Now that I am finally starting to reach the finish line with the house and present the completed rooms to you, I thought I would include some simple tutorials (probably too grand a word for them) about how I achieved some of the personal touches and DIY treatments.
Like most people I don't have an unlimited budget. We are a young family, renovating a house, with limited finances. I have a husband who winces every time I even look like I might want to buy something for the house, and who doesn't understand why any one of the seven mirrors we already have under the house won't do the job. Huh - men!
Renovating an old lopsided house has meant that the costs blew out considerably and we have probably over-capitalised by a healthy sum, so my husband doesn't want to throw any more money at it. Probably sensible, but absolutely no fun at all! I just want to get the house finished and create the home I have been dreaming of, and as with most things in life am trying to satisfy my champagne taste on our beer budget.
Therefore despite my grand visions and dreams for the house I would love to have, I am having to be very clever and creative about where and how I spend money. Yes, it would be great just to go and get it all custom-made and walk into a shop and say I'll have one of those please, but that ain't the reality. I put money into the things that I know are important, or that I positively can't do myself, and get imaginative with everything else.
Ultimately, I'm great at copying. So if you see something you love in a US shop that you can't have, try to work out how you can copy it and make something similar yourself using resources sourced locally. You'll be amazed what you can achieve and how close you can get it.
The chest of drawers was bought at Shack. It was only about $800 and small enough to fit up the stairwell and accommodate a little boy's limited wardrobe. Thankfully he's now at school and doesn't need as many clothes!
I thought it was a little dreary and could do with some brightening and smartening up. Inspired by all the pretty painted furniture I saw in the US and constantly see on clever DIY blogs, I thought I'd give it a whirl. After all, painting in a straight line can't be that challenging surely!
I am pretty impatient, sloppy and lazy when it comes to these kinds of things. I want to get them started and finished on the day, so all this business of preparation, then sanding, drying, repainting, sanding, drying, etc bores me to tears.
I did manage to restrain myself and properly prep this one, as I thought the dark blue paint wouldn't be very forgiving if I went outside the lines.
I actually painted this in situ, so it wasn't a big hassle and was thankfully one of those instant gratification projects I like so much. Great result, not much effort.
CHEST OF DRAWERS
The chest of drawers I bought at Shack also some years ago, and is a far more solid, sturdy piece. I got a bit excited once I'd completed the wardrobe, so started to get a bit DIY crazy and attack everything with blue paint. First challenge in DIY, is knowing when to stop.
This did involve a lot of prep with the blue tape, and I had to actually take these drawers outside and paint several coats (a truly tiresome process). So it tested my perseverance and commitment as it took a few days, but the results were again worth it.
A reinvented chest of drawers perfect for a boys room and now looking fresh and of the moment.
I had been deliberating about a new lamp for Charlie's room for months. First it was going to be silver, then it was a timber tripod lamp, then wicker, then something from Pottery Barn, then back to white, and on and on it went. Until months passed and I become incapable of making a decision.
As the final stages of pregnancy approached I just figured I'd make do with what I had until I could get some clarity. Surely the world would not end if he didn't have the perfect bedside light?
The light he already had was a little yellow with age, so I painted it with a gloss white paint (again this step does not require any great skill and I'm very anti-prepping).
I then couldn't decide on the right lampshade shape (that in itself is a whole new catastrophe waiting to happen), so with the intention of covering it with the remnants of the stripey blind fabric I bought something cheap from somewhere like Spotlight. Can't remember, I was pregnant at the time, so I'm lucky I even made it home.
Tip on the shade - Problem is that unless you buy a straight up and down drum shade which is symmetrical, it is tricky covering a shade with a patterned fabric on for example an empire shade, because it goes all skew-whiff. Believe me I've done it and it looks rubbish. So best stick with a plain fabric if you want a conical shade.
So in the meantime, I decided to trick it up, a la Restoration Hardware kids' lampshades and make do. Nothing a quick trip to the ribbon box can't fix.
So I simply glued a length of white woven cotton tape with an aqua grosgrain ribbon on top. And hey presto.
Tip on the glue - I have found that in all my years doing craft, the best kind of glue for these things is the clear quick drying craft glue which you can get at Spotlight and Lincraft et al. It's sticky, tacky and pretty messy when it dries, but makes these jobs much easier as it isn't wet and holds things in place immediately. Either that or a hot glue gun, but they can be lethal in the hands of a novice!
PS the tissue box - I bought the raw MDF tissue box at Spotlight and cut out a piece of striped fabric to fit, then covered the box in the tacky glue and literally wrapped it as you would a present box. Then cut a whole in the fabric at the top opening (where the tissues poke out) and wrapped then glued the edges underneath to make it neat.
I'm creative and good with my hands, pretty resourceful and imaginative, but I'm no sewer, in fact I can only sew in one direction with a straight stitch and if I run out of cotton on the spool work on the project draws to a grinding halt until my mum comes to visit and replaces it.
So don't think you need to have any great skill to achieve this. This is cushions for dummies 101.
My criteria for sewing things are:
1) can it be done between the hours of 9am and 2.45pm - with the project completed and sitting proudly in place before school pick up with all the mess tidied and put away before the house is invaded by kids
2) does it require a minimal amount of skill (ie usually only sewing in a straight line) and research (about ten mins on You Tube is my limit).
3) can it be done whilst using one foot to rock a baby to sleep in her bouncer (this was a challenge with the other foot on the pedal)
In fact, if you can sew well you'll be laughing smugly at my limited skill and shoddy workmanship. So if you know how to pipe a cushion, sew in a zip or add a button, turn away now!
I didn't take many pics of this in progress as I was rushing so much trying to get it done, trying to keep the baby quiet, and battling relentlessly with the sewing machine which refused to cooperate. But if you really want to make one, I'm You Tube will have the answers.
I literally just cut a length of fabric and hemmed the shorter ends. Then I folded it in half with the fabric the inside out, allowing for about a third to overlap. The I sewed down the sides, turned it the right way and it's done. This time I added some velcro so the cushion doesn't burst open at the back when you put the fat insert in.
Normally I'm a real stickler for cushions with piping or a fringe or flange. I don't really like them plain like this, but hey desperate times..... and at least now he has a cushion.
So I worked out I had just enough fabric left over from the bedhead for the drop, about 30cm and enough to wrap around the bed.
I just hemmed the top and bottom lengths and both ends, making four pieces, two for the sides and two for the top and bottom. Then added tabs of velcro to the valance.
Attached them to the bed, and voila, instant valance. And I can change it whenever I get sick of it. Plus it doesn't move around and come loose either. Who knew!
So there you have it. My cheat's guide to getting some bang for your buck. And you don't have to be a DIY master to achieve it.
Images by Melinda Hartwright for Georgica Pond.