Re-Love Project…before and after

Laminate Armoire Transformed with DIY Wood "Tiling" | The Painted Hive

I’m so excited to finally share this!

If you’re not new here, you’re probably aware of my involvement in the Re-Love Project and what it’s all about. For those of you who don’t know, in short it’s a Feast Watson campaign in collaboration with Salvos Stores which sees eight design personalities “re-love” a neglected item of furniture with the resulting pieces being auctioned for charity. Pretty cool, huh? You can read my first post about it here and learn more on the Feast Watson website here.

It’s such a wonderful campaign, and is bigger and better than ever this year, which I’m thrilled to be involved with alongside some pretty impressive peeps!

Anyhoo, as revealed in my previous post about the project, I started with this basic melamine wardrobe which I picked up for $50…

Feast Watson Re-Love Project Before

Rather than take on a sympathetic restoration, I wanted to challenge myself to completely re-imagine something very ubiquitous in the hope of inspiring others to think a bit sideways. I’m sure many of you guys have an item like this languishing away in a dark corner somewhere. Or maybe you’ve frequently passed up similar pieces in charity stores or at garage sales. They do come across as rather potential-less.

Well, despite a few hiccups along the way, numerous vision adaptations and those customary moments of self-doubt (I really didn’t think I was going to pull this one off!), things actually worked out in the end and I’m stoked with the result! I think – I’ve been staring at if for too long now.

The mid-century modern mood of this piece is a departure from my usual farmhouse-y style which made for a slightly ambitious, yet fun, creative challenge. I’m under no illusion this is a piece for everyone though am hopeful the basic principle of the make-over sparks a few ideas. The possibilities are almost endless!

So, here’s how the whole thing went down…



I know this goes without saying, though to begin with I gave everything a really good clean, took off the doors, pulled out the drawers and removed all the hardware.

Note: I failed to do this, though before removing the doors it would have been beneficial to measure the gap between them and the gap where they meet the drawers. This just would have saved me some guesswork whilst I was attaching the hexagons in terms of allowing for any negative space. Also, it’s a good idea to mark the doors as left and right. My doors were identical though sometimes they have individual quirks and need to be hung a particular way.


Sides, Base & Top

To give the hexagons a nice frame of sorts I decided to add a new over-hanging top and base (I was also going to add side cladding though decided against it in the end).

First I needed to lose the ugly toe-kick. This can either be filled or removed entirely. For ease I opted to simply cut mine off using our plunge track saw (you could also use a jigsaw or circular saw).

Cutting Off the Toe Kick

To create the new base and top, I cut two identical panels from basic ply sheet (if you don’t have the right tools, or if you’re not confident with cutting timber, you could have it trimmed to size at the hardware store). Next I sanded them thoroughly, finishing with fine grit paper for a nice smooth finish, then sprayed them black (Dulux Duramax in Flat Black).

Mid Century Modern Wardrobe Makeover

For the wardrobe sides, I first counter-sunk the visible screws and filled the holes.

Counter-Sinking the Screw Heads

I then sanded down the sides thoroughly using an orbital palm sander and heavy grit paper.

Sanding Melamine

Melamine is slick and shiny so thorough sanding is required to ensure any topical application adheres well. I also noticed that using coarse paper created a subtle texture which, once painted, gave the melamine the look of timber! I taped off the wardrobe as necessary to avoid over-spray then painted the sides black to match the top and base.

Spray Painting Laminate

To attach the new top to the wardrobe I first smothered the panel with liquid nails, clamped it in place as best I could, drilled some small pilot holes then screwed it down from the inside of the wardrobe.

Before attaching the base to the wardrobe, the new feet (see below) were connected first. The wardrobe was then lifted on top and maneuvered into position. Once again I then drilled some pilot holes and screwed the base on from inside the wardrobe. To give the base added strength extra long screws were also drilled through each foot.

Attaching a New Top and Base to Furniture

Note: I originally planned to use white paint to create a modern Scandi look (which is super popular at the moment) though something about it just didn’t gel. Black simply worked better with the rich wood tones, tying-in beautifully with the darker hexagons and creating a more resolved finish. I was also tempted by the idea of navy blue, which I think could have looked really beautiful, though for the sake of the charity auction I wanted to keep things neutral to appeal to more buyers.



Now, I will admit, we went kinda fancy with our feet. Saying that, it wasn’t difficult, it just wasn’t the fastest and easiest option. I know many of you probably don’t want the hassle of making your own feet (which is understandable – I fought the idea for a few weeks!). As an alternative you can buy quite reasonably priced ready to attach ones. If you would like to have a go at making your own, like I mentioned, it’s really not that hard and is super affordable – plus you can create something completely custom!

I started by working out the general shape I wanted then cutting four identical feet from cheap framing pine (commonly known as 2×4) using our drop saw.

DIY Mid Century Furniture Feet

I then cut some lengths of pine to form a connecting frame (two long lengths for the front and rear, and two shorter lengths for the sides). Next I biscuit joined (if you don’t have a biscuit joiner you could screw and dowel) the feet to the long lengths of pine (sorry, I didn’t get a pic of this though you can imagine the two longer lengths of pine with feet at either end – refer to the below pic of the finished frame for a visual) and clamped them in place.

Biscuit Joining Feet

Once set, they were then biscuit joined to the shorter lengths of pine to form the complete frame.

DIY Custom Mid Century Modern Furniture Feet

Once set, I gave the entire thing a really good sand before staining it (Feast Watson Prooftint in Oak) and sealing it (three coats of Feast Watson Scandinavian Oil).

Staining the Base

It was then attached to the new base panel with glue and screws before being connected to the wardrobe (see above).

Note: This wardrobe is HEAVY and it was really important that the new feet were structurally capable, especially given they are angled so have outward force. I was tempted to forgo the joinery step and simply glue and screw everything directly to the base though this wouldn’t have provided the bracing strength needed. For a more lightweight item of furniture you could get away with it though.



My initial inspiration for this project came from a hexagonal garden screen I saw in a hardware store one day. Don’t ask me how I went from metal fretwork screen to timber mosaic wardrobe though it somehow set the wheels in motion.

Of course, this process is essentially parquetry which is a century old technique. I like to think of it more as wood tiling – at least that’s how it felt – and the design possibilities are almost endless!

Note: I did play around with some other shapes and patterns though decided to stick with my original hexagonal design because based on some research I did apparently it’s quite unique (parquetry-wise) and is also bang on trend at the moment. I’d like to experiment with different patterns and more rustic tones in the future.

I wanted this to be an appealing DIY. The type of project that really inspires others to have a go. I figured that hand-cutting a gazillion little shapes wasn’t that appealing so I went about sourcing some ready-made ones (you could fabricate your own from sheets of ply or veneer – especially if your design is quite simple). I assumed that affordable wooden shapes would be easy to find…ah, not so much. These things are pricey! After loads of research my only option was buying in bulk from China. Fortunately, I actually needed a bulk amount. I obtained 2mm thick x 80mm wide raw ply hexagons from this Alibaba seller at 12 cents a piece – bargain. I ordered 500 and used around 350. I found this seller really great to deal with and they can create custom shapes at custom sizes. Ah, the possibilities! I already have another idea brewing!

From the beginning my vision for the cladding was a multi-toned mosaic in warm honey tones, reflecting the honeycomb nature of the pattern (by sheer co-incidence it ties in nicely with my blog theme too!). I only used two different stains (Feast Watson Prooftint in Golden Teak and Feast Watson Prooftint in Oak) along with a colour reducer (Feast Watson Prooftint Colour Reducer) yet I created numerous shades by mixing different quantities together and applying either generously or sparingly. I hand-stained each hexagon, dipping my brush from colour to colour and coating each shape to achieve random tones. It sounds very tedious though was surprisingly quick and quite therapeutic!

Staining the Hexagons

Once all of my hexagons were stained it was time to get “tiling”! I started with a wardrobe door. First I drew a rough grid on the door (just to provide a general guide) then after some careful contemplation I began gluing the hexagons down. I started center bottom and after some trial and error, worked out the best method was to brush some glue on the rear of a hexagon, stick it down then move on to the next one. Clamping is crucial as the thin ply warps due to the moisture in the glue. My system was to complete a small portion, clamp it, work on the next section whilst the glue set (around 20 minutes) then move the clamp up. For greater efficiency, I clamped two areas at a time, using two narrow planks of wood and four clamps (two clamps per plank). This allowed me to work continuously until the door was complete!

Attaching Hexagon Parquetry

I then repeated the process with the other door and the drawers.

Note: Prior to attaching any hexagons, it was imperative to first work out where they would join in the middle, where they would meet at the base (with the drawers) and what type of over-hang there would be at the sides and top. This didn’t need to be super precise (I eventually just had to go for it because my brain starting hurting and Christmas was coming!) though it was beneficial to get a good idea of how they would “fit” to avoid the need for any unsightly slivers or obvious mis-matching.

Due to the nature of the hexagonal pattern, there is quite a bit of over-hang. I experimented with two methods of dealing with this; 1) gluing full hexagons on then trimming away any excess with a jigsaw, and 2) pre-cutting the hexagons to fit using my Moto-Saw. I found both methods to be effective though they each had their pros and cons. Using full hexagons was best for areas where only a small portion required trimming off, though I did find that even with careful cutting the jigsaw vibrations caused some minor chipping. Pre-cutting was best when only a small portion of the hexagon was required, though I did need to ensure there was still a minor over-hang which could be sanded flush. If I had to choose just one method, I would go with pre-cutting. It sounds laborious, though it wasn’t that bad plus I was able to use the off-cuts I created as I worked.

Trimming the Hexagons

Once the doors and drawers were completely clad and any over-hang was roughly trimmed, I used a sanding block to sand all of the edges flush (you could use a powered sander).

Sanding the Hexagons

I was concerned this would be difficult and that the hexagons wouldn’t appear straight (one of the reasons I chose not to do this on a tabletop), though the thin ply is incredibly soft and easy to sand so it was actually really simple to achieve perfect lines (tabletop here I come!).

To finish, I sealed the hexagons (around six coats of Feast Watson Scandinavian Oil).

Sealing the Hexagons

This not only provided a beautiful natural lustre though also worked to meld the hexagons by filling any minor gaps. It’s kinda like the grout of this weird wood tiling world…kinda.


Finishing Touches

To complete the overall look, I added a glamorous pop of gold to the rear of the doors with some spray paint (Dulux Duramax Bright Finish in Gold) and replaced the existing hanging rod with a brass one (see pic below) to co-ordinate.

Gold Spray

I also used some black craft paint to finish the visible sides of the doors and drawers along with the front-facing edge of the wardrobe frame (to tie-in with the body of the wardrobe).

Painting the Edges

The handles gave me grief! From the beginning I envisioned simple brass bar pulls though I couldn’t find them anywhere in Australia! And I looked EVERYWHERE! I couldn’t even find what I wanted within my budget on eBay, Alibaba, AliExpress, IndiaMart, Etsy and numerous other international sites. Having handles dipped was going to be way too pricey so I almost resigned myself to buying some chrome ones and spray painting them (a solution I wasn’t thrilled with given this item would be on-sold and the chance of the paint chipping was high). As a last resort I decided to turn to the US. I knew they would have the handles I was after (you guys have everything :-) though from past experience I wasn’t confident about the affordability of shipping. Fortunately, I happened to come across an online store which was not only willing to ship cheaply via USPS though also had the handles on sale – yay! If you’re interested I found them here ($8 each on sale). I initially wanted longer ones in blingy polished brass though am really happy with the look of these.

Brass Bar Handles | The Painted Hive

Originally, the doors were out of alignment. I was a bit concerned that when I re-hung them I wouldn’t be able to get them level. Thankfully, the recessed hinges are adjustable so I could square them up perfectly. This is something to keep in mind when looking at second-hand furniture. Mis-aligned doors can be off-putting though if the hinges are adjustable they probably just need a bit of tweaking.

Aaaaaaand, that’s how you turn a melamine piece of furniture on its head!

Mid-Century Modern Laminate Wardrobe Makeover | The Painted Hive

DIY Hexagon Armoire Interior with a Pop of Gold | The Painted Hive

I love all the random grain directions. I’m also really happy with the way the sprinkle of both extra light and dark hexagons gives the pattern added definition. That was my plan though I had no idea it was actually going to work!

DIY Hexagon Parquetry Wardrobe | The Painted Hive

Melamine Wardrobe Makeover using Hexagon Parquetry | The Painted Hive

Melamine Wardrobe Makeover using Hexagon Parquetry | The Painted Hive

All up this project cost me around $200. I know that’s not super cheap though I also happen to know that this exact wardrobe, in its before state, retails for $300 new! So, for $300 you can have a generic wardrobe from the furniture store OR for $200 you can pick up a second-hand one and – with some elbow grease and imagination – have something completely unique.

Laminate Wardrobe Hack | The Painted Hive

I think I know which one I prefer.

The photos really don’t do this baby justice. On the day I did the shoot it was really dark and gloomy so getting a nice bright shot was tricky.

Here are the before and afters…

DIY Parquetry Laminate Armoire | The Painted Hive

DIY Hexagon Armoire Makeover | The Painted Hive


I hope you guys like it! That said, I do know what some of you are probably thinking; “Why bother doing all that with a cheap ugly flat pack?”. Allow me to explain…

I wanted this to be a BIG transformation. Sure, I could have started with a nice timber piece, though my thinking was, why completely transform something that’s already nice? Nice things don’t need complete overhauls, they just need a little love. Also, nice timber pieces aren’t that plentiful or affordable. Sure, you might get lucky though I know for a fact that cheap ugly flat packs are EVERYWHERE and I was on a tight budget and dead-line for this project. I think using something ubiquitous makes this project much more “real” and replicable. The wardobe is strong and sturdy and isn’t about to fall apart.

I also know that some of you are probably thinking; “For that amount of work why not just build the wardrobe from scratch?”. Again, allow me to explain…

Essentially, this was a glue and screw project. I’m good at those. It’s also the type of cosmetic DIY which I think most inspires my readers. If I built the wardrobe from scratch, I still would have had to “tile” it. Constructing it just would have cost a lot more money and taken a lot more time, not to mention stress (joinery isn’t my strong suit). On top of that, of course the whole idea behind this campaign is to demonstrate how old furniture can be re-loved. As a massive bonus I also got to save it from land-fill – yay!

I’m happy to admit I did go to extra lengths to create something special here as this piece will be auctioned off for charity. Not only did it have to look proper, it actually had to be proper (I don’t want the legs breaking off in two months time!). As far as furniture make-overs go, this was a somewhat involved one, though nothing about it was difficult. The hardest aspect was actually all the figuring out, sourcing and troubleshooting due to the fact I was totally making things up as I went along! Hopefully my tutorial can save you some of the ‘figuring out’ though if found some of my processes a bit full-on, feel free to compromise away. I have mentioned simpler alternatives where possible. You don’t need to go to the same extreme to create an amazing parquet piece that you can feel proud of.

If anything, through this project I simply hope to encourage others to cock their head further, skew their lip harder and look that little bit longer at that seemingly “beyond help” piece of furniture. With a little ingenuity and some elbow grease you can affordably transform almost anything into something truly awesome!


Remember, along with the pieces of the other awesome designers involved with this campaign (be sure to check out their amazing before and afters here), this unique wardrobe is being sold for charity, so if you love it (or know someone else who would) be sure to stay tuned! The eBay auctions kick-off on July 8 and Ill be sure to post again once they go live. In addition, I’m excited to let you know that Feast Watson will be covering shipping costs Australia wide! How awesome is that? Of course, if you’re located outside Australia you are more than welcome to arrange your own freight.

C’mon guys, let’s share this around socially and work up some hype for the Salvos!

DY Hexagon Parquetry Armoire Tutorial | The Painted Hive



Metal Bentwood Chair Early Settler
Seaglass Demijohns Target
Fiddle Leaf Fig Basket Spotlight

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DIY Custom Underbed Storage Boxes

A few weeks ago I finally got to drag the mish-mash of plastic tubs and cardboard boxes out from under Charlotte’s bed and roll in some new, perfectly proportioned timber drawers instead.

DIY Underbed Storage Boxes | The Painted Hive

Although original said “mish-mash” was jammed in there pretty tightly the additional storage these custom-sized drawers provide is amazing!

When I first started planning the (sorely needed) under-bed storage for Charlotte’s room, I had two main requirements; 1) it had to be pretty – as it would be somewhat visible, and 2) it needed to make the absolute most of the available space – because, heaven knows, we need all the storage we can get! With that in mind my initial idea was simple cane baskets. Surely I’d be able to find some appropriately sized ones which didn’t cost one zillion dollars. Right? Failing that, I was confident about the prospect of hunting down something ugly (again, appropriately sized) which could at least be made more attractive. Right?

Ah, apparently not. I didn’t go crazy with my search though everything I found was either too small, too big or waaay too expensive. Frown.

Sooooo, given my lack of success I decided it was time to pull out the power tools!

Now, if you’re anything like me, creating from scratch is probably a last resort. I don’t know what it is exactly, maybe the additional time it sucks, the likelihood of stuffing up or just the plain ‘unknown’ of it all, though something about it can feel all too hard. In this case, though, after months of fruitless searching, I came to the conclusion that custom building was actually the easier option. And, thanks to our new precision tools, it really was!

Making Underbed Storage Boxes

I didn’t write a complete tutorial for these boxes because, well, they’re boxes (I’m sure there are a heap of great tutorials out there already). On top of that, my husband actually did the bulk of the construction work whilst I kept the kids out of his hair and he employed some fancy techniques way beyond my usual cut, glue and screw comfort zone :-)

The boxes are made from ply (my go to), have provisions for dividers and neat little rabbet jointed corners (yes, I did just have to Google that!).

DIY Wooden Storage Boxes

They also have recessed bases to accommodate clever spanning rollers – so they look like they actually rest on the floor though can be easily moved about.

DIY Underbed Storage Boxes Custom Rollers

Basic castors would suffice though I think my husband wanted to play around with our new tools. That’s probably part of the reason he went all fancy in the first place!

I went for three boxes so they aren’t overly heavy and can be maneuvered around one another and any overlapping furniture (a must given the tiny scale of the room).

I haven’t added handles or anything yet, and am not sure if I will. Aesthetically it would kinda be pointless as when they’re in place only the very bottoms are visible, and from a practical perspective it’s easy enough to reach under the valance, grab the top of a box and pull it out. Speaking of the valance, it’s a simple DIY made from an inexpensive linen-look tablecloth. We needed something to cover the metal bed rail and some ugly exposed brackets and although I really liked the idea of using a wooden rail I didn’t want something solid which would restrict storage height. Having a flexible skirt ensures no vertical space is lost.

I have dreams of painting the box interiors with a fun pop of pink – maybe that will happen one day – though given the exteriors are visible I did stain and seal them for a nice, rich finish.

Underbed Storage Boxes

I used some left-over Feast Watson Brown Japan stain, which I initially thought was way too dark, though it mellowed out considerably when I applied some Scandinavian Oil (three coats) and it actually works really well with the existing antique dresser.

DIY Custom Underbed Stoage Boxes | The Painted Hive

I’m loving how finished these boxes are making the room finally feel. That said, there is still a ways to go. When I started decorating this space Charlotte wasn’t even two yet. Well, she’s four next month. Four! When did that happen? Of course, with the ascent of her age comes the emergence of “her”. As such, what was initially my solo vision of a relatively neutral and quite simple farmhouse style room has evolved into a collaborative concept which now accommodates her blossoming sense of self…and I love that! Truth is, I’m not smitten with the current feel anyway. It is pretty though perhaps a little too so, and all I keep thinking is how it would make a lovely guest room – for an adult. It definitely needs a bit more playfulness and spunk. Stay tuned!

Girl's Farmhouse Bedroom | The Painted Hive





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Bargain Finds, a Fiddle Leaf, Re-Loving and other stuff

I’m between big projects at the moment (aren’t I always?) though that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything fun to share right now.

If you read my last post, or if you follow me through social media, you probably already know that I just joined Instagram. Finally!

The community is so awesome and I’ve found it surprisingly motivating in terms of house tweaking. The idea of sharing something new and different through a simple snap shot makes me way more excited than it probably should. Is that weird? Didn’t think so.

So, I’ve been happily playing vignettes and have even had fun buying some cute new budget-friendly accessories, a rarity for me at the moment.

A few weeks back I stumbled upon this fiddle leaf fig!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree | The Painted Hive

I know every man and his dog has one now though I’ve wanted one for a few years and figured that prolificity (yes, I just made that word up – it has five syllables and sounds very fancy) seemed like a silly reason not to get one. They are still gorgeous. And, as an added bonus this one cost less than two zillion dollars! For anyone interested this baby is around 80cm tall (floor to top) and was $45 from Wombat Gully Plant Farm in Geelong. I have no idea whether they still have any in stock so maybe ring ahead if you plan on dropping in there. The wicker basket was $22 (on sale) from Spotlight.

Have you guys seen some of the awesome homewares Kmart is rocking at the mo’?

Science Flask

I picked up this cool little conical flask for just $4.

And Target is doing okay too.

Vintage Vignette with Brass, Leather and Seagreen Demijohn | The Painted Hive

Couldn’t go past this gorgeous sea-green demijohn for only $15. Might have to go back and get more :) All of the other elements in this vignette are thrifted. The leather case holds vintage binoculars, the brass tray was a $4 market find (love!) and we all know I can’t style anything without some obligatory greenery – these unseasonal wattle sprays are just that bit different too.

And how about The Reject Shop? They have some really great buys in store for Mother’s Day.

Rose Gold Animal Heads | The Painted Hive

I snatched up these ceramic rose-gold animal heads for $7 each. They were supposed to be a gift though I hung them in my entryway to take some pics and now I adore them so much I think they might have to stay. Against my vintage wallpaper they’re just perfect!

Metallic Rosegold Animal Heads | The Painted Hive

And I absolutely fell in love with this leather strap lantern for $15 (from The Reject Shop too!).

Vintage Lantern Vignette | The Painted Hive

It would also make a really cute vase and I adore it even more after researching the price of some comparable ones…

Glass and Leather Lanterns

1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Huh? Crazy, right? I mean, I know I’m tight, though seriously?

If you follow me socially and have already seen all this then I apologise for the repetition. I wanted to share here for anyone who may have missed my social media posts and for those of you who simply don’t use social media. Plus, it’s just plain nice compiling everything in a lovely little blog post :)

In other news, my Re-Love Project piece is coming along nicely!

I don’t want to reveal too much just yet though I will say I’m stepping outside my comfort zone in terms of aesthetic. I hope the deviation from my usual style doesn’t disappoint you guys though I’m loving the creative challenge and freedom! I’ll share some sneak peeks in a future post soon.




PS Thanks so much to everyone who left a lovely little comment on my Houzz interview.

PPS I was also recently interviewed by Porch. You can check that fun article out here.



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Re-Love Project 2015

Do you guys remember this makeover from last year?

Boring Bedsides Transformed into Flat File Drawers | The Painted Hive

Well, I’m super excited to announce I am once again taking part in the Feast Watson Re-Love Project!

For anyone unfamiliar with the campaign, the Re-Love Project is a charitable collaboration between Feast Watson and Salvos Stores. The project follows eight design personalities as they each up-cycle an item of furniture into a unique statement piece. Things culminate in all completed pieces being auctioned for charity via eBay from 8 – 17 July.  Awesome!

It’s BIGGER and BETTER than ever this year.

Also, slightly more daunting.

You see, after such a positive response to my make-over last year, I was feeling the pressure. I even considered declining. Of course, that would have been plain stupid and I’m soooo glad I didn’t! On top of that though, the calibre of the designers this year is crazy good. The likes of Mark Tuckey, Tara Dennis, Deb Bibby…just to name a few. Industry icons people – gulp! As flattering as it is being named among such awesomeness, it’s also a tad intimidating for little Kristine Franklin from The Painted Hive. That said, it’s equally exhilarating so I’m gonna focus on that!

For those who don’t know, Feast Watson specialise in premium wood finishes, so the furniture “re-loves” must center around just that; wood. This makes for a refreshing departure from paint, and provides a fun opportunity to get extra creative.

So, here’s my glorious starting point…

Feast Watson ReLove Project Before

A big melamine wardrobe I picked up for just $50 (replete with some of my fave pet hate furniture traits).

What, “melamine”? Didn’t you just say “wood”?

Yeah, but rest assured, I have a plan!

Rather than take on a sympathetic restoration, I want to experiment with a style of furniture I know is prevalent, affordable, and just plain meh, and completely turn it on its head! By doing so, I hope to inspire others to think a bit sideways and maybe even have a go at replicating my project (a complete tutorial will follow).

You with me?

Keep your fingers, and toes, crossed then. Who knows how this thing will end (hopefully not with me in the fetal position)!

Feast Watson Re-Love Project 2015

Click here to find out more about the project, read up on all the other fab designers involved and see everyone’s ‘before’ shots!

You can also follow each designer’s journey by subscribing to their respective social channels or directly through Feast Watson on Instagram or Pinterest.

You can see my completed piece here.



Ooh, also, I’ve finally just started using my Instagram account. Things are a little lonesome there at the mo’ so please feel free to pop on over and follow along.

Instagram The Painted Hive


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Abstract Art Tutorial

Abstract Art Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Okay, here it is.

Just in case you missed it, in this recent post I innocently posed the question of an abstract art tutorial following the surprising success of my own flukey attempt.

I thought there might be a little interest though the response was actually overwhelming!

Seems abstract art tutorials are in high demand.

Abstract Art Painting Tutorial

Now, you should know, I don’t lose sleep over too much, though the thought of having to produce a clear tutorial covering what was actually quite an ambiguous process made me restless. Compounding the self-imposed pressure was the level of excitement and anticipation you guys seemed to have about it. It was super flattering, though still…gulp.

How the heck was I going to convey my blundering process in a concise way?

Hopefully this tutorial does the trick.


Before I get started, here’s the usual yada-yada.

Of course, there are a zillion-trillion different ways to create a piece of art and a trillion-billion variations on my amateur process. For clarity and succinctness this tutorial will focus on the particular techniques I used to achieve the look of my artwork. In reality, it was probably much more time consuming, self questioning, step laden and fiddly than it appears though I don’t wanna confuse the bejesus outta everyone. I want this to be a straight-forward, step-by-step guide which arms you with some knowledge and, most importantly, the confidence, to find your own inner artist. So please, feel free to stray from my general directions (in fact, experimentation is a must!) and DON’T GET DOWN ON YOURSELF if things don’t seem to come easily.

This painting method is somewhat accidental. Have a general vision in mind though be open to adaptation and prepared to embrace the unpredictability of the medium. Although I think it’s important to undertake this project in a thoughtful way, try to strike that balance between discipline and abandon – I know, I know, much easier said than done!

I attempted to create this tutorial whilst painting a whole new large piece of art similar to my initial painting, though found it all too tricky. It was just restrictive having to stop frequently and take notes, stage strokes, demonstrate techniques and snap pics. The whole artwork felt too calculated. So, for ease, I decided to use a smaller canvas and merely demonstrate the basic steps. The resulting artwork turned out quite different though still kinda cool (there’s a photo towards the end of this post).

Anyhoo, here we go…



Abstract Art Painting Supplies

Stretched Canvas
I used a large 90cm x 90cm (36″ x 36″) canvas for my original painting and a smaller 60cm x 60cm (23″ x 23″) one for this tutorial.

You could use canvas sheet though pre-stretched frames are just so affordable and readily available nowadays. I like the deeper canvases as they tend to hold their shape better, don’t dip in the center as much and make framing easier. You might even find pre-printed canvases on sale for super cheap (I saw some HUGE photographic prints on sale at a clearance store the other day). Of course, if you do use a pre-printed canvas the additional step of an initial white coat may be required.

Note: Starting with a small canvas might seem to make sense, and whilst it is a good idea for practicing techniques and gaining an understanding of how the effects might transpire, in terms of producing an artwork it may actually be more difficult. Using a small canvas means scaling down details. Scaling down details means the need for extra finesse. Things can become all too muted then impact is lost. I also feel that large abstract paintings just have that air about them. That said, super large canvases carry their own problems as working on a huge scale can also be difficult. I recommend anything from around 60cm – 120cm (24″ – 47″) though it’s totally up to you.

Acrylic Paint
I used a combination of different craft paints I already owned. I know there are good and bad brands, though I’m not that fussy when it comes to paint. I used blues and greens to suit my colour scheme along with some white, black and brown.

Edicol Dye
I used regular food colouring. The dye works to give greater tonal variation. I don’t know how it does it, though it creates interesting transparent areas, distinct borders around shapes and is absorbed somewhat into the canvas which produces underlying patterns. As opposed to the acrylic paint, it also re-hydrates once dry which allows it to be picked-up and blended into subsequent layers. Just be careful if you want to produce a relatively muted painting though as dyes are heavily pigmented and tend to produce quite saturated colours. You only need a few drops.

Note: You can go as crazy as you like with colour though if you’re interested in creating a relatively monochromatic artwork similar to mine, opt for one principle colour (blue in my case) and one complimentary secondary colour (I went with green). White and black/brown can then be used to add depth and contrast. Also, keep in mind that when working with mixtures of paint, dye and water, colour creation is not an exact science. As colours merge and dry you will almost certainly notice some unpredictable results. You may want to trial any colours on a mini canvas first.



Abstract Art Equipment



Lay down a drop cloth (if required) and position your canvas horizontally on an even-ish surface. Gravity will play some part in the look of this artwork as paint ‘flow’ is involved; too much of a slope may cause an undesirable bias, too even a surface may cause paint to pool in the center of the canvas. Of course, levels can be adjusted as required during the painting process and I did find myself carefully re-positioning the canvas from time to time. I like to work at around thigh height though you may prefer to work higher or at ground level, just ensure you can paint comfortably and maneuver easily around your canvas.

I like to work outside. Preferably on a nice, hot day. Temperature actually plays quite a role in the look of this painting as drying time effects the amount of flow and blending. It also dictates pace as some drying time is required between certain applications. You can use a hairdryer to speed-up drying time if required though be careful with ‘pushing’ the paint excessively.

You can prime your canvas (using gesso) if desired though most stretched canvases comes pre-primed anyway. You may also choose to add some texture (see note below).

Note: Given the fluid nature of the medium used, little texture is achieved. I really love textural paintings though in this case like the way the character of the canvas weave is so prominent. If, however, you want to increase the level of texture, build some up before commencing painting. You can use anything which will stick, set firmly and retain its form. Gesso is commonly used, though anything from craft glue to plaster paste can suffice. I actually trialed this style of painting over a previous textural acrylic of mine and found the subtle textures produced some lovely results though the more bold textures were overly distracting. Of course, it all depends on the look you’re personally after, though if you’re considering adding texture, maybe concentrate on gentle stippling over more obvious strokes.



Abstract Art Tutorial | The Base Layer

1 The base.

Mix up a runny combination of white acrylic paint, dye (in your chosen colour – I went with blue) and water then casually coat the entire canvas using a wide brush. Don’t worry too much about visible brush strokes and un-even distribution at this stage. Some tonal variation is expected though any obvious areas should self-level out (you can also use the atomiser to further saturate and blend any particularly patchy spots). Keep in mind that the colour will most likely fade as it dries. If it becomes too insipid, simply brush over it again with a less watery paint solution. As it begins to dry you can also spritz the canvas with a slightly darker combination of dye and water to add a bit more colour and some speckles. Alternatively, you can spray it with some diluted white paint if you feel the need to tone it down.

Abstract Art Tutorial | The Streams

2 The streams.

Mix up a combination of white acrylic paint (you can also add some coloured paint – I used a little blue), dye (in your chosen colour – again, I went with blue) and water which is slightly thicker and more colour saturated than the mixture you used for the base (for some reason, the base appears quite white in the above photo – it’s actually more blue). Pour a few little pools onto the canvas, spread them out a little using a brush then allow gravity to do some work.

Easy Abstract Art Tutorial

You can help guide the shapes of the streams if you like though don’t worry too much about their form as subsequent layering will hide and alter that anyway. This is more about laying down some areas of colour and movement and creating a foundation to build upon. You can also use a brush to simply drop a few small splotches here and there and a straw to blow out some thinner streams. Whilst some of this detail will be lost, in certain cases it may continue to show through the following layers (if desired, you can add any detail back at the end).

There’s no need to be overly careful, though don’t go too crazy quantity-wise. The watery mixture will spread considerably and you don’t really want to coat your entire canvas. Whilst you’re not in total control and further changes are still to come, keep composition in mind and try to retain some background expanses.

Before the streams are totally dry, pour on a few pools of an alternate colour (I went with green) and repeat the process. Some mingling should occur which looks quite marbled to begin with (which is lovely) though it does dry to a more uniform, flat finish.

Abstract Art Ink Streams

Again, be careful with quantities. If you notice undesirable pooling or directional flow, try tilting the canvas mildly or sopping up excess liquid with absorbent paper towel. Don’t worry about paint dribbling off the canvas edge.

Abstract Art Techniques

Play around with spritzing the canvas with water or diluted paint to achieve greater flow, softer edges, more blending or additional speckles as desired. Once again, colours will change upon drying so be patient and make changes as needed. Try not to pre-empt things too much.

Abstract Art Tutorial | The Daubs

3 The daubs.

Mix up quite a thick combination of white acrylic paint, a little dye (in your chosen colour – blue again for me) and some water. You can also add any additional acrylic colours as desired (I used black to create a soft grey for my initial artwork though decided on a dash of brown for this tutorial). Whilst areas of the streams are still somewhat wet, randomly stipple/drop the mixture on, allowing the paint, not the brush, to form organic dappled shapes (to achieve this use a round-ish tipped brush, ensure you have a decent amount of paint on the canvas and flatten the brush bristles out so they push the paint – it just creates a more natural shape). I concentrated on concealing any particularly harsh dye lines or areas I simply didn’t like.

Abstract Art Paint Daubs Technique

In areas the daubs will blend together (as can be seen in the above close-up), creating larger shapes. In other areas they might mingle with sections of wet underlying paint, running into your previous streams or creating whole new ones. Don’t worry too much about this unless all of your daubs are turning to streams and contrast is becoming lost. In this case, allow the underlying layers to dry more thoroughly before re-commencing, or thicken-up your mixture.

As the paint dries the colour mellows considerably, so bring some extra contrast to the daubs by dropping thick dollops of undiluted white paint among them.

Abstract Art Techniques

Directly above is the whole canvas after my first daub application. Getting there, though still lacking something. I actually decided to lighten things up further so added some more white daubs. I also spritzed the canvas with some diluted white paint. This mellowed out the colour blocks and created some nice new muted streams as can bee seen in the close-up below.

Abstract Art Paint Streams

This ‘daub’ application is the stage which requires the most consideration and restraint. It’s easy to go too far and end up with one big mottled mess. Stand back often and assess where the daubs are really needed. Don’t just go wild daubing like a crazy lady! You want to retain sections of the background and portions of underlying colour. This helps create a more interesting painting with areas of both movement and rest.

Below is the whole canvas, still somewhat wet, after my secondary application of white daubs.

Abstract Art Tutorial

If at any time you feel you’ve gone too far, bring out the atomiser and play around with spritzing. I know it’s daunting watering down all your hard work, though you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to create new interesting patterns and, if need be, a nice fresh base from which to build upon again.

Note: Although not essential, it might help to determine the painting’s orientation before commencing this stage. Whilst abstract art can commonly be hung in any configuration, composition wise, I personally find it easier adding these final elements if I have an idea which way I think is up.

Abstract Art Tutorial | The Focus

4 The focus.

This isn’t necessary, though I like the idea of having a particular area which draws your eye. If you’d prefer a more uniform look, simply leave this step out.

Whilst the underlying layer is still a little wet, lay down a small area of diluted dye solution.

Abstract Art Focal Point

Now, use a brush to apply some thick acrylic paint in the colour of your choice (I like the neutrality of white) on top of, or just beside, that area of watery dye. Begin spreading the pant into a desirable shape. The dye should be pushed to the edges of the paint and form a subtle border around it in sections. This helps create the impression the focus shape is embedded within the artwork, rather than merely being plonked on top.

Abstract Art Focus Area

It’s pretty inevitable that your focus area will pick up some of the surrounding and underlying colours. If you find it becomes overly muddied, apply additional thicker areas of paint. Remember, the colours will most likely dry more muted and you really want this focus area to stand out.

At this stage you should also assess the overall composition and make any changes you feel are needed. You may want to add some more defined shapes or areas of colour to increase contrast or provide balance.

Note: To complete your painting, consider adding a frame. It really does help give a nice professional finish and is an easy DIY (I didn’t do a framing tutorial though it’s simply a matter of mitering some thin timber trim and nailing it straight onto the canvas frame – or, if you don’t like the idea of mitering, you can use simple abutting corners). If you prefer the casualness of no frame, you can paint the canvas edge a solid colour to co-ordinate with your painting or extend your painting to the edges during the painting process. Oh, and don’t forget to include your signature in the bottom corner!

So, here’s the finished painting.

Abstract Art Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Remember, I did create this painting primarily for demonstrative purposes so it’s different to my original work, and also quite a bit smaller, though I think it still has its own appeal. Which one do you prefer?

DIY Abstract Art Paintings

I quite like them both. I think. It’s kinda hard to separate yourself and look at them objectively. I know I do like the colours though!

Here’s a super-duper close-up to show the canvas texture and paint detail.

Abstract Art Tutorial Painting Close-Up



Inevitably, there will be hiccups and moments of doubt (I can certainly vouch for that!). If you find you’re absolutely hating the way your painting is progressing, don’t lose heart. If things aren’t too far gone, stand back and assess where you can make changes. It can be daunting to alter areas you’ve already painted, especially if there are sections you really like, though if you’re not totally in love with your art it’s worth giving it a go. If things are too far gone, simply water down the canvas and paint over it again. Remember, every mistake is an opportunity to learn something and you’ll almost certainly find that your previous attempts will have armed you with more skill and a better understanding of how to go about things again. Don’t worry too much if areas of muted paint from your previous attempt continue to show through the canvas. They can be used to add some extra interest. Please, just don’t give up too easily. I almost did!

Also, and I really have to stress this – DON’T DISMISS YOUR WORK TOO EARLY! I’ve been very lukewarm on a few of my paintings initially only to decide I actually quite liked them after a day or two. I don’t know what it is exactly, though it seems it’s easy to be extra critical early on. Bring your painting inside, lean it up against a wall, or hang it if possible, and allow it to grow on you a bit. You might be surprised!


Anybody can produce abstract art. I think the thing which causes trepidation among us aesthetic DIY’ers, is the fact we want to produce something with a specific, even professional, look. It can be daunting knowing where to start and doubly disheartening to take the plunge only to feel disappointed with the outcome.

As a fellow rookie (I’m assuming you’re reading this tutorial because you’re a novice too :-) I truly-ruly hope this tutorial, along with my advice, helps spur some confidence.

Have fun!




Oh, and send me a photo if you give it a go!



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