Thursday, January 31, 2013

White Paint Makeover: Vintage Kitchen Dresser

I was asked by a lovely local lady to paint her old kitchen dresser. This poor piece of furniture had a long and colourful history. My client had owned it for about 20 years and before that her flatmate had owned it and he'd found it on the side of the road. It was pretty dirty and beat up and definitely needed some white paint love.

LIlyfield Life Painted furniture White Kitchen Dresser

The white home made chalk paint and waxed top coat has made the cabinet look so fresh and revived. I talked my client into doing a contrasting colour on the inside of the cupboards and we selected a lovely soft French grey. The hutch definitely needed some distressing as it was such an old piece and there were dings and broken wood along the doors so it would never look good painted perfect white. I love how it looks and it really added some interest to this Depression Era piece.

LIlyfield Life Painted furniture White Kitchen Dresser

I didn't end up putting on all the hardware as my client had replaced the original brass hardware and some of the new pieces weren't right so my client's husband sorted that out once they picked up the hutch. 

LIlyfield Life Painted furniture White Kitchen Dresser

and here is the before shot. It doesn't actually look too bad in this photo but it definitely looks better now and my client was so happy with the white paint make over. The dresser sits in her dining room which is relatively dark but now the whole room looks different with this piece painted.

LIlyfield Life Painted furniture White Kitchen Dresser

I am always quite nervous when I paint someone else's furniture -it's very different to painting something to sell. Thankfully my client was extremely delighted in my work on this kitchen dresser and she said that these photos didn't actually do the piece justice so that was great feedback.

I actually have another vintage kitchen dresser to show you soon but the next one won't be getting painted.

yours in all things white paint

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Australia Day long weekend

We spent the weekend visiting my husband's parents out in western NSW. It seems very appropriate to spend Australia Day out in our beautiful countryside. Even though I grew up on the green far south coast I do love western NSW but it is so dry on the way out there. The skies were bright blue and the land was yellow. It is often yellow out there but this time the was hardly any pasture - just bare ground on many properties we drove past.  For you farmers out there, I really feel for you as it's such a tough life being so dependant on the weather...

....Although I would love to live under these big open skies.  These are all iPhone photos taken while we were driving (well I took them while Phil was driving) along at 110km per hour. It surprises me sometimes just how good the camera on the iPhone is, even my iPhone which is very cracked with half the front screen missing and I can't ever turn my phone off as that ability is broken. I can't wait till my contract finishes later this year.

Then late Saturday evening, while we were having an Australia Day BBQ, the rain clouds rolled in - sunset was gorgeous with pink tipped grey clouds. My parents in law were very glad to have some rain in their tank - they are on town water but use rain water for their garden.  It was still very hot and humid but much more comfortable and hopefully the rain will fill the dams and make it all a bit greener out there.

I am sure farmers out west will be grateful for this rain even though the same weather system is wreaking havoc to Southern Queensland and North NSW. Australia is such a land of contrasts. Bushfire, floods and drought all at the same time. So tough especially as it happens year after year. I don't understand why councils allow people to build homes on flood plains.

The trip back home was quite miserable and even scary at times especially coming back over the Blue Mountains and along the freeway into Sydney.  our car slid a few times with all the water on the road but luckily all the drivers were taking care and driving slowly.

We did have a lovely stop for lunch at our friends' vineyard and winery, Cargo Road, in Orange on the way home. Such a beautiful spot and it was lovely to catch up with friends and give the kids a break from sitting in the car all day. James is very entrepreneurial and has some great events organised for later in the year that I'll be blogging about soon.

I hope you all had a good weekend and stayed safe from floods, torrential  rain and wind. What did you get up to?

I have a little giveaway over on my facebook page today so go check it out.

Fiona xx

Friday, January 25, 2013

Around my house today

I have finally unpacked most of my mother's things, found new spots for them. It's just lovely to be surrounded by my mother's things. I have been thinking about her so much lately, appreciating her eye for beauty and the way she took care of her possessions. To fit in the new stuff, I taken a huge load of my own unwanted things to Vinnies. I find it very therapeutic to have a clear out! The house is almost tidy again...

beautiful white quilt hand made by my mother

A new addition to our bedroom is this beautiful quilt. Mum was an amazing quilter and had such a good eye for colour and design as well as a great ability for making the tiniest neatest stitches. I look really closely at her work and it's just incredible.  This white quilt that she made was always on her and my step-dad's bed. I love having this now on our bed. It is so bright white! I am not sure if I'll be able to keep it so perfectly clean.  My sister saw this photo and said "Mum would like it, the fabric of life!".

By my side of the bed I have a little collection of some loved items. A blue and white ginger jar, some white shell balls, a white ampersand, and ceramic bird house as well as a little ceramic family ornament that one of my sisters gave my - I love how this is the same as our family - older girl and younger boy. So sweet.

little ceramic family ornament

The French bust in my bedroom is a relatively new acquisition. My friend Patricia has closed her French homewares shop in Haberfield which is I think very sad. I visited her on one of the last days it was open and bought this bust for a steal. It actually was on a stand but the second day I had it I was bumped the chest of drawers and it fell on the floor and broke. Luckily it didn't completely shatter, I think the fabric protected the bust part. I think I actually prefer it without the stand. I keep my mother's Oroton necklace (this is true 1970's fashion that I love) on it.  The little mint green ceramic box is one I gave my mum for a birthday when I was a teenager.  I'm not sure where I'll end up keeping this but for now it can sit here.

I brought home several of Mum's white Wedgwood vases. This one is so practical for short stemmed big bloomed flowers. These fading hydrangeas are from a friend's garden. The muted colours are so pretty.  This vase is so practical - it has a coated wire structure in the bowl of it so you can arrange your flowers in place and they stay. I wish all my vases had this!  

Other small changes in the house are some new cushions for our lounge. I bought this blue embroidered one from Temple & Webster. When I ordered it I actually thought the fabric was white but I don't mind the light blue -I suppose that's what you get for buying online and not reading the detail. The price was very good at around $24.

This little arrangement is on one of our sideboards  The ampersand was given to my kids by Patricia when she shut her shop. I am tempted th paint it white - common theme in my life! 

How is your house looking after school holidays? Don't worry there is a lot of mess still in my house! I will deal with it once the kids go back to school, but truthfully it is more my mess than theirs. My tools, my paint, my craft, ironing to be done, washing to be put away..blah blah blah...I am quite messy and I so wish I wasn't.

Who is the messiest in your house? What part of the house do you struggle to keep tidy?

Have a lovely weekend and Happy Australia day to all you fellow Aussies out there. I'll be back next week.

Fiona xx

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 simple ways to achieve a French Provincial look in your home

I love a French look for my home. In the last few years, I have transformed our house mainly with white paint, vintage, second hand furniture and my own efforts. It's lightened our house, making it feel cleaner, fresher and prettier. I've also added more furniture and detail into some rooms and pared down others, creating a more liveable and interesting space.

Sure, if you are building or renovating a house or have an endless supply of money then there are many ways of getting this look - panelled walls, floor to ceiling windows, flagstone flooring, wallpaper, French doors etc. However realistically most of us are just making the best of our homes with our limited resources – both time and money – and so these are my tips for achieving a French look in your home quite simply.  All the photos below are from our own house and the look below is realistic to achieve - not some magazine photo-shopped and styled expensive house! 

French Provincial  Style Dining room

1. Choose a neutral palette and add accents of colour. While you may think a neutral palette is boring, it does give an air of calm to your house. The walls in our house are painted in Dulux Sleigh which is a muted beige that is lovely - not too beige or creamish - I'm struggling to describe it but it's very French looking! It is a great backdrop to the white wooden trims, painted furniture and wooden floors. For colour accents we have some Persian rugs and an aubergine sofa.

Lilyfield Life Painted Furniture French style

2. Paint your furniture! The French are renowned for their penchant for painting furniture  Good colours for French furniture are white, muted grey or taupe - although you can also go bold with deep red or navy or duck egg blue. You can also add interest to your painted furniture by adding mouldings, painting the detail in a different colour or lighting distressing for a more rustic look. For a more palatial French look you can use gilt on the trims. Remember that not every piece of furniture needs to be painted – keep some lovely pieces for a balanced look but not those orangey pine ones! Don’t be scared by painting furniture. It is quite easy - see my furniture painting tips here.

Lilyfield Life Painted White Hall Cabinet

3. Keep an eye out at auction or antique shops for a couple of spectacular vintage pieces of furniture such as an armoire or French sideboard to enhance your French interior design concept. These can completely transform a room and become a conversation piece – as well as offer great storage. I often see vintage French sideboards in beautiful condition priced between $60 and $200 on eBay and at auction. Armoires will often sell between $300 to $500 at auction in Sydney. Very affordable for an impressive piece of furniture.

French Provincial Painted Armoire Sydney Lilyfield Life

4. Add mouldings and paint your kitchen cabinet doors. You can easily transform your kitchen without spending much money. One of the best ways to update or transform a kitchen relatively cheaply is to replace the cabinet doors. I bought my kitchen cabinet doors from Sydney Doors and hand painted them in British Paints Colorbond Dune for a French look. If you want to save money and your doors are in good condition you could also just add mouldings to your existing doors and then paint.  I also had a French rangehood built for my kitchen out of MDF. This classical French shape added to the overall look without costing much money at all.

French Provincial Kitchen easily achieved by adding painted moulded doors to cabinetry

5. Lighting – Chandeliers look wonderful over dining tables and in more formal living spaces. You can often buy chandeliers second hand or at auctions. Clean them regularly with soapy water to keep them sparkly. In living spaces and bedrooms, turn off your overhead lights and make use of matching lamps for mood lighting.

French lighting - chandeliers

6. Use soft muted furnishings such as rugs, sofas, cushions and throws. Motifs for a French look include a crown, fleur de lis, bees, and stripes. You can also use neutral linens with red or blue stripes or accents.

French look, Louis Chair, stripes
white linen and furniture with blue and white accents in cushions

7. Wicker and wire baskets offer great French style storage – either use unpainted or give them a light wash with white or grey paint and add stencilled numbers. We use a wicker basket in the kitchen for our potatoes etc, one in the bedroom for dirty clothes and we used to use them in the lounge room for kids' toys but thankfully our kids have outgrown toys all over the living room! I have a lovely vintage wire crate that I place old mason jars in and use as a huge vase.

Vintage wire crate

8. Cheap accessories in the kitchen easily add to a French look – timber breadboards, striped tea towels, enamel jugs and cloches or cake domes. I have a lovely white enamel jug I bought at IKEA for $20 that I keep on my bench top. Old silver and bone handled cutlery can be found at markets and paired with white plates and a French striped or white table cloth can really make a table feel special. 

French look Enamel jugs, vintage linens and bone handled cutlery
Setting a French table - Love a striped tablecloth!

9. Create vignettes. Group beloved objects on your sideboard or consoles for an interesting composition. I have found that having these vignettes also make me not use sideboard as dumping grounds for all the clutter.  We have a little wicker basket by one of our sideboards to dump keys, sunglasses, loose coins etc = but I still find keeping my desk neat and tidy a daily challenge...that I usually fail!

Create vignettes of beloved objets d'art

10. Mix the old and new together to create a well rounded, comfortable effect. Mix flea market finds and antiques with new pieces, choosing pieces that have meaning to you so your home holds a special meaning and is unique and shows your personality even though it is decorated in a particular style. 

Do you have any French influence in your home?  

What else can you add for creating the French look?

If you are not into DIY, why not check out my latest pieces of furniture for sale.

yours in all things French

Fiona xx

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On my sideboard today - my gelungan and my grandad

On Sunday afternoon we were relaxing at home and I felt like painting something but not tackling a big piece of furniture so I decided to finally paint the galung that I bought when we were in Bali last year. Gelungans (I had to write to a Balinese friend to check it's name again) are the terracotta finial to Balianese temples and I fell in love with them. They are hand made and I love the rustic, crude nature of them - fingerprints and indentations and all.

hydrangeas on my sideboard

While I initially liked the gelungan painted, it has discoloured since the photo below was taken and had started turning black in places and it just looked dirty. So I painted it using some of my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White. As it says on the can, one coat was enough. 

Balinese Gelungan painted white

I am still finding a home for all the stuff I brought back from mum's so I have propped a lovely old photo of my Grandad from WW1 on the sideboard also. He was so young and brave. I loved sitting with him and listening to all his stories from Gallipoli and Ypres.

Balinese Gelungan painted white

I am not sure whether I prefer the gelungan it's original terracotta form or its new white look. What do you think? (not that it is really a problem either way - I paid about $12 for it and it's not going to change the world either way).

Balinese Gelungan painted white

Do you have anything you regret painting?

Yours in all things white paint....
Fiona xx

Balinese Gelungan painted white

Monday, January 21, 2013

Well hello there...

Cocora beach, Eden NSW

I have been missing in action for a few weeks.  Thank you for checking in on me - I am doing well. My sister, my aunt and I (and the kids) have been down at Eden sorting out the remains of Mum's processions. What a week it was! Besides dividing up her treasures - vintage linens, kitchen paraphernalia from our childhood, the wedding cutlery and crockery, etc - we also took 3 carloads of fabric and sewing stuff to a patch working friend and numerous carloads to the Op Shop. We also took two huge carloads to the tip, as humans we really need to find a better way to dispose of rubbish as it was very confronting and rather grim.

Snug Cove, Eden Wharves

I came home with a carload of my mother's treasures and many of my grandfather's orchids - that are now at least 40 years old and still doing well. Grandad used to spend hours in his orchid house tending to them so I'm glad to be able to carry on the tradition. I have several bits of furniture for sale from her house as well as a few pieces I am keeping -it's going to be a shuffle here to fit them in but I can't part with all of them!  I'll share them soon but today I'm going to share some photos of the beautiful township of Eden.  Eden is such a lovely place - very unpretentious  - not like some other coastal towns, it's roots are steeped in logging and fishing and while there's some tourism it's not the mainstay of the town which is surprising as it's so beautiful.  It's one of those towns though that is easy to drive through - the highway does not go past the beautiful little port or past the beaches so I am sure people who don't know the area or don't explore would drive quickly through the town and just think well that's not much.

Snug Cove, Eden Wharves
Fishing Fleet at Snug Cove, Eden Wharves
Fishing Fleet at Snug Cove, Eden Wharves

The wharves at Snug Cove are picturesque especially with Mount Imlay rising over the bay.  My dad and his wife had a house overlooking cove and I loved it's busy-ness - although it seems much quieter these days.  One of my very good friends and her husband have a cafe and a restaurant at the wharves - a taste of Eden and the Wheelhouse Restaurant - both are fabulous if you are in town.

Aslings Beach, Eden NSW

Twofold Bay is majestic and dotted with beautiful pristine beaches. It is very easy to get away from it all. When I was growing up, we mainly went to Ben Boyd National Park to Long beach and spent the whole day playing on the beach and in the wild surf while our parents cooked a BBQ on the sand using rocks and twigs from the surrounding bush, drank their wine and read their books. My sister and I would explore, rock hop, make intricate sandcastles and get sunburnt. Children of the 70's.

Aslings Beach, Eden NSW

Down the hill from Mum's place is Cocora Beach. It usually has gentle waves and is a great spot for picnicking and families. Although we have fun memories of a huge storm one afternoon that created a massive surf at Cocora - there must have been 50 kids swimming in the rain and loving the change in this usually mild beach.

We found this wonderful driftwood cubby house that someone had made. I'd like to camp here!

Driftwood sculpture at Cocora Beach Eden
Cocora Beach Eden
Eden NSW

...sending a little coastal love your way
Fiona xx

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My 2012 Painted Furniture Review

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying some down time.  Although I think this is the week most people are getting back into the swing of things. The airport was certainly busy yesterday with everyone returning from their summer holidays.  I'm back painting furniture this morning after our wonderful time at the beach.  (I'm missing swimming in the ocean already!)

Painted furniture Sydney

I thought you might like to see a recap of some of my painted furniture projects from 2012.  It's interesting looking back on it all. I've linked up the original posts to each piece if you want more detail. Most of my painted furniture this year has been white and a lot of it I have kept. For all the people who have either bought my furniture or asked me to refresh and paint their old pieces, thank you so much.  And for all the rest of you who follow along with me via my blog, facebook or instagram, thanks also.  

This old chest of drawers was crying out for a makeover and I love this Miss Mustard Seed inspired bird motif. I have used this design on several pieces and it is always popular. I just draw the design on in pencil freehand and then paint with a soft grey paint.  It really transforms a simple chest of drawers into something special.

Painted furniture Sydney Bird Chest of Drawers

This dressing table is one of my favourite paint projects for 2012.  The shape of the furniture is so beautiful  and I loved the bevelled mirror. It was bought by a very friendly lady for her lovely teenage girl. What a thing to do for your children - buy them beautiful solid furniture that they can keep for ages - rather than cheap "made in China" furniture that has no meaning or value.

White french style painted dresser

More white paint makeovers - The sideboard was my husband's favourite and he was surprised and a bit sad when I sold it. I didn't even realise he loved it!  The desk was a gorgeous sold piece that unfortunately had tuned very orange and desperately needed refinishing. White paint to the rescue once again.

Lilyfield Life Painted Furniture white sideboard Sydney

White painted long low cabinets are also very popular with my customers. They make beautiful TV cabinets. I loved both of these with their ornately carved doors. The first one was part of a bedroom suite. The matching bed head was bought by an Australian linen company for their advertisements -I'll let you know more details soon.  

white sideboard Lilyfield Life Painted Furniture Sydney
Lilyfield Life Painted Furniture Sydney

I have so many "favourite" pieces, but the table below is right up there at the top. When you paint a piece of furniture and put time and effort into each piece you get to know the curves and fall a little in love with each piece- (ok there are some bits of furniture I don't love at all - the ones that are super tricky and just a heartache) but generally I chose pieces whose shape appeals to me regardless of the finish and then with the painting and sanding and repairing I  just know the piece so well and love the end result.

I bought this vintage butterfly extension table and the 4 chairs for $35 at auction. It actually didn't sell for 3 weeks in a row and I ended up grabbing it for a bargain. It came up magically once the high gloss old finish was removed and the apron, legs and chairs were painted white. I recovered the seat pads in beautiful damask upholstery material that retails for $220 a metre. I bought each piece of material for $1 each by buying old fabric sample books. This is a fabulous way of buying very good quality material cheaply. Keep an eye out for them and snap any up you come across.

French Style Dining table sydney painted furniture
French Style Dining table

I painted many pieces of vintage or unloved furniture for our house. The French armoire in my son's room got a two toned French country look using soft taupe colour with white trim. I replaced our old hall cupboard with one with more storage.  This cupboard I bought on eBay for $30 or so and it was orange pine with Spanish style iron handles. It now looks completely different and I love how it looks in our tiny hallway.

sydney French style painted furniture

I did a lot of watercolour painting this year (I'll do a recap later) but my favourite art this year is my chalk board sketch of Lillian Bassman's famous photograph. I found an old vintage frame, painted a blackboard and then just sketched her out with chalk. I have love the original photograph for so long, it's lovely having this copy on my wall.  The white cabinet underneath was another paint project. It has the smoothest finish I have even achieved. I painted it using a home-made chalk paint recipe with a wax finish and I just buffed and buffed. Lots of elbow grease equals a super smooth surface.  I also made over an old coffee table that didn't turn out how I expected but the end result is ok.

French style painted furniture sydney

I also tried out some new paints in 2012. I finally got my hands on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint which Annie tells me will be available in Australia in February. I will let you know more details as soon as I know.  The Windsor carver chairs are painted in ASCP French linen with a white fleur de lis on the seat. They are still for sale if you are interested. Super solid chairs.  The little fleur de lis cabinet is long gone. It was a sweet little makeover that left the mahogany top natural.

French style painted furniture sydney

I also did a few projects using milk paint. I don't think that milk paint is for beginners but it does give a beautiful finish. The main reason I think you need some painting experience is that you need confidence to persevere when it looks terrible and the paint is doing it's own thing (in the case of MMS's paint).  I use wax over milk paint and depending (once again) on how much you sand a buff you can create either a glossy finish or something more distressed and rustic but it does give a beautiful smooth and soft old fashioned velvety look.  The bedside tables below are painted using Porters Milk Paint

Milk paint bedsides

 and this beautiful cabinet is painted in Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Tricycle with dark wax. A pop of colour in all that white for the year!
I've decided to sell this cabinet so please contact me if you are interested.

MMS Tricycle Red

Actually I'm not averse to colour - I did paint several pieces in a beautiful peacock blue also!

Peacock Blue Chest of Drawers

That's just a portion of what I've painted this year but if you are new here it'll give you an idea of my style and hopefully you'll find some inspiration.  I have received some lovely emails from people who have been inspired by me to start either painting furniture or blogging. That really thrills me because I'm all about giving it a go and making the most of your talents and time.

If you paint furniture or are thinking of starting then you might find my furniture painting tips useful.  I'll be blogging more tips this year.

If you have any furniture you would like painted and you live in Sydney please feel free to contact me for a quote.

What's your favourite piece that I've shared this past year? Have you been doing any furniture painting. I'd love to hear about what you are up to, please leave a comment below.

Here's to a productive happy 2013 with lots of projects to share.
Fiona xx