Five of The Best

After the success  of last weeks post showcasing 5 of the best blog posts that I’d stumbled on I thought I would do it again this week! I’m not sure if this should be a weekly thing or just monthly… I’ll keep you posted!

This first item actually comes from a stationery/scrap-booking blog (who’d of thunk it, eh?). Technically it is a furniture makeover, being drawers and all, and I thought that it was the biggest shocker between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. Afraid there’s no tutorial but pop over to Between The Sheets for more detailed photographs.

Source: Between The Sheets

The next piece isn’t a makeover but has full plans on how to make a great rustic cupboard. Shanty 2 Chic use theirs to store a coffee machine but it would be a great place to tidy away all those craft bits, paperwork or just about anything! I also loved the colour she used on the final piece.

Source: Shanty 2 Chic

This next piece is from Rustic Whites but is anything but white! I absolutely adore the colour used – it reminds me of the Antibes Green I used under the little spice rack – and makes me want to go bolder with colour in the very near future!

Source: Rustic Whites

Now usually I’m not a big fan of stenciling, not even when you design it yourself, but when it’s done as well as this find over on Art is Beauty, then I give it a big ‘Thumbs Up’!

Source: Art is Beauty

And finally, I thought this Ikea hack from Girl in the Garage was fantastic.. partly because I’m working on the same set of drawers but with a completely different finish but mostly because it’s so much more practical than using vintage suitcases and much, much easier to find!

Source: Girl in The Garage

Well, that’s it for this week’s Five of The Best, I hope I managed to find something you haven’t seen before? Shall I keep it going every Sunday night or do you think once a month is enough?

Watch out for this week’s posts on distressing using Vaseline, Mark’s Makeover, and my very own Ikea hack.

Nikki x


2015… What’s in Store?

Let today be the start of something new!

Well I keep hinting at exciting new changes going on with us, and promising to tell all ‘soon’, well it’s about time I put you out of your misery and let you know what we’re up to!

Let today be the start of something new!
Original background from

Firstly I am enjoying writing this blog so much we are going to commit our URL (that’s web address to us non-techy peeps) to it instead of a traditional web site. I just have to get BT (British Telecom to my non UK readers) to give me access to my account so I can redirect. Don’t worry, I will write again once I have all the details and I really hope you will follow us over to our new home.

Our next big thing is a re-launch of the shop. It had started to lose its way and become more of a second-hand store than somewhere to find great furniture that had belonged to somebody once before. Mark and I have talked lots over the Christmas holidays and have decided that we want to concentrate more on the painted and refurbished, the fun and funky. We will have to keep a little of the other stuff because people are buying it, but there is going to be a lot more of my influence in there and a lot less Poole Pottery! That being said, the shop is still Mark’s territory while I stay firmly behind the scenes.

As part of this re-launch we have decided to start selling a few extra bits and bobs… mouldings for furniture, handles and knobs and (most exciting for me) our own range of chalk paints!!!

I’ve been experimenting with paints for a few months now and think I’m happy with my recipe. The paints go on well, sand back well, and keep well. I have a small range of colours and can afford to sell them at around £10 for half a litre (I’ve still to do the math to make sure we aren’t losing or being greedy).  I have been working on the packaging and decided to go for glass Kilner or Mason style jars for a couple of reasons. First off I like the way you can see how much paint you have left and exactly what colour it is at a glance, I like that the paint washes right off them giving you a useful container to reuse and, lastly, I like the way they look stacked up on my shelf!

I love the look of Kilner or Mason type jars
I love the look of Kilner or Mason type jars

I’ve given them their own name – The Little French Paint Company – as I will be selling them independently of Big Red Barn and thought that some of the other shops I’ll be approaching might not be comfortable advertising our shop, being the competition and all that! If you are wondering Mark’s surname is French and, if I ever get around to planning our wedding, one day mine will be too. I can also use it on other things I make as it’s so generic – The Little French Soap co, The little French Candle co… get it?

So you see it’s a very exciting time for us and I haven’t even mentioned that we hope to start running classes later on in the year or that we’re trialling some silver jewellery in one of our cabinets! Busy, busy, busy, but happy, happy, happy too 🙂

What are your big plans for 2015? Are you branching out or launching a new product? Perhaps you are planning a home makeover you’d like to share? I love getting your comments and will always reply to any questions.

Nikki x

Post Christmas Blues and How I Aim To Beat Them

2015 Bring it on

I’m one of the many, many people who hits a bit of a low after Christmas. I don’t know why, but I start to look back on my achievements and am always disappointed with the story so far! I’ve felt the start of it so far, my house isn’t how I want it, my business isn’t doing as good as it could, I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids and I don’t stay in touch with family anything like enough!

Instead of getting down in the dumps (what a cute way of saying depression and sticking a mental health sticker to my life) I have come up with a loose plan. It’s not a list of ‘new year resolutions for 2015’ but more of a system to make life easier and measurable. Every single day I am going to do…

One thing to improve my home – this could be clearing out a cupboard, making a new cushion or repainting a wall but it has to be one thing over and above the normal housework jobs that we all need to do.

One thing to improve my business – this could be anything at all from writing a blog post, researching new ideas, posting stuff of etsy or just telling someone in the street about my business.

One thing for my family – by this I don’t mean cook dinner and do washing, I mean play a board game, help with a hobby, go for a walk, make that phone call, send that email or make the trip to visit.

One thing for me – this is the one I will probably struggle to fit in! Things for me could be reading my book for half an hour, a long soak in the bath, a walk on my own in the woods or even a nice glass of wine with dinner.

2015 Bring it on

One thing a day, should be easy, right?

The Christmas Window. Or What happend to the rocking chair?

White rocking chair

Just last week I wrote a post about an adorable little black rocking chair that we were considering painting white to go into our shop. We actually debated to and fro for a couple of days – Mark even sent me a text message after I’d been in bed for 2 hours (and was fast asleep!) asking if he should just start painting!

In the end we bit the bullet and went for it! We used some paint that we have developed ourselves (very exciting post about this coming soon) and gave it just 2 coats of white. Amazingly it covered really easily, although the bumpiness is even more apparent now it’s a flat white colour.

It will be P E R F E C T in the window of the shop, BUT my love for it has diminished just a little 😦 It’s no longer quirky or cute, it’s a little lacking in the character department to be honest.

White rocking chair
The chair!

What it is, is peaceful.  And if you read the original post you know that’s exactly what we were aiming for.


Sorry for the poor photos,  I was having difficulty getting the camera to focus through the window and I couldn’t use the flash!

White Window


What do you think?



Amazing Dresser Transformation.

Annie Sloan Dresser

It’s Saturday morning as I write this. Mark is enjoying a well deserved lie in, the kids are doing their own thing and I’m still in my pj’s with a nice cup of coffee and a plate of shortbread! I’ve just given a little table it’s first coat of red paint and, while I’m waiting for it to dry, I thought I’d share some photo’s of a dresser that Mark has been working on for a couple of weeks.

It was very ‘bog standard’ when he bought it at auction, but he had a vision of what he wanted and set about it fearlessly.  He started with Annie Sloan (TM) Barcelona Orange straight onto the varnished surface, force dried it with a hair drier (he’s not a patient man), then over the top with Antibes Green.

It was heavily sanded back to emphasize the distressed look and then given 2 coats of dark wax and polished within an inch of it’s life!  We used Briwax as we like the way it actually takes off a little of the chalk paint as you use it and takes out any sanding marks you might leave.

With the top, Mark sanded off most of the varnish before aging the wood to a beautiful silver. Unfortunately he hadn’t removed quite enough of the varnish (like I said, he’s not a patient man) and the effect was patchy, but he gave it the dark wax treatment and it actually turned out great!

I’d love to hear your comments on the finished piece – I think it might be our marmite dresser (love it or loath it!).

Now for some pics…

Bare pine dresser top
The whole thing started out as bog standard varnished pine.
Annie Sloan Paint
Tools of the trade
Barcelona Orange
Barcelona Orange
Green over orange
Green over orange
Sanded Back
Rubbed back
Dark wax
Dark Wax Going On
Crackle effect
Force drying can cause paint to crackle (Tut coming soon)
Repeat everywhere!
Repeat everywhere!
Patchy top
The top before dark wax


Finished Dresser
With a few props, in the window of the shop!


To paint or not to paint? Or The Christmas Window Display

I am having a MAJOR meltdown over this project. Mark asked me to help design the Christmas window for the shop – a great honour as he can be a little ‘precious’ about the shop as I don’t work there anymore. (Don’t get me wrong, I have input but I don’t physically stand in the shop all day)

Anyway… The town’s ‘theme’ for windows this year is ‘PEACE’, and straight away I knew what I wanted to do…

I wanted a beautiful little townscape made from paper to frame the window. It would have looked a bit like this…

Found on via Pinterest!

… but I’m told there may be a problem with condensation as it gets colder here in the run up to Christmas. Okay, I put that idea on hold and move onto the main display.

We are lucky to have a full height window in the shop, but it isn’t huge, and anything we put into a display is actually eating into shop floor space so it’s a bit of a balancing act. I close my eyes and think of ‘PEACE’… but that just conjures up images of tropical beaches and the sea lapping at my toes! So we pull out the old whiteboard and start brainstorming.

Eventually it hits me. Peace is quiet, uncluttered, tranquil, restful… no wonder it took me so long to come up with the idea – these things are all completely alien to my life right now! My vision for the window display is finally taking shape.

I want everything white. The walls, the backdrop, the floor. Then a little wine table that has been kicking around for a while, waiting to be reloved. Then a wine glass to sit on it.  Then an adorable little candelabra Then a book. And a chair…

And BOOM there’s my problem! We have the perfect chair, it’s a tiny little rocking chair. It’s quirky and cute, pretty and functional.  We’ve had it for a few months in the shop, always being passed over for another piece.

IMGP1015 (2)

Our little rocking chair is black, with pretty little flowers hand painted onto it. There’s something really strange about the finish to it – it’s sort of ‘bumpy’ and we have no idea why. I’ve often thought it would look wonderful beside a log burner on a canal boat. Or in the corner of a bedroom. Or just about anywhere!

Canal boat chair
Perfect for a canal boat?

So Marks says ‘Paint it white then’, but neither of us reach for the brush. We took it to our house an stood it in the middle of the living-room floor. And still neither of us could start the paint job. We don’t want to keep it for ourselves but we don’t want to write it off either. What we want is for someone to love it as much as we do and to take it home with them!

We need a little chair. We’ve got the perfect little chair. We need to cover it’s quirkiness with white chalk paint to finish our window display for Christmas.  Oh why is this so difficult?


I think we will end up painting it and it will be a stunning display. But it feels like we’re making the perfect roast dinner out of our pet chicken. It just doesn’t sit right for some reason.

I’ll let you know how it goes later.

Nikki x

Hello Reader!

This isn’t an entirely new blog. In fact, I’ve had the WordPress address for a couple of years now and written a few posts along the way. To be fair, it wasn’t a great blog. I thought time was my greatest enemy – I have a family, a part time job and a business I run with my partner, Mark. But that’s a pretty poor excuse… I still found time to do the things that I loved, updating and redesigning furniture, making beautiful craft items for our home and learning new techniques and tricks to improve and build our furniture business.

Shabby Chic Mirror

Then it dawned on me… I should be writing about these very things that I love doing! It also meant that I could ditch our old web site in favour of an ever changing, ever evolving blog! No more ‘updating’. No more trying to keep on top of product pages. No more fighting against a Google site that just didn’t want to do what we needed it to.

So here I am, taking the first step to making something new and exciting. I have so much I’m bursting to share with you. So many things I want to show you. And more than a couple of things I’d like your opinion on!

Join with me on this little adventure Reader. Come join in my experiments and learn new things with me. And do join in, please say hello., I really can’t wait to meet you!

Nikki x