Fusion Paint review: the house that mineral paint built

So, there is a running joke since we started renovating our 11-bedder manoir in the Charente, France. Even our local antiques dealer is in on it. Basically if it’s not nailed down, I’ll paint it. Namely with Fusion mineral paint.

cropped.fusion.mineral.paint.chart.classic.collection.ash.buy.shop.online.retailer.dear.olympia_1024x1024My unlikely obsession with this niche Canadian paint brand came about thanks to a 10€ buggy. I know right? Total steal. I saw it advertised on a local Facebook selling site and snapped it up. So off I toddled with my trusty sat nav into deepest darkest Charente in search of Sue and her bargain buggy. Not only did I get a fab 3-wheeler, it turns out Sue is the French retailer for both Annie Sloan chalk paint from the UK and Fusion mineral paint in her converted stable block near Poitiers. And so the obsession was born.

I had dabbled with chalk paint in the UK, but I find it hard to apply, the waxing is laborious and we’re not really going for that ‘shabby chic’ look that chalk paint is so good for.

Enter stage left, Fusion. I was immediately drawn to their sludgy earthy tones and, I’ll be honest, by the fact that it paints onto pretty much any surface without need for primer, or top coat. It’s a one-stop shop. Varnished wood, metal, even fabric. It’s quite a thin consistency but covers a-mazingly and is ‘self levelling’, which in reality means if you’re a slap-dash painter like me you can slosh it on (it doesn’t drag like chalk paint), and voila – no brush marks. Drips can be a problem but you really need less paint on your brush than you think. They sell special brushes designed to be used with their paints, which I thought was a load of rubbish to begin with but after roadtesting them they really do help minimise paint wastage and get a better finish.

Here’s a couple of junk-shop pieces that I’ve painted in their ‘Sterling’ grey (my favourite hue):

2017-02-13 12.05.052017-02-12 16.45.01I painted the hideous yellow bathroom cabinets in their amazing putty coloured ‘Algonquin’ for a quick fix till we renovate the bathrooms, and this bargain 10€ mirror for my dressing table:

2017-02-15 11.07.24They do have waxes and ‘finishers’, so you can create different effects with them but I love the low sheen, high pigment finish it gives straight from the pot.

The formula is perfect for a family home as it is zero VOC (they even do a special nursery range which is beautiful). It ‘cures’ in daylight leaving a rock-hard, chip (aka child) resistant, washable finish. What’s not to love?!

We haven’t just used it for renovating furniture, we’ve done a lot of our woodwork in it too as it’s so hard-wearing. I love the original door furniture next to ‘Bedford’:

FullSizeRenderI will keep you posted over the summer months as I will be back in France smothering any solid surface in more beautiful hues – the house has its own instagram page: @laretraite_fr if you want to see more shots of how it’s coming along.

CF x





If Harry Potter made loos…

This would be it…

Do you like what I did there?! I’m basically an architect. A bit of parcel tape and ta dah! One understairs loo, fit for this muggle family (I think our builder thinks I’m nuts).

Aaaaannyway, this is what I’m envisaging…

597aa2835dd448e68296f3ce0cc91c81Now all we have to agree* on is the wallpaper. I’ve always wanted the smallest room in the house to have AMAZING wacky, bold wallpaper (*when I say agree, I mean cajole my husband into agreeing with my choice).

Here are the options:

wallpaper moonstone wallpaper boats wallpaper cockatoos wallpaper booksI am totally team Cockatoo (Osborne & Little, Cockatoos by Quentin Blake) but Mr CF has deemed it too ‘Robin Williams Birdcage’, which frankly is a plus in my book… I’ll let you know if I break him…

A new tattoo

Aged 19, I downed a triple Jack Daniels and walked into the first tattoo parlour I came across in Camden Market one busy Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t as much of a whim as it may appear; I had been doodling tattoos on my jotter since the tender age of 12, but waited until I was 200 miles or so away from my parents to pluck up the courage to have it inked on my body. Needless to say they were horrified (my father in fact rang a lazer removal company for a quote).

So as I lay on the tattoo bench for the second time earlier this month, I couldn’t help wondering what my daddy would think of his baby daughter’s latest etching…

2016-05-04 12.33.28Not least because it’s a tribute to him. My daddy was born and died on the 24th. The heartbreaking symmetry immediately struck a chord with me and planted the seed for this latest inking almost immediate after his death in 2013.

It took me a while to find the right font, I wanted something reminiscent of his own handwriting, and finally settled for this relaxed, loopy script.

It’s on my left ribs (he was left handed and it’s near my heart) and let me tell you readers. IT BLOODY HURT. This from a woman who lives with chronic back pain (I have mild spina bifida), has endured two 36-hour labours and two emergency c-sections… it BURNED. More than that, as the needle jack-hammered against my rib bones it made me feel sick. Luckily, it isn’t massive (props to my husband who sits for 4-5 hour sessions on his full back-piece and sleeve designs), so took 25-mins, max. More than that and I might have had to stop at ‘twenty’.

Much like childbirth, the second it was done the pain was forgotten and I was already planning my next tat… suffice to say, I’m hooked. Sorry Daddy.


CF Grows: A saunter around an English cottage garden in Devon

As the baby slumbered last week, I decided to take 5 minutes away from my desk for a quiet walk around our garden, albeit in the drizzle, to drink in the green lushness of our cottage garden in full bloom.

It made me stop and realise just how far this little 1/2 acre plot has come since we moved in 2 years ago, so I thought I’d (proudly) share a few snaps.

After 30 years of neglect we had to lose 6 mature trees and take most of the landscape back to bare soil (not to mention rebuild the 80ft boundary wall when it blew down). In fact, this time last year we were down to one rather straggly buddleia and a stump of Japanese anenome.

Now look at it:

We build some wigwams out of old canes we found in the shed and scattered some sweet pea seeds around the base. They grow like weeds and best of all, I get a fragrant posy for my bedside table three times a week.

The aforementioned Japanese anenome is such a beauty and the once bedraggled buddleia is now acting as a fully booked butterfly hotel.

The hollyhocks have been a huge success. I like a bit of height and drama in the garden. They’re over 8ft now:

The biggest success has been the combo of fennel and verbena. Two more giants, I love the delicate yellow and wispy fronds of the fennel against the structural vibrant verbena. Great for the back of our 5ft deep bed.

We have disguised a long stretch of trellis with a succession of blousy David Austin roses in romantic pastel shades. The flowering is over now but this is the on we planted in memory of my Daddy back in May:

On the edible front we’ve had a reasonable crop of cherries from the new Morello tree and a good punnet or so of blueberries from the trio of bushes we brought down from London.

The cherry tomatoes are just ripening and the Williams pear and Cox Orange Pippin apples are bending the boughs with fruit:

Gardening in general has been such a tonic these past few months, it’s distracting, physically exhausting, rewarding and mind-calming. I can’t wait to get the chickens in and the veg plot landscaped with raised beds and a fruit cage next spring. Stay tuned…

CF x

CF Loves: Danish interiors brand, Bloomingville

So I have just fallen in love with the Danish Interiors company, Bloomingville. They are stocked at various independent boutiques across the country but somehow I’ve only just discovered their brand of modern Scandi interiors (read bleached woods, clean lines, organic shapes and mutes palettes with shots of colour).

If you don’t know their lovely stuff already, I’ve knocked up a little moodboard of my favourite pieces from the new catalogue to whet your whistle; you know, not as a sponsored post or anything, just for fun (I’m a photoshop geek, indulge me):

I like to think of it as a more refined, grown-up’s Ikea. Without the stress levels.

You can view the catalogue here: www.bloomingville.dk

A quick guide to making Christmas presents

Via http://pinterest.com/misslib/

Every year in the 10 days or so leading up to Christmas I try and add a little sparkle to my shop-bought gifts by adding a little ‘extra’ that I’ve made myself. I’m neither a saint, nor Kirstie Allsopp, so I keep it pretty simple.

A bundle of parmesan cheese straws (here’s Mark Hix recipe) fresh from the oven and wrapped in pretty ribbon is always a winner (especially with men when presented with a good red!), or a jar of homemade marmalade that I made months ago and stock piled in preparation (my failsafe ‘elderly relative’ gift). That batch of elderflower cordial I made earlier in the year has been languishing in my freezer, I’ll be defrosting it and decanting it into stoppered bottles and presenting it with a bottle of Prosecco for easy Christmas Day cocktails. I also thought that a trio of Kilner jars filled with spiced apple compote, homemade granola and my super easy DIY yoghurt would be a great gift and a welcome change from heavy Christmas fare.

I’m also waiting for a delivery from Baldwins, my fantastic South London based apothecary, so I can make a nourishing body oil and corresponding body wash as last minute gifts for girly relatives. I’ll be posting the recipe for this next week (here is my first attempt at DIY beauty, a scalp nourishing bergamot and lime shampoo).

Tomorrow I’ll post a couple of ‘go-to’ sites for brilliant, UK-based (and UK-tax paying!) gift companies that I’ve come to rely on since moving to the sticks. The bliss of Christmas shopping minus the crowds, cold and blaring carols is not to be underestimated!

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