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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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 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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Garden inspiration – Beach hut sheds

I’m spotting them everywhere. In gardens, on Pinterest and even at Latitude festival. Yes, painted sheds are ‘all the rage’ these days and it’s a trend that is certainly here to stay. No longer do sheds have to be a boring brown or blend-in-with-the-bushes green, especially now that there are so many garden paint colours available in DIY stores. Read on to check out some of the examples of ‘beach hut sheds’ that I’ve recently come across and find out how to get the look in your own garden painting and installing small shed - duck egg blue beach hut in garden-20 I actually painted my own shed a lovely duck egg blue shade last year, and decided to add contrasting trims with a cream garden paint. I was definitely inspired by all the gorgeous beach huts I see along the Suffolk coast and I wanted to recreate the effect by painting my tiny 6ft x 4ft shed in coastal colours. I shared a step-by-step guide to painting sheds on my blog so be sure check that out if you’re planning to paint your own shed this summer.Covered-DeckChairsThis beautiful summerhouse is the ultimate beach hut shed, and is owned by my blogging buddy Lucy from – you can read more about her garden room here. It’s a beautiful sky blue hue, with contrasting white window frames. Size-wise it’s even more like a beach hut than my tiny shed, and there’s plenty of space inside to unfold a deckchair and take in the lovely garden views.Beach-Hut-Shed1 Beach-Hut-ShedI also spotted a painted shed at Latitude Festival earlier this summer. In fact, there were quite a few painted sheds dotted around the woods, all brightly decorated with images and patterns. Okay, these aren’t really traditional ‘beach hut’ designs, but they still definitely make the best use of the range of garden paints available these days. I would probably consider creating a piece of artwork on my own shed if I was more confident of my drawing ability!

This summer we painted the sheds in mum’s garden to look like a row of beach huts. She too has small 6ft x 4ft sheds (one for gardening tools, one for BBQ bits, one for the kids toys etc) and they were looking a little boring in their original ‘shed treatment’ colour. We popped to the DIY store and picked up some colourful paints, including a sunshiney yellow, a bubblegum pink and a pastel sky blue.summer holiday beach huts seaside garden design interior decorating backyard inspirationWe used three different brands of garden paint to get the best combination of colours, all of which took two coats of paint to get a strong enough colour. The first layer would have resulted in a seaside-style ‘washed’ finish, but we wanted a defined colour for each shed. In fact, the best paint we used was actually the B&Q own brand garden paint, which we used for the cream-coloured trims. This was thicker than the other paints so it went on much more easily, with fewer drips, and only really needed one coat to cover the treated wood.

What do you think of the trend for sheds decorated like beach huts? Have you gone for a bright or pastel shade in your garden? Perhaps you’ve gone all-out coastal with a striped design? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or by tagging me in your Instagram photos @Cassiefairy.


DIY interiors project – colourful cupboards

Want to inject a bit of colour into your room but don’t want to commit to a complete wall-to-wall makeover? Can I suggest painting the inside of your cupboards instead? It’s interior design on a very ‘interior’ scale – the inner walls of your storage to be exact! It allows you to add splashes of fun colours without changing your entire room scheme and adds a sense of surprise to other rather dull storage solutions.

You can have a perfectly calm and serene neutral palette on all four walls, but when you open up those cupboard doors BAM! You’re hit with a fresh burst of zesty colour. It’s guaranteed to brighten up even the dullest morning (and wake you up!) if you open your workday wardrobe and sunshine yellow or bright sky blue is waiting for you. I’ve spotted examples of bright turquoise paint being used inside kitchen units on A Beautiful Mess blog and architect George Clarke used different citrus colours inside his children’s cupboards on Amazing Spaces.

Colours can define uses – each child having their own colour storage and taking responsibility for it, for example – and cupboard doors can be opened (or removed altogether!) to bring colour into the room and change the ambience of a space. Bright colours surely equal party time, do they not?! As you only need a small tin of paint for decorating cupboard spaces it’s a purse-friendly interior design project (keep an eye out for reduced tins in crazy shades!) and you can be adventurous with your colour choices. It’s definitely a design feature that I want to do lots of in my new home and I tried out the technique inside an old bedroom storage cupboard with a pop of pink…

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Create your dream kitchen on a budget

Refurbishing your kitchen does not always have to be a costly venture. By picking your finishes wisely and by planning and doing certain things yourself, you can really cut your expenses right down. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to revamp your kitchen, as many DIY stores will still have New Year reductions, and this is normally the time that people become most motivated.painted kitchen cabinets a beautiful mess

Don’t buy new – repaint your kitchen cabinets! Love these sunny yellow doors in the A Beautiful Mess studio

A good kitchen can really make a difference to your home. If you are thinking of selling, a modern and nicely decorated kitchen can add value to your home. Plus it’s a room that you are going to spend a lot of time in, so you can really enjoy the hard work that you have put in afterwards. Below are a few different money-saving shortcuts and ways to cut your budget, so you can get the kitchen that you’ve dreamed of without breaking the bank.painted tiles backsplash a beautiful mess

One of my favourite makeovers on A Beautiful Mess – painting tiles a funky colour!

Start by considering exactly what you want to get from your kitchen. If you have a theme in your mind, consider what you would need to do in order to achieve this style. Don’t be tempted to think that it is necessary to replace everything in your kitchen, even if it doesn’t quite fit in with the design. If your kitchen is Continue reading “Create your dream kitchen on a budget” »

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DIY furniture makeover: A quick & easy distressed chair with Rust-Oleum

After packing away all the Christmas decorations, this time of year always gets me thinking about having a good old clear out and a bit of a tidy up. I often take a look around my home in January and pick out the things I haven’t used over the past year. With space at a premium in my tiny home, these are often the first things to clear out, and I love to make a bit of extra money in the new year by selling off a few unused bits and pieces. If something has been put aside just because it has become broken or needs a spruce-up, this is the time of year that I get stuck into new makeover projects and try to make the most of the things I have.Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-24 Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-36This week I’ve tried to breathe new life into an old chair with Rust-Oleum. I have a few of these chairs in the shed, waiting to be fixed and slowing growing a layer of mould. Each chair either had a wobbly leg, a missing seat or a rickety back support so I enlisted my husband to help me put together the best bits of all these higgledy-piggledy chairs to make one usable seat. After a thorough cleaning and leaving the wood to dry out in the warm for a while, the chair was ready to be painted.

I was hoping to make my quick makeover as easy as possible, yet I wanted to get a good finish rather than a slapdash result. I therefore turned to Rust-Oluem’s new range of brush-on chalky finish furniture paints, which can be painted straight on to wood without any sanding or undercoats. I picked out a rich ink blue shade for my chair to create an eye-catching spare seat for the conservatory. I also wanted to add a little opulence to the design so I also chose a metallic finish furniture paint in gold as an undercoat so that I could distress the blue top coat and see a touch of gold glinting through.Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-5 Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-6 Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-7 Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-4 Furniture Makeover Project Rust-Oleum paint retro conservatory chair_-12I wanted to be thrifty with my paint, so I planned to brush on the gold paint only in the places where I intended to sand it back after covering with the blue paint. When I saw how far just a small amount of the paint went, I decided that I could spare some more paint and give the whole chair a coat of gold. I still hardly used any of the tin, so there’s plenty left for other projects in the future. Perhaps creating a gilded throne would have been a better use for my chair?! You can see from my photos that the gold paint needs a thorough mixing when you open it, but it soon looked gloriously gold after a quick stir. It’ll be great for sprucing up photo frames, making DIY gifts, and I’m already planning to make my own Christmas decorations for next year using this sumptuous gold colour.

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Interior design inspiration for cosy winter homes

Most of the year I want my rooms to look more spacious, clean and bright. But when winter looms, I suddenly get the urge to start decorating in stronger colours and wishing that rooms were smaller and more cosy. Have you ever noticed how snuggly you feel when you’re in a country pub in December? Okay, some of that might be down to the roaring fire but a lot of that feeling of warmth and cosiness comes from the deep colours on the walls and the dark wood furniture. So today, I’m taking interior inspiration from some gorgeously designed dark rooms in order to recreate a cosy feeling at home.dark living room interior design inspirationWhere in your home do you want to feel warmest this winter? It’s a safe bet that you’d love to have a cosy living room. It’s one room where you’ll be spending more time during winter evenings. In the summer the bright kitchen with patio doors flung open onto the garden seems like a lovely place to spend long summer evenings, but in the winter the tiled floor and lack of soft furnishings can feel too cold. This is precisely why I prefer to cosy up in the living room on dark winter evenings. And this is one room where you can really go for it with darker colours.Dark interior design inspiration red burgundyWalls can be painted in muted tones of dark red, purple, denim or green. These colours will make the walls feel closer and the room, although appearing smaller, will gain a warmer atmosphere. Deeper shades offer a ‘heritage’ look during the day and you can benefit from the cosy feeling in the evenings all year round. There’s no need to cover every surface with dark paint however; simply painting up to a picture rail will actually give the impression of extra height in a room when combined with a pale colour above. Quality carpets add cosiness to cold floorboards and can add a feeling of warmth underfoot without going the whole hog painting walls. Darker carpets offer a feeling of opulence and are less likely to show up stains and muddy footprints over the years!Dark interior design inspiration blue bedroomNext up is the bedroom. Of course you want to feel warm and safe in your bedroom so deep colours will help you feel cocooned at night. Deep tones can actually help you sleep better because the room will appear darker and more like night-time even when it’s light outside. If you want to take advantage of this, avoid warm colours which encourage creative activity and plump for deep blues and muted greens instead which create a calming, serene environment. Choose matt paints for the bedroom as colours appear softer and more restful when they are flatter as they absorb more light.Dark interior design inspiration blue living roomSo what do you think? Will you consider decorating your home in darker tones? Not only will rooms feel more cosy during the winter, but they will continue to be warm and snuggly in the evenings, and may help you sleep more soundly, all year round. Okay, when you’ve got small rooms to start with, bold rich colours might make spaces feel oppressive but you don’t need to decorate every wall – just one richly toned feature wall will make all the difference to your home this winter. Let me know what you think of this trend and get in touch if you too have deep colours in your home – tweet me your photos to @cassiefairy.

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Thrifty ways to renovate your home

If you’re anything like me, the chances are you want your home to look as perfect as possible but you also have to be mindful of your budget. If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you’ll have seen that I’ve shared a couple of very low-budget room makeovers in my own home including decorating my kitchen and, most recently, creating a welcoming hallway. I hope you’ll agree that even the little projects I’ve undertaken have improved the spaces in my home, in spite of the low-costs. Every year many people decide to renovate their homes, often taking out costly loans in order to do this but in my experience there are many alternatives that don’t require a huge cash outlay but can still improve your home. By using the right tips and tricks you can save a lot of time, money and inconvenience!

Just a lick of paint & a new rug has made all the difference in my kitchen

I’ve found that one very popular type of home improvement project is having a new kitchen fitted. Some people think that because their kitchen looks worn and tired it’s time to rip it out and start again. However, there is a far easier solution and one that is not only simple but can be carried out as a DIY project rather than getting builders in. By replacing the doors on your kitchen cabinets along with hardware such as handles and hinges you can give your kitchen a new lease of life without having to get it completely replaced.

Adding a dado rail & monochrome wallpaper helped create a welcoming hallway

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DIY renovations that add value to your home

Whether you’re hoping to make your house more saleable for an imminent move, or simply wish add value to your home for the future, today’s blog post will hopefully give you some ideas for ways to improve your home whilst increasing its value. As you may already know, I’ve been fixing up my home over the past 3 years; improving the bathroom, DIYing the bedroom, decorating my living room in mid-century style, and now I’m working on the kitchen. So I’ve been doing some research into how my DIY renovation projects have added value to my home and what I’ve learnt has been really interesting. I found out lots of facts about the things you can do to increase the value of your home prior to a move and I wanted to share these with you to home

Give your home ‘street appeal’

Decorating. It may seem simple, but a quick spruce-up of a room with a lick of paint can do it the world of good. As buyers typically make up their mind about buying a property within the first three minutes, a fresh coast of paint can be enough to grab a buyers attention. It can brighten up a room, makes the property look ‘cared for’ and is reassuring to buyers that the house has been well maintained. It also means that the buyer doesn’t have to do any of the DIY work when they move in, saving them time and money. And, interestingly, a freshly decorated home adds £3000 to the value of a house according to survey by UK Homebuyers so it’s well worth investing in a few pots of paint.

My bathroom before…

Bathroom. This room needs to be fresh smelling and hygienic looking, so it should be one of the first places you paint and clean if you’re trying to sell your home. If you want to add a few touches to the bathroom, mirrors will bounce the light around and help the room feel bigger, and fitting a ventilation fan will keep dampness at bay. If you’re up for a construction project, adding an en suite to a bedroom can as much as £30000 to the price of your home so it may be worth measuring up and seeing whether you can fit one into the master bedroom.

…and after!

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My mini kitchen makeover – Bring me sunshine + chalkboard DIY

After a few weeks of doing little DIY projects here and there, the kitchen makeover is finally coming together. After we painted the walls a classy shade of duck egg blue (which we’d been planning to do since we moved in three years ago!) the room was the perfect canvas for adding some bright, colourful accessories.

My husband helped me to fit a striped roman blind (see my first kitchen makeover blog post) which reminds me of deck chairs at the seaside, and I ordered a new yellow rug for the floor. I’m really pleased with the results because I’ve not had to spend out on any new fixtures or kitchen cabinets – I just gave the existing units, tiles and sink a good scrub! We’ve transformed our tiny kitchen with just a few coats of paint and some accessories – much of which we already owned – so it’s been a really low-cost makeover.

Once the blue walls had dried, the first mini-DIY project I wanted to try out was chalkboard paint on the walls. I chose a magnetic chalkboard paint from Rust-Oleum, which adhered to the wall very easily and looked very impressive after just one coat. The tin suggests three coats of paint in order to get the magnetic effect, yet I found that some of my stronger magnets were able to hold after just two coats! It was really quick-drying so we were able to finish the project quickly; the first coat of paint dried within a couple of hours (on a warm day, well ventilated!) so I painted a second layer and allowed it to dry overnight.Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-7 Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-5 small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-5The instructions on the tin suggest lightly sanding the paint before the final coat to get a smooth finish so I wanted to be sure that the paint was completely dry before doing this. The final coat went on easily and again it dried really quickly, which surprised me because the paint is really thick. I was actually able to put some magnetic letters up on the wall the very same day!Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-8 Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-9 Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-10While I had my brush out, I decided to paint my old towel hook with a couple of coats of the chalkboard paint too. I’m sure many of you will like the cupcake design and couldn’t imagine painting over it, but I’d lived with it since my student days and wanted a change. Again, I was able to reuse an old fixture and made it look as good as new with a coat of paint. And you won’t be surprised to find out that I also painted the kickboard of the kitchen units with the same chalkboard paint. Okay, I’m probably not going to be chalking up recipes or notes at foot-level but it does finish off the kitchen and covers up the badly stained kickboard that was there before.small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-10 small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-12 small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-14Rather than fit a new floor, we decided to invest in a durable rug to cover up the old vinyl tiles. I shopped around and found a low-cost solution at Benuta. This Sloan Rug in yellow is exactly the same mustard colour as the retro kitchen unit that we’d bought for £4 from a car boot sale a few months ago. Thankfully, because the kitchen is so small, we only needed the smallest rug in the range which, of course, was also the cheapest PLUS it was reduced in the sale! I also picked up a rug for my caravan at the same time so I’ll be sure to take some photos when I put that in the caravan too.

This rug has a flat weave so feels very robust and the website claims that it wears well with extensive use. The colour is fade resistant and the cotton/wool mix is supposed to be easy to clean so I’m confident that it will survive in the kitchen. I’ve had it on the floor since Saturday and I’ve noticed that I’m being more careful than usual while cooking and am taking care not to splash my tea around as much. So even if the new rug just improves my own clumsy habits, it’s a good investment!

Of course, the cats love to get their claws into anything new so Muffin came in for a lie down before I’d even finished taking photos of my newly improved kitchen. I’m pretty sure she just wants to get into cat modelling so I obliged and snapped some photos of her too.Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-3 Cassiefairy small kitchen makeover diy project chalkboard blackboard paint painting-6 small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-5What do you think of the ‘new’ kitchen? It definitely seems more homely to me now that we’ve put our stamp on the previously bland room. I was a little worried that the chalkboard would make the room feel smaller or darker but it actually doesn’t feel any different. If anything it feels a little bigger because the brightly coloured rug is reflecting light back up from the floor, plus everything looks neat and has a ‘home’ now so I can keep it tidy. Anyway, let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.


My mini kitchen makeover – Seaside stripes

It’s been a rather productive summer in the Cassiefairy household. All those little DIY tasks that I’ve been putting off for months (okay, years) have finally been tackled and I’m so pleased with the results. It’s really satisfying to spend a day with a paintbrush in your hand and then step back to admire your handiwork at the end of a decorating fact, my favourite thing about decorating is that moment when you go back into a room later that day, having forgotten that you’ve painted it, and are surprised by the effect. I found myself ‘ooh-ing’ on about 10 different occasions after painting the kitchen and I think I deserve to revel in my success; we’ve had paint swatches dotted around the walls for three years, so it really is about time that the room was finished!

I wrote about my inspiration for a coastal style kitchen on the blog last month and after a lot of deliberation, I decided to go for a duck-egg blue paint from Homebase. The paint actually dried a lot darker than it looked but the darker shade was exactly the colour I wanted (the wet paint looked like off-white rather than an actual colour) and it looks fab with the fabric that I’d chosen for our kitchen blind.

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