Wednesday, 27 March 2013

6 Steps || How To Decoupage Furniture

I recently shared some tips for decoupage at the Meet The Blogger conference and I was amazed at how well they went down. I've had several emails now from people trying out the technique for the first time which is lovely but also some from people who try decoupage and end up with air bubbles. I struggled with decoupage to start with, I used to get wrinkles and air bubbles popping up everywhere - it is so frustrating when that happens. Eventually, I developed my own way of doing it which completely minimised the air bubbles and wrinkles. 

At the furniture painting workshops I teach, I sometimes demonstrate this technique if there is time, but I thought it would be nice to let you all know my best tips on here. I hope you find them helpful if this is something you want to try yourself. I know that me writing out instructions on here is not the same as watching me demonstrate it in front of you, but since I'm not ready for video yet, this will have to do. Please leave a comment if you have a question or if something is unclear and I'll get back to you. 

Decoupage Table using Sophia Victoria Joy Union Jack Paper
Decoupage Table using Sophia Victoria Joy Union Jack Paper

What You Will Need
  • PVA Glue
  • Water
  • Something to apply decoupage to (start small)
  • Paper - I like to use wrapping paper
  • Several paint brushes (all bone dry)
  • Clean cloths

Step 1 :: Start with a smooth, dry and clean surface

An uneven or dirty surface is pretty much a recipe for disaster if you want to decoupage. If the surface has previously had decoupage applied, make sure this is completely removed before you start. If the surface becomes damp while you are cleaning it, leave it to dry out completely before starting. 

Step 2 :: Use a PVA + water blend @ 50:50

There are lots of "decoupage mediums" available to buy. I personally do not feel they are worth the money when you can simply buy PVA glue from any supermarket and mix it with water. Use a plastic spoon or something similar to combine the PVA and water so you get a good smooth consistency. Mixing in a jam jar is useful because you can simply put the lid on afterwards and keep it for other projects.

Step 3 :: Apply the medium to the surface, then layer on the paper

So, you brush the medium lightly over the surface and then directly apply the paper you have chosen to that.  Make sense? As soon as it is applied, brush over the top with a clean, dry brush to smooth out any wrinkles. The thinner the paper, the easier it generally is to apply. Wallpaper is super stylish, but it is really thick so maybe try out some pretty wrapping paper for your first few attempts. I personally love Sophia Victoria Joy's range of wrapping paper, especially the Union Jack. For me, it is the perfect thickness for decoupage, thin, but robust enough to take the medium.

Step 4 :: Sit tight and/or do something else

Now is the time to leave it alone. Just leave it alone, no prodding or poking. It needs to dry so leave it a good 30-45 minutes. 

Step 5 :: Apply a thin layer of medium on top of the paper

Using a small amount of medium, brush over the top of the paper as evenly as possible. If it starts to bubble up you are probably using too much medium. You should have a vaguely white covering across the paper. And, once you have a thin layer applied, step away. 

Step 6 :: Repeat, then repeat again

Repeat step 5 around 8-10 times to create a really durable and hard decoupage surface. Each time you apply the medium, be sure to leave it enough time to dry before the next coat. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

BlogTourNYC || Sponsor Profile: Poggenpohl

So, I'm home from BlogTourNYC - what a trip! It was a completely unique and amazing experience with a wonderful group of bloggers in one of the most fun and exciting cities on the planet. I feel so privileged to have been asked by Modenus to attend! I've got so much to share that I thought it made sense to start at the beginning, so, shall we get going?

Day 1 started with a BlogTour brunch entitled "Exploring the New Neutrals in Today’s Kitchen Design" which was sponsored by Poggenpohl, Blanco and Silestone by Cosentino and held at the Poggenpohl Kitchen Design Studio in NYC. The place was buzzing when we arrived as the majority of people had already arrived and there was a great mix of bloggers from our own BlogTourNYC and other NY based bloggers who had attended previous BlogTours in London and Cologne including Tina from Life in Sketch, Alicia who writes the blog for Simplifying Fabulous, Robin from Urban Gardens, Sarah Sarna and Michele from Mod Design Guru. Not only we were treated to a wonderful brunch, but we also had an exclusive introduction to the new Poggenpohl App which looks fabulous. The Poggenpohl App will be available only in  their showrooms and is designed to be used as an interactive sales and design tool between the customer and their Poggenpohl kitchen designer. 




Despite being established in 1892, Poggenpohl is world-renowned for its range of contemporary styles, creative solutions and ergonomically advanced designs, including the absolutely brilliant +Motion self-closing drawer system. It was brilliant being in their New York studio and looking at all the new designs they are showcasing. Having just bought a house last year with a kitchen that needs completely gutting and renovating, it was really interesting to think about the process of actually buying a kitchen. I mean, where do you start? Researching what you want, or at least, what you think you might want, probably begins online. Poggenpohl have a fantastic blog where they share the latest designs and news. 

All images via Poggenpohl blog

Above are some of my favourite finds from their blog: clockwise from left, featured in Elle Decor magazine - the cabinet finishes are Poggenpohl Pine Terra and Sand Pine textured melanine. Next, this kitchen was featured in House Beautiful magazine. The cabinet finish is Poggenpohl Teak Quartz Melamine. And lastly this Poggenpohl kitchen was featured in Veranda magazine and showcases the Poggenpohl Terra Matte Melamine.

All images via Poggenpohl Pinterest Board

The Poggenpohl Pinterest board is also definitely a place to visit if you are in need of some inspiration and ideas. I pulled my favourites for the collage above but there are lots more to see on Pinterest and also on Houzz. Take a look and let me know what you think. 

Lastly, thank you to the lovely team at Poggenpohl for inviting us to their spectacular studio for brunch, it was the perfect start to BlogTourNYC. In my next posts about the tour, I'll be focusing on Blanco and Cosentino, both of whom work closely with Poggenpohl and share the same exacting level of attention to detail, quality and design. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Cambridge Satchel Company

After a wonderful weekend in London for the MeetTheBlogger conference, I settled onto the sofa with my husband and Alfie pug to catch up on Grey's Anatomy (my favourite show). I normally fast forward the ads but I was distracted by twitter and then this plinky plonk music (my favourite kind of music*) caught my attention. Re-wind. It was the google ad for The Cambridge Satchel Company. Have you seen it? It's part of their "the web is what you make of it" series. As if I could take any more inspiration, this advert made me want to get up and GO!


It's such an amazing and inspiring story. If you already know it, please bear with me. I have obviously been living under a rock because it was the first I had heard it and the ad came out last October. In 2008 Julie Deane wrote out her best top 10 ideas for making money when she had to subsidise her daughter's school fees. Her daughter was being bullied and Julie felt there was no option but for her daughter to move to a private school. She started the business with just £600 and taught herself to do everything from designing the bags, building a website to marketing the business. Starting with just one order a week, word spread of the business and she realised it was fashionistas who were buying the bags not mothers... so she started adding new colours to the range. Very savvy. Within 4 years, the Cambridge Satchel Company was selling over £1 million worth of bags each month. I mean, that is amazing! What a story, and she did it all herself from her kitchen table.

Image credit: Cambridge Satchel Company

I had a lovely browse through their stunning website earlier, oh my goodness it is beautifully designed. I also completely fell in love with the new Chelsea Collection - all pastels inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show. That is pretty awesome. I love how clear and easy to navigate their website is and the photography is absolutely spot on. If I were Julie Deane, I'd be feeling pretty happy with myself right now. When I look at a company like The Cambridge Satchel Company, I would never think oh that started at the kitchen table. But so many businesses do, The White Company was started from a back bedroom. I set up West Egg 2 years ago from home (hopefully this means I have a huge success in the offing haha! :). At the time (I realise now) I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I did, but actually, I didn't at all. But I keep working on it, I think about West Egg all the time (sometimes I wish I didn't) and I love that it is growing into a healthy little business with lovely customers who come back again and again. 

I love that we have achieved different milestones, such as opening a workshop and studio with a showroom for customers to visit. This blog for west egg, which I only started writing because my web designer told me it would be a good idea, has opened up the world of blogging to me with everything excellent, inspiring and fun that goes with that. Teaching workshops to students was never in my business plan but it is a part of the business that I absolutely love. 

But today, tomorrow and the next day, I'm still learning. I read a quote recently that when you start up a business, it doesn't matter how long you've been up and running, every day feels like day 1. I guess this is because there is always so much to do, it's easy to become overwhelmed. I definitely feel that pressure a lot - when I look at my to do list and it's so long, and some of the stuff is so boring (keyword research, please), I just think gaaahh how am I ever going to do all this. I'm sure that is what Julie must have thought when all those orders started piling up but look at what she has achieved.

As you may know, I teach a workshop called Start Up Your Creative Business at our studio in Blunham, Bedfordshire and also in London at The Decor Cafe where I co-host with Debbie Blott. It's all about sharing information and giving people the confidence to get started. I sometimes get talking to people about West Egg and they say they had an idea for something or other, but never did it because they were scared it would fail. I find that a bit depressing really which is why I want to help people overcome that. We include topics such as setting up a limited company vs sole trader, how to write a press release, to blogging, how to use twitter, setting up an e-commerce platform - it's pretty much everything I've learnt over the last two years. I always talk about different stories I found inspiring,or people I look up to and respect so I thought I'd create this new column on the blog called "Start Up Inspiration" so I can share them here too. Julie Deane is first on that list. 

* The plinky plonk music is Velvet Elvis by Alex Winston.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Meet The Blogger London || Behind The Scenes

This last weekend I was in London for the Meet The Blogger conference because I was invited by the MTB team to present a workshop called "Revamp Your Vintage Furniture". Although I teach furniture painting workshops twice a month, this was a big deal for me to stand up and present in front of a group of bloggers. I was pretty nervous on the drive down to London on Saturday morning, but I think some nerves are good aren't they? As well as trying to keep my nerves under control, I was also dealing with lots of excitement because I knew I would see so many friends I have met through blogging including my favourite girls from the #BYWStudio last December - Holly @ Avenue Lifestyle, Brigitte @ Little Star Blog, Dani @ andcute, Louise @ 30s Magazine and Geraldine @ Little Big Bell. I also made lots of new friends and have spent lots of time yesterday and today checking out a whole host of new blogs. 

I thought I'd give you a little behind the scenes look at what we got up during the first day at the conference. The conference took place at the ME Hotel on the Strand in London which has only recently opened. The staff could not have been more helpful and friendly which was lovely as 5* hotels can sometimes be a little intimidating I think. 


So, the photograph on the left is the most impossible to photograph room in the world... the hotel reception. It is a giant pyramid that is several stories high and they project images onto the marble walls. You can just about make out the New York skyline - very apt since this is where I am off to next on my blogging adventures. Next is a quick snap from the top of the hotel. We were given a guided tour of the hotel after the conference, it was amazing to see the view because despite the grey weather, London is still so spectacular. It was funny to see the Shard looming in the background, as a non-Londoner these days it still seems very new to me. 


Let's go clockwise through this few photos, first is me doing a demonstration during my workshop - thank you Dani for taking this photograph.  Next is Louise Smith from Dulux, the main sponsor of the conference, presenting the very latest in colours and interiors trends for 2013. It was a really interesting presentation with some fun and upbeat videos to keep us engaged. Dulux also provided some beautiful and super colourful treats which were delicious - I just managed to get this photo before they disappeared. Then the next photo  is me with my friend Tracey from Chalkboard Living. We already knew each other through our blogs and twitter so it was brilliant to finally meet her and say hello in real life. And lastly, along with the other speakers, I was presented with a lovely bunch of flowers from The Academy of Flowers at the end of the conference. They are now at home taking pride of place in the sitting room. 


After the conference, I got changed and headed over to Liverpool Street to the Andaz hotel for dinner. Louise had organised for us to exchange snailmail gifts. Have you heard of this? I hadn't but it's very simple, you basically prepare a small package for a friend - it's all about the wrapping rather than extravagant gifts. If you search for #snailmail on Pinterest you'll see some amazing examples. It was really fun to take part, I'll do a separate post on what I received. 

On Sunday morning a random platter of fresh fruit arrived in my hotel room. This was a very nice surprise but I am not sure who to thank, thank you whoever arranged this for me. It was delicious and I felt very healthy. For my first day off in over 2 weeks and since I was feeling shattered, I decided to lie in bed until 10:30am watching TV which was a total luxury. I caught up on the tweets and instagram pics from the day before and watched the Sunday brunch programme on channel 4 which is a bit of a guilty pleasure - I find those two guys quite funny to watch. Shhh don't tell anyone.

I included this last shot of the clothes I wore to the design tour because I can completely obsessed with the scarves from Oliver Bonas. Have you seen them? Take a look here. I love my turquoise big spot scarf, I also have it in grey. I wear scarves all year round, I just love them. My husband admitted to me that when we first met he thought I must have boils on my neck because I always wore scarves. How flattering. Anyway, I digress... So, this was what I got up to on Saturday and a bit of Sunday - a little behind the scenes for you. 

I'll post separately about the design tour led by Tina Bernstein from the Colour Living blog so watch out for that soon. Have a good day everyone and stay warm and toasty if you're in the UK (brrr). 

Monday, 11 March 2013

BlogTourNYC || How It Works

Hi everyone, well Monday is here again and I'm ready for this week to get going! I spent the weekend in London for the Meet The Blogger conference this weekend which was brilliant fun, super interesting and very inspiring. It was also a wonderful experience for me personally to be able to speak and present a workshop to my lovely fellow bloggers. I'm just waiting for all the photos to appear magically on my computer via the icloud but it does seem to be taking a while. As soon as they appear, I will be putting together a few posts so you catch up with what I got up to. 

So, in the meantime since I've spent a good chunk of today doing research for BlogTourNYC I would share some more info with you on this upcoming trip. As I mentioned in my last post on BlogTourNYC, none of it would be possible without Modenus or the amazing sponsors. 


For those of you who aren't familiar with Modenus, it is essentially a networking and resource platform for the interior design community. So if you're into design + interiors + connecting - this is definitely something you should take a look at. The thing I like most about Modenus is the sheer wealth of information and inspiration on the site. There are forums where design bloggers and professionals can connect and discuss different topics and it's also completely free to use. A great feature are the before + after submissions which are always fun to take a look at - like this one by Elza B Design.

Also, for anyone reading who is a design / interiors blogger and you're interested in writing a guest blog, submitting Before & After images or if you want to cover a trade show or event - you can connect with Modenus via their website, facebook or twitter

So, the other big thank you is to the sponsors of BlogTourNYC. These are the companies, that together with Modenus, make this all possible. Over the last few weeks I've been connecting with these sponsors via twitter and facebook and doing some research into their businesses. I have to say, as a small business owner myself - it is truly inspiring to see how a business can grow and develop over time. 

Image credit: Modenus 

So, thank you so much to Miele, Mr. Steam, Silestone by Cosentino, Blanco, Poggenpohl, Du Verre, Barber Wilsons, NKBA, Jenn Air and Victoria + Abert for making BlogTourNYC a reality. I'm going to be doing separate blog posts on each of the sponsors so you can find out more about them. 

And lastly, I received the itinerary for BlogTourNYC last Friday, oh my goodness it is jam packed with fantastic events such as the 12th annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show (ah.mazing) and I also discovered we are all going to be staying at On The Avenue hotel in New York which also looks ah.mazing. I am so excited. 
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Image credit: On The Ave, New York
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Do you want to come with me? I'd love to pack you in my suitcase, but since I'll probably be over my baggage allowance anyway (options, obvs), you can subscribe for the latest blog posts which then drop into your email inbox each day by clicking on "subscribe by email" on the top right hand side of this page. If you're on facebook, twitter, pinterest or instagram (handle @westegguk) you can also follow me on there and see what we get up to. 

Okay, I'm off to inspect the cloud and see if my photos have popped up yet - fingers crossed. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

BlogTourNYC || Meet My Fellow Bloggers

Wow, it's been a busy few weeks here and I have a feeling that BlogTourNYC which kicks off on 19th March is going to come round pretty quickly. Not complaining obviously. If you follow West Egg on Twitter you may have seen various tweets flying around covering topics from the annual Marys & Mimosas party at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, panicking about ESTA forms, what to pack, carry on vs checked luggage etc etc. I know, tough isn't it...

In the midst of all this excitement and panic, I thought it might be nice to actually introduce you to the 13 other fabulous bloggers who are also attending BlogTourNYC. I'd encourage you to click on the links below to check out their blogs because it's a brilliantly eclectic mix with something for everyone.

I feel extremely privileged to be among such wonderful bloggers and I'm so excited to share this experience with them. Thank you of course to the amazing team at Modenus for making this all possible and you can follow the Modenus blog which is obviously brilliant by clicking here.



From left to right:
  1. Kate Watson-Smth || Journalist specialising in interiors and design || madaboutthehouse.com  
  2. Gem Barton || Director at Studio Barton Bandy, Designer + Columinst || gembarton.com
  3. Zoe Brewer || Creative Director of My Interior Stylist || My Interior Stylist
  4. Ricarda Nieswandt || Social Media Manager + Founder of BLOGST ||  “23qm Stil”
  5. Mike Welton || Writer + Editor || Architects + Artisans 
  6. Lisa Goulet || Interior Designer || Lisa Goulet Design 
  7. Irene Turner || Interior Designer || Irene Turner Litle Bits of Beauty 
  8. Michael Ryan || Product Developer + Trend Forecaster || Michael Ryan
  9. Lori Gilder || CEO + Founder of Interior Makeovers || Diary of a Renovation 
  10. Emily Blunden || Interiors and Props Stylist + Writer || Atticus and Finch
  11. Heather Jenkinson || Interior Designer || Living in a Pretty How Town
  12. Marie-Louise Munter || Brand Strategist + Design Blogger || Miss Design Says
  13. Desiree Groenendal || Interior and Lifestyle Blogger || Vosgesparis
  14. Me! 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Brights + Pastels in San Juan

If you're in the UK today, chances are it's sunny where you are...doesn't it feel amazing? I was so happy to get up this morning and see blue skies, feel the warmth of the sun, hear the birds chattering - everything just felt brilliant, like Spring is finally here. And it's been lovely and sunny all day so far. I've been working in the studio today while my husband is working on the house so we took our lunch break together outside. Ah, bliss. 

One of the things I've been doing today is putting together some images for a project I'm working on. As I was scanning through folder after folder, some bright pastel images caught my eye. I know the trend for pastels has been around for over a year so it's nothing new, but it is refreshing and fun isn't it? Anyway, I opened the folder and found all the photos from a holiday we took to the British Virgin Islands in 2011. During that trip we visited San Juan and did you know, they paint all the buildings there in brights and pastels? 


Spanish colonial architecture dominates old San Juan, and I had a lovely 10 minutes reminiscing / day-dreaming about this trip. I think the blue sky today has cheered everything up and I've changed my desktop image to a collage of these wonderful images. I hope you find them inspiring too. 







I think my favourite is the mint green, it's so lovely. We've got some paints coming in from our wonderful supplier Autentico Paints this month and they have a lovely mint colour called "herbs". I am definitely feeling inspired to use this on a piece soon.