READY TO WARM
As days start to cool, now is the ideal time to clean the hearth in preparation for the first open fire of the year. To avoid the spread of dust or ash, any items resting beside the fireplace or on the mantelpiece are removed and the area covered with an old newspaper or protective sheet. Damp, used coffee grounds sprinkled on the hearth before cleaning will prevent soot from billowing into the air. A natural solution comprising equal parts distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle will help to lift ash and clean the surface. The solution should sit for a few minutes, before being scrubbed with a brush and wiped with a damp cloth. If the hearth is more than 20 years old, a less abrasive cleaner is advised. For metal fireplaces, water should be avoided, as this will encourage rust. For the fireplace and mantelpiece, dust can be removed with a soft cloth. Once lit, acorns collected on an autumn walk can be thrown into the fire to remove creosote build-up from wood burning.
COLLECTION IS PRETTY AS A PICTURE
An aged, ornate picture frame finds a new use as an unusual holder for cherished jewellery and trinkets. The frame can be painted to complement its surroundings or sanded to create a weathered look. A cork board is cut to the size of the frame and covered with linen fabric or wallpaper. Pins are used to hang necklaces, rings and bracelets, which can be easily seen and chosen as desired. This prevents jewellery from tangling, while keeping precious items in easy reach.
During the rainy days of autumn, energies turn to jobs indoors. A plain side table in a dark corner of the room can be spruced up when the surface is lined with patterned fabric and a glass sheet placed on top. Vintage-style fabrics look particularly attractive, and a visit to local charity shops or antique stores will yield numerous results. Alternatively, a piece of much-loved fabric left over from a previous craft project that is too small to be used elsewhere can be chosen, so that its pattern and colours can be preserved and enjoyed. The fabric is first cut to the size of the tabletop using craft scissors. Leaving the edges unhemmed will create a flatter surface. A sheet of glass cut to size is placed on top, holding the fabric in place. Displaying items that may scratch the glass surface should be avoided.
PLACED CLOSE TO HAND
Overlooking ocean waves in South Devon, Mike Vincent handcrafts kitchens and furniture from his small workshop. This stool is made from a carefully selected piece of reclaimed wood, finished with a hardwax oil for durability. Each stool is handmade to order, so may vary in colour and size, but measure approximately 24cm in height, 25.5cm in length and 22cm deep. Mini Stool £60, www.vincentliving. com/product-page/ministool
A NEW LEASE OF LIFE
A tired dresser that has seen better days can be given a new look without the need to spend any money. Drawers that are damaged or broken can simply be removed to create open shelves in their place. Leaving some drawers intact, while removing others, adds interest. For storage, keepsake boxes can be placed on the lower shelves, while the upper ones reveal treasured items on display. This simple transformation makes for an interesting feature in the room. An arrangement of cut flowers placed on top brings a countryside feel to the space.
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