I don’t know about you but I find it really hard to part with things that have been given to me with a good heart. I find it even harder to say no if somebody wants me to have a piece of furniture that I am not overly enamoured with. This has been the case with the magazine rack left to me by a very special lady.
We are all aware about the “make do and mend” trend right now, you can read all about Jen’s Make do and Mend year that has now turned into her Make Do and Mend Life. I say Trend because there are a lot of people who are only just becoming aware of the lifestyle thanks to blogs like Jen’s and people like Jack Monroe who have shared their journey and provided hints and tips. Now, more than ever people are moivng back to that way of living. For me, it is something that I have always done. Not always from necessitity (although I have had my difficult times) but more because I grew up learning to appreciate what I had, value what was provided for me and accept that I have more than enough. This magazine rack was made by my (then) husband’s grandfather in the 50/60s (I am not exactly sure when) from scratch as a gift for his wife to keep her knitting and sewing patterns in. Some people may not think so but I think that is so romantic and thoughtful. Hence the reason that I have been unable to part with it.
My most favourite part of the lifestyle has always been the “shabby chic” look. I remember when my first proper payday came (not the training wage but a real grown up wage) I bought a pot of white paint on my way home and spent that weekend painting the 1950s wardrobe, dressing table and wooden bed that I had lived with since a child. Oh how proud I was when my friends walked into my bedroom and gasped with astonishment at the change. A few little additions of cushions, throws and not forgetting the japanese paper umbrella for a lampshade really gave it my own style. I wish I had photos but I didnt own a camera in those days.
Painting furniture has been a feature in my life, sometimes I forget about it for years at a time but each time I have moved home I come back to it. When I do I look at the furniture I already own, find old broken and unloved pieces in the charity shops and flea markets and consider what I can do with it. Sometimes I know instantly, other times I have the piece for years before being inspired. I find the whole process of painting a piece therapeutic, I get lost in planning, enjoy getting messy and I am often the moment as I paint the piece as time seems to stand still. It is one of the few times in my daily life that I find it easy to be mindful. I particularly love working with colours (although I have just recognised that my current home is all white furniture with the odd injection of colour in the accessories) jewel like greens and blues being my favourite. Currently my paint of choice is Annie Sloan,I love how easy it is to use. Waxing is still a learning curve but I am enjoying watching lots of you tube videos and reading different blogs. Hopefully I can go on a course one day.
I find that often I can be inspired by the most unusual things and at times when I am thinking about something totally different. I like to keep a notebook and my pen handy so that I dont forget. Recently I was wandering about B&Q looking for a lampshade. I confess to being a browser and a geek when it comes to DIY stores, I just have to wander up and down the aisles, checking out the paints, drooling over the doorknobs, salivating on the tile aisle and wishing I had enough walls to use all of the wallpapers that I love. I was drooling over a beautiful Muriva Wallpaper when inspiration struck me from nowhere
I wasn’t even thinking about the magazine rack, in fact it was in storage and I had no intention of using it anytime soon but this paper just spoke to me, it whispered in my ear “the magazine rack is just around the corner in the storage shed”. And so it began. I bought the paper, stopped off at the storage shed (where all of the things that I am not using and are earmarked for moving to Austria are -more on that another day) and spent a good few minutes ( I refuse to admit to longer) clambering over objects attempting not to be distracted and not to be tempted to bring more things home. I didn’t – honestly!
Once home I was disheartened, there was just no colour that was singing to me so it was put away in the corner for another few weeks and then, last weekend inspiration struck again. Paloma by Annie Sloan is fairly neutral but with some depth and a slight colour to it. I opted to paint the magazine rack with that, after all I could always start from scratch if I didnt like it.
I started by painting the inside of the rack. Not the easiest thing to do but also the varnish was not flat and had lots of drips. I dont do sanding if I can help it and I make absolutely no apologies for that .
Next I painted the outsides but I didnt take a photo of that. For the next stage I pasted the two outside areas (not the sides) with PVA and slowly stuck the paper on.
With hindsight I wish that I had torn the edges to make it look more aged but it looks ok as it is. Next I took the paloma and watered it right down then did a very fine wash over the top of the paper. Allowed it to dry then using dark wax I rubbed all over the paper and lightly added to other parts of the rack.
The final stage was a bit of distressing and then adding some clear wax and rubbing in well. I havent decided yet if I should use a varnish to protect it all or even know if I can do that. Time for some more googling then.
I can’t decide if I like it or not at the moment. I think I will have to live with it for a while. One thing is for sure though I think it is much better than that orange varnish and being able to keep my inspirational magazines in one place is helping me to read them more too.