Lynn O’Rourke: ‘The book makes it look easy. What can go wrong?’

WE HAVE a crisis in the garage. The ‘tidied-away’ toys, books, CDs and DVDs in there, along with various bits of garden equipment, a bike shop’s worth of tools, tyres, and plastic bits (that will prove irreplaceable should they be thrown out), a cot bed, and, of course, the two large packing cases that I salvaged, have all become too much. Too much for me to get to the washing machine in one piece. And too much for my other half to set up his training bike in there, which means the so-called sun room is currently a makeshift, inner tube-strung gym.

Something has to go. Actually, quite a lot has to go, but I’m easing into it. The packing cases I forced my other half to drag down from the attic a year ago because I needed them right away and that have languished, ignored, ever since need to be dealt with. They are going to be cleaned, painted and made useful.

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Coincidentally, Annie Sloan’s book, Color Recipes for Painted Furniture, recently landed on my desk. Full of tips, I was engrossed in minutes. Not only am I going to sort out those cases, I’m going to transform our old wooden Ikea chairs (apparently you can paint over the wicker seats), and get my daughters to monoprint their wooden table... My family look worried, but the book makes it look easy. What can possibly go wrong?

It took more than a lick of paint to transform a 17th century villa in St Andrews into the beautiful home it is today, but Linda and John 
Cunningham recognised the potential. The impressive results are on p4. Architect Douglas Forrest and his wife Carol have created a stunning minimalist space from an old barn building in Aberdeenshire, which you can see on page 8. And on page 12, the founders behind successful chocolate company, Cocoa Black, talk about returning to the family home in Peebles and putting their own stamp on it. k