Mandala mosaic garden table

When I went to a local junk shop to buy a mid-century sideboard, I spotted another glass-top garden table. I do love these. I don’t think they are much to look at in their original state but they are perfect for adding a touch of mosaic decoration!

As the table was circular, I wanted to create a mandala-style design.

I began by placing tiles around the edge of the table to create a border, varying the colours with each row. I then located the centre of the table, divided the circle into eight segments and began to fill out the pattern; playing with different shapes, sizes and colours to develop contrast and balance in the pattern.

I always like to use broken mirror in my work; I love the way light reflects on the broken pieces. The effect is magnified when the table is in the garden as it mirrors its surroundings and twinkles in the sunlight.

Once I’d finished cutting the mirror pieces and positioning all the mosaic tiles, I used a tile adhesive to stick each piece down.

The next step was to grout the tiles. I prefer to use a dark grey grout, rather than white, to give a dramatic contrast against the colourful tiles.

I used a powder grout that when mixed with water becomes water and frost resistant. I mixed it to a slightly fluid solution and used a palette knife, making sure the grout filled all of the gaps.

Once the grout had begun to set I used a damp cloth to wipe over the tiles to clean off the excess. The grout was left to dry overnight and then I polished the tiles using a clean cloth and scraped off any excess grout from the edges of the tiles.

This is the finished table…

Waverley Paddle Steamer Trip

For my mum’s birthday I booked a day trip on the Waverley Paddle Steamer, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world! We left mid-afternoon from the end of Southend Pier, arriving at Tower Bridge in London just after sunset.

Photo: © Waverley Excursions Ltd

The Waverley was built on the Clyde in Scotland and was launched in 1947. After a long career she was bought for £1 in 1975 by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. She now makes regular pleasure trips around the UK throughout the year, which includes trips along the Thames.

It was fascinating to see the coastline and famous landmarks from a fresh perspective.

Tilbury Docks unloading a container ship…


The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge…

QE2 Bridge

A view of the Docklands skyline in the distance…


The Thames Barrier…


The Millenium Dome…


Our first glimpse of the Shard and the City skyline at sunset…


Behind us was this stunning view of Canary Wharf, all lit up…


The Thames has many twists and turns on the approach to Tower Bridge, which can be very disorientating! Around the final bend we approached Tower Bridge, which opened to enable us to pass through…


…and under…


Wow! What a view!

Thank you Waverley. Until next year…

Mid-century sideboard

In our design studio we’ve been looking to replace a rather large storage unit with something smaller. The room doubles up as a work space and a guest bedroom but space is of a premium. The old piece of furniture we wanted to replace, although useful, did take up too much space and was a good excuse to hoard ‘stuff’ that didn’t really need to be there. So we wanted to find something smaller, that was cheap and we could ‘do up’.

In the local area, there are a large number of secondhand, house-clearance shops that I regularly browse around. We visited one of these shops that has a huge amount of furniture stacked floor to ceiling. And it’s here where we found our mid-century sideboard.


The top section had two shelves (which I took off to paint). The bottom sliding cupboard had shelves on the left and three drawers on the right.


I began by mixing a chalk paint solution using plaster of paris and grey emulsion. I lightly sanded down the furniture and applied the paint to the back and sides.

Once that had dried I pasted wallpaper on to the top section and front cupboard door. The back cupboard door and drawer fronts were also painted in a chalk paint solution using colours to compliment the wallpaper.

As we’ll put the printers on the bottom shelf we drilled a large hole in the back to feed the cables through.

This is the finished piece…


…and the drawers…


…and in situ…


We love it!