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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Natural Slate Flooring

There are many companies currently importing flooring slate into the UK at the moment, far too many to list here and the main countries that they are exported from are India, Africa and China. Each continent has its own particular geology and colour/type varieties that have made their way to the UK and have become established as very fashionable and popular flooring materials – widely used in Kitchens, Hallways and Conservatories.

For flooring purposes, there are two basic types of slate – diamond sawn and chipped edge. The diamond sawn varieties are formats that are cut into varying sizes using water cooled diamond saws to produce tiles that have clean straight edges and are useful for more formal installations, the others are chipped edge formats which tend to be softer and have a very rustic hand trimmed edge to them – lending themselves to more rustic installations.

Slates also come in calibrated and uncalibrated thicknesses – if heights are an issue, calibrated varieties are the best to choose as they are more uniform in thickness and are less tricky to lay level and true – uncalibrated are exactly that and there can be as much as 10mm variance in the thickness of a single tile from one edge to another – these types are better left to installation by seasoned professionals as they can be very tricky to bed correctly.

As slates are essentially compressed mud, they are porous and as such they will need to be sealed during installation in order to make them a serviceable floor. Again, there are a raft of different sealers on the market either being solvent or water based and in most cases the slates will need an impregnator applied before finishing with two coats of sealer. Impregnators enhance the colours in the slates and form the essential primer coat that makes the tile ready for its final seal coats. Most final seals are water based and give the tiles a warm, eggshell lustre which lends itself perfectly to the type of material that it is.

Maintenance of a sealed slate floor is simple, a soft broom sweep over is usually enough and for those who want to wash their floors, just warm water in a mop and bucket or a specialist cleaner such as HG Superfloor or Pool Universale.

Upcycling Tricks

When searching the Internet, set yourself some rules. It is so easy to go on and on, clicking through this link and following that link. This is when time gets wasted. Below are the four rules I give myself:

Give yourself a time limit. This ensures you don’t waste time, it focuses your mind on the task and if you haven’t found anything to get your creative juices flowing by the time you reach your limit, then it quite possible that you need a break from it anyway.

When looking for ideas, keep it to two or three. You can always look again another day.

Avoid clicking through links. These are designed to take you away and lead onto the wrong path. Make a note of whatever it is that inspires you, then move on. You can go back to it later and see if you feel the same.

When you have your selection, close the browser.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to put boundaries on your searching. If you are a disciplined person you probably don’t need to. But if you are easily led and prone to procrastination like me, then setting some rules will help.

Magazines such as Reloved are a good source of inspiration. I have a good read through, marking any pages with pictures or information that might be useful or a project I would like to try. I then cut them out of the magazine and put them in a folder, building up my own library of ideas.

One question that concerns some people is that of copying. It is wrong to copy other peoples work for commercial gain. The simple answer is yes, so don’t do it. But, having said that, there is nothing wrong with being inspired by someone elses ideas.

When searching for ideas and you find something you would like go for it. Don’t be scarred. What usually happens is, when you take an idea and start to think about it, or try and recreate it, you put a bit of yourself into it. A technique or style unique to you, which ultimately evolves the original into something only you could have made.

House Decorating on Budget

Pillows
This is by far my favorite way to reinvent a space. A lot of people will say that decorating with pillows is not inexpensive, but those people just haven’t looked hard enough. Of course if you purchase throw pillows from Anthropoloie they are going to be expensive but I’m here to tell you that the $5 throw pillow from Walmart is just as comfortable. If you already have throw pillows lying around purchase pillow covers; I have found some great ones on Amazon ranging from $2-$10. Pillows are the perfect crossbreed of functionality and fashion.

Light up Jugs & Jars
This is a simple and adorable way to light up a space. You can find the necessary items, a string of lights and a clear jar or jug, nearly anywhere. My favorite place to find jugs and jars is the thrift store, this is where you will likely find one that is more unique. All you have to do to accomplish this fun look is to put a string of lights, floss or Christmas, in the jar then let it glow. This is a great and fun way to light up an area with little expense.

Hang Plates
This sounds obscure but if done well is so charming. To accomplish this all you have to do is find a smattering of plates-different sizes, patterns, even shapes and hang them on the wall. The only requirement is to make sure that each and every plate complement one another. You can hang these plates above a mantel, on a large empty wall or an entryway. If you search for plates that are unique but inexpensive, I’m talking thrift store here, this look will transform a room with little cost and effort.

Homemade Chalkboards

Here is what you will need:

– Framed glass picture (I found mine at Goodwill for about $3 a piece)
– Painters tape
– Latex gloves
– Sanding block
– Primer
– Pint of desired paint color (for frame)
– Chalkboard paint
– (2)1″ paintbrushes
– Small roller brush
– Paint tray
– Newspaper, tarp or cardboard (for easy clean-up)
– Chalk

Optional (If you wish to hang the chalkboard):

– Nails
– Hammer

Preparation:

Start by taking all of your supplies outside or to some open area. Lay down the protective material you selected for easy clean-up (I used a broken-down cardboard box).

Getting Started:

We will start by painting the frame first, then finish with the chalkboard paint. Begin by taping the glass that is immediately surrounding the frame. Next, sand the frame with the sanding block. Be sure to sand until the frame has a rough texture so that the new coat of paint will stay on. Next, prime the frame with the primer and a paintbrush (depending on the original color, you may need 2 coats). By using a paintbrush, you can ensure that you are getting inside any grooves of the frame. Priming keeps the original color of the frame from showing up underneath the new paint color. Let any coats of primer dry completely.

Painting:

We are going to paint right on top of the glass and on top of any picture that might be hiding underneath. Ensuring that the glass is still taped from the priming steps, we will begin painting the picture frame. Since we are using such a small amount of paint, it is not necessary to pour the paint into a tray. Dip your 1″ paintbrush into the pint of paint and dab away any excess paint on the rim of the container. Paint the frame using long strokes, and be sure that your paint is being applied in just one direction (do not go side to side when you paint the frame with upward and downward strokes). By using a paintbrush, you can be sure that any nooks and crannies are seeing an equal amount of paint as every other spot on the frame. You will probably need at least two coats (let the coats dry completely before continuing).

Applying chalkboard paint to the glass:

Once the frame has completely dried, remove the tape from the glass. Next, you will need to tape the edges of the frame nearest to the glass to ensure that you do not get chalkboard paint all over your newly-painted frame. Next, you will need your chalkboard paint. You can buy chalkboard paint in a spray can or in a paint tub (I do not have excellent spray-painting skills, so I bought a quart of chalkboard paint). Pour your chalkboard paint into a paint tray and get your paint roller. Begin by rolling the chalkboard paint on the glass in long strokes (be sure that the paint goes on in just one direction). Let the first coat dry completely before adding the second. I like a very dark chalkboard so I painted a total of three coats onto my glass, just make sure that the coats are even. Once the chalkboard paint is dry, remove the tape from the picture frame.