Living-Dining Room Makeover | A New Lighting Scheme

This post is sponsored by Beacon Lighting.

When it comes to room makeovers, I generally like to work with what I have.

This means leaving well enough alone – using cosmetic enhancements and avoiding the possible mess, expense and hassle of disturbing anything “fixed”. There’s lots to love about this simple form of room transformation. It’s usually very achievable and super rewarding. And from my perspective as a blogger, I think it’s relatable for my readers. Unfortunately though, it’s not always possible.

Sometimes things simply aren’t “well enough”.

Such was the case with the weird lighting configuration in my parent’s open plan living-dining room. I knew straight away it had to go.

I’m not sure what the architect was thinking back in 1969, though the asymmetrical triangle arrangement was doing nothing to compliment this long-ish, narrow-ish room…

Lighting Configuration Before

To help define the two zones we were introducing, a fresh configuration was needed. So, we decided to position one feature pendant over the dining table and simple downlights in the living area.

Lighting Configuration Rendering

Concept rendering (taken from the opposite end of the room as the before shot above). 

Downlights are perfect for when you already have a statement fixture nearby. They are incredibly discreet and “clean” so won’t fight for attention and are so subtle they can fit into a myriad of interior schemes…

White Downlights

Brass Downlights

We went with LED downlights from Beacon Lighting which are available in seemingly endless options, from fixture style to wattage, to brightness (lumens) to colour temperature and even beam angle. Because there are so many choices, selecting the right LED downlights can seem daunting. Fortunately, Beacon provides really great information about all the specification variants to make choosing easy.

Of course, variety is not the only thing going for LED lighting. I’m sure I don’t need to stress the energy efficiency and longevity of LED ceiling lights. They use up to 85% less energy than halogens or incandescents and can last as much as 44,000 hours longer! Yes, 44,000! That’s around 20 years!

We switched out our kitchen downlights for LED’s from Beacon Lighting quite a few years back after we got sick of blown bulbs and ascending power bills. We have not had to change one of our LED light bulbs since and, teamed with our solar panels, our power bills have never looked better!

For my parent’s living room we went with dimmable LED lights (the previous lights were on a dimmer which mum and dad used daily so it only made sense to retain this function).

They work amazingly well and have a much broader brightness range than the previous lights did. We also went with a plain white casing to co-ordinate with the ceiling and a “Warm White” colour temperature to produce a toasty and inviting glow.


Gallery wall sneak peek!

Getting rid of that strange triangle configuration and installing these simple LED downlights really helps makes the room feel like a nice blank canvas.

LED Downlights On

Fresh, clean and versatile.

I’ll be sure to share some wider angle shots when the whole room is complete.

Soooo, on with the “paint” next (oh, I should probably explain that by “paint” I mean “furniture and decor” as we are not changing the colour scheme. Please excuse my poor attempt at a clever metaphor and this ensuing explanation which has pretty much rendered it pointless anyways :)


View Beacon’s entire range of energy efficient LED lighting here.

PS Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately. I’ve been busy working hard on an exciting new project I’ll share further details about soon!

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Linen Dresser Makeover

Grey Dresser

It feels like ages since I’ve put paintbrush to furniture.

In fact, I’d even forgotten just how therapeutic it can be!

If you’ve been following along with the makeover of my parent’s living-dining room then you’ll probably know the back-story to this dresser.

Dresser Before

Sorry, not the greatest pic (taken from the eBay listing).

For anyone new here, and just to re-cap, I bought this baby from eBay for $80. I love old wood and generally shy away from painting anything with lots of natural character so it took me a while to find something antique in style which I was also willing to paint. Although far from new, I actually believe this dresser is a reproduction of sorts, possibly crafted by a home handyman.

I do like the warm pine of this piece, however knew I needed to re-finish it in a light neutral to help break-up all the wood already in the space. For a while I struggled with which sort of neutral exactly though…white, cream, grey, beige? Eventually, I decided to take my cue from the armchairs in the living room. Drawing the colour of their linen back into the dining space should not only help to keep the overall scheme consistent though should also create a gentle link between the two zones.

Dresser with Armchair

This was one of those no-fuss kinda makeovers.

Dresser Makeover | The Painted Hive

Check out my new massive green demijohn – always wanted one!

I used some left over acrylic wall paint we already had to mix up a warm grey-green (Dulux ‘Alpine Summer’ and ‘Amazon Vine’ are similar to my custom colour). I then simply removed the handles (and patched their holes), lightly sanded the dresser and slapped on two coats of paint.

No primer. No sealer.

Scientific Flask | The Painted Hive

The original metal drop handles were fine though for a more primitive look we replaced them with inexpensive wooden knobs (hence my need to patch the holes). We also polished-up the brass keyholes so they contrast nicely.

Brass Keyhole

If you follow me socially, you may already have heard this little story, though as I was shopping my parent’s house, gathering pretty jars and bottles to style the finished dresser, I remarked to mum that she had a heap of glassware.

She looked at me strangely.

“What?” she replied. “Only one of those is actually mine”.

I looked over the collection more carefully and, sure enough, all but one belonged to me!

I have a habit of buying inexpensive pretty things (mostly glassware it would appear!), then finding I have nowhere to display them in my little house – at least, not all at once – so tend to rotate my decor through my parent’s larger home.

Seems I had forgotten just how much stuff I actually have!

Bottles and Ferns | The Painted Hive

Like I already mentioned, this piece was fine as is. I just needed to change it up to better fit with our overall scheme for the room.

Dresser Before and After

We’re getting so close to finishing this space now. I’m a tad excited!

Dresser Redo Dog




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Living-Dining Room Makeover | New Decisions and More Finds

This space is really getting there now!

Over the last few weeks we’ve been chipping away at the diminishing ‘to do’ list. There are still a few projects to cross off though we have acquired pretty much everything we need!

So here’s where we’re at…

If you need to catch up you can check out my last progress post here.

I found an old dresser for the dining room on eBay for $80…

Antique Style Dresser Before

Photo from the eBay listing.

Although it’s fine as is, we’re going to switch out the Queen Anne hardware for inexpensive chunky wooden knobs and paint the whole thing in a warm greenish grey to bring the colour of the linen armchairs back into the dining area and help break up all the wood.

I love beautiful aged timber so struggled to find an old piece I wasn’t opposed to painting. This dresser, although very well built and antique in style, appears to be a reproduction of sorts so the wood actually looks quite new.


We finally made a decision on the pendant light for above the dining table.

You might remember from my last post that the chandelier I originally bought was advertised with inaccurate dimensions. Unfortunately, it was quite a bit larger than we really wanted and although I think it still could have worked, I knew mum and dad weren’t that keen on it.

So I started browsing for an alternative, not really knowing what I wanted, when I happened to come across this pendant on eBay…

Modern Industrial Box Pendant

I’ve loved this style of light for ages now. They are generally priced between $300 – $800 though this brand new one was just $170 with free shipping – SOLD! I bought it from this eBay store. Unfortunately these particular pendants appear to be sold out at the moment though this seller does have some other cool and affordable lights to check out.

We’ll hang onto the original chandelier for a future room makeover.


We bought some curtains. The LENDA (in beige) from Ikea…

Ikea Lenda Curtains

This pic makes them look a little dated though we’ll be replacing the tabs with rings and won’t be using any tie-backs. We’re also going to stencil on a subtle geometric pattern in off-white. This will just add a dash of interest and provide some relief from the solid beige.


We also bought a rug. The LOHALS from Ikea as originally intended…


LOVE it!


Some decisions about the artwork have also been made.

Remember how I was contemplating using one large statement piece above the couch…

Concept Rendering

We came to the conclusion that a gallery would work better there. We’re going to use a collection of thrifted frames (in golds and blacks) which we already own and, as per my blog post here, a series of simple botanical illustrations…

Free Printable Wall Art Plant Illustrations | The Painted Hive

Check out my blog post to download these high resolution images for yourself!

The hint of green should add some freshness and tie-in with any plants we use in the room.

Although I was happy about our decision to go with a gallery, I wasn’t completely happy about losing the over-sized art. I just really wanted that punch! So I am still going to try incorporating something big. This time on the expanse of blank wall between the fireplace and the sliding door…

3D Interior Design Concept Rendering

As this space is more conducive to a portrait oriented artwork I searched around (again) for a new image to use. Eventually I decided on this gorgeous natural history illustration by ornithologist John Gould…

Sheehan Falcons John Gould

It features a pair of beautiful Shaheen Falcons and has the unexpected, masculine edge I’m after. I found it as a free large-scale download here on the Biodiversity Heritage Libray website. I’m planning to edit it a little (mainly to soften the colouring), have it professionally printed (this shouldn’t cost much more than $40) and then frame it myself. I’ll be sure to post a full tutorial when I get the project complete.


I bought a table to sit beside the couch.

You might recall that I was having difficulty finding something appropriate due to wanting a piece with odd proportions (something tallish yet not too deep or wide).

Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled across this antique beverage trolley on eBay for just $50 and thought it could work…

Tea Trolley

Photo from the eBay listing.

It’s a bit of a mix between art deco and jacobean. I love the slight quirk of it with its large original castors and reeded feet. The shelf is handy too as it allows for storage (something mum really wanted). It’s perhaps a little larger than I wanted though its dual drop leaves provide flexibility in terms of size and shape.

My original idea was to paint it a light colour to, once again, help contrast with the browns in the room and brighten-up the space. Though mum and dad both really like the wood so we are going to try stripping back the dark varnish and possibly white waxing it. We’ll see.


Finally, I found a cute little antique stool to sit between the armchairs…

Antique Piano Stool

I was looking for something quite primitive and rustic, like an antique elm stool (love!), though I couldn’t find a second-hand one and all the brand new ones were soooo pricey.

I figured this adjustable height piano stool was equally cute. As you can see it is absolutely charming though the top is completely destroyed. No matter. I plan to simply cover it with an inexpensive round bread board – easy! I found it on eBay for around $30. I think I might stain it walnut to contrast with the linen armchairs and all the other honey-toned timber in the room.


So, that’s it for now. Like I said, we are almost there!

What do you guys think. As always, I’m super open to hearing any ideas :)


If you missed my first few posts about the living-dining room makeover you can find them here…
Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Progress and Pieces


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Free Scientific Plant Printables…and an awesome new source

I bookmarked an amazing site a few years ago though only got around to checking it out properly just recently.

It’s called Plant Illustrations and, as the name suggests, is an extensive online catalogue of public domain scientific plant illustrations scanned from old books.

One of the great things about this site is its search function which allows you to find a specific plant with ease. The greatest thing about this site however is the fact that only illustrations are returned. So there’s no clicking and hoping or wading through page after page of book text to find the good stuff!

And the selection is HUGE! Most illustrations are offered in large format and whilst the scan quality does vary there are so many to choose from you’re bound to find what you’re after.



1 Enter a vernacular or scientific plant name in the corresponding search box on the top right of the site (or browse by one of the categories listed below the search boxes).

2 A list of relevant plants will be returned (a handy feature is the “Number of Illustrations” category on the far right which tells you how many images there are for each plant).

3 Select a plant to browse all illustrations.

4 Once you find an image you like, click it to be taken to its source page.

5 Click the “Full Size” link in the left sidebar to open the large scale version of the illustration.

6 Once open, click the illustration to enlarge it to its maximum size then right click and save it to your computer.

Note: The source page also includes a publication title (second from the top in the left sidebar). This link opens a new page containing all illustrations from that associated book. This can be helpful if you find an illustration you’re particularly fond of as the book may contain similar ones.

Tip: You can also search by artist (click the “Artists” tab in the header). So, once you find a particular illustration you adore, take note of the artist’s name to discover works of similar style.


Once you download your images, you may need or want to customise them a little. If you’re unsure how to go about this be sure to check out my Free Printables series which covers everything you need to know.

I’ve just finished editing a series of simple greenery to fill frames for a gallery wall we’ve decided to install above the couch in my parent’s living room (yep, we’re not going with one big piece of art there anymore). I thought it would be nice to share them with all of you  :)

Ten Free Printable Scientific Plant Illustrations | The Painted Hive

Download Free Printables


Although we are creating a slightly eclectic gallery using a selection of frames in different sizes, for consistency I have scaled these ten images to fit standard A4/Letter sized paper (with a slight border).

Of course, you can always re-size the images to fit smaller or larger frames. Just be aware that over-enlarging can cause blurriness or pixelation – a great alternative is to use big mattes.

Although I did digitally enhanced and tidy-up the images a little, I have kept most of the imperfections. I also deliberately left the background colours slightly different and chose illustrations which varied in scale and design.

Free Printable Wall Art Plant Illustrations | The Painted Hive

I think these slight inconsistencies give them an interesting edge, yet the overall feel is still quite cohesive.

I printed my images at home using my Canon printer however you could opt to have yours professionally printed.

I hope you enjoy them!


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A Restored Farmhouse Table

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m A LOT in love with this table.

With its cute castor wheels….

Antique Castor Wheel

With its gorgeous turned legs….

Turned Table Legs

With its charming original hand crank…

Antique Hand Crank

With its dents and dings and dimples which tell the story of its life….

Antique Farmhouse Table

And, maybe most so, with its wide kauri pine panels whose mild separation over time now flaunt the obvious spanning joins of charismatic farmhouse planks.

As mentioned in my last post about the living-dining room makeover I’m working on for my parents, I found this old table on eBay for just $80.

Farmhouse Table Before

Sorry, terrible pic taken from the eBay listing.

The seller, who had begun restoring it, acquired the table from relatives of the original owners who had personally commissioned its construction back in the early 1900’s! Doesn’t knowing the history of a piece just make it that much better? He informed us that this antique farmhouse table had graced the dining room of a family homestead in country Victoria for over 100 years!

Despite some effort, it was still in need of quite a bit of work. I would love to take credit for this refurbishment, though all praise needs to be directed to my dad who spent four weeks (on-and-off) revitalising this baby.

All the timber was taken back to raw (though not back to “new”), some small structural repairs were made, then the table was drenched in danish oil. I’ve worked with danish oil extensively in the past and know from experience that depending on the application either a soft lustre or glossy sheen can be achieved. I was a little worried the natural raw quality of the timber might be lost though I think dad got just the right amount of shine. The table now walks that perfect line between rustic and refined.

Although a typical eight seater (including the extension leaf which will be left in permanently) six of our eight cross-backed chairs seem to fit more comfortably so we’ll leave two in an adjoining room to be pulled up as required.

I’m still yet to source a small cabinet or dresser to complete the dining space though I do have my eye on a few. Oh, and we’ve made a decision about the pendant light. I’ll share more deets soon!


Sorry for the cheeky sneak peeks – I don’t mean to tease. The table in its entirety will be revealed once the room is complete :)

If you missed my first few posts about the living-dining room makeover you can find them here…
Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Progress and Pieces




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