what about some Fair Trade handmade ornaments?screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-07-03-01or (and this is probably more my kind of thing, at the moment) some sequin clip-on birds?screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-08-29-57They have quite a few pretty Christmas bits, much at half price right now, so it is worth popping over for a look.

It’s interesting as having put this post together, I realise that at full price many of the little ornaments are actually more expensive than mine, relatively, so perhaps I do need to be more brave with my pricing? One to think on, anyway.dsc_0193We’ve gone for retro tack again this year, our favourite thing being the foil flowers Mum took off some crackers in the 1980’s. You don’t have to try hard to work out who I get my hoarding tendencies from, I mean, who keeps tacky cracker decorations for 30 years!!dsc_0203My plan for today is to wrap gifts, write cards, and it was to photograph a new Christmas apron for the shop, but the light is so bad I don’t think that’s going to be possible…dsc_0187I might even find time to watch Elf and eat a mince pie 🙂

 

Kitty Cats…

I don’t think I’ve been absent from my blog for so long before, I’m not quite sure what happened as I’ve been meaning to write a post for ages, but a bit like when replying to emails, I’m good when I’m on a roll, however, when I drop the ball for a while I really struggle to get going again and then I feel guilty for not replying and put it off further.  Stupid really.  I have a saying with the boys about eating the frog, ie getting the thing done first that you don’t want to do as then you can relax and do the fun stuff rather than worrying about munching amphibians.  Not that writing this blog is like eating a frog, but it can feel that way when you’re out of the groove.

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I remember mentioning, last year, that the Easter holidays had been a bit crappy, one of the bad elements was that my lovely can Smilla died, and it wasn’t a quick death, it was drawn out and sad and in the end I had to have her put down.  She was 16 and ‘had, had a good life’ but I was gutted.  This was her favourite spot during the day, sitting under my desk, sunbathing as I worked.

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I’ve always promised the boys we could have kittens, so over the summer I’ve been avidly stalking our local RSPCA website, as I know you need to be quick to get your name down to reserve kittens (in all honesty, I’d have been more than happy to have cats, but then I’ve had the pleasure of playing with kittens many times as a child, so it felt fair to offer the boys the same).  A few weeks back we were lucky enough to be approved to bring home two sisters, now named Birdie and Tuppence.  As with many rescued cats, they are a little timid but are getting braver daily and we are very excited to have them.

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Granny Square Crochet Blanket by Driftingalong

I wanted the transition for coming home, to be as gentle as possible, so to emulate their beds in the cattery, I bought crochet blankets for lining the cat baskets.  DSC_0142

Retro Ripple Crochet Blanket by Woollie Treasures

They seem to use hand knitted and crochet bedding a lot at the RSPCA, they have a room with it all stacked up, neatly washed, it’s like Granny square heaven!

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Crochet Blanket by Grannyman Crochet

I like to think it made a difference (plus the blankets looks nice covering the spot on my sofa where they prefer to sit….in contrast to the foil wrapped around the arms to attempt to stop any scratching.  I can highly recommend all the sellers above, they are all beautifully made (you can click on the links below the photos to get to the shops and I hope they forgive me for using their lovely creations for cats and not babies).DSC_0151

One a last word on adopting a cat, I do recommend it, don’t be put off by the process or even the price, the cats all come spayed, micro-chipped, wormed and ready for re-homing, many are quite timid and will need help settling in, but it’s just so lovely to see them relax and show their true characters and you can give yourself a pat on the back for giving an animal a home that needs one.

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What else?  World Book Day.  As usual, I was rather lazy and bought an incredibly cheap outfit on-line, then pimped it with some trim, a better top hat, leather gloves and my purple brogues for ‘Willy Wonka’ and C went as his namesake, complete with a Wonka bar (did it contain a golden ticket? – of course it did, I’m not that mean a Mum!).  My enthusiasm for providing costumes really is zero, I know this makes me a bah-humbug, as the kids love dressing up….do I still have to do this once they go into secondary school??DSC_0145

My top tip for buying cheap costumes on-line, especially when you have tall kids, is to buy the adults ones and adapt them, they are always far better made then the kids versions.  I did have to take a tuck in the shoulder of this one that ran down the front and back as for once, it really was an adult size (I find they nearly always come small), but I couldn’t have bought the fabric to make this for the price I paid and it didn’t take long to alter.

DSC_0145In the studio, I’m back sewing things for the shop.  We’ve had some beautiful sunny days, despite the cold mornings, and the heat on the glass wall gives a promise of spring.  I need to get photographs taken and the site updated and hopefully, as I appear to be on a roll, that will happen soon.

Roll on 2015, a bit late, but I am now ready 🙂