Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Practising with the Camera

Because I've only taken up blogging very recently I'm taking a lot of photographs around the house to practise with the camera...
Partly to provide shots for the blog, and partly because I want my photos to be better... better than just the kind of holiday and family snap shots one normally takes... I've even been reading the manual.. wonders will never cease.

I'm having the most trouble with art !!
Mostly because the lights and assorted other things including ME reflect off the glass.
I'll keep trying and hopefully you'll see an improvement....

Now this was a pretty good shot I thought.. but I wasn't so keen on the background.. which is my sofa.

So I put the picture onto a different background, and I prefer the way it looks against the grey/blue... BUT... you can quite clearly see the reflection of my hand in the glass. So more practising required.

I made the piece from a 95 cent frame I bought at a charity shop. It was a nasty brown colour, and I don't think its even wood.. rather some heavy duty moulded cardboard with a shiny coating.
Anyway.. I painted it with some leftovers from a tester pot of Martha Stewart's Sugar White... it took a few coats but it came out just fine.
The green backing is a piece of brushed velvet which I got from a store in town which was throwing out its discontinued fabric swatches.
That by the way is an excellent way to get hold of assorted [albeit small] pieces of good quality upholstery fabric for projects such as this... and all the better for being FREE !!!
Just go in and ask what they do with their old samples, and they'll probably put them aside for you.
The image is a postcard from home.. of the Lake District actually, and the white edge is just a conveniently sized envelope. So the postcard sits on the envelope which sits on the fabric and its all held in place by the glass.

This is one of those plain pine IKEA frames [this time 50 cents from the Salvation army].
It's the same Sugar White paint., the image of the flowers is a tiny greetings card.. but this time the blue surround IS actually a proper cardboard mount..

I get them for pennies at the local dollar store.. less than a third of what they'd be at a proper ART shop.
Trouble is they're usually horrible colours.. like pesch or plum... ugh !!
White or cream ones are hard to find, since they are the most popular the dollar store just doesn't get them.
So I just paint them too.. that way you can have any damn colour you like. Card mount is usually made of a good quality cardstock that will happily stand up to a couple of coats of paint.. and there you have it.

I know its not a great photo though.. there's the shadow of my hand again.. I'm thinking its to do with the direction of the light..
Oh well back to the drawing board.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A store I love...

Today hubby and I are off to Coombs [about 45 minutes south of us] to visit "Goats on the Roof", Old Country Market. It's a fantastic place but it deserves a post all to itself so I'll save that another day.
Today I just wanted to mention a relatively new store that's opened in Courtenay called Red Living.

It's a mixture of vintage finds and shabby chic design. They have everything from furniture to back issues of home decor magazines. Kitchen wares, to garden pottery. Mirrors, art, lighting...  and all recycled or reclaimed or if you're lucky ends of lines they've picked up cheap so you can bag a bargain..
Their items are by definition 'one offs' so it's always worth a visit since their stock is ever changing.. and its fast becoming one of my favourite places to find quirky gifts and stuff for the house.
It's well worth a visit... and they even have a good website.. http://www.redliving.ca/
Oh and just so you know.. I'm not getting anything for saying this.. I don't do adverts, it's just my opinion.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday it seems is GREEN day.

Just some photographs of a few of my favourite bits and pieces from around the house today...

This gorgeous plate is by a local glass/pottery designer called Bill Boyd, who lives and works on Galiano Island in the Georgia Straits.. That's the strip of water that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. He's actually Swedish, but ended up here on the West Coast as so many people do...
This photo does not do it justice, his work is amazing..
So go see his website.. http://www.billboydceramics.com/ .. you won't be sorry.

This is part of the new glass we've had put into our front door... I loved the arts and crafts feel of it, but I must credit the hedge outside for making it look green.

A piece of wrapping paper in an IKEA frame.. I must have created it 15 years ago.. it still looks great.

This gorgeous spray of paper flowers brings a real taste of spring to the living room all year round.
They came from an Island company called Indaba. They wholesale imports from China and the far east.. but twice a year they open up to the public and have a big clearance sale.. I do love a bargain. 

I collect coffee cans [demitasse coffee cups] but every now and then a tea cup and saucer calls to me.
This lovely 'English Chintz' cup came from a fabulous china and glassware shop in Guildford, England, about 16 years ago... cost a bomb as I recall.

This lovely complete set of childrens books is part history, part encyclopedia, part story book.
Written by Olive Beaupré Miller it has the most glorious full colour plates and illustrations throughout all 12 volumes. We found it in a mixed box we bought at a vintage book shop.. for $40. 

Lot's of green in the photo's today I notice.. just co-incidence I think.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bookcases.. another makeover story..

This is another piece that we picked up at the auction rooms, which got a make over.
Well actually its two pieces. The bottom did come from the auction and was one of those bog standard 1950's or 60's pieces with the glass sliding doors at the front.. which were long gone...
My parents had a similare one [with the glass intact] that sat in their hall in Goring for years. I wonder what happened to that..
Anyway.. this one was in fairly good nick apart from the absence of the glass, and Bill loves books so we had to have it. I think it was $30 [about15 quid] and originally I hoped to do something slightly different with the legs which are the one thing that give away its vintage. However Mid Century Modern is now very very trendy, over here at least, so in the end I left the legs as they were.

the deep bottom shelf makes a great place
to store magazines..

The top section.. which you'll see is slightly narrower, came in fact from one of the great consignment stores we used to have in town... a place called Second Wind, which sadly now has gone.
It was just two shelves with sides but no base piece which makes me think it was always meant to sit on another piece of furniture.. like the top half of a dresser...
It already had a not very sucessful coat of white paint on it, so I couldn't tell you what wood its made from.. but it had some age to it, so probably oak or cherry.
I gave it the same treatment as the 6 drawer chest from yesterday, in fact I think I did this piece first actually, to see what sort of coverage I would get from the paint.
Originally the plan was to attach a base and wall mount the piece and in fact we did indeed put a base on it, made from 1/2 inch Maple ply.. but it was too deep in the end to mount it where we had originally intended and once we decided to put the bookcase on the stairs, the topper was an obvious choice.
We have a very deep half landing, 4 stairs up, and directly opposite the front door.. so it creates an inviting site line. Plus its a great place to store some books and candles and just SOME of my magazine collection..

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My bargain chest of drawers...

This is the first of many before and after posts I'm going to share here on the blog.
When Bill and I first moved into our house we had a little furniture of his.. most of it not worth having, and he won't mind me saying that because it really was naff.. and after a while, when the container arrived we got mine too, BUT, since I only had a two bed flat back in the UK and I'd sold the spare bed because it was only a single, it was hardly enough to furnish a 4 bedroomed house..
When I was a kid my parents were in a similar position.. big house no furniture !
One of their favourite things to do was visit local auctions.. partly from necessity and partly because they enjoyed it so much... so it seemed like the obvious thing to do ourselves. 
Back then we were very lucky because not only was there a local auction rooms, but there were two or three second-hand/vintage/consignment stores here in town that had nice bits a pieces too... which in a small community like this was really a wealth of sources.
Unfortunately they have all closed and the auctioneer retired [we still miss you Dave]. 
That having been said, if you fancy this sort of thing yourself, your available resources will depend on your location.. and anyone in an urban centre should have tons to choose from.
Now the place to find stuff is Craig's List plus of course the charity shops and garage/yard sales, antique markets and junk shops.
I will say ANYTHING even half decent gets snapped up very quickly so you need to check on-line everyday for bargains...
Plus if you want the very best deals at any kind of 'sale'.... either be there FIRST for choice [before all the traders and dealers pinch all the good stuff].. or LAST for bargains [because the stall holders won't want to re pack the stuff and lug it home].. and I've long believed that if you go to a market and you don't need a torch to see.. YOU'RE TOO LATE ;o)

Ok so back to the piece in hand..

It's a six drawer chest which we bought at Auction for $25 CDN [about 12.50 for you Brits].
Some one had already given it the Laurence Llewelyn Bowen treatment, with pink paint and a star stencil set, so it needed some TLC.
Before in the garage..
Now I did rub this down fairly aggressively because the paint job from before had a sort of horrid badly done crackle glaze in it and I wanted to get rid of as much of that as possible. As a general rule, and there's no way round it, the prep is vital and the better its done the better the piece will look in the end.
I know its a pain.. but I'm now looking at pieces in the house that I just slapped a coat of paint on when we first bought them, just to make them usable and I KNOW I'm going to have to go back and do them again.. so if you don't want to do that then do the prep right the first time.. you won't regret it.

Closer to show the nasty handles..
From the start I knew where I wanted to put this: in our front spare bedroom.. the blue room...
and the room had already been repainted, so I knew I wanted to paint it white. The white I chose is Benjamin Moore [which for the brits is a Canadian paint brand that quite up market.. like Dulux I suppose, and about 30 quid for a large tin]. The colour is Cloud White CC- 40, which is the colour I painted the kitchen cabinets. I had some left over so I used that.. oil based in a satin sheen.. but if I'd started from stratch I'd probably have chosen water based. Just because the clean up is so much easier.
The oil based does also give a nice finish too, and it's tough as old boots so if you're doing something for a kids room, its a good choice. 
I gave it a coat of primer.. also from Ben Moore, before I used the Cloud White.. the pink was actually quite a saturated colour and I knew it would take two coats to cover, so one might as well be primer. For a start its cheaper and gives a better finish... and it's that old prep thing again.. It will always look better.

Finished and in the blue room..

I use the small foam rollers.. you get really a really smooth finish and they're easy to clean. Plus at $4 for a pack of four they aren't expensive. [about 50p each]
In between coats [with water based paint] you just take them off the arm and wrap them tightly in cling film and they won't dry out. Saves all that washing out and wasting paint. If you're using oil based like me, overnight it still fine with just the cling film but if you know you won't need it again for a week or two just pop the cling film wrapped roll in the freezer. When you need it again take it out an hour or so before you want to use it.. and it will be fine.

Make sure you let each coat dry throughly before starting the next, or you'll find yourself taking off the paint you've just put on.

The final stage was find an attractive liner. I had some really nice and rather expensive japanese paper but actually found it too subtle once it was in the drawer. In the end I used sample pieces of wallpaper from Home Depot. They don't like you taking large samples at our branch, so I had to go back a couple of times, but you can usually find a quiet corner where no one's looking sssshh !!

bold black and white for the liners.. 

And finally the knobs came from a local hardwear shop called Windsor Plywood..
The knobs were $4.99 and the handles $8.99 which was MUCH cheaper than anything similar that they had in Home Depot or the specialist shops in town and have a vaguely arts and crafts vibe which I really liked..
I also bought matching knobs like the ones on the top drawers for the wardrobe doors in this room and just that little change made such a difference to a plain slab door.. which is what they are.

Sorry this is a bit fuzzy..

And there we have it..
It looks like a much more expensive piece than it was.. total cost $71[about 35 quid] plus some left over paint, and a bit of elbow grease...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hubby's watching football.. YAY !

So the old man's as happy as a pig in poo because the premier league football season has started in the UK. He's Canadian but he has become obsessed with 'The Beautiful Game' since I came here to live, and is now a total anorak. For you North Americans btw I of course mean what you guys call soccer.
Only don't go blaming me.... he developed this obsession all on his lonesome... I don't mind footie, but honestly I can take it or leave it.
Still... thanks to Setanta sports he occupied for large chunks of time, and that suits me just fine..

I thought since I'm on a roll with this whole blogging thing.. I'd introduce you all to our puppy Nikki. Well I say puppy but actually she's 15, although in some ways you'd never know it, and she has personality + + .
I often tell people that.. 'we don't have any pets.. but our dog has TWO !!'

Haven't you heard of the Hell's Schnauzers ??
Don't fret.. we don't normally have her decked out like this, but she'd just been to the cleaners and Bill casually mentioned to our groomer Lindy that we teased the dog that we'd give her a mowhawk if she wasn't good, and when we went back to get her this is what we found !! It was only pink vegetable dye.. although it lasted a good three weeks.

I'm ready for my close up Mr DeMille.. TART !

This is what she looks like normally, rather scruffy and much like a baby sheep.. and she's a complete tart. Loves the camera and can often be found posing to have her photo taken.. as you'll discover when you see some of the before and after photos of the house.. Nikki has managed to get into many of them.
J xx

My first photo entry

The way we were... November 2003. 
So this is our house.. or rather this is our house BEFORE we had started to make changes to it. 
It's on a quiet cul-de-sac on just under a 1/4 acre of garden. We actually moved in summer of 2003 and in fact this photo was taken in the late autumn so we had already been in the house for about 4 months..
The potted conifers by the garage and either side of the front door were new..
To the right we already had a tree cut down.. you can see where we put a bird house on the stump.
On the left in the front garden there are 2 huge pine trees ['bout 80 ft probably] which you can't see in this photo.. 
They cast a black shadow over the whole living room side of the house, and a chunk of the back garden come to that which isn't visable here because I took this picture in the a.m. and the light is coming from the other side of the house... I might have an older photo somewhere that I can scan, which shows the trees
As well as the shadow the trees shed a lot of debris onto the roof, so we had to have them cut down too... but later on. Plus we had by this time already had a partial fence erected and you can see the gate to the right hand side with an arbour over it.. more on that later.
Anyway.. this is what started it all..
J xx

It's a long story

This blog will EVENTUALLY be a complete record of all the changes my husband and I have made to our house... in an effort to make it THE perfect home for the 2 of us...
It will be quite personal I think, and along the way I'll pass on what I've learned and invite you to do the same.. 
I think I have some good suggestions to pass on... but I love to get ideas from others too.
This hasn't been a full blown renovation in the ripping out walls and building extentions sense.. but short of that we've changed just about every possible feature of the house from the ground up and the inside out.
We moved here to Comox on Vancouver Island in 2001. My husband from Ottawa and me from Brighton on the south coast of England.
We met appropriately enough on-line, and after a holiday and a summer long visit we married  the following year, and moved into our current home in 2003.
And that's when it all began...
I'm not going to witter on anymore for now.. this is just the start.. and I think I need to think about where I want to start. What sort of structure the blog will have.. etc. But just bear with me.. and even if nobody but me ever sees it.. at least I'll have something to keep for posterity.
J xx