Renovation – crafting project, dining room chairs

We like to create unique pieces of furniture from everyday items. So when the opportunity came to renovate our dining chairs, we wanted to do something different.

We have some very comfy cream leather dining chairs which when we bought them, looked perfect with our light oak dining table. When we moved house and the large dining table no longer fitted or matched with our gloss white and black granite kitchen we were in a dilemma as to what to do with the chairs.

We had bought a gloss black dining table from Next but the cost of 8 chairs to go with it was another £1000! We decided on a temporary solution of some black stretch covers which we imported from America and they looked fine for the time being.


Last year, having seen Pinterest articles about painting leather with Annie Sloane paint, we thought, why not give it a go. We started with just one and used that for a good 6months before committing, what would happen with the heavy traffic of Christmas or when boys with jeans squirmed on them?


Perfect, the one test chair lived up to the demands so we went ahead with the rest and painted several coats of AS Pure, it went on perfectly covering the cream leather with ease. We also painted the light oak legs with AS Paris Grey……they looked and matched beautifully.
Our last flourish was to add our own stamp on the chairs with a little bit of stencilling. We brought a couple of stencils from Hobbycraft so we could choose and customise our own design.


Armed with a stiff brush, a ceramic tile and the AS paint in Paris Grey,


we found the centre line of the chair and stencilled the design evenly on each chair.



We combined designs from three different stencils to give the chairs their own unique look.



The stencilling didn’t take very long at all, and I am very pleased with what we’ve achieved, a French vintage look.




Is it time for a spring clean?

Winter has almost gone, says I as I’m scraping the ice off the car again this morning!

Of course by lunchtime that frost has cleared and the clear sky means a lovely early spring sunshine emerges.


That spring sunshine however has the less than desired effect of bouncing off all those surfaces covered with a layer of dust, and the cobwebs which have kept the spiders in food all winter.

So now is the official time for a spring clean, well in my house anyway!

It’s a great opportunity to have a good old sort out and a rearrange whilst I’m at it.

What I tend to do is to take a room at a time, I take all my ornaments and bits out to give them a good clean and polish. I pull all the furniture into the centre of the room to give behind and underneath a good vacuum, I then tackle all those corners where the cobwebs have been un-disturbed all winter. Picture frames, top of doors, switches and sockets get a wipe and polish. Then finally all the furniture gets pushed back.

When it comes to bringing all the ornamental bits back in, I like to have a good rearrange and swap a few bits over to introduce lighter, brighter spring colours. Another great excuse for a bit of retail therapy.

A vase of fresh flowers and voila! onto the next room.

Do other people have a good spring clean at this time of year?

Do you do anything special to prepare your house for summer?

I’d love to hear from you



Creating a home gym on a budget

We have been very fortunate to have had a free corporate membership of a gym for the last 8 years, sometimes we used it 3 or 4 times a week and other times we could go for 3 months without going. That is the nature of gym membership, some 70% of memberships are rarely used.

download So now that I’ve left the job and no longer have the free membership we were in a dilemma last year when we decided we really needed to get back our fitness and get into shape. We weighed up the options of re-joining our old gym. This gym in Oxford is currently £82 a month plus £30 joining fee per person. For a 12 month package that would amount to £2012 for the two of us. I know for that fee you would get the full facilities including classes and swimming etc but we also knew from our previous use that the only things we really use were the fitness machines and weights machines. In fact my preferred machine was the treadmill and occasionally used the bikes.

IMG_5726It was at this point we looked into the option of a home gym. We were very lucky that the year before we added a summerhouse to the garden the intention of which was to be a quiet sitting area at the end of the garden. The summerhouse measures 10ft x 8ft and cost approx £1000

IMG_5732 We decided however that perhaps this could house a gym, a perfect solution to our dilemma, it would be a few seconds away, so no excuses you couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym and the machines would always be available.

Our next quest was to find suitable equipment that would be professional enough to feel you were getting a decent workout but wouldn’t be too expensive. Ebay was the perfect answer and we found a 2nd hand professional treadmill only 10 or so miles away and only £150. It was a bit of a mission getting it in the car and home, but we did it.


We also wanted a weights machine which we found in Argos in the sale, £120 and it would have sufficient weights for the workouts we were intending. Again the assembly was somewhat stressful but several hours later it was up and running.


Over the following few months as we were using the home gym on a regular basis we had 3 or 4 trips to decathlon who do a fantastic range of exercise equipment and added hand weights, kettle bells, an inflatable ball and exercise bench to our set up.


The total cost of equipping the gym came to approx £350 and since creating our home gym I use the treadmill every evening for 1/2 hour when I get in from work and in the morning on a weekend except during the winter months when the evenings were too dark and I used it on a Saturday and Sunday morning only. A real saving on even one years gym membership and we’ve now had our gym for nearly 2 years. Now we are heading towards the spring again, my evening routine is about to recommence…..