Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Guide to Choosing Paint for Furniture

I get lots of lovely emails and comments from people who have found my blog from googling furniture painting advice. I am very happy to help anyone with their DIY ventures so please feel free to ask away. II have tried many projects and learnt a lot along the way.

Lilyfield life painted furniture for sale sydney french provincial white

One thing I get asked a lot of about what sort of paint to use when painting furniture. To be truthful your paint choice will depend on your personal style and what sort of look you are going for. If you like the look of my furniture, then read on!

Lilyfield life painted furniture for sale sydney french provincial white

I don't use oil based paint not for my house and not on my furniture. I quite like the environment:) Oil based paints smell, are not low VOC and are difficult to dispose off. It's a pain to clean up your brushes, and then the cleaning solvents are difficult to dispose of. Oil based paints also take a long time to dry between coats. The only exception to my dislike of non-water based paint, is if I have an especially shiny old baked on finish on furniture like the armoire, or a piece of Bali furniture that bleed heavily (like the white bench I painted recently) I will use a Zinsser Oil based primer or shellac based BIN. Hint: I leave my paint brush wrapped in gladwrap in the fridge in between coats to save on cleaning.

white painted bench beach teak

But the main reason I don't use oil based paint is that due to the alkyds in them, oil based paint will ALWAYS yellow over time. I want my white furniture to stay white. Depending on the previous finish and the amount of sunlight your piece or house trim gets, this can actually happen quite quickly, often within a year of painting. The less sunlight your piece is exposed to the quicker this will happen.

So then what do I use:

These days, water based paint technology has made such great advances that it is just not necessary to use old fashioned oil based paint. Many paint companies are phasing out their range of oil based paints altogether.  

Some water based options are:

If you want to emulate the glossiness and durability of Oil based paint then the closest is Water Based Enamels. These give a hard durable satin or gloss finish with no top coat required. I used Taubmans Water Based Enamel Trim Coat for my kitchen cabinets as well as for the doors and trim in our house. It has been a great choice and 2 years down the track it is still in wonderful condition and looks as fresh as the day it was painted. (Edit *6 years later there are a few tiny chips on some doors but minimal wear and easy to touch up)

beautiful french kitchen painted provincial

Another water based enamel is Dulux's AquaEnamel. This was one of the first water based enamels on the market in Australia. We painted the cabinets in our lounge room (below) in it 11 years ago and they have held up very well. (* update: We used Dulux Aquaenamel on all the doors, trim and cabinetry in our renovation. Love it) 

I recommend these aqua enamels (in a semi gloss) for kitchen cabinetry, bathroom and laundry cabinetry, furniture that is super easy to clean and maintain, if you don't want to worry about water rings from glasses etc). I would also use this if I were ever painting mid century modern furniture that requires a more modern look. 

white built in cabinetry

A great option especially love a French matte or shabby chic look is Flat acrylic paint (interior latex/emulsion/acrylic) that you would normally use on walls. I love using this for my painted furniture. It will usually require a top coat but it is easy to paint with, easy to clean up, gives a great finish and is very affordable. You can easily just buy a 500ml sample pot and use that. It will cost around $10. This size will paint several pieces of furniture. You will need a top coat to protect you work - see my tutorial page for the Wax and Top Coat Tutorial.

white painted country sideboard lilyfield life
this white country sideboard was painted using flat latex then a wax top coat
Milk paint is a wonderful option but it is more expensive and actually requires a more advanced technique. In Australia, currently the only true milk paint available is Porters Milk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed. It is quite lovely to use and gives a beautiful finish when sealed with furniture wax. Miss mustard seed's paint seems to be much harder to control if you don't use the techniques that Porters suggest it you can use the bonding agent to control the crazy chippy. 

porters milk paint

miss mustard seed milk paint tricycle red
miss mustard seed milk paint tricycle red lilyfield life

Chalk paint (such as Annie Sloan or Porters' Chalk Emulsion) is a wonderful traditional natural paint for furniture. (I'm not talking chalkboard paint).  These are expensive but they are just wonderful to paint furniture with. Annie developed her paint over 25 years ago specifically for furniture and I really love it. For Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Australian Stockists go here.

annie french linen sloan chalk paint lilyfield life
annie sloan french chairs white bedside painted lilyfield life chalk paint
the chairs are painted in ASCP Linen and the cabinet is painted in my own homemade chalk paint

You can also make your own chalk paint. I will blog a recipe soon but I have done this for several years now and I love the old fashioned French feel it gives my furniture.

I hope this guide helps you and especially deters you from using white oil based paint in your projects. The yellowing of the white oil based paint that occurs is just so disappointing, especially when it's your time and effort wasted.

Please let me know your favourite paint to use in the comment below. Go on and share your experiences.

Fiona xx

Lilyfield life painted furniture for sale sydney french provincial white

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lest We Forget & my grandad at Gallipoli

Today in Australia, we remember the ANZACs who went to war and the many soldiers throughout our military history who sacrificed their lives so we can live in peace.

anzac cove gallipoli

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives.. 
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. 
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries
wipe away your tears. 
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
 and are in peace.
Having lost their lives on this land they have 
become our sons as well"

Ataturk - 1934, ANZAC Memorial at Gallipoli, Turkey

anzac cove gallipoli ataturk poem

I love this poem by Ataturk. What a great leader he was.

In 2002 Phil and I travelled extensively through Turkey; and like most Australians who go there, we made sure we spent some time at Gallipoli. It was very special trip for me as not only am I very proud to have been Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force; but more importantly my maternal grandfather, Harold Louat, spent time at Gallipoli in WWI as a young ambulance man, working alongside the famous Simpson and his donkey.  He was too young to fight and actually too young to join as an ambulance man but his family was French and his parents let him lie about his age so he could go and fight in France.  Grandad did his training on the battlefields of Gallipoli and then was sent to the battlefields of Ypres in Belgium.  He came home injured from a bomb shell in his thigh which resulted in a limp.  My other grandfather, Frank, was a POW in Changi in WWII so today I thank them and remember them as well as all the people who fight bravely in terrible wars.

anzac cove gallipoli

I'm sure Anzac Cove is much more crowded today for the dawn service, but when we were there in July 2002, it was very peaceful. We swam in the warm clear blue cove and found rusty old bullet shells amongst the sunken boats. It is very confronting being there and seeing the harsh impossible conditions our soldiers faced. What were the British thinking? It was an impossible wasteful initiative. So very sad.

lilyfield life

This photo is of my grandad, Harold, from WW1. He was so young.

Have you been to Turkey? To Gallipoli? It's an absolute honour to be there and to be greeted so warmly by the beautiful Turkish people.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Painted Furniture Inspiration

One thing about writing a blog, besides having a journal of my projects, is the sense of community I feel here and that we connect and you give me feedback on my house, painted furniture and the DIY tutorials I write. Whether you like my style or what I do or not, I love hearing that I have inspired you to pick up a paint brush, or buy second hand furniture over new stuff, or try a new recipe.  I think sometimes people feel they just need permission to paint wooden furniture!

lilyfield life painted white furniture sydney custom painting

Some recent emails I have received are:

Polly - I continue to be inspired to buy some paint! I have a chest of drawers I think I'd like to do and I'm on the look out for a small desk, just love reading your posts because they keep inspiring me to get my hands dirty. Your sideboard is just lovely. 

James Maitland: Thank you for this page. I have a lot of furniture that needs to be re-loved and was scared about painting them because I always believed that the original wood grain was best, but I am so tired of it. I remember thinking OMGosh how could you paint a beautiful piece if furniture, but now my taste have changed and I really love the French look. I feel like I am going back on my morals by painting, but I really, really want to.

MelanieI've enjoyed reading your blog. I've never been to a furniture auction before and I am going to find one here in Hobart this year and go along in the hope of finding a beautiful mirror and then paint it. You've inspired me!

Janice from My Vintage Shed - I would just like to thank you for the inspiration and courage to start my first blog.  I always find bits and pieces at the markets and I am never quite brave enough to take the next step or always too busy but thanks to you my New Year resolution is to start on clearing my shed out and making hopefully beautiful pieces.

I've received many, many more comments and emails from you and they mean a huge amount to me and they are the main reason I continue to write this blog. Anyway, I thought you might like to see who inspires me and who I turn to in order to discuss all things paint and vintage furniture. These people listed below are all generous with their advice, creative and talented. They have my full admiration.

annie Sloan chalk paint
via email from Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan - Annie has been painting furniture for many many years and writing books on decorating and of course making her own chalk paint (which you all probably know is now in Australia for sale). Several years ago when I first started painting furniture in earnest I bought her book "Creating the French Look". I am so inspired by Annie's no-nonsense practical approach and her eye for colour.

lilyfield life painted white furniture sydney custom painting french armoire

The armoire in my son's room I painted using Annie's step-by-step guidance in her book.  Obviously her armoire is much more beautiful than my piece and I didn't use dark wax to age it but it was great to have instruction and inspiration from a master. If you want to learn how to paint furniture or even perfect your skills, I recommend you follow Annie's blog and buy her books (and her paint!). I think one of my happiest blogging days was when I saw that Annie Sloan was following my blog and facebook page. Wow what a blast!

miss mustard seed

Miss Mustard Seed: Even more than Marian's talent for painting furniture and creating a raft of fans copying her pieces across the world (me included at times), I admire her incredible sense of industry and tremendous work effort. This woman just does not stop! Everything Marian does is done well and her's is the blog that I admire the most. I also love her photography, her sense of style and her ability to write a great tutorial. She is living the DIY dream  - she blogs, paints amazing furniture, writes tutorials for a host of websites, wrote her own book and now has her own line of paint. One day I will make it to Philadelphia to spend some time with her.  If you haven't yet bought her book, it's fabulous and worth it.

Marian's bird cabinet on the left and my "MMS-inspired" bird bookcase on the right

miss mustard seed bird dresser lilyfield life

and then there is Sandy...

Sandy paint me white furniture gold coast brisbane

Sandy from Paint Me White is a close friend of mine, met through blogging and out love for paint. We talk most weeks and I think she is very lovely, down to earth, hard working and extremely talented. She is going from strength to strength in her business. Sandy and I spend a lot of time discussing the ins and outs of different paint techniques, chalk paint, waxes, furniture we've found etc. She laughs when she calls me excited over particular pieces saying "I just knew you would understand why I'm so excited about this (old cabinet/whatever)". If you are interested in learning more about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and you live in travelling distance to the Gold Coast then sign up for one of Sandy's workshops. You will love her and her beautiful furniture.  (Or if you are not into DIY, just go and buy some of her furniture from her studio on the Gold Coast or the WAC in Brisbane).

sandy paint me white gold coast brisbane furniture chalk paint

Cassie from Primitive and Proper is a very prolific furniture painter and blogger with a real sense of fun that comes across in her writing as well as her colour choice.  She is BOLD! We have plans for a night of cocktails together someday. It will be a hoot.  Cassie's use of colour inspires me to use more than white, limed white and grey!  Check out her blog for some great makeovers.

cassie primitive proper chalk paint

Cassie's sense of fun comes through in her home d├ęcor.

cassie primitive proper blog

Another blogger who I admire is Amanda from Reloved Rubbish. See this post for her round up of 2012 furniture makeovers and you'll see why I love her work.

union jack chair makeover

I also have to add that I am thoroughly inspired by Ness of Marley & Lockyer but not for furniture painting. Ness is so creative and she lives her motto of "You only live once, live beautifully". You can purchase her beautiful creations here.

Marley and lockyer clay tags

So there you have it: some of the fabulous bloggers who I admire and am inspired by.

I would love to discover more talented people.

Leave a comment and link below of someone whose work or blog you love and who inspired you.

Fiona xx

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lilyfield Life Lounge Room Updates

lilyfield life blog french painted furniture

Okay... actually, I think the title is a bit misleading as it's a small but "important to me" change. When my siblings and I cleared out my mother and step father's house earlier this year and divided up all their belongings I ended up with quite a bit of furniture (funny that!). I'm slowly incorporating it into our house. It doesn't quite all fit but once we renovate and build bedrooms etc upstairs we will have a lot more room and so it's a matter of squeezing it in for the time being.

lilyfield life blog french painted furniture

Our lounge room is a bit of a dodgy fibro add on at the back of the original house - complete with a dodgy cement slab and what was the original outside toilet (that we've since turned into our laundry, a teeny tiny space that is overflowing and drives me nuts). Anyway the room is really wide (about 9 metres and not that deep - 3.5 metres and with the entrance from the study and the back door both centred in the middle the room is really cut in half. I don't mind this for the time being as we have the aubergine lounges and the tv down one end and the cream lounge, armchairs and coffee table  in the other half that acts as a reading/sitting area. It works well enough.

One of the pieces I wanted to squeeze in was this sweet little green cabinet my mother painted in the 1960's. I blogged about it here just the week before she was diagnosed with a GBM brain tumour (and died within three weeks). Now I have this cupboard and my big sister has the other one) at my house and it's lovely to have something my mum painted with her hands to sit next to my painted furniture  Once more thing we shared. 

lilyfield life blog french painted furniture

It probably doesn't really fit in here but I am glad to have this sentimental piece all the same. I can sit in that armchair with a cup of coffee and do my planning and reading. My sister and I were commenting how mum's things all looked better in her house than in our houses now. Funny that. I am missing her a lot still. The more time passes the more I want to talk to her, tell her things and hear her kindness and wisdom.

lilyfield life blog french painted furniture

I found this lovely King Island blue and cream cheese jar at the local markets (Rozelle Markets open Saturdays and Sundays) last weekend. Love it. It's in perfect condition, suits my love of blue and white and was a couple of dollars. I like it here next to my dying roses in the blue and white jug that was also my mum's. The jug has a chip out of the rim of it but I couldn't bring myself to chuck it out. You can't see it under the roses anyway. I am not sure what I did wrong with my roses - One of them is sitting in a glass of water on my kitchen window and it's still stunning and very much in bloom but these ones I had in the jug under the gold frame died very quickly - Does any one have advice on how to keep them blooming once cut?

These other wild roses I found in the lane way near our house. They were trailing over a fence spilling into the lane so I didn't feel too guilty about dodging the thorns to pull off a few stems.

lilyfield life blog french painted furniture

Now where to put the rest of the furniture?  
That is the question!

Have a lovely weekend
Fiona xx

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day Trippin': Autumn in the Blue Mountains

blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura

Hello! If you live in Sydney make sure you head on up to Leura for a day soon as it is just stunning.  We took a quick day trip to the Blue Mountains yesterday and it was so worth the 90 minute drive. The sun was shining and we thought we'd go see some autumn leaves - especially as autumn is very late coming to Sydney this year. The cooler climate of the mountains meant the leaves had started turning.  We had a delicious lunch at Waygoose Cafe in Leura mall (the homemade pumpkin soup was awesome) and the the kids set about collecting autumn leaves. They loved the colours and shapes. Stay tuned below for what we did with them.

autumn fall leaves color
blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura fall autumn

My grandparents lived in Leura and my aunt and uncle live there now. So I have spent many holidays up there and really love this pretty village.  The kids loved it and want to go back there again for more autumn colours and bushwalking.

At the end of Balmoral Road in Leura opposite the Toy Museum there is a little track off Elysian Parade - you can walk down to the cliff face and there is an old ramshackle lookout that has no tourists and an amazing view of the valley.  My son exclaimed " wow a green Grand Canyon!" It is really different seeing the view and the backside of the Three Sisters (in the right of the photo) not surrounded by all the tourists at Echo Point.

blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura
blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura

I was a bit freaked out by my kids standing so close to the edge and that rickety old fence! Growing up as a young teenager we would holiday with our cousins who had a weekender house on Balmoral Road and we, the kids, spent a lot of time sitting at this particular lookout having picnics while our older cousin read us Roald Dahl's "Switch Bitch" and "My Uncle Oswald" stories - so funny, have you read them? An early sex education for us while our parents thought we were out bushwalking.  It still makes me laugh as one minute we were reading James and the Giant Peach and then next his very adult, raunchy and hilarious stories.

blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura

You can then follow the road around (Olympian Parade and Cliff Drive) to Katoomba and the Three Sisters. Make sure you stop at Leura Cascades on the way. It's very lush and pretty.

Then we arrived with all bus loads of tourists at Echo Point. We decided to walk to the Three Sisters and do part of the Giant Staircase. Great for your quads!  One day we (as a family) will do the whole bush walk from Echo Point, down the Giant staircase to the valley floor and over to the Scenic Railway.  It's about 3 hours one way and is meant to be spectacular (and it means not climbing back up the Giant Staircase!)

blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura
blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura
blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura

So we arrived home last night full of fresh air in our lungs, happiness in our hearts and pretty scenery in our heads. And a big bunch of autumn leaves. 

Here they are hanging off the gold frame.

gold frame

I posted a photo of this on Instagram and someone asked how I gathered them to hang - I gathered all the leaves by the stem like you would hold a bunch of flowers and then wrapped a hair elastic around the stems and threaded through the ribbon that I tied on to the frame. A little reminder of our lovely day in Leura and a welcome to Autumn. 

fall autumn decoration
autumn fall decoration leaves

Been on any good day trips lately? Where else do you recommend? Comment below with your favourite destination for a drive. I'd love some more good ideas

Fiona xx

blue mountains three sisters katoomba leura

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Phil's Banana Cake Recipe

easy banana cake recipe lilyfield life

I get a lot of lovely feedback on my recipes - all tried and true and family favourites - and recently I received an email from Brenda asking about the banana cake I mention that my husband, Phil cooks for the kids every Sunday night.  It is their favourite.

"Hi Fiona, I have tried your chocolate cake and hot cross buns and found both recipes delicious, especially the chocolate cake which my 5 yr old granddaughter loves. Today I had some bananas left over so I thought I would try Phil's banana cake but the recipe wasn't there. Is there chance of getting it or is it a closely guarded family recipe? I am a new reader of your blog since seeing Country Home Ideas and am enjoying it immensely.  Brenda"

easy banana cake recipe lilyfield life

I'm always happy to share recipes - I'm not sure where Phil got the recipe originally from but he's been making this for many years now to use up our over ripe bananas an I know he's tweaked it along the way.  I sent Brenda the recipe via email and received back this reply a few days later, "....I made Jonty's banana cake. It's delicious and I am just about to have a slice and a cup of tea while I watch the footy. Its a cool day here in Melbourne. Enjoy your weekend and thank you once again for the recipe. Regards Brenda."

easy banana cake recipe lilyfield life
easy banana cake recipe lilyfield life

Phil's Banana Cake Recipe
125g butter
2/3 cup brown sugar (packed firmly)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups self -raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of Soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup mashed banana
½ cup of Greek (or natural) Yoghurt
¼ cup of milk

  1. Preheat oven to moderate (180 Degrees C). Grease a 15cm  x  25cm loaf pan.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to large bowl; using a wooden spoon, stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, yoghurt and milk. Spread mixture into plan.
  4. Bake, uncovered for about 50 minutes. Stand cake for 5 mins then turn on wire rack
Recipe Notes: 1 cup of mashed banana is approximately 3 bananas. Phil will often freeze our overripe bananas until he is ready to bake the cake. They will be black skinned and mushy when defrosted but are perfect for the cake - just peel and mash. We use Farmers Union Greek Style Yoghurt. If you don't have mixed spice, don't worry it is still delicious. 

My kids love this warm out of the oven after our Sunday night dinner. We then send it to school in their lunch boxes as a snack and it travels well. You could ice it or sprinkle icing sugar on it if you have a sweet tooth but we like it plain.

Let me know if you like it by leaving a comment below.

easy banana cake recipe lilyfield life

What's your favourite cake?

Fiona xx