Before & Afters

Since my before and after posts are scattered throughout the blog, this is a handy place where you can check them all out without having to search for years.

Secretary desk: 

My love for interior design goes A LONG WAY back. I actually wanted to study to become an interior designer after school, but lots of little things added up, and I ended up studying international business and becoming a translator. Then I moved to a tiny little flat near Paris with hardly enough room for my boyfriend and I, let alone for nice furniture. Where am I going with this? Well... last year, we moved! To a much bigger place! and all of a sudden we needed more stuff! And I didn't feel like hanging on to all the Ikea items I had had for years, but I also didn't feel like buying new/expensive furniture from a shop. So I turned to thrifting, and BAM! I was in love!

It all started with this secretary desk that I drove 2 hours to buy from a man with a hyperactive toddler who kept wanting to show me her cat. And her tricycle. And her other cat. And her tricycle. 
As you can see it was in mint condition.

All it took was a bazillion hours of sanding and 4 or 5 coats of paint, plus one roll of wallpaper which travelled all the way from the Twickenham subsidiary of my company in the UK via Eurostar/scooter/tube. I also changed the drawer pulls and made damn sure to take this picture mid-move before installing my wifi and speakers to avoid ugly cables.



Flower power:
Just before we moved last year, we came across this old lampshade in someone's dustbin.

I hesitated for a couple of days thinking it wouldn't be worth the trouble (it's mostly cardboard and old fabric, some of the petals were quite damaged and it took a LOT of imagination to convince me), but its little face in that dustbin kept coming back to me... I couldn't resist!

 As you can see, it was gold inside and black on the outside. I wish I could have stuck with those colours because they really gave it a vintage 70's feel, but it wouldn't have looked good anywhere in our new place, so I decided to switch the gold to silver and the black to red (with a few of coats of white gesso inbetween). 

It's not perfect up close but it looks cute in its new home.

 Aren't you glad I rescued you, little flower?

I picked up this plain old nighstand for 3 euro at a flea market right after we moved last year. It was just plain wood, all ready to be painted and I knew it would go perfectly in our guest room/office because of its slight Louis XVI vibe. 

I painted it a deep aurbergine purple and gave it a coat of varnish to protect it from scratches. I spent ages wondering whether to stencil it or use something like a potato stamp to add some bling. I was thinking little gold squares to match the lampshade in the office and the Klimt reproduction in the headboard (more on that later!!), but in the end I decided to just keep it simple.

Good enough for J.K. Rowling and Pushkin. And a little seashell from St Maarten!
Chevron addiction

another old revamp that I needed to post. Actually, make it two. Here is my official chevron series: 





This is a post about a sad old screen that my bf bought when we were dating to keep his cat out of his bedroom when I came to stay since I'm allergic. I must say, he made a pretty good choice. (I don't have any photos of his apartment at the time but let me just say you needed a box of Xanax just to build up the courage to walk DOWN the steps into the dark and damp underground grotto that he lived in). We inherited a lovely health bed from my Aunt but it came with a rather plain old headboard, so I decided to make maximum use of the screen. 

The pictures are quite personal without being too corny. I incorporated several foxes and rabbits (guess who is who in our household), the three postcards at the bottom came from the medieval museum in Paris, in the middle we have a reproduction of 'the kiss' by Klimt, as I was saying the other day, and I couldn't resist this cute play on words:

Hard to read from here, but the little poem is the second half of this.


The happy tray table

This weekend I finally got around to finishing my dear little tray table, and I think this is probably my favourite project so far. I can't stop smiling everytime I look at it! look:

This is what it used to look like before I sanded it and spent 2 weeks painting it white. I was going to go with a chevron pattern in gold or silver on the bottom of the tray, but then I was hit by neon. Wham! And I had to have some. So here it is:

Here it is again, with a bunny lamp, because no nightstand is complete without one:

And just because my bedroom is now my favourite room, here it is again:

Time for bed!! 


The furry lantern
I'll admit I pinched this idea from Pinterest, though I can't seem to find it anywhere now. If I find the link I'll be sure to add it here. (Psssst! update! I just found the original here)
Start with a boring Ikea paper lantern. (I haven't got a picture of one, but you know what I mean: the white paper ball that costs 2 euro).
Add about 50 sheets of A4 printing paper and a roll of tape. 
Take a pair of scissors and make sure you've got some episodes of The Big Bang Theory to watch,
Cut away like a mad person for 2 days,
Stick away like a bored person for 3 days,

This is what it looks like when it's not centered above anything in particular:

And this is what it looks like after your handy boyfriend has spent 2 hours moving it along over the dining room table (also note that he finally put up the Japanese silk screen above the cocktail cart, YESSS!) :
 Everybody who walks into the room says it looks like a hairy or furry lantern, so this is now its official denomination.


 Stripes and (sort of) chevrons

This is another before & after of something I bought second hand. look:

Kind of pretty but kind of ugly at the same time. I wanted it because it matched my secretary desk. Same lines, same wood (at least I thought so at the time! This is actually laminate while my desk is solid wood...*sad face*). But I didn't want to make it too matchy-matchy, and I did really grow to like the natural wood colour (while it sat waiting to be painted for a few months). So, this is what I did:

I used the same colour palette as for my desk: see the grey footsies? see the yellow/grey knobs? But I wanted to accentuate the geometric lines of the wood, so I decided to paint stripes that would join up in the middle to form one HUGE chevron pattern. That was the initial plan. Oh how I overestimated my geometry skills. Oh how I forgot to take into account the fact that the doors would OVERLAP.
From this angle, it looks almost OK. Right? Yes. Yes it does.


 Waste not want not/ Neon addiction

I feel a recycling vibe coming along. 
It involves pink neon paint.
And an empty hair conditioner tub.
Oh and an empty coffee tub, left over wrapping paper from a trip to Brazil, Decopatch varnish glue (also known as Mod Podge, at least I think), and ribbon!
Start with: 

Yes, sorry, I forgot to take any before photos of my actual tubs, but I promise these are the ones!

Add a little time and imagination and you will have...

                     Voilà! One cute little pink Pot and one useful and stylish Tiger Tub

But wait!

There's more!

I present you...the repurposed neon pink planter:

 (notice that I didn't go with a "pink panther" pun. You may congratulate me)

And tub! No surprises here, just that you can get a decent amount of stuff in there if you end up with virtually no other bedside storage like me.

Here is Pot with his new friend Tilo the Tillandsia, those two are pretty low maintenance. They're currently enjoying the view of the terrace. Don't forget to drill little holes in the bottom of the planter for drainage!

Oh to be a tiny succulent in a little pink dreamy.


Five minute man

This post will be short and sweet. It involves two of my current favourites: neon and ombre. Hopefully by the time you've finished reading it, the pun in the title will have become obvious. Just in case it isn't (I know my sense of humour is a bit weird so I will provide a detailed explanation below.)
Take an empty conditionner tub (or two, but it turns out I didn't do anything with the one on the right):

Whip out your trusty foam roller and your beloved tube of neon pink paint and let your imagination run wild for five minutes:

Notice I didn't turn this one into a planter. I don't know what it will be yet, a little jewellery box maybe. 
Now do you get it? 
Five minute man. 
Man in Spanish = hombre
Hombre = ombre (almost)
Five minute ombre!
You're welcome.
Prie-dieu Before & After
This weekend, I did not do housework. I did not sort out any photos from our weekend in Lille and I certainly did not write a post about i.

But it was all for a good cause. I got two major projects done. Dusted. Finito. No more furniture hanging around in the hallway waiting to be painted. Well, sanded, painted, and painted again. But the biggest project I'm saving for tomorow. This one got done in about 35 mins while I was resting my wrist (sanding is HARD).
Remember the prie-dieu?
Well it's now a prie-clothes-hanger-for-the-bedroom:
I'm not sure where to put it yet. Here?
Or there?
Now we can each have our own clothes 'hanger' too, no need to fight over who has the most 'currently being used' clothes anymore!!
I'm not sure about leaving the wood as it is, I probably decide to change it in a month or so and either paint the whole thing green or add another colour. Or sand it and start all over again! Nothing can stop me now I have a sander!!!


Kitchen counter before & after 

I'm going to keep this sort and sweet since my wrist is aching from 48 hours of sanding and painting and painting again. I'm thrilled with the result even though it's probably not quite finished. I feel as if it needs a bit of extra style. Don't know what yet. We'll get there. Anyway, let's start with a small after pic, just to keep you interested:

Ready for the Before? 

Just in case you forgot.

Goodbye Peter!

You're next, captain...

Sanding is super fun

Until you realise two different types of paint were used and that one kind is easy to get off while the other is not, and you end up peeling it off centimetre by centimetre.

Three hours later...

FIVE hours later!!! I didn't get all the paint off but I got most of it and made sure all surfaces were smooth. I was surprised when I saw the wood, I think it's oak, really beautiful solid oak. If I had been able to get all the paint off I might have left it as it was and not painted it, but I didn't dare break out the sander for a second day running, the neighbours would have killed me.

Also by this time I was starting to wonder about sprained wrists, so I called it a day.

The next morning I got back to work.

After FOUR coats of paint I finally started to see results. 

It was so hard to paint the inside of the shelves that I thought painting them grey would require fewer coats because I would get better coverage. Boy was I wrong. The grey paint refused to stick to the white paint. Some parts have got to be sporting 8 or 9 coats of paint. Oh well, it looks nice like that, right? 

I let it cure for a few hours while I napped like an old granny, then I carried it inside for the fun part.

I was going to place it at right angles with the wall to create a mini counter that would separate the kitchen off from the dining area, but I tried it and it looked a bit strange. So this is where it's living at the moment, but it might move around a bit more while I make up my mind.



Tray table before & almost after 

So I finally decided to just go ahead and write this post because it's very very late and, even more embarassing, I haven't quite finished the project.

Those have got to be two good reasons, yes?

Last June (yikes!), we went to the famous Emmaüs sale in Paris (read the whole story here) and bought a €10 tray table that looked like this:

Then I went over to Wallpaperdirect and ordered a few samples for a few Euros (more info here).

6 months later, I finally got round to doing something about the guilt I felt everytime I walked past that sad little table folded up in the hallway.

It's far from perfect because I ended up using only three of the samples and there wasn't really enough to go around and I had to cut little slivers of paper and stick them here and there to cover up my shoddy work.

But let's just pretend I never said that and that you didn't notice. We used the table loads over Christmas for our snack fuelled Miranda-thons but it doesn't go in the living room at all colour-wise. I was originally planning on selling it as we really didn't need it, so I just went with random colours that I liked for once. The other day I got a bit sick of seing it in the living room and had a mad weekend switcheroo session that involved 3 lamps and 2 tables.

This is what I ended up with: a bigger nightstand in the guest room!

It all looks very yellow in these pics, but really it's nice and cosy and just right. Now all I need to do is get a pane of glass cut to fit over the wallpaper for protection. Let's see how long it takes... I already tried a DIY shop down the road but they stopped cutting glass 10 years ago (maybe update your website to save people a bit of time??) so who knows where I'll go or how long it will take. 

In the meantime we're trying to be careful not to damage the paper. The paint is already a little scratched in places and it really needs another (4th!!) coat and a coat of varnish... can you tell I can't be bothered?

So there you have it: undeniable proof that I'm not some kind of perfectionist maniac. And that I have a slightly pointless obsession with tray tables.


Toiling with doilies

First, take an age to decide what kind of vibe you want to give your very bare mini-hallway. Take into account the only element of decor: the black and white family photos of yore.

What else can be added? Oh yes: light. 

Think back to your yeti shade project.

Think about how long it took and decide on something faster and cozier with a vintage feel. Think doilies. Tea-stained doilies.

Go to Ikea. Change your mind and go for the pear-shaped shade instead of the round paper shade. Such extravagance.

Oh yes, I forgot, this stage is essential: take a bunch of photos of the before, during, materials, etc., then accidentally delete them. Resort to using the official Ikea website photo that stinks. 

Whip out your vintage rose-coloured masking tape and start taping doilies onto the shade. Go into the kitchen to make some tea. Come back: doilies are all on the floor. Give up on masking tape. Whip out the liquid glue and paintbrush. Go doily-crazy.

Halfway through: run out of doilies. Pass second order to Singapore and pay double postage. Notice after paying that the price of the doilies has skyrocketed. Too late. Wait two weeks. Upon arrival, doilies are a slightly different colour and texture than the first batch. Pray that nobody will notice. Spend Sunday evening arranging doilies that are reluctant to stick while listening to old and embarrassing tunes of yore (like this).

The room looks pretty dark in this picture, but really it just gives the small space a nice and warm feel.

I think I quite like it.

I will call him Andre.


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