Thursday, April 30, 2015

ASCP Paris Grey French Style Bedroom Furniture

Gee I'm creative with my blog post titles aren't I. I'm so surprised anybody bothers to click through sometimes. It's the engineer in me - technical and straight to the point :)  I grew up with a household of wordsmiths and literary geniuses. Not me though, I was out digging in the dirt, doing experiments or playing with my technical lego. I was always getting told that I was illiterate when we played board games and I couldn't pronounce the more difficult questions in Trivial Pursuit (yes, it was the 1980s!) . Luckily, I realised it was just the stiff competition of my family and not the general population that I was being graded against :)  ...ha ha... not scarred at all thanks Mum and Dad. 

Anyway enough of my writing style ... on to beautiful grey paint and pretty furniture. Kylie and Maurice picked up their bedroom suite last Friday and they loved it. 

You saw these pieces last week.

And then I finished the long dresser and the tri-fold mirror as well. It's a lot of furniture!  Kylie's parents bought it many years ago as their wedding present and now for Kylie and Maurice's wedding, they've had me paint and refresh it.  I think that link to their parents is just wonderful.

Kylie wanted the handles a darker grey to replicate the piping on their new bedhead. I spray painted the handles in a dark grey for a lovely smooth finish.

The morning after Kylie picked it up I got a lovely message from her.

Fiona, I am beyond words of excitement!! I absolutely LOVE what you did. They look great and match my bedhead perfectly. They officially feel like my furniture now. Thankyou for doing them in such a short time. Can't wait to style up the rest and I'll take photos for you. Mum and Dad keep coming into my room to admire the change. Thankyou, thankyou! So glad I found you on instagram!!! have a great weekend.

even Charlie approves...

Today I am finishing another bedroom set - pine that had seen better days but it now fresh and Hamptons white. 

have a great day - it's Friday after all 
Fiona xx

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Furniture Painting Workshops: Lilyfield Life

Sydney based Furniture painting workshop

Lilyfield Life

Furniture Painting Workshop

This is a hands-on workshop that will teach you the basics of furniture painting. Learn how to prepare your piece, how to achieve different looks with your choice of chalk paint or acrylics; how to distress, antique and achieve a beautiful finish with clear and dark wax. Bring a small piece of furniture to work on or I can provide you with sample boards.

The workshop price is $195 per person. This includes all materials that you require in the class as well as morning tea and a light lunch. Max 6 people. Time: 10am to approx. 2:15pm


Thursday 7th May fully booked

Thursday 14th May fully booked

Wednesday 20th May

Friday 29th May -fully booked

Thursday 4th June

Location: my home in Lilyfield, Sydney’s Inner West (address supplied on booking) 

To book: email or call Fiona 0405766445 with your preferred session

I am also happy to organise private group lessons if you can arrange a minimum of four to come. Surely you have three friends who want to paint!

Fiona xx

Turning Down a Free Shop/Studio Space

I have made a very tough decision recently. Something that I have wanted for a long time but then when offered came with some conditions that made it untenable. So I walked away very sadly, still looking over my shoulder wondering if I have made the right choice.

About 15 months ago I applied to Renew Australia for a pop-up shop space in Leichhardt. They were immediately impressed with my furniture painting business and social media following (thank you to you all xx) and promised they would find me a space. Initially I was offered a space in Leichhardt Forum but the floors were carpeted and parquetry and the access was difficult so I turned it down. I needed something less perfect so I could use the space to paint. I didn't want to get a damages bill from the owner. I wanted a space I could use as a studio more than a shop.  Somewhere without nice floors! Somewhere to paint, to run workshops, for customers to visit and see my work as well as purchase it.

A couple of months ago I was offered a shop that was very run down but available immediately (it had been vacant for 6 years so it was in a very bad state including a ceiling that might fall and a load of broken asbestos in the storage room) but it was for free and on a month by month rolling tenancy. I was so tempted as this is what I had been wanting and waiting for. The timing was just so wrong in regards to our renovation. I was working long hours with the builders and then painting at night - both cabinetry for the house and other people's furniture.  My initial application for a studio space had been approved with very achievable hours for me - open 4 days a week 10-2 and then by chance or appointment. When I was offered the space though this had changed to 10am-5pm 6 days a week. This was the deal breaker for me. I couldn't manage those hours by myself and look after my kids or even go pick up furniture to paint.

(The orange wall would have been the first thing to go!!)

So I walked away.

While I have a twinge of sadness every time I think of having a shop/commercial studio space I am relieved that I didn't sign up to that lease.  I'd rather pay rent and be able to dictate my own hours. My kids are grateful also. The other day (in school holidays) when we were driving to Leura to collect autumn leaves and go for a bush walk, we passed the shop that someone else now has and I mentioned it to my kids. Jonty piped up with "don't be sad Mumma, if you had the shop we wouldn't be going to Leura today".  A bright side to everything.

...And now I have a studio at home which is working out so well. It doesn't have passing trade and is smaller but it demands nothing of me except what i want to put in, and I can be available for when my kids need me and even cook dinner and put the washing on throughout the day. Just what I need to be doing at this stage of my kids' lives.

And who knows what will happen down the track, my kids are still young and I have plenty of time in my life to take this business where I want when they are older. 

As my sister and I always say "A woman can have it all, just not all at once".

Who else has big dreams for the future? 

Fiona xx

Friday, April 24, 2015

In the works

As the sun rises over Sydney this morning I am thinking of the devastation across the coast and the massive clean up underway. I hope you are all okay and that you have fared okay throughout these storms. I was chatting with a friend this morning and she was saying it just shows we are a speck on the face of the earth when compared to the force of nature. And here we are thinking we are in control :)

photo taken by my sister this morning
I have been watching paint dry very slowly this week. I'm working on a bedroom set for Kylie and Maurice. For their wedding present to each other, they have asked me to paint their bedroom set a beautiful grey. It was Kylie's parents furniture and so it is very treasured. I'll share all details next week when I've finished it all.

So many drawers!

I am almost finished with just the top of the long low dresser and the mirrors to paint. I'll share more photos tomorrow of that. I am always a little nervous when I do custom furniture painting, hoping that I am able to achieve my client's vision for their furniture. I sent a photo to Kylie last night and she replied with "Im sooo sooo happy. I showed my mum and she is just as excited about them."

A big relief! ...although I should just trust myself.

Have a good day and if you've been without power I hope you get it on soon and good luck with the clean up.

Fiona xx

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I love this colour combination

What a couple of days it's been on the east coast around Sydney. I hope you are staying safe and dry and without too much damage to your homes.  It seems as though there's no end to the cyclonic weather. I'm staying at home and painting:)

My neighbour gave me a little oak side table when she was recently clearing her house. They are moving up the coast and I'm so sad for their beautiful family to be leaving. We will have to have some family holidays together. Anyway the table is oak but had been previously painted and very heavily distressed. I decided to give it a little frenchy makeover using ASCP Chalk paint.

A colour combination that I think delivers frenchy sophistication is ASCP Graphite on top with the base painted in ASCP Old Ochre. I then used a little dark wax in the crevices to give a little age to the piece.

(this piece has already sold)

I have some gorgeous french style bedsides that I'm going to paint similarly. I think it will work perfectly on them.

Fiona xx

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

French Style Lamp Table with a Restoration Hardware style finish

Hello from wet and windy Sydney! I hope you and your families are all safe and have houses that are in one piece still from this wild weather we are having here. Our trampoline got blown over, and the robinia has lost all it's leaves overnight but at least the garden looks green instead of the mud pit it's been these last few weeks. I was going to lay turf this week but that will have to wait.

I have got stuck back into furniture painting with a vengeance with two bedroom suites being delivered for custom painting on Sunday and Monday. One is a beautiful Berryman suite and the other country pine. Both are going to look so fresh and new once I've finished.

Restoration hardware weathered finish on a french style lamp table by Lilyfield life

I finished this lovely vintage lamp table yesterday. I painted it with what I call a Restoration Hardware weathered finish. If you are a regular reader here you will know that I've done many pieces similar to this. I think it is a lovely look for this style of furniture. 

Restoration hardware weathered finish on a french style lamp table by Lilyfield life

I painted it using four ASCP colours - first a base of Coco and then layers and washes of French Linen, Paris Grey and White. it is sealed with wax and has a lovely feel to it. The edges have been very slightly distressed. 

Restoration hardware weathered finish on a french style lamp table by Lilyfield life

The side table has a gorgeous shape and offers very good storage. The dovetailed drawer is actually only one drawer but it's nice and deep and would be a great spot to store magazines.

Restoration hardware weathered finish on a french style lamp table by Lilyfield life

The kids are back at school today, we have no tradesmen or builders in the house and my studio and paint brush are calling me...but coffee first. 

Hope you stay warm and dry and happy.
Fiona xx

Friday, April 17, 2015

Furniture post - it's been a while

I have a studio! It needs a coat of paint or two - luckily I know just the person who is handy with a paint brush :) and I have loads of boxes to unpack but my furniture painting studio is up and running, I'm so happy to be back to sourcing interesting furniture and turning them into beautiful hand painted treasures. 

My first piece is proof that some pieces only need a lick of paint to make them really shine. This piece is probably from India. The carvings are lovely but when I bought it, it was very grubby and the glass in the door was broken. I replaced the glass with chicken wire as I felt that suited the rustic look.

To insert the chicken wire I used my Bosch Staple Gun and then with pliers, I bent over the edges of wire to make it safe. I love how it looks now.

I will be starting my furniture painting workshops very soon and will be emailing everyone who has already expressed their interest. If you want to find out more, email me on

cheers Fiona xx

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sanding Floors

For the past four days I have pretty much sat on the floor with a heat gun and orbital sander. You would never think that sitting down all day could be physically tiring.

For the rest of the house we have either laid carpet (upstairs and the downstairs guest room) or we have had our NSW Spotted Gum floors sanded and sealed professionally by David from DD Floors. Dave's team laid all the new floors and then stripped and sealed our existing floors (dining room, kitchen and hallway) to match.  

However it's the end of the job, I'm trying to save some money, so I decided to sort out the floor in our old bedroom/my new studio myself. I pulled up the carpet and was very happy to find the original 100 year old floors in great condition - except that half the floor had been covered with a thick black varnish. There was obviously a rug in the centre of the room that the previous owners had decided not to move when they were sealing the floor so luckily the varnish wasn't over the whole room. 

 I experimented with a few ways to remove the varnish but the most effective way was to use a heat gun and then my orbital sander. Slow work but the floor looks pretty good. Dave said that they use a concrete grinder to remove this but I didn't trust myself to not rip up the floorboards with such a powerful machine. I thought slow and steady might be better. It's still a bit patchy now but all the tar/varnish is gone and I can just work on evening up the colour slowly. It's very rustic industrial but it is a paint studio after all. I'm unsure of how i want to seal the floor but at the moment I am happy with having it unsealed. At least if I spill some paint I can just sand it off. The original floor boards are 25mm thick so there's no chance of me sanding too much. It feels beautiful underfoot - very smooth.

There are still tools everywhere (and that roll of carpet which is getting laid in the guest room today) but I think by the end of this week I'll have it sorted.  The floor in the guest room (below) was pretty perfect. A few old paint drips and lots of staples but if my studio floor was the same as this I could have done it in a couple of hours rather than 4 days.

more photos coming soon.
Fiona xx

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sneak Peek at our House Renovations

The pergola is getting painted white today
Our builder, Sam Hall, finished up on Thursday afternoon, right before Easter, and today he and his beautiful family move to Byron Bay to live. I'm really sad they are moving away as they have become our friends and my kids adore their kids. However I just feel blessed that we were about to have him build our house as Sam and his family were initially moving to Byron after they finished our neighbours' house (my friend/his parents-in-law) 6 months ago but decided to stay and build our house, something that we will be eternally grateful for.  

We first met Sam when he was renovating his own house and renovating in our street, we started talking to him about our build and were so sad to learn that he was thinking of moving away especially after we saw his professional team renovate our neighbours' house.  We started heading down the path of using another building company but for some reason could never bring ourselves to sign the contract and thank god we didn't because Sam came to us one day and said they were staying in Sydney a while longer and would we be interested in him building our house. I was overjoyed and shook on it then and there. No contracts required.

I have to say it's been a fantastic process with Sam. I have loved pretty much every minute of it, I just can't fault Sam - his workmanship or his pleasant easy going attitude, nothing is a problem for him. It's just been one of the best 6 months of my life working with him. The house is beautiful and highly functional. We didn't use an architect, I did the initial design and plans and then we have pulled together much of the plan and design as we have gone along.

I still have a big list of things to do: 
paint the shed, 
paint the pergola, 
paint the guest room
paint my new studio, 
rip the studio carpet up and decide on floor treatment,
paint the carport
lay carpet in the guest room, 
paint the fireplace and mantel
paint the entertainment cabinetry
hang pictures and mirrors
install shelving in the linen press
install the basketball ring and hoop for my basketball mad family,
find a bed for my daughter
decide on upstairs window coverings (romans or roller blinds?)
get a chandelier fixed and hung
level, top soil and turf the back yard,
blah blah blah the list goes on...

In the mean time I'm just enjoying what has already been finished and feeling very grateful.

Fiona xx