Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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How to reinvent a second-hand kitchen

Buying a kitchen second-hand may seem unheard of, but it can be a great way to update your home on a budget. So many people think that their only option is a basic store-bought kitchen, but there are alternatives out there – purchasing a designer kitchen second-hand is the future. You can get great quality at a fraction of the original custom-made price. However, when a kitchen has been designed for a different home, how do you personalise it to suit yours? Here are some tips:Paint is Your Best Friend

When you buy a second-hand kitchen, paint becomes your best friend. You can use it to transform the entire room, from the cabinets to the walls. You will be surprised how much painting your cabinets can lift the entire room, making it brighter and much more pleasant.

Change Up the Cabinets

With cabinets making up such an important part of the kitchen, changing them can have a big impact on the design. You could paint them, as we mentioned above, or replace the doors with glass. If you’re feeling brave (and you keep your cupboards tidy!) you could take the doors off completely. Is that too much commitment? Just replace the handles – chrome handles instantly update a kitchen, or you could find quirky vintage ones.Replace the Worktops

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DIY Christmas decor – Candy cane chair project

This month I’ve been busier than an elf in Santas workshop – yes, I’ve been DIYing lots of festive projects ready to share with you on the blog this December. And what better way to kick off the celebrations than with the ultimate festive makeover: a candy cane chair.diy-video-youtube-tutorial-christmas-decor-decoration-festive-candy-cane-chair-step-by-step-project-spray-painting-guide-7When I bought this retro chair from a second-hand furniture shop for just £2 I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it. I don’t really have space for another chair, but I knew that it was too much of a bargain to pass up. So I handed over my cash and spent the next five minutes trying to manoeuvre the chair into my teeny tiny car.

Needless to say, the chair sat in my garage for a couple of months before I decided what should be done with it. And during that time we inched closer and closer to Christmas. I began feeling more and more festive, and soon the thought came to me – I was going to make a candy cane chair.

But where do you start when you want to turn an old dining chair into Santa’s favourite seat? Well, with primer of course! A roll of masking tape and couple of coats of red spray paint later, my Christmas chair was complete. Okay, maybe it wasn’t as quick as that but it was easy enough to do – the only thing that took a bit of time was waiting for the paint to dry between coats.

Luckily, I captured the whole process on my camera and I’ve made this little DIY video to show you exactly how to do it for yourself at home. Have a quick watch below or open the video in YouTube to leave me a comment or a thumbs up. And please give me a subscribe while you’re there – I know there’s not many videos on my Cassiefairy channel yet but I promise there will be more crafty DIY videos coming soon, honest!

What do you think of my candy cane chair design? Will you be giving any of your furniture a festive makeover this winter? Let me know if you’ve made any OTT decorations yourself by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me with photos of your xmas décor @Cassiefairy.


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Hi-tech touches to modernise your kitchen

If you’re planning a new kitchen – or simply want to renovate your old units with some snazzy new updates – this is the blog post for you. I’ve spent hours trawling Pinterest on your behalf (yes, I am that selfless) to spot some of the latest trends in kitchen design so that you can be well-informed about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of kitchens. And it’s not just about the latest designs and hottest colours, I’ve also investigated those essentials that will lift your kitchen from drab to WOW.kitchen-design-inspiration-trends-2016-navy-blueIn fact, sinks and taps are often overlooked as design features, but really they are the stars of the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no matter how pretty your marble work-surface is, or how brightly coloured your glossy cabinet doors are, you wouldn’t have a well-functioning kitchen without a sink and tap, would you? So it’s important to give these key pieces plenty of thought before you invest. This is one part of the kitchen where the latest design and technology improvements will actually have a big impact on your kitchen, as sinks and taps can now perform efficiently as well as look great in terms of design.2016-trend-inspiration-in-kitchen-design-sinks-and-taps-small-apartmentThe style of your kitchen design and the size of the space you’re kitting out will probably influence your choice of hardware. But no matter whether you’ve a ‘cosy’ city apartment or a totally-covetable farmhouse kitchen, you’re going to need to get water into the kitchen somehow. Interestingly enough, the design of the humble tap has evolved rapidly over the past decade, with a bigger variety than ever available to choose from. The latest innovations include filter taps for fresh filtered drinking water, boiling water taps so that you can make your morning cuppa at the sink without boiling the kettle, and now you can even fit sparkling water taps in your home – just like the carbonated taps in bars. Adding features like pull-out sprays, LEDs that indicate water temperature and water-saving/ flow regulation taps means you’ll have the whizziest tap technology available. Impressive, huh?kitchen-design-inspiration-trends-2016

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Cruelty-free summer cleaning hacks

In the run up to the summer holidays is when I start to notice what needs doing around the house. I realise that spring has passed me by in a whirlwind of work, and with it the notion of ‘spring cleaning’ has wafted off into the distance. Those windows never did get cleaned and that grim grouting never did get replaced. I start thinking to myself since when did those skirting boards get so dusty?’ and I realise that a lifetime of work-sleep-and-play leads to not much success in the way of cleaning. I know life’s too short, but eventually it becomes time to clean. And today is the day.thrifty low cost summer cleaning hacks kitchen bathroom diy cruelty free-6 thrifty low cost summer cleaning hacks kitchen bathroom diy cruelty free-3I sort of want to get the house in order before I take a break for summer. I don’t want to start my holiday with a long to-do list of cleaning task. In an ideal world, someone else would come in and blitz my house, so that I could begin my summer break in a holiday-cottage-style state of cleanliness. However, I’d probably be too embarrassed by the slightly mouldy fridge seal to let anyone else do the cleaning for me. So, onwards, with some spring/summer cleaning hacks.

As you may have spotted in my previous blog posts, I’m very keen to live a cruelty-free life. We’re not just talking animal-testing for make-up here, oh no. Cleaning products are under scrutiny here too, and I’ve found it super-easy to replace my old sprays and soaps with lovely new cruelty-free versions. And it hasn’t even been an expensive process. Thanks to budget brands such as Astonish, Morning Fresh and supermarkets like the Co-op and Waitrose, I’ve been able to find a CF replacement for pretty-much every cleaning product I use. But that’s not all…

I’ve also searched for some cleaning hacks to save me having to use products at all. What could be more animal-friendly than using lemon juice to clean your taps, eh? Unless a cat wanders across the sink at an inappropriate moment, it’s unlikely that my homemade lemon-and-salt cleaner will have been tested on an animal! You don’t need to waste lovely fresh lemons for the purpose of cleaning – stick them in your drink instead! For this hack, I simply used the cheapest bottle of lemon juice I could find in the supermarket and soaked my sponge.

A quick wipeover with a lemon-soaked sponge brings taps back to their sparkling best. If you have a crust of limescale on the taps, simply use an elastic band to attach the sponge to the tap and leave it for a few hours to gradually wear away the limescale. Any stubborn bits can be scrubbed with an old toothbrush soaked in more lemon juice. And speaking of toothbrushes…

You can easily clean grout by mixing baking soda with a splash of water to create a paste. Use an old toothbrush to scrub it into white grout to freshen it up. If there’s a stained patch on the grout, add lemon juice directly to it and allow it to sit for a while to ‘bleach’ it out. Of course, there’s an easier way to clean tiles and grout – with Astonish Grout and Tile Restorer. Don’t be alarmed when you use it for the first time – sometimes the grout turns bright pink when you spray it on! Again, an old toothbrush will sort this out and your tiles will come up sparkling.

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Interior design trend – Colourful kitchens & bathrooms

I’ve spotted a new trend in interior design for Summer 2016 and it’s one that really pleases me; bright bold colour. We all have a favourite colour – a shade that we seem to choose time and again – for our clothing, our décor and even our cars. It can therefore be frustrating when you have a colour preference for your home but find it impossible to find your favourite hue in the materials you want from DIY stores. Rather than creating just another cookie-cutter interior I want something different. Something that makes me smile when I enter a room, and something that even impresses guests when they visit my house. I therefore started to research colourful kitchen and bathroom options and here’s what I found:bright Colours bathroom shower splashbackNo longer do our ‘functional’ rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom have to be limited to a palette of white tiles, wooden cabinets and stone surfaces. While this ‘holiday home’ look certain IS popular, it doesn’t really do much to demonstrate your own personality or fit in with the character of the property. Shouldn’t a home someway reflect the individuality of the people who live there? Well, I think that’s where colour comes in.British-Standard-Colour-Chart bathroom green bath splashbackThankfully, we’re no longer limited to the colours of tiles we can find at the DIY store. For a seamless colour scheme it is now possible to have glass splashbacks colour-matched to the paint you used on the walls or woodwork. Colour matching Farrow and Ball, Laura Ashley, Dulux, Ral and many more paint brands helps you to achieve an extremely luxurious look in your bathroom or kitchen. It can be used anywhere that you want to waterproof – the shower cubicle, around the bath, kitchen splashbacks, window sills, behind the hob, kitchen worktops, behind the bathroom sink and all around the downstairs loo, if you really want to!RAL-Colour-Chart-red kitchen splashback

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A quick kitchen DIY for National Upcycling Day

Tomorrow is one of the most exciting dates in any thrifty blogger’s calendar – 24th June is National Upcycling Day. If you have any plans to do up a piece of furniture or have been pinning sewing ideas on Pinterest for months, tomorrow is the day to start that task! I’ve always got a handful of DIY projects on the go at any one time so it’s a great excuse for me to crack on with them. Plus, if you get started tomorrow, you’ve got the whole weekend to really get stuck into the project and get it finished. Today I’ve created a really simple step-by-step to give your kitchen utensils an easy makeover and I’ve shared how to create your own compact spray-painting ‘studio’. Read on to see what I did…

I love the way that upcycling can help me save money by simply putting in a bit of time and effort to make something old and unwanted into something I can use and love. I’ve renovated an old display cabinet to use in my little vintage caravan, I turned a chest of drawers into a desk, stitched placemats into cushions and even made my own wallpaper from old books. Yes, my blog is full of DIYs and thrifty upcycling projects so I hope you’ll browse around my DIY Interiors category and get some inspiration for money-saving decorating.national upcycling day diy project makeover renovation step by step tutorial upcycle recycle thrifty thrift craft-10 national upcycling day diy project makeover renovation step by step tutorial upcycle recycle thrifty thrift craft-11For National Upcycling Day I’m sharing possibly the fastest and easiest DIY I’ve ever done. For a while now I’ve been pinning photos of kitchen utensils which have been dipped in paint to give them a splash of colour on the handles. I’ve taken inspiration from these projects and have spray painted the handles of my existing wooden spoon collection. There’s probably little need for step-by-step for this thrifty project but here’s what I did just in case you’d like to recreate these colourful utensils at home.national upcycling day diy project makeover renovation step by step tutorial upcycle recycle thrifty thrift craft-9 national upcycling day diy project makeover renovation step by step tutorial upcycle recycle thrifty thrift craft-2 Continue reading “A quick kitchen DIY for National Upcycling Day” »


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Picquot Ware – The Coffee Percolator

Ever since I first wrote about my ‘lucky find’ of a Picquot Ware tea set last year I’ve been inundated with comments, emails and information about the brand. It’s been amazing to learn more about this British company and to read everyone’s stories about their own Picquot Ware collections. Who knew that so many people were fans? The comments section on the original post is packed full of information from knowledgeable readers and I’ve since posted a second article about the Picquot Ware guarantee and instructions, after Lesley kindly emailed me a copy of the original documents. Be sure to check that out as it shows the complete collection of Picquot Ware designs available.Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-2After publishing this second article, another Picquot Ware collector got in touch with me to share photos of their rare find – a coffee percolator. In the original tea set there is a tall pot that many people mistake for a coffee pot. This pot was more likely to be used for extra hot water to add to the teapot – it is a tea set after all! But on this occasion the pot in question actually IS a coffee pot, and is a particularly rare example. Robyn kindly sent over some snaps of the coffee percolator and told me the story behind it:Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-5“I bought it as a set about four years ago, on the Gold Coast in Australia. I thought it was from the 70s because of the coffee percolator so I did some research and realized the coffee pot was quite rare. I have not been able to find a picture of another one so thought it would be nice to share these photos. Picquot Ware is still quite affordable and available here in New Zealand so I’ve since bought another set, which I use regularly at our holiday house, and a few of my friends have also bought sets too.” Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-6Sounds like I need to go on a Picquot Ware hunting trip to New Zealand then, eh?! It’s so kind of Robyn to email these photos of the percolator so that we can all see it and admire the design. A regular contributor to the original blog post, Peter, tells us that only 300 percolators were made before production was discontinued. Picquot Ware discovered that manufacturing them was a “production nightmare” and put a stop to this design. So if you find one, hang on to it!Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-3 Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnaliumIf anyone else has further information on Picquot Ware or would like to send in photos of their collection please do email me cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or leave a comment below. Thanks!


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Utility rooms – Making the most of a small space

We could all do with a bit more room, couldn’t we? I know I personally need much more room – or perhaps far fewer things! Okay, okay, I could have a clear out, minimise my stuff and move onto a narrowboat, but even then I think I’d find a few important things that I’ll need to store, no matter where I live. And these tend to be the cleaning, washing and pet feeding bits ‘n’ pieces you need on a daily basis. The things you’d find in a utility room. And when you don’t have a utility room, these are the things that clutter up your kitchens, living rooms, garages and sheds. While I don’t mind a bit of mess, I still like everything to have a place, somewhere I can put it away and breathe a sign of relief that my home (and life!) is in order once again. And that’s where a utility room comes in.

My dream utility room and mud room

Whether you’ve got a back kitchen, a dedicated utility room or just a large cupboard, the most important thing about making the space in a utility area work for you is planning an excellent layout, with storage built in. With just a few ingenious ideas, some sensible (wipe-clean!) material choices and a couple of great storage solutions you can create a utility room to be proud of. It’ll solve all your problems with clutter and mess (yes, I’m sure!) and it can look great too. I’ve gathered some examples of inspirational utility spaces – I won’t call them rooms, because some are just nooks or cupboards – and wanted to share some top-notch storage ideas with you today.

High cupboards keep the floor space of a small utility room clear so it feels more spacious

1. It doesn’t have to be big

Just having a dedicated space to store your cleaning stuff, to house your washing machine or to keep your outdoor gear is reason enough to turn a small cupboard space into a utility area. An alcove, a nook, under the stairs or in the kitchen; wherever you put it, the utility “room” will keep all your mess and clutter in one place and can be neatly closed away when you’re not using it. I love this washing room (above), tucked away in a cupboard. It takes up almost no room at all yet has enough storage for all your cleaning products and room for the washing machine and tumble-dryer.

Great ideas for pet food storage and even a living space for your dog.

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How to turn a basic kitchen into a luxury space

A luxury kitchen equals expensive, right? And there’s no way that you’re going to spend all your hard-earned cash on a kitchen when you’ve got other rooms in your new home to decorate, yes? Well that’s what I always thought, and when you’re working to a strict budget it can be hard to imagine a kitchen with anything other than the basics. True, you only really need a sink, some cupboards and worktops to create a perfectly livable kitchen, but why not add a bit of style too? Especially if you can do it for a bargain price!kitchen-design-inspiration-wooden-cabinets-painted-unitsWith the right pre-planning and a little bit of effort you can create a luxurious-feeling space at a fraction of the cost. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house; a place where great food is prepared, a place for entertaining friends and somewhere for the family to gather and relax at the end of a hard day. So I think that creating a kitchen that is both functional and comfortable is important. Not only will adding a few design features to your kitchen add value to your home but you’ll also enjoy living there so much more. So let’s start with the basics:

Kitchen Layout

A popular layout is the L-shaped kitchen. It’s great when you’re lacking in space (in a small apartment, for example) because it opens out the kitchen into the living area and makes you feel less ‘hemmed-in’ to a small U-shaped kitchen. The L-shape makes it easier to include a dining area within your kitchen – either against the non-kitchen wall or between the kitchen and the living area if you’re living in an open plan space. It also maximises the floor space for families and couples to cook together without getting into each other’s way.white-kitchen-design-inspiration-L-shape-islandIf the kitchen is in a separate room but is on the small side, you could take down the dividing wall (depending on the structure of the building and planning permission, of course!) which creates an open-plan space. Combining the L-shaped kitchen with an island can create a great space for entertaining, whilst keeping the cooking area contained. Providing a seating and eating area on the island creates a social hub for the whole family to gather round, along with extra storage in the island units.L-shaped-kitchen-design-layout-inspiration-small-spaceIf you need more work space, this is where a U-shaped kitchen comes into its own; this type of design can maximise the cabinet and worktop space in the room without compromising on design or style. U-shaped kitchen designs usually have the extra worktop space to tuck integrated appliances underneath, which is great for keeping a uniform style. Then again, if you choose a cool or retro style, then standalone appliances can be used to provide a touch of colour or design feature to the room.open-plan-white-kitchen-interior-design-luxury-tips-budget

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