Monday, December 29, 2014

Reader's Project - Beth's Bed

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We had a lovely, fairly quiet time, I'll share more soon of what we are up to but today I wanted to share a fabulous painted furniture project by one of my readers. Beth asked for some advice on painting her bedroom suite and when she was finished she sent me photos. I love the amazing bed now in white. The details are stunning.

Beth used a locally made white paint (she's american) so I can't give you details but, seriously, either a sample pot of white paint from your local hardware store or a tin of chalk paint will be a great start.

So much detail on the bed, I think the white paint and light distressing really bring out the details. If you want to undertake a project like this yourself I have a great tutorial for painting vintage furniture that can be found here. (Link on heading below)

Lilyfield Life's Guide to painting furniture

I just love seeing how I've possibly inspired and helped readers with their projects so send me some photos of any painted furniture that you do.

Beth also had some old nightstands that originally belonged to her grandmother. She wanted to fix them up as they were faded and the veneer warped and peeling. We discussed what to do and Beth ended up peeling off the veneer, sanding the timber underneath and staining and top coating.  This is an involved process (peeling off old veneer) so if you decide to do it make sure you aren't impatient and in a rush.  Don't they look great!

Have you got any projects around the house lined up for over the Christmas break? I am painting some bedside tables and a coffee table but if the weather improves I'll be spending a lot of time on the beach with my sweet family.

Fiona xx

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some furniture antiquing projects

If you are interested in giving your painted furniture projects a patina of age, a good technique to master is antiquing with dark wax and/or glaze. 

I am a very visual person and I learn from seeing people do things as well as closely inspecting furniture in antique french shops. Go to an expensive suburb and check out the French antique shops and really peruse how authentically aged pieces look so that you can replicate the look on your pieces if this is what you are after. I still have a long way to go in my learning and skills development but here are some pieces that I've used dark wax and glaze to "antique".

Here is a detailed tutorial on using ASCP (or other brand) dark wax.

Antiquing can be VERY scary the first time you do it. You stand there with the dark wax your brish and you are just so scared of messing up your pretty freshly applied paint. Maybe we all should have a quick vodka before we antique and distress and it might all be more relaxed and authentic. Perhaps it's just me. Anyway a good place to start and learn on is an ornate mirror. If you hate what you end up with you can paint over it, chuck it out or give it away to your auntie for Christmas!

This mirror below was just an inexpensive gold mirror that I picked up for $10 at Rozelle Markets. I painted it in a cream Porters Paints Eggshell paint and then used glaze to antique it. Here is my DIY recipe for glaze.


I would use a glaze when you don't want to use wax or are using a poly. While I love wax I wouldn't wax a piece that I know I'm going to repaint again. Only ASCP painted well over previously waxed pieces. If you aren't 100% sold on a colour then use another topcoat and wax to antique your pieces.

Here is the before photo of a dressing table my clients wanted me to paint and glaze.

And after but before hardware was added back on. The glazing has really brought out the detail of the oak and especially around the carvings.

This French chateaux chest of drawers are one of my favourite all time paint projects. I adore them. I used ASCP Paros Grey, ASCP Pure White and Dark wax.

Use dark wax and Off White paint to turn a damaged pine cabinet from this...

to this (although I also loved it stark white above!)

Are you keen to use wax or glaze on your next project?  Have you had success before using these products?

Fiona x

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pretty French Style Cupboard

Thanks for all your comments yesterday on house design dilemmas. Progress on the house is going well and I will share more photos soon. I'm so excited about the space we will be living in. In the mean time I've still been painting in the corner of my bedroom and this is my latest piece.

I had to decorate this cabinet with a little festive flair especially as Christmas is just days away.  This is a vintage music cabinet with a hinged lid that I painted in the palest of greys. I mixed ASCP Paris Grey with a couple of different whites I had that were at the end of the tin. If the cupboard is not next to something white it reads as white itself.

The shape of this cupboard is just lovely. The legs and side details really make it.  I replaced the original handles which were broken with small crystal knobs.

The cabinet is a vintage music cupboard and so the lid lifts up and has a visible hinge in the back. Initially I thought of replacing the whole top but I then realised that who ever buys it probably won't mind the hinge as it's how the original piece was designed. Sometimes it's not worth changing things. Especially as the top is also beautifully shaped.

Sometimes it's hard to get photos with my helper always wanting to be involved in the process.

My neighbour just popped in for a coffee and commented on how smooth my furniture always is. It really comes down to the amount of sanding you do. Sure how you paint the brush strokes and the humidity and the paint play a part, but sanding will always ensure a gorgeous finish. For me, this is one of my favourite parts of painting because it makes such a difference. It's very hard to tell from photos how smooth the finish but I think it's a balance from look spray painted and looking too brush marked. If you paint furniture yourself you will understand this balance.

Anyway this pretty cupboard is for sale. Last minute Christmas gift for someone special? I have lots of friends who buy their own presents to make sure they get what they want. I'm sure you could sneak this under the tree with a tag for yourself. LOL. Dimensions are 92cm wide, 52 deep and 80cm tall. $425, pickup Lilyfield. I think it would look beautiful anywhere in your house and it offers great storage.

Two more presents to go under our non existent tree and a pork loin (Phil's favourite) to buy and then I'm finished Christmas preparations. Easy peasy this year as we have no room for much. How are you tracking for your prep? 

Fiona xx

Monday, December 22, 2014

The trouble with blogging and renovating: or "Damn you Pinterest!"

I say "Damn you Pinterest!"

As an engineer and a highly pragmatic practical person, I've always believed


I want things to work well.
And if it worked well, I didn't really care how it looked.

I appreciate how things are made, their function and good engineering.  I love DIY and I love being capable and able to sort things out for myself. I really wished I could build our house myself  - Seriously! I really spent a lot of time watching Grand Designs and wondering if I could do a lot of the work myself. That is, until I hired a very skilled builder and saw just what was involved and how much knowledge (and strength I just don't have.

So it was always functionality I was a fan of, but since I started painting furniture and blogging and especially since the advent of Pinterest, I have fallen in love with the aesthetic of things more and more.

Oh, Form, how tempting you are.

This is a major problem when you are renovating.

For example, with our major renovations, I was stressing about our new laundry and if it's going to be pretty enough.

I found myself wondering - but how will it look on the blog?

I know, right? Smack me.

It's a great sized room (I'd even say it's huge for the Inner West) and if I didn't blog or ever look at Pinterest, I'd be thrilled about the functionality and space. Now I'm second guessing myself and wondering if it's going to be pretty enough.  Good grief.  I almost planned to hang a chandelier in there.  In the end, I opted for a couple of downlights and a skylight (there's no window in the room as the external wall is too close to the side boundary). I find myself worrying that when you walk in you can see the clothes dryer and wishing it was going to be hidden away somewhere from view. But it's going to be on the floor under a bench right next to where the washing machine will go and where it will be highly practical.  I've been tempted by a beautiful (and expensive) tap but my practical side kicked in to choose a tap with a pull out nozzle so we can wash the dog's feet without wetting the whole dog.  But man it's hard to make decisions, when you care about how things look!

I keep reminding myself that it's all going to be so much better than what we currently have. 

On the flip side the closer the house gets to being finished, I am finding that I'm letting go a lot of my initial renovation ideas and making the house somewhat simpler than planned. There'll be no wall paneling in the lounge room, I have downgraded my plans for the staircase and I've chosen very simple bathrooms with relatively inexpensive tiles (the white subway tiles I've chosen were only $9 a sqm). And I I can't cope with the idea of marble in a bathroom no matter how attractive Pinterest makes it look. Marble is just so impractical.

I did however find this fabulous chandelier for the stairwell this week. Imported from Egypt, it needs rewiring to meet Australian standards and I'm freaking out about how many globes it will require. I got it for an absolute bargain (approximately 10% of what they sell for in shops). It's huge and I am tempted to not wire the centre ring but I'll see how I go. It weighs around 30 kilos so luckily the builder installed a big block for it to hang from. 

What do you think of the chandelier - is it OTT?
Oh but wow it will look good on the blog! :)

What's the most tempting thing you see on Pinterest? Does it up your expectations of how your own home should look?
It's all a bit crazy isn't it.
Especially in light of this week. 

I'll blog soon about my thoughts on dream houses and other problems I've found with renovating.

Have a great day - excuse me while I go admire my new chandelier. So sparkly!

Fiona xx

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Inspiration Comes to Life

Do you remember my inspiration for the back of the new house renovations?

We are getting closer!

That's home made scaffolding up there (not a balcony) that I'll blog about that soon. It's saved us a fortune having the builders make it rather than hiring scaffolding. Such clever builders and so careful with our budget. We decided against a balcony, despite the amazing views, as we didn't want to upset the neighbours.

The french doors off the lounge room are divine . I am so happy we chose then over bifolds or a sliding door. They are Trend Aluminium french doors. From about a metre away you seriously think they are timber. But they seal so well! and don't need painting. Ever!  I know, I know I'm a furniture painter and yes, I love painting... but not these babies. Painting high doors and exterior windows is not my idea of fun.

The french door details are:
Synergy Ovolo PD Generic Hinged doors
Height 2400 mm, Width 1300mm
Glass: 6.38mm Clr Lam
Frame Finish: White Pearl Gloss
Trend Aluminium Ovolo Colonial Bars
Opening Config: Open Out
Contact Anthony Perrett, Trend Windows 
(phone 02 9840 2000)
No sponsorship, he was just a great guy and very helpful.

The doors are fully glazed windows not the stuck on glazing bars ie each door has four separate pieces of glass and the Ovolo glazing bars are solid rather than those ones that are just glued onto the one piece of glass. That detail was really important to me :)

That's all my cornices for the lounge room and the ceiling roses in the photo. Victor (who I'm sure is the most masterful gyprocker in Sydney) will be installing them next week. The cornices are from Silver Cornice. You can select the products online but their show room in Rydalmere is well worth the visit. Upstairs in our house I'm going for a smaller, plainer and cheaper paper backed cornice from Boral. But I think this lovely lounge room deserves a little something special.

The concrete slab for the paving and side path was laid on Monday. The form work is still all in place to protect the edges while the builders are here. We'll pave the back area but not the side path. I still have to chose the paving - so many decisions.

Happy boy photo bomber

We are all happy.

Hope you are having a happy day also
Fiona xx

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This year's hand painted furniture

It's been a sad week for most of us here in Sydney. A gorgeous friend of ours lost her struggle with cancer early Monday morning and it's terribly sad especially for her two sweet children, one of them a good friend of my girl, so I am heartbroken for them growing up without their beautiful Mummy. Then came the hostage situation in Martin Place and the terrible ending (although it could have been much worse although I'm sure the families of the dead aren't feeling that). My cousin was very close friends with Katrina and I've just spent some time today with my aunt who is devastated and shaken. I think it's a week where we get smacked in the head with just how fragile life is and how we need to just spread love and kindness to others in our daily lives. Life is too short.

And then (inconsequentially to all that) on Monday afternoon I broke one of my toes. While the accident was actually occurring and my foot was trapped for a few minutes, I thought my toes were going to be ripped off. I won't go into how it happened but I just made a mindless mistake in my daze of grief and now I am limping around still in pain. How is it possible that toes hurt so much? I need steel capped boots.

Anyway I wanted to share today a little video (only 1 minute long) of the pieces I've painted this year. When I see them collated like this it always surprises me that I've painted so many pieces. This is about 80% of the furniture I've painted this year). I think next year once my studio is finished I will be able to work on even more pieces, hold classes and write more tutorials for you.

Lilyfield Life Hand Painted furniture 2014

Thanks for being part of my life - I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Wishing you peace and love

Fiona xx

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Painted Furniture Inspiration - ASCP Paris Grey

I love ASCP Paris Grey for painted furniture. It's a soft grey with an undertone of blue and in some lights it reads almost lavender. Mixed with white, it forms a dove grey.  It's one of my go-to colours for painted furniture and I find it very versatile and easy to live with. Every now and then, I do wonder if grey furniture will lose its popularity sometime soon but really, the French and Swedish have been painting furniture in a soft grey for hundreds of years I think we are okay.

If you want to paint some furniture with this beautiful paint colour, then here is some inspiration for you. 

via Oliver and Rust
via Sally White Designs


via Leslie Stocker
Another great thing about Paris Grey is its very good opacity and paint coverage. Generally two coats is all you will need. I love the mix of ASCP Paris Grey as a base, ASCP Pure White on the details and then dark antiquing wax to age the piece. This is a piece of mine that I am very proud of. My friends bought it and it's lovely that I get to visit it.

and some other pieces I have painted in ASCP Paris Grey are below. Can you tell I love it?

and how beautiful is this one below from La Vie en Rose?

Have you painted any furniture in ASCP Paris Grey lately? What other greys do you love?

Fiona xx

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Simple Christmas and thousands of Santas

I am married to Mr Christmas. Phil just loves everything related to Christmas - celebrating life with loved ones, the food, the decorations, the carols. Me? I'm a bit more of a grinch. I can take Christmas or leave it but as with most things Phil's infectious enthusiasm usually wins me over. I decided early on in our marriage to just go along with all his suggestions and I always end up enjoying myself. I do love being married to someone with great ideas who makes life fun.

This year we aren't putting our big tree up as we don't have room. I'm allergic to real trees especially as they start to wilt. I just end up sneezing and sneezing so we have a very good artificial tree. I keep asking my builder where can we store the tree - I need a space to store the tree. We've decided there will be a little mezzanine in the new shed for it. I'm actually looking forward to Christmas next year already as our big tree is going to look fabulous in the new lounge room.

This year we are making do with this little potted tree we bought at the Orange Grove markets. We found the pom pom lights at Myers - they are battery operated so it makes it easy. The ceramic stars are from Marley and Lockyer - our names on each of them and then one with Peace and one with Joy. The burlap cover is from Bunnings and is plastic lined so we can water the tree easily. I think this little corner is very simple and pretty.

Below is our tree from last year. It's just made me think I need to sort out where we are putting the presents this year. I don't want to give the kids too much. I'm not a fan of over the top present giving. our kids don't need anything anyway. New beach towels and a few small things will do. I love that French Provincial coffee table that I painted white and re-stained the top last summer. I always wonder if I should have kept that one but I know that Miriam loves it also.

Oh well you can't keep them all. 
To be honest I'm a bit overloaded with lovely coffee tables at the moment and I'll be listing two square french style ones shortly.

Another Christmas event that Phil talked me into was the 5km Variety Santa Run. You've never seen so many Santas. I can't tell you how hot it is running in those nylon Santa suits. 

But what a run! - from Darling Harbour, through the city and the Rocks, along Circular Quay and ending up at the Opera House forecourt.  Even if it was the morning after our street Christmas party I really enjoyed it and we'll do it again next year.

Hope you are enjoying the lead up to Christmas and not finding it too stressful.
Fiona xx