Easy DIY “Marble” Hearth…and a fireplace makeover

Easy DIY Marble and Brass Fireplace Hearth | The Painted Hive

If you follow me socially, you may recall seeing a little snippet of this “marble” project already…

Faux Marble Slab with Brass Corners

Could you guess what I was making?

Well, in all fairness, my use as a fireplace hearth is rather obscure and it could have been almost anything. From a tabletop, to a decorative bread board, to a wall shelf, to a mantel, and everything in between!

This “marble” slab was designed to sit beneath my parent’s electric fireplace…

Electric Fireplace Before

Although there was nothing wrong with it and it already stood on a bulky plinth, I liked the idea of giving it a more authentic look and helping ground the entire unit (as it is merely freestanding) with a traditional hearth-like platform.

My initial desire was to use a solid slab of real stone. Ha, ha, good one Kristine. Turns out even an inferior grade off-cut was gonna be waaaay too pricey. So, I considered several other options including, though not limited to; laminate, engineered stone, concrete, paving, brick, tile and vinyl wrap, before eventually settling on a DIY experiment using…contact paper!

Yep. I had no idea how this was gonna turn out though for just $20, and only an hour or so of easy work, I figured I had nothing much to lose. Fingers crossed!

Soooo, let the experiment begin.

Remember, although I’m using my “piece of marble” as a hearth it’s essentially a solid slab which could have many uses (some of which I’ve mentioned above). Let your imagination run wild!


DIY Faux Marble Slab Supplies

Obviously, this forms the base and you can use whatever suitable material you like. I wanted my little brass corners, which are 22mm deep, to fit exactly so needed my base to be the same depth. I couldn’t find an off-the-shelf material with a depth of 22mm, so I simply attached some 4mm deep trim to an 18mm deep plywood off-cut I already had to bring it up to the right depth.

I used a carrara style contact paper with a light grey vein. It can be found online here at Crockers Paint & Wallapaper. The great thing about this supplier is that they offer contact paper by the meter, so you don’t need to fork out big bikkies on an entire roll. This particular paper is nice and glossy and pretty easy to work with too. It doesn’t stick to itself too badly and can be re-positioned if needed.

Note: International readers, it’s easy to find similar contact papers on eBay, Amazon or Etsy.

Thinking to use these gave me an “ah-ha” moment.

You see, the thing with contact paper is that no matter how neat the application is any corners will never look seamless or be super durable. They force an inevitable break in the pattern, which belies any illusion of realism, and produce a point of weakness due to exposed joins which are highly likely to peel.

So, for the sake of both form and function, I needed to conceal them somehow. For the longest time I was contemplating the best way to edge the whole hearth when a light bulb suddenly went off. Duh! I only need to cover the corners. I bet I can find some cute box hardware for that. Yes siree, I sure can!

Theses little brass corners can be found here at D Lawless Hardware and cost less than $2 for a set of four. Score!



Step 1 Marble and Brass Fireplace Hearth

1 Cut wood to size.

Determine the dimensions for your hearth (or whatever you’re planning to make) then trim your piece of ply (or whatever you’re using as a substrate) to size. If you’re not keen on cutting wood, the hardware store will probably be able to do this for you. As touched on above, I also added some trim to bring the depth of my plywood up in-line with that of my brass corners.

Step 2 Faux Marble Fireplace Hearth

2 Wrap wood in contact paper.

This can be a little daunting and it’s hard to know where to start.

Conventionally, once the contact paper has been trimmed to size, you begin attaching it at one edge of your substrate, peeling the backing and smoothing the contact as you go. For whatever reason I found that method challenging and ended up removing the backing sheet entirely, positioning the contact on my base then smoothing it from the center, out. I wrapped both the long sides first, then trimmed off any unnecessary excess before wrapping the short sides. I made sure the corners were tight and relatively neat though as they were being covered I wasn’t overly fussy.

Obviously, the above pic shows the under-side of my plywood.

Step 3 DIY Marble Slab

3 Attach brass corners.

Simply hold your corners in place and hammer them home with little brad nails. My brass corners didn’t come with fasteners so I had to purchase some. I could only find steel brads at my local hardware store and was planning to paint the small heads with a gold paint pen, though they are so tiny it actually doesn’t matter.

Fireplace Makeover After | The Painted Hive

DIY Marble Contact Paper Hearth with Brass Corners | The Painted Hive


:: Because plywood isn’t naturally smooth, any surface texture may show through the contact paper. Ensure your surface is as smooth and clean as possible. Although it wasn’t too much of an issue for me, next time I would probably use something smoother, like MDF or melamine.

:: Check to ensure your piece of wood is nice and flat. The last thing you want is a slight curve or warp ruining your “stone” slab.

:: The contact paper I used comes in a width of 45cm. If you’re planning to cover something wider than this, you might want to search around for a wider product to avoid having joins in your surface.

:: I simply used my hands and the spine of a book to smooth my contact paper though you can buy specialty film applicator tools if desired.

:: Make sure your brad heads aren’t too small or they’ll slip right through the little holes in the brass corners. Don’t ask me how I know this.

:: The brass corners come with a clear plastic coating. It’s kinda hard to see so just be sure to remove it first.

DIY Marble Fireplace Hearth | The Painted Hive

Whilst this electric fireplace will never be as glorious as a real one, it still has a certain charm and does form the focal point in my parent’s living room. So, in order to make the most of it, we also gave the surround a lift with some fresh paint.

The original white factory finish was two different shades and, although the surround is made of wood, it looked quite plastic-ish.

Electric Fireplace Makeover Before

Fireplace with DIY Marble Hearth | The Painted Hive

Please excuse the terrible before shot (taken with a crappy phone camera by my four year old!).

The new moody colour (Colourbond Woodland Grey by Dulux) picks-up on the vein in the “marble”, contrasts with the light walls and gives the fireplace a much more sophisticated overall feel (the darker colour will also help balance the television which will eventually be mounted above the fireplace).

Fireplace Before

DIY Marble Hearth and Fireplace Makeover | The Painted Hive

As a finishing touch, I also painted over the visible gold text on the grill. It’s just a small detail though it does make for a cleaner look.

We contemplated adding a reclaimed timber mantel too though decided against it for now. Maybe that will happen in the future. Maybe.

I had planned to style this fireplace in a clean, trendy, contemporary way though no matter what I do things always seem to end up looking rather vintage-y around here :)

Fireplace Mantel Vignette | The Painted Hive

All of the accessories and artwork are thrifted.

Vintage Mantel Styling | The Painted Hive

The wingback armchair is from Ned’s (amazing price and free national shipping!). The block-printed throw cushion is an easy DIY project which I’m planning to post about in the future.

I am so rapt with the way this hearth turned out! Because it’s at my parent’s house I don’t see it everyday though each time I do it seems to look even better than I remembered! It’s almost a shame to cover it up with the fireplace (though, beautiful as it is, it would be kinda weird having a slab of faux marble sitting on the floor for no apparent reason!).

DIY Marble and Brass Hearth | The Painted Hive

Have a great week all.


Just in case you’re wondering why I decided to spruce-up my parent’s electric fireplace, I’m actually working on a room makeover at their house which I hope to share more deets about soon!

I was fortunate to be provided with the brass corners (D Lawless Hardware) and contact paper (Crockers Paint & Wallpaper) for this project.



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DIY Quote Art…and free printable sign!

DIY Quote Art Wall Sign | The Painted Hive

Ever since spying a collection of antique-style typographic signs in a boutique homewares store a few years back my love for their understated appeal has done nothing but blossom.

It seems the charm of these simple yet striking pieces also isn’t lost on others, as over the last few months I’ve been seeing them more and more.

I was particularly smitten with these over-scale book page quotes I came across on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago…

Large-Scale Book Page Art

Fable & Flame | Unknown

And although I don’t have a good spot for something quite like that right now, it settled it.

Enough was enough already.

I needed a typographic sign in my life.


However with prices averaging in the hundreds I also needed to come up with an affordable (and easy!) DIY alternative.

Well, here it is…

Although I created a relatively small (around 29cm/11″ square) sign with quite a “clean” design my basic process can be applied to a work of pretty much any size and style.

The affordable nature of the materials used means that even large-scale artworks can be created at very economical prices. My sign cost around $4 as I was thrifty and used timber off-cuts I already had though would have cost closer to $15 if I had bought everything new – still super cheap!  I’ve done the math and a large-scale (say 100cm x 140cm/40″ x 55″) sign should come in at under $60 if you’re savvy. I can’t wait to find a decent excuse to make one! 

Step 1 DIY Quote Art

1 Design and print artwork.

This is the fun bit!

Decide on your words, and a rough size for your sign, then play around with formats and fonts in a graphic editing or word processing program.

I like the idea of creating a digital “artwork” and using a print, as opposed to hand lettering the sign, because it’s just so dang quick and easy and anyone can produce a professional result – no real artistic ability (or patience!) required. It removes any room for error too and is especially handy if you plan to use lots of words. Imagine having to hand letter something really long with a heap of little text.

Anyhoo, your design can take any form you like. Here are just a few some examples…

Vintage Quote Art

Above signs from Sugarboo Designs and House of Belonging.

If you’d like to use my art, there is a download link towards the end of this post.

Although you can design your artwork using a basic processing program (such as Word) I personally prefer a purpose graphic editor (like Photoshop), especially for large prints. They just provide more flexibility and give you greater control. If you don’t have a purpose program, GIMP is a great free alternative to try out.

How To Design Typographic Art

I designed my artwork using Photoshop.

Note: If you do use a word processing program, remember to customise your paper size as required. For Word the maximum page dimensions are 56cm/22″ square (this can be set in the Page Setup properties). Ensure you save your work as a PDF for printing purposes and up-scaling potential. If you decide to use a purpose graphics program though are a little unfamiliar with the software, feel free to refer to my three part in-depth Printables series to learn more about setting-up and and printing your artwork for optimal results.

I created an image to fit on an A3 (Ledger/Tabloid) sized sheet of paper (for printing purposes, be mindful of standard paper sizes when designing your sign). The font is Centennial Roman and the stoic words are taken from the novel ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ by CS Lewis – love! I digitally distressed my text a little using some grungy eraser brushes though you could take to your printed sign manually with some sandpaper – and other implements – to achieve a time-worn look. My overall design is relatively sleek as I wanted it to have a clean and bold, almost modern, feel to contrast with the prettiness of Charlotte’s room (where it will eventually live) though you can go as rustic as you like. As mentioned above, just play around with different formats and fonts.

This is entirely optional, though – because I’m lazy – I also used a free high resolution aged paper digital background (you can easily find numerous of these via a Google search). Ordinarily, I would simply apply this antique effect myself post-printing using a tea stain or tinted sealer (or similar).

Note: If you plan on creating a large-scale sign, you will almost certainly need to apply the antique effect yourself as most digital backgrounds simply won’t be big enough. In addition, if you’d like to save yourself some cashola by using a black and white print service, as opposed to colour, you will also have to apply the effect yourself. Be mindful, however, that any moisture applied to your paper may cause it to wave a little. For this purpose, where possible, upgrade to thicker paper. If you don’t like the idea of applying an antique effect manually, yet you can’t find a large enough digital texture, you can play around with creating the effect yourself in your editing program using colour overlays, texture filters, grunge brushes and so on.

If you have the capacity to print your image at home then feel free. I had my image professionally printed for just $2 through Officeworks via their online service. I selected “Document Printing” over “Photo Printing” and “Poster Printing” because it’s cheaper though the quality is still really great (your choice of services may be limited depending on the out-put size of your image). I chose 200gsm white bond matte paper. This is a slightly thicker upgrade on the standard paper and for 30 cents is totally worth it.

Note: If you’re looking to have a large-scale sign printed, simply check out some online print shops to get an idea of sizes and prices. If you’re in Australia Officeworks offers full colour BO (100cm x 140cm) prints from $47. 


Step 2 DIY Quote Art

2 Attach artwork to backing board.

You can use anything thick-ish and rigid as a backing board (it needs to be relatively thick because, for ease, the frame is attached directly to it – see following step). I used a 12mm/1/2″ deep plywood off-cut I already had which I simply trimmed to size using our drop saw.

Plywood Backing Board

I used plywood as a backing board.

If you’re not confident with cutting wood, your local hardware store will probably do it for you. Otherwise, use something which is already appropriately sized, like an inexpensive stretched canvas. Of course, if you do use something which can’t be trimmed, purchase it first and then design your artwork to fit.

I cut my print using a steel ruler and craft knife to fit perfectly on top of my plywood backing board.

I then brushed some Mod Podge (you can use anything sticky, even double sided tape) onto the ply and pressed my print into place.

Ensure the edges, in particular, are well adhered. You might even want to spread some additional glue over them.

Quote Art Edges

I made sure my edges were neat and well adhered.

The paper might bubble a little due to the moisture in the glue. Don’t stress. Any waves should dry out.

You could stop at this step and leave your sign as is for a plaque-like finish. Maybe just paint or stain the edges of the wood.


Step 3 DIY Framed Quote Sign

3 Cut and attach framing.

To give my sign that hand-made custom feel I created my own frame. It was cheap and easy though if you can find an affordable frame you like, you can certainly use it instead. Just remember, you don’t need any glass (so for Step 2 attach your print directly to the provided frame backing).

I used a length of 3mm x 38mm/1/8″ x 1 1/2″ square pine trim (which was an off-cut I already had) to frame my artwork. It’s probably a little thinner than ideal, though is still totally fine. I decided to butt, rather than mitre, the corners as I felt the simplicity of the join is more in-keeping with the primitive feel of the sign (as a bonus, butt corners are much easier anyway as mitres can be a little finicky). I simply cut my trim to size, gave it a light sand then hit it with two coats of walnut stain.

How to Frame a Sign

I stained my framing trim to give it some extra richness.

Note: My framing trim came from an off-cut I already had and was slightly worn and weathered. Using reclaimed wood to frame this style of sign is very common so before you head to the store, see if you can get your hands on some cheap (or free!) second-hand lengths.

To attach the trim, I applied a sparing bead of wood glue along the side of the plywood, smeared it with my finger to ensure it was smooth and even, positioned a piece of trim on top then drilled a very fine pilot hole through (I drilled my hole in the center of the length of trim, though toward the front, as shown in the below pic, to ensure I caught the ply). I then hammered in a little finishing nail, ensuring the head was slightly counter-sunk (you can use a punch to achieve this if needed).

Attaching the Frame

I glued and nailed each piece of framing trim in place.

Tip: You don’t need to drill a pilot hole though I personally always find it easier. When creating the pilot hole, ensure you use a drill bit one size smaller than your nail and don’t drill the entire nail length. You only need to create a guide as you want the nail itself to bite into the wood to ensure a good hold.

Although finishing nails are very inconspicuous, if, like me, your nails are silver, you can fill their small divots with tinted putty or simply colour the heads with a marker.

Colouring Nail Heads

You can disguise any nail heads by colouring them with a black marker.

Note: I decided to use a nail and glue combo because I figured it was the fastest and easiest fastening method. If you don’t like the idea of using nails, you can glue and clamp your framing trim. It just means a longer build-time as you need to allow for glue curing.

I wasn’t sure if one nail would be enough to hold my trim flush along its entire length though it worked perfectly. Of course, if your sign is larger or if your trim is warped, you will require more nails or some form of clamping until the glue is dry.

DIY Framed Sign

Above you can see the butt jointed corners. In hindsight, I probably should have made the side pieces the full length ones. Meh.


DIY Quote Art Sign | Step 4 - Hang

4 Hang!

Because the frame trim is much deeper than the plywood backing it protrudes by quite a lot.

Recessed Frame

Above you can see the recessed back.

This makes it super easy to hang the sign straight from the top length of frame on two appropriately positioned nails. You could also choose to add some string and hang it wall chart style.

DIY Wall Art Quote Sign | The Painted Hive

And here is your free printable! Simply click the below image to view and download.

Quote Art Free Printable

29cm x 29cm/11″ x 11″ at 300 DPI.
Designed to fit standard A3 (Ledger/Tabloid) sized paper.
Can be enlarged or reduced by around 50% with great quality retention.

Quote Art Wall Sign DIY | The Painted Hive

Making these signs is kind of addictive. They are just so easy and the possibilities are almost endless. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a need for any more signs like this right now though do think they would make an awesome gift. Imagine creating something with a meaningful message just for the recipient – how special. Not only would it be thoughtful and personal, though also hand-crafted with love.

DIY Framed Wall Quote Sign

And, despite my need (or lack there of) for any further signs, due to their addictive nature I am looking forward to creating more free printables along this vein. Is this something you guys might like? I would love to be able to offer some large-scale ones, similar to those in my first two inspiration pics above.

This sign of mine will replace the rather grown-up landscape which currently hangs above Charlotte’s bed. Although she can’t read it for herself yet, I have told her what it says and means and where it’s from. Her eyes lit up. Love that!


Free printable for personal, non-commercial use only.
Republication, reproduction or redistribution in any form is forbidden.


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Chalk Paint Tutorial (Distressed Vintage Style)

Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Some of you may not know that when I started this blog, I was up-cycling and on-selling A LOT of furniture.

It was a hobby. My second job of sorts. And I LOVED it.

Though with the growth of my blog, and, more pertinently, the emergence of my little family, came the gradual demise of my blossoming furniture “business”.

Sometimes I miss that creative outlet badly!

Which is why I was excited to learn about Annie Sloan’s Made It My Own campaign.

Made It My Own encourages people to put their spin on a piece of furniture or item of decor using Annie Sloan products then share their creation to help inspire others…and there are $100’s in prizes up for grabs too! Painters are encouraged to upload a pic of their finished work directly to Annie’s online gallery and to share socially using the hashtag #MadeItMyOwn.

Yay, what an awesome excuse to get painting!

More than that though, I was super excited to actually try out Annie’s legendary products for the VERY first time (#anniesloanvirgin).

I received a little starter-pack in the mail and set myself the challenge of using each product contained there-in to totally transform a very basic brand new item into something authentically vintage.

Here’s how the whole thing went down.


Chalk Paint Project Supplies

Raw pine step stool ($20 from Bunnings)
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (Chateau Grey)
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (Graphite)
Soft Wax by Annie Sloan (Clear)
Soft Wax by Annie Sloan (Dark)
Brush by Annie Sloan (Flat n. 38)


Of course, you can choose any item of furniture you like and any paint colours your heart desires. I also recommend a large round paint brush though a regular flat brush will suffice.


Step 1 | Chalk Paint Tutorial

1 Sand and clean.

Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan doesn’t call for much prep (in fact,  none at all – yay!) though some of the edges on my raw pine stool had killer splinter potential and were just plain messy so I gave the whole thing a super quick sand.

I also rounded off the square corners to give the piece a naturally worn look.

Sanding Edges

Once sanded, I wiped the stool down to make sure it was clean and dust free.


Step 2 | Chalk Paint Tutorial

2 Paint colour one.

I was provided with two little pots of Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan; Chateau Grey and Graphite. I decided to make Chateau Grey my main colour. I gave the pot a really good shake (this is important; make sure your paint is well combined) then started liberally slapping it on my stool. This was, quite deliberately, the messiest paint job I have ever done!

Chalk Paint is quite thick and can be used to create texture. Hence, my intentional imperfection. I stippled, criss-crossed, dragged, dripped and dribbled.

Creating Texture with Chalk Paint

Don’t be too discouraged by the sloppy appearance. I know it looks pretty crappy, and I had my doubts, though the subsequent steps bring everything together beautifully. Oh, and don’t be concerned about the unpainted or patchy bits; these are just process pics.

Quite a fussy painter ordinarily I found this haphazard process so liberating. How fun – an excuse not to care!

I used a standard flat brush because that’s what I had. It was fine though I do think a large-ish round brush would produce more random texture with greater ease.

One of the best ways I found to produce interest in the texture was to wait until the paint had dried just a little and then gently drag an almost dry brush over the surface. This caused any still damp paint to “tear” and created very organic-looking “cracks” (this detail can be seen in some of the close-up after pics).

I applied two coats of paint for optimal coverage and to build-up textural layers.


Step 3 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

3 Paint colour two.

Once my paint was completely dry (I used a hair-dryer to help speed up the process – especially for the thick dribbles) I used a smaller brush to pick-out some of the edges in Graphite. Once again, I wasn’t fussy with my paint job. Oh, and please excuse the cruddy tattered brush!

The distinct green undertones in the Chateau Grey caused the Graphite to throw a lot of blue. Although they’re probably not colours I would ordinarily pair together, I instantly thought the combo would be great for a boy’s room. And that’s just where this stool will probably end up living; in my little boy’s bedroom.


Step 4 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

4 Sand.

Although I wanted to retain as much texture as possible, I needed to knock back the more obvious drips and any overt roughness. I also wanted to reveal some of the Chateau Grey beneath the Graphite and give the whole stool a bit more of a uniform appearance.

I sanded quite lightly, paying extra attention to any thicker areas of paint, and the transformation was almost instant. What was looking unattractively crude became, to me, quite desirably rustic! A little smile curled my lips :)

Rustic Vintage Chalk Paint Tutorial

Sanding helps soften and meld the overall look.

I went back to raw wood in a few areas though only very sparingly.


Step 5 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

5 Clear wax.

Waxing isn’t a necessary step. If you like the chalky matte appearance of your piece and don’t require a protective finish you can omit it. As mentioned above, I set myself the challenge of using all of the products I received so although I did like the way my stool was looking I decided to go for it – and I’m glad I did!

Clear Waxing Furniture

Please excuse my multi-coloured fingers – it’s not from this project though from painting with the kiddies!

I simply collected a small amount of Soft Wax (Clear) on my brush then went about working it into the paint (you could also use a lint-free cloth though I think a purpose round brush would be best). You will notice immediately how the paint becomes more vibrant and takes on a subtle sheen. I worked in sections (top first then each leg and so on), rubbing the Wax in with my brush before buffing it off again with a cloth. It’s a pretty quick and easy process and I found there’s no need to be overly fussy.


Step 6 |Vintage Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

6 Dark wax.

Apparently this step scares a lot of people! I was a little tentative myself because I was conscious of perhaps not liking the result and having to start my stool all over again. But, meh right? If that’s what happened, then that’s what happened. Luckily I LOVED the result.

I applied my Soft Wax (Dark) using the same process as the Soft Wax (Clear); working in sections I rubbed some on then buffed it off again. I paid particular attention to any deep grooves (such as the staple holes) and areas of notable texture.

How To Dark Wax Furniture

Now, I’m not gonna lie. It was kinda daunting at first. The Wax not only invades all the nooks and crannies (which is the intention) though can also look somewhat patchy to begin with and it does alter the over-all tone of the paint. For me, what was originally quite a soft sage green became decidedly more olive. It took me a little while to work out whether I liked this “new” colour. Thankfully…yes!

Before and After Dark Wax

I love the sags and dribbles the most!

Following buffing the Wax may remain somewhat tacky though should continue to harden-up over time.

You might be wondering why I clear waxed first. This just provides a necessary buffer, ensuring the underlying paint doesn’t take on too much Dark Wax (as it is essentially a stain). If you do find your piece becoming overly dark, you can use some additional Clear Wax to tone-down the darkness during the buffing process.

Dark waxing was the most time-consuming aspect of this Chalk Paint make-over. Probably because I had never done it before and was experimenting with the finish. I just kept rubbing Dark Wax on and buffing it off, sometimes using Clear Wax to mute things down, until I was happy with the result.

Creating Texture with Paint

And I am thrilled with it!

Rustic Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive

I love the idea of using a little step stool like this for a pretty tea and coffee station.

It’s hard to believe this was a BRAND NEW raw pine stool at the beginning of this process and that all this “new” grungy goodness can be attributed to some paint and wax alone!

Distressed Stool After | The Painted Hive

I know this look isn’t for everyone and I myself have felt unsure about “antiqued” items of furniture in the past. There’s lots of potential for them to look just plain dirty and very contrived if not done right (I’ve probably been guilty of the “forced” look myself!). I think this is especially pertinent for new-looking, perfectly painted pieces which are merely dark waxed or antique glazed, almost as an afterthought.

One thing I’ve learned from this project is that the use of painterly texture can be a BIG factor in creating a genuine looking patina. And with this paint it’s so easy to achieve!

All those cracks, brush strokes and dribbles are what really help make this piece look so authentically vintage.

Chalk Paint Texture Close Up

Super-duper close up detail! You can see just how random and interesting the surface is. Although it appears somewhat rough on very close inspection it is actually smooth to the touch.

Although I have gone for a rustic, aged finish using muted neutrals, Chalk Paint can also be used to produce sleek, modern results and is available in 33 gorgeous shades.

Chalk Paint Colours

I’m really looking forward to trying some different colours and using this technique on a larger item of furniture. I think a basic dresser or hutch could be transformed into a totally amazing feature piece.

Turn Something New into Something Old (Realistic Vintage Chalk Paint Effect Tutorial) | The Painted Hive

Remember, the Annie Sloan Made It My Own gallery is open right now! Whether you’re a seasoned Chalk Paint user or, like me, are maybe looking for a good excuse to give it a try, why not get creative then share your amazing work to help inspire others – and maybe win a prize or two in the process!

Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive


Click here to find your nearest Annie Sloan stockist.

This post was sponsored by Annie Sloan.

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In Print

I was lucky to be featured in a few publications recently. You might think it’s the kind of thing that would lose its shine after a little while. I guess if you’re someone like Kim Kardashian that’s probably the case though to me it always feels special.

Make It Over Feature

Make It Over (Spring 2015) | DIY Faux Flat File Drawer Cabinet

Press Feature Somerset Home

Somerset Home (Autumn 2015) | Custom Embellished Knobs

Press Feature Window Treatments

Window Treatments with Style (Hannah Stanton) | Easy Faux Rolled Window Valance


Press Feature Real Living Magazine

Real Living (September 2015) | DIY Honeycomb Armoire


I know sharing this kinda stuff on my blog probably comes across as self-indulgent though please don’t feel I’m trying to brag or show-off. It’s merely my way of keeping a record.



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“Leather” Upholstered Mini Drawer Set Hack

At the risk of coming across as someone slightly obsessed with mini drawers, here’s another little drawer hack.

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

My mum actually picked up this small drawer set for $12 from Kmart a few weeks back.

Mini Card File Drawer Hack - Before

She mentioned she was planning on doing ‘something’ with it, then I kinda stole it so I could do ‘something’ with it instead (don’t worry, she’s usually happy when I steal her stuff – I did give it back).

Although there was nothing majorly wrong with it, it was just kinda meh, had a few splits and chips and didn’t really suit her style, so I wanted to completely transform it. That said, I also wanted the project to be super quick and simple because I know, that for my readers, fast and easy make-overs are among the most appealing.

So, as is the case with most of my under-takings, pondering took precedence over progress!

The finger pulls posed the biggest problem. I needed to come up with a simple solution for concealing them.

Unlike my previous Ikea Moppe hack, I couldn’t simply reverse the drawers as the rears were shorter than the fronts…

Drawer Proportions

I figured the finger pulls could either be filled or covered in some way, and after toying with a few very different ideas, settled on covering them with some form of upholstery.

Though using what kind of fabric?

Something natural and neutral. Maybe linen or burlap? Then, out of nowhere, it suddenly came to me. What about leather? That could look cool!

The only issue was the clearance around the drawers. There was seriously little more than a hair’s width in some places.

I wanted to wrap each drawer for that ‘proper’ upholstered finish, though there really wasn’t enough of a gap to accommodate something thick like leather, especially at the corners. The drawers simply wouldn’t close properly anymore.

I considered attaching the leather to the face only then trimming the edges in some way (maybe with brass studs) though given the small scale of the drawers I decided I really did want to try fully wrapping them.

So, I started searching for thinner alternatives to real leather and eventually came across some really great contact paper. Hmmm, that could work!

Well, let the project commence.

You will need…



DIY Leather Covered Drawers Hack

1 Mini drawer set.

As touched on above, I stole this one from my mum though she originally bought it from Kmart for just $12 (I think they still have them in stock).

Mini drawer sets are pretty common and can be found in lots of places. Ikea sells a few. You can also have a search online and check out craft/office/decor/dollar stores.

2 Paint.

I used chalkboard paint because I wanted something neutral and I love the distressed graphite appearance it takes on once seasoned (coated with chalk then rubbed back). Of course, you can choose any type of paint in any colour you like. Spray paint would have been handy though I just used regular canned paint because that’s what I had.

3 Card.

This is merely to cover the finger pull holes to avoid any possible dipping of the contact paper at that point. I simply cut up a cereal box. Anything thin and rigid will work. If your drawers don’t have finger pulls then of course you don’t need to worry about using any card.

4 Padding.

You can use anything slightly squishy which will give the “leather” a padded appearance. I used wadding (batting) because I already had some on hand though I actually think something a bit denser, like foam or felt sheet (even a kitchen sponge!) could work better.

5 “Leather”.

As mentioned above, to ensure I could wrap my drawers I used contact paper in place of real leather. You could use real leather if your item permits. You could also try wallpaper (I found some amazing wallpapers which were available to buy in generous sample sizes for super cheap!). My contact paper was $10 for one meter and I found it here. It has a slight texture and I think it looks really authentic.

6 Handles.

I was lucky to have some left-over brass label holder pulls from my previous Ikea drawer hack. They were around $3 each from eBay. Label holder pulls are pretty easy to find nowadays and are much more affordable than they used to be. eBay and Etsy are two good sources. Of course, you can use any handles you like. I think a flat label holder with a separate knob would also be cute as would something rustic, like hand-made rope pulls.

The process…


DIY Leather Drawer Hack

1 Paint the drawer set carcass.

As mentioned above, I used chalkboard paint though you could use anything you like (I’m loving the idea of gloss navy!). Spray paint would be easiest though I used tinned paint because I already had some on hand. I didn’t need to do any prep as my drawer set carcass was already smooth and super dry. Depending on your item you may need to sand it and/or apply a primer first.

Seasoning the Chalkboard Paint

Once my paint was completely dry I seasoned it (coated it with white chalk then rubbed it off again) to create a distressed, imperfect, graphite appearance.


Mini Card File Drawer Hack

2 Attach card to the drawer faces.

This is simply to cover the finger pull holes, mainly to avoid the possibility of the contact paper sagging at that point. I simply cut some rectangles from a cereal box and attached them with double sided tape (you could use glue). I covered the entire drawer front, rather than just the finger pull areas, to ensure I created one nice even plain. I was just a bit concerned that any card edges might be discernible through the wadding and contact paper.


Leather Drawers

3 Drill pilot hardware holes.

It’s important to drill your pilot hardware holes before attaching any kind of material which may get caught up in the drill bit. Simply line up your hardware as desired, mark the nail or screw points then drill yours pilot holes as required. Depending on the density of your drawers, pilot holes may not be necessary though I always find it easier to use them. It just saves a bit of effort trying to bash your nails through or drive your screws into solid wood, not to mention the possibility of breaking something! Just make sure your drill bit is one or two sizes smaller than your nail or screw to ensure they will hold firmly.


Upholstered Drawers DIY

4 Attach padding to the drawer fronts.

As mentioned above, you can use anything slightly squishy. I used standard wadding (batting) because I already had some on hand. As with the card, I simply cut rectangles to fit my drawer fronts and attached them with double sided tape. I was careful to ensure they were slightly smaller than the drawer face so that no excess wadding was pushed over the drawer edges once the contact paper was stretched on.


Leather Upholstered Mini Drawer Hack

5 Attach “leather” to the drawer fronts.

This was the fiddliest part though it was still super easy.

You can see the texture in the contact paper really well in the above pic (oh, and don’t worry about the little white corner – it’s just the side of the protruding top and isn’t visible once the drawers are in place).

How to Contact Cover a Drawer

5A As mentioned earlier, I used contact paper in place of real leather because I needed something very thin. As you can see in the above pic, I actually bought two different papers because I couldn’t decide! I really love both of them though decided against the more obviously distressed one as I felt the scale of the grain was a little too large and distinct for my little drawers (I’ll use it for a future project). I found the contact really great. It has a subtle texture which adds to its realism and it was easy to work with because it didn’t adhere to itself. I found it here.

5B I cut a nice even rectangle of contact paper which was around 3cm (1″) larger than my drawer face all around.

5C I then removed the backing paper and pressed it onto the wadding, smoothing and stretching it slightly before creating subtle indents at each corner point by gently pressing the contact down with my finger.

5D I used these indents as my markers to cut diagonally across the corners of the contact, as near to the indent as possible (this just removes any excess contact paper and makes for neater corners which are easier to fold). I did this whilst the contact was on top of the drawer (rather than measure and pre-cut the corners) for better accuracy as it’s almost impossible to gauge how the volume of the padding will effect the position of the contact paper. It’s also hard to know just how much stretch your contact has until you remove the backing.

Just be careful not to cut too much off your corners. You don’t want to leave any of the underlying drawer exposed once you wrap the contact around.

5E Next I smoothed down the contact paper and, stretching it slightly to ensure a nice tight finish, attached it to the drawer, pressing firmly to adhere well. I started with the drawer sides.

5F With the sides adhered, I folded in the tiny corners and tightly wrapped the base and top.

You may find your corners need a little tweaking. Contact paper is generally somewhat malleable so can be smoothed into place to some extent however if need be you can remove any unsightly excess with a sharp craft knife. You can also touch up any exposed areas with a similarly coloured marker.


DIY Leather Upholstered Drawers

6 Attach hardware.

Poke a pin through the pilot holes you already created – from inside the drawer right through to the front. Using the new pin holes as a guide, line up your hardware on top of the drawer and drive your nails or screws through. Secure your handles as tightly as needed and desired, nestling them into the padding to create a subtle cushioned appearance.

Just go easy if you are using screws to attach your hardware as their thread can get caught up in the padding, particularly if you used something fibrous (like wadding).

To finish, insert some cute labels. I totally cheated and made mine digitally. I used a high resolution aged paper texture and the lovely free font Notera (of course, you can simply tea-stain some paper and hand-write the text). Mum is going to use the little drawers to corral all the crap that builds-up in her kitchen nook so I categorised each drawer as requested by her.

Antique Brass Label Holders | The Painted Hive

This little drawer set now has a very ‘campaign-esque’ feel. I actually searched hard for some little brass corners and ‘T’ plates though couldn’t find anything small enough I really loved (well, I did find some really cute corners in the US though the shipping was crazy high). I even had a go at creating my own though I wasn’t satisfied that they looked “proper” enough so decided against using them.

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

I’m not sure if the photos do it justice (I’m also not sure if those wooden hands are creepy or not?).

It has a decidedly masculine edge though the overall neutrality means it’s still super versatile. I’m loving the rich “leather” teamed with the distressed chalkboard paint and the nod to refinement the brass hardware imparts.

DIY "Leather" Chalkboard Drawers | The Painted Hive

In other news, I was lucky to recently acquire a new camera lens and am still working out how the heck to use it (#camerasconfuseme). I had some fun playing around with the aperture capabilities by taking some artistic shots of my vintage props.

Vintage Camera Photography

I adore antique books and old cameras!

Anyhoo, here are some before and afters…

DIY Leather Upholstered Mini Dresser Hack | The Painted Hive

Before and After - DIY Leather Upholstered Mini Dresser Hack | The Painted Hive

Quite a contrast!

I really had no idea how these little drawers were going to turn out. I think I’m pleasantly surprised!

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

I’m now also really excited about the possibility of upholstering something bigger using leather. Maybe a dresser or even some cabinet doors!



PS Thanks so much if you’re one of the lovely people who has so far placed a bid on my Honeycomb Armoire to help raise funds for charity. The auction still has five days to go so be sure to hop on over and bid. I’ll love you forever!



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