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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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What to do With Old Paintings? Make Them Cool Again!


vintage painting

One thing you can do to give your home a new look is hang good paintings on the walls. Perhaps you already have some paintings up on display but if they have been there for quite some time or if they were painted years ago, it is a good idea to invest some time in cleaning them up.

All paintings get stained and collect dirt over time which makes them dark. Cleaning up a painting will allow the vibrant colors to show again. Hanging up paintings is an inexpensive way of sprucing up the interiors. So if you don’t have any paintings already, buy some art prints.

Here are some things you can do by yourself if you happen to find an old print that you like.

Repairing Tears
The first thing you need to do is check the print for any tears. If you do find a tear remember to never use adhesive tape to repair it. Use starch paste and Japanese tissue paper or Ilene’s glue and a piece of cotton canvas to repair the tear.

Start with laying out the painting on a flat and clean surface. Use a backing paper beneath the painting at the place of the tear. The dimensions of the Japanese tissue or cotton canvas should be a little longer and wider than the tear itself. Apply the starch paste or glue onto the tissue paper or the canvas. Stick the tissue paper or canvas onto the tear.

Now place acid-free tissue paper over this spot. Place a book or any other heavy object to apply even pressure on the treated area. Leave it to dry in this position undisturbed for a day.

You might see some white lines around the tear when you turn the painting over. Use a fine-tipped brush to touch-up the colors and no-one will be able to notice the tear.

Cleaning
Hanging a painting over a fireplace or in a smoking room will cause soot and grime to collect on it, making it very dull. A painting needs to be cleaned carefully. If one isn’t careful, paint can come off along with the dirt.

Place your painting upright and start by using a dry brush. Gently rub it all over the painting. Work from the top towards the bottom of the painting. Bread with a doughy consistency such as sourdough will also be great to get rid of the dirt on the painting. Scoop out the inner portion of the bread and roll it over the painting. The dirt will stick onto it easily.

You may wish to take your painting outside the house for this step to avoid creating a mess inside. You can brush off the bread crumbs using a dry brush. Do this carefully; crumbs left behind can become a breeding ground for mold and insects.

Restoring
A painting consists of many layers; first a primer is used on the canvas, followed by paint and lastly, about two coats of varnish. Varnish yellows as it ages. Aged varnish can be removed by using a varnish remover.

Test the varnish remover or emulsion cleaner on a small area before you start. Use cotton swabs dipped in the solution to clean the painting. The cotton swabs need to be rolled back and forth gently. Never scrub the painting.

Avoid dipping used and dirty swabs into the cleaning product you’re using. Make sure you only work on small areas at a time. Stop immediately if you feel you are removing paint along with the varnish.

Once the varnish has been removed, allow the painting to dry completely. You can touch up the painting with paints as required. Allow the painting to dry again and then apply a fresh coat of varnish.

Varnish should be applied with a flat-bristled brush. Apply only in one direction so that brush strokes aren’t obvious. Once dry, apply another coat using brush strokes in the opposite direction for an even finish. Varnish will seal the painting and protect the cleaned surface from dust.

Framing
If you find that the frame is rotting or has become dull, you should definitely get a new frame for the painting. A frame in the right material and color can make a painting look better than it actually is. The right frame can also help any painting fit in with the existing decor in a room.

If you are going to frame the painting by yourself, be sure to use acid-free backing and paper wherever necessary. If the painting is going to be hung in a humid environment, avoid wood or metal frames and go for acrylic, glass or stainless steel.

Hanging or Storing
Avoid hanging the painting in places where it will be subjected to moisture, smoke or direct sunlight. Paintings should normally be hung at eye-level. But if you are planning to hang a painting in a corridor or a place where people may bump into it accidentally, hang it a little higher.

If you wish to store the painting, use bubble wrap and acid-free tissue paper to cover it on both sides and then place it in a box. You can line the box with acid-free tissue paper too. Store the box away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing paintings in attics or basements as temperatures and humidity levels in these places are often damaging to paintings.

Conclusion
Adding paintings to your house is quite an inexpensive way to make an impression on your guests. You only need to look for good paintings. If you come across a nice painting that needs restoration work, you can save a lot of money by restoring the painting yourself.

Just be careful while you restore a painting. If the painting is expensive and you aren’t sure of yourself, you can leave the job to professionals.

Author Bio
Sophia Mann writes on paintings and art. Her interest in the visual arts developed early when she attempted to duplicate a drawing her brother had brought home as a school assignment. She has been fascinated with this medium of artistic expression ever since. She also paints in her spare time.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Entranced by the Perfect Entrance to Your Home


entrance with plants

Do you ever put your key in your front door, only to have it fall off at the hinges? Does your doormat have the durability of used toilet paper? Do people regularly throw bits of rubbish at your doorstep because they’ve mistaken it for a skip?

Yeah, you might want to consider sprucing up your entrance. Your doorway is the first impression any visitors will get of your home, so you have to make sure it’s in tiptop condition. So, what can you do? Simply try a few of these tips.

dirt trapper door mat
A matter of mats
You know what it’s like – you wipe your feet on your doormat, only for it to hold about as much dirt as a broken toy dump truck. Although you could pick up a doormat for a quid from bargain shops, investing in dirt-trapper mats will scrape muck from your soles with gusto.

To complement your mat, add in a sizeable shoe rack by your door to stop any errant muck trailing around your home.

A door to adore
If your door is choc-a-bloc with dents, scratches and paint that’s more faded than the career of Les Dennis, then a new one would be a great purchase. In what scientists are referring to as a “Goldilocks’s Door”, you should be searching for something firm enough for security but aesthetically pleasing enough to welcome you into your home. It’s also important to match your door with the rest of your house. After all, it’d be a bit weird if your door was an intricate Art Deco affair while the rest of the place was a 19th century townhouse. Make it match and you’ll have a door to adore.

Flora to fawn over
Have you ever dreamed of owning an entrance resembling a pastoral work of art? You know the type – a gentle trellised archway covered in vines standing before a cobbled path up to a doorway drenched in the pungent scent of roses.

It might seem like a pipe dream, but you can create a pleasant atmosphere with the use of a few plants. Some roses, a small plant pot, a handful of hydrangeas – the possibilities for plant life are almost endless, with an array of colours and smells to feast your eyes and nose upon. And once you’ve got these scents sorted, you’ll have an entrance that you won’t want to leave.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

vintage truck parts become iconic sculptural benches


chevy tailgate bench

A great green concept – take some junkyard salvage and transform it into industrial art – in this case functional benches that can also serve as rustic sculptures. These benches have been created from the remains of vintage Ford and Chevy trucks, reclaimed wood, some heavy duty old chain and other discarded industrial waste.

ford vintage tailgate bench

Rusty Gold, of Tyler, Texas-based, Recycled Salvage, has made recycling an art form by creating a variety of welded items from recycled and reclaimed materials. We particularly like his line of benches that feature old pickup truck tailgates and grills.

chevy apache grill bench

Rusty taught himself to weld just a few months ago and now he’s pursuing his dream as a designer and scrap art specialist. These handmade, hand-welded benches range in price for around $1,000 to $1,500 @ recycledsalvage

related: more green design finds on The Alternative Consumer

 

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How to Brighten Up Your House for the Summer Sun


shutters and garden

Summer is here and enjoying the sun should be your number one priority. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy – especially when you have kids, work and general chores to contend with.

For those who find much of their day needs to be spent indoors, letting the light in and brightening up your house can allow you to enjoy the beautiful summer days. Here are a few tips on how to do it.

Flowers
Not everyone can afford to entirely redesign their house in the summer, but an easy way of embracing the light and keeping your home airy and free is through flowers. A small bouquet in a tasteful vase can elevate a room from dark winter warmth to fresh summer light.

Clean
Throughout the winter months, it’s easy to hoard items we don’t really need. Avoiding stepping into the brutal cold air means your house can become a collection of old and dated cupboard fillers that you really could do without. Invite the summer in with a clean out of your cupboards, wardrobes and drawers and create an open free space to enjoy the summer. You’ll also be able to make room for a new summer wardrobe – and some tasty summer treats!

 Accessories
Blankets, rugs and thick curtains and the order of cold, brisk winters but a good dose of homey accessorising can help bring summer into your home and lighten the whole room.
Opt for light linen curtains and light coloured bedding will help your house look summery and reflect light.

special shapes shutters

Shutters
Another great year-round solution to lightening your house is shutters. Purely Shutters offer a wide range of designs and colours that can help you create a versatile look that brings in the light during summer and keeps the cold out during winter. What more could you want?

Light, light, light
If your home struggles to receive sufficient natural light to brighten it up then why not fill the void with artificial light? Place lamps or spotlights in strategic places and use bright but energy-efficient bulbs to achieve the best impact.

If you have a chance to redecorate a little this summer, stick to light colours for your walls and furniture, bringing colour in through accessories. Whites and light greys help keep a room free and airy whilst blue and green accessories maintain character in the room.

So, there you have it. Enjoy the good weather with a bright and light room that can bring that summer smile inside … even when you can’t get outside!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 reclaimed pallet wood coffee tables


grey pallet wood coffee table

Great furniture can be created from unlikely raw materials – in this case the recycled remains of wooden shipping pallets. Why not utilize the character and hidden charm of this wood to create something new and compelling, like a super-rustic coffee table (pictured above).  This table is the creation of woodworking craftsman, Matt Rivera. The stylishly stout table is constructed of reclaimed pallet wood and 4 X 4′s. Perfect for a beachy patio, deck or sun room – $250.

reclaimed wood coffee table

If your interior design taste trends more “Martha Stewart” white, shabby chic, or farmhouse rustic this table (above) – handmade by Yonder Years – may suit your style. All materials used in this table’s construction are recycled or reclaimed and all edges have been rounded and sanded for a touch-friendly, rustic finish. Each piece of pallet wood is hand-selected for its knots, character and color. $345

indoor outdoor pallet wood coffee table

(above) This table’s great weathered, distressed finish was created from an expertly applied combo of paint, stain, white wash and woodworking expertise. The coffee table, which can be finished for indoor or outdoor use, looks likes it’s spent many years on a secluded Maine beach. Made in Canada by Silviculture Designs $192.53

union jack pallet wood table

Jack Fouracre is the son of a great woodcutter and craftsman and spent his formative years surrounded by all manner of wood and carpentry projects. He now makes his own furniture creations, primarily from reclaimed and upcycled wood. His “Union Jack” coffee table (above) – created from reclaimed pallet wood – features an inlaid Union Jack design (more…)

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Monday, July 7, 2014

upcycled home decor – wine barrel lights


wine barrel ring and stave chandelier

These handmade lighting fixtures are created from the upcycled components of old wine barrels, aged and stained by years of storing some of California’s finest vino.
wine barrel ring light
Artist Michael Weiss and his band of California artisans create hundreds of products, pieces of furniture and home decor items from reclaimed grapevines, vintage wine barrels and other recycled and natural materials. Basic materials used in the making of these lighting fixtures: wine barrels, wine barrel rings, chain, wine barrel rings, wine barrel staves and a heavy dose of fine craftsmanship.

wine barrel stave light

You can find these lights (beginning at $80) and dozens of other handcrafted artisan items at the Wine Country Craftsman shop.

related: more eclectic home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, June 30, 2014

out of the ashes comes light – reclaimed wood light sculpture


reclaimed wood lamp top

California based designer and artist, Paul Foeckler, creates illuminated sculptures that utilize light to reveal the elemental form and physical character of reclaimed wood. The piece, pictured above and below, is created from a piece of reclaimed Incense Cedar that was found in the remains and ashes of a forest fire a few years ago in the Angeles National Forest.

reclaimed wood lamp

Horizontal shafts of lights are revealed through suspended layers created out of what was once a solid chunk of cedar. An internal light reveals a center knot and the character, grain and texture of the original wood. The piece is mounted on a handmade and waxed natural steel base with felt bottom for a scratch-free surface and is connected via a 6 foot woven black cloth cord. This minimalist, natural sculpture is available for $400 from Split Grain

related: more eco-friendly home decorating ideas from The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top Tips to Make Your Conservatory More Eco-Friendly


Ahh, the British summertime … you can almost wear a t-shirt outdoors without freezing to death.

We’re joking, of course, but the capricious nature of Dear Old Blighty’s weather can make picketing the Met Office an agreeable idea. Admittedly, much of this unpredictability stems from climate change, with the Met Office’s chief scientist admitting the UK had recently seen its “most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years”. Yep, it seems the weather is set to carry on spoiling our summer barbecues and putting paid to our t-shirt suntans unless attitudes towards energy efficiency in the home begin to change.

Sunlounge glass conservatory

Considering the often disagreeable climate then, it’s no surprise conservatories are the latest must have addition for the discerning homeowner, with over 200,000 new structures popping up each year. But before you rush out to Conservatories R Us clutching a sodden clump of £50 notes and a thirst for additional living space, the energy efficiency requirements must first be considered ….

sunlounge conservatory

Heating and Cooling
We all know the Earth revolves around the sun (don’t we?). As such, it should be fairly obvious that where your conservatory is placed will determine your heating and cooling needs.

This is important because of the amount of energy you’ll potentially use – and its effect on the environment. Interestingly, 28 per cent of the UK’s CO2 output comes from the energy we consume in our homes, but erecting a conservatory can actually SLASH your emissions. How? Because your conservatory offers protection from the cold during the winter months, playing its part in keeping the rest of the home warm and negating the need to fiddle with the thermostat.

Importantly, if your conservatory faces south, it’s going to get pretty warm in there. This isn’t all bad, though, as the heat from the conservatory will also warm up the interior of your property. For this to work effectively, the conservatory and the main part of your home must have doors separating them, and vents and blinds in place to stop it becoming unbearably hot.

Edwardian glass conservatory

Glass, Blinds and Vents
Of course, no conservatory is complete without glass – but, for the eco-friendly among us, any old glass simply won’t do. Instead, it’s important to opt for glass replete with a low U-Factor, as this type of glazing offers much higher levels of energy efficiency. Not only that, it will help keep your conservatory cool during particularly warm periods, which means your costly air conditioning unit can continue gathering dust in the garage.

As far as blinds go, you can choose from roller or vertical, with both options helping to reduce the amount of sunlight seeping in, allowing you to control the temperature of the room.

Finally, it’s vital your conservatory is kitted out with vents and louvers to let fresh air into the space, lest you choke on your own sense of self satisfaction at your eco-friendly ways …

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