Monday, 28 November 2011

Guest Room Makeover

A warm welcome to the first of the before and afters!!! I will start with the guest room because then the fogies can check out their new spot whilst they are back in Blighty for New Year celebrations. When people come to stay with us, I wanted the guest room to have a boutique hotel feel to it so that it feels like you're on holiday even if it is a crazy chaotic household outside this room.

The idea of a dark backdrop to the metal bed frame we've had for years, really appealed and I was keen to see if it would give that sexy, boutiquey feel I was hoping for. I used hammerite on the back wall, suitable for interior as well as exterior, straight over wallpaper. Bizzarre I know, however we have done up each room on a tight budget so I have been using things to hand, such as the leftover paint we used on the outside of the caravan!

At first I just tested a patch on the wall and the other half gave me a quizzical look, the kind that says ‘What the hell are you thinking?! But fine, I’ll let you crack on anyway just for an easy life’. Once the paint had taken we pressed on and painted the whole wall, after a little encouragement for the dubious other half. But given the carpet was a cheeky little brown number it just sort of looked a bit like a bizarre 70’s colour scheme. It just needed a little splash of avocado to top it off.

So we ripped the carpet up and found some pretty handsome floorboards underneath, ripe for painting – with leftover grey tile paint from the bathroom (which also did wooden floors). And once that was dry, we all agreed that it looked AWESOME. No word of a lie.

After all of the many stubborn polystyrene tiles were down, the roof skimmed and freshly painted (one word – Supamatt, available from the Trade section at B&Q, super thick paint that can go on two day old plaster and still allow it to dry underneath, totally worth it and none of that stupidly thin emulsion nonsense), we were chomping at the bit to get to the fun part. Dressing the room.

Once the bed was in it already started to looked rather cool, but after we added the silver tree stump tables (first created here), the glitzy ceiling light fitting and elegant black lamps, which were originally lime green and spray painted black, it really started to come together. Keeping it simple meant that we could afford to have a key piece of furniture to wow and that came in the form of a chest of drawers bought for £10 in a charity shop, lovingly painted with Wilkinsons metallic silver paint and given a full frontal face lift with modern shiny pewter handles, the total cost came to £16, which shows that you can totally create a key item very cheaply.

We added one of our beloved mirrors, a few key picture frames and a bright pink orchid in mid bloom and ooh, la, la, we had a glamorous and glitzy guest bedroom with a very chic boutique look and feel for very little money. Obviously, given my obsession with chalkboard paint I had to add a little frame with some chalk left out for guests to leave their own messages. And we even glammed that up by introducing a mother of pearl shell – a gift from friends on their travels in New Zealand.

We love it so much, we were almost tempted to have this as our main bedroom, but we decided to share the love and let others enjoy it. Including the rabbit, who has fallen in love with the furry throw, we suspect because he thinks it’s another rabbit, and is completely camouflaged when sprawled out. So here’s to the first of the makeover pictures – more to come!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Crafty DIY : Free Thank You Card

Did I mention that we own a house?!?!?!?! Yay, yay, yay!!!! Still bouncing around like a certifiable fruit cake, perhaps with a little less energy than usual given the 'post six room redecoration marathon' exhaustion, however we're on day four of the new commute and with a little help from our menacingly addictive friend coffee, we're starting to get in the groove. Cannot wait for the weekend!!!

Anyway, with so much going on, I am a little late with my thank you cards for those that have helped us out, so knocked this up in my beloved Illustrator. And have posted it here if you are ever in need of any thank you notes yourself. Simply click on the image to download the PDF from MediaFire. Oh...and exactly ONE MONTH UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!! Whoop whoop :) Oh no, now for the caffeine come down - back to the kitchen I go...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Brand Case Study : Sakura Designs

The wonderful crochet maker I mentioned a short while ago? Her name is Yutaka and she is a wonderful seamstress (and chef, but that's another post!), not only specialising in clothes for children and adults but remodelling old garments too, giving them a new lease of life. Her skills in turning a unwanted t-shirt into a desirable outfit are seemingly endless.

A short while ago, Yutaka decided that she wanted to include labels in her creations and had a logo design in mind and so together we created the identity above. This font (Anorexia)was chosen for it's gentle, handmade feel and personal touch (creepy name though right?) and the stylised cherry blossom bloom was created in Illustrator based on a sketch Yutaka had wanted to incorporate as the name Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom (which incidentally is a variation of her daughter's name).

I wanted to use a blush pink to convey her femininity, but also to appeal to other women as they will be the prominent target market and the grey was chosen to toughen it up a little and show that her designs are serious. You can visit her blog here (although you will need to be fluent in Japanese to be able to read it), however the pictures showcase some of her designs and handmade creations.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crafty DIY : Spraypainting Light Fixtures

When we first viewed the new pad, we remembered the wall lights in the dining room as being a bit Norse like for our plans of shabby chic. So we had originally planned to remove them entirely and leave nice crisp, clean walls. However, upon arrival we switched them on (why do most estate agents never pop the lights on when showing prospective buyers round and instead make you view houses in the dark? Or worse by the stark light of the overhead bulb) and they gave off this beautiful light, especially in the evening. So we decided to make them part of the family, but with a little facelift of course.

This took a little patience, as firstly I had to delicately hang a plastic sheet from the ceiling coving. And you know that usually when I try to do something delicately, I end up getting caught or entangled in whatever I'm doing, so sure enough I kept sticking the masking tape to myself instead of the wall and then to the ladder...don't let me go on.

Soon enough I had the plastic sheet hanging safely and then I made a rough hole where the light feature was and threaded it through so that I could start masking tape the plastic hole to the edges of the light feature. It should look something like this.

Then we got to work on spray painting. Oh and remember to tape over the actual light fitting element to stop any paint getting inside and stopping the connection for the bulb. We did four thin layers and gradually the colour underneath fades and is replaced by what your spraying. The light fixings now blend into the wall during the day and come alive at night. And we saved a bunch of money - no new fixtures, no electrician to fit them and no making good for any holes left behind.

When you have finished and the surfaces are completely dry, very gently remove the plastic sheeting - make good any paint removed from the walls by the masking tape with a small brush and leftover emulsion paint. And then sit back and admire your new lights. I also spray painted some table and floor lamps, which I will show you later on - a brilliant way to update your decor on the cheap.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dancing Has Become An Everyday Activity

So. Two weeks. What have we achieved? Hold onto your seats because we have pretty much redecorated an entire house in that time - on the cheap. The only room we didn't touch was the kitchen, which looks to be brand new. Long days, late nights, days strung together thanks to the spray and gloss paint highs, the sporadic jitters from the caffeine lows. Numerous wounds and battle scars, matted emulsion hair, no clear grasp of which day of the week it is, but it has all been worth it. Because we finally have a place to call home.

I'll leave you today with a teasing glimpse of what the final outcome is starting to look like and will post more before and afters over the coming weeks. Needless to say, we're really chuffed and keep stealing glances of each room as we walk by in disbelief and dancing in the hallway has become a bit of a thing. Given the hard graft we put into living in the caravan, I think we can allow ourselves a little erratic jigging every now and then. Especially now there's no risk of falling through the waver thin floor.

Thanks to everyone who has helped out over the last few weeks, you know who you all are, with a special shout to the two Lauras and Sue for making it possible to pick up the keys exactly four weeks after we put the offer in. Buying a house within a month is no longer an urban legend, we are living, breathing proof - with a little help from our friends ;) Now, time for a nap. No, wait, I'm back at work. Darn.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Offline for One Whole Week

EnthusedMonkey will be quiet for a while as we take a week off to work on the house, but fear not, there will be plenty of before and after shots to see here upon our return.

So whilst it will be quiet for a mere moment, I will leave an inspiring post with you - photos of a beautiful barn cottage, nestled in the rolling French countryside surrounded by a gorgeous garden to relax even the most frantic of minds. My folks are lucky enough to call this place home. And may I just add that it looked a little tired when they first took it on several years ago. But through hard work and buckets of creativity, it has blossomed into one of the most inspirational places I have ever known. Enjoy.

Oh, and happy birthday Shell!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Owners of Four (Solid) Walls

Well, it finally happened. We own a home. Again. Which is hugely exciting, so much so we're barely surviving on five hours sleep a night. We bought it for a bit of a bargain and although we have inherited a leaky roof, steamy aluminium windows and an asbestos garage, we're still in shock that we own such a nice pad. We keep expecting a knock at the door from the estate agent apologising profusely because he's made a huge mistake and given us the keys to the wrong house.

We have already started working on it. If anyone mentions polystyrene, expect us to go a little nuts. It turns out that polystyrene ceiling tiles were all the rage once upon a time and one of the previous owners certainly thought so, because they are EVERYWHERE. And a real pain to get down. For three days it looked like we had just stepped in from the snow.

The plasterers are coming out the end of this week and then the real painting begins. Walls, ceilings, furniture, maybe even floors. Stay tuned for pictures of transformation, until then here are a few photos of what we saw when we picked up the keys and opened the door to our new home for the very first time.

The last photo I have included because it summed up day one perfectly - I call it Happy Exhaustion. After exploring, we all just collapsed in a heap with a glass of wine to celebrate. Notice the especially exhausted rabbit who is loving all the new space to run/jump/dance. And before I forget...thanks to everybody that has helped us out with DIY and moving furniture this week. It has been appreciated so very much, apologies if the lack of sleep has rendered us talking gibberish at certain stages. The smiles are definitely still there though.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Beautiful Crochet Made by a Beautiful Person

I am a very lucky girl because I have a very generous friend who is very creative with all things needle and thread and has recently branched out into crochet. Each evening for a week, she crocheted something new. And guess what. She gave the set to me!

Kindly matching the colours of our caravan, my friend made a gorgeous selection of coasters and mats and a small pot (which is awesome) but I have not yet figured out a use for. Mind you, it won't be long once we start unearthing all our belongings. How cute are these?

The one thing that makes me sad is that I might not see them very often if they live in the van. But I have big plans! Left behind in the garden of the new house was a rather nice sized shed. So I have decided if the other half can commandeer the garage for a model railway, surely I can take over the shed and create a Craft Shack. Which means I could paint it up white and lime green and use some of the lovely accessories we bought and made for the van, including this gorgeous lot.

This very talented lady runs a blog herself, but I will save the address for when I show you her brand identity which I worked with her on. Don't worry I won't make you wait long. And thanks again for my presents honey!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Recipe : Tikka Tats

This recipe is another experiment with potatoes from the days in the caravan with limited capacity to cook them all the way through in our mini oven. Or at least without it taking so long that you had enough time to visit relatives in another county and drive back after a few hours only to find they had still only cooked on the outside.

This is a great way of making tats tasty without too much time involved. This dish works very well with fish as the flavours of the spices and herbs are good in their own right. Mmmmm. Fish. One day I will share with you my favourite dish - aptly named Fishy Dishy Delishy.