Book: The Country Living Book of Country Kitchens

Book: The Country Living Book of Country Kitchens via

Book: The Country Living Book of Country Kitchens via

Sometimes, for fun, I check out really old decorating books from the library. Which, by “really old” means from the 80′s, which is also when I graduated from high school, so really I probably should not be calling them “really old,” but you get the idea.

I like to look through them and just see. How different is the style, really? Do I still like it? Have I changed? Is my taste destined to be stuck forever in a bygone era? Or is there something that transcends time and is still exciting today? I wonder about these things.

So, a few weeks ago I found a book that I just had to bring home. It’s The Country Living Book of Country Kitchens by Bo Niles from 1985 and features all of the classic 80′s country motifs. And yes, there’s lots and lots in the book that’s fairly dated. Case in point: [Read more...]

Book: Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

One of my favorite decorating books to read and reference over and over again is Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw. Every page has something to study. The book has English cottages of all kinds — airy and romantic, gilded and elegant, cozy, rustic, clean, beachy… it’s a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. My copy has a veritable forest of bookmarks in it — little torn bits of paper so I can remember where my favorite pictures are.

If that’s not enough, each cottage featured is accompanied by a charming story about the home and the owners, giving details about how they found the house and their lives. I admit that I almost never read these kinds of books — I just look at the pictures. But in this case, I can’t help myself, the stories are so entertaining.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

My favorite section in the book by far is the very first section which is entitled “Romantic” and features three cottages that I am completely in love with. If my home could have the same feel and vibe as these three houses, I would be a happy, happy woman.

The first house is a weekend home for Peter Westcott and his partner Andrew Merron. During the week, Peter works for a design firm in London, and he has a passion for vintage fabrics and kitcsh from the 30′s through the 50′s. It shows in the collected look he’s created in his Somerset getaway.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

The dining room is a perfect example. Check out the vintage curtains and table linens!

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

The living room (or lounge) is one of my favorite rooms in this house. Somehow, he’s managed to make the room colorful and eclectic without feeling crowded or overwhelming. I love it.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

As you can see in the staircase, most of the house is painted in white and neutrals, but there are bits of color such as this bright blue “stair runner” that’s been created with paint.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

I love this bedroom, too. It’s bright and airy, yet cozy and funky, just what I love!

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

The next house in this section is Monk’s House, the house that Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived in — first as a holiday retreat, and then in the 1940′s, as their permanent home. Some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century were entertained here! The house now belongs to The National Trust, and part of the home is open to the public for show. But the rest of the house is home to tenants Jonathan and Caroline Zoob, and this is the portion featured in the book.

Isn’t this kitchen table amazing?

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

And of course, who doesn’t love a clawfoot tub?

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

I love this little vignette, too, with the old quilt top used as a curtain and the wooden cubbies.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

The last house in the “Romantic” section of Perfect English Cottage is this teeny tiny cottage in Dorset village. Originally built as a farm laborer’s cottage, it’s only 12 feet wide! The kitchen is only 8 feet square. It’s compact, but the owner, Sara Mahon, has made every space count.

I love the little floral details in this tiny kitchen nook, as well as the plastered rock wall.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

In her bedroom is a wee craft nook. Lovely light comes in the window.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

With the palest of blues on the wall, the guest bedroom is a cheery mix of vintage fabrics and patterns.

Book Perfect English Cottage via Cottage Magpie

And that’s just the first three cottages in the book!

The rest of the book has cottages in different styles. Some are really rustic, some are very elegant. There’s loads to look though. I admit I tend to re-read these first three stories over and over, but at least every few times through the book I go through and read some of the other sections, especially Holiday and Simplicity. I bought the book from on a little bit of a whim, and I’m so glad I did!

I’ve included the link to the book on here, which includes an affiliate link for me (a few cents to me if you buy it). Of course, if you can find it at your local bookstore or your library, please do!!! It’s worth it.

~Angela :-)

Studio Inspiration

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve come so far in the last year in learning to be okay with myself and who I am and what I like. But, I still get stuck. I know what I like, but I don’t know how to mix it together in one room. I tell myself to think less and feel more, but I still get confused and don’t know what to do about the actual specific decisions with colors for walls, chairs, furniture, wall art, and so on. I don’t know how to get from here to there.

Here’s a few random pins that speak to me right now in terms of my craft room. These are not all craft room pins, but hopefully you can see how I want the room to *feel*. How to pull it all off, I don’t know. If you have ideas, please, don’t be shy! Ha!








So — what do you think? Anything jump out at you? Common elements? Ideas? Lay ‘em on me!

~Angela :-)

How to Make a Vintage-Style Wood Sign Letter

DIY Vintage Style Wood Sign Letter Tutorial via Cottage Magpie

DIY Vintage Style Wood Sign Letter Tutorial via Cottage Magpie

I don’t know about you, but I love typography. I have a thing for old signs, old letters from signs, all that kind of thing. And I’ve always thought it would be fun to have an old, vintage oversized wooden letter in my creative space to inspire me. Before I even started I knew I was going to paint it pink to prop up next to my cute little yellow storage cabinet that I made over last week.

A quick search on Etsy gave me quite a few options. They aren’t cheap, though, with foot-tall letters coming in around $25-$30, and tall letters like I wanted (mine is about 20″ tall) are going for $50-$60! I’m sure that’s a reasonable price and the people who make those things really do deserve the money. But as you know, I don’t have any. So if I was going to indulge my dream of vintage-style typography in my space, I was going to have to make it myself with whatever supplies were laying around. Read on to see how I did it. [Read more...]

How to Hang Small Cabinet Curtains (for Cheap)

How to Hang Small Cabinet Curtains for Cheap via Cottage Magpie

How to Hang Small Cabinet Curtains for Cheap via Cottage Magpie

It would be nice if everything we needed to do in our offices, or kitchens, or workshops had pretty equipment and supplies. It really would. But of course, in most people’s lives there’s things you really need easy access to, but don’t want to necessarily have on display. Like a charging station for example.

In these cases, I like a little curtain to hide the messy business. Why a curtain and not a door? Because with a door you have to fuss with it, open it, leave room to open it… and let’s be honest, I’m not the neatest workshop resident ever. I want to be able to just push the fabric aside, get what I need and move on.

With that in mind, I wanted to hang a little curtain on the front of this vintage cabinet I’ve been working on, but I did NOT want to spend any money on it! I’m on a budget, people! I don’t have money for teeny tiny curtain rods! So I figured out how to make one with some stuff I had laying around. I thought you might like to see how I did it so you can do it, too!

Read on for all the details. [Read more...]

How to Drill a Cabinet Access Hole

How to Drill a Cabinet Access Hole via Cottage Magpie

How to Drill a Cabinet Access Hole via Cottage Magpie

I love thrifted furniture. Often well-built, with more durability and character than anything you could buy new, thrifted furniture is funky and fun. Even more bonus? It’s often cheaper! But, old furniture doesn’t come with all the convenient punch-outs and access panels that new furniture does. So if you’re using an old piece of furniture but want to run power inside, for electronics or a charging station, you’re going to have to put a hole in it. The good news is that since you didn’t pay much for it, if you ruin it, it’s not too big of a deal, right?

So, it’s obvious that you need to cut a hole, but how? Of course there’s many options, but if you want a really nice, clean, round hole, one of the ways I like is to use a spade bit. Now, for those of you who are tool-savvy, this probably seems painfully obvious, but when I started doing my own DIY projects, I had no clue that such things existed, and I thought that there might be other people out there like me. Read on to see just exactly how this weirdly wide bit works so you can try it at home! [Read more...]

How (Not) to Rub’n’Buff Raised Letters or Numbers

Rub N Buff on Raised Numbers

Thrifted Mantel Clock Made Over

So, when I told you about my thrifted mantel clock makeover, I may have left out one little thing. I had a little mini-fail right in the middle of the project. I’ve never used Rub’N’Buff before, and when painting the little raised numbers on the clock face, it all went wrong. Not once, but twice!!!

First of all, if you’re asking, “What the heck is Rub’N’Buff, Angela,” then let me explain. Rub’N’Buff is this magical stuff that can make metal things look like differently colored metal things. Like a lot of people, I first saw it on Trading Spaces when the ever-fabulous Genevieve Gorder made a brass light fixture look like pewter. When she was done, the light didn’t look painted, it just looked like it had always been pewter! It was amazing.

Since it’s easy to use and comes in a convenient tube and dries almost immediately, people use it for all sorts of things. For example, Cindy from My Romantic Home uses it for lots of projects, including this amazing mirror:

So, let me tell you what I learned (the hard way) about how NOT to Rub’N’Buff something detailed like this, and then Mr. Magpie will show you (and me) what actually works.

First I got myself some Ebony Rub’N’Buff (i.e. black). Okay, actually Mr. Magpie got for me. He ordered the Rub’N’Buff from, since the local craft store only had gold, and we wanted black.

Ebony Rub N Buff

Since most people say to apply the stuff with a fingertip, that’s what I decided to try. With a glove since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it off my hands afterwards!

Dab of Rub N Buff

Just use the fingertip to apply….

Applying Rub N Buff with Fingertip


Total Mess with Rub N Buff

Total fail! My huge finger just smeared the Rub’N’Buff everywhere, and then when I tried to wipe it off it just stained everything. What a mess!! I had to re-prime and re-spray that section to fix it. Sigh.

So, I’m thinking, well, I need something smaller, like a cotton swab!

Using Cotton Swab for Rub N Buff

Just get a little on there, and then dab it on the number…

Applying Straight Rub N Buff with Cotton Swab


Messy Edges on Raised Number

Fail again! Granted, not a huge mess, but look at it! It looks terrible, all frayed around the edges.

This is when I called Mr. Magpie, who has actual art training. This is what he showed me. (Please forgive his perma-dirty hands — he does most of the heavy lifting around here).

First, get a TINY TINY amount of Rub N Buff on a cotton swab.

Picking Up Tiny Dab of Rub N Buff with Cotton Swab

Next, rub most of that off on a scrab bit of cloth or paper — in this case, the leftover packaging.

Rubbing Off Excess Rub N Buff on Scrap Cardboard

Finally, gently (gently!) swipe over the raised surface, one…

Applying Rub N Buff With Dried Cotton Swab


Applying Rub N Buff With Dried Cotton Swab


Applying Rub N Buff With Dried Cotton Swab

It’s like magic!

And that. my friends, is how you do that!

Finished Mantel Clock Makeover

What about you? Have you used Rub’N’Buff for any projects? What did you do with it and what did you think?

~Angela :-)

How to Take Apart a Battery Clock Movement

Yesterday when I told you about my thrifted mantel clock makeover, I mentioned that I disassembled the “clock part” so that I could sand and paint the clock, and I thought that you might be interested in exactly how I did that.

So, technically, the part of the clock that makes it go is called the “movement” (here’s a Wikipedia article about clock movements). The other parts are the face (the part you look at to read the time) and the case (the part that holds it all).

This particular clock was made with a battery operated movement. Basically you can turn just about anything into a clock if you can attach one of these battery movements to it. They’re not too expensive, either. Here’s an Amazon link that shows a variety of battery clock movements.

So, the way I could tell this clock had one of those was by looking at the back:

Battery Movement Inside Mantel Clock

See the battery case thing back there?

Then on the front you can see the hands are interspersed with a bunch of nuts and washers.

Close-up of Face of Battery Operated Mantel Clock

The first thing to do is pull off the second hand. It just pulls right off.

Taking Second Hand Off of Battery Operated Clock

Next there’s a little nut that’s holding on the hour and minute hands. You can get it off with needle-nose pliers.

Removing Nut that Holds Hands on Battery Operated Clock

There it is! Make sure to keep that and all the other little parts in a container (preferably with a lid) so you won’t lose them.

Tiny Nut that Holds Hands on Battery Operated Clock

With the nut off, you can just pull the hour and minute hands right off.

Pulling Hour and Minute Hands off Battery Operated Clock

There they are!

Hour and Minute Hands from a Homemade Battery Operated Clock

Definitely put those in the container, too.

Under those is the last little nut and washer, which hold the battery case in the clock.

Nut and Washer Holding Movement on Clock

Use needle-nose pliers again to get that off.

Loosening Nut of Battery Operated Clock Movement with Needlenose Pliers

There it is! Another tiny piece for your container of parts.

Nut that Holds Battery Movement in Clock

And with that, the battery case from the movement will come right out. There it is:

The Battery Case from a Battery Clock Movement

That’s it! Now you can sand, paint, or refinish your clock any way you want to!

Sanding a Thrifted Mantel Clock

Fun, huh? This was the first time I had done a makeover project on a clock. I would love to do another one. I’m thinking decoupage, maybe. Anyone?

What about you? Have you ever made or made over a clock?

~Angela :-)

How to Build a Faux Vintage Door in 5 Easy Steps (Tutorial)

Faux Old Vintage Door in the Garden

Faux Vintage Door on Piano Mantel

You know how a while back I decorated my piano like a mantel? And I used an “old vintage door” for the background? That’s a little picture there of it on the right. You can see the chippy white door in the background behind the flowers and the books.

I have a confession. That’s not a door. And it’s not old.

In fact, Mr. Magpie built it and I painted and distressed it the very same day I decorated my mantel (actually piano)!

Had you already guessed? Do you forgive me?

I hope so! Because now I’m going to show you how you can do exactly the same thing!! Hee hee hee!!!

How to Build a Faux Vintage Door in 5 Easy Steps

First of all, you need two packages of “Economy Plank Paneling” and two eight foot long 1″x4″s. For our 1″x4″ we used one called a “furring strip” because it was cheaper and looked nicer (go figure!). The plank paneling is this really thin tongue and groove paneling that you can use for all sorts of things. We get it at Lowe’s and we use it for everything! It’s 8 feet long and comes in packages of 6 boards, and at our local store it’s $8.99 per package.

Economy Pine Paneling and Furring Strip

For this project we only used 8 planks of paneling total, one full package plus two more planks. So you’ll have some leftovers you can use for other projects. It’s handy for all sorts of things.

So — here’s what you do.

Step 1: Cut Paneling Strips

Measure and cut eight of the planks to 78″ long. For the full package, you can actually measure and cut while the wrapper is still on and cut them all at once. Like so:

Measuring and Marking Paneling Strip

Cutting Full Package of Paneling Strips

Taking Wrapper Off Paneling After Cutting

Step 2: Measure and Cut Cross Pieces

Lay your cut strips out on the floor and interlock the little joints so you can tell how wide your faux door is going to be. You need to cut two pieces from your furring strip that will go across the boards to keep them from falling apart. We didn’t bother measuring, we just laid the furring strip across and marked where the cut needs to be. But of course, you can measure if you want to.

Dry Fitting the Economy Pine Paneling

This works better than just giving you a specific measurement, because your materials may be slightly different, and you may push your boards tighter than mine, etc. etc. etc..

Step 3: Nail Paneling Boards to Cross Pieces

Okay, once you know how big your cross pieces need to be, go ahead and pick up your paneling, and lay your cross pieces down on the ground. Then, starting at one end, start positioning and nailing your paneling pieces on. Measure in from the end to make sure that they’re the same on both ends. Ours are at about 10 1/2″, because that looked good I thought.

And here’s another tip. Only put in one nail each end of the board at first. Then, make sure everything is squared up, using your choice of a carpenter’s square, measuring crosswise both directions, or heck, just eyeball it. It’s not supposed to be perfect, right? Once you have it square, THEN put the second nail in both ends.

Measuring the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Tacking Down the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Measuring the Other End of the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

After that you can just press each board into the joints tightly and nail it together, one after the other until you get to the end. Like so:

Fitting the Second Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Dry Fitting the Economy Pine Paneling

Step 4: Add the Angled Cross-Brace

After your cross-pieces are attached, your door is basically done. You could, if you wanted to, even just use the door like this. For a small project, it would be fine. We thought it would be better to add a little cross-bracing to make the door stiffer, so that’s what we did.

First of all, you have to turn the door over so you can see where the cross-brace is going to go. Then lay your second 1″x4″ across until it’s positioned basically where you want it, but with the ends hanging off. We’ll mark and cut those so it fits perfectly.

Laying out the Angled Cross-Brace on the Faux Vintage Door

Use a scrap pieces of the 1″x4″ left over from making the cross-pieces, and put it on top of the angled cross-brace, but line it up with the cross piece below. Basically you’re making a wood sandwich so that you can draw a line on the angled board so you know where to cut it. Like this…

Make your sandwich…

Marking the Angled Cut on the Angled Cross-Brace on the Faux Vintage Door

…and make your mark:

Lining Up a Scrap Board to Mark the Angled Cut on the Faux Vintage Door

Then it’s a simple matter of cutting the ends on the lines and dry fitting it into the door.

Cutting the Angled Cross-Brace for the Faux Vintage Door

Angled Cross-Brace Dry Fit Into the Door

In order to nail that in, we’ll have to flip it over. It should be snug enough to not fall out, but even if it does, you can slide it back into place and make sure it’s not sticking out at the edges.

But, where to nail it?

Simple! Use one of your leftover paneling boards to make a guide. You can figure out where to put it by where the board shows on the edges. Put it just to the side of where the big board is, and you can use it as a guide to know where to nail through the front of the door and hit the angled cross-brace behind.

Scrap Paneling Strip as a Nailing Guide on the Faux Vintage Door

And there you have it! Construction is complete. Once it’s finished to your liking, you can use it on either side — the plain side:

Faux Vintage Door -- Plain Side

Or the braced side:

Faux Vintage Door - Braced Side

But first, of course, you want to finish it!

Step 5: Make It Look Old (Faux Finish)

Of course, if you don’t want it to look old, or don’t want this finish, you can finish it any way you like!
First I stained it, one layer of “colonial pine” and one layer of “walnut,” then give it a quick coat of clear poly once it was dry.

Staining the Faux Vintage Door

After it dried thoroughly, I painted two quick coats of paint on it — in this case, Sherwin Williams sample paint (which happens to be satin) in the color “Steamed Milk.” I didn’t let the paint dry all the way between coats, I put the second coat on as soon as I could do it without mushing the first coat.

Painting the Faux Vintage Door

When the paint was still tacky, I distressed it using masking tape, sand paper, a drywall screen, a wire brush, and whatever other stuff was around. I tried to concentrate the wear at the bottom, where it would have taken more abuse, and I used the wire brush to make scrape marks as if it had been kept closed with a primitive wooden latch. Once it looked good to me, I let the paint dry thoroughly and added a coat of poly to keep it from chipping.

Distressed Faux Vintage Door

As a final touch, Mr. Magpie added some old hinges we had laying around in the garage.

Adding Hinges to the Faux Vintage Door

And there you have it! A decorative faux vintage door in five easy steps!!!

Faux Vintage Door

Have you ever made something designed to look old? How did it turn out?


~Angela :-)

P.S. I’m linking up to Tutes & Tips Linky Party at Home Stories A to Z and “Fabulously Creative Friday Linky Party” at Jennifer Rizzo’s blog.

Early Summer Piano Mantel

Flowers and Summer Reads on the Piano Mantel

Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

I have always wanted a mantel. I just love them, love decorating them, love enjoying them. And every season when all the other bloggers start decorating their mantels with seasonal goodies, I am sad that I don’t have one.

But guess what I finally figured out? Many of the bloggers who put up mantel posts don’t have mantels either!! They are decorating shelves, pianos, cabinets, whatever they have on hand! Isn’t that brilliant? Why didn’t I think of that? All those years of wistful wishing and I could have been playing along all the time!

Well, no time like the present! I have a piano in my front room, and what better place to decorate for a mantel-like experience, no? So, without further ado, I bring you, for the first time, my piano, decorated like a mantel, for early summer. Ta da!

Living Room with Piano Decorated Like Mantel

I love how it makes the room look. There’s still a ton of stuff I want to do here, but even just compared to the last time I shared my living room, isn’t it so much better? I also moved some of the books out so I could have a spot for my pitcher & creamer collection.

Early Summer Piano Decorated as Mantel

I’ve never decorated a mantel before, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. I’ve always loved it when people put old vintage doors and windows on things like this, so I decided to start there, then add things in that say “summer” to me. Of course, I didn’t have an old vintage door, so I built one! Here’s how you can build a faux vintage door, too. It’s easy!

Of course summer always says flowers. I picked this bouquet out of the yard, and it has foxgloves, catmint and Lady’s Mantle. (Lady’s Mantle for my mantel, har har.)

Summer Reads

Closeup of Foxglove Blossoms


I love foxgloves.

Close-Up of Lady's Mantel Blooms

Then for fun I added a garland of pinwheels made from old comics. I love pinwheels and all the soft colors from the newsprint.

Comic Page Pinwheel Garland

Bouquet of Foxgloves, Catmint and Lady's Mantle on Summer Mantel

Comic Page Pinwheel Peeking from Behind Catmint

And you can’t have summer without some good reads, right? Jane Austen is always a good choice, I think. Hee hee. Of course, my fantasy of curling up by the open window with a great book on a summer afternoon is probably not going to come to fruition. But that’s okay. I can steal my reading time at night after the kids are asleep.

Lastly, I added the vintage sewing machine. Of course, I love to sew and hope to do more sewing this summer, but also I just really have a soft spot for vintage sewing machines. So far I only have two, and it’s probably best if I don’t have more. They take up a lot of space. But they’re so beautiful! I love the scrollwork on this one.

Decorative Detail on Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

What about you? Do you have a mantel? Do you decorate for the seasons? What does summer say to you?


~Angela :-)

P.S. Linking up to Home Stories A to Z’s Summer Mantel Party, the Summer Fun Mantel Link Party at The Lettered Cottage, Inspired by Charm’s “Just Because” Link Party and the Best Projects of June Party at Beneath My Heart.