Revamp complete!

chairsAfter many hours of elbow grease, painting, and waxing, I was delighted to finish revamping the interiors of two flats for a private landlord.  It was a first for us both.  As a rental flat, there were budget tight constraints for me, and for the landlord it was an experiment to furnish the flats with a lower impact, at a similar cost to the conventional alternative.

The landlord had some chairs from former tenants, an Italian restaurant that had closed, and another who was downsizing.  The chairs are in perfectly good condition, just a bit too country house kitchen for a city flat pitched at young professionals or couples.  You can find similar at secondhand furnitures shops, or at your local furniture reuse and recycling centre.  The Furniture Re-use Network is a national body supporting charitable re-use organisations across the UK.  Re-use enterprises combine social and environmental aims.  Typically, they collect unwanted furniture or domestic appliances that are then refurbished providing work opportunities and training for the socially excluded, and helping people in need turn a house into a home by providing affordable furnishings.  Every year the sector re-uses 2.6 million items of furniture and electrical equipment and diverts 90,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.  Anyone can donate or find furniture via the network.

Look for pieces that are solid, in good working order, and whose basic shape you like, then you make it your own.  I selected a set of chairs for each flat and set to work sanding where necessary, painting and waxing.  The chalk paint from Annie Sloan has a smooth, matt finish and can be used on almost any surface from wood to plastic, inside and outside without much preparation.  It is low odour and low VOC (volatile organic compound).  It dries fairly fast, so you can apply a second or third coat without too much delay, before sealing the paint with soft wax.  The Annie Sloan website has a series of short video tutorials, or you can contact your local stockist to ask about workshops.  We sourced a drop-leaf table and some bedside tables from Sunbury Antiques market.

cranhurstThe bedside tables were treated to a livery of Annie Sloan paint on the sides, sanding and clear Auro matt varnish on the front to accentuate the grain of the veneer, and decoupage.  The Auro varnish is environmentally-friendly and free of solvents.  It has a milky colour when you apply it, but dries clear.  I used an off cut of a favourite fabric to cover the top of the bedside table, using Auro universal adhesive, a natural latex milk adhesive, and then a few coats of the matt varnish to seal the fabric.  I used the same fabric, Carnival, from Christopher Farr,  to soften the black faux-leather headboard.  The fresh, exuberant print of pomegranates in blue and green on the fabric gave the room a focal point making economical use of an off cut and staple gun.

Beeld-handle-4Another trick to quick refresh a cupboard or set of drawers is to change the handles.  These leather handles (pictured left) from Nu Interiuer Ontwerp were featured in the March issue of Elle Decoration.  Simple, elegant and available in four colours.  Chloe Alberry, on Portobello Road and online, has an encyclopaedic range of handles in glass, wood, ceramic and other materials.

If you are daunted by the thought of DIY then look for a course in furniture painting or restoration at your local adult education college.  In London, the Goodlife Centre runs a range of courses in upholstery, furniture restoration and painting that are said to be “Suitable for absolute beginners. Enjoyable for everyone.”  Maybe a Mother’s Day treat for someone?

WWT-21_largeOr if you like the look, but not the effort, then three of my favourite up-cycling ventures in the south of England are Out of the Dark, Xylo Furniture and the Restoration Station.  The sleek monochrome matt finish of this drop-leaf table from Xylo Furniture (right, £280) highlights the craftsmanship of  the beautifully shaped legs, but brings it bang up to date.  As well as working on their own stock, Out of the Dark can also work on yours.  The OOTD team can refresh an heirloom so it sits more comfortably in a contemporary home, or repair wooden and upholstered furniture.  Restoration Station also take commissions. So bring a little spring zing into your home.

Photo credits:  Nu Interiuer, Xylo Furniture

Advertisements

Bedside beauties

bedside

It was a frosty morning to be outside finishing the latest piece for my interiors project, but the deadline is looming.  There was nothing for it but a large cup of tea, flapjack and a lot of elbow grease (as my grandfather would have said) to finish the waxing and varnishing.  And tah dah, here they are.

I picked up this pair of Uniflex 1960s or 70s bedside tables, along with a similar dressing table at Sunbury Antiques market a few weeks ago.  The bedside tables had been given a heavy coat of dark varnish at some point.  I sanded them down to reveal the chevron veneer.  A light coat of Ronseal quick dry matt varnish, which is low V.O.C. (volatile organic compound) brought out the wood grain beautifully.  I sanded around the top of the bedside table to reveal the layers of plywood, as I like the detail and the honesty of showing the plywood.

The tables were still a dark colour, so I painted the sides with Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in Paris Grey to soften them.  Once dry, I waxed the sides with Annie Sloan clear soft wax.  Finally, I covered the top of the tables in some off-cuts of a linen fabric from Christopher Farr, that was made in England.  The fabric, called Carnival, has a vibrant, bold green and blue print. I used a natural latex universal adhesive from Auro to stick the fabric down before giving it a couple of coats of varnish once dry.  The bedside tables are no longer pure mid-century modern, but with a gentle refresh will sit well in a contemporary bedroom.  If you D.I.Y., you can have just the colour or fabric you want.  And be bold, all of the changes I made be undone, and it’s fun to experiment.

Oh and the Guardian article below has an easy step by step.  Or look out for local furniture restoration and painting classes, with a quick web search.  In London, try the Goodlife Centre (S), Phoenix on Golborne (W), or get a bit of help from Revived London (SE).

Digging the decoupage

table1

Part of the haul from the Sunbury Antiques Fair was a mid-century nest of tables that had seen better days. With a tighten of the screws, wash and wipe it was ready for a refresh.  The set are destined for a newly refurbished flat that could do with an injection of colour.  As the tables are quite small, you can be bold without overpowering a room.  The tables were given a light sand, and then painted in Annie Sloan chalk paint.  The chalk paint leaves a subtle, matt finish once dry.

Then it was time to embark on my first decoupage project.  I had some Liberty print fabrics, and chose to use the Angelica Garla A (£22 per m) as although floral it has strong colours such as navy, olive, mustard yellow, and turquoise.  First of all, I applied the adhesive to the smooth, clean surface.  You could use any universal adhesive, I was using Auro‘s universal adhesive which is made of natural latex.  I diluted the adhesive slightly for easy application.  I applied the fabric being careful to smooth out any wrinkles, trimmed around the edges and left the adhesive to dry.

table2

Once dry, I used a matt varnish also from Auro to apply two coats and seal the fabric.  I used Annie Sloan’s soft clear wax to finish the painted surfaces, and voila!

The smallest table has been claimed by my daughter as her new bedside table. The whole process was fun, and a straightforward way to revive and personalise the nest of tables.

For a simple DIY guide to decoupage check out Channel 4’s web page.

 

A fresh lick of paint

I recently spent a morning down at the Phoenix on Golborne, an antiques and vintage home wares shop just off the Portobello Road in London, getting to grips with painting furniture.  The class covered basic tips and advice on a range of finishes and paint effects using the Annie Sloan range of paints and waxes.

sloane

Annie Sloan’s chalk-based paints are really versatile as they can be used on any surface, without priming, sanding or preparing, so very forgiving for the enthusiastic amateur. The paints are extremely low VOC (volatile organic compounds) so kind to you and the environment!   The Annie Sloan website is full of advice and inspiration on colour mixes and combinations.

My first experiment was with a chest of drawers I found abandoned on the pavement, and just what I was after for baby R’s room.  It did need a bit of sanding to get rid of the yellowing, flaky old varnish, but after a few coats of the quick drying chalk paint and I had a blank canvas to experiment with some homemade stencils……..

drawers

Not bad, for a beginner!