Pinty plus ambassador: Chalk painted armchair up cycle.

A few weeks ago I was approached by the lovely Clare from Maybush studio. She had recently started work with a brand called Novasol spray UK, who have recently released a brand new range of paint, Pinty plus Chalk spray paint. Clare had a very exciting opportunity for me, to become a Pinty plus ambassador. Of course I jumped for it, free chalk paint in exchange for blogging about my up cycle? who wouldn’t!

A week or so later, I had decided on my up cycle project and emailed off for my chosen colour (Vintage olive) I was told to expect a 4-5 day delivery, so I was extremely happy to have it delivered in only two. Co-incidentaly the exact same day I went to pick up the piece of furniture that would be being up cycled.

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The piece of furniture in question was a chair. I’ve always wanted a queen Anne wingback armchair, they’re beautiful! And as luck would have it Nostalgiques – A local furniture restoration business, owned by the fabulous Nicola- had a beautiful replica for sale for only £30. *Just a heads up, I’m told Nicola has a fair few of these for sale, you can find her Facebook link here if you want to snap one up.*

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The fantastic thing about using chalk paint is that prep isn’t needed, the chair was in good condition, having only a few little scuffs and marks, so I was a ready to start pretty much straight away.

First, I moved my chair outside, luckily we had a few days of glorious sunshine last week, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I took off the seat stood staring at it for at least ten minutes. Other than the few scuff marks that would have been easy to clean, the chair was in perfect condition. This was one of those projects that made my stomach flip, there was every chance I could completely ruin a beautiful chair, I very nearly lost my nerve and didn’t do it!

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After giving myself a little pep-talk, I grabbed my supplies and prepared to give the chair a new lease of life. I’ve never used chalk paint on fabric before and this was the first time i’ve ever come across a spray chalk paint, so I tweaked the process I had researched. For this up cycle I used a water filled spray bottle, a sponge with a scourer side and of course the spray paint. Thats it.

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First, I grabbed the water spray and gave the chair a good spray, It needed to be damp NOT drenched. Apparently this helps the chalk paint soak into the fabric fibres, rather than settling on top of them. This is really important for the feel of the finished chair, it still needs to be comfortable, not a hard- paint coated surface.

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I then held my breath and started spraying the chalk paint. I started with the part that the seat cushion would sit on. The plan was to practice the first coat on somewhere that could be covered if I hated it. The key to using chalk paint on fabric is layers, lots of very light layers. To combat the risk of build up, I then used the scourer side of a sponge to give the area I had just sprayed a blend. Just lightly scrubbing, this helped blend the patches and removed any excess paint that hadn’t yet sunk in.

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Happy with how it was progressing, I carried on, with both excitement and anticipation bubbling away, I completed the first coat on the whole chair – including the seat cushion.

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Drying time varies, but out in the sunshine it was touch dry within about twenty minutes. But the paint had soaked into the fabric, and so I wanted to leave it a little longer. After watching Madagascar and having a short nap with Izzy, the first coat had fully  dried, so I gave it all a good scrub, getting rid of any chalky residue. The second coat went on shortly after, So I repeated the process, only this time giving it a much lighter spritz of water. All together I gave the chair four coats of chalk paint.

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For all four coats, I used just over three cans of the chalk paint. I use spray paint quite a lot and I really was impressed by how much coverage came from each can.

Once all four coats had been sprayed and dried, it was time for the real hard work. Giving it all a good scrub. Even though I was rubbing in-between each new coat, it still had quite a lot of residue on it, enough so that my fingers would be green after just touching the chair. Of course this isn’t too good for a chair, seen as people will expect to be sitting on it. I scrubbed for a while, getting all that excess chalk out, this did not affect the coverage at all, if anything it really brought the green out and after scrubbing I gave it all a really good hover.

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And that was it, it was ready to go back into the lounge!

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Its been left the whole weekend to ‘settle’ and after initially having a very small amount of chalkiness remaining, I’ve given it another scrub and hoover, and its now completely fine. No chalk comes off it at all.

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I am SO glad I took the risk on this chair, it looks so luxurious and gives a boost of much needed colour against the big white TV unit. At the start of the project, when I was picking colours, it was a choice between Vintage olive and mustard, I definitely chose right – Although i’m super keen to see a mustard version!- The fantastic thing about this chalk paint, is its flexibility, as I said earlier, its doesn’t coat the fibres, it soaks into them, so its still textured, the scrubbing has retained the softness making it a still functional piece of furniture. Using the Pinty plus spray chalk paint was a massive time saver, it took me roughly ten minutes to spray each layer and give a rub down. Much less time than using a standard brush and tinned paint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, i’m off to stare at my beautiful new chair.

 

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*If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can purchase Pinty plus chalk spray paint on their website – link here– 18 colours to choose from at £11.50 per can, discounts available if you order over 3 cans and standard delivery is free on all UK orders. *

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

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The big build- Phase 2.

So at the beginning of the week I shared the first part of our Tv unit build, it ended with our unit fully built and looking like this.

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The second half of last week was spent painting and finishing up, basically just making it pretty. As solid as the 3/4″ MDF was, it certainly wasn’t pretty.

Before painting could begin, I got out the builders calk. I LOVE this stuff, its for filling gaps, and I wanted the unit to be seamless.

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Once the Calk was dry, I gave the calked bits a light sand to smooth out any rough parts, before starting on the painting. Now, I love painting, but even for me painting this unit was tedious, it took three coats of Homebase Eggshell in brilliant white.

To get a pristine finish I had to follow a very specific routine. Painting in sections,  I used a large roller, then painted the gaps with a paintbrush, before using a mini roller to blend the brush strokes with the part that had been rollered. The fantastic thing about this paint is that firstly, its quick drying time, it says 2-3 hours on the tin, but I found it was touch dry within half an hour and completely ready for a new coat within an hour. Also its a low Voc paint, this means the fumes were minimal, so I wasn’t being gassed out. Lastly, it is incredibly hard wearing. I highly recommend this paint if your doing a project that requires furniture or anything metal to be painted white.

I managed to get the first two coats up in one day, the last (by which point I had completely had enough of white paint) finished the day after.

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You’ll notice that I haven’t painted the top lip of the unit, thats where the next part came in. Adding the top panel. This is what will join the cabinet to the ceiling and also hold the lights. We bought some beautiful wall lights from Ikea, I didn’t want to have to start faffing around getting electricians in, so we went for plug in wall lights as opposed to the ones that are connected to the mains. We created a gap at the bottom of the top panel, threading the wire under before attaching the panel to the unit.

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From there the panel could be painted, before fixing the lamps to the brackets and attaching the brackets to the panel.

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Last on the list was the cupboard doors, which meant bringing out the white paint again. These needed three coats on both sides, before they could go on.

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There’s a little bit of push from the doors, they will fit flush one the new magnet thingys (I have absolutely no idea of the real name) have arrived and been fixed on.

We found our handles on Ebay, I think they’re a perfect mixture of old and new, they have an slight industrial nod, that ties in with the brackets holding the wall lamps, but in a real traditional way. They’re perfect.

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All that was left to do was stand back and admire our work. I am absolutely in love with the new unit, it gives the room more space but gives us more storage as well. It’s been designed and made with our life in mind, meaning it fits and works perfectly, with the added bonus of it being SO beautiful.

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Cost breakdown of Phase two:

Eggshell paint in brilliant white – £30 (for two, although i’ve still got 2/3 of the second tin left.)

Ikea Wall lamps – £36 (for both)

Cast iron handles -£16.18 (for 6)

Coax wire – £4.50 (needed to extend the virgin media box from it original place to the other side of the room)

Total cost – £86.68.

Phase one – £182.38

Phase two – £86.68.

Total project cost – £269.06 ( it would have been £40 cheaper if I hadn’t have made the mistake with measurements back at the start)

 

It seems like quite a lot, but actually we’ve done really well with the cost, our old Tv unit, (bought in German Ikea 4 years ago) cost us roughly £500 and its tiny compared to this one.

So, if any of you are thinking of tackling a big build like this, here’s a few things I learnt.

Re-measure, and then again… and then ask someone to go over your measurements. And just before you go to buy your materials, remeasure one last time. Luckily my mistake didn’t cost too much to fix, but having only one measurement wrong could cost you a fortune in materials you can’t use.

Remember practicalities. There is no back to the bottom set of drawers, this is how we climb through to behind the unit should wires need changing or replacing. The tiny circles in the back of the shelves, above the cupboards – they’re positioned exactly at the plug socket switches, so they can be turned on and off. I wasn’t happy about drilling a hole in the perfect- white shelf unit, but I would be more un-happy should my house set on fire from having plug sockets switched on constantly.

If in doubt, ASK! Savoy (where we bought our MDF from) were fantastic. The unit originally was 33cm deep, one of the guys went over my plans and pointed out we’d save a fortune if we made them 30cm deep. He was right, those big sheets (which you have to buy whole, you can’t just buy what you need) cut perfectly into four lots of 30cm sheets. They also pointed out any potential flaws, meaning we could resolve them before it was built and realised it needed changing.

Be open to changes. The cupboards were originally drawers, but this would A) cost more and B) take much longer to make.  So we decided to make them into cupboards, something I am more than happy with now. The shelves, were originally split down the middle to make two sets of two either side the Tv. We realised this would make them closed in and so took out that middle leaving them wide.

So thats it, my lovely built in unit is finished, its been worth all the long hours of labour. There are some finishing touches to add, i’ll be on the lookout for pretty bits to adorn the new shelves, and my Instagram feed will no doubt become littered with Shelfies. But all the hard work is done, and i’m so ridiculously happy with the results. I catch myself just standing and staring at it every now and again, marvelling at the fact that in the space of a week it has come from an image in my mind to real life.

 

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

 

 

 

The big build – Phase 1.

Every year at the start of spring I go through the same phase. With summer looming I am itching to redecorate, or in most cases completely renovate various areas of my house. This year is no different and what started as a conversation with sam over replacing our tv has spurned the biggest build we’ve done yet. A new TV unit.

We wanted something big, a built in and so I turned to trusty Pinterest for inspiration.

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And over the course of an evening I had our new unit sketched out – measurements and all. (Unfortunately, I only took a photo at the end of the project… it was much neater prior to the mid-project scribblings.) Throughout, things changed. Like deciding to ditch drawers in favour of cupboards, and getting rid of the top shelf on the sides to give more height to the other shelves.

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Our lounge isnt massive, but its a good clean rectangle, we decided we wanted floor to ceiling, wall to wall unit. Choosing this wall as the spot.

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Next up, was buying the materials. With our plan in hand, we decided to head to Savoy. Sam bought the MDF (3/4″) for my craft unit from there, its good quality, good prices AND they’ll even cut it for you, which is a massive time saver on such a big project.

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Once home the prep could begin, which involved, all photos down, de-nailing the wall & taking off the old skirting boards, so the new unit would fit flush against the walls.

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From there the build could begin. Only… it couldnt because I had written down the wrong meaurements for the new tv. In my defence I did ask sam to double check my measurements and instead of writing the width as 116cm I had written it as 106cm. So, begrudgingly,  we had to go buy a whole new set of MDF for the centre part of the unit, and get the side units trimmed. That pushed us back an extra £40 and half a day that could have been spent building.

Once we had all the pieces we needed (in the right size) we could try again. And over one day and two evenings we got the whole thing completed. Starting with the side shelves, and then the section that would hold the TV, finally adding the back panels. We also have cupboard doors to hang and a top cover that will build the gap from the top of the stand to the ceiling, but both of those can only go on once the whole unit has been pushed back.

 

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Cost breakdown of phase 1:

MDF- £130 + £40 extra after my measuring mistake. (This includes backing pieces which are floor to ceiling  1/4″ thick pieces)

Brackets- £8.40 (12p each x70)

Screws- £3.98 (400)

Total cost – £182.38

 

I’m absolutely ecstatic that we’ve managed to pull this off, that we’ve managed to build something so big and so solid for so little. And the fact that its only 30cm deep means we have made great use of the space we have.

So thats how the first half of last week panned out, on Wednesday I’ll be back, shring phase two – my favourite part. Painting and finishing touches.

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

Lemon & Blackberry layered cheesecake pots.

Spring is FINALLY here! So to celebrate, i’ve been ditching the stodgy comfort foods, needed to fuel my way through a cold winters day, instead making up some fresher, more lighter foods. Dessert is always tough when you want something light and spring like, I’m not even going to pretend this covers the first, but spring like it most certainly is. Crunchy biscuit base topped with layers of sweet and creamy Lemon cheesecake, in-between those a rich and tangy blackberry sauce. Delicious.

Lemons are naturally tangy, as are Blackberries (though in completely different ways.) you’d think the two together would be too much tang, but it really isn’t. The lemon isn’t too strong, just enough to work with the creaminess, the pair compliment the blackberry sauce perfectly.

Anyway, if you want to make it, i’ve listed down everything you’ll need to do below.

These quantities will make 4 individual pots (Depending on your pot size, mine are just ice cream bowls.) or one medium sized whole cheesecake.

 

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1/2 pack of digestive biscuits.
  • 30g Butter.
  • 20g soft brown sugar.
  • 150ml double cream
  • 250g tub Cream cheese (I’ve gone for mascarpone)
  • 15g Icing sugar.
  • 2 Lemons.
  • A drop of vanilla essence.
  • 150g (or a pack) of blackberries.
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar (around 12/15g)
  • 1 tablespoon water.
  • Yellow food colouring *Completely optional*

 

 

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And here’s what you’ll need to do.

 

First, crush up your digestives, you can use a blender like I have, or just bash them in a sandwich bag.Whilst your bashing your biscuits, pop your butter in a bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. You may need to add another ten seconds, if it isn’t fully melted.

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Next, pour your brown sugar into your biscuit crumbs, then your melted butter. Give it all a good stir together before packing it into your cheesecake pots (or cake tin if your doing one big cheesecake.) Put them all in the fridge to chill when you’ve finished.

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Whilst your biscuit base is chilling, you can move onto the cheesecake topping. Pour your double cream into a clean bowl and whisk until just before its fully thickened.

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Next, tip in your Mascarpone, icing sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. And give it a gentle (yet thorough) mix.

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Then add the vanilla essence and a tiny blob of food colouring, before giving it another mix through.

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*The yellow food colouring is completely optional, I just like the contrast between the pastel lemon cream cheese and the vibrant blackberry sauce.)

Your final cheesecake filling should be soft, airy, almost mousse like. And if you have a taste, you’ll find its so deliciously creamy.

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Once your cheesecake filling is ready, take your biscuit based pots out of the fridge and layer some cream cheese over it. Enough so your pot is around half full. And finally pop it back in the fridge to chill.

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Now its time to make your blackberry sauce. Pour Blackberrys, one tablespoon of caster sugar and roughly two tablespoons of water into a saucepan. Set it on the hob, on a low heat, with the lid on for around 10 – 15 minutes, or until your fruit is soft a squish-able.

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Your blackberries are done, when you can squidge them down and they look like this.

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Leave it out to cool a little, before stirring and putting in the freezer, they’ll only need to be in for around twenty minutes.

 

Once your Blackberry sauce has cooled, layer a generous layer over the cheesecake.

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And top that off with a final layer of cheesecake filling.

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Put them back in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, not forgetting to finish off with a juicy whole blackberry popped on the top.

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Grab a spoon & tuck in!

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

The home life project: April edition.

I missed last months Home life project and so this month I really wanted to work hard to get some good shots of our day. For April’s edition I decided to shoot our Saturday. We did have plans to go to a local farm (I was really looking forward to documenting that for the HLP), but its April and we live in the north-west of England, so obviously it rained all day long. Instead we decided on a relaxed morning at home followed by venturing out into our local town centre for a bit of shopping.

I planned on documenting our entire day, but for some reason (I suspect its something to do with age..) My camera is not dealing well with any low light situations at the minute. Over the course of the day I took around 200 photos, only eleven made the cut, all of which were before about 3pm, when the sky turned a dark shade of grey and nearly all natural light was gone.

 

Saturday 2nd April: Making the most of a rainy day. 

 

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It might not have been as much fun as going to snuggle newborn chicks for the day, but a trip into Lush – who were as fabulously accommodating with my girls, and their need to touch everything as they always are – followed by a stop off for cake at Patisserie Valerie wasn’t a bad way to spend the early afternoon at all.

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

*If you’d like more information on how to take part in the Home life project, pop over to the linky’s host Maybush studio. She has lots of helpful tips and tricks. Plus, rules if you want to take part and the archives for the months we’ve already done.*

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Easy clock up-cycle.

Last week I was browsing through Aldi, picking up some shopping as you do, when I found a pile of reduced clocks. There wasn’t much choice in pattern but for 99p I grabbed one anyway and flung it straight into my trolley with a little up cycle in mind.

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A few weeks ago, whilst browsing Pinterest, I saw this beautiful clock, which inspired me to think up a DIY clock tutorial. The plan was to make one from something I already had… but as I said, 99p! It has all the parts, just needs a little up cycle.

Image via Tesco.

Image via Tesco.

 

 

I was going to imitate this style, until I found an old gift bag I had bought and saved. I bought it because it’s  SO beautiful, I saved it because I knew I would find a use for it and I have, I love this look far more than the plain black.

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So here’s what I used.

  • Clock (99p from Aldi, any old clock will do as long as the hands work.)
  • Gift bag. (£2.99 – came as a pair from Homesense.)
  • Glue. (£2 from Hobbycraft. I wanted something stronger than PVA but nothing too strong that it would destroy the bag – Its not fabric, but its not paper… Its a weird in-between.)
  • Scissors.

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And here’s what I did.

First I dismantled the hands from the front, being very careful not to break anything. No hands means no clock.

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Then I gave the clock a quick wipe down, its fresh out of the package so i don’t really need to worry about grease. If your using an old one you need to make sure its completely clean and dry before you stick anything on it.

 

I cut out one side of the bag – as luck has it, its the perfect size for this clock.

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Traced round the clock onto the inside of the bag. – I used a dressmakers chalk, a pencil will do just fine.

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And cut around the clock template by about 3/4 of an inch. I need this extra paper so I can fold it neatly around the sides and overlapping onto the back of the clock.

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I had a quick test run placing the paper over the clock.

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Once I knew I could get my cover fitted over nice and neatly. I gave the whole face (leaving the sides for now) a good coat of glue.

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And started to very slowly  – from the middle- to place the paper over the clock face, making sure to press out any potential wrinkles or bubbles.

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Once the face is covered, I glued the sides and a little of the back (just the top bits), before securing the overhanging paper.

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I left it to dry, before reattaching the hands and sticking in some batteries.

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And then I hung it.

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A clock that cost only a couple of quid, that looks far more expensive. Just what I like in a DIY project.

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Robyn,

The little woman pretends.