Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vintage French Planter Box

Well hello there! I've got a pop of gorgeousness for you today. The thrifting gods have been very good to me lately. 

I love it when other people pass things over because a little hard work is required.  I am not one to shy away of a little hard work - sometimes to my detriment but this was all worth it. 

I absolutely love my latest vintage treasure - a beautiful cast iron vintage French planter box.  I would love to know the history of this one and whose house it has been hanging on. I can just see it on a little french window sill with shutters and pretty flowers to complete the scene

We have to still find a spot to hang it so in the mean time it is just resting on our path but it's such a lovely pop of colour and prettiness.

A few of the iron scrolls are bent and I'm sure I could straighten them easily enough but I kind of like the imperfectness of them.

A riot of pink and green. 
I hope these cyclamens last well.

Here is how I found it - not quite as gorgeous is it?

It looks as though it had been sprayed with concrete or something - definitely worse for wear. Pop back tomorrow for how my gorgeous husband restored this for me.

Happy Mother's Day to me - an early present.

Vintage finds are the best aren't they!
Fiona xx

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bedroom Furniture makeover in Taupe

Well the school holidays are over and it's back into full time painting (and some recruiting for a new business consulting client) for me. I have loads of lovely custom paint jobs lined up that I look forward to sharing with you. I also have loads of painted pieces that I still have to share on my blog. I've been a bit sporadic blogging lately but look forward to getting a bit more regular here.

Chris recently asked me to help transform her bedroom furniture. She had a few different pieces of different timbers and wanted to unify it all and update the look in her bedroom. I think there comes a time where we realise we are all getting older and it's time to make things in your house how you want them. Chris liked the soft greys, taupe and putty colours that I often use and I suggested that when she came here to drop the furniture off, we could choose a colour then. Well she walked into my house and saw my hand painted kitchen and said "That's the colour!"

french provincial kitchen Lilyfield Life

So I set about to give these pieces below a new life with Colorbond Dune with my homemade chalk paint recipe.  Colorbond Dune is a beautiful taupe, soft and gentle and very easy to live with.

Chris' husband is a builder and had added some trim to the bed head for visual interest. It's not often that that furniture arrives sanded and ready for painting! I did use some wood putty to fill the brad nail holes for a better paint finish.

I think the colour is a wonderful match for blue and white linen. It was very hard to get an after photo if the bed head as it was so heavy to move do I just lent it against our bed and put a stool in front with pillows on it to give you the idea. The big cushions are from Sheridan, the striped sheet is actually my Turkish towel and the little French grain sack cushion is from Paint Me White.

Bedroom Furniture hand painted by Lilyfield Life

The bedside tables came up nicely also. I replaced the old iron ring handles with these pretty round crystal handles.

Bedroom Furniture hand painted by Lilyfield Life

Chris was very happy with her "new" furniture and is also getting me to paint a bedroom chest of drawers soon. It's lovely to help people get the look they want for their homes, especially reusing their own furniture.

If you have furniture of your own that you want painted please see my custom painted services page or if you want to paint it yourself then perhaps I can help you with my tutorial page

Fiona xx

Bedroom Furniture hand painted by Lilyfield Life

Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed

Monday, April 28, 2014

Porter's Paint Chalk Emulsion and a Pretty Painted Sideboard

This weekend I bought my first can of the Australian company Porter's Paints new range Chalk Emulsion. I chose a beautiful soft white called Cornflour to paint this pretty sideboard.

Porter's paint chalk emulsion Lilyfield Life white french sideboard

Now chalk paint, as you know, doesn't usually require primer, either does this Chalk Emulsion but this sideboard was walnut burr and the varnish on it was extremely old and very unstable so I sanded most of it off and used two coats of Zinsser BIN to contain the bleed through. 

Here is the before and the primed stage.

I then needed two to three coats of the Porter's Chalk Emulsion in Cornflour for a nice opaque coverage. I chose the standard base rather than the clear base and it has more titanium in it so it requires less coats of paint.

Porter's paint chalk emulsion Lilyfield Life white french sideboard

Porter's paint chalk emulsion Lilyfield Life white french sideboard

The drawers are very lovely and inside is a sliding drawer insert that is lined with felt. The person who bought this sideboard is going to use it as a dresser in her bedroom and plans to put her makeup in the insert. Perfect also for jewellery. I am pretty sure this drawer has never been used as it is in spotless perfect condition.

While I was a bit sad to paint over the walnut burr I knew that no one would buy it like that as it is just not in fashion, but painted white I've had four offers to buy it already and it was actually sold to a regular client before I had started painting. I am sure there are timber purists who shudder then they see me painting pieces such as this but I think it's better to paint these old pieces and bring them back into use rather than them not being bought and ending up as landfill or sitting in a dusty auction house or shop.

I think it's so pretty now and so does my buyer so that's the main thing.

Porter's paint chalk emulsion Lilyfield Life white french sideboard

I can't wait to renovate our house and have a studio at home. The reality of photos shoots of my furniture usually means photographing the pieces in our bedroom, squeezed up against our bed!  We are currently progressing with plans for the house and are hoping to sign with a builder in the next month. it's a huge undertaking and quite stressful as it's so much money but I know it will make our lives much easier having a renovated house.

Porter's paint chalk emulsion Lilyfield Life white french sideboard

So my thoughts on the Porter's Paint Chalk Emulsion. It is a lovely paint but quite different to ASCP. It is way less chalky than ASCP but that does mean it's easier to wax.  It probably is more like my home made chalk paint as it still has a slight latex feel and also is smellier than ASCP.  It retails for $48 for one litre and $28 for half a litre and you can get it in the full beautiful colour range of Porter's Paints which is fabulous.  The paint is slightly more opaque than ASCP so you get better coverage. It gives a lovely silky finish but possibly slightly less velvety than the ASCP.

Now just remember that I've only painted this one piece with the Chalk Emulsion and I'm sure to refine my opinion as I use it more but it's worth a try if you are painting your furniture.  I will still be using ASCP as well but I'll definitely be adding Porter's Chalk Emulsion to my toolkit.

Have you tried it yet?

Do you love this sideboard as much as I do?

Fiona xx

Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dark wax, Adding Patina to a french style coffee table

french coffee table hand painted furniture Lilyfield Life

We have been having a lovely Easter break and doing lots of family stuff such as catching the ferry to Cockatoo Island, bike riding, catching up with family and friends. The kids even had a sleep over with their Nana and Pa.  Phil and I went out for the evening but lasted just one drink before realising we were tired and wanted to snuggle on the couch at home - I tell you, I have a hard time admitting I'm getting old - I really thought we'd be out late drinking and dancing! Oh well, I didn't regret the early night the next day at least.

I thought I'd share some photos from our weekend. Isn't Sydney Harbour just beautiful!

We loved Cockatoo Island - the Biennale not so much, but it's definitely a great day trip and very easy to get to on Sydney Ferries.  We caught the ferry from Balmain and it was probably my favourite part of the day.

On Good Friday we had family and friends here for a simple seafood lunch. The weather was glorious and we sat and ate and chatted long into the afternoon. Very relaxing and lovely to be at home with no time pressures.

french style table cloth blue stripe lilyfield life

Yesterday we went to the Easter Show (we loved the chickens best of all, I am now on the lookout for some new breeds to introduce to our little flock). When we got home I did some painting to finish a sweet French style coffee table for a customer.  I've been on the look out for a coffee table for Del for months now. She needed quite a specific size for her lounge room and this coffee table fit the bill. I actually bought it to turn into an ottoman but decided against it so it was good to sell it to Del.

Here it is before

Del and her husband couldn't initially agree on a colour. Del liked ASCP French Linen and her husband liked Paris Grey so I suggested a custom mix. I mixed equal parts of French Linen and Paris Grey and it results in a beautiful taupe colour.  I hope Del and her husband love it also.

french coffee table hand painted furniture Lilyfield Life

french coffee table hand painted furniture Lilyfield Life

I made a little (wobbly) video of adding the dark wax to add patina.  I first apply clear wax and while it is still wet and tacky I use a small artist's brush to apply the dark wax then clean it off the high points with a clean rag.

french coffee table hand painted furniture Lilyfield Life

french coffee table hand painted furniture Lilyfield Life

The wax really brings out those carved details and makes the piece look authentically aged. I love the effect when used sparingly.

I hope the video helps show the process and gives you confidence to try this technique.

Fiona x

Sharing at Miss Mustard Seed

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Plans, Chocolate Cake and Pretty Flowers

Who is looking forward to Easter?

I am for one. I am not picking up a paint brush until Tuesday despite a workshop full of vintage treasures awaiting a lick (or three million) of white paint. I've been working seven days a week lately with loads of custom orders and some business consultancy jobs for clients. It's a great mix for a rewarding career (if you can call it that, more just work than any career, at this stage of life for me as a mum at home) but it does mean that work can pile up if I don't plan it all well. I've had some lovely pieces to paint these last few weeks and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you over the next week but for this evening, I've poured a little glass of champagne and am making a few plans for our Easter weekend.

Phil's parents and one of our very close friends are joining us for lunch tomorrow. I didn't grow up with many (any!) religious traditions but Phil is very particular about Good Friday and Easter routines - no meat allowed, only fish. I freaked him out when we were first living together and suggested eggs and bacon for breakfast on Good Friday. I've since learnt and enjoy a big festive seafood lunch.  I've bought a whole snapper each for the adults and flathead fillets for the kids, as well as fresh king prawns, fresh bread, and ingredients for a pomegranate, goats cheese and walnut salad.  I'll be baking the snapper with herbs and lemon, and pan frying the flathead fillets in breadcrumbs. For dessert I'll be whipping up our best chocolate cake. This is our family favourite and I use it for most celebrations. For the kids birthdays I have a huge round pan and triple the recipe. However I usually make it in a Tupperware bundt/gugelhof silicone form.

easy chocolate cake recipe

This Chocolate cake recipe just might be the easiest recipe in existence  - it takes 5 minutes to measure everything out and mix. One of those wonderful recipes that you just toss all the ingredients (including melted butter) into the mixer and then into the oven.

Our friend Jane served this cake years ago so we call it Jane's cake.

3oz (85g) butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon of cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 cup Self Raising flour
2 eggs
Vanilla extract (or essence)
    (N.B. in Australia our cup measure size is 250ml, I think the US is different)

    1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa, milk, vanilla essence & eggs into mixer bowl.
    2. Melt butter and pour over ingredients.
    3. Beat well for 4 minutes (the mixture will turn a much lighter colour).
    4. Pour mixture into greased cake tin and bake for 45 mins in moderate oven.
    5. Let the cake cool for 5 mins in the tin then cool on a wire rack.
    easy chocolate cake recipe

    If chocolate cake is not your thing (!!) we made this pavlova roll, with mascarpone, balsamic strawberries and basil last weekend and it's really light and delicious and not overly sweet.

    pavolva roll karen martini

    We have made this a couple of times, first seeing it made by Karen Martini on Better Homes and Gardens. It sounds more complicated than it is.  The recipe is here.  We just used strawberries but her recipe includes raspberries as well.

    pavolva roll karen martini

    I'd love to hear what you have planned for Easter? Do you have a big family lunch or something more chilled. My best friends from uni are heading off camping by a river out near Cumnock - that sounds good to me. I could do with getting totally away from everything!  I am however looking forward to having Phil home and taking it easy. I hope the weather stays deliciously warm and sunny and we can get to our favourite beach.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful and happy Easter.

    See you next week with more painted furniture and a review of a wonderful new sanding tool

    Fiona xx

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Pine Bookcase Makeover with French Flair

    french style hand painted bookcase Lilyfield Life

    Katie was moving house last week and took the opportunity when the removalists were around to bring this massive book case to my house for a makeover. It is huge and just fitted under my carport for me to paint.

    She asked if the orange pine could be painted and would it look good and I said "yes, that orange pine is crying out for paint!"

    On the outside I gave it two-three coats of ASCP Paris Grey and a top coat of clear wax. I also changed over the big brass colonial style handles on the drawer to some fluted nickel cup pulls.  The new handles make a big difference.

    I painted the bench bit last in case I dripped white paint on it when I was painting the inside - and I also needed to sand the doors down a little as they were scratching the bench bit and scrapping the paint off. I have a new sander from Bosch to show you soon and it worked wonders! I also sanded down the shelves a little so that they didn't scratch the sides when sliding in.

    For the inside I did two coats of primer - the first Zinsser BIN (the white tinted shellac) as the pine knots would bleed and once any bleed through was contained, I gave it a coat of Zinsser 123 (waterbased) just to help with the opaque coverage. I then gave it 4 coats of Dulux Aqua Enamel in a colour called Peplum (half strength). It's a very bright white with a tiny hint of grey/lilac that I thought would be a beautiful contrast to the Paris Grey. The reason I used a waterbased enamel inside it that I wanted a very hard paint (once cured) so Katie wouldn't have to worry about sliding books and treasures on the shelf.  The thought of waxing all those shelves and inside also wasn't looking very attractive!

    french style hand painted bookcase Lilyfield Life

    I then cleaned the paint off the glass with a razor blade, popped the shelf brackets back in and the removalists picked it up yesterday afternoon. I have kept the shelves out and will let them cure for a few days more before giving them back to Katie.

    french style hand painted bookcase Lilyfield Life

    A big difference isn't it?

    french style hand painted bookcase Lilyfield Life

    If you have dated pine furniture that has turned orange on you, or you no longer want it timber, don't stress. Painting pine furniture is very easy and very satisfying. Because it's a soft wood it's easy to sand (once painted) to eliminate any brush marks and get a smooth finish on - much less sanding than when painting vintage hardwood furniture.  I would use a primer even if you are using chalk paint if your pine furniture has knots. You could always just do a coat of chalk paint first and if you have bleed through, then do a coat of shellac. You can always fix these spots with a spray can of Zinsser Shellac BIN.

    Armed with a tin of paint and a good paint brush we can change the world!

    Fiona xx