Walter Alice Store Blog

  • Still Looking For The Perfect Little Workshop!

    The little Walter Alice Store workshop is still closed for now which means I will not be taking on any new commissions until further notice.
    We have moved to a temporary house without a workshop, and no where to get messy!  However, temporary could be 6 to 12 months while we find the perfect place!
    I will still be posting random stuff so keep following me on Instagram or Facebook in the meantime to keep updated.


  • How To Change The Style Of A Space At Little Or No Cost At All

    You can learn to be extremely thrifty with your interiors, and it can be so satisfying to make a space really different with just a few tweaks.  Its pretty amazing what an op shopping trip and a few $10 cushions from the warehouse can do, but a lot of the time you may be able to change the look of an entire room using what you already have lying around.

    Living in a rental property has its limitations but you can still make it beautiful and quite different without spending much at all,  you may not be able to change the carpet or paint, but what you can do is add layers and textures in the forms of Art, plants, rugs, throws, cushions and change a few accessories around. 

    The makeover of my dining room in our rental cost a whole $8, which was spent on just one Spider Plant for the corner!

    This room feels so much better!

    Changes made:
    1. Rug moved from foyer to under the table.
    2. New Spider plant purchased for 8.00 from The Warehouse.
    3. Shelf display changed up with less of a theme but more cohesive using other items from around the house (and ditching the orange).
    4. A new table display using a fruit bowl from the kitchen, a milk bottle filled with foliage from outside, a beautiful Green Leaves + Geranium Ecoya candle (so lush!) and a simple pinecone.
    5. Artwork swapped out from the lounge.

    With just a few changes the room has a completely different feel to it!


    Clear the Clutter
    Be ruthless, get rid of anything that just looks messy and has been a part of your decor forever.  I had a red and orange theme going for far too long!

    Work with what you already have:
    Start with one room and take a good look at the big items you have first, like the lounge suite or dining table. 
    Remove everything else so you have a blank canvas.  (This is a great time to have a spring clean! - it feels so good!).
    Scour the house looking at other items of furniture or accessories that could work in the room also... like a lamp or a set of shelves.   
    A set of drawers may not always just belong in a bedroom, they could be used as a display cabinet or for linen in the hallway. 
    If you think outside the box suddenly an old TV cabinet can become much needed bench space in the kitchen with added storage.

    I picked this TV cabinet up from the local Facebook buy and sell page for $10, gave it a paint and it became an invaluable piece for the kitchen.
    Create an Urban Jungle
    Plants - lots of them!  Ask for cuttings from friends, buy pots from Op Shops or plant them in old plastic coke bottles and pop them in vessels you may already have.
    Left:Plant stand gifted
    Right: Kmart Woven Holder $5, Op Shop Basket $4, Handmade (by me) Flax Kete.
    Left: Coke bottle inside an Op Shop jug $8
    Right: Op Shop beautiful old big mug/bowl $5

    If you don't have much of a green thumb just make a bit of an effort to read the instructions that come with new plants (if buying).  Its a good idea to get to know them, some plants need to be moved around to different spots during the year to keep them healthy and happy.
    A good number of house plants actually purify the air!  Not only do they look good but they are healthy to have around. 

    Instant Foliage Fix
    If you want an instant foliage fix, get some cuttings from the garden, its amazing what you can find if you just look, it can be just sticks with leaves, or buds, anything green put them in an old milk bottle, make it big! 

    Left: Foraged from a friends garden, Right: Foraged from the beach

    Get some inspo from Magazines, Pinterest, or my favourite Instagram...

    Amazing plant interior inspo from @seafaringsally.plants
    Alternatives to Op Shopping 
    Hey, its not for everyone and if you don't fancy going to thrift stores or if you don't have time there are plenty of others that LOVE it and will find things for you. Hannah at @craftykin_shop has an amazing eye and there are always great finds on her Instagram shop.
    This breadbin and pencil drawing were both bought from @craftykin_shop  the frame was bought from an op shop and painted.

    Garage Sales & Auctions
    Its definitely not news that I love Op Shopping!  My Aunt who is an antique queen just can't believe I don't do the Wellington garage sales! I know I should but I find them incredibly awkward.  She keeps telling me that Garage Saleing is where the gold is!  One day I will try again!  But if this doesn't scare you then get the Friday paper and make a Saturday morning of it.
    Auctions can be so much fun too, but I have an arm that won't stay down!  So much vintage goodness!
    (last time I went to an auction!)

    Trademe is a great place to pick up a bargain, or the local Facebook buy and sell page (be careful with The FB Marketplace, seems to be a few scammers there).

    Bold Or Beige
    I have never owned a black, grey or beige piece of furniture, same goes for handbag colours (don't know why I think it's related, but interesting?).  I don't think I ever will either. 
    A lot of interior experts will recommend sticking to neutral colours for big items such a sofas, and that is great advice, however a green velvet sofa creates a wonderful blank canvas just as much as a neutral tone does...
    You can change the cushions and throws more often than you may think, and there is an endless supply of art and botanical accessorising that just works.
    My sofa (one of the only items in my house not thrifted!)

    Beautiful coloured Sofa Inspiration from @dkrenewal

    If you don't have Instagram you could be missing out on infinite inspiration. 

    Have an empty corner? This is a gorgeous idea by @alysestudios and that bedroom!

     You can follow hashtags on Instagram now which totally transforms your feed into beautiful pictures that were seemingly taken just for your eyes!
    Quick Fix
    Some tweaking and changing around may only take a few minutes, or you may be inspired to do a whole room! 
    A quick update by changing a few things around and adding a plant makes a big difference.
    I would absolutely LOVE to see before and after photos if you decide to give a any of this a go, please let me know!

    Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end - Robin Sharma
  • Why Working From Home Can Actually Suck

    Yeah yeah I know, I'm so lucky and all that, owning my own business, working from home, I can do whatever I want whenever I want.  Well, Whatever.  Today I am over it... and yes there are a few reasons why working can home can be amazing too, but I'm not feeling that right now, so lets do that blog post another time... I'm on a role here, and today it sucks...
    Don't get me wrong, I am grateful!  I live and work right on the beach.  I really should be starting my day off with regular walks or a spot of yoga, coming home to make an Instagram-worthy coffee (or a healthy well being smoothie - yeah right) and then heading out to my workshop to tinker all day with old furniture.  Well it doesn't quite work out like that.
    I am not going to give you a run down of my day, so don't worry, we aren't getting that deep, I don't really know you that well, and everything I am about to say you may not agree with.  You may wish you weren't stuck in your 9 to 5, well I am ready to switch places and here is why.... 
    (Yes this all may be trivial, and I will get over it, but just let me have my little rant, I will feel better for it)...

    11 Reasons why working from home can suck...
    1. NO STRUCTURE:  There is no structure in my day.  None!  There are things that I have to do and things I should do, but there is no routine whatsoever, I could make one but I don't.  I want that get-into-the-office and get stuck in routine.
    2. BAD HAIR and WORSE WARDROBE: What wardrobe?  I actually have nothing that doesn't have paint or glue on it, if you are going to invite me out please let it be a dark cinema.  And hair!  I so miss my semi regular trips to the salon, now I just cut my own fringe and embrace the natural mouse ombre colour I am.
    3. NEVER A PAYDAY:  Oh payday, what a fab feeling that used to be, getting paid and spending it all on one day, what fun... 
    4. SO MANY SCHOOL TRIPS: I always have to respond to the final calls for parent help from the teachers for school trips, because everyone knows I work from home, I am that parent that is on every school trip... don't even think about messaging me wishing you could be that parent, I will happily swap you your regular salary for my 50 school trips.
    5. NO ACCOUNTABILITY:  I miss sneaking past the bosses office to jump in the lift to go and get a quick coffee, there was some excitement in that... now I can walk out for a coffee and not come back all day, and no one cares!.  
    6. NO GIRLTALK: The good old office banter, now I just laugh out loud to myself.  Sometimes I try to call a friend but quickly hang up as I realise I just wanted to show someone how this fabric looks in the light or see how cute my cat looks. But I really don't want to organise a coffee date or a catch up, because... well back to number two - I have nothing to wear, my hair is a mess, I have forgotten how to use mascara.  And when I do catch up with friends I can't shut up due to the excitement of seeing a real person other than the kids after school. 
    So I post it on Instagram instead...and then get lost in my feed... for an hour!  Because there is no ACCOUNTABILITY!
    7. TOO MUCH HOUSEWORK:  Ugh, this is the WORST!  the other day I thought I would clean out the cutlery draw while making a coffee, this resulted in me accidentally pulling the cutlery drawer right out onto the floor, which resulted in a spoon going under the fridge, which resulted in me cleaning under the fridge, and inside the fridge, then all the cupboards, I never got that dam coffee!
    8. ON TAP SOCIAL MEDIA:  A total time wasting, #FOMO inducing trap.  I want to just scroll through Pinterest from now on... Oh look... pretty...
    9. NO MORE WORK FUNCTIONS:  Fun work functions!  All day conferences and training days, hell I even miss meetings!  I would take a meeting about a meeting, right now.
    Me - having a great time at an actual work function pre work-at-home days.
    10. NEVER BEING HUNGRY:  Sounds weird, but I don't like having free range of the kitchen, I am not getting any skinnier here people, who ate all the gingernuts!
    11. THAT FRIDAY FEELING: What?  What day is it? Oh, lucky you, a change of scenery for two days, I'm going to Mitre 10.
    I think I had better stop here, I haven't even reached the biz side of things and not having an accounts or IT department... Or just some petty cash...
  • How I Restore An Antique Chair

    This is how "I" restore an antique chair rather than how "to", purely because everyone does things differently and there are hundreds of ways to do it.  I also thought you might find it interesting to see what actually goes on in what seems like a fairly simple restoration...
    I know it doesn't look like it would take much, just a new seat cover and a bit of polish?  No... its actually a little more involved...
    WARNING: There may be the odd swear word.
     This amazing old Oak chair doesn't look that bad in this photo, but the seat was all mouldy, and the frame was covered in tiny paint splatters. 
    Why do ALL old chairs have paint splatters? 
    Also the wood was all dried out and really lackluster...
     It was so grimy with dust and 100 years worth of god knows what in every crevice... I removed the cushion seat and gave the frame a good scrub with warm water and a tiny bit of dish wash detergent (Eco Store is best) which gets rid of all the surface crap.
    A good dry with a towel then its left to air in the sun and breeze.  I never leave anything to drip dry.
    This is a great way to get to know the chair.  Check for any repairs that may need doing and to see any damage or flaws up close.  This chair is so beautiful!  Its so well made, super sturdy and is going to look amazing!  There were a few old repairs that had already been done really well a long time ago, no structural work was needed at all!
    Here are the tools I use to fight with fabric stuck to chairs... you may think its quite simple to just rip off a cover, well sometimes it is, but more often than not its a freaking nightmare... 
    Pretty much everytime I start to pull apart something it uncovers a huge amount of evil... this one is no exception...
    At the first corner I can see that the base is broken, so I know this part which should be a 5 minute job will turn into an hour (at least) with repairs... I do love good repair job though!
    This little set of pliers is actually my most valuable tool, some staples are real a-holes so they need to be extracted with pliers, if you leave them then this happens and it freaking hurts, I constantly have snagged hands!
    I always start out one staple at a time, but if it gets too tedious I just start cutting and ripping... this cover is so stuck with a million rusty old staples that keep breaking, this is the hardest part of restoration when it doesn't come apart with ease... A few swear words, a good playlist and a heap of coffee normally gets me through these tough times...
    Every chair I pull apart reveals a different way of layering, so interesting, and so dusty!!  Such a shame this old board was damaged... 
    Finally!  Stripped bare!  You may think it would have been easier to just make a new frame, but that's where I have gone wrong in the past. 
    These old frames move and warp with time and this frame will already be molded perfectly to the chair, so I always use as much of the original chair as possible, I will however make a new seat... 
    Not sure if this is helpful or not, but I pull apart things on a slippery white foamy underlay, then everything just slips off into the rubbish and I can reuse it next time... (theres always 3 million staples on the ground though!)...
    Woohoo!  Time to get the power tools out!  I normally freestyle my measurements (I know - but it works for me!) but thought I had better do it properly for you with my paint stirring ruler...
    I need more projects that allow me to use my jigsaw thingy... just saying.
    Oops, bit off the mark, will still do the job!
    whack it on with a few tacs, new seat done!
    I have tried a hundred different ways to restore old wood, including all the wood revivers, oils and waxes you can buy.  But Boiled Linseed Oil is my go to, it does the best job and is the easiest to use.
    I prefer to use both steel wool pads and actual steel wool, in different grades from 00 to 0000, it gets off all the paint splatters and grime, but leaves the natural patina that I find so gorgeous on antique furniture.
    A toothbrush gets into all those grooves.
    The oil is wiped as I go with a lint free cloth.
    Its hard to see in photos but the difference is astounding... Such a great sense of achievement at this stage... I live for this sh*t!
    I use a moving blanket to staple tightly on the base, just so if any of the tacs pop up they wont dig into your butt, and it makes it all a bit more secure.
    I use the seat as a template for the foam, I really need a new knife for cutting foam, don't use scissors, it never works out well.
    This is an important part!
    Pop the seat back into the frame to see how much allowance there is for fabric and to make sure the base hasn't warped at all with all the staple pulling and ripping.
    I measure out the dacron the same way and spray glue each layer onto each other.
    Don't buy this glue, its really shit (for this job), I normally buy a really good one from the Foam Dustributors, but trialing a cheaper option has backfired, literally.
    DO NOT use any other type of glue, it burns or disintegrates the foam.
    Foam+Superglue = Burnyourhousedown
    Working with patterns can be a bit of a bit*h, if you pull it too tight on one side it warps the design and you have to unpick the whole thing!  I have learnt to just loosely put a few staples in, check it, then secure it all over.
    Don't talk to me about how many times I have had to redo covers more than once!
    I always check it right side up to make sure the pattern is sitting in a good place...  Also not all fabric is suitable for upholstery - believe me!
    How gorgeous is this fabric chosen by the owner though!  It is so much nicer in person!
    Just a few staples!  Check and secure.
    Corners are dicks, I just keep trying until I get it.
    Two days later... (just kidding, sometimes it feels like it though)...
    I like to make dust covers, they look tidier if your chair falls over.
    I LOVE this part... the Beeswax smells devine and it polishes the wood to a gleaming like new state with some elbow grease... So satisfying!
    Below is an essential step if you have pets or kids, or messy flatmates.
    After:  Quite possibly the most beautiful chair I have ever had the pleasure of working on, all ready to go back to its awesome owner.
    There are so many different types, all with different challenges... I love what I do, especially when the end result is like this!

    If you decide to tackle something after reading this I would love to see your before and afters, tag @walteralicestore on Instagram or Facebook...
    Also if you start something but can't be arsed finishing it, get in touch for a quote, I will happily do it for you.

  • Are you a Mid Century Minimalist or a Bohemian Jungalow Maximalist?

    Did you jump on The Minimalists or KonMari bandwagon?  How are you feeling about it now?  Is more stuff coming into your life to replace what you got rid of?  Or are you actually sticking to a clearer, tidier, less materialistic life...  Hows it working out for you?
    Just as the Minimalist trend started, I discovered hashtags such as  #boldbohemians and #jungalowstyle on Instagram.  Its the total opposite of minimal, shopping at all the op shops to take home what you just dropped off. 
    I just can't get enough of velvet upholstery, big cushions, snuggly throws, persian rugs, millions of plants, op shop knick knacks, vintage art, books, a mix of antique and mid century modern... its an all-over-the-place style and I love it!
    Give me all the stuff, Retro Bohemian and Vintage!
    This room!  From the Instagram page of whatever_happened_to_miss_wolf 
    Check out this article on Lifehack, it will help you decide if you are a Minimalist or a Maximalist... 
    "Minimalism is all about clean lines, empty spaces, plain colors and patterns, the ridding of clutter, the clearing of surfaces and the simplicity of having only what is necessary. It is about minimizing visual noise so that the focus is drawn to only a handful of items that are useful and practical. Minimalist decor embraces storage. It doesn’t mean you don’t have things; it just means they are organized and put away so that they are not constantly accessible and seen."
    "Maximalism, while being completely the opposite to the minimalist style, isn’t necessarily about clutter or excess. It is however visually and spatially busier. Maximalist style is about bold colors, patterns and creativity. It fills a room with interest and variety. A space is brimming with life and history; it tells a story and gives priority to diversity of  functionality. -  for Lifehack
    From The Workshop
    Restoring furniture has made me really appreciate good workmanship, and I do love the great clean lines of mid century design, the wood is best sanded back and oiled/waxed, it is normally soft and easy to work with, and always comes up like new. 
    This fireside chair was destined for the dump but I have restored the wood and recovered it in a cosy wool/alpaca fabric, it sold within an hour of hitting the website!
    There is something extra special in the wear and tear of an antique chair. though... These ones below for example, are in my "to do" pile, however I cant stop admiring them just as they are.  They have a wonderful air about them, so historic and vintagey.  I never strip back the wood in  old chairs like this, instead I use a very fine steel wool and boiled linseed oil to polish it up, this is without disturbing the beautiful natural patina that has come about over what could be 100 years!
    If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you would have seen the last few items I have completed... including this Queen Anne Couch... by far the most difficult but also rewarding item I have ever completed... and
    it is has been marked down by 20%! 
    I have been doing a lot of commission work too, so while there may not be that many items available for sale, I am busy working on loads of other stuff.  (The only reason I am not in the workshop right now is because it is bloody freezing in Wellington today!)
    Heres what I have been up to:
    Click through the photos below to go to the full before and after gallery.
     New Stuff!  BOOKS!!
    So for ages and ages I have been thinking of other things I can offer you from my website, while I am restoring, you may remember me talking about Vintage linen and textiles, home wares etc etc...
    Well I have decided to trial  books... Interior design inspo, you know the type of books you love to flick through for ideas over a coffee, well now you can buy them from me!
    These awesome titles are available for preorder now!  This is just a start, it is a trial though, so if it goes well I will expand this section! 
    Use the code "PREORDER" at the checkout to get 10% off!  this is just until Sunday 15 April 2018 only.
    Stay Warm!

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