The Great Outdoors…

Inspired by last weekends trip to Oslo, the good weather and some plant donations from Ronnie’s Dad, I spent a few hours in the garden. I’ve cleared about six square meters for the beginning of our vegetable garden… 

 

Supervised by Dottie Cat, I sectioned off the area with some picket fence from Aldi of all places, £3.99 a section! At least this gives us a defined area to keep weed free. So far we have a fig tree, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, horseradish and pumpkins. We have also been given white and black grape vines to plant along the Victorian wall in a few weeks time, which if anything like Ronnies Dad’s grapes will be delicious. While digging the plot I discovered the usual selection of random finds in the soil, including another etching plate, a dinky little bottle, a thimble and what we think might be a button from an old shop till – 6D. I love that numeric typography. 

  

Later, we had a little wonder around Stroud where we picked up this globe, we’ve been after one for a while and this fits the bill, more retro than antique AND it lights up, classy! 

Back inside I have finally got round to taking a picture of the cubby hole, this used to be a funny little arch in the hallway and now…well, it’s a funny little arch in the kitchen. There’s actually been quite a lot done…plaster removed, DPC fitted, replastering, adjoining wall removal, window fitted, light moved, floor laid, decorating, corbels guilded, sofa varnished and cushions making – thanks Juney! Somewhere comfy for Dottie Cat to relax after all that weeding.

   

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Oslo Inspirations…

We spent Easter weekend exploring Oslo, I’m not about to switch to travel blogging but there was much to inspire us! Through new work projects and a few Scandinavian trips I’m starting to love the fresh and eclectic style of the Nordics. When designing a room I try too hard to make everything match, Pantone-perfect. My mid-year resolution is to mI x things up more, and do it with style…let’s see how that goes!

We stayed in a stunning apartment with the most amazing bathroom, it was like a better version of all my cloakroom Pins over the last few months.  Small but perfect… Rustic metro tiles, an antique window framed cupboard, a repurposed Victorian table and an incredible copper bath. Envious. Much. I miss it.  

 


Wherever we travel, I love nothing more than to hunt out the Boho / Soho area of the city and explore with a coffee, this trip was no exception and as ever, I came home with a selection of vintage tat, but by far the best thing we bought this painting which cost about £15 in a vintage shop in the neighbourhood, I love the style and vivid, almost electric blue colour of those berries, I was excited to be able to track down the artist online, I’ve emailed her to let her know her painting has emigrated, I hope to hear back some time. 

On the subject of paintings, we also had a stroll over to the Natonal Gallery where we saw this slightly more famous painting… Maybe Munch’s muse was renovating too?

 

With Spring finally in the air, I also noticed a few ideas for the garden, I loved these planters outside a shop near our appartment, I’ll look out for a vintage Dolly tub for a eucalyptus…

 

Every bar or restaurant had benches outside, I really liked the idea of constructing something similar in our garden, the coffee sack cushions below were great too…people were more than happy to sit outside with blankets in the evening, I think I’ll get a few garden blankets for chilly British evenings.

  

This bench has seen better days, but looked like we could make it out of palettes, we have a few lurking round we should utilise for something or other.

 

Back home to normality now… Living in a building site is normal, right?! 

Sliding Doors…

We’ve been thinking about a kitchen door for a while, as this was originally a little atrium at the top if the hall there was never a door there originally, so finding something suitable wasn’t straightforward. After seeing this sliding door on Redmodelita, we decided that was the way forward.  

 

We got an old oak door from Ebay for just £20, it had originally come from a building society. I love it’s wooden handle and eschutcheon.

 

We also got the sliding gear from Ebay, though it came from China, they seem readily available in USA but difficult to source here.

 

The carpenter had a bit of a nightmare fitting it as the wall we located it on is quite weak, we had to fix a baton to the wall to hold it, that will need painting to match the wall. 

  

This shows the door and it’s frosted glass from the hall through to the kitchen… 

 

And this is the view from the other side. I’m not fully convinced on the fitting yet, I can’t help thinkng it looks like a giant coat hanger, but I’ll get used to it, it’s the best option for the space.

Smallest Room In The House…

I don’t think I’ve shared much of the full, avocado-tinted nightmare that is our downstairs cloakroom…and with good reason – nervous readers look away now. 

 This is it as we moved in, believe it or not it got even worse. Once the lino was lifted and it became a hub for paint pots and jars of white spirit. I had visions of a rather grand Victorian cloakroom, high level cistern and metro tiles, but a weekend spent in an apartment in Stokholm gave us an different idea… 

  They had pasted iconic fashion photography photocopied from magazines over their bathroom walls and we decided we’d do something similar with our travel photography.  

 

I’m undecided yet to go classic black & white or full-on colour, what do you think?  

I wanted black and white floor tiles, but we had stone left from the kitchen and as the cloakroom flows from the kitchen it made sense to carry the flooring on. Next was removing the suite, I do hope someone somewhere has kept an avacado suite to preserve history for the generations to come, but as much as I love history and design, that someone ain’t going to be me!  

 

Today our carpenter has done first-fix boxing to hide all that nasty pipework. The plumber is due this week to fit our sparkly new toilet and basin. I’m planning to use the Victorian pot cupboard we bought last year as a vanity unit under the sink, I’m not quite sure how yet, but where there’s a will there’s a way!  

 

Today’s Progress…

Today we finished sanding the floor, horray! There’s still two more rooms to do, but I’ll worry about those another time…in the distant future.

It was easier than we thought to get rid of the black frame around the perimeter of the room, though as we are staining the boards dark oak, perfection wasn’t the aim. We also got another coat of paint on the ceiling which looks great.  

It finally feels like we’re starting to get somewhere in the lounge, looking back at old photos, we’ve come a long old way! Next stop floor varnishing and choosing a fire.  

I’ve had a (premature) rummage in the attic for accessories for the lounge, I emerged with our holiday photo from Sri Lanka and a set of drawers made by my Great-Grandfather that I restored a couple of years ago.  

 

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.

 

  

Floor-Bored…

Today has been spent sanding the lounge floor, it wasn’t much fun.

2015/03/img_5633.jpg Apart from the cakes my Auntie called in with, the highlight of the day was finding we had a dungeon, who knew?! My first job of the day was pulling out all the protruding nails, doing this released a little floorboard , being the inquisitive type I lifted it…

2015/03/img_5630.jpg There is a cavity about six feet square and about three feet deep, with bare earth at the bottom.

2015/03/img_5631.jpg I was slightly concerned by this discovery, but Ronnie assures me this is a perfectly normal Victorian suspended timber floor. After a quick check that there was no hidden treasure (you just never know) the floorboard has been nailed back into place, just incase any trolls try to escape!

2015/03/img_5632.jpg It was impossible to operate the belt and edge sanders together as the electric kept blowing, so while Ronnie carried on I decided to knock the hearth out, the marble was a horrid pink colour and the shadows around it told us it was a non-original imposter.

2015/03/img_5635-0.jpg It lifted out in a solid piece, showing that the original hearth was a good six inches shallower. We’ll look for a replacement nearer to those dimensions. And it won’t be pink.

Making An Entrance…

The blog has been AWOL for a few weeks, we’ve been busy grouting the kitchen floor and scrubbing the kitchen floor and sealing the kitchen floor and grouting the kitchen floor and scrubbing the kitchen floor and sealing the kitchen floor…you get the picture. It’s been incredibly boring and blogging about it would have been even more boring, but we’re on schedule to be finished very soon.

Anyway, enough of the grouting gripes, I’ve found some bargains! I’m forever getting told off for blowing the budget so I’m being smug about saving some money for once. Not too long ago, Friday nights were spent enjoying cocktails in new dresses…last Friday night however, I found myself in the bargain corner of B&Q perusing toilets…

2015/02/img_5330.jpg I’ve no idea why, but they were offering £120 toilets for £5, I’ll take two please! They even packed them into the car for me…what more can a girl ask for?! Except a Kir Royale that is.

2015/03/img_5358.jpg This one, destined for the downstairs cloakroom, has gone into ‘careful’ storage in the courtyard. The other, much more modern style, is in the attic.

In other news, skulking around the house trying to avoid any further grout related tasks I’ve done a few other little jobs which I fraudulently promoted to the ‘urgent list’. I’ve given the kitchen sofa a coat of varnish as it was looking a bit knackered, I’m not sure it’s exactly a recommended technique, it’s revived it really well, we’re having some new cushions made for the sofa too, which is fortuitous as they will cover the varnish I spilt.

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We have also spent a few hours making the entrance hall a little more welcoming, all that really needed doing was a bit of caulking, filling, painting walls, ceilings and door frame and finally sorting out the floor…actually quite a lot now I come to list it!

2015/03/img_5321.jpg This shows the floor straight after the carpet was lifted and benefitting from a quick scrub, the tiles are in great condition, all things considered. I can’t wait until we can finally lift the hallway carpet!

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I also hung a little mirror with shelf (Ebay!) which I somehow thought would be bigger, it needs something that makes a bit more of a statement, but he’ll do for now, and it’s nice to bring a little Spring indoors.

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This is the view that now awaits our visitors…

2015/03/img_5355.jpg Much more welcoming than the entrance that Lansdowne offered a year ago!

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.

Venting…

We’ve had gaping holes in both the bootroom and downstairs bathroom walls for a while as we’d taken off the horrid 1980’s plastic vent covers to cram as much insulation as possible into the walls! I’d been looking for some vintage replacements for a while, but we’ve settled for these pretty plaster repros from Classic Ceilings.

2015/01/img_5050.jpg This wrought iron style vent is for the boot room, and here are some before, during and after images.
2015/01/img_5045.jpg They basically get stuck on with adhesive, we propped ours up with a stick and protective cloth and left overnight, they are now soundly in place. Once we’ve wallpapered we’ll clean it up, but I’m pleased with the results.

2015/01/img_5049.jpg We chose this pretty floral version for the bathroom.
2015/01/img_5046.jpg Here it is in situ…terrible photo, we may have a ceiling, but alas no lights…you can’t have it all hey?!