The chest of drawers upcycling project

The chest of drawers upcycling project

Morning my lovelies,

Hope you’ve all had marvellous weekends so far?

Yesterday our little area got put on the map on a global scale – for the second time since we moved here (first time was back in 2009-10 when it was proven our area had a higher birth rate than Pakistan and India. Take THAT! You must try harder!) and it was because a couple got married in our supermarket. Cos, that’s how we roll..? I mean, clearly, had Husband and I not married in an idyllic location close to where I grew up outside Stockholm, that would have been my go-to place. I think I would’ve walked down the aisle around the water-vapour-mist machines around the fresh fruit and veg.

A la Phantom of the Opera.
Maybe even get Husband to wear the Phantom mask! <notes down idea for wedding vows renewal>

I digress!

Today, lovely readers, I wanted to talk to you about my wonderful chest of drawers I upcycled for my boys’ room.

When I was expecting TBT of course my mind went into overdrive while the little monkey was draining me of all my energy and somehow making me constantly hungry so I had no choice but to eat continuously. At one point I considered renaming myself Gretel. I. was. huge!

Having invested in cheap-and-cheerful flatpack furniture it didn’t take long for me to realise the units weren’t up to scratch. I think they lasted about 9 months before they got booted out of the door. The only reason it took me that long to get rid of them was because I was not at work, and therefore couldn’t make financial decisions.

Once I was back to work, I spent hours on eBay bidding on countless chests that would fit. I even made counter-offers that the sellers would just reply with a “LOL!” to. True story.

In the end, I came across these:

eBay bargains

eBay bargains

They looked clean! They were two! Lots of drawers! The guy sent me measurements, they seemed good!
Only issue? They were from the deepest darkest Norfolk. Don’t get me wrong, I love countryside, and I revel in it when we’re away, but this… this was something else.

Stepdaughter was bored at home with her two brothers and embarrassing Daddy, so I suggested we go on a road trip! Yay! Girly time! Just the two of us.

No phone connectivity.

SatNav isn’t entirely sure where we’re heading to, either.

For those that don’t know me, I drive an old man’s car (Saab) and I must admit I felt very out of place there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not in pristine condition but it’s not a pickup truck. Or a modded car. Or a pickup truck. Or a trailer. Pulled along by a pickup truck. You get the picture.

We drive for what seems like hours (only 2 or so!) and come to the approximate destination. After having driven around the area a couple of times, I call the seller and ask for some more directions.

“I’ve seen you drive, you’ve gone past my house five times!”.

Oh. Goodie.

<cue horror movie>

At this point I was glad I didn’t call Husband as I more than likely would have made the mistake of saying I’d be “Right back” and therefore fulfil the inevitable prophesy (FYI – you mustn’t EVER say that line. Ever. Cos you won’t be back! You’ll be chopped up and stuffed in the freezer. Like Little Women was stuffed in Joey’s freezer in Friends! And then fed to piranhas by a man with an eyepatch rubbing his hands together with glee… You get my drift.)

Sooooo, I drove back to the location the seller described.

A big gate – check.
Barking scary HUGE dog at said gate (…who, if hungry, probably would’ve eaten me alive there and then. And any leftovers would have been stuffed into the freezer…) – check.
A mobile home with a guy sitting on the porch outside it smiling over at me – check.

He seemed nice enough, offered to let me see the units as they were in the house – I gracefully declined and made excuses about muddy shoes. The shoes I’d worn while driving. In my car that had recently been cleaned. Shoes that now stood on his sand-covered porch. Of his mobile home.

After an odd look, he shrugged, went inside and brought out the units, one after the next.

They were in impeccable condition, heavy as anything as there was no veneer in them at all, just the Real Deal.

The next part involved fitting them into the car. A saloon, not made for furniture.

Thankfully, my stubborn Swedish/efficient German heritage with a long history of Tetris growing up, I was not defeated.

Stepdaughter probably could have done with a chiropractor to help unroll her spine from the return journey having sat pretty uncomfortably, but I must admit I was happy once we got back home!

The next hurdle was getting them into the house – on our return I was greeted by Husband who looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked the question everyone dreads – “where are these going, then?” Secretly, I wished the house could have magically increased in size while we were gone. The next few weeks involved scrubbing

chest of drawers

before…

 

and repainting

chest of drawers

during the repainting process

 

the units.

Was it worth it?

You be the judge.

Even Winnie the Pooh approves!

Even Winnie the Pooh approves!

1231089_684643678232334_1258313741_nNow, the boys have units that have been fully personalised and are completely unique. Two of a kind. And, they also have their (step) mum alive and in one piece to this day, to tell this somewhat unique tale!

Do you have your own design story to tell? Any eBay bargains you want to share?

Furniture repurpose

 

The Chairs – voila!

The Chairs – voila!

Oh. my. Good.ness.

I am elated. Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Overwhelmed.

Just – wow.

The chairs have finally been finished!

IMG_0266

Upcycled chair

I’ll admit, I got them Christmas 2013, attended Wet Paint workshop in February 2014 and then only put the last coats of Annie Sloan Chalkpaint on before waxing and sealing them in January 2015.

I can’t even tell you why I’ve not been able to finish them sooner – I’ll just admit that I’ve let life get in the way, and I’ve been focusing on other things. Which happens! Should I beat myself up about it? Nah.

Look at how beautiful they are! How splendid and amazing – and comfy, too!

Yay yay yay.

Have you had any projects you’ve been trying to work on for ages? Why don’t you share below, or post a pic on my twitter, Facebook or tag me on Instagram?

Furniture repurpose

Chalk paint with Annie Sloan range

Chalk paint with Annie Sloan range

Morning! Hope you’re all having splendiferous weekends? I’ve been all run down with a stinking cold that’s now spread to my chest. Joy.

So I’ll try keeping this relatively short and sweet today!

I do have lots of exciting posts coming up in the future, featuring Great Interior Design Challenge content.. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, definitely do so, otherwise you might miss out on some seriously exciting Christmas treats :)

When I went to see a darling friend of mine yesterday, she confessed (like many in her position) that since she’d moved into her house with her little family in the summer, they hadn’t done much to the house except getting key pieces of furniture, and depended on hand-me-downs as much as possible.

That – I congratulate.

In my opinion, there is absolutely no point in getting yourself on the property ladder having finally saved up all the insane amount of money required for a deposit in this day and age (even just 5% of a 6-digit number is still a small fortune!) and then putting yourself in debt through the mortgage which is a 25 year + commitment to pay off, and then ending up spending another small fortune on furniture. Especially since the furniture may not even be the Perfect Piece, but just something to fill the space..

My darling friend P has collected a load of pine furniture and hand-me-downs for the time being, and they’re ideal for what’s needed. But, of course, P and her family love colour. They are definitely people that you’d expect to have a slightly psychadelic feel to their home with celebration of colour everywhere. So how can this be achieved?

Let me remind you all of the wonders of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint

There’s a massive range of colours for anyone to go CRAZY with!

But – how do I use it?

It’s simple:

1. Get your delightful tin and give it a good shake

This ensures that all the dyes mix wonderfully within the tin so you don’t have to stir it forever. Seeing as the pots are “only” 1 litre each, too, it’s not too heavy.

Annie Sloan paint tins

My weapons of choice – Annie Sloan paint tins in Country Grey and Paris Grey

2. Open the tin and pour an amount over to a bucket or cup

Personally I use a cup. But when I went to Wet Paint’s workshop in February Laura and Jax had provided little buckets. Use whatever you like – the paint is water-soluble so afterwards you can just give whatever you’re using a good clean. Probably wouldn’t use my finest china for this, but you get the jist.

Paint brushes in a cup

Paint brushes in a cup

3. Pour in a little water and stir well

This is a great trick – diluting the paint in your cup/bucket helps it last longer and makes it easier to apply onto the furniture. Keep about 80/20 ratio of paint/water – any further watering-down can make the paint change effect so it’s more of a lime-wash rather than a full covering.

4. Ensure your furniture you’re about to paint is clean and dry

If needs be, give it a wash with sugar soap to get rid of any dirt, and brush it down with a spare paintbrush or something just to get rid of the dust.

3 chairs

The Chairs – BEFORE

See how dark the chairs are in the photo above? And they’re shiny with polish, too.

5. Paint away!

Enjoy the process – remember to use about 2-3 coats of the paint (or until there seems to be an even cover!) Through furniture painting you can make any room look really nicely coordinated even if you may have mismatched furniture.

Here’s two of the same chairs featured before – the paint sticks like glue to any surface, so you don’t have to sand it – as long as it’s been given a good clean it’s ready to be painted and it’ll stick!

Annie Sloan paint

Two chairs – AFTER painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

It’s such a forgiving paint – washes away with just water, and you can paint on top of it again and again if you’re not happy with the first colour.

6. Seal it

Seal it with Annie Sloan wax, either in original or dark wax for that slightly aged finish.

So go on, enjoy! What have you got to lose?

Some other examples of what I’ve painted in the past:

Dresser before

Dresser before

Mirror after being painted with Annie Sloan Country Grey

Mirror after being painted with Annie Sloan Country Grey

Stool after being painted with Annie Sloan Country Grey

Stool after being painted with Annie Sloan Country Grey

Up-cycling

Up-cycling

reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
Thank you, Google.

As you will know by now, dear reader, I love the idea of up-cycling. I often come across some truly spectacular pieces of furniture that I then realise is a collection of completely separate items unified to make a new item altogether. It’s like being a scientist and coming up with a new element, that only You will come across. Unless, of course, you decide to mass-market your idea. In which case, kudos! I did some digging on the subject, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few key pieces that really prove creativity is all in the mind, and nothing is impossible!
 
 
How’s about a dressing armoire for a teenager’s room? Or mine. I’m pretty keen, I must admit. Anything to get TBT out of my things!      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How about this unique light fitting? Melted plastic bottles!      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Want a kitchen island? Grab thee some pallets and voila! No wonder I always see “Pallets wanted” signs when I’m out and about on the roads. Sneaky devils.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cheesy? Or just grate? (badoom-tishh!)
 

 
 
How about some birch logs cut to size; makes a lovely sofa table doesn’t it?          
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 And finally, la piece de resistance: Sofa tub!! I’d probably go as far as saying I’d do a feature of the plug holes, looks like a little face to me. Or Mickey Mouse. (can you tell what TBT is making me watch on TV daily??)             So what do you think? Do you like the concept, or absolutely hate it? Would you be happy to have a one-of-a-kind piece in your home, especially if you made it from something unloved?

The chairs!

The chairs!

So I haven’t updated you on my progress of my chairs recently – not because I haven’t been doing much with them, but mostly because I’ve been waiting to see what the response is..

You see, after my wonderful day with Wet Paint last month I discovered a little note inside the chair – “Made in Czechoslovakia” and, as it happens, they turned out to be a designer chair, dah-ling! EEK! My first thought, while at the workshop was – meh. I’ve made a start on the chair, I may as well carry on. And, as Laura of Wet Paint pointed out, the chair I’d brought was in such a sad state that it probably wouldn’t retail for much..

IMG_2454 IMG_2453 IMG_2452 IMG_2451 IMG_2450 IMG_2449

So, once I came home I took a look at the other remaining few chairs I had that I hadn’t already made a start on painting, and, actually, they’re in really good shape!
It dawned on me that I could potentially be sitting on (no pun intended!) a little goldmine in their own right!

I’ve contacted a few antiquities dealers, and I’ve only just got a response last weekend (ONE! From the numerous emails I’d already sent with pictures! Rood…):

Your Thonet chairs are of relatively recent manufacture and, sadly, are of little commercial value.

So at least I now have my answer. It was quite exciting though, at one point! I’m going to get cracking on repainting and reupholstering the chairs soon, so watch this space. I received some beyooootiful samples from Blendworth today and may have spotted a contender for the reupholstering..

A little history on the chairs:

The Thonet chair bears the name of its author, Michael Thonet (1796 – 1871), a joiner and furniture designer of German origin, who settled in Bohemia in 1856 and founded two manufactories producing furniture from bent wood – in Koryčany(map) in Moravia in 1856 and in Bystřice pod Hostýnem (map) in 1861. Thonet’s bent furniture immediately became a hit and the German businessman received many awards for it, including the golden cross of merit or the knightly order of Franz Joseph.

The history of the famous Thonet chair no. 14 began to be written in 1859, when Michael Thonet designed its first model from bent wood. This type of production was a breakthrough in its time. In comparison with its competition in the era, the chair was unbelievably light; it only weighed about three kilograms. It was cheap, comfortable and over time proved to be almost unbreakable. It became an essential part of the interior of many cafes, night clubs, casinos, barracks and saloons of the previous century.

Michael Thonet even demonstrated its quality and solidity by throwing from the top of the Eiffel Tower during the World Fair in Paris, where he also won the gold medal. Famous personalities who took a liking to Thonet’s products include Pablo Picasso. As for living personalities, we can mention Sandra Bullock who also rests on a Thonet chair in her home.

Today, the chair is still produced in its original design in the factory in Bystřice pod Hostýnem. The technological procedures have practically remained unchanged since the beginning of production. The chairs are made by steaming pieces of beech wood in saturated steam so that the wood bends more easily. The actual bending of the backrest part of the chair is done manually using a mould with a special covering strap that prevents the bent wood from cracking. It is a highly sophisticated manual work that cannot be done properly by any machine.

The company in Bystřice pod Hostýnem is the oldest and biggest producer of bent furniture in the world. It employs about 850 people and exports its products to sixty different countries. It is a unique Czech furniture company that regularly exhibits at the Salone del Mobile in Milano, a major exhibition event in the world of furniture design.

So there you have it. Some of the world’s most important designs in the history of wooden chairs is sitting in my house, ready to be re-loved. Can’t wait to get started!