In Newcastle, Co. Down, hidden above Annetts Childrenswear is a hidden gem. The Craft Loft is the love child of Phyllis Annett who after years of helping to run the successful childrens clothing shop with her husband - his family's business for several generations - was looking for a new creative outlet; something that would bring business and life to the upstairs of their gorgeous converted townhouse.
And so The Craft Loft was born.
Myself and a few other Northern Irish bloggers were invited down to sample one of the various workshops offered by Phyllis and her family. Whether you want to paint a piece, learn how to decoupage, upholster furniture, or build your own lamps, Phyllis and her family have a number of wonderful classes for you to take all based around the use of the famous Annie Sloan chalk paints and fabrics. I opted for the Paint A Piece class because I wanted to start with the basics of chalk paint and furniture decoration but also because my flat is tiny and packed to the rafters - I'll have to save those larger projects for another day!
We started out learning the basics of how to use Annie Sloan, how to select our colours, what materials could be painted on - basically everything - how to create the finishes that we wanted with the different gildings and coloured waxes, and how to apply them. I also was able to learn the basics of decoupage as its something that I've wanted to do for a while but was always nervous to start incase I messed it up.
The atmosphere was relaxed and fun, we busied ourselves with our different pieces each taking a different design direction. Some went for bright Barcelona oranges and Provence purples, others for antique and bright whites; as I had two smaller pieces rather than one big piece - I shall mention here that Phyllis sources and provides the items that you paint as part of the workshop - I went for a mix of bright colours on my picture frame and country style white with decoupage flowers on my heart box. Both take pride of place in my living room now and feel like I've had them for years.
Throughout the afternoon we stopped for a spot of afternoon tea - with some amazing cakes baked by Phyllis - and a lesson in upholstery for one of the chairs that was being painted. We oohed and ahhed at the many trinkets and baubles for sale around the loft and I'm pretty sure every single one of us purchased some more paint to take home as we had caught the craft bug.
All in all it was a blissful afternoon with great laughs and lovely company. Checking out their Instagram you can see all the fabulously tasteful hen parties and birthday outings as well as the craft lessons for little crafters; they even hold Christmas workshops to create unique decorations and gifts coming up to the festive season.
If you are looking for a treat with your loved ones and a fab day out to the Co. Down coast then I thoroughly recommend booking in for a workshop with Phyllis and her family. You won't regret it!