Weekend project – alcove shelving

In one of the alcoves in our living room, to the left of the chimney breast, we decided to fit some shelves to make the most of the height of the room and use it for some storage. At the bottom of the alcove, there was already a solid, built-in cupboard which houses the gas and electric meters, which was fine except that it was painted a weird yellow-y beige colour gloss. There was also a newspaper from 1998 and an empty beer can in there, so goodness knows what the previous owners had also been using this cupboard for?! People are strange.

We wanted the shelves to be really simple and, knowing the range in sizes of our books – from the regular paperbacks, to the huge music books of my Husband’s and my giant Metric Handbook from my Uni days (which I will never read again, but it was so expensive to buy, I refuse to get rid of) – we wanted the spaces in between the shelves to vary, so there would be room for everything and it would look truly bespoke.

We started by fitting baton around the sides of the alcove at the heights we wanted the shelves to be. This was tricky enough considering this particular bit of wall seemed to be entirely constructed of black mortar (if you don’t know what this is, lucky you!) but, after a few hours of swearing, half-watching the football, drilling and increasingly long screws, Husband had done his job, and left me to do some painting…

At the time, the room was just painted white, which was what we did after all the rooms had been damp-proofed, just in case anything went wrong so we hadn’t spent a tonne on fancy paint just to have to hack it off again. In this room, I actually chose a colour that I had been considering for the dining room, but after I decided it looked too green in there, I moved my painted bit of paper into this room, and it looked great!

The walls are Dulux Pebble Shore and it looks different in every type of light – sometimes a really light pale grey, sometimes quite a warm stone-y colour. Just what I wanted. To make the alcove look a bit more interesting, and to make the colours of the books really stand out, I decided to paint the back of the alcove a dark grey – Valspar Toy Soldier. I did an excellent piece of metal arithmetic and calculated that I’d be able to do the whole alcove in two coats only using 4 of their little sample pots which are usually around £3 each, but were on offer for £1 each! Cheap as chips! It only took 1.5 pots.

For the shelves, we used some 5mm thick hard board, which we cut to the right size using a jigsaw. Just to make this a bit more interesting, our little house is anything but square, so the top and bottom of each shelf were actually all different dimensions! Cutting with the jigsaw made quite rough edges, so I also spent quite a while sanding the edges down, but it’s an easy material to sand so not too bad. We also had to make a little cut out at the back left of each shelf to allow the pipe to run behind. Our dining room floor was covered in these rectangles of hard board while I painted them with 2 coats of undercoat and 1 coat of gloss, both Brilliant White, and waited for them to dry. Once dry, we nailed the glossed hardboard onto the top and bottom sides of the batons, so there is no visible support to the shelves. Once the tops and bottoms were on, we fitted lengths of 6cm stripwood to the fronts, again, glossed white. All I had to do then is caulk around the edges to tidy up the join between shelf and wall, which I did extremely neatly, to save having to do any more painting, with the help of a lot of Frog Tape (my new favourite thing).

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My products of choice – Ronseal undercoat (usually needs 2 coats, but is really easy to apply and dries super fast) 2.5L is £23. Crown Pure Brilliant White Gloss (I have used this on all the woodwork in the house and it does it all in one coat, so long as your undercoat is solid) 2.5L is £23. Frog Tape delicate surfaces masking tape, 40m roll, £4.50.

And so to the final results…

The pretty little door knobs were from Homesense and were £5.00 for 4 – a friend and I both fancied the same ones so she has the other two in her house! The pot on the bottom shelf is a Bluebellgrey utensil pot which I snagged from a charity shop for £2.99 (I spotted it from the window of my bus to work and grabbed it on my way home – it usually retails for £27.00). The “All you need is love” hanging sign was a gift and I think by East of India.

All in all, this project took 3 days, and cost us about £50 at the time, but a lot of the materials went on to be used for other jobs, so really not even that much! I love the look that books give to a room, they immediately make it feel lived in and homely. To the amusement of Husband, I did take quite a while to arrange the books and photo albums into a nice display, that I think looks much more interesting than just stacking them as per usual, but I think it was time well spent!

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Pick of the week #1

So I’m going to start doing this every weekend. I see so much stuff that I like every week; be it a fabric, paint colour, item of furniture or accessory, my brain is constantly imagining ways I could change my house again. But, given that we’ve only just finished our house first time round, I’d better not start again just yet! So, instead, I’ll share my top pick each week to serve as inspiration (hopefully) for you guys! Enjoy…

Week 1 – surprise surprise(!) it’s a fabric playing on my mind.

Romo Pintura Clementine 7617/03, £47.50/m, from their Orvieto collection. Used it as a roller blind in a large bathroom with floor and wall tiles in a plain semi gloss mushroom-y colour. A much needed bit of oomph!

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“Blue and Green should never be seen…

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

…without a colour in between”. Or so the saying goes. Pretty much the pinnacle of controversy in Interior Design in my opinion! I personally think these colours work well together and are the main stay in any British Summer view; think green rolling hills and blue skies – it’s a classic! These colours have been readily available to combine in your home for the last few years under the ‘Scandi’ trend umbrella and even more so at the moment, with the Jungle trend doing the rounds.

Here are some of my favourite uses of these colours together;

Photo credit: Designrulz. A very livable space. I love the use of different grey and neutral tones and stone, wood and metal textures which tone down the brighter accents and tie a big room together.

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Photo credit: Kit Kemp bedroom for the Ham Yard Hotel in London. I flipping love Kit Kemp anyway, and I absolutely love this indigo and lime scheme. Really dramatic in quite a small space.

This painted dining room brings together a range of colours from the Annie Sloan palette, focusing on blues and greens, with pops of pale pinks and lilacs.

Photo credit: Annie Sloan Home. Shows that this colour scheme doesn’t have to be super glam. The combo makes this rustic dining room feel very country-chic and Summery. Lovely.

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Photo credit: A Kelly Berg bedroom design.  Given the colour scheme, I love the Peacock-y references with the paisley cushion and decorative headboard. Very restful.

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Brian Del Toro design, New York. The use of geometric shapes and sharp edges across the furniture and accessories (check out that mirror!!) brings the contrasting colours together. The gold adds a sense of luxury and solidity to a contemporary scheme.

And here’s some Scandi picks to do it yourself:

Left to Right – John Lewis Prism Blue cushion, £25 / Next Wool Blend Diamond Geo Rug, from £40 / Scion Cedar 120354 fabric, £30/m.

For a truly Scandi design, keep the furniture minimal, slightly retro in shape and light wood in finish. Light silvery grey is very much the neutral of choice and use bright white accessories to finish things off.

What do you think of this colour combination? A fan of Scandi and want some more ideas? Let me know!

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Kitchen Planning…

At the beginning, the kitchen was the worst room in the house. The kitchen is towards the rear of our house, and is slightly narrower than the front of the house, allowing for the side extension path from the dining room to the back garden. The window in the kitchen overlooks the side path, and originally this window was so huge and positioned so low on the wall, it meant that kitchen units couldn’t run in front of it. So, while we had the rest of the building work done, we had this window removed, and a shorter version installed and the rest of the gap bricked up and rendered over, and the rear wall treated for Damp.

When we moved in, the kitchen consisted of about 6 base units, one of which with a sink in. They were 80’s laminate cupboards which had been painted (not by a professional!) a bright orange-y colour, with red handles…nice! There were no wall units, just a long shelf running the length of the right hand wall, painted in the same blood red gloss as the handles. Given that the builders were still using it as a dumping ground, it was also pretty dirty; When we moved in, we kept our food in the cardboard boxes we’d moved it in, and just put the boxes directly into the cupboards. We didn’t have a cooker for the first 6 weeks, so dinners were microwave meals and all we used the kitchen for was to prepare packed lunches for work. Once the builders left, we did get the cooker out (a little cheapy temporary solution from Curry’s) and unveiled our fridge freezer which had been lurking under the stairs under a dust sheet. It was relatively luxurious!..

The builders finished work the day before my Birthday, and, as I refuse to work on my birthday (it’s just not nice!) their leaving also signalled the beginning of the first week off Husband and I had together since the buying of the house. We – obviously – had zero money, so we set about a series of dire day trips, thanks to the predictably hideous Welsh Summer weather! After a particularly depressing day trip to Tenby, which started with optimistically putting our swimwear on under our clothing, for that inevitable dip we’d be having in the Bristol Channel to cool off, and ended with us driving home at 2.30pm, when we’d had enough of the rain, Husband decided we needed cheering up, and that meant a trip round the kitchen showrooms! He knows the way to my heart!

We started with a fairly frustrating 3 hour appointment with a lady in Ikea. She didn’t come up with any layout solutions, and couldn’t offer us a unit/worktop combination that both of us could agree on – I loved the grey painted range which was doing the rounds in their advertising – remember the monkeys?!

Husband, however, was put off by the dark colour and matt finish, which on reflection was probably a good thing, considering our kitchen doesn’t have a massive amount of natural light.

From doing a bit more research and soul-searching(!) we realised there were certain things we definitely wanted; Husband wanted a range cooker, and I wanted a double sink, as well as a dishwasher! Husband wanted a light, but not white finish unit, and I wanted some small rectangular marble-look tiles for the up-stand I’d fallen in love with from Topps Tiles…the list goes on!

So, with this wish list in mind, we went to Wren Kitchens… and it was much more like a kitchen showroom I had imagined! I felt like a proper grown up! Loads to look round and a planner who immediately understood us and the way we wanted our kitchen to work. She took our preferences and budget and showed us exactly what we should do. So, long story short, we did!

Left – the swanky plans our Planner, Hollie, sent us (my particular fave is the view through the archway – which actually is just open to the dining room, not an archway into a landscaped garden!) Right – we found a pale blue cupboard because I knew I wanted light blue walls, and held the unit and worktop we chose against it – along with the tile I had fallen in love with and a flooring sample, to get a more rounded impression of how it would look.

Although we placed the order for the kitchen there and then, in Mid July, we scheduled delivery for Mid November, which we thought would give us plenty of time to get the space ready for the new kitchen. This work involved;

  • Fixing eternally damp wall
  • Scraping the wood chip off the ceiling, and the part of the wall under the stairs, and having the room re-plastered
  • Moving the gas pipe for the cooker from the far wall round to the right hand wall where the range cooker would fit
  • Painting and decorating

I will leave all of this for Part 2 of this saga I think, to save you all from falling asleep mid-post keep you all in suspense!! So watch this space…

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Cath Kidston Spring 2017

Ever since Husband bought me a gift from Cath Kidston’s website a couple of years ago, we get a gorgeous little glossy catalogue of their newest bits and bobs through the door every few months, and this lovely little surprise was waiting for me when I got home today! Happy Tuesday indeed!

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And whilst I don’t have a little mini-me to dress up in coordinating outfits, there is some lovely Summer-y inspiration lurking inside! My favourite? – A new range of plastic and melamine picnic ware, which quite frankly, I would happily have as my everyday dinner ware! The designs are called Daisies & Roses Border and Daisy Bunch, and they are gorgeous…

All goodies available on the website and in stores now! Get me a field and some sunshine and I’ll bring the pretty stuff!

I have a complete love of jugs (haha) and the lovely floral number above has made its way to the top of my current wish list to add to the collection! The pattern would make any fruity punch even prettier to serve, and it’s only £16!

 

Meanwhile, in the Fashion section, there are also some rather lovely summer dresses and espadrille sandals…but that’s getting majorly off topic…

Where’s Summer when you need it?!

 

P.S – This isn’t a sponsored post, and I’m not usually a huge fan of Cath Kidston (a tad too twee for me, a lot of the time) but I really thought this was all waaaay to cute not to share!

 

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Pattern: Energy and Inspiration

via Daily Prompt: Pattern

I love patterns in my Interiors. I don’t often wear patterns, but I love living amongst it. Patterns give me energy and life and inspire me to make life more interesting. Among my timeless favourites are stripes (of any kind), toile and herringbone;

Romo Moya fabric, 7436/06 / Sanderson Josette wallpaper 214063 / Bronte Herringbone pure wool throw, Honey.

Every so often, a pattern will come along, and I’ll become completely obsessed, and at the moment, that particular pattern is a print fabric by Villa Nova, called Hana, Eden:

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All images courtesy of Villa Nova 

This collection actually came out last year, but I think it is still so current – especially with the jungle/tropical trend at the moment – and I think it screams of Spring time! So fresh and vibrant, but totally livable.

When these stand out patterns come along, I find it hard not to daydream and visualize exactly how I would want to it appear in my life…In my mind, I’m living in a much sunnier climate than South Wales, and I have an amazing coastal view out of my windows. Hana is gracing the patio doors in my kitchen/dining space, along with gloss white units with pale grey stone tops. My walls are painted a soft coral and the floor is light, natural, birch. Seagrass and rattan accessories add texture and a Capiz shell low slung ceiling pendant is the finishing touch…

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2 out of 5 ain’t posh

So, downstairs toilets aren’t exactly the most glamorous thing to talk about, so be prepared; I am going to summarise the work we did, but in the most roundabout type of way.

My Mother’s reaction when we told her we were going to have a downstairs loo was a lot of fun. She absolutely shrieked down the phone at me about how it wasn’t fair – she was fifty-something and had never had a downstairs toilet! When I reminded her of the house they lived in a few years ago which had a downstairs bathroom, so technically, she had, it didn’t make things better!

And now, to the title. My Sister had a similar reaction of bizarre envy, and even managed to track down some online article listing the 5 things your house needs, to show that you are “posh”;

  1. Downstairs loo
  2. Utility room
  3. Porch
  4. Wine fridge
  5. Summerhouse.

Like I said, 2 out of 5 ain’t posh.

When we moved in, the “Utility Room” of the estate agent’s literature was little more than a lean-to with a dodgy roof, harbouring a rusty old clothes horse and a broken washing machine, but it was big enough to be reworked to include a separate downstairs loo.

We stripped it right back to the brickwork (which was under 2 layers of floor to ceiling tiles), had it re-roofed, battened the walls out to install some insulation, had the electrics moved around to provide light points in both the utility and downstairs
loo areas and sockets in better locations throughout. The old Victorian privy was still in the garden, so we re-routed the soil pipe (yup, glamorous!) to inside the far end of the utility room and we set about building a partition wall and having it all plastered.

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We chose a narrower than normal concertina door, so it wouldn’t take up any precious space, and meant we didn’t have to worry about leaving room for a regular door to swing open/closed.

About the most fun you can have with a teeny tiny downstairs loo is the decor. While I was up for something pretty crazy, Husband vetoed a lot of ideas in his general aversion to bold or dark colours, so we agreed that we’d paint it the same pale blue as the rest of the utility room and kitchen – Little Greene Bone China Blue – and I would choose whatever tiles I wanted to make a jazzy little splash back.

The floor in this space is the only decorative finish that we haven’t replaced since moving in; good quality terracotta tiles, which aren’t necessarily my choice, but were in really good condition and super practical given the direct access to the garden. So, I decided to take inspiration from them, and choose some little colourful Mediterranean styled tiles from Fired Earth. A mix of 4 different designs from the Acapulco and Andalucia ranges, and I was sorted. I still can’t decide whether to continue the tiles further outwards, or upwards, to make more of an impact or to leave them as they are… opinions welcomed!…

A dinky little chrome mixer tap and bright yellow circular mirror from Ikea, teal hand towels to pick out a colour from the tiles and a pretty little ceramic doorknob for the under sink cupboard and I was done.

Simple, but effective (I hope)!

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