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Kitchen/Diner Dreaming: My Makeover Plans

Foxgrove Road Kitchen

High time I popped back over now my Christmas shoot bonanza has (I think!) drawn to a close (July-Sep are usually completely swamped with festive image production, leaving me very confused at this time of year as in my head it feels like approximately February). Between that and focusing attention on enjoying (and maintaining) the garden throughout the last of the warm weather, we’ve been neglecting the interior of our house for quite some time now.

Line Kay Kitchen

Now, like many interiors folk on the Interweb, I must confess to finding myself presenting a somewhat curated version of my home – I definitely think it’s good to share a few comedy look-how-disgusting-my-living-room-is-right-now shots when things get REALLY bad (usually directly after a busy shoot which involved crafting) and I also think it can be a bit soulless to only show perfectly styled vignettes without a bit of real life sneaking in around the edges sometimes, but on the whole I do tend to avoid snapping the rooms I’m not so keen on (i.e. half the house still).

Alison Allen Kitchen

However, as the nights are drawing in and hanging out in the garden becomes distinctly less appealing, my nesting instinct has been reawakened and I’m determined to finally finish off the half-done bathroom, study and bedroom this side of Christmas, so that in January we can fully focus on the biggie: our proposed kitchen/dining room side return extension! When we moved into this house, I had anticipated it being something of a stop-gap before moving on to something bigger and better, and was planning on doing a Home-for-Now-style makeover on the two rooms – paint the dining room, change the handles on the kitchen cupboards, remove all the top cupboard doors to give a more open look, make a curtain to cover the washing machine – you get the gist. However, as property prices in our area have gone up by over a third since we bought in 2012 (!) it soon became apparent we weren’t going to be heading further up that ladder anytime soon. And the current kitchen just doesn’t work for us. At all. No, not these gorgeous ones above (they were just to lure you in) – this is mine, plus the dining room:

Dining Room Before Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Kitchen Before Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

You might not think it looks too bad in these pics (and I appreciate things could be much worse and I am incredibly lucky to have a functioning kitchen in a home of my own at all) but trust me, in Real Life, it leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the lengthy list of things wrong with it (rising damp, leaking door, bodge-job window, every appliance not working properly, stupidly configured cupboards, a crumbly bit of wall currently held together with some gaffa tape and a paper plate, etc etc) it’s just too goddam small for our needs (we’re big fans of cooking – and eating – and unsurprisingly I have a rather hefty collection of food tins, kilner jars and general kitchenalia) and we’ve already given over half the dining room to additional kitchen supplies. I’m totally an advocate of making do where you can, but the time has come to move onwards and outwards in this space. So I very much hope to be back with you in the new year with posts showing building progress (scheduled to start early Spring depending on the weather).

Kitchen Dining Moodboard Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Blue Bird fabric by Mark Hearld at The Natural Curtain Company. 2. Stellar Blue fabric by St Jude’s at The Natural Curtain Company. 3. British Army lights, Trainspotters. 4. Kitchen in the New York townhouse of Ali Cayne (lust!) as seen at My Design Chic. 5. The living room of Holly Tucker, CEO of, as featured in LivingEtc magazine, February 2013 (I’m hoping my dining room chimneybreast will scrub up like this!) 6. Arcadian brick tile in Porcelain, Winchester Tiles. 7. Epoque Old London tile (for floor), Original Style. 8. Traditional copper mixer tap, Taps UK

We’re currently waiting for proper plans to be finalised before we can go and actually start designing the space properly, so above is a mini inspiration board of vaguely what I want to achieve. I’m keeping my current eBay score dining table and chairs, and the 1950’s kitchen unit in the corner (to be given some sort of makeover) but pretty much everything else is out. The plan is to make the space semi-open plan, turning the dining room window into a second open walkway into the new kitchen space, install some grey units (going for a mix of solid, glass-fronted and simple shelving), remove the plaster from the chimneybreast in the dining room and open it up, add some industrial-style lighting, then decorate throughout to tie the two rooms together. Cannot. Wait!

Epoque Old London floor tiles

As we’re still not at unit-choosing stage, my initial thoughts have turned to floor tiles and fabrics. I recently fell in love with these gorgeous encaustic-style tiles from Original Style, called – appropriately – Old London, and am using these as my initial starting point for the space. The encaustic-style tiles I installed in my bathroom are still pretty much my favourite thing in the house, and I find that by adding pattern to floors whilst keeping the walls neutral, I’m free to fill up shelving with a whole range of trinkets and accessories without fear of a clash.

Fabrics by The Natural Curtain Company by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I’m also keen to introduce some patterned window blinds and curtains (to go across the new door) – it might seem like I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself here, but I think it’s important to hone in on any main patterns you want to introduce to a space first, then decide on any plain elements to tie it all together. In a rather timely manner, The Natural Curtain Company got in touch to ask me to check out their made to measure curtains range (I can actually sew myself but as it took me almost two years to finish off my bedroom blinds I might outsource this time!) I was aware that they stock a range of stylish, simple linens which I’m quite tempted by, but was also pleasantly surprised to see them stocking fabrics from Emily Burningham, Ian Mankin and – one of my favourite design labels – St Jude’s, too. Looking at everything together, I’m tempted to include the two designs shown in my moodboard (perhaps one in ready-made curtains plus a blind for the door/window, then the second design by-the-metre to create a curtain over the washing machine?)

Anyway, expect to hear from me again A LOT about all of this – and if I’ve not FINALLY posted up finished pics of the upstairs rooms by New Year’s Eve, come and give me a poke, OK?!

{Images: Top image – the kitchen of photographer Malcolm Menzies, as seen at Light Locations. Second image – the kitchen of photographer Line Kays, as seen at What Kenny Hearts. Third image – the kitchen of Alison Allen, as seen at Design*Sponge. Tiled flooring lifestyle shot via Original Style. All other images taken by me. This post was produced in collaboration with The Natural Curtain Company, but everything shown/mentioned and all my general witterings were entirely my choice}


The Great Garden Fakeover: (final) Grand Reveal!

Garden Fakeover feature by Joanna Thornhill p25, Heart Home July14 You might have noticed my makeover posts of late have very much been focused on my garden, rather than anything actually going on inside. The interior’s something I’ve been beavering away with, honest, but as anything to do with renovating a Victorian property (especially when someone – OK, me – insisted on painstakingly stripping 100+ years of woodwork paint just to get a slightly neater finish) seems to take forever, the garden has very much become my ‘happy place’ now the weather’s on our side. Garden Fakeover feature by Joanna Thornhill p30-31, Heart Home July14 As I’ve mentioned previously, the garden was utterly barren when we moved in, so it’s by far the biggest transformation we’ve made to our house and as I know bugger all about gardening, am really rather proud of it all. When I was setting it all up, I had a hunch others might be interested in seeing some of the ‘makeover’ tricks I’ve used to transform the space, so I set about shooting it at the end of last Summer before it all faded away again, ably photographed by the wonderful Rita Platts, whom I worked with during my Home for Now shoot extravaganzas. Finally, after the best part of a year’s wait, the images we created are in this month’s Heart Home magazine! Garden Fakeover feature by Joanna Thornhill p32-33, Heart Home July14 I’m really pleased with how the feature turned out, and hope it inspires both renters and inexperienced gardeners to have a go at transforming their own space into something special with a few outside-the-box tricks. Above (and the first one below) are a few layout pages from the feature, but do take a look at the full article over at Heart Home (it’s in the July 2014 issue currently on their homepage, but from early August onwards you’ll still be able to access it via their past issues section – page 25 onwards). Garden Fakeover feature by Joanna Thornhill p38-39, Heart Home July14 Of course, come the dawn of spring this year and six months after this shoot, it certainly wasn’t looking like this – you might recall a few months ago, I shared a few ‘real reveal‘ shots of it post-winter in rather a sorry state. Since then, I’ve been trying to restore it to its former glory and more so, with the addition of some new plants and seeds. Clever online gardening site Plant Me Now helped me on the way with this, so I thought it only fair to reveal how it’s really looking today, now it’s in full bloom! And here’s a quick reminder too of how truly awful it was when we started in the Summer of 2012: Garden Makeover Before & After by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - back Garden Makeover Before & After by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - decking Garden Makeover Before & After by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - seating area Garden Makeover Before & After by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - decking detail Not bad, huh? Garden Makeover New Plants by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own pic one Here’s a few close-ups of my Plant Me Now babies – I was pleasantly surprised to find pretty much everything’s survived my black thumb thus far, and most things are currently flowering beautifully. The lupins have actually finished now, as have the foxgloves (though it looks like a few new shoots are appearing on the latter – anyone know if I can expect the same for the lupins?!) and I’ve also grown some sweet pea from seed which still haven’t actually flowered for some reason, but otherwise seem to be happily growing so hopefully they’ll pop out soon, and the dahlia’s are also just starting to appear – I’m hoping they will see me through to the Autumn. Garden Makeover New Plants by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own pic two Garden Makeover New Plants by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own pic three Next on the list is to try and be clever and start planning for next two season’s soon: I’m thinking of filling in some of the pots with some winter bedding plants once the Summer seasonals have died off (most likely involving some Pansies and Violas though I’m also loving the look of their pretty Myosotis flowers and Sedum plant), as well as planting out some spring bulbs (am desperate to try some alliums), so hopefully it’ll be less of a mess come Spring 2015 than it was earlier this year. Right, best go and get back in it – it’s Pimms O’Clock, after all… {Images: Heart Home layout pages: photography Rita Platts, styling and text Joanna Thornhill. All subsequent photography, Joanna Thornhill.}

The Great Garden Fakeover!

Garden Makeover Before&After Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I’ve been teasing this one out over on my Instagram feed, but it’s high time I sat down and did a proper post on this, perhaps my proudest renovation project to date in the never-ending, no-budget Project House. With a population of 8.3million crammed into London Town, having a 40×20′ outdoor space really is something of an achievement, particularly when it’s south facing (and you’ve not spent £1billion on it). Which puts into context why, when viewing my house last year on a freezing January morning, I got rather hot under collar after passing through the textured wallpaper and cheap laminate flooring and emerged into this:

Before Shots Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Before Shots2 Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Whilst not exactly a lush tropical oasis, this space had serious potential: a great raised deck, lovely Victorian brick wall background (mercifully not pebbledashed like the unfortunate front of the house) and (relatively) not too overlooked. And the 7am-7pm direct sunlight too, obvs. The question was how to transform it into what I’ve been lovingly referring to as a Proper Person’s Garden, rather than its current, inaccessible-parking-space type guise. Mindful of the fact that this in all likelihood isn’t the garden I’ll be tending into old age, spending thousands digging it all up and painstakingly planting a lawn and beds from scratch just didn’t seem like a sensible option. Plus I know pretty much zero about gardening. But I do know about makeovers. And that’s when it hit: why not just approach the garden as one?!

Shed Painting Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

After many months plotting and researching, plans were finally put into place a mere few weeks ago (apart from the shed: that was set up during a particularly ferocious winter’s day late last year, with a little help from Handy Dad – aka, us realising how utterly useless we are at DIY and him spending about 12 hours constructing it, in the pouring rain, whilst the boyf dutifully passed up screws and attempted to keep a makeshift tarpaulin shelter up). The shed (this one, ordered from Wilkinson online) itself was then given a coat of paint from Sandtex’s new Garden Shades range – Morning Breeze for the body, then Pink Honeysuckle for the trim (which ended up being just a little toooo pink for me, so I mixed in some of the Morning Breeze paint to lighten it up somewhat).

Bamboo Fencing Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

We also fixed up some cheap bamboo fencing to cover a rather flimsy bit of trellis which formed the only barrier between us (right by our garden table) and next door (right where their barbecue is, facing directly into our garden – cosy) by screwing through it at various points into said trellis. It also served to mask the top of their God-awful kitchen extension, and hide a bodge-job bit of plastering on our back wall, plus the plastic drain pipe. Having been quoted £300 to have this ‘properly’ fenced in, our £50 investment (thanks to swinging by B&Q on an ‘everything’s discounted day and buying two of these)  seemed rather shrewd. The plan is to eventually grow some climbing plants up it to soften it up a bit.

All of this set the stage for the Big Day. We purchased some old railway sleepers from the independent builder’s merchant at the end of the road, managed somehow to squeeze them (in two trips) into our tiny Corsa, then proceeded to cart them through the house in an elaborately complicated manner, thanks to the lack of direct access and abundance of awkward corners. Oh, and I say we – initially I thought we could do it between the two of us, until it came to removing them from the car outside our house and me realising I physically couldn’t lift the things, resulting in the boyf pretty much single-handedly dragging them from the boot to our front courtyard where they had to live for a week, until Bigger Boys could come and help shift them out back.

Midway Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

So whilst the boys did all the donkeywork, I prepared the statement piece in my makeover magic: fake grass! Or faux, as I like to think of it. Having purchased a 2x6m roll of Alicante from Touch of Grass, chosen for its variegated texture, I set to work laying it into position in the middle of the garden, cutting round it when it reached the shed and using the excess to patch in a gap on the left hand side (you can just see the seam bottom left). This stuff is genius – easy to snip away at with strong scissors and blend into other sections seamlessly with a quick ruffle. As mine was going straight onto concrete, it didn’t even require any fixings – the sleepers are all it needs to hold it in place, and rainwater just washes straight through the holes in the membrane on the underside, so technically I could even roll it up and take it with me if/when I move (making it a great idea for rented spaces, too).

After Shots to Shed Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Once the grass and sleepers were down, with an extra line of bricks used to weigh down the short ends, Operation Gravel thusly commenced. Wanting to obliterate all signs of the grotty concrete, I had decided to create gravel borders in the new edges, helpfully defined thanks to the sleepers and brick edges, then build up a selection of pot plants to sit on the top. To pick up on the pale colour of the shed and contrast with the wooden decking, I went for a light cotswold stone from Homebase, gradually filling the whole way along, past our ‘rustic-chic’ brick-built barbecue (more on that epic adventure another time…) And then we stopped for Pimms and congratulatory back-slaps!

After Shot Towards House Garden Makeover by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Garden Makeover Opener Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

And there we have it! All in a (rather sweaty) days work. Since this was completed I’ve added lots of styled elements throughout the space (very much a work in progress still) so I’ll pop those up in the coming weeks.

Now: what plants work well in pots?!

{Images: all copyright Joanna Thornhill}

Diary of a Renovation: Blindtastic in the Bathroom

Bathroom Blind Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - Window Main

Gosh, it’s hard work keeping track of what I’ve shared where with my little bathroom renovation project – last time it was wall painting, I believe. Well, I’m happy to say the room is now approximately 97% finished (and yes, that’s a 3% that may NEVER be finished, a common theme running throughout the house I’m noticing). I shan’t bore you with too many details, but in the needs-grown-up-supervision camp there’s still some more silicon’ing to be done and a cable to be shortened. Then in the Fluffing Camp (my domain, obvs) I want to get some of my artwork – maybe even an oversized clock – onto the walls for a non-bathroom vibe, stick a couple of hooks onto the back of the door and upgrade my towels (I’m thinking hammam).

But for now I wanted to share a few of the extra bits I’ve done to get her looking (mainly) shipshape. So following on from my last thrilling instalment, you’ll see the woodwork has been painted a rather snazzy grey – this is on the window and door frame, tongue-and-groove (no more Sauna Chic) and skirting board. It was meant to be on the door too, but I ran out of steam and now I kinda like it Au Natural. I love how it makes the lovely old carved details on the woodwork so much more of a feature.

Bathroom Blind Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - Window Side

And focusing on the window – what’s this you see? Why, it’s my fancy new blind! Originally I wanted shutters up at the window, to hide the unfortunate double glazing, but after a fiscal review, decided that something (most things, in fact) had to give. And it wasn’t going to be chocolates and wine. Luckily, I then discovered the Web Blinds site – specifically, their Innovation faux-wood venetian blinds (the ‘faux’ making them suitable for bathrooms) which come in a choice of slat width – by going for an extra-wide 63mm, this gave a really sleek, shutter-style finish, for a fraction of the cost. There’s also no extra charge for getting one made to your exact dimensions – a bonus when no shop in the land seems to make any in the size you need. It’s literally transformed the room and looks super smart.

I peeled off the revolting, brown-peeling-edges textured window film that blighted both halves of the window and, as mentioned previously, appeared to have been stuck on with a mixture of wood glue and treacle (let’s just say it made for a three-hour, bicep-toning workout). To spare the neighbour’s blushes, I decided to put some plain static frosting film over the bottom half only, leaving the top panel clear (I had some leftover from an old rental flat, but Purlfrost sell it). I now leave the blind permanently at half-mast, allowing me to easily adjust the privacy on the exposed top half of the window whilst not getting in the way of the handles on the lower half (side note: we then realised the animals we bought this house from had left one handle locked, in the open position, with no key, meaning it shall live forevermore cocked upwards until we can afford to pay a man to fix it – GRRRRR!!)

Bathroom Blind Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - Blind Cord

In other exciting bathroom news, after months and months of daily searching for a cabinet to fit a very specific gap, that I aesthetically liked the look of, contained both cupboard and drawer storage, and was tall yet not too big to fit inside Serge the Corsa, that was reasonably priced, and within a 50 mile radius of the house (fussy, moi?) I finally unearthed this beauty for the princely sum of £30 off of eBay. I feared it might be too big by about 1mm, but in desperation had already concocted a harebrained scheme to lop a section of it out of one side to make it fit as a last resort, so delighted woops were plentiful when it turned out that it actually fits the space EXACTLY. Well, exactly if you push down heavily on the top and accept that it sticks out a couple of inches further on one side than the other, and is now immovably wedged forever in that spot. But happy times nonetheless.

Now I have a dedicated space for my beloved (colour coded, natch) nail varnishes in the form of this repurposed cake stand (which I can’t get tight enough to stop it going all Leaning Tower of Pisa, hmmm) and I’ve also popped this sweet little basket on top to hold spare loo roll, with the cupboard itself now housing all my spare towels and beauty bits.

Bathroom Blind Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own - Cupboard

Oh, and check out my bog roll holder – not the sort of thing I ever thought I’d get excited about – but ain’t she a beaut? I was planning on forking out proper money for a proper one from a proper shop, until I spotted a super-cool vintage one at a location house I was shooting in recently, and was inspired to look for similar online. This one isn’t actually vintage, but is equally lovely and was just £10 from Holyrood Architectural Salvage on eBay. Can’t get enough of these ickle hands:

Toilet Roll Holder Stylist's Own by Joanna Thornhill

OK, and now for a brief interlude: Dear Reader(s?) – I’d love to know what your house is like: is it a creative, crafty little haven that you’ve decorated with much the same approach as mine, i.e. lots of quick fixes and bargain-tastic touches? I’m working on a super-exciting, top-secret project and I’m looking for properties to shoot for it! They can be anywhere in the UK or even Europe, and they need to be more or less finished spaces (very much unlike mine) and be full of clever styling tricks, Ikea hacks and make-do-and-mending – basically, lovely on a budget. Ideally this is for renters and first-time buyers, but either way if you think your place might fit the bill then do leave me a comment below, or drop me a line at jo (at) joannathornhill, and all will be revealed…

{Images: all copyright Joanna Thornhill}

Stairway to Heaven: my Loft Storage Room!

Steps to new loft storage by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

So after ten months and a mini-freak-out-session all over the long-suffering boyf, we finally came to the conclusion that we were NEVER going to have the time/skills/patience to clear out and board up the loft if left to our own devices, and I was beginning to go slowly insane surrounded by work props, suitcases that didn’t fit anywhere and multitudes of DIY equipment (having already totally filled the shed, natch) to the point where I could bear it no more. The OH also has what I lovingly refer to as Sensitive Nose Syndrome, too – namely, any encounters with dust send him off into big, irritating man-sneeeze fits. And as the loft was Mary Poppins/Victorian Chimneysweep-style black with inches of soot, he was in even less of a rush to clamber up through the tiny hatch and sort it out than I was.

So we got Men in to do it. Like storage saviours, they duly arrived, supped on tea, accidentally stuck a foot through the bedroom ceiling and swore a lot, to provide us with this:

New attic storage space1 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

New attic storage space2 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

New attic storage space3 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Storage. SO MUCH storage. More storage than my little mind could ever even have dreamed of. OK, on the grand scheme of storage space, it ain’t that big. But for someone who has lived in over ten flat/houseshares and two teeny-tiny one-bed “love nests” with barely enough room to swing a cat, this is pretty much a gift from the Gods (of Excess Stuff). I like to think of it as my own little world: there is Painting Corner over on the left, Side Table Ghost Town on the right, and up against the crumbly brickwork at the back, the place I’ve always dreamed of  – my very own (prop)House of Love. (I remind you that we live in E17. Geddit?) We’re still filling her up with stuff but I figured it’s never going to actually look NICE, so I may as well share her as is. And she’s now got proper access via our very swanky pull-down wooden ladder and extra-wide hatch (Oh, and – it goes without saying – ignore every single other visual element of the landing area, pictured up top. Banishing its horridness is very much on the To Do list, I assure you. Just look at the Clever Ladder and avert your eyes from the rest, please thank-you.)

Aside from getting Handy Dad to pop in a proper spotlight, that’s all we’re doing up there for now, and to be honest I don’t know if we’ll ever have the funds to turn it into a “proper” conversion. But a small (OK, massive) part of me is hankering to do a sneaky half-conversion to turn it into my office/craft studio (cue long, lengthy sigh). Here’s a few of my thoughts to get me on my way:

Loft Ideas - Velux Windows, blogged on Stylist's Own by Joanna Thornhill

1. A couple of centre-pivot roof windows from VELUXScreen Shot 2013-04-27 at 17.18.40 up there. Back when we had our roof replaced the week we moved in, when I naively thought we might have more than tuppence ha’penny left in the coffers once that little job was done, I did enquire about this with the builder, and was given a rough quote of around £1,200 for two of these said windows plus labour. It remains fairly high on the wish list, especially since we inherited a telescope and I’ve told the boyf we can keep it in the loft and, with windows installed, it can be his very own East London Planetary Observatorium… (love the splash of wallpaper in this alcove and clever built-in shelves, too).

Loft Ideas - pink spiral staircase, blogged on Stylist's Own by Joanna Thornhill

2. A fixed staircase. Obviously the grown-up thing to do would be to install a ‘proper’ staircase , starting where the tallboy  sits, just to the right of the bedroom door (next to the inexplicable tap head sticking out from the exposed piping) and run it parallel to the existing stairs. But a silly part of me would love to install a spiral staircase in the space instead. And with that mindset, it may as well be bright pink, right?

Loft Ideas - white workspace, blogged on Stylist's Own by Joanna Thornhill

3. Tuck a little office area into the eaves with freestanding furniture and built-in shelving, to while away the working day tucked up amongst the rooftops of Walthamstow…

Loft Ideas - rustic window nook, blogged on Stylist's Own by Joanna Thornhill

… or leave it a little more Rough Luxe, quit work altogether and just make a secret cosy den up there, vintage-stylee, to spend my days reclining on. But for the time being, I’ll think she’ll do just fine as she is.

{Image Credits: 1. via VELUX – and with special thanks to them for supporting this post. 2. via Paumes – book featuring this image, available from Bodie & Fou. 3. Via House to Home (photograph by Mel Yates). 4. Via Pinterest – original source unknown and I’ve spent over an hour trying to track it down, but it was too lovely a shot not to include so if anyone knows who it’s by, do let me know}

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.

Diary of a Renovation: Cupboards and Coffee Tables


Well after a flurry of features kept me super-busy in late Jan/early Feb over at Stylist HQ, finally I find myself with a spare five minutes for a quick blog update. Exciting plans are afoot round these parts – I’m about to do a little backstage blog-tinkering but there’s also a redesign on the cards, a couple of very exciting collaborations and generally a little more structure due to come in over the next few months. And a big stylish hello to any readers who have pootled over from Furnish today for a look-see, thanks to lovely Alex Thomas making me their blog of the week! Welcome, one and all.


But before we get cracking, I thought it high time I gave a little update on Le House Renovations. Nothing major to report, mainly due to the fact that stripping the bathroom woodwork has taken about 900 hours, so I’ve mainly been busy keeping out the winter chills by regularly attacking it with my hot air gun. As is the way with painting, after the months of prep, we actually managed to paint the entire room in about two hours at the weekend and I am loving this greeney-bluey-grey on the walls, picking up the tones of my fabulous floor tiles. I’m also loving the effect of painting the ceiling the same colour too – something I’ve wanted to try for ages as it really helps unite a space and make it feel cosy (and is in no way down to laziness of not wanting to paint neat edges up top…) Next is repainting the woodwork (which I should have done first, but frankly I got too excited about the wall paint), which is currently being delayed as I try to prize off some rancid, curly-edged old window film that appears to have been stuck to the windows with a mixture of treacle and wood glue. Above is a sneak peek at the colour, but I’ll do proper shots once I’m finished.


Over Christmas, through desperation and cabin fever, I rushed out to Ikea to rustle up a solution to my dumping-ground-dining-room. I really wanted another cabinet of sorts to fill the right-hand alcove, but due to having a tiny car, purchasing anything big is a no-go without the addition of a £60 van-hire bill on top. In the circumstances, something flatpack, with separate top and bottom, seemed to be the best bet, so in the end I ‘hacked’ this together using a Faktum base cupboard with Applad doors, Besta shelf unit and getting a sheet of 12mm MDF cut to fit the top when I realised that (d’oh) as it was a base unit, it didn’t actually have a top. I’ve just balanced the bookshelf on it for now, as ultimately I plan to relegate the bookcase elsewhere and fit shelving into the alcoves a la my living room, but as this requires parental DIY intervention and there are other jobs on that to-do list, it may have to wait quite some time. Probably until I have also tried out my new obsession, which is to strip off the plaster on the fireplace and reveal the fireplace hole, like this:


So when all that happens I’ll do some further styling jiggery-pokery to the cabinet base bit to make it look somewhat more fitted – I’m thinking a nice wooden top and shunting it over to the left of the alcove, then building in a very slim ‘hole’ in the gap to hold trays on the right. It’s all on about page 45 of the to-do list, sigh…


Other exciting Ikea additions to the dining room include this amazing Lappljung rug. Having had my eye on it since I first saw it in a press release last year, it was literally the perfect rug to fit the space and has made a HUGE difference to the feel of the room (which is still littered with stuff waiting to move into the loft, which is still inaccessible – that’s p37 on the to-do list). So despite the tidal wave of clutter all around it (and the reason for the rather tight shot) it’s really helped “finish”(ish) the room and, most importantly, is stopping my eBay-scored table and chairs scratching at my beloved wooden floors, and means I am no longer that person cringing in the corner when dinner guests scrape their chairs across the hallowed beams.


In-keeping with the ruggy theme, I also scored this obscenely lovely Lace rug from Scion at WovenGround over Christmas. I was after something reasonably neutral yet with a subtle pattern and this design seemed to work perfectly with the other elements in the room. It is finished off by my new favourite-ever thing – my hot-off-of-eBay Ercol (esque) coffee table. For a rather bargain-tastic (I thought) £54, it’s big enough to provide a useful surface, with an all-important magazine shelf underneath to help keep things tidy. Its rounded corners stop it feeling ‘harsh’, and its rather elegant legs ensure the rug isn’t too obscured, helping give the illusion of space. Now I just need to get an armchair for the wall opposite the window and to make-over my windowseat box, and this room can be ticked off the list! Right, back to my window-scrubbing – I leave you with a gratuitous shot of some lovely Kenyan roses I was kindly given at an M&S press show last week, to brighten up this most gloomy of winter’s days…


{Images} All copyright Joanna Thornhill. In case you’re wondering, the doormat is from Hunkydory Home.