Projects : Painted Trunk

Ages and ages ago my Dad and I made this trunk.


The idea was that I was going to paint it inspired by something I’d seen in a  magazine, but I never got around to it.

Then late last year Farrow and Ball emailed me and asked if I fancied undertaking a project painting a piece of furniture and writing about how I did it. I love Farrow and Ball (almost the whole house is painted in it) and so of course I said yes please!

I found this image on Pinterest of a painted trunk, sent it to them and they sent me back their best guess on the colours needed.


And then nothing happened. Farrow and Ball sent me a couple of polite emails asking me how I was finding the paint, but I just didn’t knuckle down. And then suddenly I did.

I opened up the paints having completely forgotten the design I’d opted for….was surprised….dug out the image I was inspired by and got going.


I chalked a design a bit like the one from the photo on the side as a guide. I say a bit as the original image isn’t great quality so you can’t really make all of it out, plus I’m too slapdash to be totally faithful.


And then I got going. Probably a mistake but I started with the front.



Then the sides.


Inside lid.


And finally the top and back.


And that’s it really. It’s not that neat, or symmetrical and I kind of approached it as a doodle, just adding bits as I went. However, I think the overall effect is good!


My friend has come to stay with me while he writes a book. So we’re transforming the sitting room into a bedroom and the kitchen/dining room into a kitchen/sitting room. It’s actually been fun. A bit of a struggle moving sofas between floors (the sitting room is…well was..on the first floor) but quite a good challenge.

As part of this I took the chance to get the painting finally done in the kitchen. It got a quick once over with pigeon when the room was first worked on but it was never a polished job. Plus overtime I had decided that it would be better to have all the woodwork, ceiling and walls one colour. I got some raised eyebrows when trying this out on people as an idea but I felt pretty sure it would work. Or I’d like it at least. So I plunged in and got going.

Taking delivery of plenty of paint.

How it was before. 




and after…


I’m also changing the lights in this room to two of these which I bought in the John Lewis sale after Christmas. I don’t think they do this one anymore but they have some similar styles.




Painting the ceiling a dark colour is definitely the most controversial idea, but (and it may seem strange that I consider this a good thing) no one actually notices that it’s been painted until you point it out. Just that something is different and I think it makes the room seem more complete and the ceilings seem higher as there’s not a band of colour demarcating the divide.

Overall I’m pleased with the results.

A dash of colour

I recently decided to paint this dresser.


In many ways it’s nice as it is. But it’s soon going in another room where I think being painted a light colour will fit better. Plus it’s not in amazing shape (the wood on the front door for example has bowed) and my dad advised that a lick of paint would help keep it all together. And I always listen to my father!

So I chose Pavilion Grey by Farrow from Ball as base colour and then a highlight colour of India Yellow. I wanted to pick out some of the edges and this colour links with the yellow/oranges in the small pieces of glass in the top windows.

And this is how it turned out.



I went a bit crazy and freehand painted some decoration on the drawers. I’m not sure it goes with the total look of the cabinet but I like it.




I also spotted these pom poms on the Graham and Green site and bought them on a whim. They’ve gone in the bedroom.

pom pms4

pom poms4

pom poms5

A little ridiculous but they somehow seem to make the room more complete and they’re fun.  At least I think so.

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.

A complete kitchen

Well nearly.

The kitchen in the flat is in and working.

The plan is to add some shelves above these units for storage. Then with this dresser, bought secondhand from the British Heart Foundation (Old Kent Road branch) some years ago now, gives the room a mix of fitted and free-standing.

The door into the lobby you can see here is Farrow and Ball Lulworth Blue which is actually left over from painting the garden shed. The door through to the bedroom area matches.

The rest of the room is starting to feel more complete, although far from finished.

The entrance to the flat has also improved greatly. For starters it’s no longer a death-trap as the roof area has been repaired.

The new front door has been installed. This had to be made for the space as the dimensions are slightly unusual.

Still need to pick a colour for it….

The idea is to paint the exterior well area white so it reflects the light back into the flat. The bars unfortunately will need to stay because it’s a slightly out of sight, plus we need to get a security light working.

The lobby area will be for storage (coats, boots etc). The wires will be boxed in and some kind of cupboard will probably go in front.

Some touch ups elsewhere too. The doors to the bathroom have had a coat of paint. Again using up colours from elsewhere. This is Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster which is the same colour as the sitting room. I think it works really well with the green of the bedroom.

Bathroom designs

The bathroom has been a bit static recently. We had the wall taken down in the room early on which previously made it both a bathroom and kitchen. Weird. Then we installed a new bath, sink, shower, loo and washing machine which has gone into a little utility cupboard in the corner of the room. And to be honest we’ve quickly got used to it at this functional stage.

But this week we have had our plasterer back and so that means we can start thinking about painting the walls and what we’re going to do with the room.

I saw this picture in a magazine, Living Etc I think and liked it (it started my recent pink obsession).

Why they keep a suitcase under the sink I don’t know. But ignore that.

So I was thinking maybe lots of white with a fresh green and bright pink.

I’ve posted here before about this Toile paper by Timorous Beasties.

I love how it seems to be one thing but is in fact another and it could be my green. But it’s cream background isn’t quite right and it’s £100. Maybe for somewhere else.

Recently I picked up a copy of House and Garden and saw this paper by Original Little Bird and I think its £35 a roll so much cheaper. A sample is coming my way.

The bath is in the center of the room and that does mean we need to think of a way of giving some privacy from the window.

We hate frosted windows and so I’m thinking of getting a super old-fashioned lace curtain.

And we need to think about how we’re going to dry clothes on dull winter days. We have decided to get an overhead airer which we’ll position somewhere above the bath so you can relax and look up at your knickers drying.

Finally flooring. I really really want black and white tiles. Klaus wants carpet. We’ll see how that pans out.

But in the meantime we need to get the walls finished, plastered, painted and go from there. I’ll be interested to see how closely we stick to these initial plans.

Kitchen update

This weekend we paid a visit to Ikea. We had to pick up a few things and also collected a few things we didn’t really intend to buy as seems to be the way with Ikea. 

We were mainly looking for some shelves to go around our cooker. We’re quite pleased with the look of this area after going through all this….

Seriously dusty and surprisingly time-consuming. And so we want to make the most of it. On the cheap of course. 

We found some inexpensive small shelves of the right size. They were £2.50 each and a bit dull but we bought six took them home and I carefully painted them all Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose

I’ve suggested pink again and again after cutting out these images from some magazines.  

And finally we’re in agreement to go ahead and that it works. 

We’ve using them for the ingredients we use the most. It looks a bit like we’re playing shop. We also added a metal bar to hang pots from, so they’re always in easy reach and because they take up so much space. 

And we inch forwards a bit more. 

The other bedroom

It’s been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks as Klaus has been busy working on a his proper job and to be fair he is the main driving force behind much of the work done on the house.

However I have got round to taking some photos of our bedroom. Like the other room it’s not finished and what you don’t see in these shots are all our clothes on rails but it’s a step in the right direction. 

You can get a sense of the rail effect from this picture taken the weekend we moved in (this is the bed we later moved into the other bedroom). It’s a bit neater now.

We chose a new quite neutral wall colour. I normally prefer more colour but we had a headboard that I made for our previous house we wanted to use again and this colour worked best with that and the fireplace. The colour is elephants breath by Farrow and Ball. Probably the best name ever for a paint.

The colour looks really different from one of these shots to the next . In the morning light it’s quite varied as well with one wall looking cool and the other much warmer. I like that.

We’ve kept the existing curtains, but we weren’t too keen on the pattern and just for now we have simply turned them round so we are actually living with the lining.

The floor boards in here are painting the same colour all across the top flor and into the other bedroom. I used the same colour to update an old mirror we had steadily fallen out of love with. Klaus claimed it was “too 1990’s”.  Here it is just before I took my paintbrush to it in rather a pretentious photo which has Klaus’ piano in the relfection

And here it is afterwards back in the bedroom.

These fireplaces in the bedroom are really polarizing. Some people love them and some literally hate them. We can’t afford to change them at the moment anyway, but I am starting to come down on the side of love.

A busy weekend

First up is the bathroom. We have a new roll top bath ordered, paid for and arriving tomorrow. The shower screen and tray have arrived and we went out and bought some simple tiles. We’ve also started the process of building the utility cupboard which goes in the corner of this room. The new washing machine is sitting next to it ready to be slotted in. Plus plasterboard has gone on the ceiling.

We were however still missing a sink (and a loo). Everything we saw in the showrooms we either hated or was extremely expensive so we decided to check eBay. At the pub on Friday night using their wifi we found a very nice sink not too far away and about to end. It had no bidders apart from us so we picked that up for 99p, incredible. Then we noticed that the seller had other items, a complete bathroom suite in fact all of which was about to end. Since we were going to their house anyway we bought their loo, shower attachment (which we are hanging onto for the basement bathroom) and another bath. The second bath we thought we’d keep for the taps as they are so expensive and find a new home for the bath.

Here’s the loo arriving.

So that’s a very good condition bathroom suite for £7.48.

We left the bath out front as it was heavy and before we had the chance to take the taps off (which were ok but not too great) some very strong beachcomber came past and took it away. To be fair when this normally happens we’re pleased as we deliberately leave items we don’t need out front for poeple to take, but in this instance it was a bit swifter than expected.  I think we owned the bath for two hours maybe three. Nevermind.

On the way back to London from collecting our loot we swung past the Graham and Green warehouse sale in Chiswick and bought some small bits and bobs. It’s worth checking out particularly for furniture. It happens about twice a year and everything is at least 50% off.

The other room which has had a bit of attention is the back bedroom. This is how it used to look.

And here it is now. It’s not totally complete but a quick facelift.

This is Chinese Blue from Farrow and Ball and the orginal curtains.

But unfortunately the view back onto the landing shows the general state of mayhem.

This room and a few of the others have boards that can’t be put back down. Either they are too fragile or they have been cut but not across the beam so they are impossible to repair. So we went to the reclamation yard and bought some  new/old boards.

Some other treasures at the reclamation yard. These are taken on my phone so not great quality shots.

The boards are now in the house waiting to be fitted.

So still lots and lots to do.

Some signs of change

We seem to have finally reached a point where we are adding rather than subtracting from our house. We’ve been busy painting the walls and floors on the top floor to get the bedrooms looking better if not perfect (pictures to follow), Klaus and his brother have been putting up plasterboard in the hall, and all the radiators have arrived

which means once they are all fitted the floorboards can all go back down. We have so many odd boards propped up all over the place that will be a relief.

We have invested in a few stylish radiators in places where they will be on show and more functional ones where they will be obscured.  Once they are fitted we’ll not want to take them down again in a hurry to paint behind so that has meant we have been forced to make some colour decisions. Much of the work on the house feels like this, slowly slowly then suddenly we need to make instant, binding decisions.

In the kitchen we have two windows that are at the front of the house with panelling and shutters. When we first looked viewed the house in deepest darkest January this was one of the things we thought about changing that made us want to go for it. We thought at the time we’d go for Pigeon by Farrow and Ball but we tried another just to be sure. This is Pavilion Grey along side Pigeon.

But Pigeon was the winner. We’re planning to do much of the woodwork and walls in this colour perhaps adding in another colour if the overall effect is too dark as this will run throughout the room to the area where the kitchen units will actually be. One day. In the future. We hope.

Here are some tester shots of the colour plus radiators to get the idea.



 And at the other end of the room the fireplace has finally been knocked out to allow the oven to slot inside. This was much more trouble than we expected but it’s done now and we are pleased with the results so far.

On the other side of the room these are the rather limited facilities we are functioning with at the moment. It’s cobbled together from freestanding parts of our old kitchen and the sink that was upstairs in the orginal kitchen.

So it may not seem like much but to us it’s the first glimmer that there is light at the end of the tunnel.