Hessian Potato sack cafe curtains

I had planned on simply hanging some potato sacks up, with a café tension rod and clips, for my kitchen curtains. It turned out that the potato sacks I’d bought weren’t long enough for this (I didn’t measure first). Anyway, I’ve had a little bit of a cut, sew and play and I’ve repurposed some potato sacks into some cafe curtains.

I decided to make the curtains with hessian to let some light in whilst having a rustic feel. I then thought that some print on the hessian might look nice- which led me to potato sacks. I found some French potato sacks and bought a pack of 3…. thinking I could just hang them up and be done with it. They did look ok but didn’t cover enough of the window so instead I started to unpick the sacks.

Potato sack curtains
Cafe curtains with potato sacks, this try they weren’t long enough.

I unpicked the stitching to open the sacks up, making wider curtains and then cut one in half to sew to the top of the other 2 sacks, giving me the extra length.

The top is simply folded and clipped into place with clip rings. That’s it, potato sack curtains. The edges even have a lovely pattern where the string has been unpicked.

I already had the clips (Flerise store 40-pack Black Matte Metal Curtain Rings with Clips (1″) (1”, Black)) and the tension rod (Speedy 100-150 cm Tension Rod, White), so my new curtains have cost me about a fiver, The French potato sacks I upcycled . I think these sacks would have looked great too:

Potato sack curtainsPotato sack curtainsUnpicking and sewing potato sacks together

February resolutions

I’m not usually one for making New Years Resolutions because I generally don’t keep them at all. I’ve also had a gloomy January full of a long lingering cold that’s left me a little bit flat! Now that February has arrived and the nights are slowly getting later I’ve got a bit more of a skip in my step and am looking forward to some longer spring days.

I’ve decided on a February resolution to be more money wise and less wasteful. Now, don’t get me wrong I am definitely a recycling, upcycling maker kind of girl but this doesn’t always come at a low cost. I usually buy old furniture to upcycle and whilst this is often cheaper than buying brand new from shops I do it because I like a decent piece of sturdy furniture and for the shabby chic look of a finished piece rather than for the money savings. Then on the other hand I’ll happily throw out perfectly good items without thinking about it, or I’ll be entirely cash wasteful by getting a £10 taxi to a meeting cos I just couldn’t be bothered to walk then take a long £2.50 bus journey (I did this today, prompting my resolution). Im not very consistent in my thriftiness. I think I keep forgetting that last year I resigned from a very well paid job, professional reason is noted as ‘to achieve work/life balance’ after working 60+ hour weeks, actual reason is that I just hated my job. I have to remind myself that my current job for a charity does not give me so much disposable income!!

I might be being a little premature when I say I’ve started to prepare for a thrifty Christmas 2018 but I have saved a baby Christmas tree from the garden bin. I’ve hidden the reindeer pot with some twine and I’m planning on keeping the baby tree alive until next Christmas. This could be a real challenge as every plant I have ever touched has unfortunately died…. but for now this is my little reminder to think of the thrift (ignore the almost dead mint plant in the background; it doesn’t indicate much hope for the baby tree).





Kitchen renovation

Kitchen before and afterI’ve just been looking back at pictures of the kitchen before and after the refit. We lived with the existing kitchen for about 8 months before the refit started, so in the meantime we gave the kitchen a little makeover to make it more cosy to live in.

We had a free standing fridge so the first thing to do was make some space for it. The kitchen had a breakfast bar type seating area so we took this out to get the fridge in.  We freshened up the cupboards with some white paint and we changed a couple of the ugly doors to curtains. This is easy to do using a net wire and hooks. The curtains were made with iron on hemming as my sewing machine was still packed away- and they were only ever temporary. I have to admit to loving the way the temporary kitchen looked, but there was no doubt that the cupboards needed to be replaced.

Kitchen makeover
Temporary kitchen makeover with curtains on the cupboards.

We added some Georgian style French doors made by a local company to let some more light into the kitchen. The kitchen units are a cream shaker style with a rustic wooden top and Belfast sink, adding a bit of a traditional country feel to the kitchen. The tiles are in shades of cream, white and grey to compliment the fake tile laminate floor. I love the laminate flooring, it was a great find and not at all what we were looking for I’ve never seen a patterned tile effect laminate floor before and everyone always comments on it.

Tile effect laminate floor

The kitchen has had a full makeover, and I’ve upcycled the table Upcycled table update…. now painted and fresh and the welsh dresser My upcycled shabby chic Welsh Dresser (drinks cabinet really) and the only little problem I have is that I somehow dropped the plug for the Belfast sink down the waste bit… and I can’t get it out! Oops.

kitchen makeover

Bathroom makeover

My bathroom renovations have all been completed now. Yey! I had deliberated over taking the wall out between the bathroom and the loo in an earlier post Decisions, decisions… should the loo be in the bathroom or should the loo just be the loo? But in the end, having a roll top bath won me over.

Rolltop bath and watercan shower with shower curtain

The bathroom and loo are both pretty small (so small that I can’t even manage to get a decent picture). I really struggled to find any bathroom design ideas for such a small bathroom that didn’t look all squashed in but then I found a roll top corner shower bath that answered the questions about how to fit a roll top bath and a shower into the small bathroom. I’ve picked out quite vintage looking tiles to give the room a nice old fashioned feel, and opted for a part shower screen and a shower curtain (I want it all) the tiny loo also now has a high level cistern.

From start to finish the job was stress, stress, stress. I got a bit irritated when people said to me ‘it’ll be worth it in the end’ as I was sleeping in a child’s bunk bed at my parents house due to a lack of a toilet for what seemed like forever. We used workmen that we’d used in the past and they were great, extortionate (I always think I’m paying too much) but really diligent. They fitted our kitchen and we were really impressed with the work, they do everything from start to finish, leaving the place decorated and new. We got other quotes for the bathroom but we couldn’t find anyone else we had the confidence in.

One of the main issues was that the tiles didn’t arrive on time, causing us problems having the tiler booked in…. but it all worked out in the end. I’m still not entirely convinced that leaving the loo separate is the greatest idea, as although we don’t intend on selling the house, if we had to; I wonder if having a loo and bathroom in one would add value? But for now I get the joy of relaxing in a big tub, or have a long shower with a lovely powerful watercan shower and retro shower curtain!

Bathroom makeover
Roll top corner shower bath

Separate bathroom and loo before and after

DIY chalk painted chairs

I’ve just been adding some detail to my white chalk painted chairs. The chairs weren’t in very good condition when I started, they took a lot of cleaning and 2 coats of chalk paint with 30 minutes drying time between coats.

The seat pads were broken with metal sticking through, I had to replace them with new wooden inserts, new foam and I’ve reupholstered with some grey and yellow polka dot cotton fabric- the fabric was attached with a staple gun.

The dining chairs are really sturdy so I’m pleased that I’ve managed to upcycle them. They’ve got some nice carved detail to them so I’ve painted this with grey and yellow paint to make it stand out. I’ve distressed the chairs with a sanding block around the edges, I’ve been a bit heavy handed with the sanding but I really like the ‘distressed’ bits to be clear rather than looking like accidental scratches.

I think they look really pretty with the polka dots and white, so now I’m gonna have a sit down and a cup of tea!

DIY chalk painted chairs

DIY chalk painted chairs

No sew rag curtain

Well it’s not really a rag, it’s an old cut up curtain repurposed!

Having a 1930’s house means a lot of big windows, including in the bathroom. I wanted to get some privacy from the neighbours without blocking out all of the light. Cafe curtains seem a bit old school but they let in the light from the top of the window whilst screening off the bottom of the window when you need to; unlike blinds that block out all of the light when they’re closed.

No sew cafe curtain
No sew curtain

To hang the cafe curtains I bought a tension rod; I found a white one in a sale for around £3. I didn’t fancy white, so I spray painted the tension rod with a copper craft enamel and let it dry. I also found packs of curtain rings with clips for about £2 for 10- like these ones 10 x BLACK METAL CURTAIN RINGS POLE ROD VOILE NET RINGS WITH CLIPS HANGING 30MM Fusion (TM)

Rather than buy new curtains to hang I had an old pair of cream cotton curtains with no lining and cut them to size with pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying. Because they were already curtains I cut them keeping the hem at the bottom and one side, hanging them with the top cut edge folded over and clipped into the hooks. Pretty simple and effective way of providing privacy in the bathroom whilst still letting in the light.

Upcycled table update…. now painted and fresh

My kitchen table upcycle project was a whole lot more work than I had planned, I had some problems getting rid of an old stench from the table. In my earlier post I was trying all sorts to get rid of the smell Table tales…. The stinky one. After all of the scrubbing and scraping I left the table and chairs alone for a while and the smell seemed to disappear. The table was left next to a window that gets a lot of light so I think that the table just dried out a bit; and the smell has gone.

I’ve chalk painted the base with Rustoleum chalk paint in antique white and reupholstered the chairs with polka dot fabric… I also made new matching cushion covers for my benches. (I now have too many tables and chairs, so 2 chairs are with a French trolley that I painted too) I’m pleased that the table didn’t end up in the bonfire… it was a close call.

I was trying to strip the table top with the sander but it just wasn’t sanding very well. I tried some coarse sandpaper, I even tried some Nitromors paint and varnish remover but the existing finish just wouldn’t budge. I decided that the table top was pretty much winning so my finished table is much more rustic than intended, but at the end of the day it gives it some character and I’m not so worried about bumps and dints to the top as it seems pretty durable to withstand the sanding and scrubbing so far. I did give it a little brush with some bench oil to give it s new seal. I’m secretly pleased at the way it’s turned out!

I haven’t yet waxed the paint… New Years resolution is to finish what I’ve started!!

Painted furniture



The stairs that have made the house feel like a home!

img_7641Over the last 12 months renovations and destruction have taken up different parts of the house, from the rewiring and plaster mess to the bricked up walls and moving of doors. Each process having its own special stresses and strains, from cooking on a travel hob to washing in a porcelain mixing bowl; all along turning up to work each day as if I didn’t just walk through a pile of muck before I left the front door. It’s been a stressful year for sure at times but the light at the end of the tunnel came in the form of my stair carpet. The carpet that was being left until the majority of the mucky work had been done…. and I love it!

We decided to opt for a stair runner as when the old carpet had been taken up it was clear from the painted steps that there had once been a runner and stair rods. We have a half landing and a wonderful arch window that we had a replica stain glass window made for- in the pattern that some of the neighbours still have in original form. We’ve painted in the Crown period range colours and I’ve even plonked my restored singer sewing machine on the half landing. The best part of it all is that I can now walk bare foot on the stairs a simple pleasure that I hadn’t realised how much I had missed.

Rewiring mess
Wondering how to get the wallpaper off
The old arch window
Bare stairs
The new window and runner


Bathroom chaos

We’re part way through having the bathroom fitted… Just at the stage of wondering why in the world did we start it! As usual with my luck with tradesmen, nothing is as straightforward as it seems it should be!

The first ‘oohs and ahhhs’ from the bathroom fitter were a result of discovering that the last set of tiles had been tiled over old tiles. So my walls had a layer of tiles, plasterboard and another layer of tiles on top. After removing both sets of tiles, the walls underneath were old wooden lats…. so new plaster board walls had to be put in.  All at my expense obviously; the joys of having an old house.

I’m having a high wall cistern on the loo but it’s going on a stud wall… so the wall gas had to be reinforced with wood to take the weight of the cistern.

The border tiles I’ve ordered have also taken longer than the rest of the tiles so, we’re at s big of a standstill until they arrive.

Currently the bathroom has no bath, no loo, no sink. I work full time so having no bathroom at all is no fun, luckily my parents live near by and I’ve had to spend a couple of nights with them!

I have my fingers crossed that the next few days are going to bring some improvements.

What I have found out in my bathroom debacle is that shopping about can save you a few quid. I picked a bathroom from the bath store- they had a 10% sale on and the guys in the store were very keen for me to buy the same day to make sure I didn’t miss out! I didn’t buy that day, missed the sale and got a price on a similar suite elsewhere- about £500 cheaper. The following weekend, the bath store had another sale on so I went in with my comparison quote and miraculously they could do the whole suite for about the same price as the competitor quote! So in the end I got the suite I wanted  for the price I wanted to pay.

I’ve also managed to get £100 refunded from my floor tiles, I ordered them from Toppstiles but found them cheaper somewhere else so they price matched- I hadn’t collected them from the store yet and I pretty much said I’d return them and buy them from the other shop before they offered to refund the difference.

Im just hoping that the rest of my tiles turn up!


Table tales…. The stinky one

I’ve bought a new table to upcycle and it’s exactly the table I wanted to find, there’s one little (huge) promblem… It stinks. It’s not just an old smell, it’s a greasy old, maybe, fishy smell and so far I’m struggling to get the smell out 😕. The table and legs not only smell but feel like there’s a whole layer of something sticky. I’m not sure if it’s  built up beeswax, linseed oil, polish or just plain old lard.

I hadn’t been planning on replacing my kitchen table but I also wasn’t very keen on the cheap one that came with my corner nook seat. I was just out for lunch in a local restaurant and a table caught my eye (see I can’t even eat out without a furniture intervention). The table had been restored with a lovely sanded top, was narrow so looked lovely and petite but with two sliding out ends at each side to extend the table. It had character and I could just picture it as my Christmas table. I asked the manager where the table had come from, she’d had it since the 90’s but said that she’d seen a few of them in charity shops.

I found a similar table with 4 chairs nearby on eBay and paid for it online. A friend of mine with a van collected it and the first thing she said was ‘it stinks’. She was right and now my kitchen stinks. Tonight is bonfire night and the table might end up in a fire!

I was planning on painting the legs and chairs with chalk paint and stripping the top down to a more natural finish… I don’t want to paint over the smelly parts because I’ll forever know that it stinks underneath! So far I have tried

  • washing up liquid and a dish brush- this got out some of the grease and muck but the table still smells
  • sugar soap and a cloth – this didn’t seem to do much, the table still smells
  • diluted bleach and a metal pan scrubber- I was getting impatient at this point… I wouldn’t usually have tried such a harsh cleaning method on old furniture but the table is still smelly and greasy!!

I have also also had my hand sander on the top but whatever is on the table just kept clogging up the sand paper so I didn’t even get very far with this. Today I’m going to try hand sanding… So far I’m not making progress and it’s a lot of work. Christmas dinner had better be worth it…