Beautiful, fabric-covered notebooks are perfect gifts because they can be used as address books, diaries, scrapbooks, or places to write down favourite poems or quotations. Covered notebooks are expensive to buy but you can make them for next to nothing using plain notebooks and scraps of fabric. Old wallpaper could also be used instead of fabric. However, if the original notebook cover is dark or heavily patterned, make sure your fabric is thick enough that the original cover won’t show through. Envelopes glued inside will hold receipts or mementos, while ribbons, tape, or leather strings can be used to tie the notebooks closed.
What You Will Need
Iron and spray starch
Fabric such as linen
Pencil and ruler
1in- (2.5cm-) wide double-sided tape
Needle and sewing thread
Button, ribbon, and large round sticker (all optional)
Twill tape or leather string (optional)
Craft glue (optional)
Fabric scraps, ribbons, or other decoration
Envelopes no larger than notebook
Iron the fabric with spray starch to stiffen it. Place the fabric wrong side up on your work surface and lay the notebook open on top. With a pencil and a ruler, mark out a rectangle on the fabric at least 1 1/4in (3cm) larger than the notebook all around. Using scissors, cut out the fabric.
Stick double-sided tape to the outside edges of the notebook, but not to the spine area as this needs to be free to move. Remove the backing paper from the tape. With the notebook closed, stick the fabric to the outside, leaving an equal amount of fabric projecting all around.
At each side of the spine at the top and bottom, snip into the fabric that projects beyond the notebook. Stick double-sided tape to the edge of the projecting fabric, but only as far as the snips—leave the fabric above and below the spine free of tape.
Remove the backing paper from the tape. Fold the taped fabric onto the inside of the book and stick down. Snip off the excess fabric at the top and bottom of the spine. Miter the corners
If you are using a button and ribbon, sew the button to the front, sewing through only the fabric by inserting the needle at an angle.
Cut the ribbon so it is long enough to be wrapped around the notebook at least once and then around the button (if used). If you have sewn on a button, stick the ribbon in place on the inside, just under the button, using a large round sticker. If you are not using a button, the ribbon doesn’t need to be stuck on. If you are using a leather string or twill tape instead of ribbon, cut them so they are long enough to be wrapped around the notebook and tied. (If desired, you could make a tying loop at the end of the leather string, gluing the end in place.)
Decorate Your Notebook
Stick on your chosen decoration. I used strips of colored polka dots and squares from a piece of fabric for one notebook, sticking them to the spine and front with double-sided tape. Ribbon looks pretty, too.
Stick envelopes to one or more of the pages with double-sided tape, leaving the flaps open to create pockets. To cover the fabric edges on the inside of the covers, stick on either an envelope that is the exact size of the cover or a rectangle of paper or fabric cut to size. If you wish, make a bookmark from a strip of patterned fabric and place it inside.
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Tie the ribbon, leather string, or twill tape around the book.
You’ve just finished taking down the tree and folded away the Christmas stockings. Most of us will spend the weekend packing away all the beautiful baubles and gorgeous garlands that have dressed our homes since December, feeling sad to see all our little Christmas treasures being tucked away for another year… I sat and wondered today, what kind of decorations could be used in our homes for winter? Nothing that screams Christmas, but something but cozy enough to fill the house with warmth to get you through the chill of the winter. Here are a few ideas to try…
Decorate a Mantlepiece
The mantlepiece is often the focal point of our living room, and I love decorating mine for Christmas, but once we take down the stockings and the garlands, it can look completely bare and just a little bit depressing. Here, antique style books in neutral tones add warmth, while the iron birdcages (which can be found at shops such as the Range or Dunhelm) can be filled with candles. Fill ceramic jugs of different sizes with greenery from the garden to freshen your room and bring the outside in. The addition of a mirror captures the extra light on winter days. Proving wreaths are for life and just for Christmas, this one inn natural tones works beautifully positioned in the centre of the mirror.
Alternative Christmas Tree
Who says we can’t enjoy a tree after Christmas? Cut smaller branches from the garden, pop them into a pretty glass vase and dress your twig tree with items that say “winter” – instead of “Christmas”. Pretty jewelled glass Christmas tree trinkets can be re-purposed rather beautifully. A gold mirror adds a touch of metallic magic, as do the little silver voties, also left over from Christmas.
The twinkle of Christmas tree lights and their soft glow on a cold winter night is one of the things I hate saying goodbye to most… I love this lovely, large heart made from reclaimed pallet wood which adds texture. String it with fairly lights to prolong that festive twinkle during the winter months…
Fairy Lights should fill our homes all year round…
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Add a different type of Greenery
We are all familiar with Christmas pointsettas, pine cones and garlands to liven up pur homes during the festive season… After the greenery of Christmas is removed, try adding other living plants. A personal favorite of mine at this time of year are bulbs. Beautiful, vibrant, and a different shade of green! Here, tulip bulbs are planted in a rustic, wooden bowl filled with moss, providing a stunning centre piece for a winter dining table
And, if you can’t bear to say goodbye to your pine branches and pine cones, use greenery in an alternative way, in an entrance hall, to echo a festive welcome. Here reindeer ornaments used at Christmas time, create the perfect console display…
There is something about candles that can change the mood of a room. They are such an inexpensive way to transform the feel of any part of your home and can help you go from Christmas lights to winter twilight in no time at all. Here, a silver drinks tray and a variety of glasses filled with tea lights creates a magical winter display…
And finally, if the post-Christmas decor blues become too much – cosy up by the fire with a snug throw, a glass of wine and a good book. Remember, spring is just around the corner…
Stepping onto the property ladder can seem like an impossible dream to most of us. As a result, renting has become routine, with millions of us are living in someone else’s property, with all the limitations that imposes.Tenants have to cope with decorative choices that aren’t theirs, as well as the landlord’s rules on what they can and cannot do to rooms. But, not being in your “forever home” needn’t be a nightmare – all that’s needed is a little creative thinking. Here, I show you how you can you transform your temporary dwelling into your home, without breaking the bank or your tenancy agreement:
“Our home should be a place where we can truly feel ourselves and show off out style and taste. “If you don’t love the space you come home to, life can feel miserable.”
2 in 1 – Display Artwork and Change the Lighting
Most landlords don’t allow you to hang pictures on the wall, but there is an easy solution. 3mm Command Strips from Staples can be used. These simple self adhesive strips don’t leave marks on the wall. However, although artwork and family photos on the wall can look great, why not do something more stylish? I love the large picture of Mick Jagger propped up in the corner or this bedroom. It’s a cover from Time Magazine which has been blown up on to canvas. Genius!
Old, tired and worn lampshades can also date a space and make it look drab. If you can’t upgrade overhead light fittings due to budget or technical issues (some may require an electrician), focus instead on growing your collection of stylish floor and table lamps. – The red, retro lampshade overhead provides a fabulous focal point in this room.
Add Wallpaper Panels
Not able to wallpaper your home? Get around the problem. Add wallpaper to plywood panels and lean them against walls. Not only is it a cheap way of adding colour and pattern to a room, but you can also change your colour scheme as often as you want, or use it to create zones – within a bedroom for rest, or in a study.
Clever storage solutions are a must in a rented space. Don’t invest in permanent storage. Instead use freestanding cupboards which can be used to hide-away all the day-to-day clutter. Modular storage is also great for rented properties, not only will it fit any size or shape room, it’s also easy to remove at the end of a tenancy. An open design will allow you to display all your prized possessions, giving your home even more personality. Modular storage such as cubes which can be also stacked or configured in different ways – as a TV bench, a workstation etc etc.
LEFT -An old crate that you can perch on a worktop or on top of your fridge creates lots of extra, useful storage. You can organise the space with extra cup hooks inside.
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Right: In this room a leather suitcase creates a a temporary DJ station, with space to store records inside. You making do with what you can get your hands on is all part of the fun.
Cover UP Old-Fashioned Tiles
Updating a rented kitchen or bathroom can be one of the trickiest jobs, but they can still be re-vamped. Unattractive bathroom and kitchen tiles can be covered up with gorgeous waterproof stickers, which can be removed when you leave. In an instant, you’ve added colour, pattern and style! Try these Tile Tattoos available from www.mibo.co.uk for £12.50
Work those Windows
This is another area where rented homes always seem to be sorely lacking. Whether it’s dirty old curtains or depressing vertical blinds, lacklustre window treatments just scream “temporary home”. Sort it out by hanging fresh curtains (even cheap no-hem IKEA ones can look great) or simple roller blinds. Ugly windows with an ugly view? Cover them up with window film. Simply sponge off with warm water when you’re ready to leave.
Buy Rugs & Add Cushions
Whether it’s cold laminate flooring or seen-better-days carpet you’re trying to cover up, a good area rug will cover a multitude of sins. Rugs bring color and texture into a space and they’re yours forever, so find some you really like. The colourful cushions also add interest to a leather sofa here.
Layered rugs and pops of vibrant colour create a stunning rented space…
A rented space, may not be forever, but in the meantime, it can be fabulous! 🙂
Many of us need a place to sit and work and often end up taking over the kitchen table. If you don’t have space for a big desk, consider revamping an old writing bureau.
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These units are compact and slim-line, so fit neatly in a hallway or corner of a room.
They cost between £20 and £40 from charity shops or can be picked up cheaply on Ebay. Ours took a weekend to transform. Ideally, take the furniture outside to work, and always cover the area with dust sheets to protect your surroundings as you work.
You will need
solid wood bureau (£20 from local charity shop)
bucket of water
pan scourer sponge
old soft cloths
fine & medium sandpaper
Dulux Trade quick drying wood primer undercoat in white, £11.48 per litre, B&Q
Acrylic Eggshell paint in chosen colour, £15 per litre, the Little Greene Paint Company
4 hinges (if old ones are damaged) £2.90 each, eBay
Ideally, take the furniture outside to work, and always cover the area with dust sheets to protect your surroundings as you work.Old furniture is often very dirty, and it needs to be clean before you start work. Use warm water and sugar soap or a household cleaner to get the surface clean, then rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Take off the doors, remove the hinges, any other catches, and the stays on the flap down piece, and put to one side. If the top section behind the flap has a partition, gently remove it too – it is likely to be held in by small nails so can be carefully levered out. If there are any loose pieces, now is the time to glue them back in place. Allow the glue time to dry before proceeding. If there are any large dents, cracks or holes you can fill them with wood filler, though if you’re happy with an aged finish these imperfections can add to the charm.
Use fine sandpaper to ‘key’ the surface, which will smooth any imperfections, as well as help the paint adhere. Wipe away all dust with a cloth, then paint the whole piece with a primer/undercoat and leave to dry thoroughly. Follow with two coats of cream eggshell paint allowing each to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
Once the paint is completely dry, rub the painted surface with medium grade sandpaper to expose the wood beneath giving a distressed finish. The places to work are those that would naturally get wear and tear over the years – notably corners, edges and handles.
Clear the dust away with a clean cloth, then stand back to see if you want to distress more. Do a little at a time until you get the finish you like – there is no right or wrong – it’s personal choice. Just a few edges gives a softer look, or for a more dramatic finish, you can do the panels and sides too.
Replace the stays that hold the flap down panel, as well as any other catches removed earlier. Sticky drawers can be made to run better by rubbing a white candle on the edges and runners
Add the Final Flourishes
Personalise your piece with a pretty stencil and apply to the front of the bureau – check out The Graphics Fairy website for free transfers. You can line the interior with a pretty floral paper too if you wish..
This bureau had broken hinges, so we removed them and replaced with some in the same size and style, which meant we were able to use the original holes. If you’re unsure, take the old hinge to a DIY store to compare it. Replace the screws too if the original ones are a different coloured metal, or if the heads are damaged.
When applying paint, finish off with light strokes in the direction of the grain as this eliminates heavy brush marks on the finish OR use a small gloss roller for a really smooth finish
Happy 2015! The Christmas decorations are down and it’s time to make our New Year Resolutions. Every year when January rolls around you vow to lose weight, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home? Here are 5 simple things to try this year…
Brighten Your Home With Fresh Flowers
Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Lift your spirits with fresh flowers . Nothing brightens up a room quicker than adding a colourful bouquet of flowers and real flowers willfill your home with beautiful scents, acting as a natural air freshener. Think it costs to much? There’s no need to splurge when your local grocery store offers plenty of lovely options. Pot hyacinth bulbs in pots to remind you that spring is just around the corner.
2. Clear out the Clutter!
One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated.)
This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in.Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken.
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I feel calmer and save time when I have a good clear out at home. Sometimes, though, it can be a little difficult to decide what stays and what goes. Here is list of 10 questions to ask yourself when trying to decide whether to keep an item or toss it. And by “toss it”, I mean you are either going to donate it, give it away to a friend or throw it out.
10 Questions to Help You De-clutter
Do I love it?
Does it have sentimental value?
Do I use it?
How often do I use it?
When was the last time I used it?
Why don’t I use it?
If I keep it, where will I put it?
How many of these things do I really need?
If I throw it away, will I be able to get another one someday?
What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I got rid of it?
These questions could apply to clothes, too. Substitute “wear” for “use”. If you don’t like thinking about what you’re throwing out, think of it in terms of what you’re keeping instead. Plus if you get rid of things you’re not using or that are unimportant, you can make room for new things that you need or bring you joy!
3. Transform a room using what you already have…
When you live in a space day in and day out, you get used to the way things are. The vase and books that have always been arranged just so on top of the mantlepiece. The wall of frames with pictures that haven’t been updated in five years. Those floating shelves you meant to put up last year that sit unassembled in the hall cupboard. Every few months I try to walk around my house and scoop up decorative items and find new homes for them. Re-evaluating your existing decor and accessories is a simple and affordable way to freshen up your home. Here, pretty plates are mounted on picture frames to provide a pretty display. You can pick pretty plates up in charity shops for a few pence.
You could also try experimenting with the arrangement of your furniture. You may find that a new layout improves not only the look of your room, but gives it a better circulation pattern and flow. If you’re having a hard time re-envisioning a space, ask a friend to come over and help. Someone who isn’t attached to your possessions and the current layout will help you see other possibilities.
4. Create a Cosy Corner
Every house needs a little spot where you can kick your feet up and allow yourself some time to curl up with a new book, listen to music, or browse your favourite blogs. This space doesn’t need to be fancy and can be put together using what you already have. Some items I like to use in a reading corner include a big over stuffed chair, a lamp with adequate light, and a side table. You can personalize the space by adding art, books, and other special objects. I also love using candles in these cozy spaces to add a comforting warmth to the area.
5. Banish Technology& Relax…
Our home should be our sanctuary – a space where we retreat from the world outside and re-charge our batteries. Here a few final resolutions which can make a big difference:
Reduce screen time – frequent emailing, texting, browsing and late night ol-line shopping can make us feel less connected and stressed. The same goes for the TV. Try switching it off an hour before bed.
Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual tomorrow. Don’t spend the extra time working, planning, looking at your phone or watching the news. Instead, just sit there. Breathe. Maybe stretch a little or sip some water. You’ll feel much more ready to greet the day?
Make your bed each morning – returning home after a long day to a neat nest beats climbing into crumpled sheets.
Light a candle to add a comforting touch, then relax and rejuvinate.
Today, I’ll be showing you how to create a stylish but inexpensive accessory for your home. These beautiful vases and bottles are the perfect way to display single stem or spray flowers in your home and are also a lovely way to decorate a dinner table or a party centre-piece…
– Enamel or acrylic paint in your chosen colour
– Glass bottles or jars
– Plastic tub
– Syringe and funnel (optional)
I began by collecting old bottles and jars. I went through in the kitchen and simply recycled. The bottles in the photograph once held everything under the sun: jam, olive oil, ketchup, wine, salsa, spices, etc. Or, have a hunt in your local charity shop, as pretty vintage bottles can be picked up for a few pence.
You can create different colours for your bottles or vases by mixing different shades of paint together. These vibrant pink, orange and yellow shades would be perfect for Autumn…
Wash the bottle inside and out with soapy water; allow to dry. STEP 2
Pour in a small amount of your chosen shade of enamel paint. Using a syringe to draw the paint out of a tub and pouring it into the jar through a funnel makes it much easier! STEP 3
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Dry bottle upside down on a paper towel for 48 hours, periodically wiping excess enamel from the rim with a damp cloth during the first hour.
Wedding Centre Pieces & Table Decorations
These would look fantastic in a line down a dining room table or grouped together at different heights for an inexpensive wedding centrepiece. You can even use glitter nail polish to coat the inside of the glass – a great way to continue a colour theme for a party or event – and ideal for a little Christmas sparkle!
Many people are nervous about buying “second hand furniture”, but buying vintage and retro pieces is a fantastic way of furnishing your home in a style that’s completely your own and which reflects your personality. It’s also a great way of furnishing a home on a budget as this furniture is often a fraction of the cost of similar items found on the high street. Re-cycling or up-cycling is also great for the environment. Not only that, but vintage homewares have become fashionable, sought-after, designer pieces. We believe that items with history bring individuality and life to a home. It’s also great fun hunting for vintage furniture and nothing beats the thrill of finding a real gem that you’ll treasure forever. So, how do you decide on the right piece, what price you should pay and where do you actually go to buy these pieces?
Where to buy vintage and retro furniture
You can find amazing vintage and retro pieces in any number of places. Auction houses, house clearances, and on-line sites such as Ebay, Freecycle or Gumtree are good places to start… If you have a weekend free, head off to your local car boot sale where there are bargains galore, or visit your local salvage yard. Second hand furniture shops in your area are also a great source for furniture. Get to know the staff and they’ll often keep an eye out for pieces and you get to hear about items before everyone else. Charity shops have also started to stock vintage furniture and they’re also worth scouring for accessories. It also amazes me what people will throw into a skip – as the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, but if you see something, always ask permission to take it away. Finally, there are a number of Vintage & Retro Fairs which are held regularly all over the country – here you will find a range of traders offering everything under one roof, plus it’s a great day out!
Top Tips for Buying Vintage & retro Furniture
1. Consider the era..
It’s important to remember that you are not just buying any old furniture, you need to think about the look you want to create and an era that reflects this, be it the 1930’s, 1950’s or 1980’s.. Perhaps you love the psychadelic colours of the 1960’s and pop art or the soft curves and shapes of art deco pieces. The web can provide lots of inspiration as do homes and interiors magazines. To qualify as real vintage, items should be at least 30-40 years old. Anything later is second-hand and anything older than 100 years is considered antique.
2. Make sure it fits
Before you go shopping for any item, consider the space in which it will sit. The size of rooms and the dimensions of entrance ways or the stairs are extremely important. Always take a tape measure with you – you will be spending hard-earned money for your furniture and there is nothing worse than finding exactly the right piece and then being disappointed because it doesn’t fit.
3. Think about how you will get your furniture home
I have learned this the hard way. I recently bought a beautiful teak sideboard during an on-line auction and then realised I actually had no way of bringing it home! My long suffering partner spent three days organising a roof-rack for his father’s estate car and we had to pray that it wouldn’t be ruined by April showers on the way home. Some sellers will offer delivery for a small fee, but always check first!
4. Look for quality pieces
Ideally you are looking for furniture with “good bones.” Generally, wooden items such as vintage tables, chairs, cabinets, dressers, chests of drawers and coffee tables last better than upholstered furniture. Just because it is old doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality is great. Try to avoid furniture made with inferior materials and with poor workmanship.
ondition is the most important aspect in determining value. If you want to make sure your furniture is not going to fall apart in the next couple of months don’t buy on impulse. Instead, take your time and inspect each piece thoroughly. If it’s made of quality wood, with good joints and a good bonding glue you’re going to buy the furniture with confidence, not with fear.
Use it first – Since you won’t be able to see the most important parts, you should test the furniture first. Lean on tables and tip back chairs. If it’s a sofa make sure the frame is not altered so go ahead, squeeze the arms and chairs and even extend it to make sure those metallic parts are working fine.
5. Check the condition
Condition is the most important aspect in determining value. If you want to make sure your furniture is not going to fall apart in the next couple of months don’t buy on impulse. Instead, take your time and inspect each piece thoroughly. If it’s made of quality wood, with good joints and a good bonding glue you’re going to buy the furniture with confidence, not with fear. Lean on tables and tip back chairs. If it’s a sofa make sure the frame is not altered and even extend it to make sure those metallic parts are working well. Examine furniture closely to check for live woodworm, damage or repairs. Drawers should run smoothly and frames should be sturdy. If a piece does have damage, consider whether you have the skills to undertake the repair and obviously any damage should be reflected in the price.
6. Don’t be afraid of stains and scratches
This buy viagra without prescription is especially true of wooden or teak furniture. Wooden furniture can often be sanded down to remove layers of dark wood stain. In terms of teak furniture, there are a number of products on the market which can help – the staff at your local DIY store can be a source of great advice. And if it’s a truly iconic piece, you can always have it professionally re-finished – especially if you bought at a bargain price to start with..
7. Consider Re-Upholstering
If you find a beautiful Victorian armchair or a set of retro dining chairs that look past their best, don’t be put off. If you are shopping for vintage furniture which does need re-upholstering, be sure to build in the costs of fabric as it can be expensive. However, often it is still cheaper than buying a new armchair from high street retailers such as Laura Ashley or John Lewis and being able to choose your own fabric will make it a unique piece for your home.
8. Up-Cycle It…
Keep an open mind in terms of how things can be adapted to suit your home and you colour schemes . Wooden furniture can be hand-painted and metal pieces can often be sandblasted and re-sprayed. Old cupoards or chests of drawers can be easily re-vamped. Why not line drawers or old vintage suitcases with your favourite vintage wall paper or fabric to give it a completely new lease of life.. Farrow & Ball or Annie Sloan Paints can be used to create Shabby Chic pieces which you can distress to create that time worn finish in no time at all. Here’s an example of a beautiful shabby chic dining set which we up-cycled transforming a dark oak set with an original French Toile du Jour fabric. Check out your local college or shabby chic retailers, as they often offer courses…
9. Don’t be afraid to mix and match
You don’t have to stick rigidly to pieces from one particular era or in one particular style. Creating interesting combinations is what adds character to your home. Different items in a similar mood can look better than trying to match everything together. In the photo below I love the mix of softer vintage pieces such as the glass lamps combined with the industrial furniture. Or, why not try an antique kitchen table with mis-matched chairs? This can look fabulous and can save you a small fortune.. Purchasing individual pieces that work well together is the perfect way to create you own style for your home.
10. A tip for the future…
Vintage eiderdowns, crochet blankets and galvanised metal for the garden allow you to create a vintage feel. Ercol furniture is becoming increasingly rare as are names such as G-Plan. Don’t be put off by paying higher prices for such items as they will become investment pieces of the future. Industrial, shop and school furniture such as lockers are increasingly on trend.
Buying vintage gives you the opportunity to really put your own stamp on things – so go forth and shop!
Exciting news here at The Bees Knees Furniture! We ‘re delighted to be able to share our first piece of official publicity with you all today 🙂 Our local paper, the Swindon Advertiser visited us recently to interview us about how we started our fledgling furniture business two years ago during the recession, and how we’ve kept it growing against all the odds!
Read the article here
Growing our Small Business…
Building a successful business is typically done by trial and error, with many hurdles along the way. And when it’s your first company, every day involves making mistakes and learning something new.
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We literally started by learning to master the shabby chic style of furniture. With a corner of our living room allocated as a workspace and newspapers spread out on the floor, the adventure began… A whole dining set later, and we needed to know would people like what we’d produced? We decided to list it for sale on Ebay and see what happened… I remember watching the bids mount and my partner Andy buying me bubbly at the end of the auction to celebrate our first official sale 🙂
Retro & Vintage Furniture – A Whole New Direction…
We grew the business slowly to avoid costly mistakes, and eventually ventured to our first Vintage and Retro Fair. The feedback we received about our pieces was amazing and we were suddenly part of a fabulous new community of people.Then came the exciting prospect of developing a website and mastering social media (gulp!) Learning about the era of retro furniture has taken us in a whole new direction.
Despite the hurdles we’ve faced along the way, The Bee’s Knees is thriving and the future looks bright…