Thursday, October 31, 2013

Make a Statement in Your Home

Be brave when it comes to your home.

Add a special piece to each room for a little magic to happen.  

A statement piece.

It will act as a focal point in the room. Choose something that exudes your personality and makes you smile each time you walk into the room. A piece you absolutely love.

A fantastic piece of vintage furniture 

perhaps in an unexpected colour like black

or a beautiful mirror

or two

Some oversized art work.
I know art can be expensive, but perhaps your statement piece is something you save years for. Something you have lusted for, and will treasure always - like my Laura Matthews painting.

or cheaper art
(even if you have to draw it yourself on a chalk board)

It doesn't even need to be something that costs a lot of money.

Maybe a pop of colour from bright cushions

I like each room in my house to have something really meaningful and special in it. 

A statement that shows people a little insight into the people who make the house their home.  A conversation starter. 

Even my teeny, tiny bathroom has a special statement piece:

Go on
Make a statement.

Be bold, Be brave, Be beautiful.

If you live in or near Sydney and need help sourcing a special statement piece for your home then please feel free to contact me.

Fiona xx

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Controlling Looper Caterpillars in your Garden

My dad has had a beating lately with some carcinomas removed and then he picked up a nasty gastro virus in hospital that knocked him, and then his wife, for six. It's times like this I wish we lived a little closer.

Anyway throughout all that drama he also sent me the following blog post on how to control Looper Caterpillars in your garden. Those little green pests that have me singing Inch Worm when I spot them (and just before my chickens get a snack!)

So it's over to my lovely, clever dad, Mike.

How to control Looper Caterpillars
Looper Caterpillar - photo credit Lee Ruth

When I worked for a major agricultural chemical company ten years ago, the company ran a world-wide competition for its staff to invent new trade names for future products.  I devised 500 names of which four were selected for use.

One name, not selected, was Toobrix which was included as a joke based on the old adage that the easiest way to kill a cockroach was to squash it between two bricks.

The point of this story is to emphasise that insect pest control in the home garden can be done quite effectively by closely watching your plants and squashing or removing the culprits doing damage.

Most often no nasty chemicals are needed!

How to control Looper Caterpillars in your garden
Photo credit

At the moment (spring in Australia), herbs in pots or small beds are being eaten by looper caterpillars and a lot of leaf can disappear overnight.  Particularly vulnerable are parsley, mint, thyme and basil; but any leafy plant can be attacked.

So, as soon as you have time, put on your reading glasses, if required, and turn back the leaves and stems of your herbs.  First thing to notice is stems without leaves.  Under remaining leaves and down the stems you should find the caterpillars which will be the same colour as the plant – a smooth translucent green.  On parsley they will align themselves with the stem to become camouflaged.

Apart from missing leaves, or holes in leaves as on basil, another sign of the presence of these caterpillars is small black droppings.  The looper caterpillars are called such because they move with a looping action, moving their back feet to the front feet causing a loop, then extending forward with their front feet.  They start off quite small and grow to about 3 cm in length.
Once you have seen one, pick it off with your fingers (they are not harmful) and squash it or feed it to your chooks.  Keep looking because the chances are there will be more.  This procedure should be repeated daily.  There are also insecticide sprays which are effective against loopers – ask at your garden store.

Thanks Dad! 

 Also thanks to Lee Ruth for the beautiful photo of the looper caterpillar. I wrote to Lee to ask permission to use the photograph and we had a little email exchange about the usefulness of insects in your garden. Lee said "Hopefully, you will mention (in your blog about garden pests), that many (if not most) insects are beneficial. The indiscriminate use of pesticides is not recommended nor useful."
I could not agree more!

See more of Lee Ruth's images (almost 900 of them) posted at Most are of insects and/or common wildlife Lee has found on 25 acres of Northeast Texas mixed woodlands.

Read the other posts my dad has written

How to control scale on citrus trees

Growing a vegetable and herb garden in awkward spaces

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TV Cabinet made from reclaimed floorboards

A few weeks ago I went for a morning walk with my girl and dog and we walked past a big TV cabinet on the footpath in our next street. It was council clean up and the owners had obviously put it out early hoping someone would come and get it.

It looked sad sitting there all day and when the garbage trucks started rumbling down our street I decided I could not see it get thrown into the compactor so I jumped in the car and drove round the corner. I was standing there wondering how I was going to get it into the car by myself when the original owners and the neighbours came out to help me.  They all knew who I was from the seeing me painting in our carport and the owner said "Oh I was hoping you'd come by!"

I think I'm getting a reputation!

The owner told me it is made from reclaimed floorboards out of a house in Balmain. The boards on the top are lovely - full of character.

I gave the TV cabinet a very good clean and sand when I got it home and then 2 coats of ASCP French Linen. I wanted to be able to see some of the timber boards through the paint on the top surface so I watered down the paint a little.

I don't always paint inside cabinets but the pine was so ORANGE that I wanted to cover it all. I checked my colour wheel and realised that red is a good contrasting colour to ASCP French Linen and I still had some Miss Mustard Seed Paint in Tricycle so I mixed 3 tablespoons of that up and it was enough for 2 coats inside the cabinet and the drawers. I love the overall effect.

The cabinet is for sale at a great price as I was given the cabinet and am only charging for my paint and time.

In other, halloween-ish, news, a crow fell into our back yard on the weekend. Just dropped out of the sky. Indian minors were attacking it. It couldn't walk or fly and we really thought it was going to die. I was all wow that's my halloween decorating sorted! No seriously we placed the poor bird in a box and my daughter lay some flowers around him and wtrote a cute poem and we expected him to not survive the night. But this morning his eyes were open and he is much better this afternoon. He still can't fly far but can now eat and drink. Luckily my best friend does lots of rescue work for WIRES and has been advising me. There is another crow circling our house and crying since 3pm yesterday. A mate or child? It's heartbreaking. 

Sunday afternoon

Monday afternoon
Hopefully he'll be able to join his mate soon.

I thought you also might like to see a piece I'm working on. A huge oak cabinet for a customer who wants it white. 

It was damaged in a fire so I've got my work cut out to do some repairs as well as paint.

Do you decorate for Halloween? Ever had a bird drop out of the sky and land at your feet. That's very halloween!!

have a great day
Fiona xx

sharing at 
Perfectly imperfect

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beautiful Black Night Stands

This is a makeover where you might wonder why I bothered. The before is so beautiful.

But the owner has had them shabby chic white for twenty years now and wanted a change. Her home now has a lot of red and black and shabby chic white wasn't cutting the mustard any longer. But the night stands are too good to on-sell and they offer fabulous storage so she googled furniture painters in Sydney, loved my work and commissioned me to repaint them. After listening to her describe her home and style, I suggested ASCP Graphite for them.

These are the best built bedside tables I've seen. Made in America, solid timber, beautiful shape, dovetailed drawers. I think my client was wise to not sell them.  Look at the gorgeous stamp on the back.

The graphite makes a great background for photographing flowers on. Yesterday a friend invited me for a drink as she's having a tough time and wanted to chat. I thought a little posy of flowers might brighten her day. I gathered some roses, gardenias, oregano, hellebores and jasmine from our garden. Amazing what you can gather in two minutes, and tied up with string I thought it was very pretty and smelled divine. Heady, but hopefully calming to my friend.  I posted the above photo on facebook and there was much discussion about kindness. I think small gestures like this make life and friendships rich. I'm not big on money and grand gestures. I'd much prefer small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

I find black furniture very hard to photography, the light makes these look patchy but they aren't in real life. I have sanded and sanded and buffed and buffed these. They are velvety smooth.

The little doggie was my mother's a child. He has been beside her front door for my whole life and now lives in my son's room. I feel very honoured to have him and we really treasure him. Amazing that he is so old and still in perfect condition. My mum sure knew how to take care of things.

The wicker basket is beautiful. I have two for sale, They are brand new and in perfect condition. Fantastic for displaying flowers, umbrellas, firewood, toys, or even as a rubbish bin. $38 each, pickup Lilyfield.

I'll be planting that hydrangea under my frangipani tree, one of the shadiest places in my garden.

Do you like the nightstands in black?
Do you believe in small kindnesses?

I'm heading out the door now to our school cocktail party, slipping into my not-so-little black dress and party shoes. It's at the Writers Centre in Callan Park, under the stars. Just beautiful and great to catch up with the other parents socially.

Wishing you a happy weekeend!

Fiona xx

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stunning French Buffet

Some pieces of furniture literally stop me in 
my tracks.

Check out this stunning French buffet. It makes me want to open a restaurant just to display it - or move into a huge house!  

Exquisite detail. Perfect condition.
Estimated to sell for under $500. Because of it's extremely large size it will be difficult to sell.

If you are interested in more detail, contact me

I can see this working as a shop counter or if you had a very large house, or even in a large lounge room. 

Fiona xx

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Make your own coat hook rack

How to make your own coat hook rack by Lilyfield Life

I am always ALWAYS always on the look out for interestingly carved timber. Whether that's carvings on furniture or scraps of timber. I just love the detail.  I scour old wood yards for carved pieces and anything I see at auction or second hand places that has ornate detail sparks my interest. You know my love for a bit of ornate flourish

How to make your own coat hook rack

When I find interesting bits of carved timber that I'm not sure what else to do with I like turning them into coat hook racks.

Painted white carved cabinet by Lilyfield Life

Recently I found an amazing cabinet that I'm still painting, and it's turning out beautifully but has been slow going as I've been busy with other things.  The cabinet had a hutch on the top that looked out of place and detracted from the beauty of the cabinet so I decided to separate it all. The cabinet will be for sale soon but the hutch has become a series of hook racks.

French style hook rack by Lilyfield Life

French style hook rack by Lilyfield Life

The sides of the hutch I painted ASCP Duck Egg Blue with White Trim and screwed on big double metal hooks. They look fantastic and offer great hanging.

The ornate timer around the top of the hutch just had to be used as something special and I thought another set of coat racks would be perfect. I sawed off the sides of the carving as I wanted it to lie flat. To cut this I used my electric hand saw. I then painted the whole thing white, not worrying too much about being perfect although I made sure there were no drips. On something this ornate it's good to not overload you paint brush as drips can easily happen.

white carved hook rack by Lilyfield Life

ornate carved timber

Once it was all painted I carefully measured and decided where the hooks should go. I didn't want a hook hanging in the centre so I put them 10cm each side of the centre and 10 cm from the edge. As this timber was 110cm wide it all worked out evenly with 20 cm between each hook. This means you can hang bulky items without it all bunching up.

how to make your own coat hook rack by Lilyfield Life

Using my power drill I drilled holes through the timber and then screwed in some pine timber knobs. I then painted these white also.  Love it. To hang this on the wall I have added metal brackets to the back.

how to make your own coat hook rack by Lilyfield Life

You can never have too many hooks around the house.  Next time you find some interesting timber why not turn it into something functional. You can either you use bought hooks, knobs, old door handles, bent spoons or even rolling pins. 

Here are some more ideas below for making your own coat rack, wall hooks.

Coat rack made from a carved timber piece and cabinet handles (Lilyfield Life)

how to make your own coat hook rack by Lilyfield Life

Old timber and flattened vintage spoons (spoons can be stamped with names)

Timber and vintage spoons hook rack

Rustic pulleys and industrial timber
nautical beach themed coat rack

Vintage Rolling Pins turned coat rack
Vintage rolling pins hook rack ideas

An old boat oat turned coat rack
Vintage oar coat rack, beach theme a beach cottage
via and via

Salvaged tin tiles turned into coat racks
Salvage tin vintage coat rack
Timber twigs and branches
make your own timber twigs coat rack

Which are you favourite?
Fiona xx