a way of life...

Month: April 2017

The Perfect Knob

The perfect knob can elevate an ordinary piece of furniture to the extraordinary!

Painted and waxed bedside cabinets

My recent experimentation with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ was to transform two bedside cabinets. Using two completely different techniques I managed to obtain two quite different looks.

Ikea unit prior to painting

The first cabinet I set about transforming was a small Ikea unit which I had been given some time ago. I had been using it in my studio to store a collection of magazines which I never seemed to have time to read. Inspired by a project in the Annie Sloan Quick and Easy Paint Transformations book I decided it was time to recycle the unread journals and give the cabinet a new lease of life.

Masked a painted with first coat of Giverny blue

The first obstacle I encountered was that the colour used in the book, Monet Blue, was no longer available. Not to be deterred I chose to substitute it with Giverny Blue, a bright, cheery, clean, cool blue, which I would later tone down with the application of dark wax.

Second coat of Giverny blue applied thickly

To achieve the desired finish it was necessary to apply two thick, unevenly applied coats. I was hoping that one small 100ml pot would suffice, but as the paint has to provide a textured surface for the wax to stay in, I quickly realised that it would be necessary to buy a second 100ml pot. Once applied, I left the second coat to dry thoroughly overnight.

The next morning I applied the dark wax with a brush and wiped off the surplus. Any areas where the wax was too dark I removed it with an application of clear wax before it dried.

Dark wax applied and new knobs added

The final transformation to this cute little cupboard was the addition of these colourful knobs. I had picked them up in a closing down sale and had kept them in stock awaiting the perfect opportunity to make use of them.

Graphite paint and black wax

The second cabinet was a small pine cabinet which was being used to store stationery in my study. It looked perfectly at home with the other pine furniture but, once again, I decided it was time for a complete transformation.

Using Annie Sloan Graphite Chalk Paint™ I applied it in a way that would create a smooth finish. This time one coat did suffice, but I was careful not to apply it too thickly, and to brush out the brush strokes to get as smooth a finish as possible.

Once the paint was completely dry I applied a coat of black wax. This had the effect of darkening the graphite to a lovely rich black and to provide a protective sheen.

Once I put it back in the study it inspired me to upcycle the other pieces of pine furniture in a similar style. Time allowing, I hope to have these pieces finished during the course of the summer months. Wish me luck with that!

Indoor Easter Egg Hunt

Stirring from my slumbers yesterday, and realising that it was Good Friday and therefore a holiday, I decided that it would be a real treat to go out for breakfast. One of my favourite venues is our local garden centre where they serve local fresh produce and the most delicious bread.

In anticipation of this tasty treat I quickly dressed, jumped in the car, and headed out with my other half. Arriving in no time at all we were dismayed at the sight of parking attendants directing traffic to the overflow car park. Suspicions aroused we pulled into the entrance and asked why it was so busy. Ahhhh…. said the man in the hi-viz jacket, that’ll be the Easter Egg Hunt.

Collecting eggs in the garden

It seems that Easter has become big business over the past few years and there is every opportunity to decorate your home with colourful eggs, chicks, bunting, bunnies, and baskets, and of course, lovely fresh spring flowers.

Spring blooms in Ikea vase

It was great to see our local garden centre so busy and I joined in by buying some decorative eggs from there vast display.

Easter is a great time of year to be in the garden but the weather can often be unpredictable. To save disappointment an indoor easter egg hunt can be a fun filled alternative. With a list of canny clues to solve and a trail of decorative eggs to follow this can be just as much fun as collecting eggs from the garden.

Easter decorations

Here are some of the clues from last year’s indoor hunt.

Indoor Easter Egg Hunt Clues

Hello boys, we’ve got a game to play

Here’s an egg each to get you on your way

Read this carefully and follow the clues

Just one hint, you won’t need your shoes.


Clue 9

  • Number 9 should be easy to clock
  • Look behind the tick-tock tick-tock

Clue 10

  • Number 10 could delay you boys
  • As I think it’s hidden in the cupboard with the toys

Clue 11

  • Are you exhausted yet?
  • As there are only two more eggs to collect
  • Check the side table on you right
  • As the purple bowls could reveal another delight

Clue 12

  • One more egg and the game is won
  • But where from here now this room is done?
  • Look in the hall for the umbrella stand
  • There should be an egg that is to hand.

Well done boys for finding eggs a dozen.

Your prize today is a chocolate fountain!

We did indeed round off the hunt with a chocolate fountain but a fondue is a much more convenient alternative. Both, however,  have the benefit of being accompanied by fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, and banana, or marshmallows and biscuits.

To make Milk Chocolate Fondue


  • 8oz milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch, or a few drops of vanilla or orange essence
  • Fresh fruit, cake and biscuits, for serving


  • Grate chocolate and put into fondue pot with cream
  • Stir well and heat gently, stirring until chocolate is melted
  • Serve with choice of accompaniments for dipping


Neptune in Weybridge

Weybridge High Street is in my DNA. I’ve lived in close proximity for most of my life so visiting recently with my mum, who retired to the south coast a number of years ago now,  brought back lots of childhood memories. We strolled through the park where we used to share a picnic and paddle in the pool, and then exited via Springfield Meadows and arrived on Baker Street.

We gently reminisced about the stores that have long since been replaced with designer boutiques and and showy shoe shops and commented all on the new residential properties that were being squeezed in in-between the characterful old buildings.

Arriving on the High Street we made a beeline for the homestore where we could buy some essential cleaning agents before commencing our stroll back to the car park.

…… that was until I spotted the entrance to Neptune. A quick reverse turn and we were over the threshold in an instant.

Corner seating

Although I have seen full page advertisements in glossy magazines promoting Neptune’s products I had never had the opportunity to step inside one of their stores. I was struck from the moment I walked in by the shelves crammed full of beautiful home accessories and the neatly displayed room settings.

Country style kitchen

What I hadn’t expected was the sheer extent of this particular store. We walked through room set after room set admiring natural woods, upholstered chairs, perfectly placed pictures, and much, much more.

Contemporary kitchen

Eventually our journey ended in the sitting room at the rear of the shop. This was a lovely combination of dark smoke walls; cream highlights; and mustard cushions. It was a very comfortable and welcoming environment.

Living room

An extremely pleasant sales person  asked if we needed any help, and when we replied that we were only browsing,  were quickly offered a handful of books which told the Neptune story and catalogued their current range.

I’m not going to share the contents of these books with you in this blog as a visit to one of their stores, or a search of their website, will enlighten you to their amazing success story. The one thing I will say is that in times of on-line shopping Neptune is a really exciting addition to our High Street.

Paint colours

Ripley Village

If you ever find yourself at a loose end on a sunny Saturday morning why not pop along to Ripley Village in Surrey. Set amongst the pretty cottages is a bustling High Street and immensely popular village green.

I had the pleasure of being in Ripley recently and was lucky enough to coincide my visit with that of the  Farmer’s Market  which is held on the second Saturday of each month between 9am and 1pm. Situated on the village green there was a huge variety of stalls selling everything from fresh produce to rural crafts.

Ripley Village Green

A short stroll from the market is the High Street with its lovely collection of craft shops, traditional pubs, and classy restaurants.

The Clock House restaurant

The Clock House, formally know as Drake’s, is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Saturday.


If you prefer something a little less formal another popular eatery in the village  is Nest Café where you can stop for a stylish bite-to-eat. Serving seasonal, local, freshly made food it is certainly the place to be seen!

As well as the café, Nest has a home and gift shop where you will find a unique selection of ever-changing antique and vintage treasures.

Miss Bush bridal wear

Right next door to Nest is Miss Bush bridalwear. Set inside a converted Victorian Chapel with stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings, brides-to-be can choose from a selection of the best contemporary bridalwear.

Flowers and gifts

The reason I found myself in the heart of the village on a sunny Saturday morning was to visit a favourite shop of mine, Richardsons.

Here I knew I would find a selection of the freshest flowers and stylish planters filled to the brim with seasonal blooms. Not only is this a truly gorgeous florist but it has a fantastic selection of gifts, toys, cards, and wrapping. This is definitely a place where, for every one gift you buy for a friend, you have to buy at least two for yourself!

Jo Downs handmade glass

Last, but by no means least, is a visit to the Jo Downs handmade glass gallery. Here you will find beautiful gifts and decorative interior pieces. Commissions are undertaken as well, and the gallery is the perfect place to drop in to discuss your ideas.

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