Tuesday, 26 August 2014

6 ways with wallpaper samples

Wallpaper samples are one of the most cost-effective, versatile craft materials. It's fairly easy to get your hands on some beautiful ones for free- listen out for local retailers throwing away old sample books, or ask your friends and family to save their samples for you once they have finished with them. There are countless ways you can make use of your samples, and here are 5 of my favourites. 

Create unique furniture piecesDecoupage is a very effective and striking craft technique, which involves pasting a design to a piece of furniture, then protecting it with layers of varnish. you can paste any flat image, from wallpaper, wrapping paper, magazine pages and even napkins.  I found these projects on Pinterest, for inspiration:
Upcycled floral decoupage side table. I could do this out of all those flower seed magazines I get...
Decoupage side table
Coat hooks decoupage patterns. £10.00, via Etsy. great idea for downstairs bathroom at sw
Gorgeous patterned coat hooks
Fabric Covered Dresser Drawers - Use Hello Kitty fabric?!
Unique dresser
Frame them- much like my fabric DIY wall art, this is an easy and thrifty way to dress your walls. Simply choose the pattern you like, and frame it. Voila- a unique piece of art which ties in perfectly with your room's decor. It's also a great way to use amazing, expensive designer wallpaper in your room, when you can't afford to do a whole wall!

Wrapping paper and gift tags- I've previously written about how wrapping a gift well can really add to its perceived value, and make the recipient feel like you have made a huge effort. Using wallpaper instead of wrapping paper is an easy way to add luxury- it's typically thicker, with a more sumptuous texture. Look at these cute gift tags, made for next to nothing! 
gift tags made from wallpaper samples
Gorgeous, and thrifty!
Beautify your drawers- An easy, quick way to add luxury to your desk or dressing table is to line your drawers with gorgeous wallpaper. It makes them look extra fancy and expensive. Just cut your wallpaper sample to size, and pop in the bottom of your drawer. 

Revamp a lampshade- You can pick up old lampshades in almost any charity shop for pennies, so why not give one a makeover using fancy wallpaper? I love these pretty floral vintage designs, and it looks fairly straightforward to do. 
retro vintage flowers...: Flowers vintage wallpaper lamp-shade ~ draw flowers
Funky retro lampshades
Make new (recycled!) storage- Old boxes, bottles and cans covered in wallpaper can make for unusual and beautiful storage solutions. Tie them into the décor of a room, or make them a feature! I've seen this done with old formula cans, and I think they would be the perfect size for storing stationery. 
Storage idea for crafts using cans Get Free gift Vouchers For Cheesecake factory, Visa and more
I'd love this for my craft room!
~ vintage wallpaper covered hat boxes ~ just one filled with my most favorite craft supplies would make me very, very happy. :)
You would never guess these were plain boxes and wallpaper!
I've started collecting and hoarding wallpaper samples, so now I need to find a cute way to store them! If you have any other good ideas for using wallpaper creatively, I'd love to hear them. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A New Name

I have decided to rename my blog to Pink Robot. 

I started out writing Make Thrift Love Life as a separate hobby to my crafting and Etsy shop. As my blogging experience has developed and evolved, I have found myself writing a lot about my craft projects, and using Twitter under the name of Pink Robot. I realised that it makes perfect sense to have my brand name consistent across all social media. 

I will be changing the blog's URL in a couple of days, giving my regular readers a chance to bookmark the new URL. It will become: 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

5 Newbie Tips When Using Chalk Paint Powder

When money is too tight to buy new furniture, it's amazing what paint can do to transform your existing pieces. Painted wood furniture is so fashionable just now, it's easy and it's cheap. Right up my street! Totally inspired by the latest series of Kirstie's Fill Your House For Free, I thought I'd give it a go. 

After a little research, I knew that chalk paint would adhere to wood much better than ordinary paint, and needed much less prep and priming (I'm impatient when it comes to crafts- I just want to get to the good bits!) Annie Sloan appeared to be the most popular brand of paint for this type of project, but when I went online to order some, I baulked at the price. Yes- the colours were beautiful, and yes- the reviews were excellent, but I couldn't justify spending that amount of money on one colour of paint, for one project. Back to the drawing board. 
Pine lamp table transformed!
I stumbled upon a solution- chalk paint powder, added to regular emulsion. Great- this meant I could use up all my old paint as well! Since I love a feature wall, I actually do have loads of tins of paint sitting in the basement. I opted for a 300g tub of chalk paint powder, from Molly's Paintbrush, for £5.95. There are several sellers out there, but I found Molly to be really helpful and knowledgeable when I was asking my "newbie" questions. 300g is about the right amount for 1 litre of paint, but can be mixed up in smaller amounts for smaller jobs. 
Chalk paint powder

I have found it to be incredibly easy to use, and have successfully painted a few of my existing pieces of furniture so far. Here are my top 5 tips for complete beginners: 
  1. Only mix up the amount you need. Even leaving the mix overnight can result in little tiny hard lumps in the paint, which are a complete pain to smooth out.
  2. Do not attempt to paint MDF/ flat pack furniture! The finish is flat, and the paint scratches off quite easily. I tried primer underneath, but it's still not great. I love how you can still see the wood grain underneath chalk paint, and this is missing from MDF. 
  3. Work in small areas at a time, making sure the finish is smooth before moving on. 
  4. Lightly sand between coats. It makes a big difference! 
  5. Remember to add water to the chalk powder before adding it to the paint. I forgot to do this the first time, and ended up with a lumpy mixture. 
I definitely think that using chalk paint powder is a better alternative to buying ready-made chalk paint. It's cheaper, and gives you the opportunity to use up your old emulsion. Bonus!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Free wall art!

I can't believe I didn't know sooner about the fabulous, free, printable wall art available online! Not having spending money to spare really doesn't have to mean bare walls. A quick Google search will reveal countless free printables, and all you need to do is print them out and frame them. Easy! Look at these beauties which I have added to my walls over the last couple of days... 
Mix tape print from Indie Fixx

Can you believe this was free?!
This mix tape print is from a great website called Indie Fixx. Digital artists gifted prints to the public as part of a project called "Feed Your Soul". The last print was made available in 2011, so it seems that the project isn't running any more, but there are still loads of beautiful, unique prints ready to download. 

My Etsy "favourites" list was full of old sewing machine prints just like this one, retailing for around £15 each. I can't believe that I got this one, for the price of using some black ink! This was actually two free smaller pictures, from The Graphics Fairy. I pasted them on to a black Word document, arranged them like this and printed it out. The Graphics Fairy is absolutely amazing, and has hundreds of free printables. 

Another find from The Graphics Fairy is this adorable little bird, now proudly on display in my bedroom. I think he ties in really well with the other Asian- inspired items in the room. 
Cute bird and cherry blossoms!
Here is a list of other websites offering free printable art- posters, clip art, printable tags and labels, art for your blog and much more. If you know of any other great ones to share, please do. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Double buggy revamp

After Betsy's arrival, I decided fairly quickly that I definitely needed a double buggy. While I loved the idea of carrying my new bundle in a wrap while pushing my toddler in her single buggy, it become apparent that this solution would not be hugely successful on longer trips. Carrying my warm and toasty newborn in the beautiful weather we have enjoyed recently became a little uncomfortable after about an hour or so!

I did my research; I drive a tiny Yaris, so I needed something compact to fit in my boot. I looked at online forums and spoke to friends and family and even visited shops, to find the perfect model. Eventually, I decided that the Phil&Ted's Sport buggy was perfect... aside from the price tag of £500+! Luckily for me, a double buggy isn't something people tend to keep once they have outgrown the need for it, so they are widely available on the second-hand market. 

I found one on eBay for £100- a fraction of the price of buying new. At that price, however, there were a few cosmetic issues. The black and grey colour combination was also not one I'd have chosen- while functional and unisex, I prefer cheerful colours! 
"Before" picture- the drab buggy!
A little bit grubby!
The main issue was the lack of foam on the handle. Not only did it look awful (and make the whole buggy look as though it was ancient) but it would also be uncomfortable to push. I took to eBay, and found a seller who stocked replacement foam for less than a tenner- which was delivered the next day! Simply replacing the foam instantly made the buggy seem newer. 
Missing handle foam, revealing ugly scrapes
Betsy all cosy underneath the main seat,
and the new handle
There's a lot to be said for good old-fashioned elbow grease to make pre-loved items seem new. After a vacuum, a scrub and a spritz of Febreeze, it came up spotless.
Taking time to clean the wheels made a big difference!
Now for the colour injection! New seat pads and strap pads are a great way to update a second-hand buggy, making it look new and unique. These are available inexpensively  from loads of sellers online. I opted for a bright colour combination I love- lime green and pink. It's certainly unique, and I'm really pleased with my budget double buggy.

It also occurred to me that doing these simple things before selling your old buggy would add value to it! 
Cherry blossom pink and green
Heather insisting on pushing her little sister! 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

My debut furniture upcycle!

Despite loving everything thrifty and creative, it has taken me this long to attempt upcycling furniture. After one rather successful (and may I say, easy!) project, I am hooked. 

Having now almost completed the transformation of my box room to craft room/ guest room (full post to follow!), I was looking for thrifty storage solutions. I found this little sewing storage box on Gumtree, looking worn, shabby and frankly a bit sorry for itself. However, at a bargainous £12, I saw its potential past the stains and scratches, and snapped it up to give it a new lease of life. 
Before makeover: old-fashioned and dated
The interior fabric and fixings were falling to bits
I unscrewed the lid, and removed all the old fabric from the top. The foam underneath was actually in very good condition, so I was able to reuse it. A few dabs of No More Nails sorted out the wobbly frame, and it was ready for its makeover. 
Hardly any tools required!
The craft room has a modern monochrome, grey, yellow and teal colour palette, so I revamped the box to tie in with this theme. I sanded down the frame, and painted it with a dark grey emulsion I had left over from a previous project. I painted the drawers a bold yellow to match the feature wall in the room and finished them with teal knobs, by mixing acrylic paints.
After the makeover!
I had bought a chevron cushion from an eBay seller, which had a faulty zip when it arrived. The seller replaced it, and told me I could keep the faulty one too. The fabric was perfect for the lid, as it now matches the cushion and the lampshade in the room. It was easy to re-upholster the lid using a wall stapler instead of tacks and a hammer. I uncovered a pretty floral scrap in my fabric basket, and used it to line the underside of the lid- disguising the staples and making it look beautiful! 
Chevron patterned lid
Pretty floral surprise underneath
I'm absolutely delighted with my little sewing storage box. Completely personal and a perfect fit for the room, at a measly £12- the upgrade didn't cost me a penny! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Thrifty, DIY wall art

Three beautiful, simply framed fat quarters in kimono fabric
Inspired by my honeymoon to Thailand and Singapore, home décor with an "Oriental feel" always ticks the boxes for me. So I absolutely love the new additions to my bedroom wall! Stunning Japanese kimono fabrics look fabulous in cheap wooden frames. I think they give a really unusual and unique look, and the texture adds intrigue next to the usual paintings, photos and prints.
A closer look
I ordered a "fat quarter" of each design from an Etsy seller, for just a few pounds each. All 3 pictures (which are quite large) set me back less than £20, including the frames. This could be done for every room, and every colour scheme in the house, and I have now become a little obsessed by framing fabrics! It's an easy craft which could, in fact, be done even more frugally- by sourcing second-hand frames and re-purposing fabric items. It is also a great way to use up your fabric scraps, and something different to do with those beautiful fabrics you may already have in your stash! 

Growing my own herbs

Adding fresh herbs when cooking undoubtedly makes a dish much tastier than using dried herbs from a jar. More often than not, however, I find myself opting for the latter- for no other reason than frugality! Fresh herbs cost around the same as their dried equivalent, but I find that the fresh variety don't tend to keep for long, and I end up really only being able to use them once. This is such a waste- of food and money.  I have been hunting around for solutions to this problem, and come up with a couple of recommendations. 

Freezing them in ice cube trays
This works! The herbs do keep for much longer in the freezer, and frozen herbs do taste better than dried herbs from a jar. One drawback, though, is that they do stay soggy. I like to sprinkle coriander on top of curries and soups, and that only works with freshly-picked leaves. 

Kitchen roll in a sandwich bag
Sounds crazy, right? According to my friend, transferring fresh, cut herbs into a sandwich bag along with a piece of kitchen roll and storing them in the fridge helps them to last longer! I tried this, and the herbs did stay perky and crisp for about a week... definitely a few days longer than normal. I actually found this to be a good tip. 

Grow your own
My garden is an area of my house which needs a lot of attention and TLC, so I have not been tempted to try and grow things in it yet. However, my open-plan kitchen/ living room does have huge French windows, and the room gets pretty warm in the summer. 
Looks easy enough!
Unwins very kindly sent me their DIY herb kitchen garden kit to try out and review, and I am very excited to see the results. The kits are on sale for £5.99 each, and they come with the adorable wooden box, compost, plastic pots and seeds (coriander, chives, basil and parsley). Considering that buying herbs from the supermarket costs £1 a time, I consider this to be good value. You can also buy a Mediterranean herbs version. I didn't have a small watering can, but I found that Heather's sippy cup did the job! The idea of having small amounts of herbs growing at all times in my kitchen really appeals to me. If my herbs grow as promised on the box, this solution would cut out the waste, cost a lot less and look fabulous. 
Herbs all planted and watered