Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??

using recycled wood from a skip to make a beach hut bathroom floor and storage-11


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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside ~ building the beach hut

After installing a massive photowall in the bathroom last month, I’ve had an urge to ‘makeover’ the room, taking inspiration from costal homes. I’ve shared my moodboard so that you can get an idea of how I’d like the bathroom to turn out and have been pinning like crazy to my bathroom ideas board on Pinterest. One of the common design elements of these inspirational images has been wood and I love the idea of turning my bathroom into the interior of a beach hut.

As you can see, the floor needed to be updated and the cheap vinyl tiles that have been gracing the bathroom floor since the house was built had to go. So after visiting a few DIY stores and looking at the off-the-peg flooring options available, hubby and I decided that none of them were quite right for the bathroom. Vinyl ‘planks’ of self-adhesive tiles with wood-grain effect came in a great range of colours but looked rather plasticy and laminate flooring probably wouldn’t last very long with all the splashing that goes on in our bathroom! So a real wood floor seemed to be the only option, but boy was it expensive! So that idea went out of the window too.

Interestingly enough a house nearby had been having a new path laid and a quick peek into their skip showed us that they’d been using shuttering to make a frame for the poured concrete. Having spotted this waste wood, hubby and I quickly measured up the bathroom and realised that our tiny floor space could actually be covered using this shuttering so we asked permission to use the wood and dragged it home.

It’s a pressure-treated timber so it should be fine for our water-resistant flooring needs and the width of the planks was very similar to that of a beach hut floor. Hubby is really good with a saw and took all the measurements before working out which pieces could be slotted in where – like a giant jigsaw puzzle on the floor. My job was cleaning up the wood so that it was usable, which meant scraping off all the concrete tidemarks on the wood, using a wire brush to get rid of any dust and mud, and then sanding down the wood to make it smooth enough for bare feet to walk on. Okay, this took quite a bit of time and I was very grateful to have the use of an electric sander but at least we were able to save the wood from landfill!

After using a grab adhesive to ‘glue’ the floor down, hubby planed down any raised parts of the planks (yes, I had a go at planing and I was not good at it!) and I gave it a second sanding on any rough areas using sandpaper and elbow grease. I’ve still not decided on the finish of the floor; whether to white-wash it for that true beach hut look or whether to varnish the natural wood, which is already a pale limed colour scraping taking the concrete off. At the moment it’ll stay as it is until the rest of the woodwork is finished.

We had some wood left-over so we’ve decided to build a false wall and create some storage behind the wood cladding. As you can see from these photos my husband is a dab-hand with a screwdriver and he create this storage cabinet behind the loo in order to hide all the exposed pipes, while still giving access to the service handles and cistern. He incorporated shelves within the false wall which practically doubled the amount of storage space we have! This is accessed by two cupboard doors which hubby made using a wide plank of pressure treated wood that we had left over from our garden project this summer. Again, I was on sanding duty and I really came into my own when I was need to hold things in place!

We went for a white-wash effect for the wall, as it seemed a little imposing in the wood and the larger planks of wood were a slightly darker shade so this make the effect look more uniform. I’ve painted on three coats of the white wash and so far the wood is just soaking it up so it’s not quite the shade of white that the finished wall will be but it’s getting there. By the way, the hole a the bottom of the wall is for the cats’ litter tray so that they too can go to the bathroom in privacy! The next job is to build a small cabinet beneath the sink and get to work on painting or varnishing the floor so please come back soon to check on our progress.


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An interview about my little vintage caravan

Today I’m proud to tell you that I’ve been interviewed about my little vintage caravan makeover project by the fabulous writer Lela from the Simple Caravan Insurance blog. I’m really pleased with how this article turned out (see the original article here) and wanted to share the interview with you to give you a bit more of an insight into my caravan project.

book review of vintage caravan style by lisa mora

What made you choose the caravan model that you did for your makeover?

I chose this particular caravan for my project partly because of the low price (it was only £100!) and also because the Sprite has a cute curved shape. It was the kind of caravan that I’d conjured up in my mind’s eye as a “vintage” caravan, and I knew that it would look considerably nicer once it had been painted.

When conducting your makeover, did you have a plan from the get-go?

The only plan I had at the start of the project was to strip everything back and start from scratch with an empty shell. The old interior was so badly damaged that only the bases of the seats could be salvaged so once the interior has been removed I could see exactly where damp was coming in and what needed to be done, and only then was I able to make a to-do list. The design of the interior wasn’t planned out at all – all of the makeover decisions were made based on cost! The paint colours were chosen because I’d managed to pick up some end-of-line pots of paint, the wallpaper patchwork wall was made from ends of rolls, off-cuts from friends’ decorating and I even reused old paper that had stripped off my mum’s walls while she was decorating. All of the furniture was bought from charity shops or rescued from a skip, while my fabric was mostly thrifted – the seat covers are my in-laws’ old bed sheets! 

cassiefairy's original caravan

What has been the most difficult part of your caravan makeover so far?

The most difficult part of the makeover was replacing the window trims. It was easy to remove the old window seals because they were crumbling off and letting in a lot of leaks! But adding the new window trims took an entire-day because I needed to move the caravan in order to get access to the rear window and stretching the trim around the frame was complicated – no sooner than I had smoothed one piece into place than another piece would pop off! To make matters worse, I discovered that the side window was held in place with silicone and once this had been removed to fit the window trim, the glass started sliding out of the window and very nearly smashed on the floor! It has now been refitted but I still can’t open the window and it would be good to get it working, so that’s next on the ever-growing list!

 If you did the makeover again, what would you do differently?

I would possibly decorate the space differently, choosing coordinating wallpaper and paints for a more professional finish rather than throwing everything I could get my hands on at the walls! I think this would make the space more desirable if I were ever to sell the caravan in the future. But then again, I’m not intending make a profit nor am I ever planning to sell it, so I’m happy that is becoming ‘my’ space and it is very personal to me. As the project is still evolving I can continue to decorate it and add bits to my patchwork wall as I find them – I doubt it will ever really be ‘finished’!

cassiefairy - my little vintage caravan

What will be the primary use of the space?

 My initial plan for the caravan was to use it as a work space. It would be my version of a garden shed where I could keep all of my sewing equipment and an office space to run my blog Cassiefairy.com from. I use the table as a sewing and writing desk and am currently working on adding more storage space for fabrics and crafts. A second use for the caravan has emerged over the past year: it’s become a spare room. Our house doesn’t have a guest bedroom so when we have visitors either my husband and I will camp out in the caravan (and very cosy it is too!) or my visitors will ask if they can stay in the caravan. So it’s become a very useful second bedroom! It is a also a great space for family meals, because we can’t fit a group of 8/9 around our dining table indoors, but there’s plenty of room in the caravan for a long table and we’ve had many meals out there all year round!

The only thing that I don’t think it will be used for again is towing away for a holiday. This is a shame because I’d love to camp in it, but we needed to remove all the electrics when the caravan arrived (they were rather dodgy) so it would need a complete overhaul of lights for towing, as well as fitting a new electric hook-up point. Also, I’m worried that removing the interior fittings might have destabilised the structure because there is no internal bracing now that the cupboards, kitchen and wardrobe have been removed. I don’t know how much this affects the usability of the caravan but I think it’ll take a lot more work to get it back into towing-and-camping-condition!

little-vintage-caravan-project-diy-makeover

What is your favourite feature in the caravan?

My favourite feature in the caravan is the back window. This may sound like a strange favourite to choose, but it runs across the whole width of the caravan and it opens upwards on hinges to let in a lot of fresh air (a must when I’m working in there on hot summer days!) and I love listening to all the sounds of birds chirping in the garden. It lets in plenty of light so that I don’t need to plug in lamps and when you’re lying in the double bed at night you can pull back the curtains and see a wide-angle view of the stars.

What is left to do? Have you stuck to a timeframe or set a ‘due date’?

I have lots more left to do – some of which I’ve already mentioned: fix the side window so that it can be opened, build in some fitted storage for fabrics etc, paint the interior of the door (I like the idea of chalkboard paint there), add a chest of drawers for guests who stay in the caravan, lay slabs outside the caravan and plant a few flowers, find some steps to make it a little easier to hop in and out of the caravan and, if I’m being picky, I think the outside of the caravan need repainting already because it’s not looking as fresh as it did this time last year!

 Is another caravan makeover on the horizon after this one?

I certainly hope so! I’m completely hooked on caravans – I subscribe to Vintage Caravan Magazine and am always daydreaming about getting a caravan that I can actually tow and take away on holiday. I actually want a smaller caravan; just a little two-berth would be perfect for hubby and I to go away in for a weekend. I’ve found plenty of vintage caravans for sale that have already been renovated but I enjoyed the process so much that I’d like to get my hands on one that hasn’t been touched for years and give it a new lease of life.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-6


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Sewing tips to make a vintage dress fit

I am forever spotting gorgeous vintages dresses when I go for my weekly rummage in the charity shops but I am often put off from investing in an outfit because it is far too big for me. Last week, I tried on this vintage shirt dress from Oxfam, which was around 3 sizes too big for me, but I loved the (so on-trend!) tropical pattern of the fabric that I decided to give it a new home and see what I could do to make it fit me.

The dress didn’t have any labels in it, so it may well have been handmade in the first place so I didn’t feel too bad making adjustments to it, although that first cut is always difficult, because I don’t want to ruin something that has survived so many years! At least it will be worn if I can make it fit me, whereas it would be relegated to the back of my wardrobe if wasn’t brave enough to make any changes, so I got my scissors out and set to work.

before and after vintage dress

  1. First of all I put the dress on to see where the adjustments needed to be made. The shoulders were too wide, the side seams could be taken in about 6 inches and I wanted to make it into a knee length dress, otherwise it would be too long for me. So I pinned down the sides to make it fit, pinned up the shoulders and measured how much fabric would need to be removed in order to make it knee length.

  2. I began by stitching up the side seams by following the line of the pins to create a more figure-hugging shape, trimmed off the excess fabric and zig-zag stitched over the seam to prevent it from fraying.

Cassiefairy - sewing tips for shortening a vintage dress

  1. Instead of taking up the hem of the dress, which already had a perfect blind hem stitched in place, I decided to shorten the dress at the waist. So I cut the dress straight across at my waist point (a very scary moment – I needed to be brave!) which left me with a ‘top’ and a ‘skirt’.

  2. I used the measurement for the right length that I noted down whilst trying on the dress, which was 4 inches shorter, so I cut a strip 4 inches deep from the top of the skirt – cutting straight across again.

  3. I then reattached it by pinning the skirt around the bottom of the top, with the right sides of the fabric together. I zig-zag stitched around the middle to join the dress back together.

Now my vintage shirt dress is 4 inches shorter and about 6 inches smaller and fits me perfectly. After I tried on my new dress, I realised that the sleeves would look better if they were a little slimmer too, so I took in the sleeve seams by about an inch too. So next time you find a dress that you love which is too big for you, don’t dismiss it straight away. Think about what you can do to make it fit, and give the dress a new lease of life!

 

 

 


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My little vintage caravan ~ Pillows & cushions

Before the summer holidays were out, I fully intended to sleep in my caravan and camp out for a couple of nights while the weather is good. In fact, it’s sometimes a little too hot to sleep indoors so I thought that a night in the caravan would be ideal to cool off. I started looking for bedding and I was lucky enough to snap up this vintage Paddington Bear pillowcase at a table-top sale in a village hall.

vintage Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover vintage Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover-2

I really like the retro design and the fact that Paddington is beside the seaside – it makes me feel like my caravan could be anywhere. Plus the design reflects the lighthouse in the appliqué cushion that I’d previously made. Yesterday was the ideal night to camp out and we decided to stay in the caravan, watch the stars in the clear night-sky and fall asleep under the glow of the my pretty purple solar-powered fairy lights.

Retro Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover

It was very comfortable to sleep on the cushion pads that I’d re-covered and now all I need is a vintage-inspired duvet cover for the cooler months and my caravan will be a great place to sleep out all year round!

Also today is the last day to vote for Cassiefairy.com for the Best Lifestyle Blog award in the Cosmopolitan blog awards EEK! So please hop onto the Cosmo website and cast your vote TODAY – thank you SO much!


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How does your garden grow? DIY plant markers

Now that the plants are starting to grow in our new garden, I’m beginning to lose track of what’s what. This happens particularly often with the herbs in my raised planted, because I’m not very well trained in recognising herb leaves. Okay, I know what the difference between basil, chives, parsley and rosemary but all the small leaves and different varieties seem to merge into one and I can’t be sure what I’m picking. Considering how the garden used to look (check out my first garden blog post here), I think I can be forgiven for not knowing much about plants yet! So I decided to make some markers using pebbles and permanent pens. It was a simple as writing the name of the plant onto the pebble and putting it in place. Hubby and I got a bit carried away at times, drawing little cartoons of the plants and using funny text, but it certainly does the job – now I’ll never get my marjoram and oregano mixed up again!

As you can see from these photos, the herb garden is really ‘blooming’. I’ve had to trim back some of the plants already because they were getting a little leggy! We’ve planted chives, thyme, lemon thyme, mint, basil, coriander, marjoram, sage, oregano, rosemary  and tarragon and we’ve already been enjoying fresh chives in our potato salad! Plus we’ve got some courgettes on their way finally, woooo!

 I still can’t believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes tomorrow on 29th August – thank you SO much!