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By Clementene Coates, Mar 23 2015 02:01PM

I woke up early in the morning feeling excited to get to the fair, but a little sad that it was the last day. As we wandered towards the BDC from the tube we were amongst groups of people (mostly women I have to say) heading in the same direction, chatting excitedly amongst themselves about what they were most looking forward to seeing at the fair.

I made the decision not to do any painting today; partly because I needed to be dressed smartly as I was a guest speaker on the Country Living Theatre stage in the morning and I didn’t want to be covered in paint; and also because I wanted to get out and about and meet the other exhibitors and get to know more about them and why they love to do what they do.

My topic at the Country Living Theatre was ‘How to Choose the Right Paint Colour’ alongside Joyce Craveiro (Interior Designer at Marston & Langinger), Louise Elliott (Deputy Editor of Country Living Magazine) and Ben Kendrick (Home Design Editor of Country Living Magazine) who was responsible for choosing the colours on the Country Living palette and what a fine job he did of it!

It was soon 11:45am and time for the Q&A. We showcased the gorgeous oak washstand at the front of the stage to show how an old, tired piece of furniture can be transformed with the paint. The benches were filled with visitors to the fair along with a handful of the Country Living team who came along to join the session, including Suzy Smith (Editor in Chief), Catherine Gee (Fairs Consultant) and Alaina Banks (Deputy Home Design Editor).

Louise introduced us all and asked each of our opinions on how to choose the right paint colour. I approached my response from the point of view of painting a piece of furniture: choose colours you love and which suit the style and mood of a room, and always test the colours out first. Ben took us through some gorgeous slides of rooms he’d styled using the Country Living Marston & Langinger paints. I particularly loved a kitchen which had been painted in ‘Charcoal’ a deep grey, black colour.

Ben gave an overview of the process he went through in choosing the colours for the Country Living paint palette; his initial intention was to develop paints for painting walls and units rather than stand-alone pieces of furniture, and he was surprised that so many people were interested in using them to paint furniture too. I wasn’t surprised by this because I paint furniture for a living and these paints are made for doing exactly that!

It was soon time for the audience to ask questions. There were four questions in total and I’m very proud and also very humbled to say that they were all directed at me! People clearly love the idea of painting their own furniture and I loved chatting to them about a range of different techniques for painting the perfect piece and how easy and versatile the Marston & Langinger paints are to use.

The Q&A was soon over and I reminded people that today was their last opportunity to enter the competition to win the painted oak washstand. Visitors wandered over to the Marston & Langinger stand to ask more questions about the paints; take some sample paints pots, a colour card, my business card and leaflet (poor things, they had their hands full by the time they left us!).

All in all the Country Living Fair has been a fantastic experience. I’ve met so many wonderful people and had the chance to indulge my passion in front of a new audience. I’ve spent the last 5 days talking endlessly about the work I’ve been doing and the new paints I’ve been using by Marston & Langinger. It’s also been a joy listening to other people talk about their own passions and ideas for building a successful business. Make sure you keep an eye on my blog over the next few weeks as I will be posting a new one about all the other wonderful exhibitors I met at the fair.

Despite the fair being over, I’ll most definitely be adding a number of pots of Marston & Langinger to my paint cupboard. I have a couple of beautiful bureaus in the workshop right now which need painting and I’m planning to use Marston & Langinger’s paints to do this. I’ll be sure to do another of my ‘How To’ blogs to give a step-by-step process on painting a piece of furniture.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the whole Country Living and Marston & Langinger teams for having me and good luck to all those who entered the competition. Whoever wins the painted washstand, I’d love to see a picture of it in its new home…

Please read my blogs from the previous 4 days of the Country Living Spring Fair

By Clementene Coates, Mar 23 2015 01:31AM

Four days of painting now at the Country Living Spring Fair at the BDC in Angel, London. I still haven’t grown tired of it, although my feet might have - just a little!

By the end of Day 4 we’d painted a total of 10 pieces in a range of colours from the Marston & Langinger Country Living palette.

First up was a lovely pair of wooden step stools, both of which belonged to the lovely Catherine Gee (Fairs Consultant at Country Living), who’d brought them in from home to let us demonstrate the versatility of the paints.

As both step stools were off to an already decorated room (one for the kitchen, the other for the bathroom), it was important to select the right colours to complement Catherine’s home. After consulting the colour palette in the brochure we decided to go with ‘Twine’ and ‘Swedish Blue’, The Swedish Blue went on a treat; however, after painting the first coat of Twine we realised this wasn’t quite the right shade of grey. As such, we decided to paint over the Twine with ‘Icicle’ – a very subtle shade of blue which in certain lights looks almost white.

After a couple of additional coats of Icicle the stool looked splendid, as did the one painted in Swedish Blue.

This was a gentle reminder of the importance of using sample pots to make sure you’re happy with the colours you’ve chosen. Regardless of what paint you use on furniture, walls or ceilings the actual colour can vary significantly from the ones you see on paper, so you should always be sure to test it out first.

A new coat of paint doesn’t always have to be for large pieces of furniture; smaller items can be up-cycled too. In order to prove this, the next two pieces I painted, which were also for Catherine, were a pair of small desk organisers.

For the piece with two drawers, I painted this in ‘Inky Blue’. At the last minute I decided to leave the fronts of the drawers unpainted. If I’m totally honest, this was because it was impossible to remove the metal label holders and in the interests of time, (I didn’t have enough of it to get out my detail brushes and get up and in behind the fixings) I had to leave the drawers as they were. Pleasingly, however, it worked a treat and it shows that you don’t have to paint an entire piece to give it a new look.

As for the piece with six little drawers, I used ‘Charcoal’ on the main outer section and on two of the drawers and then I mixed different quantities of ‘Eiderdown’ with the Charcoal to create two other unique shades of grey which I used on the remaining drawers. This shows that you don’t have to restrict yourself to the Country Living palette (as gorgeous as it is!) and you can have fun with these paints by mixing them to create your very own bespoke shades.

When 6 o’clock finally came round I stood back and looked at the lovely portfolio of pieces I’d painted.

The ladies from Marston & Langiner also painted a little stool in ‘Gentle Green’, which looked very pretty indeed and sang of spring.

The last of the fair’s visitors who’d just been sipping tea in Birchall’s Tea Room passed by to say hello, ask some questions, take some sample paint pots and of course enter the competition to win the gorgeous oak washstand painted in ‘Deep Teal’, ‘Teal’ and ‘Polar Blue’. I can’t wait to find out who the lucky winner is (and I’m a little jealous that I’m not taking the piece home myself!).

Over the course of the day, Pete and I finally had the chance to get out and see some of the rest of the fair. It was great to see so many talented people showcasing their talent. It’s inspiring to know that others have also followed their dreams to create something truly original. Once I’m back in Yorkshire I’ll be writing a post showcasing the work of a selection of the exhibitors we met, but in the meantime, I’ve included some of my highlights below.

Jane Means @JaneMeans

Jane has developed a beautiful range of gift wrap and ribbons and even offers courses across the country for those who want to learn the art of perfectly wrapping gifts (Pete has even offered to go on one of these to improve his Christmas present wrapping skills, which, by his own admission, need a bit of work!).

Sophie Allport @SophieAllport

Sophie’s range of homewares featuring her unique animal designs have always been a particular favourite of mine. I can’t help but think, like me, she must have been an avid reader of the Beatrix Potter books as a young girl because, while her work is entirely original, it conjures up memories of Peter Rabbit running through Farmer McGregor’s garden. This particular design (although a Labrador) always makes me think of Oscar snuffling around in the kitchen looking for scraps!

Heck Food @HeckFood

Fellow Yorkshire-folk and unbelievably good sausage-makers - these were some of the best sausages we’ve ever eaten. We saw many of their uniquely branded cool bags in the hands of show visitors as they wandered around the BDC, which is always a good sign!

Fiona Sciolti @ScioltiChocs

Fiona is an artisan chocolatier and a very good one at that. We took my brother John, his wife Jenny and my niece and nephew, Amber and Gideon, along to her stand. Needless to say Amber and Gideon were big fans and Pete made sure he took a bar of her Hazelnut Praline Chocolate home with him (although I doubt it will make it back as far as Yorkshire!).

Uniquely Eclectic @uniquelyeclecti

Anna & Wendy from Uniquely eclectic are such lovely ladies. They sell their carefully curated range of contemporary homewares and accessories onlinet. Anna was kind enough to share some of her own experiences of setting up and growing her business too, which was very kind of her.

Whinberry & Antler @WhinberryAntler

Jacinta is a wonderful artist and produces some of the most beautiful illustrations of British wildlife, which she screen prints on to fabrics to make into lovely cushions, lampshades and tea towels (as well as a range of Tankard mugs as well). She sources her fabrics from Bradford (another shameless Yorkshire plug, I know) and produces it all from a little workshop in her back garden in Shropshire. Jacinta is one of my middle names too!

Giraffe & Hobbit @GiraffeHobbitUK

A great couple who plied Pete with multiple samples of their delicious red wine. If you ever get the chance to meet them, you’ll understand their brand name, which is testament to their good humour and friendly nature. Well worth checking out if, like Pete, you’re partial to a drop of the red (or white) stuff. They do a couple of great Chateau Neuf Du Pape varieties that are far nicer and better value than what you’ll find in the supermarkets.

Tomorrow I will post the highlights from Day 5 before finally getting in the car to drive back to Yorkshire to see Oscar & Aoife again for the first time in over a week. We miss them dearly…

Please read the rest of my Country Living Spring Fair blog series if you haven't yet had the chance.

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Here's the place to find out what Clementene's been up to. She'll post updates on new projects; features she's written for Country Living Magazine UK; design tips and tricks; and 'how to' guides for ways to paint your own furniture. Clementene's blog is regularly updated so make sure you keep coming back. You can follow Clementene on social media too (check out the links above) and don’t forget to post your comments - Clementene would love to hear from you. And, for those wanting the latest news, sign up for Clementene's Newletter...

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