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Antelope in a leotard!

Vintage shop update Ella Johnston Yeah, here’s an antelope in a leotard. What of it?

I picked up this wooden antelope ages ago for 50p and, while I love it, this guy was looking a bit tatty and old. Then I saw a great craft project idea from Handsome Vintage who upcycles retro wooden creatures and pimps them up to make them ‘hipster’. Handsome Vintage has a wonderful collection of hand-painted pieces with intricate patterns and bright colours – it’s such a bright and original revamp idea so I thought I’d give it a go with my little guy.
Vintage shop update Ella Johnston I sanded old Andy the Antelope down (there’s another Ella’s Menagerie back story post due soon – Andy has an amazing tale to tell) and gave him a paint with bright yellow acrylic paint. Then I used a white posca pen to give the leotard a 1980s-inspired pattern. I gave him a spray of varnish too so his ‘tard stays in place.
Vintage shop update Ella Johnston Unlike Handsome Vintage, I have no intention of selling Andy. He has now become a firm favourite in our house, beloved particularly by Dr B of all people.Vintage shop update Ella Johnston I’m now obviously on the hunt for other charity shop animals (wooden or ceramic) that I can give similar treatments to. And, once she’s back from maternity leave, may purchase some brothers and sisters from HV.

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Monday Moodboard: Paint strokes

Ella Johnston Monday Moodboard Paint Strokes Visceral and expressive, paint strokes look so cool. Expect to see a lot of these on homewares and fashion next year as they are set to be a key design trend for 2017, hence this week’s Monday Moodboard. You can go for simple lines or big painterly blocks, either way you’ve got a stark, contemporary look made a little warmer with the suggestion of the human hand.

Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by Ella Johnston. dunlinpress.com
Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by me!

These simple marks are very effective and are a real short-cut to a stylish, minimal look. They also say so much, I used them as an illustration device in the Dunlin Press book Est, Collected Reports of Easy Anglia  to suggest landscape and horizons.
est1

Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by Ella Johnston. dunlinpress.com
Est: Collected reports from East Anglia, Dunlin Press. Illustration and design by me.

est2

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Finished plant of the fortnight: Purple Sweetpea

Plant of the fortnight, watercolour purple sweet pea illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

As I mentioned in my last post I was looking forward to being a bit free and easy with my watercolour for this finished sweetpea illustration. And I was;  I applied lots of layers of watery purples, blues and pinks for this colour version so, much so I had to finish it in two sessions as there was no way the black pigment ink would sit on it until the piece was completely dry.

As we’re well into summer I think I’m going to continue with larey looking, brightly coloured blooms for my up-coming plant of the fortnights, so no matter what the actual weather we’ve got something to either amplify the heat or to warm us up.

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Hack: An Easy Way to Embrace Pastels

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

As part of my on-going efforts to revamp my bedroom I’ve been looking to add a sense of calm and tranquility to the space. If you saw my previous post on the pastel trend you’ll see these tones are being touted as perfect for providing as sense of calm and relaxation and are currently dominating the high street.

I wanted an easy way to embrace pastels while giving my boudoir an handmade artisan touch. I also don’t want to commit myself to one colour or style yet as I’m still undecided as to how I want the room just yet. I needed a flexible update that I could change, so I got out my paints…

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

First I painted a small canvas with a very simple layers of light, rose and dusky pinks to create a pop of gentle colour to brighten up my side tables.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I liked my quick canvas but I wanted something to tie things together. I then remembered a project I did last year for Homemaker magazine. It was really simple but incredibly effective and all it involved was a set of acrylic paints and some filled glass candle votives.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

My house always has scented candle glass votives – I pick them up when I’m doing my grocery shopping and, if you don’t pick a pungent fragrance (give them a sniff) and don’t mind a shorter life span, you can buy them for about £1.50. I’ve used a rough, coarse brush to apply lilac and serenity blue paint on the base of the glass as I want a tactile, painterly feel to these pieces.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

They look fab on my bedside cabinets and I love the way they look when they are lit after I take a bath (I love a little spa feel) and when I’m reading in the evening or when unlit as a colourful ornament during the day. They also make great gifts for people too – I’ve done a couple of these for friends as part of a ‘relaxation box’ (more on that later) and they have loved them. Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

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13 quick pastel updates

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Ferns Duck Egg Bed Linen £55, Secret Linen Store

I was out shopping with Dr B last week and he remarked how many pastel shades there were on the high street. It’s funny, as someone who looks at trends all the time and who is always looking at colourways, I’m used to pastels – I forget that by the time they hit the shops, I’m looking at the next new thing.

At the start of the year Pantone launched its colours for 2016; Rose Quartz and Serenity, stating that the colours “demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace”.  As well as championing the colours themselves, the company also outlined some exquisite colour pairings that can imbue a sense of calm and relaxation.

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Christy Supreme Towel Range Pink £30, Very

It’s simple to add a sense of tranquility to your spaces with the addition of soft pastels. These cool shades can really brighten interiors as well as set a soothing mood. And you don’t have to go full-on with pastel, simple touches will do. A bed spread, a pop of pink with some fluffy towels (as seen above), a subtle bud vase or some simple lighting could be all you need to embrace this trend. Here’s a little sampler of more pastel themed buys…

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Geo Stripe Throw £65, Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set Of Eight Colour Pop Porcelain T-light Holders £19.95, dotcomgiftshop
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set of two Roef Chairs in Serenity Blue £180, Cuckooland
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
M&S Loft Mixing Bowl in Pastel Mix (set of 3) £15, Marks & Spencer
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Blue Swirl Glass Table Lamp £60, Next
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Rose Geometric Bud Vase £12.95, MiaFleur
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Eva Five-Drawer Jewellery Box £69. Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Colours Oxygen Emulsion Paint, B&Q
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Rarkids Pink Natural, £35, Cult Furniture
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Recycled Pastel Paisley Green Trinket Box, £7.50, Karenza & Co
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set Of 3 Pastel Retro Suitcases, £13.94. Luck and Luck
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Pastel Lustre Vases (set Of 3), £42. MiaFleur

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DIY: Scandi folk pattern boxes

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I don’t know about you but I have been addicted to BBC Two’s Great Interior Design Challenge, I love the whole thing; the architectural history, updating spaces, adding special touches and answering client briefs, the reveal, everything. I’ve watched the show since it started and am always inspired by the ideas that the amateur designers come up with and the advice and insights the experts outline.

This series has seen loads of creative ideas and I was particularly struck by Lucy Tiffney’s Scandinavian Folk bedroom. I love the way that illustration, painting, craft and interior design have crossed over in this project and the sweet, rustic lines and simple motifs, executed in a muted colourway. I couldn’t wait to reconnect with some folky drawing myself.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Freshly inspired, I set about studying Scandinavian patterns. Some of my favourites are pinned on my Pinterest board. What’s lovely about these designs is they are so easy to recreate and then add your own twist to. From simple stem and leaf motifs, lovely lace edges and symmetrical composition, this folky style is great for when you want to achieve an effective looking, intricate decoration without feeling you have to be hugely technical or an amazing drawer.

I had some plain cardboard heart-shaped boxes that were in need of updating. I gave them a lick of light blue paint that really suited traditional Scandinavian design. I then set about drawing my design onto tracing paper. I drew half the design then folded the paper to create a mirror image. Then I simply transferred the designs onto the painted boxes.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I finished the traced design with felt-tip pen. I chose to use black and blue pen for a strong contrasting look with the light blue but I reckon this would also look lovely in traditional red and cream.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Had my motifs been larger I would have painted them on – and I am considering doing something with a piece of furniture for a funky little upcycling project. This kind of thing would look really effective on a bedside cabinet or storage box.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I’m storing ribbons and buttons in these boxes (I have so many of both) but I’m sure you could fill these with pretty tissue paper and treats (chocolates or toiletries) for a thoughtful gift. Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

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Easy garden furniture refurb with Americana Decor

Simple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana Decor

Last Sunday I got to spend time in our little garden while doing some quick garden furniture maintenance. As you can see above, the folding chairs we’ve had for well over a decade have taken the force of some dismal British winters – and summers, for that matter – first on our London balcony and then here in Wivenhoe. Of course we should have moved them indoors when it rained – but when it rained it was rainy, so we didn’t venture outside. In winter we’d forget about them. Surely we’re not the only ones!

I recently got hold of some really rather lovely Chalky Finish paint from Americana Decor. It’s a matte chalk paint that doesn’t need priming or wood to be sanded down before using – perfect to upgrade an old piece of furniture when you’re short on time (or perhaps just a little lazy). To protect the surface the quick-drying paint is finished with a choice of waxes and varnishes. It really was so simple to apply.

Simple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana Decor Simple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana DecorSimple garden furniture update decoration at https://ellasplace.co.uk with DecoArt Americana DecorThe chair was finished in less than a couple of hours– which left me free to enjoy the late-afternoon sunshine.