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Visit: Crystal Palace Antiques

8 May

Yesterday Hannah and I took a trip out to Crystal Palace Antiques, just near the Crystal Palace bus station.

Having had two separate groups of people suggest it as a great place to check out, we had quite high expectations. And this four storey warehouse did not disappoint! It is full to the brim with antiques and design classics.

The basement is filled with lots of amazing 1950s and 60s furniture which wouldn’t look out of place on the Mad Men set.

And everywhere else was full of interesting and wonderful pieces that I would love to have at home.

Prices vary but overall they seemed to be quite reasonable. The more modern furniture seemed to be more expensive. I’m not sure whether this is because it was made by a well known furniture designer or just because it is so much more desirable these days. Very unique furniture was also, unsurprisingly, fairly pricey. But most things were only slightly more expensive than IKEA – certainly less expensive than somewhere like John Lewis or M&S for really well designed, well made furniture. Plus it is an absolute JOY to browse. Well worth the visit.

Crystal Palace Antiques is on Jasper Road, Crystal Palace. You can also follow them on Facebook.


Decoupage Inspiration

16 Mar

Ever since I saw Nova & Lorsten’s cool Mills & Boon decoupage products at The New Vintage Event in Brixton I’ve been looking for a way to use it in a project. We have two very boring Ikea coffee tables at home which are starting to look a bit tatty so my flatmate and I are going to give it a try. Meanwhile here are the ideas that have been inspiring me on Pinterest.

Source: via Hannah on Pinterest

I love the patchwork effect on this chair.

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

Maps are a popular idea for decoupage.

Source: via Hannah on Pinterest

This table has been decoupaged with fabric rather than paper.

Source: via Hannah on Pinteres

I’m mildly obsessed with butterflies so using this wrapping paper would be right up my street.


Book review: Domino Book of Decorating

26 Jan

Domino was a magazine published in the US until 2009. I never saw a copy, but I heard some many great things about it that I asked for their book, the Domino Book of Decorating as a Christmas present (thanks Frances!).

So what’s it like? Great! I wish their magazine was still being published (and available here in the UK) as it strikes me that the book is so much more accessible than some of the home decor magazines that I have been buying of late, which seem to fall into either the slightly townie Ideal Home bracket or the mega pricey Elle Decor bracket.

I love their advice to assess your stuff – so rather than thinking that what you have isn’t going to work in your room, think about what opportunities there are with existing things – could you repaint or reupholster rather than have to buy something new? And their advice about getting rid of things. If you are hanging on to things just because it has an emotional attachment, but you actually hate it, maybe it is time to donate it to charity or give it to freecycle.

They also have some good advice about creating a floor plan. When we were planning our flat (which we are still in the process of laying out!) we created a to scale drawing of our entire flat, then cut out to scale models of all the furniture we were planning to buy. That way we could see what fit, how we would lay it out, and how little room we really have to play with, all without spending a penny.

Then there are just pages and pages of inspiration – different styles for each part of the house, really useful tips, decorating tricks (one, to create a fake stair runner, is probably what P and I are going to do in our flat – with only 3 stairs it seems silly to spank a lot of money having a carpet fitted, but it looks too plain as it is currently (painted white) and looks dirty VERY quickly!), solutions for small spaces (something we really need) and lots more.

I also love the pieces from the contributing editors and others from the Domino team about how they did up their rooms – where their inspiration came from, what they did to create their perfect room, etc.

Overall I thought this was a great book – I get new ideas each time I open it and it has definitely influenced what we are doing with our flat. Well worth picking up.

Buy the Domino Book of Decorating on Amazon

Ideas for craft projects

24 Jan

A round up of some great craft projects found on pinterest.

Origami heart bookmark via Bloomize

DIY Stencil pillows via Wit and Whistle

Sweet hand made teabags - what a great gift tag idea!

Amazing upcycled map drawers via Richmond Thrifter

Have you seen any good craft projects lately? Share them in the comments!

Shoestring Swap Shop

18 Jan

After the success of the last one, we are planning another swap party!

The Shoestring Swap Shop will be on February 4th at the Railway pub in Clapham North, from 1-6pm.

As well as a massive swap party for clothes (and any gifts you got this Christmas that you think are just not you), you can also buy some delicious cakes from the Cherry Blossom Cakery, make Valentine’s cards for your loved ones, and lots more.

If you are interested in hosting a stand showing people how to upcycle their clothes or furnishings, e-mail us at

If you would like to come, please RSVP on the Facebook event page or by dropping us an e-mail at the above address. More details will be coming soon, so make sure you sign up today.

Hope to see you there!

PS: as a further enticement, here’s a reminder of my bounty from our last event

Furniture Upcycling

15 Jan

My flatmate and I have have been keeping our eyes out recently for things for our home that don’t cost us a fortune. My flatmate needed a new bed and spotted this on ebay. A nail biting £28 later and with a bit of sweet talking her father to collect it she was the proud owner of this solid wood frame bed.

With a quick rub down with sand paper, a coat of primer and a couple of coats of ivory cream satin wood it now looks beautiful in her bedroom.  In total it cost about £45 and a bit of elbow grease.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hankering after having a dining table but we don’t have the space for one that’s up all the time. The other day I was walking past a nearby house clearance shop and spotted a small drop leaf table outside. I did a deal including delivery for £40 and with the same treatment as above now have a handy table that serves as a side table by day but can be brought out with some folding chairs if people come round for dinner.

The table had clearly been well used if not loved

Reupholstering a small armchair

27 Oct

I found this chair at the tip in my old home town about 10 years ago where I paid £5 for it. I handed it over to my mother who helped me restuff and reupholster it the first time but earlier this year I decided it was time for another refresh.

I unscrewed the seat from the frame and stripped off the fabric. Originally this frame was stained black but I stripped, sanded and painted it the first time round and that didn’t really need doing again this time.

So turning to the chair seat I cut pieces of fabric the same size as the ones I removed, working with the pattern to ensure it was symmetrical.

With a heavy duty stapler attach the fabric to the chair frame, pulling the fabric firmly but not too tightly around it. Fold and pleat the material at the corners and don’t worry too much about left over fabric because it won’t be seen after the back is fixed on. For the back staple the fabric on the wrong side at the top and then fold it down. To get a really neat edge on the curve of the back I cut a piece of cardboard to the correct shape and used it inside the curve to give shape to the material. When it gets to the point where you can’t staple on the wrong side anymore it’s time for careful hand sewing.

Screw the chair seat back into the frame and it’s all finished.

How to Reupholster a Dining Chair

9 Oct

These dining chairs have been in my family for over forty years. They belonged to my mother who stripped them all of their dark varnish and stained them this blonde colour. She handed them over to me about ten years ago and I’ve changed the seat fabric three times to suit different decor and when they’ve got worn and dirty. I’ve been lucky that mum did all the hard work on the wooden part of the chair but here’s how to reupholster the seat pad.

Pop the seat out of the chair and rip off all the old fabric and stuffing. I bought a foam pad from a shop in Clapham Junction and trimmed it to the size and shape of the seat. Cut out your piece of fabric with enough of a border to fit tightly round the chair. Use fabric suitable for upholstering and ideally dark in colour otherwise it’ll just get dirty really quickly. Lay them on a flat surface – fabric – foam then seat on top.

With a sturdy staple gun fold and staple the fabric round the chair seat. Pull it tight but not so much that it deforms the foam pad.

When you’ve stapled all round, turn it over and check there are no unsightly lumps or bumps. Then put it back in the chair frame.

Furniture Upcycling part 2 – bedroom chest of drawers

3 Oct

I’d had a set of solid wood pine drawers since I was a child but they look a bit old fashioned now and don’t fit with my current bedroom scheme. To give you an idea of how they looked originally these drawers are very similar.

After removing the handles I sanded my drawers all over with a course grade of sandpaper to remove the varnish, then rubbed them with a finer grade to smooth out the surface and wiped it clean with a damp cloth. Because I was then working on bare wood I applied a coat of primer and then two coats of paint, letting each coat dry fully before applying the next. Be careful with drips.

I chose some cut glass style drawer handles from a DIY shop and fitted them on each drawer.

I could have left it here but decided to add some stencilled butterflies taking inspiration from a recent trip to the Natural History Museum butterfly room.

To do this choose a stencil, I got mine from Homebase, secure with some masking tape then stipple with a stencil brush in the colours of your choice. I used acrylic paints because I had some in the cupboard but you can buy stencil paint from the DIY shop. This is still a work in progress as I’d like to add some plants and flowers at some point.

Furniture Upcycling part 1

27 Sep


I’m sure many of us have inherited pieces of furniture that don’t quite fit with our decor or have wanted a new look in our homes but can’t afford to throw everything out and start again. With a bit of inspiration and a few coats of paint it’s actually very easy to bring it all together and make cheap pieces look more expensive or old fashioned pieces look new.

When I came to sell my first home I knew the jumble of colours, styles and shapes weren’t going to help it’s saleability. Pine drawers from my childhood bedroom, mahogany coloured side table from a charity shop, bare wood framed mirrors bought in a warehouse outlet and black shelves left by the previous owners. The quick answer was to paint them all the same shade of cream. These shelves are about £25 from a DIY store and were a staple of all student houses when I was at university but with a coat of paint I’m happy to still have them in my home. And with some fairy lights at the back they actually look rather pretty.

The same goes for these mirrors which were bare pine and cost £15 and £20 respectively. I much prefer them now.


And this once mahogany coffee table bought by my sister for her university house for £5 in a charity shop. (This table used to have a lovely piece of beveled glass in the top which I broke in my last house move. A plain piece is doing the job until I can get a new one made.)


But there’s much more you can do than just paint. In my next post I’ll be showing you how to transform a chest of drawers.

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