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Guest Blogger - Allison of Lark

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration: Guest Blogger - Allison of Lark

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Guest Blogger - Allison of Lark

Allison from Lark has been kind enough to share some beautiful images and behind the scenes handy work of her latest project The Lark House. Some great crafty ideas here for decorating on a tight budget, I think you'll agree the results are amazing. I'd love to visit this retreat one day...
Take it away Allison...

Hello! I am so excited to be popping up on Cinti's blog while she is away in Japan, even though I am MAJORLY jealous and wish I was there with Cinti and Pilgrim. Can't wait to see what those two style-savvy girls come back with!!Lovely Cinti has invited me to write about my home design project for The Lark House, our former home in Daylesford that is now a guest house since we have moved to Ballarat to be nearer to our kids' new school. We lived in the house for five years, and it was full of our family clutter. I wanted to create a 'home away from home' where visitors could relax in style yet with some 'luxe hotel' touches. And it had to be easy to manage. And all on a tiny budget - no pressure, then! here's how I did it:

After taking all of our family clutter and my huge stash of vintage bric-a-brac out of the house into the garage, we cleaned it from top to bottom and touched up the paint. There were originally three bedrooms in the main house and I tried to give each of them their own individual look. And this is where my stash comes back into the picture! Over the years my obsession with op shopping has left me with piles of vintage materials, including old wool blankets, eiderdowns, furniture, wallpapers, posters, cushions and crochet. I brought some of these back into the house and then I scoured eBay for extra bits and pieces. Next I headed to IKEA and Freedom for pieces that I could 'personalise' cheaply, and finally I threw in a few finishing details from our own shop. I hope this has created a very lovely and unique feel in the house!
This is the first bedroom. To create affordable artworks in this room, we used op shop 'shadow' frames to show off the vintage wallpaper fragments we found when we were first renovating the house. The wardrobe is from IKEA and we used sheets of embossed wallpaper ('anaglypta') in the recessed panels to look like pressed tin, before painting it all a pale grey. I also painted an old chair found at the Daylesford Bazaar for $5, and the bedside tables were $50 from Blonde Vintage in Ballarat. yay! The floral curtains were already in the house when we moved in. As a final touch, I put a 'hello Lovely' fabric sticker from Mae on the large mirror. You will see the sweet Mae stickers all over the house, these are a really low-cost way to add a personal and welcoming touch to guests in your home!

In the second bedroom I have one of my original and beloved Daphne Padden posters, found on eBay a few years ago for next to nothing. Daphne's posters also decorate the long hallway. The bedside tables were found at The Mill for a few bucks and painted white, and two Mae decals read 'Hello Sunshine' and 'Oh, hello'. This room used to be my son's bedroom and I decorated one wall with vintage wallpapers from my collection, which is a real feature of the house. I also put lots of shelves in the alcove's for my son's toys, but now these are filled with my collections of vintage baskets and blankets. This room is finished off with a freckle rug from Lark that we had previously used as a display piece. Nice!

Bedroom number three is the smallest but is actually my favourite. At the back of the house, it has a full-length window overlooking the side garden. This room has pale light so I decorated it in pale and pretty colours of vintage white, lightest pink and yellow, and I used the Swallows wall stickers by Mae as a wall feature. The curtains in this house are a pair of green check vintage blankets. These are complemented by a pair of 1950s feather eiderdowns that came from my friend, and finally I made some cushions from calico (the day before the first guest came!) and ironed on some souvenir travel patches that I have hoarded. There was no room for a wardrobe in this room, so instead I put up a shaker peg rail with wooden hangers decorated yet again with Mae stickers.

The bathroom for the house was decorated a few years ago with a vintage travel theme (I have used this theme throughout the house as it seems to fit with Daylesford, which has always been a well-known holiday destination). But again it has lots of personal and vintage touches, like my collection of over 200 old Ladybird books, an old dresser, vintage first aid cabinet and a railway luggage rack used as a towel store.

The large open plan kitchen/living/ding room with views over Daylesford and the pretty verandah was also more-or-less ready to go. I just added some cute cushions and lots and lots of magazines. Our op shop china is still there in the cabinet, although there is also a sparkly new white set of china in the kitchen too, for guests who prefer a more contemporary style. The coffee table in this room cost just 20 from a local vintage shop, yet it always get complements. The 'ornaments' are old Twinings tea tins and crochet pot holders. You really don't have to spend fortune to have a lovely home, in fact I reckon that the less you spend the more likely you are to end up with something really special and full of charm!

Ok so that's the main house dealt with - but there was also the matter of the old cottage that was joined to the house a few years ago, and that had lain empty since we stopped using it as the office and studio for Lark. It had a huge room with a fireplace, an old kitchen with big open fireplaces, a smaller dining room and a lean-to bathroom. We decided to turn this into a 'retreat' area with a bedroom, living area and wetroom. Fixing up the floors and bathroom took most of our budget, so we had very little left for decor. In the bedroom, I painted some bedside tables and a mirror, all found on eBay, in a dark grey colour, which I also used on some plainPAX built-in cupboards from IKEA. Plain white blinds on the window were sweetened up with some Mae decals and I whipped up some cushions from tea towels for the bed. I also dressed the bed with an old patchwork throw, the colours just brought the room to life! An old chandelier that we found at the tip was installed and finally I created some 'granny art' for the walls by stapling some old and unusable crochet blankets to canvas frames. Voila! The living room and bathroom in the retreat are very simple, I am very happy with it and would actually quite like to move back in!!
Now, the garden of the house is quite large and it has veggie beds and lots of nice roses. It also has two old Victorian outbuildings and one of these was formerly my craft studio. I decided to open this up for guests, who might fancy a bit of quiet time or crafting. The furniture in this room was all thrifted: the haberdashery cabinet bought at an auction when i lived in the UK, the 50s 'click clack' sofa was $50 and the vintage record player (it still works) cost $45 at the Bazaar. Luckily the studio is lined in pressed tin, which I painted some time ago, and very old floral lino on the floor. If you can find a house that has 'good bones' and lots of nice old touches, it shouldn't cost much at all to make it very lovely!

So that's it! The Lark House! Not that it will ever be actually finished, as I pop in whenever there are no guests to change around the displays and fill the house with flowers and local provisions and other welcoming touches. And I am always reading blogs and magazines to get new ideas for decorating in a personal way on a small budget. You can find out more and book a stay here, if you would like to. The house is available weekdays or weekends an it sleeps up to 8 people. And if you like our home, please feel free to visit my blog!

You can see more images and info about The Lark House here.

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