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Before Christmas Valspar paint challenged me to upcycle a piece of furniture using their standard wall emulsion and their primer. I was sceptical of the durability of using wall paint on a piece of furniture that was going to be getting a lot of wear and tear but went with it as if it worked (which it did, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post!) it means that we can use up all of those unfinished paint tubs lurking in the garage/under the utility room sink. I’ve put together this little upcycling guide to show you how easy it was to change up the look of a piece of furniture and 2 months on after a Christmas of plenty of use is still looks great!

  • Firstly you need to make sure the item is completely clean and smooth. I was lucky as we’d previously had the church pew stripped professionally, this is worth considering doing if you’ve a large item of furniture that has been varnished or painted many times over the years. For smaller items or items that haven’t been painted too heavily a light sand down should do the trick. Next wipe the piece of furniture down with a clean cloth and some soapy water. Make sure the wood is completely dry before moving on to step two. Paint a coat of primer or undercoat all over the item of furniture and leave to dry fully. If, like me you’re trying to get a cool, matt finish on a warm, orange toned item then it’s worth purchasing a primer in the colour tones specific to the end result you’re trying to create. I used a Valspar primer that was mixed specifically for the paint choice I’d gone for but I’ve also used Farrow and Ball primer on past projects and that works beautifully too.
  • Once the primer has dried you’re ready to get the colour on the piece of furniture. Paint in thin coats to get a professional finish and let each coat dry completely before adding the next. When painting on top of a primer you should generally only need two coats, a third maybe necessary for particularly bright, vibrant colours. As I wanted the pew to fit in with the calm, monochrome look of our dining area I chose a dramatic, almost black shade of grey, this was also by Valspar and the colour is named Downing Street.
  • Depending on the finish required there are a few different options for the final step. I wanted a solid, matt look so chose to leave the pew unvarnished or waxed and since it was painted at the end of November it hasn’t chipped or scuffed at all, despite being used lots over Christmas and being positioned right in front of a radiator which has been in full use. If you wanted an extra layer of protection a light varnish or wax would do the trick. Alternatively, for a more worn, rustic look you could rub down some areas with light sandpaper to look aged and finish with a wax over the top.

What upcycling projects have you been working on currently? I’d love to see!

Pin For Later…

N.B: This post was a collaboration with Valspar paint. All words/opinions are my own.

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I think it would be fair to say that we have all been enjoying the British summer over the last few months, right? Dining outdoors is a huge part of outdoor living here at LMH, impromptu BBQs and drinks in the garden are one of the things I’ll always remember from summer 2018. In the hope that we still have another couple of months left to embrace alfresco dining I decided to give our outdoor dining area a little revamp, it was looking a little tired in comparison to the other areas of the garden that were given a makeover last year.

We already had the cable reel dining table (which I love!) but it was looking a little too rustic after the long winter so I decided to give it a freshen up with the leftover Cuprinol black paint that I’d used for the fence in our outdoor living area this has made the two spaces flow much better. To finish the table I fitted a reclaimed terracotta pot and a pair of glass tea light holders (recycled from the mini desserts sold at Aldi) into the holes in the centre of the table giving them a new purpose.

I wanted some stylish tableware to complete the look but didn’t want to go down the plastic route. The new Studio Blue collection from Denby was the perfect, laid back choice for both indoor and outdoor dining, it’s durable because what isn’t that Denby make and the design compliments the rest of my dinnerware so will mix in perfectly when we have guests. The handcrafted bowls and plates look striking against the newly upcycled dining table and match our Ferm Living napkins…bonus! How cute is the little cork stopper on our oil bottle?

For the table and my new tablewares first run I served up a casual summer lunch of  salads that looks so appetising in the Studio Blue serving bowls. I made a salmon, jersey royal and rocket salad & a med veg cous cous bowl with feta, the matching ramekins were perfect for olives and tomatoes (and they’ll be equally as perfect for individual chocolate puddings come winter!).

To complete the space I freshened up the pallet wood & tin wall planters with some new bedding plants that I’m really hoping I manage to look after through to autumn.

How have you livened up your alfresco dining over the last few weeks?

NB – This post was written in collaboration with Denby pottery, as always I would never work with a brand unless I loved the product! If you love Denby as much as I do then check out their sister company Burleigh who have launched some new colours of their famous Calico mug to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

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Just over a month ago we began decorating our downstairs WC, we wanted it to compliment the master bathroom which we revamped last year. The moodboard for the room, incase you didn’t catch the previous blog post was neutral with some copper, industrial touches.

The first thing we did was paint the previously dark walls in Dry Barley by Paint by Conran (the same colour as the family bathroom upstairs) and to paint the skirting boards a clean, fresh white. Once that was done we could get the room styled. I chose to buy the same mirror as the one in the master bathroom, mainly to add to the feeling of cohesion around the house but also as it is such a bargain!

To add a little more interest to the wall where the washbasin is I added a little hanging reclaimed wood shelf. The shelf is made by WhippetUp Design on Etsy & can be personalised with anything you can think up, I went for the feel good factor for both me and any guests that use the loo.

Upon the shelf sits this very cool upcycled Hendricks bottle soap dispenser by House of Funky Junk on Etsy and a little recycled wine bottle bud vase. I felt a little colour injection was needed in the space & this deep blue works perfectly with the copper and grey.

The copper pipe towel rail and toilet roll holder add a clean, industrial vibe to the room…I didn’t think I could love a loo roll holder more than my vintage, musical one but the talented people at QuirkHub have won me over completely. And it’s not just because they’re a Yorkshire based business…honest!

To finish the rail off I added a white hammam style hand towel from La Redoute.

The final touches to the room as some decoration on the walls. I added this grey Arne Jacobsen chair print as a playful addition above the loo & because the grey perfectly harmonised with the grey walls, framed in copper to match the other accessories. Finally I added a cheeky little copper cinema board that I picked up in Home Bargains to complete the room.

I’m really happy with the end result, it’s a much calmer space that fits in with the decor around the rest of the house perfectly. What do you think of the room? Prefer the dark before or light after?

I was kindly gifted some of the items used in this post & the companies who gifted them have offered readers some discounts codes to use across their stores

QuirkHub are giving LMH readers 15% discount when you follow the link here.

Whippet Up are offering 10% discount with code LMH10 until the end of July.

House of Funky Junk are offering free delivery storewide with code LITTLEMILLHOUSE.

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10 months ago (I know, I know times flies) I posted that we’d started a little revamp of our master bedroom, inspired by our tropical dining room set at the Ideal Home show in Manchester…I am very happy to tell you that we’ve FINALLY completed it. What can I say? Life, Work, Travel, Love all get in the way sometimes and I’m completely fine with that as making memories is my number one priority (with interiors being a very, very close second of course). Anyway it’s finally here, we used or upcycled what we had as much as possible and added some new bits too from one of our go-to favourite stores, then Nordgreen got it touch to kindly gift us ‘his & hers’ watches for our bedside tables to complete the room perfectly.

Here’s what we’ve done/bought

The walls were already painted in Farrow & Ball‘s Elephant’s Breath which we are really happy with. It’s the perfect shade to help you relax in the bedroom and works well with the green shades we were planning to add. We wallpapered the wall behind the bed in Banano by Coordonne, which I’d used in the Ideal Home Show and completely fell in love with. To balance the room and bring the large wardrobe into the design of the room I wallpapered the  doors and drawers to match, I’m really happy with the results and as we completed the wardrobe around 8 months ago I can say it has done well in the durability test too. Have you ever wallpapered a wardrobe? Would you?

As this was an affordable makeover I wanted to reuse the Hillarys blinds so I bravely dyed them in the washing machine using Dylon‘s all in one dye pods in Olive Green. These we’re so much easier to use than I anticipated and there was no mess at all. I used one pod per blind and I’m really happy with the results (we also sleep much better now that the blinds are darker).

To revamp my slightly dated mirrored dressing table (there’s no way I could get rid of it as it has sentimental value) I painted some mdf with chalkboard paint and cut it to the drawer size then glued it in place. It’s added a little edge to the piece and I can scribble whatever motivational quotes I fancy on the fronts – win win!

I shopped our home for a new bedside table in the shape of a little hide stool and brought our cream Barcelona chair into the room to complement the cream in the wardrobe. The large sack cushion I’d made for the pew in our dining area but I think looks much better thrown on the bed, what do you think?

To add some extra personality I framed some of our photographs from our travels on the wall between the windows and stacked some of my huge collection of interiors magazines underneath to create an interesting little feature.

Once we’d achieved all of the above there wasn’t much left to do but style the space. The Illumin pendant light is customised to match the room with wallpaper offcuts and I draped a bulb holder with a large globe bulb around the giant cactus to create a new bedside lamp. The items I ended up purchasing new were: the faux grey sheepskin, recycled leather black rug, cork storage box, recycled green glass bottle vase and some new grey bedding, all found in one of La Redoute‘s infamous 40% off sales.

The finishing touches come in the form of some stylish skincare products, my green tassel earrings, books and our beautiful new Nordgreen watches. We chose the Philosopher watch face in silver as it’s a large watch with a date feature which we both find really handy. We went for matching grey straps for the days we fancy twinning and a black strap for Mr LMH & brown for me, for the days we don’t.  Nordgreen have a huge focus on the sustainability of their watches and have a very generous charity program which is why I was very happy to promote them in this post.

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This week we will be packing up the car and heading down to the London Excel to build a room for the epic Grand Designs Live show which runs from the 5th to the 13th of May. I’m SO excited for this and wish I could have told you guys sooner. I’m sure you are aware of the Grand Designs brand, we all love a binge of the TV show regularly don’t we? The Live show, if you haven’t visited before is a huge exhibition that aims to inspire you with your own grand design, no matter how big or small that may be. There will be 6 showhomes, expert consultations, chance to meet the brands and some huge names in design on the stage at The Grand Theatre.

So how is Little Mill House going to be involved? I hear you ask…well we’ve been lucky enough to be selected as one of the 5 interior designers creating the Room sets for the show! Yay, told you it was exciting! I don’t want to give too much away at this stage but I can tell you that we will be creating a fun child’s bedroom with the expected recycled/upcycled elements being used wherever fitting. Here’s a look at the mood board for the room:

I’ll be posting a detailed reveal of the design next week but if you want any more information now there is a little description on the Grand Designs Live website.

We’ve also got some tickets to give away for the show, if you’d like some (they’re first come first serve) just send us a direct message on Instagram. There’ll be some behind the scenes stories over on insta I’m sure!

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As many of you know we updated our family bathroom last year from an Art Deco influenced space to a relaxing rustic one. Ever since then I have been desperate to start on the downstairs loo to make both spaces a little more in keeping with one another and last weekend we got started (what else do you do when all it does is rain in the UK?).

Here are some before shots of the smallest room in the house:

As you can see very much an Abigail Ahern inspired dark space with some Art Deco touches, very similar to the master bathroom before we transformed it.

I’m wanting to mirror the look of the other bathroom in this little makeover so I’ve decided to use the same Paint By Conran wall colour and the same bargain, rustic mirror from The Range. To stop both rooms feeling boringly ‘matchy-matchy’ I’ve decided to add some copper accents where we’ve used gold in the main bathroom. These copper pipe towel and toilet roll rails are perfect to add a little industrial touch to the space and some copper framed artwork from trusty Desenio will add some character to the tiny amount of wall space in there. I’m adding a little reclaimed wood shelf to house a quirky soap dispenser, I’ve got my eye on this Hendricks gin one. The only thing I’m still looking for is a replacement light, finding a stylish one that’s nice and flush is proving tricky…all suggestions welcome!

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That’s it…I’m officially hibernating until spring begins (I don’t actually think my toes have been warm since before Christmas)! This time of year makes me want copious amounts of tea and some really good reads, so I’ve decided to share what I’ve been reading and what’s next on my list.

I picked up a copy of Warehouse Home back in September when I visited the My Warehouse Home Apartment, which was a part of the London Design Festival. This book has been my ‘go to’ coffee table book ever since, just pick it up on a random page and be greeted with instant inspo on your tea break.

 

The Essex Serpent was gifted to me last christmas (just look how beautiful the cover artwork is) and I still haven’t gotten stuck into it yet as I never head straight for the fiction. I think my mind would benefit from being lost in a fictional world on a Sunday afternoon so I’m planning on finally opening the pretty cover this winter.

With the new Upcycling Outdoors book from Max McMurdo being released this year I’m going to get stuck into his first book ‘Upcycling’ again and may even find time for some fun upcycling for our home.

Sarah Knight brings me so much motivation from reading her ‘straight to the point’ guides. I can’t wait to get my hands on the latest edition ‘You Do You’.

And finally, the latest stunning book by Antonia Edwards is Renovate Innovate and it would look AMAZING on the coffee table of any modern rustic home wouldn’t it? I need to treat myself to this one soon…

What reads are currently getting you through the cold, dark months? Any inspo to add to my list?

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Twelfth night has been and gone so everyone should have taken their decorations down and be left with a bare house and a full recycling bin, am I right!? Since the basis behind the LMH blog is to be more sustainable within our homes and our lifestyles I wanted to share some tips on recycling christmas a little bit more creatively than just sending it all to the recycling centre (inevitably some items will end up there but it doesn’t need to be everything).

Christmas Trees

Our local nature reserve collects christmas trees and uses them to maintain borders and fences to keep the walkways safe and clear. Our local drop off centre is Keelham Farm Shop but thee are many similar projects up and down the country (such as this one which raises money for Martin House Hospice.

Spirit/Wine Bottles

 

A good wine or spirit bottle should NEVER end up in the recycling bin, they’re way too stylish and versatile for that. Use as candleholders as I did in the image above for our New Years Eve family dinner or they look equally as lovely with a couple of stems of seasonal flowers in. There are so many different ways to make this idea fit your home decor, strip the labels for a minimalist feel or even spray paint them to add some colour, Pinterest have some great ideas.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards, as beautiful as they are seem such a waste when they’re either thrown out or stashed in the loft depending on how much of a hoarder you are. One thing I did notice on the high street this year was how expensive christmas gift bags were (attractive ones came in at near £5 for a medium one…my budget doesn’t stretch to that). This idea from Pinterest really stood out, it’s such an easy but effective little upcycle, simply stick the front of a christmas card onto a recycled paper bag, look how great they look?! Ad each one will be unique (I’m going to put a reminder in my planner to use this idea for Christmas 2018).

And finally batteries

A boring one to end with I know but batteries in general waste really doesn’t sit easy with me for numerous reasons, contamination from their harmful chemicals being the main reason. It is SO easy to recycle your batteries from all of those fairy lights and new christmas toys. The Co op, Homebase and Sainsburys all have in store battery recycling containers and we all pass/use one of those regularly don’t we?

If you’ve any interesting ways of recycling all of the leftover Christmas bits and bbs I’d love to hear them.

Natalie x


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