I’ve always loved making things at Christmas time. Whether it’s baking cookies, or making salt dough ornaments – Christmas for me always means creating something! And this year, my big craft was this winter wonderlandwreath!
I actually made a pinecone wreath in the same way about 5-6 years ago when I was back in Canada. I had always intended to make it snowy, but chickened-out. See, I was worried that I was going to mess it up, and you can’t really go back once you start painting pinecones. It already looked nice just brown, so I ended up leaving it.
But this time, I was determined to get the snowy wreath I had pictured! And you know what? It turned out amazing!!!
I find that it’s rare when a craft turns out exactly as awesome as I intended it to be. I tend to have these grandiose ideas, which never execute quite as well as I hoped. I mean, they look good, just not exactly like my imagination. But not this wreath!! It’s almost better than I pictured it! But the bad part is that I have no where to store it!
I promised Richard (when I first started gathering pinecones) that we could throw it out at the end of the year (can you compost hot glue?!). But, now that it’s done… I am not sure I can bear the thought! Anyone else want to give it a home once Christmas is over?!
Anyways, back to the tutorial!
This wreath is dead simple, and just takes time. It’s also super cheap if you can get a good deal on hot glue sticks (it used a ton!). (more…)
A long way back, I wrote about how we installed a plaster ceiling medallion (‘ceiling rose’ here in the UK) in our living room. It was far more difficult than we originally thought, due to the weight of the large plaster ceiling medallion (we used this one from B&Q). So when it came time to finally add another ceiling medallion to our bedroom, we decided to try a polystyrenee one instead!
See, we were lazy, and didn’t want to spend all that time and money on installing a plaster ceiling medallion. That, and the fact that the selection was incredibly limited at local DIY stores – we couldn’t find one in the right size that wasn’t insanely expensive. So, after our success in installing plastic coving in our kitchen, we decided to go the same route with our ceiling medallion. Plus, it takes like 5 minutes to put up!
We ordered this ceiling medallion from Amazon, as the middle circle was large enough to accomodate our IKEA pendant light. Many medallions had detailing too close to the middle, or were too pricy. This one had detail right in the center, but the smooth expanse around it was wide enough for our needs. We simply cut away the middle detail, as our light would cover it anyways.
When we received it, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t smooth and ready to paint, like our coving had been, but resembled polystyrene packaging. It had that rough nubbly surface. So, I thought I would try a trick I read about on Daniel Kanter’s blog Manhatten Nest. He painted his plastic medallions with watered down plaster/filler to help make them look older. I mixed up some, but I think I made it too wet… when my first coat of primer dried, huge cracks formed all over the surface!
I was sooooo bummed, as sanding a detailed medallion is ridiculous. I tried to remove the larger cracks with sanding, and then hoped that a few coats of primer would fill in the rest. Well, it took like 6 coats before they started to look okay, but even then had more texture than I would like. After primer, I used our ceiling paint to do a couple more coats. (more…)
Okay, just a simple update on the kitchen here (with a stupidly long post). I’m just trying to finish up a couple little projects, and possibly find a rug to fit the space, and then I’m calling it done! One thing that we finally have finished, is making all our cabinets match and look built in.
As I mentioned in the first kitchen saga post, our kitchen came with IKEA cabinets that were no longer available, and we had to replace the upper cabinets in order to add more storage. Now, we could have kept the lowers wood, as I’m a fan of a two tone kitchen, but all the white appliances sort of messed that up. My original plan with the kitchen had been to do a tuxedo kitchen with deep navy or green lower cabinets, and a white top. But, as our appliances were all white, you’d be left with half white, half colour. Not exactly the look I was going for. So, in an effort to make the kitchen feel brighter and larger, we went all white. Does that make any sense to anyone besides me? No? Okaaay…
So, that meant painting our lower cabinets white, but what about the upper ones? I could have colour matched IKEA’s SÄVEDAL doors, and then painted everything in our kitchen the same, but decided against it. See, every ceiling, door, and trim in our flat is painted All White by Farrow + Ball. If I wanted to use the IKEA white colour, then it would have meant repainting our doors and trim in the kitchen to this different white, and I didn’t want it to look different from the other rooms in the flat. (Richard wishes I had told him about the colour matching option…)
Am I crazy? Yes. But I also justify it because the finish on the doors was so smooth and machine-made looking, that all the built in trim with brushstrokes would have looked different. We would have had to paint the doors to make them all look the same, no matter which white we used.
Aaaaanyways. So in addition to painting all the wood doors and trim below, we had to paint all the new upper cabinets doors as well. That meant removing all the hinges and handles, cleaning everything of grease etc. and giving it all a light sanding. For the wood cabinets and trim, we used 3 coats of this primer, and then 2-3 coats of our Valspar paint in All White. For the upper cabinets, it took 2 coats primer, and then 2 coats paint. After the doors were up, I did a bit more sanding, and some touch up paint, as we had been painting on low surfaces and little bits of fluff kept getting caught in the paint.
Now came the fun part – making all the IKEA cabinets look built in. See, I’ve always been a huge fan of inset cabinetry, and wanted to try and give our bank of cabinets a similar look. This meant filling in the gaps all the way around the cabinets with wood, and trimming it all out.
To get the look I wanted, it meant lining up the trim with the cabinet doors, as opposed to the frames. So we added a piece of 21x21mm stripwood all around the cabinets, flush with the face of their frames. To install it, we simply screwed into the piece from inside the cabinets with a couple of wood screws. Not only did this give us a piece we could then attach the trim to, but allowed us to offset our next piece by a few milimeters in order to create a gap between the doors and our trim.
As I have mentioned before, I love Anthropologie! Richard automatically groans when we are near one of their shops, as he knows I want to go in. And their home stuff is my absolute favorite! So when I saw their Christmas ornaments online, I couldn’t help but fall in love! There were a few that I immediately wanted for my tree.
Buuuut… I’m cheap, and thought I could make my own! First up on my list were Anthropologie’s Budding Monogram ornaments. I loved how they looked like branches, and figured I could make them out of clay!
My first thought was that I didn’t want to make the flowers and leaves out of clay, as they would probably break off too easily. As I knew that I was going to spray paint it gold in the end, I figured I could use flowers from another material and no one would know. I wanted to buy some tiny fabric ones, but Hobbycraft came up empty. If you’re in North America, check Michaels as they have much larger stocks and probably have something perfect. In the end, I cut the leaves and flowers out of a thin sheet of foam.
My second thought was to make a wire shape, and then build the clay around it. Great in theory, but the air dry clay is too dry for that – it doesn’t stick to the wire. Instead, I just used the wire to make hooks, and the shapes are 100% clay.
So if you’re thinking of making some branching letter ornaments of your own, why not try this tutorial? (more…)
Okay, super quick ‘DIY’ for you here today. These guys are so easy, it’s barely a tutorial.
So last year, when Richard and I were figuring out how to do our first Christmas tree, we had only a handful of ornaments. I had bought him a couple funny ones that year, and we were given a few from family. But 10ish ornaments, does not exactly a tree make. So we had two options: 1. Buy a bunch of ornaments we would then have to store (and spend ££ on) or 2. Make ornaments we could get rid of at the end of the season! And by get rid of, I mean recycle, of course.
So last year, I made three things for the tree – little paper balls made of vintage sheet music, popcorn strands, and orange slices. You can keep orange slices (if they dry out fully), year after year, but we simply composted ours along with the popcorn. Which meant I had to make more this year!
All it took was two large navel oranges, and I had enough for our little tree. It made 18 slices, but if I had done them a bit thinner, I could have made a couple more. A large tree could use 3-4 oranges, which makes this project very economical.
When we first moved in to the flat, we were short a few items of furniture. The previous owner had left a bed frame behind, but nothing else for the bedroom. To be fair, it was a small room, with plenty of storage in the closet. The only things it was really lacking, were side tables.
We lived with some little stools that Richard brought back from Nepal for a while, but I wanted storage. I wanted a place to keep little things tucked out of sight, like charging cables! However, our space on either side was limited, so we needed to find something small.
That’s when I turned to IKEA. They have plenty of options for side tables, but none of them really fit my design aesthetic. So what’s a cash strapped girl to do? IKEA Hack, that’s what! We ended up going with the NORDLI side table, as it had some pretty cool design features. It has hollow back legs that you can run cables down, as well as a little shelf inside purpose built for chargers and the like. The only thing not perfect about it was the bland white exterior.
That’s when I began searching for inspiration. I have always loved West Elm for style, and had fallen hard for their bone inlay bedside tables. However, I just couldn’t see how this design would be applied to the tables we bought. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt like our room needed more “warmth”. That meant wood, right? And if I can’t do bone inlay, why not wood inlay? So I searched around for a few styles of wood patterns, and found these. That got me thinking of ways to implement them.
I keep seeing people posting projects using Stickwood, and thought, why not that? It’s super thin, so maybe it would be easy to cut into strips! Not only that, but it’s often made using reclaimed wood, which I like. However, they really intend it to be used for larger projects, and don’t sell it in small amounts. As I wasn’t keen on having so much extra wood with no other projects in mind, I had to start looking for something else. (more…)
And so, we continue the kitchen saga! After we got the cabinets up, and the paint on the walls, work stalled. Richard went away to Kenya for a few weeks, and then I joined him for a little 10 day trip (photos coming soon, I promise!). After that, we sort of just got used to the walls the way that they were – all bare plaster and drywall. But, we had plans for them! Richard and I are both big fans of subway tiles, and thought that they would suit our 1920s flat. Modern and historic at the same time, no?
However, I didn’t want just white on white, since our cabinets are already going to be white. I wanted to do a contrast grout for a bit of drama in our little space. I looked around at inspiration and settled on a medium grey tone for the grout. I didn’t want to go too dark as I didn’t want it looking busy, but dark enough that you could actually see the grout.
Once we had our plan in place, we started shopping around for tiles. We decided to go with Tons of Tiles as they had the best selection of smaller sized subway tiles and fair prices – plus they did sample tiles! We ordered their beveled mini metro white gloss, mini metro white flat, and rustico white gloss. Richard was really into the beveled tiles, as they most closely resemble the authentic metro tiles here in the underground. My only concern was that the uneven edges when they’re cut would make the corners and edges of our walls look wonky. I like the idea of using beveled tiles, but only on a single wall.
As I mentioned before, Richard and I collect antique or vintage silverware, instead of getting a proper set. We love the idea of using these pieces that often get relegated to a “fancy cutlery” drawer, in our day to day use. But there’s a reason that people avoid silver cutlery in favor of stainless steel – tarnish. So how do we go about keeping our mismatched set looking nice?
A few years back I was told this magic trick by an antique store owner on Fort Street in Victoria. Simply combine baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and boiling water in a container, with aluminum foil covering the bottom. What happens is some sort of chemical reaction where the tarnish is attracted from the silver to the foil, removing tarnish almost instantly! I don’t know how, but it does! Trust me. (more…)
Okay, it’s been a quite a while since I updated you guys on the progress here in the kitchen. So long that I have actually been asked if it’s done yet (nope!). And as for where we”re at? Well, after Richard left for a month away due to work, kitchen progress sort of stalled. I ordered a bunch of stuff, but haven’t really made any progress.
As for what we have done since I last blogged about it? Well, we finally have a functioning kitchen again!
After we patched all the holes in the walls, and cleaned up from demolition, it was time to paint! We had chosen Barest Hush by Valspar to be the colour for our walls. We tested a couple of swatches, but Richard was worried they would be too dark, so we settled on this option. My goal was to have a grey tinted green that didn’t read too strong either way. As our living room is grey, I didn’t want the whole place to feel the same. But of course, I also didn’t want too bright of a colour, as I tend to prefer more muted walls. Let the colour come from the furnishings, in my humble opinion.
Valspar’s Barest Hush
For the cabinets and trim, we are sticking with our tried and true All White by Farrow & Ball, colour matched to Valspar paint. This time around we went with their premium paint, as it was the most scrubbable option. It also comes with a built in primer, so win-win! However, due to time we didn’t get around to painting the cabinets, just yet. That’s a job for another day. Or month… year… sigh. Procrastination is real folks.
Okay, so it’s been quite a while since posting – our trip to Kenya and the subsequent business of life when we got back has kept me away. It’s just a quick post today as I still have to go through our photos from the trip, and have yet to make much worth posting.
A while back, we obtained a table and chairs for our living/dining area. We loved that they were old and worn, but the colours didn’t quite match up, and the scratches on the chairs were quite severe. I didn’t want them to match exactly, but wanted the colours to be more similar.
It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the chairs were more yellow, and the table more red/orange
Staining seemed to be the obvious choice, but I didn’t exactly want to go through the hassle of all the sanding and refinishing. I did that before with a set of thonet style chairs that had been painted white (a travesty) and could still remember how long it took me to strip them all down to the point that I could stain them again. And then, of course, I forgot to use a wood conditioner and the stain ended up being all blotchy. 🙁 It was quite upsetting after all that time and effort. (more…)