Project: from kids room to teenage boys hangout

Recently I had the pleasure to redesign a boys bedroom in a beautiful house in Stirling. The boy is turning twelve soon, a teenager, so it was time to change his room into something a little more grown up. Thankfully some things were already pretty good to work with, including a black cast iron bed and a lovely grey-green colour on the wall. The denim blinds and striped curtains were also to stay. I decided to go for a rustic / vintage / industrial look: iron gas pipe and wood shelving, lots of (upcycled) accessories that tie in with the boy’s love for sports and – as requested – a highly practical modern wardrobe. Then there was also the storage for books and trophies to include, a chill-out corner for reading and playing games and a functional (vintage) desk.

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I was immediately drawn to metal lockers, black anglepoise lights, as well a NUD wrap around bulb and cable, and denim accessories to add in some blue accents to match the colours of existing curtains and bedding. A graffiti pattern drum lampshade would make a nice statement piece in the room.

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For all images see the project Pinterest board

Interestingly, this whole project was done via skype and email, which went surprisingly well considering I wasn’t on site to take measurements etc. It worked however with my client giving me a tour around the house via skype on her iPad so I got a good feel for the style of the rest of the house and the room I needed to redesign. I set up a collaborative Pinterest board with my client to which we both added images we felt matched the look we were trying to create. Then I produced mood boards of the different corners/walls of the room to get a more realistic impression of what the new space will look like. A plan design shows the client where each item of furniture should go. In this case I also produced a shopping list for the room, including all items that needed to be bought. This is what I came up with:
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A lot of the more quirky, upcycled and vintage pieces came from Etsy. The wardrobe is a PAX unit from Ikea, the gas pipe shelving unit is from a company called Breuer in England, who make custom-made shelves and other furniture with rustic wood and pipework. For a similar bed, just do a search online for ‘black metal beds’ and you should be able to find one to suit your taste and budget.

I think it is safe to say that the room has grown up a bit and is ready for its teenage resident to hang out in for years to come.

How to create a dark dramatic living room

Design project

I recently had the great opportunity to work with some lovely clients in Aberdeen, who asked me for help with the redesign of their living room in a ground floor Victorian apartment in the city centre. A beautiful living room is must be said; with the characteristic high ceilings, giant window, wooden floor boards and a fire place. The couple wasn’t keen on the current white walls in the living room and also generally struggled a bit creating a look that felt ‘together’. They clearly liked darker colour schemes, with a deep blue dining room already beautifully decorated, featuring some nice vintage mahogany furniture. The living room was next.

Specs:

  • Art deco style accessories / furniture
  • Darker, moody colours for the walls
  • Woodwork (window and skirtings to be painted)
  • Mahogany or similar warmer tone natural wooden furniture
  • A new wooden floor
  • Metallic silver/grey wallpaper on chimney breast to stay
  • Black/gold lampshades to be used that were bought already

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For their living room I came up with a scheme that tied in nicely with the moody blue dining room next door, but was still providing a contrast. Green. The walls were to be green! With their love for art deco, gold accents and deep, dark colours, we started to gather ideas on this Pinterest board to get a better feel for where the design was going.

I then came up with this mood board:

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As the couple wanted their walls to be green (did I say green?), rather than blue-green, I chose to step away from the original art deco colour scheme a little and suggest Farrow and Ball ‘Green Smoke‘. This timeless colour goes very well with metallics so would make a good match with the art deco accessories and any vintage furniture that would be bought. For the woodwork I suggested an off black, which may proof to dark, but certainly adds to the drama in the room!

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I love chesterfield sofas, both vintage tan leather ones and modern versions that nowadays can be found in many stores, covered in any fabric. I felt a graphite grey or dusty blue linen would go well with the scheme, especially on top of a lighter coloured rug, to ‘lift’ the dark scheme a little. Some gold yellow accent cushions and foot stool also add a bit of interest. The black with gold lamp shades were already bought by the client and waiting to be used, so I incorporated them in the scheme, combining them with vintage mahogany standard lamps. The chandelier I selected may not be the one they eventually go for, but something along those lines would look stunning in my opinion!

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The existing living room currently has no book shelves around the chimney breast, so I felt including built in bookcases with cupboards at the bottom would be a great use of space and adding a sophisticated bit of storage, for any dvds and other bits and bobs you may not like to have on display. A very large painting above the chesterfield would add an amazing final touch. Très chic, this room!

Rockabilly on a budget

Design project

As a give-away price on Facebook last year I offered to create a free design for someone’s room of choice and I was delighted to be asked to come up with ideas for a living room in a wonderful old house Laurencekirk. High ceilings, lots of character – and a very inspiring interior already. The owners, artists and musicians, had already decorated their home in a fabulously creative way, colourful and full of vintage finds, including a vintage radio collection and a 1960s record player. I found it quite a challenge to add to this! Probably the most eclectic room I have done so far, I decided to mainly focus on storage and making the room look a bit more ‘together’, using the pieces that were already there. I also wanted to change the wall colour to give the room a bit more wow factor without losing the wonderful bohemian vibe that was present in the house.

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Specs:

  • Colours: duck egg/teal and red (‘vintage rockabilly’)
  • Shelving in the alcoves around existing fireplace.
  • New sofa, table and possible accessories.
  • Storage for kids toys and books.
  • Piano, rug and fireplace artwork are staying.

Have a look at the Pinterest board and what I came up with: Pinterest board

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The budget was very low, more like next to nothing, so I had put my upcycling and second-hand buying hat on and do my best to come up with cost-effective solutions. As their old Ikea sofa was really on its way out, I managed to source a gorgeous vintage leather chesterfield sofa in the process for an absolute bargain, which is now taking pride of place in the room. The shelving in the alcoves are going to be scaffold planks. The walls in the design are painted a duck-egg/teal blue and on the wall at the far end I imagined a nice red floral wallpaper, as a contrast with some heavy blue velvet curtains. A wooden crate on wheels holds toys, with a soft sheepskin rug to play on and a couple of knitted pouffes as additional seating, that can be moved around the room. A slim drawer unit fits in between the piano and the sofa for additional storage and to put a plant or table lamp on. The artwork above the sofa could include a changing exhibition of kids drawings, framed vintage fabrics, photographs or prints.

 

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3-5 February: Big Sale Weekend


If it is as big a success as last year’s, I’d better hunt for some extra stock! Come down on the weekend of 3-5 February to the old church hall in Kirkton of Rayne, as there will be plenty of treasures and bargains – old or new – to be found from various local traders. Styled and displayed beautifully as usual, offering something truly special. Open every day from 10am – 4pm. Come! 

Here are a few previews of some of my items on sale:




How to paint a dated traditional wooden kitchen

So I was tidying up the other day and stumbled across some photos of when my husband and I first moved into our house nine years ago. Our house is a detached 1930s granite house in an Aberdeenshire village. It has a kitchen extension built by the previous owners. The decor at the time was very dated throughout the house; terracotta walls, mahogany woodwork, pine staircase, green carpets and a traditional maple shaker kitchen. But the kitchen was solid wood, good quality, made locally and as moving house is expensive enough as it is we decided to try and live with it. We lived with it for six years! Today I will show you the before, the interim and the after.

So this how we found it. Oucha. Yellow walls and orange wood. But a good cooker!

Below: looking into the kitchen extension from the main house (the garden was also a little over grown, look at the windows! And what on earth are those light shades?). Excuse the poor quality picture – it is a picture taken of a print.

I thought about a colour scheme to somehow tone down the yellowness of the room and decided on steel blue-grey for the walls to combine better with the natural wood. We replaced the cheap sticky vinyl flooring with (also pretty affordable and very practical) dark slate look laminate, which is in fact still our flooring today. I painted over the 1990s yellow floral tiles with some grey tile paint and ordered some colourful tile stickers online. We also replaced the wooden door knobs with brushed steel ones and stuck a chalkboard sheet on the cupboard door. Oh yes, and that silly breakfast table went of course.

Here is the interim phase! Slightly better than it was.

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Below: the dining area. Looking pretty neat, I think, and much fresher in greys than yellow. (Those wishbone chairs? I sold those…I know, aren’t they nice?)

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We must have grown rather fond of our silly old kitchen, because six years later, when we decided to change things again, we amazingly still didn’t rip it out. We just hate waste and rather ‘upcycle’ something. The kitchen worked fine for us, so why not just update it a bit more? We also felt sorry for the kitchen – we are such a sad bunch! After all, it wasn’t her fault that she had gone out of fashion, was it?

So we took off the wall hung cabinets and another unit on the other side, painted the ones left, spent some money on a fancy big fridge, a freestanding dresser, oak shelving, new tiles and a slate worktop.

Of course, I would be lying if I said it all happened as by magic overnight. For a while I seriously doubted our decision. The dust, the disruption…trying to keep a baby out of the mess. You get the picture.

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In the end it must have taken us a good few weeks to paint the cabinets, organise tradesmen and redecorate. But the result was worth the effort. Hello contemporary country kitchen!

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So how do you paint an old wooden kitchen?

1. Prep & prime

You really don’t have to go and strip the cabinet doors before painting. Giving it a good sand to create a key – is key. Then wash off the dust with sugar soap and get the primer out. This doesn’t need to go on too neatly, but the bigger your brush strokes are, the harder to sand them smooth afterwards. Buy good quality soft brushes and do the brush strokes in the same direction. With the shaker style doors you will also have the beveled edges and corners to deal with. It worked well for me to first do the inside (lower) square in one direction (making sure to take away any surplus paint from the corners with the tip of my brush), and then the middle panel and outside frame. Once it is dry, use fine sandpaper to create a nice smooth base for your gloss (or eggshell). You may need more than one coat of primer, and remember to sand in between coats and wipe off the dust.

2. Top coat

For the final colour we chose Farrow and Ball Off White eggshell (water based), used on the cabinets on the right. A nice colour that looks neither white nor cream and sometimes even a bit grey depending on the light. For the ones on the left we decided to get that same colour mixed up as an oil based paint at a decorator’s trade centre (Crown). Why? Because it really makes a difference! Now, three years later the water based paint is starting to show some wear, whereas the oil based paint is still perfect. It maybe isn’t the most eco friendly paint to use but for a high traffic area like a kitchen you really don’t want flaking paint after a year or so. Oil based paint is good to work with, goes on smoothly, but takes longer to dry and can still feel a bit sticky for days while it is hardening. So don’t touch it! And don’t try and sand it when it is not hard yet. I must admit I did not sand in between the top coats, as the paint stuck fine and I was scared to ruin the previous finish. It worked ok.

For a more detailed how-to you can find plenty tutorials online including this one

3. Hardware and other upgrades

We reused most of the brushed steel knobs and handles we put on previously, which looked great on the newly painted cabinets.

Other alterations we made were moving the sink away from the window to create more work surface next to the cooker. Lethenty Cabinetmakers did an excellent job refitting the cabinets, placing a new worktop, tap and big cooker hood, steel splash back and the nice floating natural oak shelves.

Last but not least we had the wall above the work top covered in pastel coloured craqueled glaze metro style tiles and the room painted in a soft pale grey-white.

Do we still love it? Yes! The pretty slate work top proved a little bit sensitive to lemon stains and knocks…but hey, it is a work top after all so we just have to be careful. The kitchen overall feels lighter, brighter and more modern – but still very unique because of the choices we have made. We could have ripped it all out, but it feels so much better giving the kitchen a new lease of life. And we saved some money too. What we’ll do in the future? Oh, we are always full of ideas and no doubt there will be changes again in years to come. But the kitchen stays for now.

Below: a bit more of a ‘lived in’ and messy real-life picture after two years! (and oh, look, we also broke through to the lounge in the meantime! But that dusty episode I will leave for a future post…)

 

Did I say the C word? The Christmas Shop is open!

I know, I know, Halloween hasn’t even been yet and we’re already talking about Christmas. It is many people’s favourite season though, something they really look forward to each year – especially when it comes to decorating the house. For those itching to get those garlands up, this is for you. However, even if you insist in not putting any decorations up until at least the start of December, you really need to come down, because it is an amazing place. Go for a nice countryside drive, have a cup of tea, a piece of homemade cake and a browse around Nina’s Apartment’s quirky finds (not Christmassy, but usuable year-round!). I am talking about the Kirkton of Rayne Christmas Shop, open from the 27th of October. You are welcome!


For the second year running the wonderful old church hall in Kirkton of Rayne in the Aberdeenshire countryside has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland with beautiful gifts, decorations, home wares and vintage finds by various local traders. Nina’s Apartment has a corner in the shop full of lovely goods, including furniture, cushions, lanterns and retro coffee sets. There are also a cafe with amazing cakes by VanillaBoutique, creative workshops and even a gin tasting evening coming up.

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Open every Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 4pm. Until Christmas. Entry and parking is free.
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Old church hall
Kirkton of Rayne

AB51 5AH

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Vintage revisited: the future is bright

In this blog series I am tracking the beautiful vintage pieces that were once bought from Nina’s Apartment, looking them up them in their new homes. Most of these pieces were rescued from house clearances or bought from older people downsizing and no longer having space for their beloved (now vintage) furniture. Whatever their story, they carry a lot of history and I am sure if the original owners saw their furniture getting a new lease of life, it would put a smile on their face. So who bought them, why and where are these pieces now? This time I am looking up a sleek teak sideboard, bought from a house clearance – then dusted off, polished up and giving some TLC – and now taking pride of place in a gorgeous converted steading near Alford, Aberdeenshire.

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New owners Erika and Derek came into Nina’s Apartment two years ago, looking for something that was stylish, of a mid-century modern design and with plenty of storage space. It also needed to be low enough to fit under the sky light windows. The use of the sideboard didn’t change that much compared to what it was originally used for: it’s main function is now as the family’s drinks cabinet. They did update the original door knobs and replaced them with dark grey marbled ones to add a bit of contrast.

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Erika, who produces artwork at a design company and her husband Derek, who works in the oil industry, converted the old steading ten years ago and live there with their two teenage daughters. They chose to have the living space upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs. This provided them with amazing views over the Aberdeenshire countryside and also makes the large open plan top floor very bright and sunny. Although according to Erika “the whole space gets pretty dark in winter on days when there is heavy snow and all windows are covered”!

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The sideboard Erika and Derek bought is a 1960s design by A Younger Ltd. This English company was a high quality furniture manufacturer that led style and contemporary taste in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Younger furniture was low volume, well made and aimed at the top end of the market and amongst the first firms to make Scandinavian style furniture in the fifties. It was also one of the first manufacturers to abandon the style in search of something more original in the late sixties (more info on Retrowow).

The design of the sideboard goes very well with the rest of the house, which is decorated in a modern, kind of Scandinavian style and fairly monochrome colour scheme. It’s nice to see how the owners have creatively combined vintage, high end design and high street furniture. The black and white rug was bought from La Redoute, the large grey corner sofa sofa is by SITS. I love the Ikea kitchen cabinets that, placed upside down and beside each other, were transformed into a full length TV and media unit. Talk about thinking outside the box!

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The green kitchen table is a vintage piece found locally, as well as the old chest underneath it. The wall paper on the central staircase adds a nice bit of pattern to the bright room and is from Scion.

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Knowing the often unloved state vintage pieces were in when I first got them in the shop, I just love seeing them come to life again in their new environment. I know it sounds like I am talking about the adoption process of an abandoned kitten, but I think this was one lucky sideboard to find such a fitting, stylish and sunny home. And I can’t help but feeling slightly envious.

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Autumn interior design offer

Nina’s Apartment is now offering interior design services in addition to blogging about beautiful homes and selling cool stuff online. To celebrate this news we are offering the service at a reduced price this autumn for bookings made before the 1st of January, to help spread the word and get us involved in even more exciting design projects. Want to know more or book a free first appointment? Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information. We are here to help. Contact

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Example of a recent room design (in a new-built house) by Nina’s Apartment

Mood board

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3D designs

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Vintage trader of the month: Peapod

Every month we put the spotlight on a different vintage trader, showcasing their business and asking them about their passion for vintage and why they love what they do. This month we interview Claire Milne, who founded Peapod in Rosemount, Aberdeen.

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Why did you go into the vintage trade? What made you want to start your own business?

Five years ago I decided to change track and start my own business, with help from the Retail Rocks project. You should know Nina, you were there! (Nina’s Apartment also took part in this local business startup project- this I where I met Claire first! ed). My dad is a retired joiner and my mum is a fanatical recycler so furniture recycling and upcycling is in my DNA. The shop was initially in Torry for the first year, and we discovered I was pregnant with my second child soon after we submitted the Retail Rocks application but thought we’d give it a shot anyway. That’s where the name came from, Arthur was the pea in the pod! After a year we moved to Rosemount and we went in a more vintage direction as it seemed a logical step as I had less time for painting furniture, and my passion for quality items that were beautiful just as they are was growing.

What inspires you?

For us it’s more of a who than a what. Through working in the shop we meet some amazing people. Who knew Aberdeen was full of such wonderful creative people? Where were they all hiding before? We are also inspired by the other lovely vintage businesses we meet, we’re lucky their enthusiasm and knowledge rubs off on us too.

What has been the biggest challenge running a vintage shop?

Time. Never enough of it. Sourcing new stock, having a stall at fairs, changing the window display, social media all take time. Self-employed people don’t tend to take days off, but if you love what you do you never complain.

What is Peapod’s strength? How have you tweaked and improved over the years?

Moving with the times and our ability to stay on-trend. Most new trends have their base in something that has gone before, so we try to source the original goods while still putting our own twist on it.

Who does your window displays? They are fabulous!

We both do (Claire and her business partner June. ed.) It can take a whole day to do a window display in our wee shop. That’s what we do with our “day off” so it doesn’t disrupt customers and their browsing and purchasing. Great fun, we love a new window! It’s great fun and we’ve already started on our (dare we say it?) Christmas window!

What is the weirdest thing you ever had in the shop? 

When you do this line of work the weird and wonderful appear on a daily basis so it’s hard to pick just one item, you just get used to it.

And tell us about something so beautiful that you regret you sold it.

Ah, this is an easy one. An Abel Morrall’s thimble box with glass panels that I didn’t get to enjoy long enough before it was snapped up by someone with a very good eye. Also a black gloss bar that opened up to reveal a mirror with cocktail glasses design on it and a light inside. Knowing these items went to very good homes makes it (slightly) easier to let them go, and the people who bought them loved them as much as we did.

Why should people buy vintage?

We’re great believers in buying what you like. All current trends have a base in a vintage past and the older items are made to a higher standard. It’s one of the greenest ways to shop and saves amazing historic items ending up being thrown out and wasted. Buying vintage can also introduce a unique twist to a home that also features high street styles.



What’s your plans and ambitions for Peapod in the future?

Developing a larger online presence with our Etsy shop, keeping up to date with social media and working on growing the Peapod Pinterest page.

Peapod can be found on:

144 Rosemount Place, Aberdeen

Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am-6pm

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