Lego storage box

Following my Lego Decoupage: chest of drawers project I caught the Lego bug  and decided to use some of the leftover wrapping paper I had to decorate a basic storage box for my son. He got a lot of Lego for his birthday so more storage was seriously needed. I bought a basic box from B&Q to ‘do up’, fondly hoping that maybe a fun, colourful box would encourage Alex to leave less Lego on the floor and to tidy it all neatly away instead (3 guesses how that one turns out!) This is the box I bought (with a black lid) as I wanted it to be quite sturdy and to be able to secure the top.

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I painted ‘Mod Podge’ in gloss onto the box then added the paper, left it to dry and did 2 top coats leaving 20 minutes of drying time between each (as I did with the chest of drawers). Because it’s just for storage I didn’t worry too much about how well the paper overlapped or matched up. Once I’d finished that I decided to paint the lid and top of the main box blue to make it look a bit cheerier. I used some left-over Rust-Oleum chalk finish paint in ‘ink blue’. For the finishing touch I stuck a little more paper across the handle and here is the finished result:

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It definitely looks more cheerful and now houses all of Alex’s Lego train set bits to hopefully keep it in one place. The rest of the Lego still spends most of its time on the floor waiting to attack my feet!

In other news, building works have finally started on our extension – hooray!! The foundations are done so actual building will begin soon. In a few weeks I will hopefully have at least one lovely room and somewhere to take photos of my projects without scary carpets/wallpaper and curtains in the background. My Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover has also been doing well on Pinterest with over 100 pins now and it’s lovely to think that hopefully there are other people out there getting inspiration to do some furniture painting.

I have started work on the Jack and Jill chairs in the garden as well. Unfortunately the first chair took me a lot longer than I thought so only one half of the chair set is done. The builders have since taken over the garden and are now hogging the chair for their breaks!

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This will be a good test of how durable it is but I think it might be a while before I’m able to get the whole thing finished. Watch this space!

Here’s what I used for the storage box…

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Lego Decoupage: chest of drawers

I’ve been keen on trying a bit of decoupage for a while now and saved many a pin on Pinterest to repeatedly browse through. For those of you who don’t have a clue what decoupage is (like me until recently) it’s basically a technique where you use paper or fabric to cover/decorate your furniture or other items, e.g. vases, glasses etc. I’ve saved some of my favourites on my Pinterest ‘decoupage’ board if anyone fancies a look (see below for general link to my Pinterest). At first I was a bit put off by the fact that it sounds really complicated and professional, but I gradually realised that in essence it’s gluing stuff onto other stuff.

A couple of weeks ago I took the next step by ordering some ‘Mod Podge’ on a whim from Amazon…

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This product can be used for both the bottom and top coat layers for decoupage which got the thumbs up from me. I then came across a great blog all about using Mod Podge, aptly named Mod Podge rocks. I would definitely recommend a look and especially watching the videos she has done for beginners. Then it was time to have a think about what to do for my first attempt.

A couple of months ago I found some fab Lego wrapping paper in Tesco and bought a load in preparation for Alex’s 5th birthday (my boy is Lego obsessed!) What better for a first project than to use the paper to decoupage something Lego-themed for my son? I hoped this would also slightly improve his room which currently contains hideous flowery wallpaper, hideous flowery carpets and hideous flowery curtains (that have all been there since the 70’s.) Poor boy! Also on a bit of a whim, I decided I would cover the front of some of his drawers rather than opt for something smaller and safer. It was a bit of a risk but actually the whole thing went very smoothly and this is what I ended up with…

Here’s the technique I used:

  1. Measure and cut out wrapping paper to fit drawer front.
  2. Lightly sand the drawer front to create a slightly rough surface.

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3. Paint the Mod Podge on to the drawer front (a medium-think layer using a standard paint brush.)

4. Paint the Mod Podge onto the back of the wrapping paper.

5. Carefully place the paper onto the drawer front and smooth out, making sure there are no air bubbles. The Mod Podge blog recommends using a ‘Brayer’ for this but as it was sitting in my Amazon wishlist not yet ordered I used a foam roller and my hands instead. It turned out well but I will definitely be ordering the Brayer soon for a really smooth finish now that I have got the decoupaging bug!

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6.Leave to dry for 15-20 minutes.

7. Apply the first top coat of Mod Podge. I did this by painting it on to the paper then using a foam roller to smooth it out as I don’t like to see brush strokes. It goes on white but dries clear and glossy (though you can buy other finishes, e.g. matt.)

 

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can you tell I was working late?!

 

8. Using a sanding block I sanded the edges to remove any remaining bits of overhanging paper and create a clean line. See this pin I saved for an example of how this works. I found it worked well but needs a bit of practice to perfect. The other option is to cut the paper to the perfect size in the first place (not generally the way I roll!)

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9. Wait again and add a couple more layers if you like. I did 3 in total then added a spray of Valspar’s clear sealer as added insurance against knocks/scrapes but this is probably overkill!

Alex loves the drawers and I am pleased as well. I’m also considering adding some proper 3D Lego bits into the mix or maybe painting the wood or papering more so this may feature in a future update. Decoupage is definitely a fun, straightforward technique which takes relatively little time and has endless possibilities so I would highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading and for anyone who doesn’t want to miss any posts please follow as they don’t all go on my Facebook. I still have my eye on painting the old chair outside now that the weather has improved so that may be my next post (but who knows, the sofa is still a possibility despite some setbacks in the testing phase!) I forgot to take a before picture this time but since I kept one drawer of each colour the same I hope I get away with it 🙂

Pine Chest of Drawers Makeover

The chest of drawers is finally finished – hooray! And I have to say I’m very pleased. I’ve learnt a few things from this project and had a few minor disasters along the way (of course) but this is how I did it…

The chest of drawers is made of pine, which scratches so easily that I will be tiptoeing around it very carefully now it’s finished. Because of this it had quite a lot of big scratches on it already, especially on the top, so I decided it was the perfect time to get out my husband’s electric sander. After lots of fun feeling like a DIY pro with my mask and power tools the chest looked like this…

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It was at this point that I realised I should maybe have used wood filler on the biggest cracks as I intended to varnish the top and didn’t want a patchy look. I ended up having to do quite a lot more sanding to even it out a bit more (creating a LOT of dust!)

After sanding the top I roughly sanded down the rest of the chest and filled in some cracks and dents with wood filler (see orange patches in the picture above). This project ends up involving quite a lot of sanding as you will see! Then I got started on varnishing the top with Ronseal interior varnish in ‘Satin Medium Oak.’

I ended up doing 3 coats of varnish after mistakenly painting against the grain for the first coat (faint stripes still visible in the wrong direction). In the end it wasn’t perfect but still looked pretty good so it was time to start painting.

My struggles with chalk paint are outlined in my last post How to paint without leaving brush strokes and bobbles. I have since learnt that it also helps to add a bit of water to chalk paint to make it go on more smoothly. Anyway, for a smoother finish I ended up doing a light sand in between coats (of Rust-oleum chalk paint in ‘Winter Grey’) with one of these amazing things…

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Two coats was enough for most of it and the chest now looked like this (minus the drawers)…

Check out the fitted wardrobes in the background – definitely a future project.

Now it was time to put the new handles on. I wanted shaker-style drawer pulls and chose some from Screwfix in ‘antique brass’ because they looked nice, weren’t too expensive and were fixed with screws through the front (I thought I might have a DI-Why?? moment if I tried to drill through the back of the drawers). Because the wood was so soft and I didn’t want to scratch the new handles I did some careful measuring and used a manual screwdriver. I then forced myself to get on and cover the whole chest with one coat of Rust-oleum furniture finishing wax for protection. Here is the finished result…

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I love it! And here’s another photo now it’s back in place in the spare room…


And a close up of the varnished top…

Unfortunately all pictures are slightly ruined by the hideous decor that is still in every room of the house (but hopefully for only a few months longer.) Here’s what I used for the project…

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I’m still deciding on my next project but if the weather improves I might move outside and try out spray paint for the first time (very excited about this!) Watch this space…

 

How to paint without leaving brush strokes and bobbles.

I’ve been busy working on my latest project, in between work going crazy and having 2 children to take care of. This means a few minutes here and there, often late at night in the worst-lit room in the world. And I’ve been having some problems and frustrations.

The paint I’ve chosen for the chest of drawers is a proper chalk paint, as opposed to the satin finish of the last one. The first coat goes on fine but painting on the second coat starts to feel like wading through mud. And because it’s so thick and dries so fast, as soon as I slightly brush back and go over a bit I’ve already done it starts bobbling up and looking awful…

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AAAGGGHH! Maybe it’s the brand I’ve chosen or I’m too fussy but I thought chalk paint was supposed to be really easy to use.

Anyway, my previous technique to combat this was as follows:

  1. Slap on the paint thickly as this seems to help.
  2. Paint as quickly as possible (cue sore arms and looking like a crazy paint lady).
  3. Try to work in one direction and never go back or ever ever stop in the middle.

This is STRESSFUL! And because I’m a bit of a perfectionist I always spot something that’s just not quite right and break rule number 3. Plus on big sections rule number 3 is impossible to follow.

I had the same issue when painting the marble on my fireplace but managed to get away with an uneven look as it makes it sort of look like stone. This was not working with the chest of drawers. Until I discovered something that worked better. Maybe this will change the world…(!?)

  1. Slap on the paint with a massive brush and roughly paint the required area without worrying about bobbles, brush strokes etc. (fun!)
  2. Grab a basic small foam roller and roll it over the area, magically smoothing out every small imperfection.
  3. That’s it!!

Now I know you are probably asking, ‘why not just put the paint on with a roller in the first place?’ This is because if you put the paint on the actual roller it slips all over the place and you end up with even more problems. Also it’s really hard to do this for small or narrow areas like in the photo above. There is a texture to the finish but it’s very even and I quite like it…

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Hopefully the chest of drawers will be finished soon (despite the fact that it’s made of ridiculously soft wood and I keep scratching it). I’ve invested in a miner’s-style head light which helps with the bad lighting but not with the crazy paint lady look. Watch this space!

 

 

DI-WHY??

While I get on with the chest of drawers project I thought I’d own up to a couple of disasters that occurred while painting the piano stool. I’m quite prone to these small disasters and like to call them…

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In fact, if I’m being honest I first directed the term towards my husband when he tried to put a TV up on the wall. As you may have guessed it fell off. And broke. And we’d had it less than a day. Ouch.

Anyway, I have a tendency to get a bit impatient and rush things. As I mentioned in my piano stool post I needed to glue the legs in on one side as they kept coming out of the main frame. I put some glue where I thought it should be and then tried to push the two bits together by hand. This got me nowhere so I picked up the nearest thing to hand and start bashing (deeming the mallet in the under the stairs cupboard too far away.) Unfortunately, my object of choice was a pot of wood varnish that I’d just bought for the chest of drawers. After about 2 whacks the lid popped off and every drop of varnish poured out all over the carpet (yes I hadn’t even thought to use the bottom of the tin.) In my rush to clear up I then knelt on the tube of superglue that I had left on the floor with the lid off. Then got it on my hands. Then tried to peel some off and peeled off some skin as well. Then had to wear a jungle animals plaster for the next 3 days.

Fortunately all of the carpets in the house are currently 70’s hideous and so the fact that a big patch is now crunchy and discoloured doesn’t really matter. My jeans, however, are ruined (yes it was one of those occasions when I hadn’t changed my clothes first.) I also had to buy a new tin of varnish which added to the cost of the project. My finger is now mostly recovered, though I’m now sporting a jungle animals plaster on the other hand after managing to grate my thumb (I really need to buy some adult plasters.)

Hopefully I’ve learnt a bit from the experience and will strive to do better next time. I suspect, however, this won’t be the last time a DI-WHY?? moment occurs.

Quick update on the chest of drawers…I used an electric sander for the first time today and it was FUN!!

 

Piano Stool Makeover: Wood and Velvet Repaint

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My very very old, falling-apart piano stool had been in desperate need of a makeover for years and last week I finally got around to starting it. Step one was a bit of glue as one side kept coming loose. Then I got the Rust-oleum satin furniture paint in ‘Cotton’ out yet again (I promise I’ll use more interesting colours soon!)

After 4 coats on the visible bits and 2 on the rest it looked better but the velvet top was still in need of recovering. I do own a staple gun but this velvet was nailed to the actual wood and the seat does not detach so staples weren’t really an option. I considered getting some new fabric, taking the old nails out and using them to hammer on the new fabric (or using new ones if necessary). However, I’d been reading up about using paint on velvet and other fabrics and since it was such a small piece I thought I’d give it a try. I could always recover it later if everything went wrong and I do love my paint. Here’s the stool before…

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I used Dylon fabric paint in navy, which I could pick up from my local Hobbycraft (again I was impatient to wait) and which claimed to keep the material soft. Unfortunately the pots are really tiny so I ended up buying four to do two coats. I’ve since realised you can buy a bigger pot, but quite a lot bigger so only worth it if you’re doing a large chair or sofa. I was really pleased with the results…

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The fabric is not quite as soft but still feels and looks like velvet and I love the rich colour. You can also iron the fabric to lock the colour in.

All that was left to do was put a trim around it. I used some velvet ribbon from Hobbycraft that I bought for under £2. Then the usual wax and it was finished…

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All in all I’m very pleased. It looks loads better and cost hardly anything to do up. Result! And I will definitely be painting more fabric in the future as it’s so easy. As long as you’re not painting a really comfortable sofa I don’t think the slight decrease in softness is a big problem. Here’s what I used for the project…

 

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For my next project I’m tackling a chest of drawers. And (shock horror) I won’t be painting it white!

TV cabinet repaint

So after my fireplace success I looked to the left and the TV cabinet was the obvious choice for my next project. It was bought originally from IKEA for a fair bit of money and has very useful cable holes drilled into the back and good storage so I didn’t want to get rid of it. However, the pine effect won’t work with the clean, bright, classic look I eventually want for the room.  See it here in original form with another photo of the original fireplace.

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After a few experiments with shades of grey I decided to go with the same white furniture paint as I used for the fireplace (the walls will eventually be a light shade of grey for contrast). I used 3/4 coats on the visible areas and 2 on the inside…

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Then finished the job with wax and some new handles, vintage clock faces which I ordered from amazon. Overall I’m pleased but it hasn’t got the wow factor I’d really like so I may need to revisit it in the future. Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated so please share!

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Reminder to self – take more and better photos! Here’s what I used for this project…

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Next to face the brush: very old and falling-apart piano stool which needs painting and recovering…but I might paint the fabric instead.