I am a big fan of a little bit of mismatching. Last year when I still had the shop, I went in search of a some sets of vintage champagne glasses at an antique market. I had a conversation with a dealer about all of the odd glasses which she owned and couldn’t sell. She told me that in her house on Christmas morning she puts a selection of mismatched vintage champagne glasses on a tray and in her opinion they looked so much more interesting. Ok, now maybe she was a good saleswoman, but I think she had a point. When you think about all the lovely things which are discarded because they don’t match, because they are no longer part of a full set.

Mismatched chairs look fantastic around a dining table. I actually love a completely mismatched grouping, but here I have unified the chairs by using a cool colour palette with a soft white stencilled motif.

Each chair has been painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Aubusson, Provence and Greek Blue. Remember there is no need to prepare the surface of the wood other than wiping down to remove grease and dust.

I used the Janpath, Jodhpur and Kota stencils which work well together as they are all the same size. The stencil designs were painted with Original which is a lovely soft creamy white. You could also reverse the colour and paint the chair in Original with a coloured stencil on top. I suppose that really the point with mismatching is that the rules don’t really apply, you can do what you want!

3 chairs A 23 chairs close 2

kota jophpur janpath

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Two Day’s Work

This week I have been working on my press release. This is all very new to me and to be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing, but I suppose the most important thing is to do something!

Having written the words I started to pull some photos together and decided I need to work on a couple of new pieces which really show my stencils off. I went in search of some old chairs, but ended up buying a massive wooden chest, which stood forlornly in the corner of the shop. Aha I thought, here is my perfect blank canvas.

I painted it with a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Old White. There was quite a lot of bleed through from the old varnish but this wasn’t a problem once a coat of Paris Grey was added on top. The interior was painted with Scandinavian Pink, which is a not a colour I use very often, but it is a gorgeous colour and it has added some depth to the softness of the exterior. Before I started stencilling, I gave the whole thing a coat of clear wax.

The stencilling was heavily inspired by the beautiful bone inlay furniture I used to see in India. The craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful pieces is amazing, each piece takes real time, care and skill.

For this chest, I used the Mini Triangles, Rajasthan and Neemrana Border stencils with the Orissa Stripe making it’s debut. I kept the stencil brush really dry with very little paint on it so that the stencilling is really soft. The lay out of the design was built up gradually and once the top and front were completed, it became apparent that I needed to continue around the sides and the back. It took me two days to complete, but I am rather pleased with it. Now, off to find those chairs!

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side viewinteriorb

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A Few Mistakes

When I began working on this cupboard I didn’t really know what I was doing. Never having used Relief Stencil Paste before, this piece has been a bit of a journey of discovery. Now, I am feeling ever so slightly addicted and in need of a new project. There are so many possibilities.

I made a few mistakes on this cupboard and it has been through several transformations. At one point, it had white coving and gold hi-lights which was far too fussy, then I painted it back to grey, but the relief work didn’t really show up. Finally after some advise from my mentor I added a wash of watered down Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Old White. Eventually, I am happy with it.

While I was struggling to get this cupboard right, I happened to be listening to a programme on the radio about the importance of making mistakes. The next day I saw a quote on Pinterest which read “mistakes are proof you are trying”. So, instead of feeling frustrated about my mistakes, I have actually ended up feeling quite self righteous!Pine CupboardRelief StencillingWhite wash

grey close upgrey9You can find it here



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Bottom Drawer, Pirate Chest…..

I was given this metal trunk by my mum, to be used by my son as a pirate chest. As he is just entering his second year at university that period in the trunk’s life is over.

Originally it had belonged to my Aunty Belle. She was in fact not related to me, but she was a very good friend and neighbour to my grandmother. The trunk had been used as her ‘bottom drawer’. Marrying in the 1930’s, she had filled it with pre-marital gifts of embroidered linens and sheets and had kept it throughout her long marriage.

Now looking a little tired and very rusty, I decided to paint and stencil it,  in order to revive what is still a really useful piece of furniture.

I painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Graphite and added a liberal coating of both clear and dark wax. It was then stencilled using my Mini Kota stencil, keeping it really simple with just three motifs on the top. Finally I added some gorgeous vintage metal tassels which I bought in Delhi from the Rajasthani embroidery ladies.

Here it is, completely transformed, taking on a modern ethnic vibe. I wonder what it’s next re-invention maybe!


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Creativity Versus Commerciality

One of the (many) reasons I left my well paid design job for a life of financial uncertainty,  was because of a growing need to fulfil my creative urges and a rejection of the need to be “on trend”.

I think that any creative person who needs to earn a living will always struggle with the tension between creativity versus commerciality. I recently set up a unit at The Hertfordshire Craft Collective in Radlett and in a bid to make it a commercially viable space, I painted some pieces in grey and white, a colour combination which normally I love. In situ however, it all looked a bit dull and a bit safe.

Creativity has taken precedence over commerciality this week and I am going to completely change the space. Here are some of the pieces I am going to be using.Nicolette Tabram Designs Bureau 5desk2chairsstoolprovence1


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Less Is More

This beautiful Ottoman was dropped into my shop last week.

It was actually made by the customer’s brother for his mother. It is such a useful piece of furniture, but painted in a slightly yellowed white gloss paint it was in need of some re-invention.

I painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Paris Grey and added my Neemrana Border stencil around the edges in Old White. We discussed the possibility of adding more stencilling but sometimes, less is definitely more.

I could have sold this piece to three different customers. Partly because it looks so lovely, but also because it really is such a useful piece of furniture.TRUNK3TRUNK4TRUNK2

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This red chair left the shop with it’s new owner this morning.

I had another of the chairs already painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Old White and waiting for the stencil design to be added. I keep meaning to do a tasteful, neutral chair, but for some reason I feel compelled to use the bright colours on the chairs.

I opted for the reverse of the one just sold and stencilled it in Emperor’s Silk. It is the perfect sister to the red version and seems such a shame that they never met each other! red chairred stencil 5red stencil 1red stencil 3red stencil4_DSC0017red stencil2

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