Living-Dining Room Makeover | The Final Reveal!

It’s done. Finally!

If I hadn’t initially proclaimed it would likely take me forever to finish this room re-do, I might be feeling even more sheepish than I currently do sharing the reveal over a WHOLE YEAR from when it commenced. Yikes!

Am I really that sluggish? Wait, don’t answer that.

Anyhoo, I got there in the end and am totally loving this ‘new’ space!

It’s not only the look and feel and function that I adore, though also the fact this transformation has been completed on a super realistic budget incorporating lots of thrifted finds and DIY goodness.

Just to recap, and for anyone new here, this is my parent’s open plan living-dining room which we decided to revamp after the burgundy billiard table (see below) was finally sold after having sat in place for more than 20 years! This gave us the opportunity to reclaim the dining zone for its intended purpose and tweak the lounge area.

For the purpose of this reveal post I’ll spare you all the whys and hows though if you’d like to learn more, or refresh your memory, you can find all my previous posts about the space here. I’ve also included a little gallery at the end of this post to make finding a specific project easy.

So, here’s what we started with…

Room Makeover Before

Room Makeover Before

Before Makeover

Before Room Makeover

Dining Room Before

It was dark and heavy and just lacked a fresh and inviting feel.

And here is the room now…

Living Room Makeover

Living Room After

Budget Living Room Makeover After

Living Room After - Painting a Leadlight Door

We painted the existing reproduction lead-light door (glass and all!) in this lovely moody grey-blue to tie-in with the fireplace and provide some anchorage.

Living Dining Re-Do

I’ve zig-zagged the grey from the linen armchairs through the room, from the little occasional table beside the sofa to the dresser on the far wall. Linking colours in this way helps provide a sense of continuity without being too “matchy-matchy”. Little touches of blue and white (mum’s favorite!) are also scattered here and there to further bolster the feeling of harmony, as are potted plants and clipped greenery, which also breathe life and vibrancy into the space.

Mum already had the eclectic gallery in her entryway. It creates a lovely link with the gilt frames and botanical subject matter in the new grouping above the sofa.

Botanical Gallery Walls

Living Room After

Drop Leaf Side Table

This antique drop-leaf trolley was stripped and left raw. The basket and canvas cases provide storage for DVD’s, remote controls and seasonal blankets.

Block Printed Pillow

Over-Sized Heron Art

Living Dining After

This is one of my favourite pics. Just ignore that hulking air conditioner (a bit of a necessity during summers around here) and focus on the lovely decor. M’kay?

Dining Room After

Dining Room with Antique Table

It would have been aesthetically nice to position a rug beneath the dining table to create some distinction between the furniture and timber flooring, though in all seriousness, how practical is a rug beneath a dining table anyways? If you can get away with one, you’re doing heaps better than us! :)

Dining Room Vignette

Dining Room After

Farmhouse Table Castors

Dresser Styling

Dresser Vignette

This lovely bust is my new best friend. I’ve wanted one for ages and absolutely love him!

If you’ve been following along with this room re-do, you might now realise that we haven’t actually done much to the “bones” of the room. Aside from the new lighting configuration and a fresh lick of paint, it’s really just all furniture and decor. Which is totally fine. That’s all it needed – plus it’s my favourite way to redecorate! You?

I’ve spoken about most of the elements and projects in my previous posts about the space though there are a few new additions I haven’t yet mentioned. To save turning this into an overwhelming monster of a post, I’ll be back in a few days to share all the extra details and recap on everything. In the meantime, feel free to ask any questions if you’re keen to know about something in-particular :)

Now, just for comparison’s sake, here are a few side-by-side before and afters…

Living Room Before and After


Room Makeover Before and After


Before and After Room Makeover


Room Makeover Before and After


Living Room Before and After

The above pics are taken from different angles, though you get the idea.

So, there you go. I know it’s not amazingly awesome though I hope it was somewhat worth the wait. I don’t really have a decent explanation as to why it took me so long (I mean, there was nothing particularly difficult or spectacular about it), I guess I just felt like lumbering over the line. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me!



As mentioned earlier in the post, I’ll be back in a few days with an extensive source list. In the meantime, find a little gallery of some of the past projects below.

Electric Fireplace Makeover       Dresser Makeover

DIY Mudcloth Pillow       Free Printable Botanicals

Piano Stool Makeover       Ikea Curtain Hack

Spray Painted Lamp Update       Free Printable Large Scale Art

Farmhouse Dining Table       Block Printing on Fabric

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Easy DIY Mudcloth Pillow | Ikea Hack

Easy DIY Mudcloth Pillow

Has anyone else been crushing on mudcloth lately?

Well, just in case you’ve missed seeing it (absolutely everywhere!), and are yet to learn about its origin, mudcloth (also know as bogolanfini or bogolan) is a traditional African textile characterised by relaxed geometric symbols in predominantly neutral tones. It has a thick nubby texture and its subtle yet distinct patterns work well in almost any interior scheme, imparting a gentle tribal or boho hint.

DIY Mudcloth Pillow


DIY Mudcloth Pillow


Mudcloth in Design


Although it has risen to mainstream popularity in the world of interiors over the past few years, it’s still a little tricky to come by and in general is justifiably quite expensive.

So, whilst I would love to purchase some authentic mudcloth, and in-turn support the African artisans, sadly it’s just out of my price range.

Still, despite the fact I generally shy away from trends, it seemed perfect for my parent’s “new” living room.

Soooo, it was time to get DIY’ing!

This was a super easy, fun and affordable project that absolutely anyone can try.

You will need…

DIY Mudcloth Pillow Supplies

1 Cushion cover (or fabric to make your own).

I used a basic Ikea VIGDIS cushion cover. Of course, you can use whatever you like though in the interest of authenticity perhaps consider looking for something with a bit of texture in off-white or black. The VIGDIS cushion cover is made from ramie so has a nice irregular weave and although it’s labelled as “white”, to me it’s more of a pale ivory.

2 Cardboard.

I simply used a sheet of old cardstock though you could use anything rigid and thick-ish (a cut-up old cereal box would do the trick). The cardboard is used to prevent marker bleed and help keep the fabric smooth and taut.

3 Fabric marker.

I used a dual tipped Derivan Fabric Art Marker in Black (they also come in White for use on dark fabrics) because it was the first one I spotted at the craft store. You can use whichever fabric marker you prefer.

4 Ruler/Guide Line.

Optional. Just to help with the layout of your design.

5 Iron/Clothes Dryer.

To heat set the ink.


What to do…

DIY Mudcloth Pillow Step 1

STEP 1 Launder and iron cushion cover.

This just allows for any future shrinkage and removes residual manufacturing chemicals/sizing to ensure your marker penetrates well. I always find it nice (and easier) to work with freshly ironed fabric.

DIY Mud Cloth Cushion - Step 2

STEP 2 Line cushion cover with cardboard.

Although this isn’t necessary, as mentioned above it prevents marker bleed and helps keep the fabric smooth and taut.

DIY Mudcloth Pillow | Step 3

STEP 3 Draw a design onto the cushion cover.

This is the fun bit! It might seem a little daunting at first (I was somewhat hesitant) though once you get started you realise just how easy it is – absolutely anyone can draw basic symbols like this! The loose, free-hand patterns used in genuine mudcloth are what gives the textile so much character and their hand-drawn nature is very forgiving to mimic. Nothing needs to be perfect.

That said, I did find it helpful to use a long ruler (you can use anything similar) as a guide to keep my design relatively straight. Although the symbols themselves don’t need to be immaculate, I didn’t want my overall pattern to look too wonky, skewiff or wavy.

Start by having a look online for some inspiration, then, once you feel confident (practice on a piece of paper or fabric scrap if need be), begin marking your cushion cover!

If you’re feeling particularly intimidated, you can sketch your design in pencil first. I actually tried this though quickly realised it wasn’t warranted as there is so much room for adaptation and improvisation as you draw. It’s actually a really fun and liberating creative process! Although I began by quite closely replicating a design I found online, after a short while I simply started making it up!

I found that the marker ink dulled a little towards the end. It wasn’t running out, the tip was just becoming a little dry. Though I actually like the slightly faded look it produced.

Most of the symbols used in traditional mudcloth patterns have meaning so each design actually tells a story. If you do a bit of research you can decipher some of the symbols then use them to create a story of your own. I was too lazy this time around and simply created a design I found aesthetically pleasing, which is totally fine, however I do love the idea of decor being both pretty and poignant.

Once your cushion is complete, allow the ink to dry for an hour or so before moving on to the next step.

Step 4 - Heat set the ink

STEP 4 Heat set the ink.

Press your cushion cover with a hot iron for two-three minutes, or tumble dry for an hour or so, to set the marker ink and make it completely permanent.

To finish, I like to launder the cushion cover again. Maybe its just my imagination, though it seems to soften the ink and make it look more ingrained.

And, that’s it!

DIY Mud Cloth Pillow

DIY Mud Cloth Pillow

At first I was skeptical about this project. I thought it might turn out a bit amateur-ish and noticeably fake, though it actually looks really, really cool!

And it was fun to style it with a few tribal-ish accessories.

Tribal Style Vignette

This was such a fast and easy project, I decided to create a second cushion with a more intricate design.

Easy DIY Mudcloth Pillow Ikea Hack

If you follow me on Instagram you may have spied this cushion in a recent pic of my living room.

I really like them both though the rudimentary crosses of my first pillow cover steal my heart.

Oh, by the way, in case you missed it previously, the lovely over-sized heron illustration is available as a free printable. You can find it here.

I know I keep promising the final reveal of this living room, and it is coming. Truly ruly. In the meantime, I hope you find this little project inspiring.


Find all the posts relating to this living room makeover here.

DIY Mudcloth Pillow from an Ikea Cushion Cover

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How to Turn a Photo into a “Vintage” Portrait Painting

Turn a Photo into a Painting

I’ve been slightly obsessed with vintage portrait paintings for a while now.

Whether a solo artwork resting casually atop a hutch or a striking gallery which consumes an entire wall, they seem to impart such a lovely sense of depth, interest and character.

Vintage Portrait Painting


Portrait Gallery


Portrait in Living Room


Lauren Liess Portrait Gallery


Vintage Portrait


Gallery of Portraits




Vintage Gallery


Oil Painting in the Kitchen


Bathroom with Portrait


Lauren Liess Kitchen


Bathroom with Portrait


Vintage Portrait Collection


For some reason I’m particularly drawn to the use of portraits in bathrooms and kitchens. They just seem to add a slightly quirky and unexpected touch.

So when my mum recently decided it was time to update her main bathroom I suggested including a vintage portrait.

“What, like just of some random person?”, she exclaimed.

Seems the idea of having a stranger adorn her wall was a little weird for her.

Fair enough I guess.

Still, I was fixed on the idea so it was time to get creative!

I contemplated painting a family member’s portrait myself, then realised this was actually the perfect excuse to play around with a digital painting program. Not only would it be quicker and easier, it’s a great little project to share here because anyone can give it a go.

Last year I wrote a comprehensive post about converting photographs into paintings using clever software, though I never actually produced a print. This was going to be fun!

I started looking through our old family photos for something suitable. Unfortunately however, I couldn’t find anything quite right.

We were going to have to start from scratch.

So, mum dressed-up in a demure, mid-century kinda way, and posed while I took a few quick snaps.

How to Turn a Photo into a Painting

This is the pic we chose (which I’m sure mum is rapt to be sharing with the world!).
As you can see, it’s far from a spectacular photo though that’s one of the great things about this project – the pic doesn’t need to be great.
Whilst I wasn’t too concerned with the overall quality, I did pay some attention to lighting and composition.

To convert this photo into a painting I used Topaz Impression, which I purchased around a year ago, however there are heaps of different programs you can use (check out my previous post for further info and a collection of software options, or find a list of programs at the end of this post).

There’s really no set formula for how you go about the conversion. It’s just a matter of playing around with all the options in your chosen program.

Photo to Painting

I wanted a dark and moody feel so applied a suitable filter then experimented with some of the fine-tuning parameters to customise the effect.

Once I was happy, I saved the image then transferred it into Photoshop (you can use any image editor – GIMP is a great free option) to make a few final changes, including adjusting the brightness and contrast, altering the hue of mum’s cardigan and sizing the image perfectly for print.

Painting from a Photo

Here are a few close-ups to give a better indication of the detail.

Digital Painting from a Photograph

How to Convert a Photo to a Painting

It’s so cool! Remember, although I did have to play around for a while with all the filters and options, I haven’t used any manual painting techniques – the computer has done it all!

Can you see the canvas texture? It’s one of my favourite elements to include in a digital painting. It just provides such a lovely hint of authenticity.

And here is a cropped version at print size (depending on your monitor or device you may need to zoom in or out).

Photo Converted to Painting

Of course, there’s no denying the beauty and pure loveliness of a real painting though this is a fun cheat anyone can try!

The side-by-side comparisons really showcase the effect.

How to Convert a Photo to a Painting

How to Turn a Photo into a Painting

From the get-go I envisioned this portrait in an ornate gilt frame and was lucky to pick this one up from an antique bazaar for $40 a few weeks ago. I realise $40 isn’t super cheap though these babies are getting hard to find.

Frame Before

Sorry if you like it ‘as is’ however I decided the existing print had to go.

I measured the frame opening and sized my digital image perfectly to fit (as touched on above, I used Photoshop though you can use whatever image editing program you prefer). I then had it printed online through Officeworks (as it was larger than my standard domestic printer could handle).

Note: Refer to my Free Printables series for further information about sizing, editing and printing images.

I could have had it printed on standard document paper for under $2, or on satin poster paper for around $15, though for something a bit different I decided to splash out on canvas for $32. More than anything, I did this out of curiosity as I’d never had anything printed on canvas before. I am happy with it, though am yet to be convinced it was really worth the extra expense, especially as my print already had a digital canvas texture applied.

One bonus is the durability, relevant as this print is being used in a wet room. Another pro was the ease of framing; I simply removed the existing print (complete with its attached panel of masonite), wrapped the new canvas neatly around it then carefully stapled it in place. In my experience, paper prints can be a bit more tricky as they generally need to be adhered with glue which can cause bubbling and creasing.

Anyhoo, here is the finished portrait. My parent’s bathroom isn’t yet complete so for the purpose of these ‘after’ photos I’ve hung and styled it in my bedroom.

Portrait Painting from a Photograph DIY

Painting from a Photo

I love it!

It printed a tad darker than I wanted though I do like the mysterious feel.

Overall, I’m really thrilled with the whole way this project turned out and am loving the possibilities it opens up! Portraits are probably the trickiest subject for photo to painting conversions as most programs will apply their painterly effects universally – so whilst the background might look amazing, facial features can get lost and appear distorted. You can play around with layering different effects and adjusting the opacity in certain sections though this does add another level of difficulty. Landscapes, animals and still life compositions are more forgiving and can look awesome.

Turn a Photo into a Painting

Below is an actual photo I took of the finished print.

Portrait Photo to Painting

I didn’t want to go into too much technical depth with this post as I’m aware everyone is likely to use their own preferred programs, though if you do have any questions about my particular process, or the Topaz Impression software, please feel free to ask away. I love to help and always answer any questions.

Additionally, I’m thinking about possibly offering a service whereby I convert your photos into digital paintings on your behalf (just for those of you who aren’t super keen about purchasing the software and giving it a go yourself). If anyone is interested, please let me know. If there is enough demand, I might just add the service to my little shop.


Turn a Photo into an Oil Painting



A popular app (Apple devices only) featuring a small selection of luminous watercolour filters.

An intelligent program featuring hundreds of realistic editable filters.

A fun app with a vast collection of different artistic filters.

A professional program with a focus on manual digital painting.

A condensed version of Corel Painter.

A fun program with several artistic filters and the ability to make some custom changes.

A funky app (Apple devices only) which renders splashy watercolours.

FILTER FORGE ($30 – $300)
A versatile program inclusive of thousands of filters and the ability to create and save your own effects.

A world-class program with numerous detailed filters and the ability to create your own effects.

A suite of artistic filters with some customisation options.

A comprehensive program featuring hundreds of editable and layerable filters plus the ability to paint manually.

An extensive program with hundreds of editable filters and assisted painting capabilities.

SNAP ART ($100)
An effective program featuring a wide selection of artistic style filters with options for customisation.

A simple program inclusive of several artistic style filters which can be adjusted and combined.



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A Super Easy Lamp Update

Easy Lamp Makeover using Spraypaint

One of the elements I was struggling to decide on for the living-dining room makeover at my parent’s house was the lamp.

I know it seems like a simple enough item, though everything appropriate I came across was just soooo expensive. I think the main problem was my aversion to anything super trendy. Not that there’s anything wrong with trendy. I was just after something a little bit different for this space.

Sadly though, “different” seems to come with a relatively hefty pricetag.

At one stage I contemplated DIY’ing an earthy branch lamp (even pinched, ah, I mean borrowed, a felled limb from a local reserve) though in the end it didn’t seem quite right.

So, when it became apparent, just a few days ago, that this illusive lamp was actually now the final piece in the “new” room puzzle, it was time to bite the bullet and get decisive already!

I started looking through my stash of collected goodies for a solution and came across this old thrifted lamp…

Lamp Makeover - Before

I picked this baby up for just $5 almost a year ago.
In a retro/mid-century modern interior it would look lovely as is however I bought it because I liked the classic shape and appealing proportions.

Hmmm, this could maybe work. It had the right scale and form. All it needed was a new shade and a fresh coat of paint.

This was one of those super quick and easy makeovers.

I simply gave the lamp a clean then popped a few cotton balls in the globe socket and masked the power prongs (to protect the electrical components from any over-spray) then hit the entire lamp, cord and all, with a few light coats of matte black spray paint.

To finish I added a simple linen shade ($10 from Target).

DIY Lamp Makeover

I know this isn’t the most spectacular makeover, though it was easy, affordable and incredibly transformative.

DIY Spray Painted Lamp

And sometimes quick little projects like this are the most inspiring.

Lamp Makeover

Now, with the inclusion of the “new” lamp the living-dining room makeover is finally complete! I still need to style the space properly though should be able to share the full reveal in the next week or two. Yay!


You can catch up on all posts about the room makeover here.

Lamp Makeover Before and After

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Painting & Stenciling a Floor

How to Stencil a Floor

This project has been on my “to do” list for waaaaay too long.

Over three years ago now we ripped up the terrible old carpet in my parent’s retreat (“retreat” sounds super fancy though it’s really just a modest sitting room adjoining their master bedroom) then pondered what we could do to cheaply and easily jazz-up the ugly sub-floor.

Floor Before

How to Stencil a Floor Before

Sub-floors are commonly plywood though ours was particle board (yellow tongue).
Oh, and please excuse the messy nature of the before pics! I didn’t anticipate I would be sharing them on my blog when I took those photos over three years ago!

I was so excited when my mum actually okayed painting it. Ah, the possibilities!

Long story short, at the time things were busy so we opted for something quick – a plain white base with simple green stripes.

It looked fine, though was never quite right for the space. Sometimes “fine” is perfectly okay, though in this case I felt the need to take it up a notch. Plus, I just wanted to have some creative fun!

So, around a year later I started looking into alternatives, and fell in love with a geometric trellis stencil I found on Etsy. If you follow me closely, you might recognise it from this Ikea curtain hack. Sadly, that particular stencil is no longer available however you can find similar ones if you search for “trellis stencil” or “moroccan stencil”.

Don’t ask me why it then took another two years to actually get around to re-doing the floor. I guess these ideas just need to marinate…for exceptionally long periods…in my case.

Anyhoo, I got there in the end, right? And it looks awesome (if I do say so myself)!

If you’ve ever wanted to paint your floor, here’s the process we used…

Although this time around we weren’t starting from scratch for the purpose of this tutorial I’ll detail everything from the beginning. 
As mentioned above, our floor was particle board. You may need/want to tailor my specified products to suit your particular substrate. 

How to Stencil a Floor - Prep


Basically, you just need to ensure that your floor is clean, smooth, even and ready to accept paint.

Depending on your substrate and how fussy you want to be, the type and degree of prep may differ. As mentioned earlier, our sub-floor was particle board (yellow tongue). This accepts most regular paints. It has an inherent ripply texture which we were happy to embrace and there are also a few subtle join lines though nothing major enough to warrant patching.  If your floor has large divots, obvious gaps or is just plain uneven, you may want to fill areas first using some purpose caulk.

We simply lightly sanded, vacuumed thoroughly then applied one coat of primer (Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Primer, Sealer & Undercoat) to help block stains, boost coverage and assist the base paint to adhere.

Painting a floor is much like painting a wall. We cut in around the edges first using a brush, then filled the rest using a fine nap roller.


DIY Stenciled Floor Paint


This is where you apply the base colour for your stencil.

You can get all types of fancy specialty paints, however we simply used regular wall paint (Accent Premium Low-Sheen in “Natural White” by Dulux). We applied two coats in the same fashion as the primer; cutting in with a brush around the edges first, then filling the rest using a fine nap roller.

Note: No matter how well you clean the floor and isolate the room, you’ll probably notice that fresh dust, hairs, small insects and other fine particles will magically appear to be smooshed in with your paint. Just keep a damp cloth on hand to wipe them away or pick them up as needed.


How to Stencil a Floor


The cool (and potentially fiddly) bit!

Getting started can feel daunting though the best advice I can offer is to think about your pattern placement then just go for it – in a careful, considered kinda way. It’s only paint so you can always re-do any major stuff-ups. Just remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect to look great.

To begin with we laid down the stencil at our desired starting point, making sure it was nice and straight, before taping the corners to avoid accidental shifting. Next, I evenly primed a small dense foam roller with regular acrylic wall paint (in a custom colour I mixed-up using left-overs we already had) before off-loading any excess on a folded old bed sheet. Then I began painting. Once one pass of the stencil was complete, I lifted it carefully then realigned it, making sure it was still straight and square. Then I taped it down once more and proceeded to paint the next area, continuing in this manner until the entire floor was complete.

The edges are a little tricky. The corners are especially hard. You can flex the stencil to almost 90 degrees however you don’t want to crease it. There are a few different ways you can tackle the edges however I found that it worked well to use a long narrow implement (such as a window squeegee, plaster float or simply a rigid sheet of card) to push the stencil into the edge and then a stencil brush to stipple up to the implement as best as possible. If you’re fortunate enough to have a second person as a helper, it does make things easier. You will almost certainly still have to hand fill some areas though if you take your time it won’t detract from the overall design.

Note: If you’re not sure where to start looking for stencils, simply have a Google around. eBay and Etsy are both great sources. As mentioned earlier, my particular stencil has now been discontinued however you can find similar ones if you search for “trellis stencil” or “moroccan stencil”.

Note: When deciding where to begin, keep in mind that the room may not be entirely square and try to avoid leaving slivers at the edges as these are hard to fill and can make the design look stunted. We started stenciling at the entrance and along under the widow to ensure the most visible area of flooring would look neat and square. You can measure and mark if you’re not confident with repositioning the stencil by eye and for a large room I would probably recommend this. Smaller spaces are a little more forgiving and there is some wriggle room for adjusting things if they start to get off-track.

Tip: I found that the paint dried super fast so didn’t notice any issues with smudging though you can use a hairdryer before lifting your stencil if you’re experiencing paint transference problems.


Non Yellowing Floor Sealer


To protect the paint, provide a subtle finishing sheen and make cleaning easier, we sealed our floor with three coats of clear acrylic (Cabot’s CFP Floor in Satin).

We first ensured the floor was clean of dust and marks, then applied the sealer in the same manner as the primer and base paint; cutting in around the edges first with a brush then rolling the rest using a fine nap roller.

If you use a specialty floor paint with a built-in sealer, you may not need to worry about this step.

Note: Most sealers will yellow over time to some extent, though some are by far worse than others. Do a bit of research, ask an expert and choose carefully.

Tip: As with the base coat, you will probably notice fresh specks of dust and hairs when applying the clear sealer so keep a damp rag on hand to wipe them away as required.

DIY Stenciled Floor Tutorial

DIY Painted Sub-Floor Tutorial

And that’s it! As you’ve probably garnered, painting a floor is really not that different to painting a wall. The main difference is ensuring the finish is durable enough to withstand use and can be easily cleaned. Definitely a DIY anyone can have a go at!

How to Paint and Stencil your Sub-Floor

As soon as I complete my parent’s living room (which should happen some time in the next week or two!) I will get onto finishing and sharing this space too.



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