A New Room Redo

Suffice to say it was a fair exchange, though for us, gaining Charlotte meant losing our “computer room”.

I know calling it a “home office” or “study” would sound more official, though with the majority of time spent in there going toward online shopping, e-stalking and maybe shooting the occasional virtual bad guy (hubby, not me) a title implicit of actual ‘work’ just seemed like blatant glorification.

So once Charlotte moved in we had two re-location candidates for our new “computer room”; the tiny guest bedroom or the little weird nothing space off our kitchen.

Here’s a deceptively spacious looking floor plan which illustrates our options – trust me, all our rooms are actually really incy.

The guest room seemed like an obvious choice though the little weird nothing space was being used for, well nothing. You see, it’s a through-way due to the external sliding door (which is suppose to be a side entrance though is more often used as the main one) and two hallway openings. There is also a large vertical heater on one wall which, at this stage, has to stay. So, although looking at the floor plan many configurations seem possible, in reality, flow-wise, nothing much really worked. The only functional space is the narrow area spanning the guest room’s divisional wall which didn’t seem good for much….though, I thought, might be just perfect for a thoughtfully considered computer area.

So, here’s the room before….

Nice enough, though nothing special and lacking functionality.

And here it is after Charlotte displaced our computer cabinet….

If I’m honest, pretty darn crappy looking. Though that’s okay, it’s only ‘make-do’.

As I suspected, our hideaway computer cabinet didn’t work in its new home. If I was going to make this computer room gel I needed a fresh concept.

So I gathered my thoughts. We needed….something to use as a desk, something to house our books (because there was no where else for them to live) and something to hide all the ugly hulking technological thingamabobs plus it needed to be pretty and practical, perfectly proportioned and penny-wise. Easy, right?

Ah, apparently not.

I spent hours searching for something that just didn’t exist. Even with my ‘open-minded-out-of-the-box-creative-vision’ hat on, I couldn’t find anything adaptable to fit my criteria.

The main issues were the ridiculous depth of our ginormous computer tower and the modest width of the wall. I wanted something built-in-esque without the permanence, work or cost. Was I going to have to build this thing myself?

In all honesty, I did seriously consider it, and I know I could have done it though at my current rate of productivity it would have been finished just in time to present Charlotte for her own house warming, so instead I did something that I’ve never done before….I walked into a furniture store (a cheapo, budget one, mind you) and asked the nice man behind the counter how much it would cost to have something custom built.

Now, I’m not certain exactly what happened next, though the first thing I remember was a hazy salesman coming slowly into focus. “Oh”, I said, “I’m sorry, I thought you said $2,000”.
“I did”, came the reply.
I promptly passed out again.

‘Course I didn’t really pass out though I definitely did pass (on the custom build offer that is). I’m well aware that to many, okay most, people, paying $2,000 for a piece of furniture (let alone a custom built one) isn’t particularly outlandish, though to me it’s simply a no-no.
So now, enter plan B….

Oh, and THANK YOU for bearing with me through this period of sporadic posting!
At the moment I’m mum and wife first, though I have a tonne of exciting projects and room makeovers on the go (and in my head!) which I can’t wait to share once my new superwoman pills arrive (seriously, I don’t know how other bloggers do it!).
In the meantime, my intention is, as it has always been, to blog whenever I can so please know that your readership is truly cherished.

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IKEA Card File Drawers Hack

At the moment, amongst other things, I’m working on a totally new room makeover at my hive.

It’s a little space I’ve not shared previously. I can’t wait for the final reveal though with a little pair of hands constantly clutching at my pant legs (with an accompanying unresistable “pick-me-up” whine), let’s just say progress hasn’t exactly been fast, so as with pretty much everything else nowadays, I’m not holding my breath ’til it’s done.

Anyhoo, part of the makeover involves some new shelving and to pretty them up, whilst adding some handy knick-knack storage, I wanted some cute old mini card file drawers. They are relatively plentiful (if you have patience and know where to look – eBay, oldware stores, etc.) though in many cases buying some requires a deep pocket reach and, if you know me, you’d know I’m just a bit adverse to that kinda thing. So, rather than cash, I thought I’d spend some creative energy instead and concoct my own.

I started with this cute set of Moppe drawers from IKEA (for whatever reason I could only find them easily on the UK website so excuse the link).

I’m sure you’ve all seen them before – they’ve been the victim of many a good (and maybe a few unfortunate) hacks.

And these brass plated card holder pulls I found on eBay, plus some timber stain and sealer.

I did consider painting or ageing the brass though I’m planning on using some gold accents in the room so decided to leave it as is. I’m glad I did ’cause I do really like the end result.

Because I was planning on using the pulls to open the drawers, I no longer wanted the visible finger cut-outs.

Easy solution….just turn the drawers around. I know, duh right?

I began by giving the corners of the drawers themselves a reasonably heavy sand to round them off a bit. It’s just a small detail and by no means necessary though as you can see in the ‘after’ pics it does soften the perfection of the unit and imparts the illusion of some wear.

Next I applied two coats of timber stain (I used dark teak because that’s what I found in the shed :-)

To add a soft lustre and enhance the richness of the stain I then applied three coats of danish oil. If you’ve not used danish oil before, I highly recommend it. As mentioned, it imparts a soft sheen, enriches colour and nourishes the timber. It goes on like water and, in my experience, dries perfectly every time – unlike some sealers it is virtually fool-proof.

Once the oil was dry, I attached my pulls, banging in the nails with my customary the-kitchen-meat-mallet-is-closer-than-the-real-hammer hammer (which turned out to be convenient in more ways than one thanks to its you-can’t-possibly-miss-a-nail-with massive head). For something a bit different, I aligned the pulls towards the top of each drawer. Do I like it? I’m not really sure though I think it’s growing on me. Besides, it’s a pretty easy task to relocate them if I ever feel compelled – which I probably wont.

The nails which affix the pulls will inevitably poke through the rear of the drawer fronts so if this bothers you simply file them flush or trim them down prior.

The visible dove-tails are perfect for helping enhance the illusion of a true vintage piece.

To finish I designed some simple antique style tabs for the card holders.

Sure, I coulda just hand written them and tea-stained the paper, though I decided to exercise my current love of digital graphics and instead Photoshoped ’em up using a handwritten script font and a distressed background texture.

I was pleasantly surprised with how authentic they actually look.

For your convenience I have included my graphics as free printables (see the bottom of the post)! They will fit perfectly inside the 9cm x 4.5cm (3 1/4″ x 1 11/16″) pull slots.

I was a bit sceptical at how this project would turn out though it’s a heap better than I thought…so yay!

AT A GLANCE
SOURCES
Small Drawers (IKEA Moppe $16.00)
Card Holder Pull Handles (eBay $2.95)
Timber Stain (Feast Watson Dark Teak)
Timber Sealer (Cabots Danish Oil)
CREDITS
Dreamer Script Font
Stained Paper Texture
FREE PRINTABLE!
Four aged index tabs with calligraphic font. View and download here.
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A Magazine Feature!

Turn the March/April issue of Australian Country Collections magazine to page 72 and you’ll be welcomed into what might be a familiar toile papered entryway….

Yep, it’s my little ol’ hive! A nine page spread of it! Including some little sneak peeks of spaces I haven’t even managed to blog about yet!
Here’s just a sample:

Thanks to writer and editor Kirsty McKenzie and photographer Ken Brass.

They showed up on my doorstep as arranged a few months back now, walked in and pretty much shot my house as it was. If I hadda known I would have done a bit more tizzying-up though I think the resulting article reflects the relaxed and unpretentious nature of the process which is in keeping with the honest premise of the magazine.

Australian Country Collections is a boutique bi-monthly country lifestyles publication.

The magazine itself (you know, ‘member those, they’re the things you need more than a mere finger swipe or mouse click to turn the pages of) is available in Australian newsagents.

For international readers, the digital version can be found on-line here through Zinio.

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Industrial Sconce Light Makeover

At the moment I’m helping Mum organise and re-design the little nook (parent’s retreat) off her and Dad’s master bedroom.

Whilst the complete room reveal is still a whiles away I wanted to share the finished upgrade of the wall sconces.

If you’ve read this blog more than once then you’d probably know I like the creative challenge of making the most of what’s already there, so rather than replace the lights completely (which, let’s face it, could probably have been done relatively cheaply and easily) I decided to flex some inventive muscle and see what I could come up with. That said, without my magic wand the frilly glass shades were a certain loss. Luckily, I already had an idea….

A while back I had stumbled across these plastic bulb cages.

(If you’re in the US then there are products like this everywhere – just Google ‘lamp cage’ or ‘lamp guard’ – though here down-under they are elusive so I was pretty pleased with finding them – even if $16.90 is a bit pricey if you ask me).

They are just standard lamp guards intended for industrial use (such as on building sites, in work shops etc.) though I thought they had definite adaptability potential so I tucked them somewhere in the back of my brain. Luckily, they stayed put in there, and when I was pondering a solution for Mum’s new sconce shades they jumped out from hiding.

“Hmmm, they could maybe work”, I thought to myself, and after checking some dimensions I ordered my cages.

Now, if you’re a ‘safety yellow’ kinda gal you could leave them as is though I wanted a more natural look so it was always my intention to use a paint-based disguise. The trouble, however, with painting plastic is that sometimes it can look like, well, painted plastic, so I thought I’d try this amazing metal effects paint.

(I bought mine from my local Bristol paint specialty store. See my ‘At a Glance’ quick guide at the end of the post for some helpful links).

The reactive iron paint contains real metal pigments and the rust activator generates real rust, so rather than a faux finish it is actually real (okay, so have you got my point about it being real?). This is high quality paint which sticks to just about anything and is a cinch to use. Just apply two coats of iron paint, allow to dry for at least an hour then use an atomiser to spray on the rust activator (you can go here to view a really clear and easy-to-follow manufacturer video tutorial). This paint is kinda pricey, though it’s so good only a small amount is needed to give ample coverage.

So, after just a little bit of craftin’ here’s Mum’s new sconce….

I love the instant patina this seemingly magic paint imparts.

For contrast, I only used the rust activator on the cages and simply left the sconce arms coated with the iron paint alone, which has an awesome textural graphite appearance. I swear, if it wasn’t quite so dear I might paint an entire room with it!

The clasp, which hinges the cages to allow for changing light bulbs, is incredibly tight to open and close so inevitably the paint does rub off from this small section when it is used. So, to combat the bright yellow which was peeking through I simply coloured the clasp area with a permanent brown marker – easy. The marker ink blends in seamlessly with the rusted iron and has so far stayed put so there is no longer any visible yellow plastic where the clasp pushes in and out.

To complete the look I used reproduction Edison bulbs. I contemplated painting the brass bulb capping black (to match the sconce sleeves) though I think I like the hint of tarnished gold.

For all my Aussie readers I finally found some bayonet cap Edison bulbs here in Oz – where else but on eBay of course (find the link in my ‘At a Glance’ list below). They’re not as ample or affordable as the ones in the US though I’m learning to live with it :-)

I’m happy to admit this style is not everyone’s cup of tea though I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
I reckon Mum’s lights would thank me if they could, plus it was a fun, fast, easy and cheap (about $20 per light – excluding the globes) way to burn off some creative tension and get a good DIY decorating fix!

Wouldn’t even know it was the same light, huh?

AT A GLANCE
SOURCES
Cages: Online Lighting, Amazon
Rust Effects Paint: Modern Masters, Dulux
Edison Bulbs: eBay, Amazon
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More Free Printable Labels!

After I posted my DIY canister decal tutorial I had a HEAP of requests for additional labels.

Soooo, because I’m a really nice blogger (and/or just totally awesome in general :-) I decided I would create another page of some staple pantry labels for you guys (see the “At a Glance” section below to view and download).

If you happened to miss the original label post be sure to head on over there for a detailed tutorial on how I applied them.

Note: I have also now added the additional labels to the original post.

AT A GLANCE
CREDITS
Fonts: Courier New, Another Typewriter, Mrs Eaves Bold
FREE PRINTABLE!
Two sheets of dictionary definition inspired canister labels. View and download here.
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