Everything must go

I went to the Graham and Green warehouse sale yesterday with a friend, it’s on a glamorous industrial estate in Brentford. I’ve been before and written about it – although I had forgotten and my friend had to remind me.

I had also forgotten just how much furniture they have available at these events. We went quite late so many of the items had sold (and we were on more of a reconnaissance mission than actually making major purchases) and were either waiting to be collected or loaded for delivery – a service I only realised they offered as we left. That’s probably a good thing as I might have gone mad and bought a massive shelving unit, or sofa, just because they were a bargain. Having a tiny smart car is a good constraint sometimes.

Anyway here are some rather blurry images to give you an idea of what’s on offer.

Desks and mirrors.

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Sideboards

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Garden furniture

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Shelves and some of the mother of pearl inlay items they are known for.

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Some of the smaller home accessories

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And here are the things I wanted to buy and agonised over.

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  • Could they go in my kitchen? No it’s full (even if you rearrange it)
  • What about the sitting room? But weird for a sitting room? Anyway that room needs a bit of a rethink so best to hold off
  • Landing, hall walls? Possibly….

I managed to be restrained and will probably keep these in mind and return to their next sale when I have the house and my mind slightly more in order. I think they have a couple a year and if you’re on the mailing list they send out a reminder.

I did buy a couple of things though. This mirror for the downstairs loo, I’ve had my eye on it for a while and I found one at the sale lonely, looking for a home (this image is from the GG and website –  I’d like the wire rack too).

mirror

And some more pom poms (image also from the GG website), I already have some but they were reduced to £3 so good for spares.

pom pom

All in all well worth a visit, particularly if you have your eye on one of the larger items of furniture.

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A home for everything

Totally fitted kitchens are (at least at the moment) not really my thing, to my eyes they can be too finished or not in keeping with the rest of the house. I like a mix of old and new with open shelving to display the more attractive items and cupboards to hide away the not so attractive…much the same as my approach to every room.

With that in mind I have been looking for something to hang on the wall over the kitchen sink. I did think of a large vintage mirror but I looked and looked and couldn’t find one I liked.

Then I got a bit more practical and decided to go for shelves, mainly to allow the glasses to reside in a more convenient location. Eventually I found these old pine shelves (I suspect they were previously to top of a dresser) on eBay and the search was over.

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I love eBay. Living in London it can be hard to find furniture that doesn’t break the bank. It all seems to have been bought elsewhere, popped in a London lifestyle store, styled a bit and the priced doubled. eBay means that you can buy pieces from all over the country and either pick it up yourself or use the website anyvan. It works really well, all you do is post your job with the main details (description, rough size etc) and the picking up and dropping off points plus a timeframe it needs to happen within. Then a range of courier companies will bid on your job, they’re often combining your job with another so for them it works quite well. I’ve used it a number of times and it’s always gone smoothly and been quite cost-effective. I’m sure there must be something similar in the US and Canada – if not consider that a free business idea!

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glasss

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cups

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The flat – fixing it up part one

Rental properties can be a bit tough to make your own. You can’t choose the colour of the walls, flooring, tiles, kitchen cabinets etc. But you can do your best to make it a bit different with what you can add. That’s what I have been doing.

Here’s my flat before.

The lounge (taken on my phone, so really poor shots).

lounge window

lounge back

And here’s what I have been doing with it. Starting with the lounge. I’ve tried to divide it into a dinning and seating area

view into lounge

The sofa and coffee table are from Made (who I’d love to recommend as the furniture is great and inexpensive but the customer service is dire), the sideboard an Ebay special and rug from Ikea. I like this rug so much I actually have two now, the other is in the house we’ve been renovating.

sofa

The pictures are all held up with a product called Command Strips, a kind of velcro for walls which you can peel off later without damaging the plaster (at least I hope so, I have used a considerable number).

table

work bowl

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pots

I also acquired this useful side table. The top comes off and becomes a tray if you fancy it. I got mine at Jane Newbery in Dulwich.

coffee table

lamp

Then for the dining end. Same room, different angle.

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The table is from Crystal Palace Antiques and the chairs I have covered on here already in this post.

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window ledge

And here’s the bench still waiting for me to finish upholstering it, also covered here in an old post.

bench

Bedroom next.

Simple chair update

Recently I was lucky enough to be given a set of dining chairs by generous friends. I also found and bought a new dining table from an antiques shop and together I felt I had a bit too much dark wood going on.

So I decided to update the chairs by painting and recovering them. Painting the chairs is obviously the bigger, more permanent change than recovering so needed a bit more thought. Although it’s not for ever, you can of course strip them back or change the colour even if doing so can be very time consuming.

I started by sanding down the chairs and giving them an undercoat.

I then chose a new colour for them. After much agonising I went for Chalk Violet from Fired Earth.

I also had to choose some fabric for the seats. I wanted something with a strong pattern and considered doing each seat in a  different fabric but in the end I found this simple design in John Lewis . I thought this had a bit of interest but would also work with other fabrics and patterns in the same room.

This is where my slightly basic approach comes in but I kept the process of recovering the seats really simple and quick.

I removed the old leather cover and retained all the stuffing and the black piece of fabric used to hide all the workings.

Then using the frame as a guide I cut out an section of frabric with enough give around the edge to allow me to fold it up and staple the sections to the frame, but not so much that it would be bulky and hard to manage.

I have a staple gun for stretching canvas when I am painting and I used this to fix the fabric  and stuffing in place. Mine in reality isn’t strong enough so I had to help some of the staples in a bit. It can be tempting to add in loads and loads of staples but having spent hours removing them and knowing I might want to change this fabric one day meant I was fairly restrained.

I added staples bit by bit, first on one side, then the opposite and working round like this to create and even look.

When folding in the corners you have to make sure you get it pretty tight as this will need to drop back into the chair frame.

Then I fished out the bit of black fabric to cover this slightly erratic stapling and neaten things up.

And you have a finished base.

Then you simply drop this back into your painted frame and you’re done.

Up-cycling…

Some time ago the courses at The School of Stuff were recommended to me.

This rather sorry piece of furniture also arrived in the house, a refugee from a previous life as a stage prop.

As you can probably guess I decided to do a five day course at The School of Stuff in upholstery and use this bench as my project.

Five days seems like a long time but my main learning from this course was that upholstery (proper traditional style) is quite fiddly and quite time consuming. So without giving the end away I haven’t completely finished, but I thought a post now with all the stages covered would help me remember what I have learnt so far.

Stage one is stripping back. For everyone else on the course who had bought lovely antique pieces this was a very important stage. They had to document all the layers to help recreate the shape and remind them how the elements fitted together. For me with my rather basic bench this was less of an issue.

What I did have to do however was remove an incredible number of staples, dull work.

The wood frame didn’t look like it would be nice enough to bother stripping back the treacle like varnish. So I sanded it down and decided to paint it white.

Then I was ready to start rebuilding. We could have just repaired the springs that were there and used foam again but I wanted to go for a squarer shape rather than a dome when finished. So it was a complete rebuild.

First up I added webbing which is going to support the springs.

Then we worked out how many springs were needed, their size and where to place them. Once in position and evenly spaced I drew around them in red chalk so they would be easy to replace if knocked. Then they were sewed into position.

Then all the springs are tied together using a clove hitch. I found this quite hard as you had to compress the springs slightly, hold them in place, get the distances between them right and tie the knots.

The springs then get a cover of fabric and the tops of the springs are sewn to this as well.

Into this fabric large ties are sewn to give something to tuck the stuffing into.

I think this stuff is made from coconut husks but traditionally it would have been horse hair.

Another layer of fabric this time put on very carefully to form the corners and the shape of the seat. Once covered the stuffing inside is then “regulated” using  a needle like tool that allows you to move the stuffing around and even it up. Then some stitches are added through the seat to start to hold the stuffing in place using an enormous needle.

The next stage is to stitch round the sides. Again we sew through the seat and stuffing to start to pull it into shape and form a neat regular edge.

And that’s kind of where I got to. I need to arrange to go back in and spend another day or so finishing off.

I have however got the fabric for the covering sorted. We ordered it via the school from a company called Bute and I decided to go with Lime for the base and Dove for the back rests.

So all ready to go….

Before and after – main bedroom

Now that some parts of the house can be almost declared “done” I thought it might be fun to look back at how they have changed. First up is the master bedroom. Annoyingly I don’t have too many “before” images, but here are a few.

This was the simplest room to change. We just took up the carpet and painted the floor Farrow and Ball Strong White and chose Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath for the walls; a strangely named paint and quite a gentle but beautiful colour. Changed the light fitting and added some furniture.

After which it looked like this.

 

Bargain Hunting

Antiques are often a far more affordable way to buy furniture than buying new. That and you’re much more likely to find something unusual that you won’t see all over the place.

However living in London it can sometimes seem hard to find these bargains. Obviously there is Ebay but that can mean a bit of travel plus you don’t get to try before you buy. Antiques shops tend to either be over priced, full of  uninspiring pieces painted a tasteful colour and presented as something special; or stacked so high with everything on top of each other it can be hard to make anything out.

So it was great to visit Crystal Palace Antiques. It has been recommended before but this was the first time I had visited. Spread over four floors it’s a great mix of pieces with enough variety to happily browse through yet edited so it’s not just a great pile of furniture stacked to the ceiling. Plus the prices seems fair (and much cheaper than the quality new alternatives).

Here are some of the things that caught my eye (which seem to be mainly mid century stuff – my taste must be changing!).

I thought this might work for our kitchen

Looking inside this dressing table,

We found some rather interesting books…

And this is what the shop looks like.