Copper and marble bedside tables. An Ikea hack.

The last couple of months have been somewhat of a blur of building dust and disorientation. These things are all going on… 1. The upstairs of the house has been knocked down in the middle 2. We’ve has builders starting work at 8am in our bedroom Monday-Friday while we are still using it to sleep in. The baby is turning 2, learning to use a big bed and learning to get up, find me in the night and make sure I am awake and giving her attention. Kicking has proven most effective and the method so she seems happy sticking with that. There have been so many changes and wonderful things to buy and make for what feels like an entirely new house… where to start?

Well an Ikea hack,  of course. A good cheap one.

I feel like I have looked at every. bedside. table. in the whole world. Its not been an item that’s justified being on the spendy items list. It’s hardly an investment piece. Nevertheless, the bedside table is there, faithfully standing by you night and day and looking after all the little nick nacks most precious. It deserves to be at least a bit lovely.

I decided that I wanted marble. And copper is, of course, a fave.  I have a painted bed so a standard Annie Sloan job to a normal wooden bedside table wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something a little more statement. I actually didn’t really have a spare £400 to get one I really liked… make that  £800 for a pair of them. £11 seemed like a better idea.

I bought a couple of the Ikea Nesna bedside tables. I didn’t want anything too chunky and these are delicate, light, yet still have a storage shelf so you don’t have to be overly minimalistic. They’re also £9 – ahhhh, hurray for that.

I painted the whole lot up first with Annie Sloan Old White and wax.  The top shelf is glass but I didn’t insert that when putting it together and wanted to use that as the middle shelf. The slats across are rather charming but I opted to leave them out and rotate the 2 sides by 90 degrees so that the middle shelf doesn’t show the holes for the slats. I then stuck the glass (which should be the table top) onto the frame. I used tile adhesive for this but in hindsight I think using a glue gun would have been less messy and less visible. After I’d put it all together I tightened the screws so they went in as far I they would go and used polyfilla to cover them. (sanding this down and applying paint again) I wanted to place it so that the widest side faced fowards so these silver screws would have been a little obvious otherwise.

The marble effect table tops are made from floor tiles. I decided these were more durable and had a much smarter feel than adhesive plastic coating. They were also cheaper. I ordered 2 different styles of sample marble floor tile and they were delivered to my door for the grand total of £2.50. They were much bigger than that table top but we had a borrowed tile cutter to do the bathroom so chopped them to sit over the top of the table with a couple of cms overhang. I expect I could have found ones closer to the table size (I actually ordered the tiles before I had even chosen the table). The edging didn’t actually look as bad as I expected. I thought it would look very raw and exposed but I could have happily left it as a tile top (there’s a post on my instagram of this mid-way stage with just the tile on the table with the slats still on). I do like a fancy finishing touch though and had ordered this copper tape from amazon and used it  (just as a sellotape but with much sharper edges… be warned) and wrapped it around the tile edge. It just so happened to be exactly the same width. (I am of course going to pretend I measured it and ordered the perfect one intentionally… my dad thinks I am a scatty, disorganised decorator so I love a good fluke) I used tile adhesive again to attach the tile to the top of the table frame.

And there you have it. Super easy, super cheap and super pretty (and manly of course… Joel is v.happy to have his cup of tea sitting here)

I am by no means a tidy diy-er and am fully aware these could have been made a whole lot better by a more patient person who doesnt rush decorating jobs at 1am in the dark. Someone else out there could make a beautiful go of these. If so please tag me so I can see and feel like a useful sort of soul.


Chalkboard Wall

IMG_4517This is a DIY job I’ve been drudging my way towards for a too long. We’ve had a chalk wall in the kitchen-diner for a about 6 years. We flirted with a pale blue one for a bit of a change when I was pregnant, but I missed our chalk wall too much and realising I told practically eveyone who came round and commented on our interior that we ‘used to have a whole chalk board wall here’, basically we needed it back. We love it.

So there have been a couple of patches where we’ve taken some speakers down (I evidently painted it in a hurry and didn’t think to go behind these) and then there was the Christmas mistake.

I got some beautiful white chalk pencils from Father Christmas and thought it was the answer to all ‘not being able to write neatly in stubby chalk’ issues. So I scrawled some Christmas carols on the wall, not particularly neatly, not even necessarily the right words even. Then after Christmas I went to clear it and it stayed completely put. Oh. Ok then.

So, I’ve needed to paint over. It’s never the most inspiring job. I’m not good at prep work or anything that doesn’t have the instantaneous wow factor of a big change. So that’s why it’s stayed Christmas on our walls until February.

I decided to opt for the Annie Sloan chalk paint this time, rather than the traditional chalk board paint and actually I’ve rather loved it and had a much better afternoon of DIY than expected. I bought a pot of ‘Graphite’ – which is basically the chalkboard black but I mixed it into an almost finished pot of the Annie Sloan ‘Old White’. I was advised to water the paint down to use on walls so that did make the paining quicker (although a fair bit splattier too) and applied it with a small roller. I always use the radiator rollers to avoid too much arm ache. I found it went on black but dried fairly quickly as a lovely matt charcoal grey. The whole wall took me about an hour to do… and then task over. Time for a bubble bath.

I promise the last image shows a wonky panoramic picture and not wonky walls or wonky paining!

All ready to use bog standard, non permanent chalk to cover it with hearts and love things for valentines day.

My DIY Christmas: The Notice Boards

I’m not going to lie. There’s not been as much crafting at the Toombs house in recent days. I do wonder how I managed to make a tipi, a mobile, sew cloud cushions, mould bath bombs, make 2 christmas puddings and hand tie tutus for the month of December last year. I guess the baby was not mobile, or so vocal.

This year the DIY comes more in the form of sourcing cheaper versions of cool expensive things. Ok. It’s not actually DIY at all. We’re planning some big room move around in the next few months and all excitement is set on the bigger 2 and their planning of their ‘cool new rooms’. I’ve been trying to hold back from getting them TOO many bits for them for Christmas. There is no where to put it all until the move happens but at the same time I do love being able to buy useful Christmas gifts. The pictures above are my pinterest goals. They both will need to priorotise a working desk space in their new rooms and though they both love the retro industrial look I want to make sure each of their spaces are characterised differently to mark the move from a shared boy/girl room into seperate spaces.

I love these retro peg boards. We had one in our old office which was still around from the 70s. I didn’t expect I’d be hunting online a couple of years later and seeing small pieces available for around the £90 mark. I wanted one for Elijah’s room that would be big enough to spread most of the width of a desk and they were looking rather pricey so I found a plain board on ebay for the grand sum of £6. I’ve taken some duck-egg Annie Sloan chalk paint to it and think it will do the trick just nicely. I just need to hunt down the best mix of attatchments to hang things from and love some of the bright pegs and shelves I’ve seen but have no idea where to source things like that from.

The grid is perfect for what I have in mind for Hollys room. I bought this 4 foot version for just under £20 from amazon. Again, its to span the width of the desk. For Christmas I plan to style it up for her with motivational postcards, prints, washi tape and bright bulldog clips. I think that might be more appealing than the plain grid in a bin bag that is currenty sitting in the loft!

I’m really keen to hear any suggestions of peg board accessories. I did order some really cure shaped wooden ones… which happen to be about 10x too big for the holes. Maths fail on that one. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Images all taken from Pinterest.

Advent Series Day 23: The DIY Nursery Mobile

IMG_0372I hunted high and low for a mobile I liked for Niema’s nursery. I really wanted to avoid a noisy plastic one. I’ve had bad experiences with the music going out of tune, the plastic cracking, the cot getting dented, the arm thing bending and the animals looking a bit like dead things on string. So I opted to get her an ipod to tick the music box (she listens to a wide variety of baby sleepy classical music that way rather than just one song) and promised to find her a pretty and non musical one to hang above her cot. I looked at some lovely ones on Etsy and almost bought one a couple of times but then when I found the Belle and Boo craft book and there was the most gorgeous mobile project in there that the kids saw and asked if we could make it. We decided it may be a nice thing for them to make for Niema for Christmas. I like the idea that we all make a handmade gift for each other. (We also have each picked out another family member to write a poem for this year – much like secret santa but not with money)

I bought the hoop from ebay and wraped it with some card I’d bought which match the Cable and Cotton lights in her nursery and some invisible thread. We sat together – (me and the 2 older children) and worked hard at this project all afternoon. Holly was drawing 33 hot air balloons, Elijah drawing from the bird templates, I did the clouds and was on cutting mat duty. Elijah rubbed out the pencil marks and Holly put sticky tape on all the folded balloons I’d scored. It was a team effort – and they did brilliantly with great attitudes. I painted the hoop white with some Annie Sloan pure and though I’ve still not tried it in the nursery… I THINK it should all go nicely! We’re all really pleased with the finished piece. It’s such a pretty idea and looks really interesting from underneath where all the balloon sections splay out which is the way she will see it when she’s in her cot.

I feel so sad there is only one more day of advent 😦 I think I love the projects we have been doing more than Christmas day itself. One more to go but I am certainly really pleased with todays and know the children will love giving this gift to their sister more than any other thing they’ve bought anyone. Hmmm how to wrap it though… it might just have to ang down inside my DIY tipi… ooh I need to post about that stress!


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Advent Day 12: Christmas Wrapping

IMG_0133Revisting those little gifts we bought on Christmas Shopping day, this evening was our chance to split off and wrap them up ready to go under the tree in 12 more sleeps!!!

My wrapping is mostly done in kraft paper – and some lovely kraft with white printed Christmas trees on. I bought it all last year in the sales (my taste is consistent enough) and kept it in the loft. I’ve teamed it with an ivory with gold polka dot one (top right above) I found in Sainsburys that was just too pretty to leave under the conveyor belt – and they look good together. I’ve also bought a tonne of neon ribbon from ebay. I love the brights with the kraft, white and gold… and its been super helpful this year as I’m adjusting to wrapping up for 3 children… so my neons have been colour coded.

I’ve done a couple with some lovely free free printables I’ve found too… and these seemed the most fun to let the children loose with to be creative. I wrapped up the little box of wrapping accessories above for them to open this morning and then each of them chose a printable to work with. I love these Merry and Bright and Christmas Tree ones from Lola Hoad… I love her style and have just bought some of her prints but she just lets you have these for free right here… click me CLICK ME and make pretty gifts!

And then this v. cool little printable set of paper and tags with this sweet little bunting is another freebie I came across by Amy Moss. You can find this one and (see how she styles her wrap NOT so much in the style of a hyperactive 8 year old – but rather tastefully and gorgeously) right here. This printable has been sitting ready for many many months to use and is one of last years but she has lots more new things in the holiday section of the site.

IMG_0307So yes… they were let loose with tape and ribbon and stickers. They are busy little gifts now aren’t they just!?


Advent Series Day 1: The Christmas Tree

December 1st! Christmas Tree Day!

IMG_0052Mondays are not a good day for our family to spend any time together. The kids are free after school but Joel gets in around 6 and then has to leave at 6.45 to go to job no 2… giving us a grand total of 45 mins together for dinner, catching up and ‘please just hold the baby so I can go and serve up dinner/wash up the milk bottles/microwave my cold cup of tea’ time. However it is the first of December and therefore a Christmas tree is utterly important and somehow we will fit it in!

I wanted today’s parcel to be a little more fun and I’ve recently realised that having 3 children means you can make full use of the 3 for 2 offers out there… so picked up these 3 fun little Christmas baubles from paperchase. Niema can’t hold hers for too long or she does pull the top off… but ooooh her little face watching the sequin confetti inside when we were in the shop!!! I think she’s going to really love a Christmas tree full of sparkles! So these are wrapped up, one for each child, with a tag for our tree trip to go and choose our real tree. A night of Christmas music and decorating is ahead 🙂

I use a happy face there… I do need to remember that last year we had a full family fallout over choosing the tree. I got my way even though Joel said it would drop and Elijah said it was too prickly and refused to look at it. I was pregnant and it WAS the most important thing in the world. The shape was perfect and the colour… and it was the perfect height… but it hurt us all, it dropped its pins. They were right and I was wrong. No family fights over the tree today… we have less than 45 mins to make the decision.


The Advent Series 2014


I’ve been doing this activity style advent calendar now for the last 3 years and it really has to be one of the highlights of our family year. I love December and think its worth milking the whole month for all the Christmassness it has to offer – it is the only chance we get afterall.

December is already full of events, preperations, jobs we have to do, jobs we love to do, things to see, crafts to make, foods to enjoy… so rather than struggling to fit these things and juggle the busy-ness I sit carefully with my calendar at the end of November and plan these activities in as an advent calendar for the family. Each day has a parcel containing a clue, a ‘ticket’, some ingredients or a recipe, a craft, a trip…basically something we ‘do’ that day.

The children love this so much. They have been talking about it non stop. It really feels like Christmas starts in the morning here. They talk about their favourite activities of previous years and the ones they really hope we’ll do again. They really are so excited. Some of the days are mundane things… this isn’t a costly thing at all. I don’t think there is anything in the parcels that I’ve bought for the sake of this Advent Series… its all things we would do anyway. For example one of the days is a pack of their Christmas cards and a bag of chocolate coins so that they can write their class cards. Wrapping this up as an activity in a parcel makes this ‘urrrgh’ task into something they feel excited to do… and means it gets done in one evening rather than dragging on and on and on as it can do!

So as we start the next 24 days of advent I will be blogging each activity we do, and if you are reading this and doing something similar or have ideas to throw into the mix I would love to hear them in the comments below. Someone I know has just started doing this for the first time this year and is calling it their ‘Advent-ures’ I love that (!) and have been more than happy to share my calendar with her… and I’m sure I’ll be borrowing ideas back as I see the posts of hers too.

I have to plan carefully alongside after school clubs, what times we get in from work on certain days etc but generally I try to put in a craft, a baking, a trip, and evnt and a chilled out treat each week.

So as an overview here is how my next 24 days should look.

1st Christmas Tree Trip

2nd Baking Rudolf Cookies

3rd Letter Decorations

4th Christmas Shopping Trip

5th Christmas Movie and popcorn

6th Trip to Journey To Bethlehem (a free local event)

7th Christmas Cards

8th Letters to Father Christmas

9th Making Snowglobes

10th Christmas Party

11th School Disco

12th Wrapping Up

13th Gingerbread House

14th Trip out

15th Teachers Gifts

16th Lanterns

17th Mince Pies

18th Thanksgiving

19th Christmas Movie and Popcorn

20th Pantomime

21st Walk in the woods and DIY family photoshoot

22nd Walk round the local Christmassy shops and going for a hot chocolate

23rd Making a mobile

24th Crib Service and Decorating the Christmas Cake

Looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ each day with you as we go!