Before & After… Tall Contemporary Drawers

I was offered these drawers by a trader friend of mine who needed the space in her shop. She wasn’t charging me a fortune and there was something about the shape and styling in them that appealed to me. They were well made but modern and I knew straight away what I was going to do with them. Mark, on the other hand, hated them!

Great shape but very 1984!
Great shape but very 1984!

I started off with 2 coats of red chalk paint (my own mix) and then turned the laptop on and fired up Pinterest. I needed a free swirl that I could use to decorate the front and, sure enough, Pinterest delivered!

Then I turned to Block Posters to transform it into a PDF and transferred it onto the drawers (I will be writing a tutorial on the method I use in the near future). It wasn’t quite as bold as I wanted so I went over it with a Sharpie and then sanded back just a little so it wasn’t too sharp.

A quick coat of wax varnish and they were ready to stick online… only now Mark likes them and wants them down the shop!

The graphic makes the difference!
The graphic makes the difference!
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The Unloved Corner Cabinet Top

Occasionally we will buy a few items bunched together as one lot at an auction. This piece came with the dresser that Mark gave a complete makeover to a few weeks back.

It’s the top of a mahogany corner unit similar to a few others we already have in stock. Mark put it straight into the shop to fill a gap and we forgot about it.

The other day when we were starting our spring fling clear-out of unwanted stuff at the shop Mark said to take it over the road to the charity shop. It’s a well made piece with no faults, and still has the original key with it, so I couldn’t give up on it so easily.

Mahogony corner cabinet
Quite uninspiring

Once it was in the corner of my living room I set about finding the look to vamp it up a little in the style department. I knew I wanted something bright and fresh – a complete contrast to the dark finish it originally had. Then I found some stunning wallpaper while shopping for another project…

Butterfly Wallpaper
WOW!

I’d always wanted to try papering the inside of one of these things and this was my chance. So home I came with the paper and, after a bit of faffing around, I managed to mix a beautiful shade of duck egg blue that matched it perfectly.

So I painted it all over with two coats, not minding the glass as this cleans back easily. Then I set to sticking the paper in which proved a lot more awkward than putting it onto a wall – think back to trying to put wallpaper in your dolls house and you are on the right tracks!

Wallpapered corner cabinet
I just love the paper!

Once that was done I had to decide on a finish for it. I didn’t want it distressed, I wanted the main feature to be the paper background, so I gave it a thin coat of wax varnish I’ve been wanting to review for a while (post coming soon). The finish wasn’t a luxurious as wax but it makes it a more durable piece that will withstand a little abuse.

Painted Mahogany Corner Cupboard

It’s already back in the shop, Mark changed his mind about giving it to charity for now!

So, which do you prefer, the traditional mahogany or the bright finish?

Nikki x

Five of the Best…

I’ve read some great blog posts this past few weeks and thought that if I love them then you might too? Okay, you probably already subscribe to a few (if not all) of them but they are really worth checking out – if you haven’t already!

I might try to make this a regular Sunday night thing, if nobody minds?

First up is this  from Ferpie and Fray. It was great to read about a transformation that all went to plan!

Loved this no hassle transformation at Ferpie and fray

This next piece is NOTHING like how I would have painted it but isn’t that part of what makes sharing great? I love how it turned out and I’m sure her client does too. See the before and after at This Delightful Life.

I always read posts from Phoenix Restoration and really love her work. This piece struck me because of the great use of colour.

Love a lot of her work!

This post from Me Myself n DIY made me laugh so hard! She talks about the 6 stages of failure we have all gone through (or something very similar) when working on that ‘pig of a project’ that comes along every so often!

This post made me laugh so hard – we’ve all been through it!

And finally… I was intrigued by this post as I have been itching to paint fabric chairs for about 6 months now and just haven’t found the right piece! See how the Interior Frugalista copes with this project on a tight schedule

I have always wanted to try this!

Of course I have read a tonne of great posts but had to set a limit and 5 seemed about right. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Nikki x

Mark’s Table Make-Over

Blogging has really helped me to keep motivated this past few weeks and the post-Christmas blues haven’t been able to take hold. It has also made me try new things (like distressing with vinegar) and revisit methods I haven’t used for a while (watch out for a post about crackle finish using pva glue).

In the hope that it can have a similar effect on Mark I am going to try to include a post once a week of what he’s been working on. Most of it shouldn’t need any explaining but, if you do have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll answer every one.

This week has been about refinishing a cute little nest of tables. Mark loved the blue and red table I told you about not long ago, so used the same colour combo on the tables. I found a wonderful wallpaper, that looks like old books on shelves, to go under the glass that finishes them off beautifully!

Nest of tables
You find these quite often at auction
Glass topped mahogony tables
Nice legs 😉
Red painted table
First red
Table painted blue
Then Blue…
Distressed table leg
Rubbed back just a little…
Cleat wax over chalk painted table
Add some clear wax
Walpaper behind glass
Put your wallpaper in…
Table reveal
Ta-da!

I really like them, but of course he based them on one of my pieces and I chose the paper so I’m going to be completely biased!

’til next time,

Nikki x

Distressed Paint Effect Using Vinegar

Use something we all own to get a great distressed finish
Use something we all own to get a great distressed finish

I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl who finds a method that works and sticks to it. That means I can spend hours, days even, gently rubbing back paint to get just the right distressed finish required.

Recently I’ve been thinking that there must be an easier way? I believe in doing the job right but if there’s a way to do it right and quickly shouldn’t I be using it? Sure enough there are lots of ways people distress their furniture I hadn’t even considered so in the next few weeks I’m going to be trying them out (or some at least) and sharing my findings with you, dear reader.

 

White Vinegar for distressing
This cost pennies

This first method uses something most of us keep in the pantry… vinegar. I decided to opt for distilled or white vinegar as I didn’t want it to stain the paint in any way.  Obviously I didn’t have any distilled vinegar in my store cupboard so that meant a trip to town and another hour out of my day!

Anyway I already had this cute little shelf unit (spice rack maybe?) that I found in a charity shop a few weeks back. It is pretty featureless so will rely on having a good paint effect to give it some oomph.

Charity shop spice rack
You will often see pieces like this in charity shops

I started with a quick coat of Annie Sloan’s  Antibes Green, as I had some left over from an earlier project. As always with this colour I was tempted to stop there, but then I’d have nothing to share with you, so I gave it a quick wax using Rusto-leum clear furniture wax. Then it got 2 coats of my own deep lavender (okay, I’ve got to come up with some cool names for my paints) and left it to dry thoroughly.

Antebes Green
I just love this as a contrast colour
Little French Paint Co
My own mix over the green

Once dry, I just dipped my microfiber cloth in the vinegar and wiped it over an area. Nothing happened. I rubbed a bit harder. Nothing happened. Then, as I was showing Mark how ineffective it was, a huge streak of the lavender rubbed clean off!

Distressed with vinegar
This big chunk wiped off in one go!

I think the knack is to almost soak the paint in vinegar and give it a second to soak in. I’m really glad I took the time to wax after the green or I think it would have wiped off at the same time – the wax was just enough of a barrier to protect it.

Once I got the hang of it, it was so easy! I wouldn’t want to use it on everything because you just don’t have the same control as you do sanding by hand, but if you want a beat up, rustic look then this is great.

Vinegar distressing
You need a gentle touch until you get used to it!

In the interests of science (or maybe just because I’m still a wee bit sceptical) I’m going to try a similar experiment using plain water and another using something like lemon juice so I’ll keep you updated – be sure to follow us so you don’t miss a thing!

Finished piece after a top coat of wax varnish
Finished piece after a top coat of wax varnish

Tune in next week to see how I got on using Vaseline to distress a mirror in my lounge, and please let me know if you’ve heard of a method of distressing you’d like me to try, and review!

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 www.frenchtoastgirl.com

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

A Gift For You… Free Printable

If you are reading this, then you probably already  know that we specialise in re-finishing furniture, what you might not realise (because we haven’t told you yet!) is that we also make lots of nice little bits and bobs that everyone has space for and find vintage treasures to make your home unique! We will shortly be putting some of these items up on our ‘et cetera’ page.

Today we’d like to thank you for reading by giving you a free printable to use as you like.! It’s full A4 size, which makes it easy to find a frame – we find Ikea and Wilkinsons very reasonable.

So, without further ado, here you go! Just click on the photo to go to the full-sized image, right-click and save as.

Love Many, Trust Few

I would love to see how you use it so please do share your photo’s. If you want to use for commercial purposes then all I ask is that you leave our web site address in situ.

Nikki x