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Its been way too long since we’ve last posted (terrible I know), but life has been busy. Planning a wedding, entertaining friends from abroad and nosing around the job market has kept us both on our toes but suffice to say, Gumtree has been a busy bee and was working hard for us.

Have to admit, our money was pegged on Vanessa but Balthazar flew off the shelf and we had two people vying for his attention! 

And there we have it - Monday 30th January, Balthazar found a new SW london home - time to start picking up momentum and getting the rest of our finds out the door…



Name: Balthazar
Items: Cushion w. Button
Fabrics: Yellow Velvet | Flowery Linen | 
Selling Here: Etsy - Neat & Tidy   

Name: Balthazar
Items: Foot Stool
Fabrics: Yellow Velvet | Flowery Linen | Glossy Wood
Selling Here: Etsy - Neat & Tidy   

Name: Vanessa
Items: Bedside Table
Fabrics: White Gloss | White/Grey Linen
Selling Here: Etsy - Neat & Tidy   

Name: Vanessa
Items: Cushion
Fabrics: Yellow Weave | White/Grey Linen
Selling Here: Etsy - Neat & Tidy  

Name: Vanessa
Items: Dressing Table Chair
Fabrics: Yellow Weave | White/Grey Linen | White Gloss
Selling Here: Etsy - Neat & Tidy  

Neat & Tidy 2012Q1 - First Collection

15 days into 2012 and we have reached a first milestone by delivering our first Red Apples under our new brand name - Neat & Tidy (Red Apple seems to be quite popular but remains our Brand Promise). 

This is not only very exciting because we are about to find out if the world thinks as highly about our handy work as we do, but it is undoubtedly the closes I have ever been to staying true to a New Years Resolution (kind of). 

The first collection consists of two lines: Vanessa & Balthazar including five pieces and here are the pictures of the final pieces here!

Reupholstery Junkies (Hello Vanessa)

Now one thing those DIY reupholstery YouTube clips don’t warn you, is that once you’ve successfully restored a once decrepit piece into a thing of beauty, it becomes difficult to put down the sandpaper and scissors.

That boring tub chair, prized dressing table, even the chest of drawers your friend just bought.  You picture them all looking so much better after your magic touch and itch to get your hands on them.

It took us a grand total of 6 hours before we were back at it again (5 hours sleep + an hour for breakfast).  This time it was Vanessa, an elegant dressing table stool found on Gumtree and picked up from a damp Islington cellar.  With so much potential she had been laid to waste due to her terrible flaky silver effect paint and washed out lilac seat and so desperately needed some love.

And we were the ones to give it.  Game faces on, nails filed down and Jamie Woon blasting from the speakers (thanks to our girl Nathalie’s amazing Spotify playlist), we were amped and ready to breathe life back into this hidden gem.

Whilst we’d learnt some tactics from Balthazar I’m not going to lie, reupholstering and trimming a kidney - shaped object is a b****.  Fabric needs to the tight and smooth yet still bend around multiple curved edges…then the piping….staple? sew? glue? over or under the seating fabric? Never again I’m telling you.

With sheer determination (that Scorpio stubborn streak can come in useful) we were finally able to sit back and admire our latest creation.  There stood Vanessa, upholstered in a stunning lime green weave with cream piping, complimented by a cream and grey striped linen cushion.

Giving each other a finger tip high-five we took a sip of post New Years champagne and put down the sandpaper and scissors.  But only for a moment - on to the next….

The Birth of Balthazar

Three days since our last post and we’ve been keeping ourselves busy.  Our cosy living room has now been transformed into an impromptu workshop and New Years was celebrated amongst a pile of fabric clippings, sandpaper and broken nails (both steel and the human kind).

We have a habit of naming all our prized possession (my fiance is Swedish, need I say any more?) therefore deemed it appropriate to grace each of our Red Apple items with the same respect.  

Our first project, Balthazar, (thus named because of his air of regency), was a brown leather chesterfield footstool rescued from the back of my parents garage. Over 30 years old, he had once been the pride of the home but after years of misuse from two hyperactive children now suffered with a broken leg and ripped upholstery so had been demoted in the last house move.

Now I could bore you with a breakdown of the blood, sweat and tears that went into our restoration project but a picture speaks a thousand words and needless to say, it wasn’t easy. Throw into the mix two opinionated, headstrong Scorpios and you can imagine that the New Year fireworks weren’t limited to our neighbours’ back garden.

Step by step…

However, 8 hours, a new wooden frame, 2 broken nails and 30 minutes of silent treatment later and we were done.  

A beautiful reclaimed footstool with mahogany legs, golden velvet upholstery, french linen buttons and a matching cushion - Balthazar was born, and we were damn proud parents!

Tooling up

Now we’re talking.  A treasure trove of discarded and unloved stools, tables and chests eagerly awaiting our tender touch, but where to start? Emotions aside, we have to get brutal - after all we’re doing this to make money, not fill our petite abode with our dream items…or could we??

Snapping out of it we started where any self-respecting restorers-to-be would, YouTube. After sifting through copious home made movies detailing the intricasies of reupholstery and reclamation it didn’t take long to realise that, despite of our grand ideas, we were going to have to start small.  And more importantly, we needed to tool up.

Great, another unplanned expense. But isn’t that the point of good business - the more you put in, the more you get out, so now we’ve committed we aren’t about to start skimping.

First job make a list (if you’re already aware of my slight OCD then you’ll understand that this is more of a treat than a chore).  Sewing machine, upholstery books and cutting tools from mumsy. Saw, drill and pliers from dad…sandpaper, screw driver and staple gun already at home.  Ok, for the rest a trip to the shops was in order. 

Varnish, paint, timber from B&Q. That was the easy task - on to the fabric.

Mums hobby of curtain making had led her to the Aladdin’s cave of soft furnishing, Curtain Warehouse in North Finchely. We were warned it could be overwhelming, but nothing could have prepared us for it.

We arrived in the pouring rain and walked down the side of what appeared to be a house, with only the reams of discounted Cath Kidson fabric covered in tarpaulin confirming we were in the right spot. Before we had got our bearings we were summoned through a plastic curtain by a rather blunt, rather short blonde woman. “Can you sign in when you are finished looking at those?”  Hmm, right - name…first time visit…how we heard of you…no email? Ok, weird but whatever works for you luv…

We didn’t have long to reflect on the awkward customer service or lack of marketing savvy as we were thrust a map and sent into a smorgasbord of luscious fabric, all with equally beautiful and inspiring patterns, shades and textures.  4 more rooms AND a trade warehouse?! They had to be kidding - but no they weren’t. Panic set in as we realised this place deserved a day trip, not just the measly 30 minutes we had set aside.

Game faces on we raced around snapping potential clothing for our collection and gathering samples along the way, better to go home and let each item dictate their preference wethinks…