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Make It! Forage your own Festive Wreath

Make It Foraged Festive Wreath Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Are you feeling festive yet? I must confess that, as I have to deal with Christmas decorating for a large chunk of my Summer due to all those long-lead print deadlines, it generally takes me a while to summon up the willpower to actually decorate at home for the holiday season. However, a couple of weeks back, website-crush The Chromologist asked me to share a few of my own personal festive traditions, and since then it’s kinda got me back in the mood. I’ve always enjoyed getting my Christmas craft on, and last year, as we finally had our very own front door (and had painted it in the rather dreamy Summer Medley 1 by Dulux), I decided to have a go at making a door wreath for the first time. Turns out it’s pretty easy, and though it’s not exactly what you’d call “posh”, I rather like its wonky charms. And the best bit? It cost me precisely zero pennies to produce, thanks to a bit of thrifty foraging. I like the idea of this becoming a little annual tradition, so this year I thought I’d share the process for anyone out there with barren doors looking for a little wreath-shaped inspiration. Here’s how I made mine:

You Will Need Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

You Will Need:

– Some foliage – ivy is a tough old boot and can usually be found pretty much anywhere, so I tend to use this as my base material. I used a few different varieties mixed together, for variation

– Any other evergreen foliage lurking in your garden/the park

– Additional goodies to add interest to your wreath – I picked some dried hydrangeas, lavender, thyme, rosemary and a few other miscellaneous dried flowers from the garden, adding in some acorns, pine cones and cinnamon sticks, then got over-excited and spray-painted a few leaves and twigs, too

– Some thin wire – enough to form into around a 30cm circular shape (my wire was pretty thin, so I doubled it up)

– String or twine, and scissors

– Christmas music on the radio, a cuppa and a chocolate brownie (optional)

1. Forage for Foliage Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Gather all your goodies together on a tabletop, and don’t be too stingy: I thought I’d massively over-propped for my wreath but ended up using pretty much every large scrap of the above in its construction.

2. Create a wire ring Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

2. Form your wire circle – I just went freehand with this, creating a loose circular shape around the size of a large dinner plate. Twist the wire together at the end to close – if your wire is quite thin, like mine was, you might prefer to double it up for extra strength.

3. Weave a base layer Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

3. Start to add a single layer of ivy all around your wire. Tie it into place at one end with a bit of string, then gently weave it through the wire the whole way round, tying again at the end. I used a few shorter pieces to make up this initial circle. It actually looks quite sweet just as it is at this point, but if you’re anything like me, by this stage you’ll have got the taste for it and be frantically darting around your house looking for more stuff you can shove in it.

4. Build up that base Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

4. Build it up – continue bulking your base out by weaving the ivy in and out. Try to ensure it’s nicely tangled in amongst itself for added strength. Work to one side, ensuring the ‘front’ looks lovely and luscious and the back, which will go against your door, is relatively flat. Keep holding it back against a clear wall to check your handiwork, until you’re happy with its final shape.

5. Pimp It Up Wreathmaking DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

5. The best – and most addictive – bit: pimping it up! Slowly work your way round, adding in your various accoutrements, either poking or tying them in. Once you’re happy with your arrangement and everything is secured down, tie a length of twine around the top to attach to your door – mine handily hangs off my little pine cone door knocker, but if you don’t have a ready-made hanging spot, you could run a length of twine or ribbon all the way up and over to the inside of your door if there’s something to secure it on there, or alternatively good ol’ 3M sell removable hooks suitable for holding your wreath to your door, if you don’t want to cause any damage.

Finished door wreath DIY by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

And there you have it! One rather charming little wreath, if I do say so myself, made all the more special by the fact it’s constructed from garden cuttings. In my experience, this should stay looking pretty good for at least a couple of weeks, so now’s the perfect time to make it before the big day.

In other crafting news, I recently made these cute Christmas tree cones, below, for a blog post commissioned by Wayfair UK – I’d had the idea in my head since last year, so this was the perfect excuse to try them out. They were super-easy to make and look great lining a mantlepiece or shelving unit – click here for the full how-to.

Christmas Snow Trees Joanna Thornhill

I’ll be back again pre-Crimbo to share a look at the rest of my festive decor, then I should FINALLY be ready to do another room reveal on my just-about-finished bedroom! To whet your appetite, here’s a sneak-peek of it on my Instagram feed.

Until then – Happy Foraging!

{Images: all Joanna Thornhill}


Crafternoon Delight: Painted Easter Egg Project

Craft Opener Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

After my ombre-fest at the start of this week, I was keen to try out the other main painting style of Dulux’s Collective Passions trend – the stripe – as well as get my craft on for a little Easter-inspired project before the week was out. Having completed two decorated egg projects recently for other clients (which will be on the blog soon), I figured I’d make it a hat-trick and use up a few leftover duck eggs to boot.

So to create your own, you will need some duck eggs, a skewer, bottle tops, thin masking tape (I got mine from Hobbycraft in the model-painting section), brushes and, of course, paints – standard emulsion works perfectly well. Before you start you’ll need to blow out your eggs – gently make a hole in the top of each egg with your skewer by slowly grinding from side to side until it pierces through, then repeat on the underside. Poke it in a few times for good measure to break the yolk. Gently blow through into a bowl and think happy thoughts of the omelette you will later be making with the leftovers. Give each empty egg a good wash, blow out any last bits of water, then leave to dry thoroughly. And then you can begin:

Egg Painting Project Step 1 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Add a base coat of emulsion all over each egg – it’s easiest to hold the egg with two fingers and paint around them, then set it down on a bottle top and fill in the finger-gaps once it’s dry. Give each egg a second coat for a nice even coverage.

Egg Painting Project Step 2 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Add your masking tape, carefully pressing down the edges, particularly around any curves. Continue the tape the whole way round the egg, overlapping slightly at the back.

For Egg A, add three stripes in a line starting from the centre and going off to the left, then remove the middle stripe when finished.

For Egg B, add a single vertical stripe around the middle of the egg.

For Egg C, add two evenly spaced bands horizontally in the middle of the egg.

Egg Painting Project Step 3 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Time to add your second colour to each egg.

For Egg A, paint over the ’empty’ stripe and the left hand side of the egg beyond the left hand piece of masking tape.

For Egg B, freehand paint a rough line about halfway round the egg then fill in the lower half.

For Egg C, paint under the lower masking tape band on the egg. Add a second coat to all.

Egg Painting Project Step 4 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Leave Egg A to dry whilst carrying on with the other two.

For Egg B, freehand paint the top quarter of the egg, again leaving a rough paint line.

For Egg C, paint the top third of the egg over the upper masking tape line.

Egg Painting Project Step 5 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Just Egg B left to finish – paint a final band of colour over the middle section of the egg, again keeping your brush strokes rough at the joins. Aim to keep the line relatively straight but don’t worry if it goes a little wonky, it’s all part of the charm.

Egg Painting Project Step 6 Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Carefully remove the masking tape from each egg and touch up any blemishes with more paint. Sit back and admire your handiwork. Possibly whilst eating your omelette.

Final Results Egg Painting Project by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Display on your tabletop in egg cups or little jars/shot glasses/tealight holders/jugs (this rather lovely little one is the Marne from Habitat), or alternatively thread through some embroidery floss and hang them decoratively from some twigs in a vase. Invite your friends round to marvel at your creative genius.

So wondering where the inspiration came from? Behold:

Eggs vs Rooms Craft Project by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Top: Egg painted in Rock Candy 2 and Bongo Jazz 1

Middle: Egg painted in (top to bottom) Fragrant Cloud 4, Lilac Spring 3, Flying feather and (stripe) Paradise Green 4

Bottom: Egg painted in (top to bottom) Fruit Fool 6, Frayed Hessian 3, Rock Candy 6.

Paint Chart Cards & Giftwrap by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

After all that fun I couldn’t resist having a final play and as I had a card to make and present to wrap (a little belated birthday gift for the boyf as I had to postpone his real birthday due to Work Horrors a few weeks back), I decided to mock up a few card blanks using a megamix of the colours I had left from my Collective Passions testers. Having army-precision-planned the egg painting exercise, I went a bit free and easy with this and just slapped on the paint in a myriad of ways for a slightly rough-and-ready but hopefully charming-in-a-homemade-way type of vibe. I then got utterly carried away and decided to wrap said gift in some plain white paper (I used the underside of a wallpaper offcut) and painted little squares on that too, finishing things off with (what else) a splash of Washi tape.

Normal blogging service will resume next week, but I do hope you’ve enjoyed this week of painterly adventures. I shall be presenting my findings on all of the above (plus lots of added extras) at the Meet the Blogger London conference tomorrow so if you’re going, I’ll see you there, and if you’re not, just assume that I was fabulous…

Happy Friday everyone!

{Images: Photography and styling throughout by Joanna Thornhill, apart from the three roomset images next to the painted eggs, which are courtesy of Dulux}.

{Psst: wondering why I’m blathering on about Dulux all week? Well, I’m working on an exciting online collaboration with them, exploring their latest SS13 trend, Collective Passions. All week I will be producing blog posts with this trend as the starting point, and then on Saturday 9th March I will be presenting my findings at Meet the Blogger London. To find out more about both, click here.}

Beyond the Wall: Paint Effect Canvas Artwork How-to

Day One Painting Details Header Dulux Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Graduated wet-brush canvas with Dulux paint - Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Inspired by the subtle tones of this image from Dulux’s Collective Passions trend, I selected three closely-related hues – Frayed Hessian 3, Fruit Fool 6 and Chalk Blush 1, and used a wet-brush technique to get a softer blend between the colours. Painting the top and bottom bands of colour first, I then dabbed blobs of the same colours near their edges before filling in the middle band, allowing the paint colours to mix together. To finish, I blended the colours with light brushstrokes, alternating between each colour, as shown in my previous post, ensuring I worked quickly before the colours dried.

Two-tone Dry-brush canvas with Dulux paint - Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

In contrast to the wet-brush technique, I wanted to experiment with a higher-contrast alternative. Enter Bermuda Cocktail 2 and Orange Fizz, which together I think create a somewhat retro, West-German pottery vibe. I returned to the dry-brush technique for this, but kept all the brushstrokes horizontal rather than any-which-way, to create a more stripy, bold finish, again swapping between each colour and blending over each other until I was happy with the end result.

Multi-paint Framed Artwork by Anja Jane with Dulux paint - Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

And finally, not an artwork in itself, but an accompaniment to one. The boyf bought me this beautiful screenprint for my birthday, by local-to-me artist Anja Jane (do check her out – her work is gorgeous!) and I’d held off framing it as I didn’t want to just shove it in a bog-standard frame. However, I was desperate to pop a couple of things up on my freshly-painted wall and had a perfectly sized Ribba knocking about – then the little cogs in my brain started turning and I noticed how a few of my Collective Passions testers co-ordinated perfectly with it. As a result of my indecision, I painted the inside lip of the frame with Rock Candy 2, slicking Bongo Jazz 3 and 1 respectively to the front and sides. I love how it pops out and thanks to the limited palette within the print, the frame accents it perfectly without vying for attention. After lightly sanding and priming the frame, a couple of coats was enough to do the job.

More crafty delights to follow later this week!

{Images: Photography and projects copyright Joanna Thornhill}

{Psst: wondering why I’m blathering on about Dulux all week? Well, I’m working on an exciting online collaboration with them, exploring their latest SS13 trend, Collective Passions. All week I will be producing blog posts with this trend as the starting point, and then on Saturday 9th March I will be presenting my findings at Meet the Blogger London. To find out more about both, click here.}

Ombre, Ombre! Reviving the Paint Effect with Dulux

Day One Painting header Dulux Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

As a child of the 80’s, I have fond memories of my Mother’s attempts at rag rolling, sponging and generally paint-effecting her way around our house, with varying degrees of success. Naturally, I was keen to chip in, proudly stencilling doorframes and stippling away on a storage unit for my cassette tapes (Google them, kids). The exotic allure of scumbleglaze and the like was swiftly shunted aside in the noughties, however, as pared-back ‘shabby chic’ became the technique du jour, with its soothing off-white palette and faux-French-chateau styling. Until now. Ladies and gents, I give you: the paint effect, 2013-stylee.

Dulux Cafe Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own LRES

So here she is – ain’t she a beaut? One of the key components of Dulux’s SS13 Collective Passions trend, the technique is inspired by the way we swoosh and swoop our way from one new idea to the next, flocking together to share and flying off just as quickly. Hence being named ‘flocking’, though technically it’s more a dry brush feathering technique to create an ombre colour-fade effect. These pictures are of Dulux’s own staff cafe in Slough, created by their talented Creative Director, Marianne Schillingford. Inspired, I decided to have a go myself at home, which most aptly now forms my first post in a week of Dulux discovery. And here’s how I did it:

1. Marking a Line Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own LRES

Work out where you want your colours to meet, and draw a pencil line along your wall – this will help the clarity of the finished effect (though if you want to go all-out maverick, then head straight to Step Two). Think about what is going against that wall – do you want to directly line up with any furniture items in the room? As this wall has my bedhead in the middle of it, I wanted the line to fall slightly below this. Also worth a note at this point – if you’re planning on painting any other connecting walls in the room (with this effect or otherwise), might I suggest doing this afterwards – I got rather overzealous with my technique and repeatedly covered the surrounding walls with blue swashes, which I was mighty glad I hadn’t yet decorated.

2. Paint First Colour Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own LRES

Working from the top down, paint your first colour – I went for the warm greyish-mushroom tones of Flying Feather, to allow my lower colour to really pop out, but if you want a more subtle effect, stick to similar shades. When you reach your paint line, roughly paint over it, allowing the paint to feather off.

3. Add Second Colour Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own LRES

Then, starting from the bottom, work your way upwards with your second colour (try to avoid joining up the colours until the upper wall is dry). When you reach the upper wall, work the paint over its rough line very loosely with an almost-dry brush, brandishing it from side to side as well as diagonally – image you are sword fighting an imaginary interiors nemesis over the battle of Best Painted Wall (should I have said that aloud?) The key here is not to over-think things and avoid being too heavy-handed (and to cover all nearby furniture/children/pets with protective sheeting). Don’t worry if it looks a bit, erm, crap at this stage – the magic hasn’t quite happened yet…

4. Final Blending Collective Passions by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own LRES

Once you’ve joined both colours together, go back over the line with the top colour (if you’ve kept your strokes light the wall should already be dry) and blend the brushstrokes together. Go back again with the lower colour and keep working over the wall, alternating between the two until you’re happy with the end result (I went over the wall at least eight times with both colours and would probably still be doing it now if the boyf hadn’t insisted I down tools). But fear not, it doesn’t actually take that long – I probably spent about 45 minutes on this bit, in addition to the actual wall painting, and the whole job was done in an afternoon. Again, the key is to keep your strokes as light as possible and allow the colours to dry-blend slightly to stop it looking so harsh. Don’t forget to stand back and look at the bigger picture as you go, rather than stand squinting in extreme close-up at the bit that’s going to be covered by furniture anyway whilst scratching your head in self-doubt.

So how did it all turn out?

Main Bedroom Paint Effect After Joanna Thornhill Stylist's OwnMain Bedroom Paint Effect After Joanna Thornhill Stylist's Own

Well, rather nicely I think! I’ve sneakily abandoned my mid-renovation bathroom to do this – the bedroom was next on the to-do renovation list – and I wasn’t sure quite what I wanted to do in here other than I liked the idea of something interesting happening on this wall, but I didn’t really want to wallpaper it. I plan to expand the artwork currently on the wall (more on these artworks later but they have all been Dulux’ed – will reveal what I did shortly!) and I’m also planning on painting the rest of the room with Flying Feather to tie it all together.

So what do you think – tempted to try it yourself, or think it looks like I’ve had some kind of mini-meltdown during a DIY session?!

{Images: Photography copyright Joanna Thornhill. Top of wall, painted in Flying Feather, bottom of wall painted in Sapphire Springs 3 (both matt finish), skirting board painted in Fragrant Cloud 4 (eggshell for wood), all Dulux TailorMade}

Psst: wondering why I’m blathering on about Dulux all week? Well, I’m working on an exciting online collaboration with them, exploring their latest SS13 trend, Collective Passions. All week I will be producing blog posts with this trend as the starting point, and then on Saturday 9th March I will be presenting my findings at Meet the Blogger London. To find out more about both, click here.

Heart Home Bookcase Makeover

There’s precious little more satisfying than a furniture makeover in my book: slapping a fresh coat of paint or a new jacket of wallpaper over something a bit blah, then basking in the glory of your thrifty brilliance every time you glance at said item forevermore. As a professional tinkerer I’ve had more than my fair share of bits of furniture/walls/floors/doors to paint all in the name of the Photoshoot, and also ended up with more than my fair share of leftover paint and wallpaper scraps as a result.

There’s been rather a lot of this sort of extra-curricular activity going on in my flat – as regular readers will know, I’m a renter, AKA I live in a white box that I can’t do much to change. So I’m a big fan of the Furniture Makeover, and not much escapes my clutches unscathed. Recently my attentions were turned to my rather sorry looking Ikea Leksvik bookcase. Having recently come back from a shoot with half a roll left of the amazing Bindi wallpaper by Eijffinger (available at Wallpaper Direct), I was desperate to slap it up on something. I was also finding the bookcase increasingly impractical for my needs: I wanted to stack my magazine stash up tall, but the little blighters kept sliding down the back. It was high time I got my DIY on.

First things first, a little sanding and priming…

Followed by a lick of the truly scrumptuous Turquoise Blue by Little Greene

And my carcass was complete. Next, time to sort out that pesky open back issue.

After measuring the width and diameter of the bookcase, I purchased a sheet of hardboard, cut to size at my local Homebase (and duly squished into tiny Vauxhall Corsa). I then set about securing my wallpaper to the front with some double-sided carpet tape (if I was less lazy, wallpaper paste would have been a good bet) in two drops, running a knife around the edges to quickly whip off the excess.

Then a final bit of drill action to create pilot holes to screw it into place (I chose screws rather than nails for easy future removal)

Until I was left with this! Much improved, I think you’ll agree. Now, would you like to see the money shot? Here you go!

Which brings me neatly to my next little topic: the rest of my kitchen, and indeed my entire teeny-tiny flat, is due to feature in a brand new online magazine, Heart Home! The first UK-specific online interiors mag (who have already very kindly featured me on their blog), it launches this Thursday, 15th Sep and is being expertly edited by fellow bloggers Arianna of Arianna Interiors, Carol of Dear Designer’s and Daniel from Atelier Tally. I was extremely excited to show off my humble abode, plus style and write the feature (shot by the fabulous Sarah Hogan). I will post with the article link once it’s out there in interweb-land. More sneaky peeks from the flat to follow!

{Image Credits: Top blurry ones, me, bottom two nice ones, Sarah Hogan}

60 Second Makeover : Washi Tape on Pot

Since it is now officially spring (well, I’ve put my washing out for the first time since 2010 – OK, it may have not actually dried and a bird did poo on my top, but at least it’s not formed icicles so I consider this immense progress) I thought I’d share a mini plant pot hack I invented recently. I took this little hyacinth to come and live with me back at Stylist HQ at the end of a shoot, and immediately scoured my ever-growing collection of miscellaneous pots to see what I could house him in (plastic pots on drip trays just don’t cut it with me).

Nothing quite fit and the best I could come up with was the below, leaving the top edge of the plastic sticking out like an unsightly VPL. After a moment wondering if my OCD could cope with this visual blight and quickly deciding on a resounding no, I decided to wrap the offending edge in a little Japanese Washi tape, purchased at the Tate Shop (plus it has been passed law I think that a design blog must mention washi tape at least once a month). I then decided to go for broke and slosh a bit more around the ceramic pot to give the illusion that the whole thing had been designed to look like that from the get-go. Convincing, non?

In other floral news, I thought I’d share a little tale of the humble Onion flower.

After purchasing said flower for a shoot, this little sculptural lovely sat perfectly happy in a little water for a few days. Until I noticed this – a break for freedom?

A subtle ripping occured at its base, and it developed a wierd, bumpy translucency. Until finally it turned into this!

With its little cocoon dropped at its feet.

Note to any interested readers out there: it is at this point that the onion flower proves its name, and its water starts to reek to high heaven – but fortunately he seems happy dried out too and is now continuing his retirement in a waterless vintage bottle by the sink.

[All pictures by me, including the fuzzy iPhone one]

Book Club

When is a book not a book? Well, when it’s a door. A bathroom door, to be precise: in our teeny-tiny rental, due to the fact that we essentially live in a single room hacked up to create an entire flat, our internal doors are sadly just standard-issue, flat-and-featureless numbers rather than slabs of original Victoriana. For some reason, whilst three of them are just painted an inoffensive white, the bathroom door remains in its natural (chipboard) timber state , which has always kind of irked me. But rather than paint it up to match, I decided to do something a little more interesting. So when an offcut of the oft-admired Ex Libris wallpaper by Cole and Son came my way after an editorial photoshoot (above), I decided to turn the entry to the throne-room into a little trompe-l’oeil masterpiece.

Due to the fact that I will undoubtedly have to turn the door back into its inferior state before my tenancy ends, I cheated somewhat in the application of the wallpaper here, by just using strips of double-sided tape in grids across the door. Bear in mind, if trying this at home, that unless your door is supermodel skinny you’ll probably need a couple of drops to cover the entire surface (most wallpapers are around 55cm wide). So first things first, I took the handle off the door to get a neat finish (an easy job with a screwdriver) and marked out the tape. Then, lining the paper up flush with the long edge of the door, I allowed an overhang on the top and bottom (easier to then just whip this off afterwards with a stanley knife). Then just line up the second drop, re-fit the door handle and bob’s your uncle.

Et voila!

See what I did there with the whole mirroring the bookshelves above thing? Clever, non? Just a word of caution – whilst this trick is great for a hallway-facing door, inside the bathroom itself is not the best place to cover a wooden surface with paper affixed with sticky strips. Humidity + condensation + paper product = big warpy mess. But only a huge doofus would make that mistake, right? Ha!

*hangs head in shame whilst glancing at the big warpy mess on the other side of said door whilst trying to work up the energy to pick it all off…*

[pic up top is the shoot in question where I acquired my little offcut – styling by Abigail Edwards and photography by Adrian Briscoe for the Daily Mail You magazine. All other images my own.]