It’s been 4 years since we started ripping apart our house to put it back together again. When we first came to the house, we both fell in love with the huge wooden trusses in the roof…only to find that we needed to take them out to open up the space and create a room.
Since then, we’ve been drying out the wood with a plan to make a table from it. Paul had this at the top of his to-do list for a long time until we had a baby and he realised that making a table is a proper skill.
So, when an old friend of mine from School set up his new business Heartwood Furniture, we commissioned him to make us a table and bench from the trusses.
The wood was knackered, blackened over the years and cracked, but we had a lot of it so the guys cleaned it up beautifully and made it as light as possible for us.
After eating tea from a car boot sale table for four years, it’s amazing to have a proper dining table in our kitchen. It works a treat with our Kartell Masters chairs too.
We love it. It means a lot to us as even if we move on from this house, we’ll always have a piece of it.
Gallery walls have always given me the fear. They look amazing on Pinterest but the reality of them in normal people’s homes can tend to be a bit naff. To make a gallery wall look really impressive, you need a ton of frames, frames are expensive so you cut back the number of frames and your gallery wall ends up looking sparse.
Then there’s the biggest problem – the layout and spacing. No matter how many “Gallery Wall Shortcut” pins out there that advise you to cut out the shape of your frame in paper before you hang the frames (major ballache) or suggestion that you don’t need nails (trust me, as someone who attempted this particular project with high-strength velcro before succumbing to nails, you seriously need nails), getting a good layout is all in good spacing and straight lines.
So, to avoid having a nervous breakdown when creating a Gallery Wall, you need only five things:
- Ikea Ribba photo frames
- Laser level
- Amazing photographs or artwork.
This combo uses:
14 x 10×15 Ribba Frames (£1.75 each)
5 x 18×25 Ribba Frames (£2.75 each)
3 x 21×30 Ribba Frames (£4 each)
Total frame cost £50.25
This configuration worked well for us, as we had around 1.5 metres across and 1.2 metres height to work with on the stair space where we wanted the frames to hang.
Start out by laying out your design on the floor, ideally in front of the wall you’re hoping to hang the frames on. This just needs to be a rough gauge of how the frames will be laid out. Measure height and width of the configuration and do the same with the wall space it’s going onto, to ensure you have a good match for the space.
Get your photos in the frames on the floor too. Switching photos around because your Auntie Bessie looks weird next to your Grandma on the wall is worth doing before you’ve put a nail in the wall. We chose a selection of our wedding photos in black and white to stick to a monochrome theme and because our brilliant wedding photographer shot so many gorgeous shots that we wanted to frame a load of them.
Take your first frame, this should be the one on the far left, top corner – you need a starting point. (We worked from the far right as I’m a lefty and this works better for me).This is the only one where you need a little bit of guesswork – approximate where the midpoint of the frame is and make a pencil mark on the wall. Switch on your laser level, line it up to the pencil mark and hammer your first nail into the wall. Hang the first photo and line it up with the laser level line.
To hang the rest of the top row, use the laser to create a fixed distance between the first and second photo, pencil mark your midpoint, bring the laser down to meet the first nail and hammer in your second nail – repeat across the full top row and hang all the photos up.
Move down to the second row and use the laser to create the same spacing between the top and second row as you had between each photo, this helps to create total symmetry. Start as on the first row, on the far left frame and work across, keeping the spacing symmetrical by moving the laser level across. Repeat the process across all of your rows.
I wouldn’t do this job without a laser level, it means you can measure spacing and ensure you have no wonky frames. Gallery walls are all about symmetry and whilst a manual level would do the job, the speediness of a laser means you have your evening free and no cross words with your husband. Unless you try to hang the frames with velcro first. In which case, prepare for a few smashed frames and swear words. Nails all the way.
With the wedding done and dusted, Paul is now getting jabbed in the ribs and death-stared every time he sits down to have a break. I’m constantly reminding him of Paul-jobs that need doing around the house, the skirting board being the top priority.
Problem is, we’ve accumulated so much rubbish – building supplies, wedding paraphenelia and endless cardboard boxes, that the skirting board I keep nagging about is totally inaccessible. Or it was, until Paul made 11 trips to the tip last Saturday.
So now, he’s free as a bird to plough through the skirting board fitting and I can happily use the blog as another passive-aggressive way to make more of a point of it.
Seriously though, it’s a really bloody boring job and I can completely understand why he’s reluctant to do it.
In the meantime, I’m ignoring all of Paul’s wisdom to get the boring jobs that I’m avoiding doing done – waxing all the doors, painting architrave, weeding (what is my life?), sorting out the ruined tiles in the living room (sob), touching up concrete, getting a half-decent electrician in to sort out all the electrical issues, man, I could go on. So in ignoring all of that I’m viciously upcycling.
I say viciously because I’m like a woman possessed with a can of spray paint and terrifying determination, pacing the house looking for things that I can “transform”.
So this week I’ve sprayed some rusty metal pigeonholes we picked up on eBay local in black. They will be hung by our front door to prevent the scatty accumulation of letters across the whole house and to move them to the facade of organisation.
Whilst I was doing that, I spotted a dusty mirror in the garage that was in the house when we bought it, which also felt the wrath of my trigger-happy-spray-painting-finger.
With the itch to spray more, I started to raid through some of the storage boxes still at my parents’ house (sorry parents!) to find things to spray. I came across a dark brown framed print of the Leeds Grand Theatre’s first ever bill poster. Dark brown frames are just not right for our house, so it was happily sprayed baby pink and hung up in the hallway.
Finally, as Paul was sorting out the garage, he told me he was going to chuck away three enormous mirrors. I bought these mirrors on eBay about a year ago, they were a 3-mirror screen, attached together with hinges down the side and I thought they’d be perfect for the dressmaking studio.
As it turns out, my poor attention to detail got the better of me once more, and I neglected to measure their height in comparison to our low-ceiling home. When we got them to the house after picking them up in Manchester, we discovered that we couldn’t actually get them upstairs, they’re so huge.
So they were dumped in the garage where they’ve remained for a year.
Unwilling as I am to throw anything away (I kept well away from Paul as he made his 11 tip trips for fear of a nervous breakdown), I insisted that we brought them in to be revitalised and used downstairs.
So far I’ve done one of the three which now hangs proudly in our hallway after we roped in Michael and Dave to help us hang it. It’s painted using Annie Sloan’s French Grey – left over from the downstairs loo cupboard I did last year. The good thing about Chalk Paint is that it suits lazy painters like me that can’t be bothered to sand and prime, or have a project too large to spray paint without accidentally spraying an external wall neon pink (managed to do that this week too, hey ho.)
When I ran out of things to spray, I dip-dyed a 6ftx6ft piece of fabric, more on that another time!