Cane chair re do.

I have wanted to fix up a cane chair for quite some time but haven’t really found any that I liked very much- or the cane was damaged — replacing cane is not too difficult- I have just never done it before.

I found this chair on Allegro (online auction)

It is in great shape- just really ugly!!  The fabric on the cushion was old and worn- no smell but I needed to change it.

I painted the frame with Annie Sloan’s Country Grey, waxed and gave it a light distressing.  That was the easy part!  Cane is really easy to paint- the hardest part is getting into all the little spaces between the weaving.  Another issue is to be certain that there is no dripping on the opposite side that you are painting on- I found it best to work on a small area then do the back of that area to make certain there was good paint coverage and no drips.

I removed the old fabric from the cushion and happily discovered that the inside was in good shape.  It had its original springs as well as grass and batting then encased in a muslin cover.  I cut the cover to inspect what was under- but that was easily repaired.

So then I needed to make a new cover for this old cushion.

First I traced on paper the shape of the cushion then added a one cm seam allowance.

Then I did the same for the sides.  Next I sewed all four sides on to the top piece, then sewed three sides to the bottom piece- put the cushion inside and sewed the opening together by hand.

This cover was intentionally made too big because I wanted to finish off the seams with hand stitching creating a simple edging effect.

Basically- I hand sewed, using jute string, a simple straight stitch on the top and bottom of the chair cushion- a simple detail that gives the cushion some dimension.

This is the final result!

Some of the details:

This is one of the new fabrics I purchased from the linen factory in Zyrardow- it is actually a linen/cotton combination.  It was very easy to hand sew with the jute string because the weave is quite loose.  I haven’t decided if I should sew a cushion for the back of the chair- I really like the cane and it is comfortable when I sit in it. …I have to think about it, I guess.


Homemade cutting board

I love wood cutting boards and solid butcher blocks.  I love natural elements in a kitchen and they kind of make me feel like a real chef- the only downside is that they are really expensive.  I have been collecting on Pinterest some of the cutting boards that I really like with the hopes of making my own in the not too distant future.

As luck would have it I found an extra piece of wood in my store that was left over from when my cash area was made by my carpenter.  Truth be told I originally had a different purpose for it.  This week my carpenter is installing a shelf and sewing table in my house and I was going to use the slab of wood that I had found for a thread holder.  I had actually already stained one side of it only to change my mind and sand it all off and cut it the wood into two pieces….perfect for a cutting board!

On a scale of one to ten -ten being most difficult and one being easy–this project is definitely a one.  This is a perfect project for a beginner.

The first step is finding  a piece of wood.  I had a slab of oak which is perfect for a cutting board because it is naturally hard.  I wouldn’t use found wood for this project- based on food safety….you just never know what found wood could have on it.  In my internet searches I saw lovely slabs of wood with the bark still on- really beautiful and with a modern and rustic element and the ability to work in many different styles of kitchens.

So after you have decided on the wood the next step is to decide on the shape.  This has endless possibilities.  I went with a simple rectangle shape – I did a Pinterest board of different shapes for inspiration- there are some really beautiful ideas out there.

Then you need to cut it out with a saw.  I have a jigsaw which did the job nicely.  The piece was only three cm thick so I didn’t have any problems.

Next you need to sand.  This takes the most time.  An electric sander is necessary.  You could sand by hand but it would take forever.  I used a rotary sander and started with 60 grit sandpaper and rounded all the edges and corners.  Then I moved up to 80 making sure to get all sides and make certain the piece was level.  Then up to 120 grit to smooth out the wood and prepare for the finish.

Once the sanding step was complete and I was happy with the shape I wiped down the board with a damp cloth to remove all the dust.   Then I applied a mineral oil to seal the wood.  The oil MUST be safe for food!  It seals the wood to prevent damage from oils and acids but most importantly it is non toxic so you can use the cutting board as a cutting board!!  Simply using an oil such as canola or olive oil does not do the job.  It doesn’t penetrate the wood properly and often gets dirty and gummy. There are special oils you can buy for this particular purpose.

I did three applications of the mineral oil allowing the wood to dry between each.  I simply applied with a paper towel making sure to get all sides.

Because I had initially applied stain to one side I didn’t want to use this side….just in case.  I am certain I got all the stain off but I wasn’t willing to take the chance.  Another issue is water damage.   I wanted to raise the board off the counter top with little legs.  There are rubber legs you can purchase at most DIY stores that simple screw into the wood.  The little legs also prevent slipping when you are cutting.

And this is the result!

The little leg is barely visible- which is exactly what I wanted.

I did two of them from the one slab of oak I had.  One is smaller and has more rounded edges.  I think I am going to expand on this idea for my store.  It is a great time filler project and so easy to do and it makes a great gift!

Light on dark

I have a table that has been sitting in my work room since my store opened.  I have literally had no inspiration when it comes to this piece.

I don’t have a before photo because I bought it long before I jumped into this whole blog thing -but was oak, I think, nothing special- veneer on the top that has been damaged a bit on the edges.  It comes from the “between wars” period.  In Poland- furniture seems to be characterized as “before war”, “between wars” and “after war”.

Anyway, I tried to paint this piece “Old White” but it wasn’t agreeing with me.  The old lacquer was bleeding through the white- no matter how many times I painted it.

Then I painted it Amsterdam green…..and it has been sitting that way in my back room just collecting dust for four months.  Yesterday I thought I would revisit this piece- still nothing inspired me!  It is very simply with no distinguishing features- not suitable for a heavy distressing style of French country…..but I have French lettering stencils- so I thought I would give it a try- I had nothing to lose- only this time instead of the dark lettering on the light paint I did the reverse with the lettering in Paris Grey.

This is the result!

There is no distressing on this piece- I painted and stenciled and waxed.

I can’t express how much I love Amsterdam Green.  It really is great to paint with.  The coverage is amazing.

The photos show the sides and top as being lighter and darker- this is just the result of the light in my work room.  The colour is actually the same over the entire piece.

I love how this turned out- I like the contrast of the light and dark but also how a simple stencil turned this blah table into something fun.

Amsterdam Green

I love this colour. I love it because it changes colour based on what is paired with it or what is in the same space with it.  And it isn’t really a green but more blueish.  It is more green when it is wet -but it dries more blueish.

Amsterdam Green is one of my “go to” colours.  I like it for almost any use. It is lovely when distressed and showing the wood from the furniture under the paint.  It is equally lovely with no distressing.  Adding clear wax really makes this colour come to life and gives it a soft lustre.

Unfortunately, I think Amsterdam Green is only available in Europe- I remember when I took the stockist course in Oxford I was the only person that had this colour.  I have also had Antoinette for seven months where it is a new colour for many stockists in North America.

Some of my projects with Amsterdam Green:


The last picture is a piece I just finished yesterday.  Grey linen on the top and Amsterdam Green on the bottom- waxed and lightly distressed.

One of my favourite things about this colour is the fact that it will work in many settings.  For those of us who don’t have French country or rustic styling in our homes- this colour will still be at home with other furniture.

Hopefully stockists in the rest of the world will soon get this colour- no doubt you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Covering a stain….

is not difficult when you know what to do!

This week a lovely British lady came to the store to have me paint a second table from her home.  The table is a nice solid pine accent table/sofa table.  There was nothing wrong with it structurally- she just wanted it updated.  I am more than happy to accommodate her!

The only problem was that there was a large stain on the top from a red candle.  There was no wax on the table- just the colourant had stained the pine.


I gave the top a very light sanding just to be sure there were no blobs or bumps of wax then painted straight away with Annie Sloan’s Grey Linen.

As many of you know one of the great things about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is that there is no sanding or priming or removing of lacquer that must be done before.  The paint will adhere to wood, metal, plastic, concrete, old wax, paint and lacquer.  So I didn’t think painting over a wax stain would be any different.

Unfortunately after two coats the red wax stain was bleeding through the paint.  So I waxed and then painted again- no luck, the stain was still visible.

So this was when I went to the master herself!  Thanks to facebook any stockist can have a question answered or problem solved at a moments notice.  I described my situation and she recommended that I clear coat the paint with a poly/shellac/varnish to seal in the stain and then paint over the clear coat.

Which is exactly what I did- and it worked like a charm!

After the clear coat- I painted another layer of Grey Linen followed by clear and dark wax to distress.

This is the result:

The colours are Grey Linen on the top and the body is Country Grey- this was what the client requested- I think it looks super.

So now I know what to do if I am faced with another stain situation!

If anyone has any questions about the chalk paint please ask.  My email is under “about me” in the menu above.  If I can’t answer the question than I will go directly to the source.


Little glass bottles…

exactly- apothecary bottles.

I bought some- I think there were 36 of them.  Which led me to search for ideas for something to do with them.  I came across a few photos but they were sort of expected.  Labels and tags and of course putting things in them.

Here are a few of my own ideas …along with the expected tag and label.

I wrapped some string around the neck of the bottle and attached 5 bottles to one piece of string- kind of like a pennant.

A simple grouping- little pieces grouped together has more impact than one standing alone.

By lining them up it is possible to see the contrasts in shape and colour- easy peasy idea -I also added a few strands of lavender but I think it would look just as good without.

I wrapped lovely jute string around these and then put some lavender buds inside.  The buds were not necessary but some of these bottles are quite dirty- I soaked them and even ran them through the dishwasher but I can’t get the dirt out of them.

I decoupaged a small piece of sheet music on the front as a substitute for a label.

And of course- a label!

Easy and quick ideas to repurpose old bottles from an apothecary.

Just a word of warning.  No matter how many times I cleaned these the dirt would not come out which without a doubt were chemicals.  I would only use these for display and not for something like a little girls tea set or similar- they are cute but not safe for drinking from.

This one is for me!

Ever since we moved into our new house I have wanted a new dining table but have been busy doing one thing or another for my shop.  Our old table was too small and too squeaky and it was starting to get on my nerves a bit.

I really wanted a big harvest or trestle table but finding one that is not outrageously priced is hard to come by.  I found this one:

-it was super cheap but kind of ugly.  So I bought it with the intention of making it more to my taste.

First step was to cut off the ugly wings that are on the legs.  It took a while as this table is sold oak and really really heavy.

After I cut the wings off I sanded the edges on all sides of the legs and then painted them with Annie Sloan’s Old Linen.  I didn’t distress but just added clear and dark wax.

On to the table top.  Getting this big beast on to my work table was hard enough!  I sanded and stained with a dark walnut stain and then sealed it with two coats of semi matte lacquer.

And this is the result!

I was actually trying to match the table top with the legs of the chairs but it didn’t work out- but I am happy just the same.

It is a great table for  family meals, sewing projects and just hanging out around.  It isn’t wobbly or squeaky and I am sure the scratches and dents that my kids will inflict will only add to its character.


I am not a matchy matchy type person anyway- we live in our house and it gets messy!

The leg after I cut the wing from it.

And the foot.

I am sure we will really enjoy this table.

My trip to the linen factory!

Before the war Poland was known for its fabrics- particularly linens.  They were exported to countries such as France, Germany and Russia.

There is a small town close to Warsaw called Zyrardow which was considered to be the centre of linen manufacturing in Poland.  The town has a great relatively modern history and didn’t receive a lot of damage from the war.

Today I drove to Zyrardow to visit the linen factory and ultimately buy rolls of linen to stock in my store.

The town has lots of interesting architecture- even the linen factory was pretty impressive.  I did some shopping and picked up three rolls to test the market with the hopes of returning for more.  I was also given a book about the history of Zyrardow and the linen factory itself- it is pretty impressive!  Originally owned by Polish men who then sold it to German brothers who then sold it to another Pole.  The man that invented the machinery was French- which is where the name of the town is adapted from.

So this is what I saw:

This is part of the original factory from 1913.  There is a beautiful store with all things linen as well as part of the factory and the wholesale department.

More of the factory- this part is actually not being used.  There is a developer who is renovating a portion of the factory into upscale hard lofts.

More of the untouched factory.

A portion of the interior that is not being used.  Today this building was extremely cold.  The pipes had frozen from the cold spell we are in and none of the heating or plumbing was working.  In fact, it was actually colder inside than out!

Some of the machinery that is used today.

The machinery of days gone by.

The beautiful old floor.

My purchases.  I only bought three rolls this time.  I really want to do a test run to see if there is a desire for linen sold by the metre.

As you may have guessed–I love linen.  It is such a beautiful natural fabric that can be used in so many ways- from bed linens to curtains to even everyday items like re usable shopping bags, aprons and dish towels.

I also love that Zyrardow is so close to Warsaw and fingers crossed I will be visiting again soon!

A time filler project…Valentine’s!

Yesterday (Saturday) I was at my store.  It was a cold day, not a lot of people were out and about- it was a good day to vacuum and mop the floors and get organized for next week.

So after all was tidy and I sanded all the varnish from my new table top- I really had nothing to do.

A while ago I sent Miss Mustard Seed a few Polish grain sacks- in exchange she sent me some stencil that I had chosen from one of her sponsors.  The are French script stencils “joie de vive” and “je t’aime”.

I have this little table that was one of my first projects for the store- It has a nice base but the top was rather dull.  I originally painted it in Versailles and then I stenciled some flowers on it.  It was cute but nothing special and seeing as I had some time to fill I thought I would revamp the table top with one of the stencils. (sorry no photo of the before)

Je T’aime is rather fitting for the month of February….perfect choice!

I repainted the top in Country Grey then stenciled with Graphite. Then finished with clear and dark wax.

A small change, simple project with lots of impact!

I found the centre point on the table and started there.  Then I alternated alignment of the stencil- kind of like the method bricks are laid in.

Here is the result.  Pretty cute, eh!  I think I will have to try this technique on a few other pieces.  Stenciling with Chalk Paint is really easy- the paint dries so quickly that there was no mess or smudges at all.  I only gave the sides a light distressing- I don’t think it needs it but the pedestal was already distressed.

That big chunk of oak in the back is my soon to be dining table….I think I need to find something similar to use as a backdrop for photos!

And just in time for Valentine’s day!

Decorating with……stuff!

It is so easy to pop into any big box home decorating store and find something to fill the spaces on your walls and on your shelves.  Mass produced items that perhaps your neighbour two doors down has on their wall too.

Nothing wrong with it.  But a home should reflect who we are as people.  What we like and how we live.

My walls have photos of my family and paintings done by Polish artists.  I also don’t have a lot of wall space- my house is in a grouping of four attached to the house next door and behind- one side of my house has large window and one side is all wall and stairs.  Different concept but we have a lot of light and only one large side yard- no back or front yard.

I don’t have any  shelves on the main floor so I don’t have a lot of things on display- just what is on my walls.  And this works for us.

This is why I like having a store.  I am able to collect things and display them and also rearrange them whenever I want.  I like old things.  I also like thrift store, open air markets or garage sale shopping and I like decorating with items that may not normally be used for decorating.

It is more interesting than mass produced decor items, more of a challenge to repurpose old items and reflects our own personality.

Here are some of the things in my store that would be fun to use as decorative items.  They are all a rustic/country style- which is another issue in my own house.  My own style is very eclectic.  I have some 60’s style furniture and I love fabric.  I also have an Indian style table and at this moment I am working on a big trestle table for my dining area- I don’t really have any rustic or country in my house at all.

An old bird cage, two French crates and some Polish linen grain sacks.  It would seem that Pralong and Laragne are both cities in France, one in the Alps and one close to Lyon- so my guess would be this crate was used to transport items in that area- the Vittel is water.

There are so many things you could do with those crates!  Same with the birdcage.  As for the grain sacks- I have had pillows made from them and a reusable shopping bag which holds so many things and is really strong.

In the above there is an old trunk, an old iron, candlesticks that I found and some old wooden shoe stretchers as well as an old enameled bucket.  How fun would the shoe stretchers be on a shelf or the iron as a book end.

And this is just an idea!

There are many blogs out there with the junk decor theme.  This is a good one:

She does an amazing job of repurposing old items- some things you never in a million years would expect!

Don’t be afraid to decorate with things that some would think as garbage…you just never know how it will look on a mantel or shelf.