Thursday, 20 August 2015

A possibly doomed French love affair...

My name is Emma Kate and I'm a furnitureholic. The other week I decided,

 No. More. Furniture.

I thought it might be nice to be able to walk around the kitchen, pass through doorways without having to turn sideways and use our dining room for actual dining. Our lives would run smoothly in our new uncluttered surroundings. We could invite people in to our home without any of the embarrassment that a wardrobe in the kitchen can bring.
Yes. This was to be our future.

The problem was, the very next day I went to the flea market. As I do every week. Just to look, you understand.

And I saw this. This stunning French-esqe wardrobe. I've never ever seen one like this in the flesh before.

(Just imagine the top and bottom are the same width. I'm no photoshop genius.)

Okay, someone had had a bash at painting it, really, really badly. It had a few lumps taken out of it. But nothing that couldn't be sorted. I couldn't believe it hadn't sold already.

I asked the price. ''Forty quid.'' What!??? That's insanely cheap I thought.

So I frowned and said, ''Would you do it for £35?''
It was probably immoral of me. He agreed. ''I suppose you want me to drop it off for you?''

''Oh yes please.''
THIRTY FIVE QUID! How could I leave it there?

So I wandered round the flea market, had a little mooch about but kept returning to stroke my wardrobe. Why did no one else buy it? Did the crappy paint job put people off? I was flummoxed. It was only painted on two sides as it had obviously been up against a wall and the owner wasn't able to move it.

I felt slightly sick as I wondered how to break the news to my husband. I phoned him up when I got to work.

''I accidentally bought something.''

''Oh God. It's not another bloody wardrobe is it?''

He knows me so well. I quickly pointed out that this was a wardrobe unlike any other. If I fixed it up and sold it, I would make a healthy profit. I reminded him that he's always banging on about me not making money. This wardrobe, no, not even a wardrobe, an ARMOIRE, was in fact key to our future happiness.

The wardrobe turned up just as I got in from work and was stashed in the dining room. No problem.
I went off to York for a week and the husband seemed happy. When I got back I started feeling overwhelmed at the amount of things I have to do and wanted to start on the wardrobe. To do this it had to go in the kitchen.
I can't strip things on the nice oak floor of the dining room.

Well, Jason was really angry. He bitched and bitched and shouted at me. Of course I couldn't listen to him or even PRETEND to be sorry as the thing was THIRTY FIVE QUID and it was a done deal. There's no point crying over spilt milk is there?

Look at the mirror!

Foxed to perfection.

The beautifully carved panels!

The wooden mouldings! Yes they are actual wood.

The handles...

It's a beast of a thing and it's not easy to walk around it. But it was THIRTY FIVE QUID!

It's taken me three whole days to strip the main body of it and the cornice. I haven't started on the base.

Here's an interesting thing. I thought it was French but inside I found a little brass label saying ''S & H Jewell'' and it was made in Holborn in London. So it's not French at all. Come to think of it, if it were French, the base would have little legs, no drawer and the top would be more elaborate. This is a Franglais armoire with the typically English large drawer in the base and a squared off cornice. The best of both worlds I think.
Anyway, these guys were in business from 1830 to 1840 so this is OLD! If it were in fab condition it would be valuable.
But if it were in fab condition I wouldn't have got it for £35 at the flea market.

Ze tyically French modele...

So, I was merrily stripping away and I started to think. I'll never find another. I'll certainly never find another for £35.  So perhaps I should keep it. Trouble is, it doesn't really fit anywhere.

Perhaps it would go in the dining room instead of the dresser? I could shelve the inside and have TONS of storage. But would it look daft or too grand? And would I have to swap out ALL the furniture in the room to make it work?

So on to the upstairs. Too wide for the hallway.
My bedroom? It's incredibly deep. I'd have to squeeze in between the bed and the armoire to reach the window. But do I need a double bed? Do I need a bed? I could just lay an old blanket on the floor in a corner and gaze at my armoire as I drift off to sleep. Like some aristocrat who has become hooked on crystal meth and lives in grand squalor. It's a romantic notion. I'm sure you can see the allure.

How about it lives in the shed in case we ever build an extension? I could hang a chandelier in there and win 'Shed of the Year.'

Or I incorporate it into the dressing room/built-ins I'm yet to build? Build around it. The husband is appalled. He doesn't want a mish-mash of styles. Such a spoilsport.

So what do I do dear reader? Ditch the husband and run off into the sunset with my armoire? Buy a bigger house? 

Gah. I just don't know.

But what became of the passionate love I was feeling last time I blogged? Turning tapestry into bags? Well, I'm pleased to tell you that I'm not all mouth and no action! I started planning a bag and took all my bits up to York with me. There's a great sewing machine at my dads and I figured that if I sewed in the evenings it  would save me from watching Ice Road Truckers or shows about Building Oil Rigs.

Best plan ever.

Here's a sneaky peak at my bag so far...

I still have to finish and line it before I show it to you properly. I'll save that for another time.
Er, along with the sofa.

Finally, the eagle eyed among you might have spotted that I've been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards. Thank you to those who nominated me. I'm truly flattered.

This year however, I won't be begging for your votes. I've realised these things are designed to bring bloggers to the attention of sponsors and that is an avenue I've decided not to go down. I'm bored of American blogs taking forever to load because they're so clogged up with ads. I'm fed up of commercials blaring out at me whilst I try and read. And I've seen many a good blog go down the pan with sponsored posts. If I wanted to hear about steam cleaners and homewares I'd watch the shopping channel. It's tedious.

Also I'm all about second hand shopping, saving the environment and upcycling. Why would I want to share with you the new range of sofas from a high street store? It's not me. I have no hidden agenda. I'm not prepared to sell out for a £20 sponsored post payment.

No. I'm here to bleat on about things I like. Cheap things. Old things. Painting things. Making things. Improving things.

You seem to ''get it'' more than my friends and family and for that I'm very grateful. I love sharing with you. Thank you for reading. x

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Recycled tapestry love...

So, um, I was totally tidying the living room to show you the new sofa but I accidentally started with the inside of my filing cabinet. A whole day and two sackfuls of shredded paper later, the living room isn't any tidier. In fact it may be worse. But at least there is some semblance of order in a small part of it. When I get around to taking pictures of the living room you can rest assured that it'll be lovely inside and out.

I have developed a new love which I'd like to share with you today instead of my sofa. Well, strictly speaking it's an old love but it's used in a new way here.

Tapestry. I love the texture, the warmth and the meaning it holds for me. My mother was a keen stitcher and I used to spend a lot of time at it too. We made pictures to frame and cushions galore. But those tapestry pictures have fallen out of favour and I just can't cope with too many cushions. I even have a pile of completed tapestries that I never made into anything. So what to do with them all? Hmmm...

Here are my beloved vintage tapestry handbags.

They're very pretty but won't hold much more than a lippy and some keys. I'm a big bag kinda gal.

As luck would have it I stumbled across these amazing bags on the web, all made from upcycled tapestry!

Cool or what? Anyone could do this...

The bag above makes me think of Fiona.

I love that it's something grannyish used in a new and practical way. No point having a pile of tapestries in the loft right?

Oh my word, someone's been busy!

But what if you don't have a stack of them in your loft?
I picked up two large framed tapestries for £2 each at the boot sale on Sunday. Er, just to add to the pile in case I run out. I'm sooo making one of these bags. There are some great bag sewing patterns to be found on ebay...

But why stop there?
Have you ever seen a tapestry lampshade?

How sweet are they?

If you have a little more time on your hands, how about covering your sofa?

Embellishing a coat?

There are some very creative people out there. I love these ideas.

An entire coat made from vintage tapestries?

Stunning. I'd be smiling too.


What about this inside out deconstructed tapestry skirt?

Certainly different! I hope you've enjoyed this post and you've found something that inspires you. I know I'm not the only vintage textile junkie. I will no longer be passing up those old tapestry pictures and firescreens that no one wants at the boot sales any longer.

If only I could find my bag sewing pattern. It's somewhere in the living room. Better crack on with the tidying...

Most of the sources for these pictures can be found HERE

Saturday, 4 July 2015

My Barbola mirrors...

I've spent one and a half days re painting the hallway wall and hanging my Barbola mirrors. They're very pretty and would be perfect in a bedroom but sadly I don't have the wall space so my hallway is getting a bit of a girlie feel.

There's no point having lovely things and not using them. Mirrors are no good in a box. And I do like to see collections displayed.

None of my Barbolas have cost very much. Even the large one was under a tenner. I had to remove some stands from the backs as they are often designed to sit atop a dressing table. When you take them apart you can sometimes find dates inside.

Look at the original colours inside this one...

Much more vivid than they are now but the muted colours are what I love about them.

This one above is dated 1946 inside. I believe they can date from the twenties to the forties and they're English.

They're often cracked or damaged. That's good. It means they're original.

I'll show you the before picture of the hallway...

This is before we replaced the floor. The large monks chest is now in my bedroom and has been swapped for my funky table which used to live behind the sofa...

I liked the old mirrors but the big one is a bit grand. We are not grand. Our ceiling height doesn't allow for grandness. If we had high ceilings we would be as grand as grand can be. Oh yeah.

Obviously it's not like this in real life. The table is a dumping ground for keys and post. Under the table are a stack of boxes for ebay posting. School bags litter the floor. But this is how life could be if I really tidied up. Or had a porch.

Speaking of tidying, I haven't 'styled' the living room yet so no sofa pictures to share.

But as promised, here's the taxidermy our neighbours left out on the drive for anyone to take.

 I'm not entirely sure where we'll put him. The lady said it had been in her family for 100 years and it had lived in her Grandads hallway. I don't know how she could part with him.

I'm working on a dining table for my friend so I'll pop back soonish with that. Stay cool in this heat!

Linking with Coastal Charm Show and Share

Elizabeth and Co.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Turning a wardrobe into a pantry and secondhand scores...

Thanks so much for your lovely comments on my last post. You really are lovely people and I really appreciate you all reading and commenting.

So... the wardrobe that isn't a wardrobe.

My friend wanted a pantry cupboard for her kitchen and fell in love with this one from M&S...

Nothing special from the outside, but on the inside?

Oh yeah. Imagine all the goodies you could fit into there. It's about £1800 though. Hmm, not so attractive now. The oak bits are oak but the 'painted finish' parts will be mdf.
I love M&S furniture, I really do. But only if it's found on eBay for 90% less than it's original price. 

So anyway, my friend thought she'd look for an old wardrobe to turn into a pantry cupboard. Which is where I stepped in. I happened to have had an old wardrobe living in the kitchen, awaiting a makeover, for what? Nine months? Too long.

Here it is with the door off and the inside painted white.

The first thing I had to do was to make sure I could build strong shelves inside. The inside was an irregular shape and a tight fit but once the first one was in...

I knew it would work.

Three shelves in.

Once the shelves were in I started on the door. I removed the heavy bevelled mirror and put a piece of mdf in its place, caulking all the joins. 

I told my friend to get an F&B eggshell but she disobeyed me and got a Fired Earth eggshell.

Never again!

It was a lovely colour and a lovely paint to use but it's not what I would call an eggshell. It has a very chalky matt appearance and no resilience to marking whatsoever. Imagine matt emulsion and that's what it was like. It's going to need further protection like wax or varnish. Especially in a kitchen.

My photos aren't great because I couldn't get far enough away from it. Plus I have a wonky eye...

So here are my friends pictures...

Hopefully, what it lacks in M&S perfection and wine rackery, it makes up for with the fact that it's ALL solid oak (apart from one door panel and the shelves) and a has bit more character than modern furniture.

Beautifully accessorised with an overflowing bin. She's very happy with it and it looks much tidier than her open shelving unit. Job done.

But I know you're all only here for the secondhand eye candy. Brace yourselves people. This one will have you SALIVATING!
I found this a while ago but it's been treated for woodworm and had to dry out before it was allowed in the house as it stank. 

An old cotton reel chest from a haberdashers shop...

 I'll treasure it. It was a fleamarket find.

And this very morning I picked up a pair of these Kashmiri/Kashmiri style papier mache, twisted wood, tole lacquer painted lamps for a fiver at the boot sale. I've been trying to find out about them without much luck...

When I was a nanny in London, the lady I worked for had a pair and she told me they were valuable. I suspect these are not desperately old...

But they are attractive and unusual...

 If they're worth thousands DO let me know!

 I have plenty more cool stuff to share with you. Including a piece of taxidermy which is over 100 years old that I found on the street.
As you do.

But that will wait for another time...

I might also show you my new sofa but I'll have to tidy the room for that.
So I might not.

I've also been working on the remaining kitchen cupboards.
Yes I actually have!

So do come back next time...