Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lilyfield Life in Country Home Ideas Magazine this month

I am so honoured to have our house, my painted furniture and the Lilyfield Life blog featured in Australian Country Home Ideas this month. What a thrill is is to see it all on the glossy pages of a beautiful magazine.

country home ideas magazine Lilyfield life

The photo shoot was late last year. I spent a wonderful day watching the talented photographer Tony Potter and stylist Kathryn Borglund do their thing and make my home beautiful for print.  I then had a great interview with the journalist, Mark Vender. Mark currently lives with his wife and young family in Colombia, South America and we spent about 2 hours chatting via Skype. I think Mark really understood my philosophy and my passion for upcycling vintage furniture, DIY and making the best of things.

ten whole pages of "At Home with Fiona and Phil"! I love the title of the article "Works of Heart"

and what I think is completely hilarious is that on the 11th page of the article is a whole page on how to get our look. Love it!  It should just read, cruise second hand shops looking for vintage furniture and paint it white!

So thanks to the editors and the magazine's inspiring staff and especially to Mark who wrote such a lovely article; and Tony and Kathryn who made the house look so beautiful. I am very honoured.

Here is the introduction to the article:

"I'm a bit DIY," says Fiona Gaven, before grinning cheekily at what is a brazen understatement. For her repainting bedside tables, upholstering armchairs and creating beautiful artworks are everyday activities..."I've always been quite practical," she explains. I studied engineering at uni, and I've always been good with my hands. I just believe that if somebody else can do it, well, I can give it a go". Fiona's blog, Lilyfield Life, shows that this ethos has reaped divine dividends."

To say that I am overwhelmed and thrilled is an understatement! 

I wishing I could share this little moment in the limelight with my mum.
Instead I'm sharing it with all of you. 
Thanks for all the kind messages from those of you who have already seen the article. If you haven't read it, then make sure you buy a copy of Country Home Ideas this month.

Fiona xx

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Sweet Shabby, Chippy Cupboard

Do you want 

a little shabbiness

a touch of chippy paint

and white goodness

some floral fabric

splashed with 

a little vintage

and some DIY

and of course some flowers 


 a pretty white ceramic jug

in your day?

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

I think I can deliver all that for you today. 

A sweet little "cabinet meets white paint" makeover

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

This was just a simple brown cupboard, nothing special, nothing terrible. It's got a lot of stories to tell from sitting in my mother's sewing room for the last twenty years. It's seen quilts and bags and kids pyjamas and wedding dresses pieced and stitched together by my mother, witness to an amazing seamstress.

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

It came to live with me recently 

and of course it was subjected to a little loving DIY ...

 and a couple of coats of white paint ...

and lots and lots and lots of love from some sandpaper...

now it's smooth as a baby's bottom!

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet
Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

and a little splash of french grey for the inside

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

the little Liberty print pillow is one of a set of three that my mother made - she's hand embroidered little flowers on the front. It's so nice to have all these beautiful physical items surrounding us at home reminding us of her.

lilyfield life french chair

and the pink and white floral quilt is testament to what a good baby my daughter was. 
When I say good baby, I mean outstanding-sleepy-never-wake-up baby. 
I started this little cot quilt about three weeks after she was born (by a scary emergency c-section and a subsequent 10 days in hospital) and finished before she was 5 weeks old.

lilyfield life french chair

It was the first quilt I had ever made, and I designed it myself. It's got a central heart and radiating lines and diamonds. Once I've given it a good soaking I'll take some better photos and share it.

Who gets to do that with a newborn?

She slept so much (at home in her cot, but screamed her head off / never slept in the car and pram) so I barely left the house for a couple of years. Her tired sign was to projectile vomit so it's not as though I stretch her waking hours either.

so glad those years are over - especially as my son was the opposite and didn't sleep barely at all (a raft of medical problems and a couple of accidents but let's not dredge up all that).

time to focus on pretty things today. 

like these gardenias from our front garden

& some shabby white paint goodness

Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet
Lilyfield Life painted furniture shabby chippy vintage cabinet

yours in love for all things vintage 

Fiona xx

Monday, February 25, 2013

French Provincial Sideboard in Annie Sloan Old White

Are you ready for a little white paint magic?

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

This was one of those pieces of furniture that when the paint stripper and orbital sander had worked their magic, my heart skipped a beat.  

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

The timber underneath the 1960's faux red mahogany finish was simply beautiful.  The original finish had a lot of scratches in it and the colour did nothing for the piece, in my opinion. I am not a fan of reddish wood furniture. Actually two timber finishes I really dislike are orange pine and fake red mahogany. 

The photo above has an Instagram filter on it and I've deleted the original from my phone but it was redder than it shows in the photo and it was more scuffed and scratched. Below is the beautiful timber in it's natural state and one coat of primer on the body.

Once I had stripped the top with Diggers Paint Stripper, I sanded it with sandpaper of graduating fineness -   (is that how you'd phrase it? - sounds weird to me but I mean of paper of coarse grit to start with and then medium grit and then fine grit) until it was very smooth and then I broke out the 0000 grade steel wool and sanded for a good 15 minutes to give a super smooth surface. By doing this I ensured that the stain that I was about to apply would soak in evenly and that the surface would feel silky smooth to touch.

My preferred timber stain is Wattyl Craftsman Finish in Walnut. Bunnings no longer stock this brand but you can find it at Mitre 10. I love this stuff. It gives a beautiful dark finish and is easy to work with. I use a cotton lint free rag to apply it and usually do two coats with a few hours in between for drying time. Work quickly to ensure an even finish.  My tip is to NEVER use the "all in one stain and varnish" - it gives a very inferior result. 

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

Once the timber was dry I then gave it a few top coats of wax with a lot of buffing to bring out the shine. A great workout for my biceps! Ha ha

The result is a beautiful timber top surface. I am always thrilled when I see these sideboards unleashed from their 1960's shackles!

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

I painted the backboard and body in Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Old White (which once the wax is applied is cream). The paint leaves a matte chalky finish but once you apply a top coat of wax and then sand it, you are are left with a beautiful smooth velvety finish that is very durable. I lightly distressed the ornate mouldings to bring out their details.

I know one of the benefits of ASCP is that you are not meant to need to prime your piece prior to painting but I knew that this piece would bleed though the paint (this regularly happens with the old red stained finishes) so I gave it two coats of Zinsser. Better safe than sorry!

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney
 Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

I also painted the original hardware for this piece. ASCP has excellent adhesion to metal and the original hardware was in good condition but I thought it would look better not standing out as a feature. I wanted to draw attention to the mouldings and not the hardware, so I painted it all.

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney
Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

I don't find these French shaped pieces very often.   Shame I don't have room for yet another sideboard in my house.  This one's for sale, message me if you are interested.

Fiona xx

PS - If you love a good sideboard makeover then here are some more I have painted.

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french provincial sideboard Sydney

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sausages on Saturday

Hello everyone

probably not what you expect but I like to mix it up around here and try a bit of everything. Today Phil and I decided to try out the mincer and sausage attachment that I bought for our KitchenAid mixer when I was in the US (it was about 20% of what it costs here, can you believe it!)

We've made two types of chicken sausages for dinner tonight (and left overs I'm sure).

The sausage that isn't in links yet in the above photo is chicken, rocket, fetta and toasted pine nuts and the other linked one is chicken, thyme, sage, celery, red onion and apple.  I didn't use a recipe - just choosing herbs from the garden and other food we had fresh from the markets this morning. I love all those ingredients so I hope it tastes good all together. We used natural casings that the local butcher gave us for free. To be honest, mincing chicken and using natural casings turned my stomach a bit but I'm sure they will be delicious.

I'm hoping they don't split and explode when we cook them...  or turn out too dry? Have you made sausages before? Any tips for us novices?  (although Phil and his friends make a great wurst on their annual boys weekend)

Now just to churn some fior di latte gelato for dessert (love my KitchenAid, and no this isn't a sponsored post) and we are all set. 

It's pouring rain here so the kitchen seemed like a good place for us.  

What have you been up to today? 

Fiona xx

Friday, February 22, 2013

I painted our bedroom white yesterday

Good morning, lovelies. I am so tired today - my muscles are aching and if I didn't have a lot to do today I could veg out all day - but that's not really my style so I've been finishing off a French sideboard and painting a little cabinet as well as cleaning my house and drafting a business plan for one of my consulting clients. 

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french white bedside tables

The reason for my tired limbs is yesterday morning as I lay in bed, you know how you do, lie there for a few minutes gathering your thoughts for the day before getting up to the onslaught of getting kids dressed, packing lunches, where's my hat, library books, my homework and an inevitable fuss from one kids while the other kid is being extra good...etc... you all know the drill... well I decided I'd had enough of the pale blue walls in our bedroom. We've had the same paint colour in our bedroom for 15 years now, in two houses and it was time for a change. And when I make up my mind to do something I like to start straight away. So once the kiddos were dropped off at school I went and bought the paint and got stuck into it. 

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french
Lilyfield Life painted furniture french white bedside tables

The bedroom had been painted a lovely soft blue with lilac undertones, Northern Star by Taubmans. I loved our bedroom colour but lately had been feeling that it to be more neutral. 

Lucky the gorgeous son of our neighbours was home yesterday and came and gave me a hand. Our bedroom is pretty large (by Australian standards) and the wood trim means there is double the amount of cutting in and with ceilings that are over 12 foot tall it was a lot of hard work. Dylan is very tall so he spent most of the day up the ladder painting the top section. I still need to paint the wood trim. It will be bright white enamel like the rest of our house and so will be a better contrast to the soft French beige that the walls are. 

Lilyfield Life painted furniture french chair

The French woven chair is one I painted and upholstered a year ago. I have had many offers to buy this but I don't think I'll ever part with it as it's one of my favourite pieces of furniture I've made over. It is the chair that was featured in the Home Section of the Daily telegraph last year thanks to my good friend Veronica Morgan of Location, Location, Location Australia fame.

The rest of our house is painted in Dulux Sleigh which is a muted French beige. I wanted a similar colour but not as dark so I asked for a half tint. This means the colour will work perfectly with the other colours in our house but it the room will be brighter. I have been walking in and out of our room all last night and this morning getting used to the new colour and the loss of blue. I think I like it...

The best thing about painting the room is that I've also tidied it up. I gathered up all my random tools - screw drivers, brushes, wax, and more and filled half a bag - I need to put away my tools after I finish a job. It would make for a much neater bedroom! 

This is a little corner for the best doggy in the Inner West, Charlie, who is my faithful companion. The painting above the dog bed is new. I bought it when I was down in Eden clearing out my mum's house. It is by South Coast artist John Downton and is of Quondolo Point at Ben Boyd National Park. This is almost the exact spot that I spent most of my childhood, on the beach swimming with my family. 

Here is another John Downton painting that was my mother's. I now have several of his beautiful paintings that I need to work out where to hang. In the meantime I quite like this one here on my chest of drawers. These French drawers are now crying out for a fresh coat of white paint. When the room was blue they didn't look too bad, they now look terrible against the clean white walls and I will paint them soon!

While I'm slowing the room, I thought I'd share with you are beautiful original ornate ceiling. They certainly don't make them like they used to. I really adore this pattern. When we moved in we spent a lot of time repairing the original ceilings as the previous owners were heavy smokers (both of them died from emphysema  and there were dark smoke plumes in every room. You could see where they sat/lay smoking in bed. (not a pretty visual is it, let's not go there).

Luckily Phil had a dinner on last night and didn't get home till late so the room was back in order for him. He hates coming home to a half finished job. It was a bigger job than I expected trying to get it all done in one day (especially going from a darker to a lighter colour) so I was glad to get it all done in one day even if I am a bit trashed today.

What do you think of my room? better blue or white?

Have you ever woken up and thought I'd going to change the house today on the spur of the moment?  I'd love you to tell me what you did, at least make me feel like I'm not the only crazy one.

Fiona xx