Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Spring house makeover

At long last, spring is in the air! I can't say I feel the urge to spring-clean, but all this lovely sunshine is raising my energy levels on the house front. We moved into a period home last October and are in the throes of figuring out what needs renovating. The to-do list seems to keep on growing...

Fliers of exhibitors at the Henley House & Garden Show 2019
Exhibitors at the House & Garden Show

We could live here quite happily for another year or so without doing anything, but we're under pressure to get the heavy lifting out the way before my daughter takes her GCSEs next summer. 

With the renovation project in mind, I dragged my husband to the Henley House & Garden Show last weekend, which was packed with inspiring exhibitors. As a result, I'm now desperate to skip forward to all the fun interior design bits, although sadly there's behind-the-scenes work to grapple with first, like plumbing!

The Henley House and Garden show opened my eyes to the whole house/home industry out there, ranging from interior and garden design, to garage makeovers, flooring, bespoke dining tables, joinery, antiques and even hot tubs. I guess the culture of home-owning runs deep in our national psyche.

(With my passion for all water-based fun, I tried to persuade my husband to invest in a Softub hot tub for the garden - it's energy-efficient and portable! - but oddly it wasn't high on his list of priorities. Mind you, he's angling for a giant TV in the family room so maybe there'll be room for negotiation further down the line... 😉)

At the show, I also attended an Annie Sloan talk on up-cycling furniture. She was very motivating in a laid-back, boho kind of way. It was great to hear tips from the lady herself and now I'm itching to daub her chalk paint onto anything I can lay my hands on. So far, I've identified a mirror and a wardrobe as potential candidates for sprucing up. Apparently, you can even paint cushions and fabric! Could this be my new hobby while I wait for the plumbing to get fixed?

So, if the weather continues to improve, you might find me in the garden in my painting overalls. In the meantime, I'll be tweaking my renovation spreadsheet and dreaming about mains-water pressure...


Top tips from Annie Sloan for using her chalk paint


  • No need to sand or prime furniture before painting
  • Can paint onto wood, marble, tiles, china, glass and even cushions/curtains (but not oily wood or teak)
  • Use one/two coats of chalk paint, followed by wax to seal
  • Paint lightly in all directions, holding bristles rather than handle of paint brush
  • Annie Sloan wax available in clear, white, brown and black for different colour effects
  • Can finish with varnish instead of wax for more durable or modern finish
  • For shabby effect, paint (e.g. grey) and then use household bleach to scrape away some of the paint, followed by another colour (e.g. yellow) 
  • Or paint, wax, sand/rub and then follow with more paint
  • For a wash effect, paint and then wipe off some of the paint with wet sponge/cloth
  • For different wax effects, use black wax then clean off (letting black wax seep into cracks) and follow with clear wax
  • Use a thick brush - like a powder puff - to apply wax
  • For painting cushions, scrunch up material (for effect) and wash paint over (add a little water), put in tumble dryer to seal and then rinse in lukewarm water



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