10 Re-loved Occasional Tables

All of these occasional  tables have been refashioned from  something that already exists. What exactly is an occasional table? One that could be used by the bedside or in the hall or a coffee table. I suppose what they have in common is that you can put something on them. Perhaps this shouldn’t be encouraged as it often leads to accumulating things you don’t want or need, however that aside, I hope  you will find something that grabs your attention and inspires you.


1.When I first saw this  bedside table in a junk shop, it was plain ugly and crying out to be rescued. A coat of paint, some photocopied and enlarged images, that were then hand painted and decoupaged onto the piece of furniture resulted in what you see above.

Boho Bench copy

2. A wooden  Ikea bench has had its legs painted black, a seat  fashioned from a mattress. This was then covered in  material salvaged an old velvet curtain,  dyed in Dylon goldfish orange machine dye. It was topped with a slim cushion was made from an old sun faded kelim.


3. I found an old beer stained mahogany pub table  in a junk shop in Cowes Isle of Wight. I purchased the old sailing charts at the same time. The table was sanded and then painted black and the charts were cut to size and stuck in place and then finished with a clear mat varnish.


4What do you do when you find an old Covent garden vegetable cart? You turn it into an occasional table by turning it on its side, make   a shelf for the centre and screwing  on some castors. You they paint the front edges with florescent paint.


5. This table has been customized using  paint. The wooden fold up table was first sanded so that the paint would stick. The legs were then sprayed with Valspar copper paint. The top of the table was painted using blackboard paint. A perfect hallway  table for your phone with a place on which to take messages.


6. An asymmetric table was created from a rectangular table which had its legs painted grey and a new asymmetric top was cut  from mdf that was then screwed to the original table. The top was then painted pale pink.

padded coffee table

7. By halving the legs of a  table and painting the short remaining legs black you have the start of this padded table. To create the padding an Ikea baby mattress was cut to size and then it was covered in a butterfly patterned linen which was fastened into place using a staple gun.


8 We have all seen pallet tables, but  this one is particularly successful. It was partially taken apart and then reassembled with the addition of some blocks of wood to make it higher and make room for some existing drawers found on a skip.It was painted with watered down white emulsion and then heavy duty castors with breaks were added underneath to the four corners.

Tiled Coffee Table.jpg

9. A tiled coffee table was created by adding a lip to the edge of an existing table  to hold  the tiles in place and to give a neat finish. White tiles were decorated using ceramic pens.  The table was then painted deep grey and the tiles stuck in place.


10. Before being covered in a contemporary geometric wallpaper this bedside table with drawers was a yellowing faux wood effect with old fashioned handles. The paper was cut to size and then stuck in place using PVA glue. To finish it was given a coat of mat varnish.



Recycle your old tote bags to create funky cushions!

Lots of companies provide calico bags when you purchase their goods or go to a trade show. If like me, you are a collector the chances are you will have accumulated a few throughout the years. What do you do with all those bags? Well I thought what a brilliant way to make cushion covers. You can recycle old cushion pads and you don’t even need a sewing machine as three sides of the cushion are already sewn.


You will need..

  • Calico bags mainly from trade shows
  • Old cushion pads
  • Pins needles and thread from www.korbond.com
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Iron/ironing boardIMG_0008.jpgStep 1

    Most bags are oblong in shape and most cushion pads are square so you will need to cut off the top of the bag along with the handles. Here is an image of some calico bags ready for transformation.


    Measure the width of the bag and then measure the same distance from the bottom corner of the bag to the top add 1 cm seam allowance. Draw a line just under the handles.

    Step 3

    Cut off the handles and the surplus fabric at the top of the bag. Press the bag flat.


    Stuff the old cushion pad into the cover making sure that the corners of the pad are pushed into the corners of the cover. Fold in the open edges by 1cm and pin together.


    Sew the opening closed with a slip stitch or a hemming stitch.




Top tips from expert stylist – Hannah Bort

You might have a natural talent, or it might not come as easy. Either way, good styling is simply a must! Super-talented stylist and creative director, Hannah Bort, is an industry figurehead, working with design brands including Fritz Hansen and Graham & Brown, plus retailers such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Harrods. Here, she highlights six things to consider when planning your shoot…

1. Set clear objectives

Deciding on a clear ‘look’ from an early stage will inform the imagery you want to take. If you’re not sure where to begin, often outlining what you don’t want will help you focus on what you do like. Many stylists continually curate extensive moodboards made from tearsheets or on sites like Pinterest, categorising by theme, colour, trends etc. These can be an invaluable source of inspiration when you want to springboard some initial ideas.


2. Consider the basics

What are the images going to be used for? Who is your core customer? How many images do you want to take? Do you need different crops, portrait or landscape formats for each image or are you shooting to specific dimensions, e.g., banners for website use? Will you need to hire props? If so, you should factor this cost into the budget. Do you want models? In which case you need to allow time for castings and consider schedules dependent on their availability.


3. Location, location, location

Depending on the type of aesthetic you are trying to achieve, you’ll need to choose between shooting at a location house or venue, in an outdoor environment or in a photography studio. All have their merits and limitations. If you opt for a studio-based shoot, for example, you may want to work with a set builder to create tailor-made backdrops. Location choices are also greatly dependent on budget, so outline this early on to determine what is realistic.


4. The right photographer

Think clearly about the style of imagery you want to achieve and find the right photographer by looking at websites and portfolios. Do you want reportage style or are you looking for someone who specialises in food photography or portraiture? Do they favour shooting with natural light or is their work mostly studio-based? Have a meeting with them in advance so that you can talk through lighting ideas and the mood of the overall shoot – they can then bring the appropriate kit with them on the day. Remember all images need to be available in high resolution when going to press or being printed. Photographers can help you with crops, work with a retoucher (or do it themselves) and supply you with the appropriate file sizes.


5. Time is money

Set a clear budget before you start planning a shoot and be realistic about what is achievable. Costs can include a photographer, stylist, set-builder, model, location, prop hire, courier, image retouching and even lunch. You also need to allocate the right number of days. Things don’t always go to plan and shoots can easily fall behind. In those instances you might consider reducing the overall shot count to avoid incurring further fees.


6. If you’re unsure, hire a stylist

From initial briefings to planning, consulting, pulling together moodboards, hiring props, organising couriers and location logistics – we can do it all and help alleviate some of the stress of planning a shoot. A good stylist will understand the needs of his/her client, the market they are targeting and translate this into a creative vision in line with your brand’s ethos.


hannahbort.com / @hannah_bort





Three super stylish marbled fabric projects

Marbling in its many forms, on furniture paper s and fabrics is very popular at the moment. The easiest way to marble is to float oil paint on water as oil and water don’t mix. I did this in my previous marbled cards project. This is great if you are marbling paper but it isn’t really suitable for fabric as it sits on the surface and feels hard. I discovered  a brilliant kit on line made by homecrafts direct  

Rather than just plain cloth I decided to marble some baby items, a couple of headbands and some yellow napkins.


the kit includes a marbling ground and a selection of different colours which you can also buy as a pearlised set. You will need to mix up the dye bath in advance. so allow time for this.

You will need



Kitchen roll

surgical or vinyl gloves

Marbling ground

A shallow dish that is large enough to fit the largest garment or piece of fabric you wish to marble onto

Marbling colours

Items to marble natural fibres and light colours or white are best.


  1. Prepare the bath by mixing 50gms of marbling ground with 2.5litres of water until it is the consistency of thin cream.
  2. Cover the work area with newspaper. Put on vinyl gloves and an apron to protect yourself.
  3. To break the surface tension of the bath, skim over it with a piece of kitchen roll.
  4. Immediately after skimming drip the marbling colours onto the surface of the bath.
  5. Use an old pencil or back of a paint brush to spread and manipulate the colours.
  6. when you are happy with the design lay the garment or fabric on the surface of the bath and then once the colour has taken gently lift it out.
  7. At this stage I wash off the size from the dye bath and then leave my fabric to dry. Other people leave the fabri c to dry with the size still on it and then wash it off later.
  8. Once dry iron on the back to fix the design.




Complete course in Colour Planning By Ann Lennox from Woman’s Own September 4th 1971

Recently whilst  rummaging around looking for  decoupage materials I came across an old copy  of Woman’s Realm, that I had previously found under some floorboards in my old house.  As  mid century modern shows are so popular, See the comments at the bottom of this post, I thought I’d post this  original advice from way back then. I would be very interested to hear your thought’s on the changes in interior design then and now?

Womans own

Six ways in which colour can improve your rooms:

  1. Colour gives your room a dash of fashion. Bring a modern, boxlike room with no outstanding features bang into the 70’s with a trendy colour – like our purple. For a minimum of expense and effort and for a new look, try painting the ceiling and one wall.
  2. Colour makes your room look a better shape. Here, we made the room look taller by using tones of the same colour, keeping the deepest tone to the floor, medium for the walls, palest for the ceiling. Use colour cleverly to give your rooms the proportions you’d like. For example, lower the ceiling of a tall room by painting it a deeper colour than the walls, make a darkish room look lighter by painting the wall opposite the window white. Remember that pale, cool tones (like blues, greens, shades of beige and white) will seem to move the walls and ceiling outwards and the deep warm tones (like reds, browns, golds) will bring them in towards you.
  3. Colour acts as an eye catcher. Does your room need a focal point to make it really interesting? Then highlight its most attractive area with strong colour. You could pick the liveliest tone from your carpet or other patterned area. Use colour to make the most of alcoves or chimney brest.
  4. Colour makes the most of a tiny room. Small rooms like halls, or bathrooms, or even bedrooms, can look more interesting if you use a colourful patterned paper all over walls and ceiling. Pick a paper with a white background if you want to lure the light in.
  5. Colour makes the uglies disappear.  When you have too many doors, awkward corners, ugly pipes of mantelpiece, keep the same colour paint over the lot. You can even make awkward bits of furniture like wardrobes less dominating this way too.
  6. Colour makes the most of your prettiest features. If you’re lucky enough to have a room with good bits of period decoration; moulded doors, cornices, ceiling details, tall windows, highlight them with white paint.

Womans own 1.jpeg

The foolproof way of colour scheming- the one colour room.
You just can’t go wrong if you colour scheme this way. It’s simply based on one colour and all its tones. First, pick your favourite colour- the one you’ve always loved and longed to live with. Then use all shades from light to dark, rich to pale. Finally enliven the room with pattern. Sounds easy? It is- just follow our three secrets to success.

Secret one. Remember the colour tricks and use dark and light tones to make the most of your room. Keep the deepest practical tones to the floor or your basic upholstery (see how our dark rug will take most of the heavy wear). Use plenty of white for sparkle and keep the palest tones to large areas if you want a space making effect. Keep the most brilliant tones, which can be tiring and impractical in large doses, for cushions, lamp shades and accessories.

Secret two. A one-colour scheme can be a bit unexciting without the liveliness of some pattern. See how the varied patterns in our room give extra interest but blend in with the total scheme. Geometrics and floral patterns mix happily together when they have a bold colour in common.

Secret three. Mix as many different textures together as you can for a varied look without the addition of the other colour. We used shiny chrome, see-through glass, stained wood and a tufty rug to give lots of variety.

Womans own 2.jpeg

Colour Scheming round what you’ve got.

Have you a lifetime buy in your room-like a patterned carpet or suite?  Here’s the  foolproof way to build a colour scheme round it and the three practical tips will make the room a success.

Tip one. If you have a dominating pattern like the one in our room with several colours in it, like our carpet, let it make its point on its own. Don’t complicate things by adding more patterns.

Tip two. Tie up your colour scheme with the colours in the pattern. Choose the most liveable one for your large areas, like walls. We picked the yellow in our carpet. Pick the deepest most practical colour for your upholstery, like the brown of our chairs. Choose a medium tone from the pattern for your curtains. Finally use the most brilliant pattern for the accents like lamps, cushions to brighten the deeper tone of the upholstery. Why not try bright stained or painted finish for your dining furniture?

Tip Three. Be adventurous Make your own wall hanging, like our collage on the chimney -breast, it’ll help to tie your colour scheme together.

Womans own 3.jpeg



‘Folded Book Art’ by Clare Youngs, Book Review


35 beautiful projects to transform yourbooks-create cards, display scenes, decorations, gifts and more.

I have been fascinated by book art since it first appeared on the scene about fifteen years ago. In those days it was more a technique used by artists but in the last few years it has become very popular in the craft world. It looks very difficult to do, particularly the folded books where an image appears as if by magic.


What Clare Youngs has managed to do is to show her readers how to make some inspired book art pieces. For those of you who love books and think it is a travesty to cut them up, it is worth considering what Clare says in her introduction.

‘ Four years ago I wrote Book Art. In the introduction I talked about my love of books and how the decision to cut or fold doesn’t come easy. I still find this hard, but I have made a few rules for myself: I never cut up a rare book and I only use tatty and damaged books or samples that would end up being recycled.’

The book covers three main techniques:

Folded books includes many ideas, here are a few of my favorites: an ampersand, a butterfly a bird a knot and a star.

The making scenes section , has a little mermaid, a fairy tale castle, honey comb and bees and mushrooms and ferns, there is even knitted paper.

Mushrooms & Ferns.jpg

The chapter on refashioning pages includes brilliant origami slip covers that look very like, much of the ceramics currently in the shops. I love the little sailing boats and the baby elephant on wheels. There is a lovely selection of tags to make and hydrangers.

There are templates, tools and techniques.

Clare has such a strong graphic style and having read the book I came away wanting to make everything! So I can see what I will be doing in the autumn and winter.

Folded book art by Clare Youngs published by Cico Books £14.99 www.rylandspetersandsmall

Photography by Jo Henderson © CICO Books

Why not also check out CICO’s new craft website – https://makeetc.com