Thursday, 23 January 2014

Table transformation

{my newly restored coffee table}

I have a lot of different coffee tables, more than is normal for the average person. But I will say that rooms of different shapes and sizes produce their own unique coffee table requirements, so it's not just a case of one coffee table fits all.

So in this new house, I'd realised that our optimum coffee table size was long and thin, so the two exiting very square tables we have, and a round coffee table, were redundant. I spotted this table for sale on eBay which was only 10 miles away, and got it for a steal at £6. I am annoyed because I can't find the photo of it when I first picked it up, which showed it in a right state, with water marks and heat marks all over it, but believe me when I say it was not in good nick.

A long time ago I did a Furniture Restoration course at night school, which gave me a little bit of confidence in knowing how to approach the task. But the basic tactic was to strip it, sand it and varnish it. I needed to buy a scraper, varnish remover, wire wool, sandpaper, white spirit and some varnish, and I chose to go for a clear, matt varnish, trying to avoid anything which had too much of a shine.

{the first coat of stripper - you can just see underneath how marked the table was}

{starting the scraping - requires much elbow grease}

{wire woolling after the first initial scrape}

{careful - wire wool will damage your manicure...}

Then I repeated the stripping and wire wool process about three times to get a really even finish, cleaning the table after wire wooing with some white spirit, to get all of the dust out. And just as I thought the end was in sight, disaster struck and I spilt a WHOLE GLASS OF RED WINE over the table. That was not a good evening. I shoved the table out of the way under the stairs and didn't look at it for a few weeks whilst I sulked.

And then I got back on it. White spirit is great for cleaning furniture like this, and it took pretty much all of the red wine stain out, and then a light sand was all it needed to remove it completely. Before I could spill anything else over the table I applied three coats of varnish, lightly sanding between each coat.

I am chuffed with the finished result, especially because the whole thing which materials (of which I already had some in stock) cost me less then £25. I only worked on the top of the table, as the rest of it was in good shape.

{the newly positioned foot pouffe)

But all that hard work has meant that I am now very protective of the table, so woe betide anyone who tries to put their feet up on it, or put a drink on it without a coaster. They will feel my wrath. So I moved the Moroccan pouffe to the end of the table where we sit the most to assist with foot propping.

{gold lacquered tray from Zara Home}

And I bought a tray to provide some protection for the table and house a collection of accessible-at-all-times coasters. In fact, the tray cost more than the whole coffee table project. What a fancy tray. Nice though. I was torn between the gold one and this much more reasonably priced one from Habitat. But bling won.

And then when I was flicking through an issue of Living Etc magazine, look what I saw. Sure. I bet they didn't pay £6 for theirs. 

{as seen in Living Etc, December 2013}

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Luck of the draw

Around now is my favourite time to go sale shopping. When the much-lauded "bargains" really have become true bargains, and it's touch and go whether you'll find what you want in your actual size or preferred colour. It's at this point when a great sale item feels like a true win.

There are some shops which I'll automatically go to as my first ports of call in the sale - those shops which are at the higher end of the high street. I was disappointed not to find anything to my liking in the sale at Whistles, Cos or Comptoire des Cotonniers this year, but it's worth having a browse to see if there's anything that suits your fancy, rather than mine.

Anyway, here's my pick. I expect that stock will be running low on most of these items, so if you see something you like, don't hang around. I've also had some success this year with stalking various items which have gone out of stock in the sale, but have become available again as and when people return them. So if you've got the time/patience for that it can yield good results.

Top row, left to right
Mulberry silk blouse, £33 & Other Stories; Milano knit t-shirt, £62.50 The Kooples; Silk and cotton sweater, £9.99 Zara; Wool sweater, £12 & Other Stories.

Middle row, left to right
Cashmere stepped hem sweater, £125 Jaeger (20% extra off sale price with code AWEXTRA20); Cotton crossover parka, £29.99 Zara; Dress with lace overlap effect, £90 The Kooples; Scallop neck skater dress, £65 Jaeger (20% extra off sale price with code AWEXTRA20).

Bottom row, left to right
Tuxedo collar blazer, £29.99 Zara; Solid silk shirt, £82.50 The Kooples; Wool sweater, £20 & Other Stories; Printed t-shirt £12 & Other Stories.

I think that sale time is especially good for buying accessories, especially when these tend to more more classic items which won't date as quickly. Leather bags particularly tend to be wise sale purchases, with huge savings to be made.

Top row, left to right
Leather shoulder bag, £40 & Other Stories; Printed clutch, £15 & Other Stories; Leather pouch, £13 & Other Stories.

Middle row, left to right
Calf hair clutch bag, £59 Reiss; Ines large shoulder bag, £125 Reiss; Leather wallet, £23 & Other Stories.

Bottom row, left to right
Leather clutch, £49.99 Zara; Blenheim leather shoulder bag, £44 Jigsaw; Brogue riding boot, £73 & Other Stories.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Safety first

Oh I know, this is a boring post. But if, like me, you need a new phone cover and have searched for hours trying to find one that wasn't too cheesy, too twee or too blah than you might want to read on.*

My default, fall-back phone cover has always been this one. My phone cover perfection. Until I got an iPhone 5c which doesn't fit the same covers as a normal iPhone 5/5s. I learnt this the hard way. So I had to go back to the drawing board. Here's what I found. Etsy's a good option, especially if you want it monogrammed, which is always a nice touch. My favourite's the pineapples.

Top row, left to right
Navy blue stripe with coral initialVintage black stripesNautical sparklePineapple pattern.

Middle row, left to right
Golden blackMore Issues Than VogueDesert starsColors 201.

Bottom row, left to right
Letter L initial (currently not available for the iPhone 5c); BobbiesGeometric designSailor tee.

*those of you thinking that phone covers are an unnecessary expense and why do I need one have obviously never met me and seen how clumsy I am.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Check mate

I buy a new coat only once in a blue moon. It's been years since I last bought one, and then this winter I acquired two new parkas (this one and this one), after being parka-less all this time.

And then I found this checked coat in my most reliable charity shop, didn't get it, couldn't stop thinking about it, and then asked my mum to stop by a few days later to see if they had it (and they did, so now I am the proud owner).

The best thing about it is that it makes any old boring outfit look better, but just throwing it over the top. Much like these other coats below which have been doing the rounds for a while now. Get one in the sale if you're lucky.

{from Topshop}

{from Zara}

{from ASOS}

{from M&S}

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Festive catch-up

Happy New Year to all Lemonade Pockets readers out there, and every best wish for 2014. I hope you all had a relaxing and fun-filled holiday. I had a good blogging break over Christmas and New Year, not necessarily intentionally, but the go-go-go of the festival season intervened a wiped out any computer time. I hardly even took any photos of all our activities, which covered three locations and hours of motorway time. But here's what I unearthed from my photo when looking back over that couple of weeks.

{first open fire in the new house}

{the last tree going - we got ours a little late, on the 23rd. This bedraggled, rain-soaked specimen did us proud}

{my homemade crackers turned out well}

I was really pleased with how the crackers turned out, and thought long and hard about presents for people which were small enough to fit inside. The gifts I got to go inside included a roll-on perfume, this eye-cream (found at TK Maxx) and some soap. I left Popeye to go about sorting the gift to go inside my cracker, which turned out to be... a pound coin. Hmmm, I feel there's some room for improvement there...

{my Christmas uniform}

My hero outfit of the whole Christmas period turned out to be what is essentially a posh version of a tracksuit. Some high (but not too high) heels from Hobbs (similar here), wool jogger trousers* with elasticated waist (an essential Christmas Day feature) also from Hobbs and a plain silk t-shirt from Gap (similar here). I paired it with my statement necklace by Lulu Frost for Whistles.

{our lovely New Year home at Combermere Abbey}


{the fun's over: back at work, accompanied by Christmas cake}

* these trousers are definitely the same as mine, butI think they've listed the fabric incorrectly on the website. The label on my trousers says 80% wool, 20% polyester.