Decor & DIY

Bathroom Project Part Three:

Soft Furnishings, Storage and Final Touches

 

Topics: DIY, Bathroom

 bathroom project

 

As discussed in Bathroom Project Part One, there is always one room in a second hand house which tells you the previous owners were possibly colour blind and usually it’s the bathroom. Our previously loved home is no different. The bathroom we inherited was decorated in ghastly pink matched with snot green – one word ‘horrific’. Aside from the décor, the room had other issues: there was no storage, the shower was one of these hoses attached to the taps that you have to run around under to get wet, there was very little light, there was a leak at the bath taps and the wind tunnel caused by the draft from the ill-fitting vent was perishing mid-winter.

Having resolved the shower, leak and wind tunnel in Part One, the next step in, Part Two, was to change the colours. Now in Part 3, the final stage, it’s time to make this bathroom the throne room it should rightfully be.

Bathroom Grey

 

I started with storage. As you can see in the before pictures, previously storage in this room consisted of a wire rack beneath the sink and a towel rack beside it. This always made the room look messy because everything was on show, and, unlike the perfectly manicured bathrooms in the sales catalogue, in my bathroom the bottles are not all the same size or conveniently the same colour. However, the rack sufficed when we were just two, but now that our family is getting bigger, items that belong in a bathroom that I may have previously stored elsewhere must be returned and in general we will have more things in the bathroom.

The requirements for the storage was simple – I wanted enclosed units and as many of them as I could fit, without placing them unreasonably high. I also wanted to tackle the lighting issue with these units. Having ruled out under-shelf lighting because I was nervous working with electricity in the bathroom and didn’t want to pay an electrician, I settled on everything being mirrored. This meant that at least what light did come in through the window and from the ceiling light was bounced around the room for full effectiveness.

Initially I began my search with my old favourite, the masters of the small living space, Ikea, but I found their pieces either too big or too expensive. A scan of Woodies and B&Q gave the same result, however Argos came to my rescue. I managed to get two tall boy units small enough to fit in the space between the bath-and-toilet and then the toilet-and-sink. I also purchased three hanging units to hang on the wall at the end of the bath. Although as no trip to Ikea is ever wasted, I did pick up five hanging rails for towels (four for storing clean bath and hand towels , and one for the hand towel currently in use).  I also picked up a mirrored unit for over the sink.

Bathroom storage

Next thing I sourced was the shower curtain. Standard shower curtains are 200cm length, and even in Ikea, where everything is designed assuming it will be placed in a high ceilinged Swedish home, the longest was 200cm. I wanted a shower curtain that was at least 220cm length, because I wanted to hang the shower rail at ceiling height, thereby making the room appear taller ( or at least not making the ceiling appear lower because the rail was in eye line). A search of EBay found such the item, and in a very plain white. This meant that when not in use, I could tuck the shower curtain into an old elasticated bracelet and hang it from a hook stuck to the tiles, behind the tall boy. This prevents the curtain screening parts of the room, which makes the room appear smaller.

Bathroom Curtain and Towels

As with most bathrooms, the only soft furnishings are the towels. I was fortunate to be decorating at the time of a 70% sale in House of Frasier and made a killing on some luxury grey and white towels. These I hung in a checker-board fashion.

 

The last piece of decoration to be added was a Banksy poster above the toilet to add a splash of colour, which will be in Part Four.

 

 

 

Bathroom Project Part Two: Painting Walls and Tiles

Topics: DIY, Bathroom

bathroom project
The dreaded ‘before’ pic

 

As discussed in Bathroom Project Part One, there is always one room in a second hand house which tells you the previous owners were possibly colour blind and usually it’s the bathroom. Our previously loved home is no different. The bathroom we inherited was decorated in ghastly pink paint work matched with snot green tiles – one word ‘horrific’. Aside from the décor, the room had other issues: there was no storage, the shower was one of these hoses attached to the taps that you have to run around under to get wet, there was very little light, there was a leak at the bath taps and the wind tunnel caused by the draft from the ill-fitting vent was perishing mid-winter.

Having resolved the shower, leak and wind tunnel in Part One, the next step was to change the colours.

The colour choices of the previous owners, pink and green, while fine in theory, in reality were a daily assault on the senses. The tones selected did not work together, and both colours clashed with the grey floor tiles. Having successfully avoided the need to replace the wall tiles in Part One, I decided I would paint the existing ones rather than replacing them. I also decided that replacing the floor tiles was an unnecessary expense, and decided to use these as the base of my design.

The floor tiles were a slate grey colour, which made me decide that I would like the bathroom to have a masculine, utilitarian feel to it. As the bathroom is small I wanted to give the impression that the wall opposite the door appeared to be further away than it was. In order to do this I needed to choose a dark colour close to the door, which in theory in your mind’s eye pulls these walls closer to you as you walk in the door and a pale colour for the far wall, as pale colours give the impression of perceptual space, and thus the wall appears (again in theory) to be further away from you.

Bathroom Paint test

For the dark hues I choose to test a teal colour I had recently fallen in love with and a daring dark grey. As I do for wall colour choices, I purchased a tested and painted a big blob on a space on the wall at eye level that I frequently walk by or see, and left it for a week, to make sure I was not going to change my mind after painting the whole wall. As the family got used to the colour choices and they were debated over dinner, I cracked on with painting the tiles.

 

Bathroom Paint Tiles v2

I decided to keep the tiles simple, and chose to do them in white; partially because white is my favourite colour, partially because I think it lends itself to the masculine, utilitarian feel I was aiming for and partially because I already owned white tile paint from painting the kitchen tiles downstairs.

I started by removing all the hooks, shower heads, cabinets, whatever was attached to the tiles that could be removed – going around things carefully is so much more work that simply removing and replacing afterwards.

Next I cleaned the tiles thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly. I washed them with jif and dried, then bleached them with an old toothbrush and then cleaned them with sugar soap. There can be no residue of any sort on these tiles when you start painting, if there is, it will show in relief in the paint and cause chipping of the paint further down the line. Time invested in this deep clean will be returned tenfold in the quality of the end result.

Next I painted the tiles with a white primer, carefully avoiding both dribbles (by not overloading the brush) and cohesion patches (by making sure the tiles had no residue). Make sure you work the primer into the grout and every corner.

Before leaving the primer to dry give it a look over to ensure there are no imperfections and no dribbles. These are quick to fix while the primer is wet, but if you miss some and the primer is dry, just sand them down with fine sand paper and touch up as appropriate.

Although most primers only require one coat I did a second because I was covering dark tiles and I wanted a very crisp look.

Once the primer is dry add a layer of tile paint. Tile paint is an oil based paint like gloss paint and behaves the same way, so paint one side from the top to the bottom before moving on, because the paint will get tacky as it starts to dry.

Again I did a second layer of tile paint to ensure there were no shadows creeping through from the dark tiles underneath. Also because I went from left to right with the first layer, I went from right to left with the second. This means that the last place you did with the previous layer when you were tired, is now the first place you do refreshed and refocused for the next layer.

Once dry replace fittings.

 

The family decided that the grey actually worked the best, so while I had the paint brushes out, I painted all the walls grey.

 

Bathroom Grey
Nearly dry grey walls

 

 

Next stage is to get the furnishings and final touches – See this in Part Three

 

Bathroom Project Part One: Getting Started

bathroom project

Topics: DIY, Bathroom

 

There is always one room in a second hand house which tells you the previous owners were possibly colour blind and usually it’s the bathroom. This tiny space is where people are encouraged to let their creative side free and go a little naughty with their colour choices when they really should not. People think they are selecting bold prints with contrasting colours and dynamic textures (all the guff you hear on these home make-over programmes), when in actual fact the end result resembles something from the darker parts of Trainspotting.

 

Before

Our previously loved home is no different. The bathroom we inherited was decorated in ghastly pink paint work matched with snot green tiles– one word ‘horrific’. I give the previous owners the benefit of the doubt and say it is possible that the colour of the paint looked different on the sample, but there is no excusing the tiles, I can only assume they were on sale.

Aside from the décor, the room had other issues: there was no storage, the shower was one of these hoses attached to the taps that you have to run around under to get wet, there was very little light, there was a leak at the bath taps and the wind tunnel caused by the draft from the ill-fitting vent should have had a road sign to warn people not to get blown off course.

The only positive things I could say about the room was that it had good space and the white goods were a good colour: white.

When we initially moved in I thought something needs to be done with that bathroom, but daunted by the challenge, I made my way around the house decorating every other room instead of it. Finally 5 years later, it was the last room to do. I could no longer avoid it.

Having removed the Ensuite shower from our room, I decided the first thing we needed to do in the main bathroom was to install a power shower. There was no point in decorating the rest of the room if the shower fitter then needed to remove tiles or plaster board to fit the shower, so by rights it needed to be done first.

Bathroom Before Shower

We were gifted a power shower by my very generous mother-in-law (now you know what to get the couple who have everything, it was one of the most useful gifts we ever got!) about 3 years ago, but not able to fit it myself and not really knowing how to go about getting it fitted, it sat in my attic while I procrastinated. Finally with no excuses left I began to ring around. Eventually I found a company that supplied the showers, but they only fitted them officially if the shower was bought from them, however unofficially one of their fitters was happy to do a nixer. It took him only a few hours to hook it up, and the result was a real life changer. I cannot believe I spent 5 years putting it off!

Once the shower was in place, the next thing that could require the tiles to be removed was the leak from the bath taps. In order to prevent leaks springing between the edge of the bath and the wall, the last row of tiles holds in place a small lip which curls under the bath edge. This is then sealed with putty. So if we needed to remove the bath to repair the leak, then we would need to remove the last row of tiles, in order to allow us to remove the bath. (It’s ok, I did not know any of this either, my Dad explained when I asked him to come around and look at the leak).

An investigation of the leak revealed that the leak was coming from the point where the bath and wall joined behind the taps, the putty seal had disintegrated. Now, by rights, if a professional was coming in to fix this leak, they would by default do a professional job of it; remove tiles, bath, replace tiles, refit bath, seal the whole lot up again, all while the cost kept racking up. My Dad, with many years of experience under his belt, suggested that before we* (*read he) tried all that, how about we try just putting a huge lump of putty over the problem area to see if that could plug the problem. If it didn’t work, we could just remove it and fix the problem the long way. So he put the putty in place and we waited to see if the leak disappeared. Several showers later, with no evidence of drips coming through the ceiling downstairs, we declared the short cut a success.

 

Bathroom Vent

This left the last ‘structural’ issue: the wind tunnel. Now, to be clear I am not normally in favour of plugging vents. These are safety features required by law for a reason, and removing one is the equivalent of removing the safety switch from a lawn mower or gun. However, in our bathroom, which measures a mere 3m*4m, there are three orifices through which oxygen can enter and carbon dioxide/monoxide can leave (the vent, door and window), so I didn’t think it was a massive issue to bring that number down to two.

I decided to use expanding foam for this task because it fills the void with a nonporous substance, but it is not permanent. So should we decide to sell the house in future, or if we need to open the vent for some other reason in the future, this will be possible without much work.

I removed the front grate of the vent, gave a little clean (but being terrified of spiders not too deep of a clean) and then sprayed in the foam. The thing to be careful about when using this foam is that it will continue to expand through every open space. So, if you fill the vent entirely from front to back, the foam will go through the grill of the vent in the exterior wall, and this will look terrible from the outside. It is easy to fix, you just need to get a ladder tall enough to reach the vent and cut it off from the outside, but, most people don’t have a ladder that will safely reach this height. So the best thing to do is just be careful how you use the foam. Try to put it just to the front of the vent, and only fill about a third of the hole. You can always top up the foam when it hardens if needed.

Once you have sprayed in enough foam, to prevent it bubbling out of the vent in the interior, place a sheet of cardboard or paper over the orifice, held in place with masking-tape. Leave the foam overnight to harden. The next morning the foam had pushed the cardboard slightly away from the wall, leaving the foam layer slightly proud of the wall. To remedy this I simply cut a sliver off with a carving knife, the same way you would cut a slice from a loaf of bread. I then replaced the vent to cover up the unsightly foam.

 

Stage two of the project will be selecting the colours to paint the wall and tiles.

Hotpress Decoration

 

hotpress

Let me stress that I am not a bully. I have never intentionally harassed or bullied anyone in my life. On top of that I have received my fair share of hassle for defending someone else by standing up to their bullies. However, I must be truthful and say from the start, that this is an article about a plan that was conceived and executed with the sole purpose of mocking something else; something that has never offended or hurt me in any way, but only because I saw a weakness and pounced. I’m not proud of the initial intention, but there we have it.

The victim was Hotpress Magazine. An innocent publication, of some standing nationally, which covers diverse and interesting topics in the genres of music and politics, and does so in a professional and comprehensive manner. So far so good. What could my problem possibly be?

It’s the name. The name is terrible. Now I know where they were going with it: Hotpress – hot of the press, new and cutting edge, dynamic. And I know how hard it is to come up with a good name for your work (see title of blog). But at the end of the day, it’s an Irish magazine for Irish people, and there is only one thing that Irish people associate with the word hotpress and it is not a Music and Politics Publication, it is the big boiler in your house that heats your water and warms your clothes. Nothing could be less rock’n’roll than a bloody big boiler. I’m sorry but that’s the harsh truth.

So in order to mock this in my own little way, I brought the two of them together- what if my hotpress (the boiler)released a self-titled publication for other hotpresses? What would the headlines be? What would be their specific area of interest? What would be breaking news or cutting edge?

The result: a hotpress door with aspirations of journalism.
THE PROJECT
Decoupage (and not décolletage which is a very different thing – still fun, but in a different way) is the act of gluing little bits of paper to objects with a glue that turns transparent when dry. I thought this would be an excellent way of making a door which looked a little like a pop magazine cover (and a little like a threatening ransom note – just so Hotpress Magazine know where they stand).

Required
Old Magazines
Paint & paintbrush for background colour
Decoupage glue
Varnish to finish
Space to lay a door down on the ground, and be able to leave it there for a few days

Cost:
If you have to buy the magazines this could get very expensive – I had my friends and family collect them for a few months and very quickly I had more than enough.
The decoupage glue is really expensive – I used decopatch that cost me e7 for 70g (a tiny pot) but in saying that, I did the whole door for about half a pot, so the stuff really spreads.
It was the cost of the decopatch varnish that pushed me back to B&Q for ordinary varnish. I double checked on the back of the door that clear varnish meant clear – sometimes it can have a slightly yellow hue.

Duration
HOURS. Hours and hours and hours; the cutting of the letters, sticking them all on first with blue-tack and then with the glue – hours. I did not do this project start to finish in one sitting as you will read – most of it was done in spurts in front of the telly over a few months.

The Work:
• I started by taking down the door, being careful with hinges and screws as I would need these to put the door back up later.

• I drew a rough outline of what I wanted to have on the door – this let me know what letters I would need from the magazines. Mimicking Hotpress Magazine radio ads I decided upon:
“2013 Edition of Hotpress Magazine Issue 505
Readers Inane Views on Life, Drugs, Sex, Church, Law, Society, Welfare & Cutlery”
• From Lovely Lacies to Skid Row: Underpants a gritty reality
• Construction Underwear: How to build up your portfolio
• Arranged at Birth: Twin Sets on Predeterminism, Partners and Parents
• Custodians of the Fun Bags: Bras tell an uplifting tale of life up top
• Disappeared Partners: Socks tell a harrowing tale of separation, abandonment and loss
• Life in the Barracks: Toilet paper on waiting for deployment to live combat
• High Impact: the rise and fall of cheap suspenders
• Power behind the throne: Hot Water Tank tells of life in the system
• Cleaning up their act: Towelling in today’s political theatre
• Airing their laundry in a half-way house: hoodies try to change perceptions
• Fresh Starts & Scraping the Slate Clean: Hot pants dish the dirt on festival season

I also needed a political message. The hotpress with its principle role in laundry and household chores is a female dominated space. Despite this being an era where gender roles are often mingled and, as blur would say, boys can be girls and girls can be boys, 80% of household chores are still carried out by women. What could best represent my discomfort and yet resigned acceptance of this fact? A modern version of a Sheela-Na-Gig, that’s what.

Sheela-Na-Gigs are found in Ireland in prominent positions on Medieval Churches and Castles. In a society which is often assumed (perhaps incorrectly) to have been male dominated, these crude carvings of women exposing their vulva remind us that real power is often wielded invisibly. Society is made up of two halves, there have always been two genders, and while outward appearances can suggest the dominance of one, what goes on behind closed doors (or in this case behind 3ft thick stone walls) can reveal a very different reality.

So to represent this I chose a collection of women who in their own way represent this idea of unexpected power.

• Jackie Onassis – often assumed to be the weak-willed wife of a cheating president, however this woman continues to have an influence on the decorum of women in the media today
• Alien Queen – self-explanatory, while representing the outside influences of powerful women on Irish society
• Super Woman – again, in a time when women were told to ‘shut-up and sit down’ this crime busting female was out there doing the business (albeit in scantly underwear)
• Queen Elizabeth – despite her role as a mere figure head, she has resounding influence in the society which support her
• Sluts – like it or not, these manipulative be-atches can wield incredible power in certain communities
• Maggie T – like her or hate her, she was the first and so far only female Prime Minster. You have to respect that.
• Kate Middleton – again often seen as the quiet, dutiful wife, but while she hold the baby, she holds the King. I think there is more than meets the eye here.
• Mummified Cleopatra – again, a power house in her day, whose legend is still with us

• Once I realised how big a space a door really is in decoupage terms, I decided to paint it a background colour to fill in some space and to allow the decoupage really stand out. I choose a new-fangled paint I found on one of my many trips around B&Q that was silver and was meant to look like it was hammered when dry – very rock and roll I thought. Unfortunately it just dries silver. Yes if you look really, really hard you can see the hammered impression, but not if you just walk by the door. But still I liked the silver colour so it stayed.

• I started cutting out letters and pictures from the magazines

Hotpress

• I stuck them all in place using blue tack, so I could get an impression of how everything looked before committing to it with glue

• Put back up the door to live with the draft version for a few days to make sure I liked it.
• Days went by, and then weeks. We had a good few visitors over to the house and all commented that while it looked great (what else were they going to say with me standing right there) they found it hard to read. I took the feedback on board and had a little think. I realised that it would be easier to read if there was a break between the different headlines.

• I started to move the letters down to give the headlines the break.

Move letters down to make space
Move letters down to make space

• Once finished I lived with this for a few days, which again turned into months, then I decided that it was time to tackle the glue.

• While the vast majority of images and letters were from glossy magazines, some of them were from newspapers and some were laser-ink printed – I was not entirely sure if these would run when I applied the glue …. Only one way to find out.. They were fine (breath sigh of relief).

Hotpress

• And finally I varnished to seal it all in for years to come.

Hotpress

 

 

 

Guest Room Art

img_47

During the summer months the late setting sun illuminates our guest room in such a beautiful manner I felt compelled to make a piece that capitalised on its beauty. The interplay between light, shadow and darkness at that time of the dwindling day is so relaxing and therapeutic. To create this interplay I knew I wanted pieces that would protrude from the wall, which would cast shadows back onto the wall.

I decide to take inspiration from the method used to display historical tapestries. Often pieces that survive are pinned in such an arrangement so to leave space for the parts that are missing.  Sometimes the arrangement of these surviving pieces can actually be more interesting than the original piece.

 2 shadow

Difficulty of Project: Easy
Overall Cost of Project: Minimal as this project   mainly uses things that you have around the house
Duration of Project: 10+ hours (although I did   it in short bursts)
Required for Project: Stencil (you can make this   yourself or for a short-cut, I like the ones on Etsy or Ebay, although your   local DIY store probably has a selection as well),
Paint (I used old metal paint I had, but so long as it hardens when dry any   paint will do and depending on the size of the stencil a small pot will do),
Scissors,
Canvas (or some stiff material),
Dressmakers pins (and hammer)
  1. To start lay your material out on a flat surface and your stencil on top. Stick stencil to material with masking tape so it does not move.
  2. Paint stencil to material. Remove Stencil. Allow paint to dry (I always leave things overnight, but follow the paint guidelines.)
  3. Cut out stencil of the material. Look at the scraps as you do, keep any interesting shaped pieces.
  4. Now we get to the interesting bit; putting it on the wall. You can if you like draw the stencil onto the wall to use as a guide, and then remove the pencil lines afterwards (or keep them depending on how it looks), but this sounded like way too much hard work for my liking, so I decided to wing it. I laid out all my pieces on the floor and made a pattern with them. I then pinned this pattern to the wall.
  5. 1 straight image
  6. To pin the pieces, first put the dressmakers pin through the piece, or many pins depending on the size of the piece and how ridged you want the end result to look. I wanted a slightly aged organic look (and I’m a bit lazy) so I used as few pins as possible.  Then insert the pin into the wall. If I am honest I used a hammer to gently knock them in because those tiny pins were killing my thumb and a thimble was useless. The hammer sped up the job dramatically, just be careful to only hammer the pin in tiny bit – the aim is to have the piece of material stand proud of the wall. Repeat until all your pieces are on the wall.
  7. Now lie back on the other side of the room and watch the setting sun illuminate your work.

4 close shadow 2 3 close shadow

Elfin Graffiti

I had a problem; I wanted to paint the downstairs hall a bright yellow, but I did not want to continue this the whole way up the stairs. I wanted downstairs to be one colour, the upstairs another, but the two areas are joined by one wall beside the stairs, which is visible from both areas. I needed a breaking point somewhere along that wall. I could of course have just drawn a line, or faded the two paints together, but that’s not how I roll. No, instead I stirred up a rebellious outburst from our elfin population.

Our elfin population and the background leading to the incident
We first noticed the appearance of the elves after one particularly hard night on the town. We stumbled downstairs the next morning to discover that they had helpful cleaned the dishes and put out the bins; chores my husband swore blind he would complete and which I made a really big deal about not doing on pain of death (because fair is fair and everyone has to pull their weight). Just as I was thanking him for keeping his promise and getting the work done (watching his poor alcohol-addled mind try to work through what was going on) he confessed he had not done them (showing massive person growth), but also pointed out that as I was still alive, and there were only the two of us, they must have been done by magic: and thus the elves had arrived. A magically race of people who live for nothing only to ensure we in 36 live a happy chore-free life (which now as I describe them sound remarkably similar to Dobbin the House Elf in Harry Potter).

Initially my husband welcomed the elves; they did household chores while he slept, they went out on a Saturday and did the Big Shop while he killed things on PlayStation, they cleaned out his wardrobe, replacing worn-out clothes with nice new things he quite liked really. A sweet set-up. *

*(Not to be too Marple or Sherlock about it but if it is not clear to you that it was I who was doing these jobs while my husband lazed about then I suggest you start checking for fairy doors and magical tunnels because you too apparently feel you have the touch of Claus about you and could already have an infestation of once-helper-now-rapidly-discontented elves.)
Then one day the domestic bliss turned ugly (a day right around when I discovered my wall break problem). My husband got out of bed, stumbled downstairs and was greeted by a heinous act of rebellion. Some of the elves had enough of their life of servitude – this generation’s rebels – and a life that was good enough for their parents was no longer good enough for them. They wanted to express their rage at being bent into submission by the system (at this point it was possible I had consumed too many lemsip/uni-flu cocktails and may have been trippin’). They embraced the practices of their brothers in the north and painted their own political mural, glorifying the great lord of elfin belief, who promises that what goes around will come around: The Karma Chameleon.

Although horrified by the new political unrest this represented my husband was somewhat mollified when he noticed that some of the more civic, responsible, upstanding members of the elfin community were already trying to paper it over (my wall break!).

 

Credit: Cathy Clarke
Credit: Cathy Clarke

How-to
Now, while I obviously cannot imagine why or how they would do this, or what possible imbalance they could be acting out against, in a crime-watch inspired re-enactment, I have speculated how one with very little artistic talent might go about this.

  1. First things first – get inspired. It is much easier to draw something if it is physically before you, than from memory.

Graffiti Examples

  1. Get some tools: pencil, ruler and rubber. Do not be fooled by the erasing power of paint. It might magically cover up that horrible shade of dark avocado on your walls and replace it with a tranquil ivory, but it will not cover over pencil, marker or pen. Don’t know why, but it’s true. No matter how many layers you apply. So invest in a good rubber and some Jif (it’s only Cif to those born after 1995).
  2. Get sketching. When you are finished sketching, rub out the marks you don’t want.

eg01

  1. Colour it in. I used some permanent markers that I got in Tescos on the cheap.

Elfin Graffiti Steps

  1. And voila; a mural to remind the establishment that the labour force are not to be taken for granted.
Credit: Cathy Clarke
Credit: Cathy Clarke

 

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Boat. Credit: Cathy Clarke
Boat. Credit: Cathy Clarke

While trawling through the internet one bored afternoon, I stumbled across one of the most remarkable paintings I have ever seen. It was a beautiful red and orange creation depicting the setting sun behind a lone boat coming through fog. It had a mystical quality. I am not sure if it was a famous piece, or an outstanding piece from a living artist, but when I checked the price, a cool 5k, I decided the closest I would ever come to this picture was a screensaver. So I saved a screenprint of the enlarged picture to my laptop (giving it its own made-up name) imported it to Photoshop and cleaned it up a bit and set it as my screensaver. (I later learned that this is actually copyright fraud and amounts to theft, but these were much more innocent times.)

 

A few years later, when it came to decorating the kitchen, I announced to my husband that rather than buying a picture for the wall (knowing that the one I wanted had probably increased in price with inflation), I was going to paint it. He (knowing my artistic skills were limited at best) decided to give in without a fight, probably figuring we could paint over it in a week’s time if it was truly crap.

 

Owning no paint or paintbrushes of the artistic kind, I bought a few 20c children’s paint brushes in Tesco’s during our weekly shop and decided to use the end of the testers we had bought while trying to select which colour blue to paint the kitchen.

 

I sketched the rough outline of the keel of a boat and painted it dark blue. Then I opened all the testers and one after the other did ‘swishes’ along the underside to represent the sea. Then I retrieved some white paint we had and used it and some of the lighter colours to do the waterfall. As I got towards the end, my husband stood at the other end of the room to get some perspective, saying more white on the top, more navy on the bottom, until we got to a place we both thought it looked good.

 

I stepped back, kind of proud of what I had done, closed all the paint pots and said – we will live with it for a week.

 

It’s now been on our wall for 4 years, and to be honest, I think it’s one of the best things I have ever painted, especially as I feel it was something that we did together, and it didn’t cost +5k.

 

 

Difficulty   of Project: Easy
Overall Cost of Project: Few 20c brushes (e1)
Paint pots we had hanging around
Required   for this project: Paint
Paint brushes
Duration of   project: Few hours spread over a weekend

 

Credit: Cathy Clarke
Credit: Cathy Clarke

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