Thursday, 24 February 2011

Dressing curtains - help please!

Well, I made two pairs of cream curtains about a year ago for my drawing room and even though the fabric is a classic Laura Ashley cotton, they just do not look particularly impressive.  As the curtains are so large, they seemed to crease as I was putting them up and I also want them to look more full.

If you have any ideas as to what I can do about them (without being too costly), I'd be really grateful for your advice,  Let me know - thank you!

NB there is another matching pair to the right of this window but I have just taken them down.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Designing a Kitchen on a Budget


So, this was my kitchen when I bought my home - as my mother would say, "that is perfectly serviceable".  Well, it was and the layout worked for cooking, I just didn't like being in there.  The floor was squishy and jade green, the units and doors a laminate grey and the worktops were starting to show the signs of water ingress where they were joined together.  The previous owners actually had the walls a similar colour to the floor but they white washed them over as advised by the estate agent!

This is how my kitchen looks now.  It has taken some time as I was keen to find as many bargains as I could but I think that is key to doing anything on a budget.  I have always loved the idea of a white kitchen - they are forever chic.  With my mood board as inspiration, I went on the hunt for a ceramic sink - I found one on gumtree for £50 in pristine condition.
Ceramic sink

Next on my list was to find some worktops and tiles.  I found a good deal on oak block worktops on the internet and also purchased the matching upstands - I think they make the join between the work surface and tiles look more professional.

For the tiles, they had to be white and I was keen on a matt effect - I wanted the kitchen to feel homely and traditional rather than glossy.  These proved harder to source but trusty ebay pulled though and I had 7 boxes delivered.  With the matt idea in mind, I also found the cup-handles and matching door handles and a French style mixer tap in a brushed chrome finish.  The handles were a couple of pounds each and the tap was only £25!

Brickwork fashion

Refurbishing the cabinets also saved me a lot of money as I didn't have to buy the units or have them fitted.  It also meant that I was able to afford wooden doors (from Ireland) that were then spray painted to the colour of my choice.  After months of collecting ideas, I decided that even though I loved the idea of a clean white kitchen, I needed a little colour to stop the room from feeling too cold so I chose to have the cabinets painted in sage green.  Firstly, I measured the widths and heights of the actual cabinets (and not the doors) and Googled for the size of doors that would give the fit that I was after.  I also ordered two large panels and some sample pots of the paint so that the ends of the cupboards that were on display could be covered.

Leftover worktop

As you can see from the before picture, the seating in the kitchen just did not work so, I decided to remove the integrated fridge and have the worktop extended to make a breakfast bar.  I then purchased a red fridge freezer to fit into a alcove by the door.  The left over bits of work top were then used to make shelves above the fridge.

Using part of a sage green panel, the space between the wall cupboards and the wall was used to create a wine rack.  Five circles were cut out and then grey guttering was fitted behind them to support the bottles.  The join between the guttering and the wood was then filled, sanded and then painted using one of the tester pots.

To make the room feel more cosy and sleek, the shelf above the extractor hood was boxed in with MDF which then had to be primed and painted.  I couldn't resist decorating it with some white bunting that I had!
Boxing in
Roof garden

Originally, there was a steel effect blind at the window which was necessary as the old 70's office block behind our building had been developed into student accommodation.  As the residents would be able to see in and the view wasn't particularly pleasant, my partner and I decided to create a small roof garden based on an idea that we had seen in a Vietnamese bathroom.  The structure is made from the pallets that the tiles were delivered and some bamboo screening.

Friday, 18 February 2011

How to make a patchwork cushion

My cushions on the sofa were boring me so I decided to recycle them and jazz them up a little.  The first cushion I chose was cream but a little tatty so I decided to replace the front with a patch work design.  I found pieces of material at home and bought a few squares of Cath Kidston fabric to tie all of the different colours together.

I cut each piece into a square that was 10cm x 10cm and spent a while arranging them on the table into a formation that I liked.  Once I had decided on the layout, I pinned rows of 4 squares together and then machine stitched them to create strips.  these strips were then pinned and stitched to create the front of the cushion.

For the quilting, I used some thick curtain interlining that I had left over and pinned this in regular intervals to the back of the large square.  Using a piece of chalk and a ruler I then marked out where my diagonal lines would go ensuring that they went through the corners of the smaller squares - to be honest, some of the squares were not perfectly in line but because I knew that I was going to put buttons on the the intersections I didn't really mind.  These lines were then all stitched.

I chose to decorate the cushion using buttons from my collection - anytime I buy a new garment that comes with spare buttons I keep them just in case!

Once completed, I used small strips of the original cushion to create a border.  Tip - before turning the cushion inside out, cut some of the bulk off at the corners diagonally as this will give a sharper finish.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Kitchen Mood Board

I spent months saving and gathering ideas to revamp my kitchen.  In the end, the total bill came in at just under £3000.  Here is the mood board: have a look at my new kitchen!

My new shoe rack

It can be difficult living in a flat and trying to keep the entrance clean and tidy!  My first step was to install a small matted area by the door to save the carpet.  Separating the hallway with two different floor coverings makes it feel as though we have a proper entrance to our home.

This is coconut matting (coir matting) which I find aesthetically pleasing because it is a natural fibre.  Coir comes from the coconut husk and is very hard wearing - it's one of the greenest flooring types out there.

My next task was to sort out the storage issue.  People coming in and dumping shoes by the door just caused too much clutter.  There is a small alcove by the front door in which I have kept a wire shoe rack for convenience however, it did not look attractive!  I have spent a long time thinking about how I can use this space considering shelves and hall stands but the alcove was so shallow that I was afraid that the shelves would be useless and the hall stand would jut out too far (especially because the fuse box and gas shut off valve in the base of the alcove).

Mood Board
After some research I knew what sort of look I was after - I wanted a convex gold mirror, some colour and plenty of storage for our shoes.  (Look out for my kitchen mood board and what I did with that - I'll write soon).

Eventually I decided to try my first wood work project.  This is what I came up with:

Making something myself meant that I could work around the shut off valve and the fuse box to make something that was useful to me.  It is made purely from MDF, pieces of dowling rod and wood glue.  Once I had finished the construction and sanded everything down I set about giving it a shabby chic look.

Shabby Chic Paint Effect
I started the paint effect by painting the edges and places that would naturally wear and tear with a typical shabby chic colour - I chose a beautiful pale green.  Once this had dried, I applied two coats of a white tone in satin wood and let this dry completely.  
Then the fun began - sanding!  Just using a fine piece of sand paper, I sanded off some of the paint to achieve the desired effect.  The final stage of this process was to apply a light touch a beeswax.
Dressing the Shoe Rack
The last part was dressing the new shoe rack.  I found this old (slightly chipped) jug and adorned it with some artificial flowers.  This convex mirror was in a terrible state and so it was put back together, painted gold and an eagle added to the top.  It all cost pence in the end but I love the effect that they make together.  The mirror has two uses, it reflects the light in a windowless corridor but most importantly, it's a fun piece to have at the entrance!

And that's it!