Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lilyfield Life Furniture Review 2013

It's been a wonderful year and one that has seen my business grow.  I have been able to commit more time to painting while still juggling some business consulting and it's a joy to be able to do what I love and work from home. I am so thankful for everyone who purchases my painted furniture or has me paint their own furniture and to you all who read my blog, or interact with me on facebook and instagram. 
Social Media really is a bonus isn't it. Marketing at our fingertips and for free. 

2013 saw the launch of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Australia and I was very happy to embrace this beautiful paint and wax. I am honoured to have assisted Annie Sloan with real estate and PR connections and to have had a long interesting skype session with her discussing furniture painting and business issues.  If I had a physical shop I would have been a stockist but for now I am just happy using her paints (as well as other paints and still making my own chalk paint) I had previously brought some home from the US and so was very happy to buy it locally. Much of my furniture is painted with this. I painted around 100 pieces this year. Here is a little roundup of some of 2013's efforts.

I am currently on holiday and refreshing my creative mind and planning how to juggle work and family and self. If anyone has the secret to balancing growing a small creative business, family, health and sleep and they please email me?? I look forward to picking up my paint brushes mid January and get working again.

Happy New Year and wishing you much joy, peace and prosperity in 2014.

Thank you and lots of love

Monday, December 30, 2013

ASCP Graphite Upholstered Bench Seat

I recently came across a beautiful velvet upholstered bench seat. The fabric was still in gorgeous condition and the tufting divine. I didn't care for the timber base but knew that it could easily be updated with a little ASCP Graphite. I thought that white was not the right choice for this seat and am so happy I went with my instincts as it turned out beautifully.

Before I started any work on this I unscrewed the upholstered part and put it aside. It's in such gorgeous vintage condition that I didn't want any paint on it or to rip the velvet. Much better to be safe than sorry.

I then spent several house on this piece as the dowels folding the base and legs together were a little loose. I removed the dowels, reglued them and also inserted some metal brackets. It's not wobbly at all now.

Once it was all structurally firm I lightly sanded it and then painted it in two coats of ASCP Graphite, a gorgeous charcoal black. I then sanded it with a sanding sponge and top coated it for durability, smoothness and sheen.

It's off to live in Wagga.

One day I'm going to give upholstery tufting a go, I'm very intrigued to see if I can do it.  Next time perhaps.

Fiona xx

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday snaps

For the last few years we've been coming to Adelaide for our beach holiday... Mainly because it barely rains in summer here.  People always look at us a bit weirdly when we say we go to Adelaide for beach holidays but I would hate to pay for a holiday and have it rain for the week. Anyway I love the calm beach, the lack of crowds and the lack of humidity here. 

Beautiful beaches, friendly people and sunshine all equal relaxation. That coupled with beautiful fresh produce and food and wonderful local wines it's a winning combination. We love going to the Central Markets here also. 

And the sunsets with the sun setting over the beach is just beautiful. Last night Phil and I had a couple of drinks in the hotel's bar and watched this beauty unfold. So peaceful. 

This is our rooms view. Not bad seeing as I forgot to book the room until last minute and when I booked there were only non ocean facing rooms but when we arrived the hotel manager upgraded us. We stay at the Stamford Grand in Glenelg and love it- right  on the beach. 

Hope you are all finding some time to unwind also. I'm sitting here in the beach blogging from my iPhone. Technology is pretty amazing! 

Cheers Fiona 

Friday, December 27, 2013

After Christmas

I hope you all had a relaxed Christmas. We had a lovely lunch with my sister and her family. Lots of food and good cheer.

I made my husband's favourite Christmas treat: mince tarts. Actually he made and soaked the mince. I just made the pastry and the tart cases as he finds that too fiddly. The short crust pastry was crumbly and delicious. If you are interested let me know and I'll share the recipe. It's very easy. 

And I made my kids' favourite chocolate sugar cookies in the shapes of snowflakes. This is one of their favourite parts of Christmas Day. I should make them more often. 

On christmas night I slept twelve hours and still woke exhausted . Ridiculous but I'm ready for a holiday. Part of my break will be planning 2014 for my business and working out how I juggle things... And plans to take better care of myself. 

Hope you all have at least a few days between Christmas and New Years to relax and ponder life

Fiona xx


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Lights at St Mary's Cathedral

Merry Christmas everyone 

If you haven't been already go and see the Christmas lights at St Mary's Cathedral after dark.

Divine (and yes in the true sense also)

Have a wonderful day with your family and loved ones. 
May your blessings be many and your hearts filled with love and gratitude.

Fiona xx

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A bit of Christmas Cheer - Reindeer beer

I love Christmas Eve, possibly even more than Christmas Day - that hint of excitement and all the preparations. We've been up early making icicle cookies and raspberry and mint sorbet. Phil went very early to the butchers to buy the loin of pork (I use this recipe from What Katie Ate) and now thanks to my thoughtful husband I'm heading off for a haircut and pedicure.

Today I'm sharing these cute beer bottles the kids and I made for one of our neighbours and also my sister's partner. I know you may have seen similar on Pinterest but they are too sweet to not share. 

What a great way to make a 6 pack of beer festive.

We were going to do 6 reindeer but the kids wanted Santa in the sleigh (aka the carry box) as well so we got some stuffing for the beards (can you believe that my son pulled it off the couch cushions as the covers were being washed. He's naughty but resourceful!)

For the Santa hats I just chopped up a little red kite bag that we had - the kite was broken so was about to throw the bag in the bin and thought that it would make a good Santa hat. Nothing like using what is on hand.

I'm almost all ready.I have one more small present to buy and I've even started wrapping some presents which is a miracle as usually I'm up late on Christmas eve wrapping.

Always a last minute kind of person.

Hope you are all feeling festive.

Fiona xx

Monday, December 23, 2013

French painted drawers for my sister in law

My husband's older sister had a good idea for their sister's Christmas present. Her IKEA chest of drawers were broken (surprise surprise) and she was thinking of buying some new ones. What did I think of sourcing and painting some well made vintage drawers for a joint Christmas present?

i found these on eBay listed as antique drawers imported from France. I told the guy that I'm pretty sure they were made in the 1960s by Burgess right here in Sydney but because I loved the shape (and vintage Australian made furniture is great!) I went ahead and bought them.

here is the before: fake wood tones in yellow.

Pretty grubby really. I really like the added wood trim around the drawers and I knew that detail would paint up well.

I mixed a custom chalk paint putty colour and got busy one afternoon. I love this understated colour. I think that the drawers have enough detail to live with this muted paint.

Here is a close up of the handles and the wood trim.

When you have black in the crevices of details that you want to maintain, my trick is to not smoosh the paint in the cracks and leave the original darkness there. You can see this effect below. 

You can see how the black defines the shape a little but better.

Don't you love these beautiful vintage french keys. I bought them from Innerwest Vintage Garage Sale on Facebook. Melissa has amazing stuff. I was going to do something with them but I just like them exactly how I bought them. I carried them around in my handbag for a couple of months but now they sit on my dressing table.

and here is how I wrapped it :)

Pretty hard to wrap a chest of drawers so a bow had to do. We already gave it to her last weekend as this year we're spending Christmas with my family. She loved it. Thank goodness.

I hope you are all ready for the count down to Christmas Day. I hate the rush but seeing that I do pretty much everything last minute, it's my own fault. Saying that we've had a lovely weekend of beach and friends over for drinks and nibbles and conversation.

Fiona xx

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Faux Marble Painted Table

I am well behind on blogging about my latest work. It's been painting non stop here at Lilyfield Life and I even had to hire my nephew who has just finished his HSC to sand and prime for me (and to clean my shed and organise my tools - it's amazing to be able to find my stuff easily. Let's see how long it lasts!)


Yesterday I tried my hand at painting faux marble for the first time. The first attempt was just passable and from a few metres away it looked okay but close up it was all smudgy and VERY obviously painted. At the 11th hour I decided I couldn't live with it and stripped it back to the bare timber and primed it again and painted it again. Phil took the kids to Christmas carols and I stayed home working but I'm very pleased I did as I am happy with the result.

It also meant I finished all my work for 2013 by lunch time today - save for the references check and drafting up a letter of offer for the recruitment job I've been doing (we've found a wonderful person, yay!). So the kids and I headed to Bronte for an afternoon on the beach. Just beautiful. Why don't I do that more often (more than just the weekends - can I fit more into my days??)

I agreed to painting the faux marble top with some hesitation but really I thought how hard can it be - I've got "google and ""you tube. It'll be okay. Carolyn delivered her table top to me a week ago. It was a reddish timber and I primed it but let it sit for days while I completed other jobs. I was actually fearful of starting!  Anyway I finally decided to give it a try. I watched these videos about ten times each. My google search history is full of marble, faux, paint, veining, cararra etc.

and this one in French

I won't list out how I did it as for most of the time I was freaking out full of self doubt. When I get better I will write a tutorial. I'm not a fan of tutorials written by people who've done something once so won't do that myself. I started with my supplies using Drying retarder and a watercolour emulsion to help my paint flow. I also stole a feather or two from our chickens. You are meant to use a goose or swan feather but we have chickens in our backyard and not geese because I hate honking geese; and not swans because my backyard is the size of a postage stamp.

This is my first attempt below. Passable but barely. I made the mistake of doing the background veins in dark grey and not mid grey so it all got too dark and heavy. And also because it's my first attempt and I think you possible need years of practice to perfect this technique.

So last night I stripped it all off and started again. Carolyn was coming first thing this morning so I had time pressure as well. Phil took the kids out and I had a vodka because so many people say to have some alcohol; to relax you before painting faux marble.
Second attempt is much improved.

Here it is on the table top which actually makes it look much more realistic. The table also has a huge black ornate mirror over it.



It looks good but not perfect but at a fraction of the price of cut shaped marble I think it will do.

I am keen to practice this faux marbling technique more. I'm even thinking I should take some lessons if I can find a teacher.

and of course I'm keen to spend more time at the beach.. lucky it's Christmas and summer holidays.

Time to breathe...

I'd love to hear what you think of the faux marble. Love or hate? (or in between). 

Have you ever tried to paint it yourself?

Edited to say see it in situ here

Fiona xx