Can I Paint Veneer?

Today I am just checking in with a few snaps of something I finished this week and the answer to my question – can I paint veneer?

I bought this piece quite cheaply and in the back of my mind I was challenging myself to paint it as if it were wood. I had read that you could paint over veneer with chalk paint but I’d never tried it myself so I wasn’t sure if it was going to rub off or scrape easily.

As usual I didn’t get any before shots – the light inside was awful because there was a storm outside so I skipped the photos and went straight to painting. I gave it 2 coats of my own mix that is halfway between sage green and duckegg blue!

I dry brushed the inside with a slightly off white. 2 coats of clear wax to seal and protect and one of dark wax to add a bit of character.

The weather was still awful so the photographs aren’t that good!

Use dark wax to bring out details

I like the inside but I don’t know if it will appeal to the mass market?

Dry brushing with white
On a positive note though… I didn’t notice any difference between the veneer and the real wood! I would definitely buy plastic wood (as my daughter calls it) again with the intention of painting it!

leaded glass dorr

Projects from Big Red Barn this week

I haven’t posted much recently so I thought it was time I shared some of the many projects from Big Red Barn this week!

Last weekend I was at an indoor flea market. It was freezing cold, I was starving hungry and there was rugby on the tv. I wanted to be home, which in my experience, doesn’t usually lead to good shopping.

I forgot to take my camera, and would probably have been too much of a brat to take photos on that particular day anyhow (and you all thought I was Little Miss Sunshine eh?). My only purchase was a guilded frame with a print of Lincoln Cathedral on board. The only upside to my miserable day was that it was a great bargain at just £4! I’m thinking chalk board?

Turn a £4 frame into a stunning chalk board

A couple of days later, and after a good feed, Mark and I went to the Malt House Emporium  near Stroud. Again, I forgot my camera (actually I forgot working batteries for my camera) but I bought a really obscure triangular chest of drawers that have been painted in a very thick coat of dark red gloss. I am hoping to display/store my furniture mouldings in it eventually.

Unusual Ethnic looking drawers

While we were in the area we did a quick tour of the charity shops of Stroud and I picked up a cute little jewellery box. I think I might throw down a blog challenge with this one – either specifically jewellery boxes or a more general charity/thrift store challenge.

Wooden jewellery box

Then Mark found me a chair at auction. It came as part of a job lot so worked out to be very cheap. I’ve already started painting it a dark grey but I keep changing my mind what colour to paint the fabric. I’ve wanted to try this method since I saw it on Pinterest way back last year (or the year before maybe?) so he earned himself some points that day!

How to paint a chair

The final project I am working on is a Chinese style camphor chest that Mark was given – yes, a true freebie! It has been painted in a pure white silk over a matt blue. It doesn’t look the best but it was FREE, and I have an idea of how I want it to look when it’s finished. This should be a quick fix so will probably be the first to be completed. Once it’s done I’m going to try selling it online before we stick it in the shop, as more of an experiment than anything.

Painted chinese chest
Someone else painted this!

I’m sure I’ve more to share with you but that’s enough for now! Check back again soon to see how they all turn out!

Nikki x

How To Make Faux/Fake Porcelain Flowers In 20 Minutes

You were probably hoping for a Monday Makeover from Mark, what with this being Monday and all, but he’s been busy working on other stuff and just hasn’t had time to do his own makeover this week!

Instead I’m going to share this great tutorial I found over at White Lace Cottage and knew straight away that these faux porcelain flowers would be absolutely perfect for the vintage table centres I was designing for a friend. I had to have a play with it at the first opportunity, which happened to be just 12 hours after reading her blog post. Not that I don’t have anything else to do, because I really do have a ton of stuff on my list, but sometimes fun and crafty can jump to the front of the queue!

My first decision was what flowers to choose, ideally something like a rose or a peony, but as I was only practicing I took what the pound shop (the UK’s Dollar store) had to offer. I think they are supposed to be rosebuds and maybe peony?

Cheap silk flowers
Normally I wouldn’t give these house space!

Next it was the colour choice. The bride has a lovely scheme of grey and yellow, with touches of navy blue (like these pieces I worked on recently). Personally I liked the idea of a washed out pinks, greys and yellows so I just had a mess around with the paint I had to hand which happened to be a really pale lilac that Mark is was using recently.

cheap wedding flowers
These have so many uses

I tried using the hairdryer on one but be warned it can get kind of messy blowing paint around so make sure you aren’t doing it while sitting on your brown leather sofa. No photo as I didn’t want evidence of paint splashed everywhere, because I was doing it in the living room… while watching an old episode of House. It also changed the shape of the flower and exposed some bits that weren’t covered in paint so I gave it up as a bad job and left them to dry naturally.

porcelain roses
I love the different shapes they took

It took about 2 days for the paint to properly dry, due to the amount of thick chalk paint on them. I’m serious, it was at least 2 days before I could pick them up! Perhaps I should have watered down my paint a little, but I wanted them to look a bit ‘thick’,  like they were actually made of porcelain.

shabby chic flowers
Not too shabby, shabby chic flowers

Not to bad for a first attempt I thought and I imagine they would look better with slightly better flowers to begin with. And I really have to get around to fixing up that little brown jug some day soon!

See the full tutorial and to see how Anne puts her finished  faux porcelain flowers to a great use pop over to White Lace Cottage for a look.

White Lace Cottage Original Tutorial

Now I really must get on, I’m supposed to be setting up an” etsy vs ebay” experiment and decorating my stairway today!

Speak soon,

Nikki x


How Do You Recycle?

Tell me, dear reader how do you recycle your empty cans and old glass jars?

Things fro my recycling bin
2 Glass jars & an empty soup can

Do you just trash them or do you make really pretty things?

Recucled jar table centre
Cute eh?

Like this beautiful table centre I made for a friend!

I had a go at making a paper pom pom too…

Pink paper pom pom
My first ever paper pom pom

And what do you think of my smart new photo backdrop? My 8 year old step-daughter made it for me (thank you Jessica x). It took her about 15 minutes to glue some old book pages to a large piece of cardboard but I love it… so expect to see it a lot more!

See you tomorrow for Five of The Best,

Nikki x

Mark’s Monday Makeover – The Dirty Bureau

It’s not actually dirty but boy does it look grubby!

Dark wax over White
OMG it’s filthy!

When Mark first told me he was going to paint it white I imagined ‘Country Chic’, not ‘Found in a Barn’!

Wax over paint
Inside was left untouched

Now, I hate the look of it. It’s just not right for me. Even Mark isn’t sure on this one, he likes it okay but has his doubts about whether it will appeal to the buyers in our town. He’s considering giving it a white wax to bring it up just a little and I think it’s a good idea.

But then you put some old leather books on it…

Old Leather Books

Wow! What a difference, now it’s perfect 🙂

Vintage Books in The Forest of Dean


I’m so glad Mark and I have such different tastes and ideas, it makes our projects so much more diverse and interesting!

So, do you love it or loath it?

Nikki x

Five of The Best

After the success  of last weeks post showcasing 5 of the best blog posts that I’d stumbled on I thought I would do it again this week! I’m not sure if this should be a weekly thing or just monthly… I’ll keep you posted!

This first item actually comes from a stationery/scrap-booking blog (who’d of thunk it, eh?). Technically it is a furniture makeover, being drawers and all, and I thought that it was the biggest shocker between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. Afraid there’s no tutorial but pop over to Between The Sheets for more detailed photographs.

Source: Between The Sheets

The next piece isn’t a makeover but has full plans on how to make a great rustic cupboard. Shanty 2 Chic use theirs to store a coffee machine but it would be a great place to tidy away all those craft bits, paperwork or just about anything! I also loved the colour she used on the final piece.

Source: Shanty 2 Chic

This next piece is from Rustic Whites but is anything but white! I absolutely adore the colour used – it reminds me of the Antibes Green I used under the little spice rack – and makes me want to go bolder with colour in the very near future!

Source: Rustic Whites

Now usually I’m not a big fan of stenciling, not even when you design it yourself, but when it’s done as well as this find over on Art is Beauty, then I give it a big ‘Thumbs Up’!

Source: Art is Beauty

And finally, I thought this Ikea hack from Girl in the Garage was fantastic.. partly because I’m working on the same set of drawers but with a completely different finish but mostly because it’s so much more practical than using vintage suitcases and much, much easier to find!

Source: Girl in The Garage

Well, that’s it for this week’s Five of The Best, I hope I managed to find something you haven’t seen before? Shall I keep it going every Sunday night or do you think once a month is enough?

Watch out for this week’s posts on distressing using Vaseline, Mark’s Makeover, and my very own Ikea hack.

Nikki x

Distressing with Vaseline (or My Auction Fail!)

You would think that when you spend a lot of your time trawling around auctions, looking for pieces to work on, that you would never get caught up with the excitement and buy badly, wouldn’t you? W R O N G. I was at my usual hunting grounds a few weeks back when I heard the auctioneer say ‘Large wooden mirror, heavily carved’ and my heart skipped a beat! How had I missed this piece? Why didn’t my built-in radar hone in on such a delight? So I bid. Without examining the piece or knowing what I would do with it (mirrors always sell), I bid and bid until I had won that beauty.

Scrub that.

I bid and bid until I had won that cheap, plastic framed eyesore. but you are obliged to buy so I brought it home, and when I repainted my chimney wall I put it up – simply because we needed a mirror.

How to paint plastic

When I started to research new ways of distressing wood I thought that it would be perfect to try the Vaseline (petroleum jelly) method on as I couldn’t take sandpaper to the plastic frame (been there, done that, failed!).


I generously rubbed the petroleum jelly over the high spots of the ‘carving’ and set about it with a rich buttermilk colour chalk paint. With it being plastic I needed to give it 2 coats to get a pretty solid finish.

Once dry I wiped it gently with a sponge scourer – if you try this make sure the scourer won’t leave marks behind, I bought a white one just for this job! Nothing happened. so I put in a bit of elbow grease and the dark started to show through in tiny specks.  It took quite a bit of scrubbing to get any effect whatsoever and, to be honest, I really don’t think the petroleum jelly made any difference whatsoever!

Mirror Detail


Perhaps it was just the wrong piece, or maybe I didn’t use enough of the Vaseline? I have to admit I was disappointed. I may even attack it later with some vinegar to see if it has the desired effect. I haven’t given up on the piece quite yet and, when I grouped it with some other mirrors for the photo I was quite happy with the overall look of my chimney wall.

Grouped Mirrors

Now that’s where this post was going to end, but I wasn’t ready to give up on this method just yet! So out came the brushes, the Vaseline, the paint (and something to paint)…

Bare Pine Bathroom Cupboard

I put rather a lot of the petroleum jelly (Vaseline) in the areas I wanted to rub back. I had already planned for this piece to have quite a distressed effect so wasn’t too worried on the outcome.

The paint really didn’t want to stick to the greased up areas, as you can just about make out in this photo.

Vaseline under paint

Only the slightest bit of rubbing (once the paint is 99% dry) and it wipes straight off!

Paint doesn't stick to vaseline

It worked brilliantly! I imagine it could only be used when you want quite a heavy distressed look, as it’s not very controllable, but in this instance it was just what I had hoped! Success at last with this method of distressing.

How to distress with vaseline

Distressed with vaseline

Painted Bathroom Cabinet

So glad I didn’t give up after the first try of this method. I’d love to know if you have used this method and how it worked out for you? Drop me a line and let me know.

Nikki x

Distressed Paint Effect Using Vinegar

Use something we all own to get a great distressed finish
Use something we all own to get a great distressed finish

I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl who finds a method that works and sticks to it. That means I can spend hours, days even, gently rubbing back paint to get just the right distressed finish required.

Recently I’ve been thinking that there must be an easier way? I believe in doing the job right but if there’s a way to do it right and quickly shouldn’t I be using it? Sure enough there are lots of ways people distress their furniture I hadn’t even considered so in the next few weeks I’m going to be trying them out (or some at least) and sharing my findings with you, dear reader.


White Vinegar for distressing
This cost pennies

This first method uses something most of us keep in the pantry… vinegar. I decided to opt for distilled or white vinegar as I didn’t want it to stain the paint in any way.  Obviously I didn’t have any distilled vinegar in my store cupboard so that meant a trip to town and another hour out of my day!

Anyway I already had this cute little shelf unit (spice rack maybe?) that I found in a charity shop a few weeks back. It is pretty featureless so will rely on having a good paint effect to give it some oomph.

Charity shop spice rack
You will often see pieces like this in charity shops

I started with a quick coat of Annie Sloan’s  Antibes Green, as I had some left over from an earlier project. As always with this colour I was tempted to stop there, but then I’d have nothing to share with you, so I gave it a quick wax using Rusto-leum clear furniture wax. Then it got 2 coats of my own deep lavender (okay, I’ve got to come up with some cool names for my paints) and left it to dry thoroughly.

Antebes Green
I just love this as a contrast colour
Little French Paint Co
My own mix over the green

Once dry, I just dipped my microfiber cloth in the vinegar and wiped it over an area. Nothing happened. I rubbed a bit harder. Nothing happened. Then, as I was showing Mark how ineffective it was, a huge streak of the lavender rubbed clean off!

Distressed with vinegar
This big chunk wiped off in one go!

I think the knack is to almost soak the paint in vinegar and give it a second to soak in. I’m really glad I took the time to wax after the green or I think it would have wiped off at the same time – the wax was just enough of a barrier to protect it.

Once I got the hang of it, it was so easy! I wouldn’t want to use it on everything because you just don’t have the same control as you do sanding by hand, but if you want a beat up, rustic look then this is great.

Vinegar distressing
You need a gentle touch until you get used to it!

In the interests of science (or maybe just because I’m still a wee bit sceptical) I’m going to try a similar experiment using plain water and another using something like lemon juice so I’ll keep you updated – be sure to follow us so you don’t miss a thing!

Finished piece after a top coat of wax varnish
Finished piece after a top coat of wax varnish

Tune in next week to see how I got on using Vaseline to distress a mirror in my lounge, and please let me know if you’ve heard of a method of distressing you’d like me to try, and review!

The Christmas Window. Or What happend to the rocking chair?

White rocking chair

Just last week I wrote a post about an adorable little black rocking chair that we were considering painting white to go into our shop. We actually debated to and fro for a couple of days – Mark even sent me a text message after I’d been in bed for 2 hours (and was fast asleep!) asking if he should just start painting!

In the end we bit the bullet and went for it! We used some paint that we have developed ourselves (very exciting post about this coming soon) and gave it just 2 coats of white. Amazingly it covered really easily, although the bumpiness is even more apparent now it’s a flat white colour.

It will be P E R F E C T in the window of the shop, BUT my love for it has diminished just a little 🙁 It’s no longer quirky or cute, it’s a little lacking in the character department to be honest.

White rocking chair
The chair!

What it is, is peaceful.  And if you read the original post you know that’s exactly what we were aiming for.


Sorry for the poor photos,  I was having difficulty getting the camera to focus through the window and I couldn’t use the flash!

White Window


What do you think?



Before & After: Dark Wood Console Table

I thought I’d share a quick B & A with you this beautiful Sunday. I bought the original dark wood table from a friend who runs a house clearance and second hand store. It was a boring piece that had sat in her shop for a few months so she was pleased to see the back of it – and it fitted my shopping search for something I could complete in an afternoon and test my new paints out on.

Dark Wood Console Table
I got carried away and started painting before I remembered to take the ‘Before’ shots!

I didn’t sand or prime it at all as I wanted a true test of the paint I’d just made up. The first coat of red went on a dream. The paint was very thick so there were brush marks in the texture but it went on well so I decided that one coat would be enough. I gave it a rudimentary clear wax (Rust-oleum) and then painted directly over that with the blue I’d just mixed up.

The blue was a LOT runnier and I was worried that it would take a few coats to cover such a strong red. Boy, was I wrong! It went on an absolute dream!!! One coat and you had no idea of it’s secret red undercoat 🙂

I like its simple elegance
I like it’s simple elegance

Once it had dried I rubbed it back a little on the legs and a bit heavier around the edges and top of the table, until I got the look I was after. Another 2 coats of wax and a good polish and I was done!

I’m really pleased with the results and the finished piece is available to buy on our Showroom pages or our Lydney shop. £45


I wanted the red to show through, but not too much!
I wanted the red to show through, but not too much!

Table for sale

Distressed table top
I like the way the top turned out!

As always, I welcome your opinions!

Nikki x