A Bit of Bling

A Bit of Bling

In the olden days, when I wanted to up-cycle something, out would come the paint pots and brushes. Faffy and fiddly and usually waiting ages for the paint to dry. And because I am ridiculously impatient, I’d try and pick up or move whatever I had painted, too soon, and I’d smudge the paint. I don’t know why spray paint had never occurred to me before, but since we’ve been out, these cans of colour have been my saviour. Nothing pleases me more than spinning the rack in our equivalent of B&Q and going for pops of colour I would normally never choose – hot pink, zingy orange, sunburst yellow and vibrant turquoise, along with the beautiful and much used anthracite, have featured in various places around the house and garden. Nothing escapes the spray paint. The garden tables and chairs and wooden sunbeds have all been sprayed in my beloved anthracite. Wooden crates have been given new leases of life. Three Habitat plastic garden stools, originally black, are sprayed in different summery colours – one is orange, one is yellow and one is turquoise. White IKEA cube shelving has had the spray paint treatment – a great hack.

The metal cover for the well had a make-over, and the deep, deep blue now looks so much better and complements the very soft pale blue exterior woodwork.

Even the microwave hasn’t escaped the spray paint. Our silver microwave was just too silver and shiny for the new kitchen, and not being able to find a reasonably priced dark blue one anywhere, I did the obvious…

But perhaps the colour that I love the best is the gold. It just brings warmth and cosiness and a touch of glamour to our stonehouse. It also works so well against the dark colours we have around the house. A couple of our feature walls are very similar to Railings by Farrow & Ball. The walls and ceiling in the kitchen are Farrow & Ball Hague Blue. Most of the wooden floors – and the original stone floor in the Well Room – as well as the two sets of stairs are a very deep indigo. And the gold just adds a little unexpected something. I’ve upcycled bottles which are now used to display faux blooms and branches. Vintage birdcages have been glammed up with the gold. A big IKEA floor lamp now gives off a golden glow next to my desk. Various candle holders, which were pretty ordinary, now look super glam. And, the best thing of all is our vintage French woodburner. Now, this sounds mad – BUT it was never used. It was originally a beautiful blue ceramic burner, but it’s spent a lot of its life with us, in the garden as an ornament and so was a little bit weather-beaten and the hinges and plate underneath the lid were very rusty. It would have cost a fortune to have it reconditioned – and even if we were inclined to spend the money having this done, we’d have had no idea where to actually get it done. So, I figured a coat of spray paint might just give it a new lease of life. What do you think?

The pink table has also been re-upcycled. This was originally a paint-splattered wooden work table, which went pink to give a bit of colour to the upstairs landing. It’s also had a change of look, and now sits in the living room – the perfect place for lots of candles and twinkling lights in the winter…

I try to do all of the spray painting outside, and especially with larger items, but if they have be done indoors, windows are wide open and masks are worn. But, when aren’t they these days? The thing I love most about using spray-paint is that it’s relatively inexpensive, quick and easy to apply and if I want a change, all it takes is a quick sand down and another colour from the carousel.

Window Shelving

Window Shelving

One of the things that we’ve always meant to tackle, but never got around to it, as there always seem to be other jobs which take priority, is the levelling of a number of our window sills. Some are level, but some, including one in the living room, are still in their Istrian stone state – therefore wonky. They are deep and recessed so perfect for a bit of accessorising, but anything that is placed on them, has a bit of a Leaning Tower of Pisa look about it.

So, after adding a window shelf to the kitchen window, it was decided that this could be a quick fix solution for the living room window. The intention is still to have the window surround and sill plastered, but it depends on how long we are here for. At the moment, we don’t really fancy doing messy work which will ultimately end up with us decorating, so the shelf it is. Another reason for this shelf, is to accommodate the broadband fixed line router. It can be temperamental and likes to be right in the line of vision of the pole in the garden from which the cable comes into the house – and we’ve found the higher up this router is, the less temperamental she is. But resting on the back of the sofa was never go to be a long term solution.

Where we live isn’t built up at all and without our garden lights, the house would look very dark at night time. The garden does look pretty magical when the green wall is up-lit – as you drive down the hill from the main village, it looks like a castle wall. Albeit a very small one. But it is eye-catching and we wanted the windows of the house to be a pretty. (“Top lights” are a thing in Croatia – a bit like Italy – and so we wanted to introduce a bit of lighting ambience…) Hence, another reason for the window shelves, to give us a bit of additional height and to create something a bit more interesting.

The shelves just lift off, so in summer they will be removed, so that windows can be open (they open inwards). But, in winter, there’s no chance of them being open, so we can be a bit over the top in terms of dressing the windows. Come mid-December, they’ll be Christmassed up, especially as it’s looking like we’re here for the festive season, but at the moment, we’ve gone for a slightly more subtle approach…

The shelf is just a piece of very inexpensive pine, cut to size and painted white. The router seems very happy in her new elevated position. A string of tiny LED battery operated lights add a bit of twinkle and a shelf not a shelf if it hasn’t got tealight holders for additional flickering lights. I’d love to have the green fingers to keep plants alive and thriving, but I don’t and so all plants are faux. But they never die, which is a result for me! Most of the accessories which currently sit on the shelf are from UK shops or are probably available in the UK :

  • Wooden fir tree & pink pillar candle : Søstrene Grene, Stamford Quarter, Altrincham
  • LED starlight in glass bottle : The Range
  • All plants, aluminium cream pot & gold candlesticks : IKEA
  • Green glass tealight holders : Dunelm
  • LED string lights : Jysk

We’re definitely not overlooked, so don’t need the privacy that these shelves offer, but when I think back to our West Didsbury house, these would have been perfect, especially at the rear of the house. I think what I love about them most, is that once the brackets are on, the shelf just sits on top and so can be removed as and when necessary. It also means that I can change things around quickly and create different looks and moods without spending anything at all – all I’ve done here is move things from different parts of the house. We decided against putting a shelf up on the opposite window, as it have just felt a bit too much – and the sill on this particular window has been finished so we do have a flat surface. However, I couldn’t resist a kitchen window shelf. And this one is perfect for pots of herbs, as well as a bit of ambient lighting at the front of the house…

 

garden reno : update 4

garden reno : update 4

The garden area at the front of the house has not really been renovated, as such. It’s certainly been tidied up and areas of it do look a whole lot better, but apart from the addition of garden furniture and potted plants, that’s about it. We did have big plans for it, bit then bigger plans – as in selling the house and moving onto  our next renovation project – came along, and it now longer makes sense to spend a lot of money on a garden design that a future owner might not like and just rip out. We’d rather leave a potential owner with more of a blank canvas.

But, as we’ll be going nowhere very far this summer apart from the garden, we’ve decided that a mini-makeover is in order. At the weekend, we repotted and relocated plants, created a potting table for tthe tomato seedlings and generally did a big clear up. We’ve decided that we’re going for a shed, but this will be customised and shabby-chiced up so that it looks a bit more rustic and vintage style. Along these lines…

I’ve also finally discovered a shop nearby which sells all sorts of wonderful things, that so far I’ve not been easily able to source – old terracotta pots, old industrial and farming bits and pieces, spades, wheelbarrows, watering cans. The kind of stuff that people here would just discard once they’d become redundant, but which I need for our garden. Like they say, one person’s rubbish is another’s treasure. So I’m going to spend a nice day, at the end of this week, hunting out some accessories for the garden, along these lines…

Image : Mari Potter // Unsplash

Image : Mari Potter // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Jørgen Håland // Unsplash

Image : Jørgen Håland // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Annie Spratt // Unsplash

Image : Lou Ashley // Unsplashed

Image : Lou Ashley // Unsplashed

Image : Alex Blajan // Unsplash

Image : Alex Blajan // Unsplash

Image : Sue Hughes // Unsplashed

Image : Sue Hughes // Unsplashed

Image : Philip Moore // Unsplashed

Image : Philip Moore // Unsplashed

The weather is looking particularly summer-like this coming weekend, so I’m by the end of it, we have a rustic shed, painted in a pretty pastel, with a table and chairs outside, meaning that we can treat ourselves to an early evening cocktail…

The Living Room

The Living Room

The living room, when we bought our Istrian stone house, was dark and oppressive. Walls were plastered in places, painted in places and in other places, the stone work was exposed. Window frames and external shutters were a faded green colour. The pine floor boards were untreated and the original beams, very dark and exposed.  The stair treads were also exposed, and there were no risers or spindles and no handrail, meaning that they felt very unsafe. The previous owners had left much of the furniture – all dark wood and dark brown leather, and definitely not our taste  – and all in all, it was a pretty unloved space.

This was the first room we tackled as we needed to have somewhere that would be a comfortable retreat from the renovation chaos going on around us, and as our furniture arrived from England within a couple of days of arriving, we had to accommodate quite a lot of it somewhere, away from the building work. One of the first things we did was paint all of the walls, including the exposed stone work, white, which immediately lifted the room. We also stumbled along with the ornate cast iron stove we had inherited but it was proving to be very efficient, and so when we spotted this concrete beauty we knew it would be perfect for what we were planning.

A new chimney had to be built from the Snug (immediately below the living room), as our Dovre Stove which we brought over from Didsbury was being fitted down there, and up through the living room, into the bedroom and out through the roof. New ventilation was also installed. The white walls did definitely make a big difference in the early days, and with some familair and some new furniture in place, we did have a cosy room we could retreat to at the end of a long day.

However, we’ve continued to chip away in this room and today, we think we might finally be happy with it, and be able to put away the paintbrushes. For the time being.

Those beams have all been treated for woodworm and caulked, as there were too many gaps and holes and we wanted clean lines between the beams and the ceiling. They were then undercoated and then top-coated with a soft grey satinwood.

The faded green paint on the windows and frames and external shutters was sanded away and the woodwork was primed, undercoated and finished in a very pale blue, to complement the grey beams.

I find it very difficult to look at a room and think that it’s finished, especially when the rest of the house is in renovation chaos. I suppose I should try much harder, but I can always see something else that needs doing, or I go somewhere and see something I like and have to incorporate into the house. Such has been the case with the living room. The white walls have definitely been much, much better than the exposed stonework, but something just wasn’t quite right – and a visit to a beautiful bar in Ljubljana told me what was missing…

I loved the deep navy and gold and the patterns and textures and accessories and knew that this was what the living room had been missing. so set about creating an area of the room that was dark and luscious.

We decided that as well as painting the wall a very, very dark navy, the time had come to tackle the floor. The pine boards were not looking good and so it was decided that the whole floor would be painted in the same soft grey satinwood as the beams, pulling the whole room together.

The very dark wall just lends itself to a bit of contrasting bling, so as well as the gold sprayed stove, these angel wings take pride of place. A purchase which I just couldn’t resist…

The white IKEA cube storage was also sprayed and I think it all looks a whole lot better. Instead of the white cubes dominating the room – and being very obviously IKEA – they now blend into their surroundings much more. The spray painting was all done outside and it was completed very quickly. meaning that we didn’t have to wait hours for paint to dry before putting books back and accessorising. The artwork is actually from Bauhaus – our equivalent of B&Q. I’d spotted something very similar on Pinterest and had been searching online to see if I could source something like it – and there it was, as we were buying paint 🙂

Those rickety old stairs were given a much needed safety overhaul and makeover, too. It was a bit of a concern to discover that some of the treads had never actually been secured, so they were brought forward – given more foot room – and all securely attached. We also fitted a wooden back to the stairs, meaning that they looked a whole lot safer and much sturdy. Those spindles, will, at some point, be replaced, but we decided that as the stairs were being painted, they might as well also have a lick of paint. Considering how pretty bland they are, we think they look quite a lot better in their new colour and disguised ever so slightly, with two faux sheepskin covers.

The final thing we did to finish off the room – for the time being! – was to repaint the sideboard, which the TV sits on top of. It had been a pale grey but was beginning to look a bit grubby, so the bavy blue satinwood came out again, and transformed it, into something quite beautiful and elegant…

And there you go. For not too much expenditure, a new living room, inspired by Kolibri Cocktail Bar, in Ljubljana.