Saturday, 26 October 2013

[Repurpose] Turquoise cane desk . . . . . . . a painting pain in my a**!

I have learnt my lesson in painting this desk. Never again will I attempt something so fiddly as cane with a brush! If I ever some up against something like this again it will be with a spray gun.

I absolutely loved this desk when I saw it out the back of one of my vintage furniture haunts. It was originally an off, yellowed white. I had been looking for something that I could use as a desk when needed but also add a bit of colour. I tend to go for neutral colours in furniture and add colour in upholstery or cushions and it was time for change!

This isn't the first cane piece that I have painted, but it is definitely the most intricate.

There wasn't much prep work involved, just a very, very light sand. I then used a dustpan to brush off any residual dust. I then used a spray primer to prime the entire piece. This didn't take very long as I was smart enough to use spray paint for this step.
Then came the painful part, Painting all the textured cane with a paintbrush! Eeeeeeekkkk. It took forever, as I had to use a combination of a stippling technique to get in the small crevices, then a regular brush technique to smooth.
Then it was on to the angled spindles that surround each side and the back. That also took forever!

Then I painted the thicker cane pieces.

All in all I think this took me about 6 hours all up, there was a lot of waiting around waiting for one piece to dry so that I could turn it onto another side and get to a different angle.

Although it was a pain to paint, I love the result. It adds a splash of colour in a room of neutral furniture.

You may have noticed another design love of mine above the desk. . . . . a gallery wall. Love, love, love them. I like the refined gallery walls with all the same frames but alas my gallery walls never look that way.

For one, my frames are all very different, I have tried to keep them primarily black and white to give the wall a bit of a theme

To start this gallery wall I hung up one of my larger pieces a little off centre (the red paper cutting) and then hung the rose next to it and started surrounding them both with some smaller frames. I then went out horizontally from there.

As I rent, I make sure that I used 3M removeable velcro. Even when I own a home, I think I will continue to use these as it will make it easier to rearrange pieces as I want without having to refinish the walls.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

[Cook it] Crannie, cashew and white chocolate biscuits (one bowl baking)

Do you ever get that urge to just cook something on a Sunday afternoon? Specifically bake? I do. Plus I don't want to leave the house and have to go get extra ingredients so it must be something that can be made with whatever is in the pantry.

I had an urge to cook something with sultanas and was going to make chocolate and sultana biscuits but then the crannies called out to me. I do like a crannie in a cookie.

Cranberries and white chocolate were calling out for a nut and I found some cashews, so in they went. I think these would taste awesome with some macadamia nuts also.

Here are some combo's that would be great:

1. Dark choc / sour dried cherries / macadamias
2. Milk chocolate / cut up apricots / macadamias
3. White chocolate / sultanas / macadamias

Noticing a trend . . . . yep, I love macademia nuts. You could use your favourite in place as well though.

So here is the one bowl recipe!

Recipe loosely based on this recipe from Donna Hay.

125gm butter
3/4 C brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1.5 C (225gm) self raising flour
100gm white chocolate, chopped
3/4 C nuts and dried fruit (about half chopped cashews, half dried crannies)

1. Melt butter in a large bowl in microwave, when melted add brown sugar and vanilla and mix. Once cooled down a little add egg and stir.

2. Add flour and mix until smooth. Add in white chocolate and your fruit and nut mix.

3. Place 2 tablespoon sized mounds on tray (lined with silicone mat or baking paper). They spread a bit, so try and leave sufficient space. If they happen to spread into each other, just use a knife to separate.

4. Cook for approximately 12 minutes at 180 degrees celcius.

5. Let cool on try and then try not to eat them all!

Monday, 14 October 2013

[DIY] A Frenchy Chic reupholstered Louis chair with a bit of Africa thrown in....

So, I was on holidays and browsing the internet as I was at a bit of a loose end. I was searching for 'vintage + chairs' as I frequently do (as I am chair obsessed). Never mind the fact that I have a set of 8 ready to reupholster in the garage for a revamped dining setting. . . . .

I have been liking the French Louis style for a while and was hoping to go up a level of difficulty with chair upholstery as I have completed a few simple projects. Something to really sink my teeth into.

So, I saw it, I liked it and I purchased it. Then, fingers crossed, I drove the 186km to pick the chair up hoping that it would fit in the back of my car. Whoooooooo! It did.

It took forever for me to choose what fabric to cover this chair in. I was going to go all colourful and contrasting and paint the frame but couldn't decide on a pattern or colour. To help me decide, I left the chair in the lounge room and pondered it for a few weeks. gave me heaps of ideas as they have a huge array of home furnishing fabric. I decided on a black and white ikat fabric with a contrasting fabric on the back. Originally I was going to paint the chair frame black also, but as I lived with it, I liked the worn wooden look. It matches in with some of the cane furniture I have.

The following shows the steps that I took with the project.

Chair as it was when purchased. Except without the cat.

Before you remove anything.

The most important thing it when you are removing the old fabric, foam and layers to pay attention to where the staples were placed and in what order they went in. This will make putting it all back together again so much easier. Take photos if you can to refer to later or do a diagram. Whatever works for you.

Removing the old fabric.

I don't have any pictures of removing the old fabric, unfortunately. I had to remove nail head trim (I levered that off with a screwdriver and a butter knife), then remove the fabric that was attached with very old upholstery tacks (levered a small portion of the fabric away to get leverage and then ripped it off, I was lucky the majority of the upholstery tacks were removed at this point). Any upholstery tacks that were left in the frame, I pried off with a knife (butter knife) and a screwdriver and some pliers. It took a while, I did it whilst watching TV.

Measuring for new foam.

Powdery, powdery, horrible foam.

Once the fabric was removed I was able to see what bad shape the foam was in. At this stage I had to take it outside as the foam had turned to a sand like consistency and was getting everywhere. I laid down the original foam on a large piece of paper and drew an outline around it to get the correct size. I then took this to a foam supplier and had them cut a piece the same size as my template. If your foam wasn't deteriorating you could just take the original piece in to cut around. The springs and the webbing on my chair were in perfect condition so no changes were needed there.

New Foam

The next step is placing your new foam on the seat base. Hopefully your foam supplier trimmed it close to size otherwise you may have to trim it a little yourself. Once the foam is on the seat base, see where you will need to cut some notches in for the arms and back. Mark this with a marker and use a Stanley knife or kitchen knife to cut the notches out. This foam is easy to cut so go easily as it is easy to cut more foam off, more difficult to add it on. Once all the notches have been cut, place the foam back in place and make sure the foam sits where it should and make adjustment cuts if necessary.

You can see where the foam needs to be indented to fit correctly.

Attaching the Foam

Once it is all the right size you want to start attaching the foam with a staple gun. I have an electric staple gun which works well for small projects (may invest in one that attaches to an air compressor in the future though!). You want to bring the upper edge of the foam down to the chair base and staple, supporting the foam and holding it down as you go along so it doesn't spring up again. It might look a bit messy and lumpy as you go, but these lumpy bits will be covered by the polyester fill. Make sure that when you are stapling, that you take care to staple in the same area as the foam was attached before.

Once you have stapled the foam down, place the polyester fill on top and staple that down also. Try and staple close to where you fixed the foam. Once all stapled, go around and trim the wadding as close as you can to the staples (and it should look something like no.4).

Covering the seat

The next step, you want to make sure that you have the old piece of seat material you took off the chair. This will be used as a template to cut the new piece. One thing you want to make sure with a template is that if you are using a patterned material, that the template is lined up on the piece of the pattern you want (for example, I centred the ikat design on the seat base and back).

Cut the fabric (always better to have more left over than have a too small piece).

Place fabric on chair and ensure that it is centred. Put a staple in the centre of the chair base to secure the pattern where you want it, then do the same thing on the back so that it will remain lined up. Then on the seat front (from the centre out) staple whilst pulling the fabric securely and making sure that there is no slack.

Centring the pattern and stapling.

Once you have completed the front, do the back the same way.

Then starting from once side, staple in a centre staple, go to the other side and place in a centre staple and then staple from the centre out on each side.

When you come to the corners, it depends on the shape of the chair. I did a slight fold and then stapled. The parts around the base of the chair arms and the back are tricky. I cut two lines along where the fabric would go down either side of the arm and then reduced the bulk by chopping some of the middle. I just kept cutting and then checking, cutting and then checking. When the fabric folded down with little bulk, I stapled. I did the same with the back. Once all the staples were in place I cut off the extra fabric with a blade, I found it got closer than scissors.

Cutting a notch to allow the material to fold around the back uprights.

Then onto the back. It's a similar process to the seat.

Stapling on the back fabric, trimming it. Placing the foam back where it originally was, then stapling on the forward facing fabric and trimming any excess.

The arm cushions are pretty simple, use the original piece as a template, cut out two and staple in place.

Double Welting

I had never heard of double welting until I looked into DIY upholstery. It's basically fancy piping to cover the staples. The double width is great at hiding uneven stapling. I totally didn't get double welting until I saw this tutorial. I think next time though I may use a block colour fabric as the white stitching isn't 100% fabulous.

Measure around the arm pieces, the seat back and seat base to work out how much is needed. I measured about 5m so made 6m to be safe!

Once the welting is sewn, hot glue around the perimeter of the seat, back and arms.

AND DONE!!!!!!


Back with contrasting fabric.

All in all, it probably took me 4 - 5 hours over a few days. I absolutely love it.

I think I need to get rid of some chairs that I have to give me a chance to start some more!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

[Cook it] Nutella doughnut muffins

Doughnuts are delicious. I don't know anyone that doesn't love a doughnut (although it's not the first identifying question I ask people either). Cinnamon doughnuts freshly cooked, jam doughnuts that yo reheat in the microwave and forget that the jam turns into molten lava that burns your lips and leaves an attractive blister. They are all magical.

A little of the joy is lost to guilt though if you are trying to eat healthily.

By no means am I saying that these are a 'health food', but they are probably a bit less naughty than the fried version and they taste awesome.

Plus, it doesn't need a mixer and only uses two bowls!

I used this recipe from but modified it a little.

See the original recipe below (I will add the changes in brackets!)


Whoops, didn't leave enough mix to cover.

Trying not to eat all the Nutino whilst waiting for them to bake.

Golden deliciousness.

Gooey chocolate innards. YUMMO


300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
2/3 cup caster sugar, plus 1/2 cup extra to coat
80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 large egg
175ml buttermilk (I didn't have buttermilk so used 1T lemon juice and poured milk on top to measure 175ml)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp good-quality strawberry jam (a few tablespoons of Nutella / hazelnut spread . . . plus a few swipes for the cook)
100g unsalted butter (I only used about 50g)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 Celsius if fan forced)
2. Place flour and caster sugar in a bowl, whisk together to mix and make a well in centre.
3.  Mix egg, milk, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in a jug.
4. Add wet mix to well in dry ingredient bowl. Mix until just combined.
5. Place 12 cupcake liners on a tray (or in a muffin tray if they do not stand on their own). Place heaped teaspoon of mix in each liner with a little tiny well in the bottom.
6. Place small teaspoons of nutella in each well.
7. Place teaspoon of mixture over each little deposit of nutella. Try and make sure you cannot see any nutellla when looking at top of liner.
8. Cook for approximately 15 minutes. Take out of oven and poke skewer in and make sure there is no wet muffin mix stuck when removed.
9. When cool enough to handle, brush top of muffins with melted butter then dip in a little bowl where you have mixed together the sugar and cinnamon.
10. Try not to eat them all!

Tip: these are best eaten warm on the same day, but if you nuke them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to rewarm them then they are even better (just don't burn your lips!)

Original recipe via