Craft Room…

Two years after I decided how I wanted the craft room to look, it’s about done. The room is bijou at best, but with a bit of planning it’s worked out just fine. 

 Like every other room in the house, things got a whole lot worse before they got better. Firstly the heating installation meant lifting the floorboards & general havoc, followed by a rewire and new windows. In true renovation style, we then had a big piece of plaster fall down & a significant repair to do.  


The last dirty  job was to change the ceiling boards for new fireproofed versions as this will be checked off by building control once the attic is underway.

Eventually we reached blank canvas stage and we (I) began planning. Due to my frankly ridiculous hoards of stationery, ribbon, washi tape, beads & random other sparkly tat, storage needs were key. The first issue was that the weak stud wall  meant I couldn’t have the shelves I’d anticipated, boo, so the rest of the room needed to work extra-hard.   

 My work desk was easily constructed by cutting to size a piece of white Formica worktop & sliding it into the nook the three walls create. We cut circles in both corners for flush fitting cable tidies – fancy! It’s big enough for working, crafting, sewing, maybe even writing the odd blog post. Beneath the desk are my two Bisley units holding all my jewellery & sewing paraphernalia. I had planned on getting these powder coated, but now they are in place I’m not sure it’s worth the outlay…? 

 I wanted a storage cabinet on the opposite wall. I looked at numerous vintage haberdashery cabinets but they were too wide, too deep, too tall and ultimately (very pregnant) I got bored of looking as it was preventing progress and I knew if I didn’t get it sorted before Littley’s arrival I might never have a craft room. There was only one thing for it… IKEA! I chose the Liatorp which was the skinniest, tallest model they had.  
I’ve been able to squeeze most stuff onto the adjustable shelves in my numerous jars and storage boxes and it looks pretty good. After having all of this sprinkled throughout the house for so long, it’s rather luxurious to have it all in one place & I’m already finding that I’m enjoying doing more ‘projects’.


 I also picked up a set of dip dyed storage baskets for fabric remnants etc. from Very to keep on top of the unit – Every little helps! 

 I was set on a colour scheme of black, white, pink & gold –  I spent a good portion of the aforementioned eighteen months deciding on wallpaper. I wanted something monochrome in a bold, graphical design but needed to be careful of the scale due to the dinkyness of the room. Here were the choices… 


After much deliberation and despite trying to dissuade myself, I did of course decide on the most expensive which was the Cole & Son ‘Hix Hexagon’ in the top left corner. Seeing this picture reminds me that I also ended up with a free roll of the paper bottom left due to a delivery mix up, I must try to use that somewhere, or at least EBay it. 


The paper has a midscale print with a gorgeous matt gold detail which compliments a truffle silk blind I wanted to reuse from my last house. The pink for the walls was mixed to match my Kate Spade storage boxes & I chose a neutral woollen carpet for the floor.

As I was unable to have the planned shelves on the back wall, I decided on a large pin board instead. I couldn’t find a board with a nice frame so I spray mounted a piece of cork sheet to a piece of hardboard and popped it into a pewter picture frame. 


So there we are! It’s much brighter than it appears on these photos, it’s a grey and dull day out there. So that’s three blog posts I’ve managed this year, eek. There’s so much I need to show you! In the meantime a very Happy New Year to you all.

Hello Again…

It’s been six months since my last post, oops. BUT, we have the very best of excuses, we were busy on a project of an entirely different type and we were overjoyed to welcome little baby Peony to our family in late June. Please bare with me on any posts containing extensive waffle and appalling spelling for the next few months, most likely I’ll be writing at 4am. 


Following that news, If you are now anticipating the nursery reveal, don’t hold your breath! It currently looks like this…  


Peony’s room will be stagnant until we have our attic conversion done as together with the master bedroom, it’s directly below the loft space and so will need ceilings replaced during the works. 
As always, we have curated a few bits and bobs which will shape the nursery, these include a Lloyd Loom blanket box I reupholstered, a mini rocking chair I need to reupholster, Victorian school desk and a string of acid-bright silk lanterns from a trip to Hoian, Vietnam. We are keen to have one wall as a world map, something like this from Murals Wallpaper. We don’t want Peony’s room to be over-girly, we want it to be a bright, fun & educational space that can evolve as she grows. 

Before I get too distracted by the decor, we need to get planning permission on our attic conversion. We are currently in talks with the council on pre planning. To save on architects fees, I’ve done basic plans to open negotiations with the relevant department ahead of professional plan submission. Planning is never easy, but even more difficult in this instance as our house is in a conservation area meaning the property is to be kept as original as possible, even though the proposed changes will only affect the back of the house which is mainly a 1980’s extension. Here are the before and (rather ropey) after visuals. 

 View looking back from the garden…
  View from the corner point…

 Roof view…

Ideally , we intend to add a dormer to the attic space, meaning we could accommodate an en suite bathroom directly above the first floor bathroom. We’d also like to add a Juliet balcony to the bedroom area to ensure the conversion is as light as possible, finally we’d like to render the 198o’s extension. When the new part of the house was built they used horridly cheap, modern bricks, which do nothing to help the extension blend in with the original building. Initial planning feedback has refused the render as it ‘is not in sympathy with the original fabric of the house’ frustratingly, it is difficult to communicate that the render only changes the 1980’s section of the house which has no relevance to the conservation area…We’ll discuss that at next stage. They also said the dormer housing the en-suite would be unlikely to be passed as it would overlook neighbours…even though there’s only a window at the back.

The revised plans below have been submitted and we are now waiting for feedback from the team, while getting architects to start pricing for us.

There’s plenty more to update you on, watch this space,  I’ll try not to leave it six months!

All Play & No Work…

We took a few days off our renovation schedule and went to explore Lisbon. Such a beautiful, atmospheric city and just SO much to see. Here are a few highlights of what we saw….

Cathedrals, monasteries and crypts…

Aquariums, with a stunning display ‘Forests Underwater’ by Japanese artist Takashi Amano…

Vintage car rallies, the hills of Bica and antique trams…

Tiles, courtyards and the deep blue sea…

Cityscape at sunset, stonework and colonnades …

And some of the best street art we’ve seen….

Back home now… Best get cracking. 

Chairs and Despair – Again!

I have another chair to discuss…please try to contain your excitement.

About a million years ago, I saw a beautiful chair upholstered in grey velvet in an overpriced antique store, it was love at first sight but at £1200, buying it would have been ridiculous, I had no where to keep it, plus as I’d recently re-upholstered a Lloyd Loom blanket box I figured a chair wouldn’t be too much more demanding. Ahem. So, a few weeks later my Shire Sourcing Executive secured me a big brown bear of a chair in auction for the princely sum of £60.  

 A weekend upholstery course was booked, and off I went to complete my chair. My first course was at the wonderful Peak Upholstery, which is a little like spending a few days in Country Homes magazine, with the added advantages of delicious baking, homegrown fayre and the company of a small menagerie of characterful pets, oh, did I forget to mention upholstery tuition? It soon became apparent my chair was going to take substantially longer than the four days of the course, give or take a few weeks it’s taken me four years! I’ve been back to see Angie a few times since and loved every minute. More recently, I’ve been attending day courses at my local arts centre under the watchful eye of Fiona, of Interiors Experience. Perhaps by coincidence, there is delicious cake there too and occasionally pets…!

There are so many stages to a project like this that I could literally write a book, that would not however, be a good idea as I’ve forgotten many of the processes, but for those that are interested, here are a few of the milestones…  


And here it is finished, it really deserves better surroundings, it will one day take pride of place in the bedroom, but for now it’s being mothballed under dust sheets for safe keeping.



Where Did January Go, Again?

This time last year my post was entitled ‘Where Did January Go?’ And a year on, it’s happened again! It’s been nearly three weeks since my last post, oops. We’ve both been ill with coughs and colds, so progress has been slowed – and let’s face it, it’s hardly rapid at the best of times.

Anyway, on with the positives, I’ve had another day class on my dreaded upholstery project, amazingly though I came home and worked some more on it, I only need to put the back panel on and I’m done!

We started the grouting of the kitchen floor yesterday, which we should have done about a month ago, but sometimes life just gets in the way. Turns out grouting floors is a lot more time consuming than expected.

2015/02/img_5135.jpg As the tiles are so deep we’d half filled the gaps with the runny adhesive left-overs, this has made the grouting easier, but still takes forever. We found it was best to discount the manufacturers instructions on drying time and leave the grout for a good few hours before attempting to smooth and clean up. There’s a quick before, during and after above. I’ve pushed an 1888 penny which we found under the floorboards of the bedroom into the grout where the dining area wall meets the floor, it’s joined by a 2013 coin, the year we moved into the house.

2015/02/img_5138.jpg We’ve no idea where the old coin came from, but feels like it should stay in the house having been here so long, it’s certainly here for keeps now!

We’ve also started planning the downstairs cloakroom, viewers of a nervous disposition look away now.

2015/02/img_5136.jpg We love to travel, and this room is going to be our little adventure gallery…with a chandelier and vintage mirror. Probably.

Weekend Roundup…

As Christmas draws to a close and the decorations are packed away for another year, we thought we’d squeeze in a last holiday day out, before back to work proper on Monday. We decided we’d head over to Wye Valley Reclamation & Warehouse 701 near Hereford. We started with a rummage outside through their varied salvage, but was a bit cold and miserable to mooch for too long…

I loved these stones, but not sure what we’d ever do with them, they deserve better than being abandoned in our garden.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2015/01/img_4888.jpg Indoors (an old bomb factory of all things) they have an amazing selection of home products, both old and new. We saw a ‘community centre’ style notice board which we thought would be great in the hall displaying bits and bobs, but decided that we can make our own superior version from the Victorian glazed doors we found in the attic – great, I need another project! Amazingly, we only left with this mirror, I love the vaguely heraldic shape…it’s destined for the cloakroom.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2015/01/img_4887.jpg I must get around to posting the Stokholm inspired cloakroom plans one of these days, in the meantime the mirror is ditched upstairs.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2015/01/img_4909.jpgWe bobbed into another antique store on the way home where I picked up this copper pot, think maybe it’s an old fish kettle??

Well, not anymore, it’s a hyacinth planter for my kitchen – Perfect!
Finally this week, I’ve been trying to find wallpaper for the little boot room at the end of the kitchen, how hard can it be?! The room isn’t really big enough for it’s own design scheme, so we’ve run floor and paint through from the kitchen. I ordered a few samples from Wallpaper Direct who have a great selection. I’d first thought we’d have a log design paper as I’ve seen these in various magazines, but once the samples arrived they just don’t look right somehow.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2015/01/img_4904.jpg I then started thinking about black and white, to compliment the grey of the kitchen…love some of these, but not sure I’ve found ‘the one’ just yet!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2015/01/img_4905.jpg It feels like a million years ago since we were stripping all the old wallpaper off the walls, I’m certainly much more in my element browsing replacements than wielding a steamer.

Kitchen Projects…

It’s been all go the last few weeks to get the kitchen finished before Christmas and all but a bit of snagging, we’re there. I’ll post before and afters in the next couple of weeks once the dregs are done, but in the meantime, I wanted to post a few ‘mini projects’ that we’ve done in the kitchen.

First up, the cubby hole in the kitchen has two beautiful carved sections, they are Victorian and I like to think original to the house, though clearly not in their current position. I toyed with the idea of stripping them, but they are so intricate it would have taken forever and I was fearful would they have an air of (very) Shabby Chic, heaven forbid, so I decided to gild them, the result had a definite feel of ‘Bollywood prop cupboard’ I panicked I’d wrecked them and ran some brown paint over them, then some dark varnish and finally attacked them with wire wool… I’m pleased with the result, though not at all what I set out to achieve.

Before & After…

And both sections shown together, one with flowers and one with fruits…perhaps telling the story of the seasons?
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4750.jpg It’s difficult to show the positioning of the cubby, this is about the best I can do…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4752.jpg Pretty pleased given that a year ago it was a cold, damp and useless area at the top of the hall…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4753.jpgWe needed a couple of shelves for cookery books etc. Wherever possible we’re trying to avoid off the shelf products, (except the Ikea kitchen #budget) so I sourced natural edged, made to measure shelves from the very helpful Ben Loughrill
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4551.jpg These had a couple of coats of Danish oil, which, never fails to amaze me how much it improves the look of timber. I then set about marking out the wall for the brackets, easier said than done as each hole seemed to hit a different substrate, including the metal casing of the electrics, oops.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4547.jpg We then cut segments out of the wood to accommodate the column and finally screwed into place.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4760.jpg The little hand-forged hooks, like the brackets, and most other things in this house, are from Ebay. Since putting up the shelves for our books, I’ve decided I prefer to display a random selection of tat on the shelves, and said books, cause of all this fuss, have been relegated to the pantry.

The last little project was door handles for the pantry and boiler cupboard, I searched and searched for some pewter handles that had a bit of a vintage feel, without being ‘antique’ style…it proved pretty hard on a sensible budget. I eventually ended up with these, from, you guessed it, Ebay, they were £12 for two pairs. When they arrived they were in Homebase packaging, I assume someone bought them and didn’t like them.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4764.jpg I also got this little collection of old keys for just £3.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4414.jpgWe fitted the new handles, painted the door black underneath the keyhole, drilled a hole, sawed the business end off the keys and glued them into the holes.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4331.jpgThey look great but visitors DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT turn the keys, they will fall out, and there may be tears.

Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve been looking at kitchen floor tiles for months. So much so, I’ve even begun to bore myself, let alone any of you poor readers! This week I finally ran out of patience, sick of websites, and sick of samples that look nothing like the images on said websites, we headed off down the motorway to the Cotswolds yesterday to see a supplier and get the decision made. Beswick Stone have a beautiful, stylish showroom…the type that makes you want to deal with them as they clearly ‘get it’. We went armed with wall tiles, worktop and cupboard door, and left with two large stone samples and all our questions answered. The two on our short list are below…any preferences?

We also reached a decision of these patchwork style tiles for our splash back…

IMG_3559.JPG Back at the house today the plastering is continuing in the second bedroom, meanwhile, we gave the freshly plastered hallway it’s mist coat, amazing how much brighter it makes the place!

Next up on our to do list are the following jobs:
1. Make kitchen blackboard.
2. Get final quotes on central heating installation, there’s a distinct autumnal feel on it’s way.
3. Fit ceiling in kitchen.
4. Finish filling ceilings.
5. Re-fit skirting boards after re plaster.
6. Finish stripping bedroom fireplace.
7. Source a fireplace for second bedroom.
8. Source a kitchen door.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there, I’m starting to panic.

Courtyard Transformation…

About lunchtime on Sunday I was pondering what we’d achieved this weekend other that getting the television onto the wall in the kitchen and making half a frame for a window (we ran out of beading, grrrr!). Ronnie’s mum & dad were here for the weekend and shortly after my silent ponderings they started having a ‘little tinker’ outside, I didn’t take any before photos as this was just a little tinker, but trust me, it was a mess, but within a few short hours weeds had been blitzed, rubbish shifted, walls cleaned, annoying dangly cables cut and pot plants perked up and rehomed, and it now looks like this…20140706-224048-81648661.jpg
From back door down to French window…

Wall with roses and bedding plants…just pretend you can’t see the scaffolding, thanks.

As night falls and the lights come on it looks amazing…


20140707-082311-30191026.jpgRonnies mum and dad have also given us a fantastic selection of herbs which have been distributed between the sinks and additional containers and a fig tree, which they tell us will bare figs in three years time, we’ll enjoy those figs from the tree one day and remember a happy weekend spent planting it.

Up On The Roof…

This weeks project has been getting the chimneys operational. The builder has been busy taking down the old chimneys and putting them back straight. Indoors, we had the chimney sweep come round and we busied away clearing the lounge fireplace… 20140621-214835-78515844.jpg
I’d hoped when we bought the house we’d find an amazing fireplace behind the boards blocking it off, it turned out to be empty, but the Library Fireplace made up for the disappointment. When we cleared the bricks blocking up the fireplace we found numerous pieces of tile that I assume would once of been part of the fireplace, it has a black printed design and is hand coloured (not very well to be honest!) but I love the deep pink and purple in the flowers, and the shades match perfectly the colours in the stained glass windows, those Victorians certainly weren’t afraid of a bit of colour…anyway, back to the job in hand… I knew the task wasn’t going to be as easy as anticipated when this sizeable delivery appeared on our driveway…

20140621-223339-81219370.jpg Once unwrapped, a chimney liner apparently looks like this, who knew?

20140621-223421-81261179.jpg This is the gas version, the solid fuel version is slightly smoother. These ten meter lengths were around £300 each, someone is making some serious profit margin on this stuff. So now we just had to get them down the chimney, simple hey? Firstly we dropped ropes down, which Ronnie weighted with the vintage kitchen weight I bought a few weeks ago, this was not it’s intended purpose! That said, it was the perfect tool for the job. Once we had the rope down, it was time to get the liners up to the roof via the scaffolding, straightening them out as they went…

20140622-163850-59930194.jpg Now the plan was essentially to tie the liner to the rope on the roof, one of us to feed it down the chimney and the other, to tug like hell from below, I chose my role wisely.

20140621-224302-81782260.jpg As the fitting instructions recommended, Ronnie wrapped tubes of insulation around the liner as it was fed down the chimney, (improves the draw of smoke apparently) but every time I pulled the rope below, the liner was getting lodged in the crook of the chimney, we tried about 20 times during the course of an exhausting few hours and eventually decided to get a nose cone from the local stove supplier, we had read this would make the process easier. Brettle Lane Stoves were out of cones, but the guy very kindly gave us some invaluable advice, firstly, hammer the end of the liner into a cone form which will be easier to guide, and secondly, put the insulation down after the liner. We did just that and the liner came down perfectly, along with a random brick, some tin foil and a boat-load of soot!

20140622-165112-60672272.jpgThe second one came down sweet as nut, we’re now feeling quite the flue-lining experts, and very pleased to have saved around £1500 by doing this ourselves. Need to start researching fires next!