Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rattan Coffee Table

Sometimes when I get a piece of furniture home, I wonder what the hell I was thinking.  This coffee table was one of those - it was in terrible shape, the varnish was very flaky, it wobbled and I cursed myself at wasting my money and time but I'm so happy with how this has been transformed. 

Ahh... the power of paint never ceases to amaze me.

For the before photo - just imagine something that most people would put on the side of the road...

And this is my next challenge. I love the details on this piece below and the lion's head pulls.

Kids are back to school tomorrow. I've got to still dig out their winter uniforms and hope they still fit. I'm looking forward to getting some uninterrupted painting time.

Fiona xx

Monday, April 25, 2011

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

My first attempt yesterday of making hot cross buns was thwarted by almost out of date yeast. They didn't rise and were more the consistency of scones. So I tried again today with new yeast (and a different recipe) and they turned out perfectly.

Straight out of the oven before glazing

and then glazed...(not quite straight, as I made 16, not 15 which would have fit better in this rectangular tray)

So light and fluffy! Delicious.

These are made with the recipe from the Women's Weekly "Bake" cookbook. Every recipe from that book turns out perfectly.

I'll definitely be making these again next year! (actually, on second thoughts, my husband will probably be asking me to make them again tomorrow as he LOVES hot cross buns).

Fiona xx

Friday, April 22, 2011

Little French Writing Desk and a Good Friday feast

My favourite quote from these school holidays has to be:
Me, driving in the car back from the Southern Highlands, with the 2 kids who'd been very well behaved that morning: "You two are just the best kids in the world"

A little voice (my 5 year old son) piped up from the back seat: "Well... that's not what you said yesterday, Mummy!"

He really makes me laugh.

Today my sisters-in-law and a friend came for lunch. My husband grew up Catholic and so never eats meat on Good Friday so we prepared a huge seafood lunch. An entree of scallops cooked in garlic and butter, followed by a stuffed baked fish (Bream), salt and pepper calamari, a rocket, pear and walnut salad and homemade baked chips.  Some champange and sauvignon blanc and lovely company. It sure was a Good Friday.

On the furniture front, my Damask dresser sold this week as well as a couple of other bits from my antiques stall so I had to finish some more furniture. 

Here's a little lovely french style desk I've restored.  I painted the gorgeous cabriole legs and base in Dulux Fair Bianca Half. I then stripped and restored the top with a dark walnut stain and then estapol. It has come up beautifully - really gleaming.

I was very happy to find this desk as I did one previously with a painted harlequin top and I really like this style. The guy selling it on eBay actually manages a storage place nearby.  The owners of the desk didn't want it anymore (some people!!) so he was selling it. He said he'd call me if any more lovely stuff was unwanted.  A good contact to have!

And the before photo below.  It was actually a dressing table but I'm selling the mirror and the desk seperately as I think they will sell better that way.

Happy Easter everyone!

Fiona xx

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Wedgewood" Sideboard

I'm very grateful to Christa from Stories of a House blog for the inspiration for this dresser.  I bought this sideboard from a lovely woman who was selling her house and a lot of belongings because of a divorce.  She was still very sad but I could feel her strength of character and I'm sure she'll find peace and happiness soon.

After a lot of painting,effort and worrying about small details, here is it now:

Colours are British Paints' Blue Cashmere and Porters Paint's White.
The wooden top surface has been stained walnut then waxed. The painted surfaces have also been waxed for protection. Original hardware.

For sale in my shop. Let me know if you are interested.

cheers Fiona xx

Monday, April 18, 2011

1930's Extension Table

This gorgeous shaped extension table (on castors) has sat in our carport for 3 months because I was a bit scared of the magnitude of staining the table top and getting the colour even. My husband finally got sick of not being able to park the car so I just got stuck into it and actually found it much easier than I expected (but still a huge amount of work).

I removed the lacquer and red stain as per this tutorial and then stained the top with the discontinued Walnut Stain I got cheaply a few weeks ago and then used MinWax Wipe on Poly (Several coats). I painted the legs and sides , lightly distressed them and top coated them with Cabothane Clear Coat.

And here is is now 

The photo below shows the gorgeous wood that has been rescued from the fake mahogany 1970s treatment:

and before:

I love renovating tables - such practical useful items!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to Strip Furniture

I have just finished a beautiful 1930's extension table that I'll reveal in a post tomorrow but I have had so many people ask me about stripping back furniture that I thought I'd post how I do it.  Often I won't need a chemical stripper and I just use a handsander and use progressively finer sandpaper to remove the damaged surface but in extreme cases, I resort to a chemical stripper.

I bought this lot of furniture in January on eBay.

It had been previously stained and lacquered a revolting bright red fake mahogany. This was awful to remove and I literally spent days sanding this back.  Thank god for Citristrip.

This was the bright red of the furniture before it had a Lilyfield Life makeover. Good lord, what were they thinking.

Shake the can and pour into a metal container. I used the tin trays you use for BBQ fat collection. Citristrip stays wet for ages and your brushes are washable in water.

Brush on reasonably thickly. If you are too sparse then it doesn't work as well. I think you need at least 2mm of stripper. Wait until the surface bubbles.  This may take 30 mins or more depending on the weather and also the surface. Don't get impatient because if you do it too soon then you'll just end up needing to reapply. I am so impatient that I probably made the job much more tedious than it needed to be.

Citristrip is very nice as it stays wet for ages (24 hours) so if you get interrupted then your surface doesn't dry out. Especially helpful when you're squeezing in furniture restoration in around your kids and you're meant to be cooking dinner and instead you've snuck out to the carport to work on a piece and realise the dinner's burning and the kids are fighting.....(a glimpse of my life!)

Then with the paint scraper remove the gunk. Make sure you only GO WITH THE GRAIN! And be gentle as you don't want to gouge the wood. Once the majority of the lacquer is off then I wash it down with a household scourer (the green ones with the sponge on the back) making sure all the stripper is removed. You may need to repeat the stripping process on difficult bits.

Then once the wood is dry start sanding. I start with P80, then 120 then finally 240 sandpaper. For curved areas I use the sanding foam blocks. Once again GO WITH THE GRAIN. The more time you spend on these steps the more beautiful your finished piece will be so it's worth the effort. If you have black marks in the wood you may want to wash down with bleach or Oxalic acid.

Then wipe down with a damp cloth and stain or finish as you desire.  This is the surface below that I was stripping above.  No more luminescent red.

Hope this helps.
Fiona xx

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Holy Cow!

Vegetarians look away now....

A few weeks ago an old man across the road was filling a skip with a lot of rubbish intermingled with a couple of unwanted treasures. One of the things he let me rescue was this cabinet.

It's an old record cupboard I think. I remember my Grandad having one and you'd slide out the records onto the bottom platform to choose one.

I spent ages looking for some cowhide to replace that disgusting bit of dirty carpet in the above photo. I actually found some locally. I was walking past a garage and saw a groovy old dude doing upholstery and asked him if he had any spare. he'd actually just finished a set of cowhide bar stools so gave me a great piece for $20. It normally sells for over $150 per square metre.

I painted the cabinet in black gloss paint. I swear never again. What a beast to work with. The back edge of the top was badly warped so I used a strip of wood from the pull down door to cover it.  I felt a bit sad covering up the silky oak but it just didn't go with the cowhide and the top was really wrecked so something needed doing.  Anyway as I've saved this from the rubbish so I felt that I could do what I wanted with it.

Fiona xx

Friday, April 8, 2011

Turquoise Console and a Rooster

My lovely friend, Amity, must be psychic as she came up to me yesterday and said Fiona, you need to paint something turquoise". She's definitely on the money as I had actually spent the day sanding back and painting a long console that exact colour.

I white washed the top by mixing paint and water then rubbing it into the stripped raw wood. I then painted the base turquoise and then heavily distressed it and rubbed dark antique wax over it all.

and before:

and a quick makeover on a wicker basket to add some interest to my shop.

So, all in all, a couple of productive days. Hopefully I sell some stuff this weekend!  (Although I spoke to a man this afternoon who was eye-ing off the little chest of drawers I finished earlier in the week and he's bringing his wife in to see it tomorrow). Fingers crossed for me!

cheers Fiona