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A little room for romance.

BEING romantic doesn't just involve giving your loved one enough mountains of chocloates on February 14.

The spirit of Valentine's Day can be alive and kicking all year round - and

adding a little luxury to your home can help create that all important mood for love.

Caterer Lesley Hart, of East Kilbride, wrote to Homelife desperate to pour some passion into her bedroom.

The green-coloured walls spelled out boring rather than boudoir and, although she had an idea of what she wanted to do, she wasn't quite sure how to go about starting the transformation.

She said: "I love watching all the home improvement programmes on television, and reading all the design magazines to pick up tips.

"And when I saw a photograph of this dramatic red bedroom in Home Record, I knew that was exactly the look I wanted.

"I dashed off to inspect the showhouse where the picture had been taken to see if I could copy the design. But when I saw all the different decorating techniques involved, I didn't know where to start."

Luckily for Lesley, Homelife designer Alexis Leech was the woman behind the dream room that she had spotted.

Alexis said: "I'm always really flattered when someone sees a room I've decorated and wants to copy it.

"But builders are prepared to spend a lot of money making their showhouses look spectacular. So it was going to be a big challenge to transform Lesley's bedroom into a feast of red and gold for just pounds 250.

"The first thing when you're tackling any room transformation is to decide what can be rescued and renovated, and what has to go.

"And in Lesley's case, apart from a lovely old Lloyd Loom chair, her brass bed, and a dressing table she'd just bought, everything else was out."

Having cleared the decks, Lesley became the lady in red, painting the walls with a matt emulsion, while Alexis sketched out some design ideas.

Alexis added: "Lesley is a bit of an extrovert, and wanted a really theatrical bedroom. And since the bed was going to be centre stage, I wanted to set the scene with something pretty dramatic.

"Rather than do a cover-up on the perfectly pretty brass bed, I came up with the idea of making an MDF frame to run along the wall behind the bed, creating space for two tables and lights.

"And I didn't even need to call on our guy Gary to do it.

"When I went to B&Q to buy the MDF, they told me I could have four free cuts, which saved me a lot of fiddly sawing, and also made the materials a lot easier to transport.

"Two sheets were enough to give me the two side panels for the false walls, plus a pelmet for the window and another for over the bed.

"Then, I painted all four pieces with the red emulsion to give me a base for a rather unusual harlequin design."

Alexis came up with a really brilliant way to make the diamond pattern - she used old newspapers to make stencils.

She said: "First, take a double sheet of newspaper, and fold this in half lengthways. Now, draw out your pattern to whatever size you want.

"For this diamond design, I drew one half diamond on one third of the folded newspaper, and a full diamond on the other two thirds. Then, when I cut out round the shapes and folded out the newspaper, I had a paper stencil of four full diamonds and four half diamonds, just like a repeat pattern on wallpaper.

"Just keep cutting out your newspaper stencils until you have enough to cover all your MDF, sticking them down with spray mount or low- tack tape, then spray over your paper artwork with gold paint.

"I know it takes a little bit of time to cut out all the stencils, but if you are working with one just one stencil, you spend just as long peeling it off and repositioning it. And this way, you get to make sure your pattern is perfectly positioned before you start painting.

"To avoid runs, lay the MDF flat on the floor while you're spraying, and make sure all the newspaper edges are firmly stuck down to prevent bleeding.

"And wait until the paint is completely dry before you peel off the newspaper cut-outs.

"Next, I decided to cut round the diamond pattern on the bottom of the pelmets using a jigsaw, and again this was easy, since I just followed the painted lines of the harlequin design. After you've sanded the cut edges, it only takes a few minutes to tou ch up the paintwork.

"Then, for a final, final finishing touch, I found some little plastic mouldings called "Pin Ups" in The Showhouse Shop. These come in a variety of designs, from lion's heads to roses, and, as the name suggests, you just pin them into position.

"For Lesley's bedroom, I chose a tassel shape, and pinned these in between the painted diamonds on the two pelmets."

WITH all the decoration complete, the panels were joined together with mending plates, then the false wall was nailed to 2ins x 1in batons down both sides and across the ceiling.

And to fix the pelmet at the window, the MDF panel was pinned onto a piece of 4ins x 1in pelmet board, and supported by two angle brackets.

Having got the hard structures in place, Alexis then turned her attention to the soft furnishings. A curtain of muslin added a romantic backdrop to the harlequin wall, then Alexis made a classic Roman blind to dress the window, and a matching padded cover to warm up the bed.

And if you want something a bit dressier than a duvet, Alexis assures us this bedcover is easy to make.

Cut and join lengths of your top fabric, bottom lining and 6oz polyester wadding to the required width, then stitch your fabric together as you would a cushion cover, sandwiching the wadding in between. Instead of edging it with piping, Alexis gave it a luxurious rolled and padded trim, with a fabric- covered sausage of wadding.

A new cream carpet and calico tablecloths for the chipboard tables were next on the list, followed by a quick spray of gold paint to brighten up the faded Lloyd Loom .

Then our guy Gary arrived with his glittering contribution - two large mirrors made out of skirting board. Alexis said: "It might not be the most romantic material to hang on your bedroom walls, but skirting board makes lovely, chunky frames at an affordable price.

"Initially, I'd planned to cover the boards in gold leaf, but since there was some antique gold spray paint left, I used this instead. If you want a more distressed look, find an old, leaking fountain pen and dribble a few spots of black ink over the shi ning gold."

Alexis strung the mirrors on their sides so that they reflected the harlequin diamonds.

By now, Lesley couldn't wait to feast her eyes on her new bedroom decor.

She said: "My catering company is called Absolutely Fabulous and that's exactly how I'd describe my new decor. It's amazing, particularly the diamond wall behind the bed."

Boyfriend Gino Moscardini was also impressed. He said: "If a girl's bedroom is all pink and fluffy, it can make a guy feel a bit out of place. But this deep red is rich and relaxing."

So, this Valentine's Day, it looks like Lesley's got the perfect romantic setting.


2 pots red Dulux matt emulsion (shade no: 00YR15510) pounds 25.80

2 cans antique gold spray paint pounds 10

Fabric for quilt, blind and cushions, pounds 41.50

6 metres calico for bedside tablecloths, pounds 12

3 metres gold lame, pounds 22.50

10 metres muslin, pounds 18.65

1 bolster cushion, pounds 15

Carpet, pounds 42.

3 packets of plaster tassel pin ups, pounds 29.85

MDF for panelling behind the bed & window pelmet, pounds 20

Materials for mirrors, pounds 12.50


The bigger the job, the bigger the challenge for expert Gary McIntyre

WHEN you've spend most of your budget on bigger items, there's often not much left over for the little finishing details.

But these are often the little touches that can make a room look really impressive.

Although Lesley's two mirrors cost pounds 12.50 for the pair, if you spend a little time making a neat recessed notch to hold the mirror glass in place, and mitre the corners carefully, your frames will look pretty flash.

First, decide on the size of mirror glass you want, and get the glazier to cut this for you.

For the frame, I used skirting board and put a pencil round on the bottom edge, but you could get a similar effect with standard 3ins x 12 ins facing. My mirror glass was 20ins square, so I needed four facings, each around 27ins long.

The depth of the notch depends on the thickness of the glass, since you want the mirror to be flush with the frame. So I set the planing machine in my workshop to 14in so I could have a 14in x 34in check out of my facing.

You could also use a router for this, but if you don't have either of these bits of equipment, ask your local picture frame shop if he has suitable facing you could buy readymade.

Now, lay your mirror on the workbench, and make a mark round the glass about three quarters of an inch in from the outside edge.

Then, lay one piece of your facing along one side of the marked glass, tick the corner, mark which way the mitre is to run, then cut the mitre corner using a mitre saw. Repeat this process at each corner of all four facings.

To secure the glass to the frame, I used a mirror adhesive along the notch, and a PVA glue for the mitred corners.

It's a good idea to clamp the corners while the glue sets, which leaves your hands free to sit back and reflect on another DIY job well done.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ensor, Nan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 13, 1999
Previous Article:Art of the Common People; Journeys into the Outside Ch4, 11.05pm-12.05am.
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