House: Living room update

We’re in the middle of re-jigging our living room. Due to the unusual layout of our house we have two seating areas – this darker room at the front of the house is the cosy TV ‘pit’ and another room at the back of the house is the ‘summer’ entertaining space.

Moving our big sofa into this room gives us more space for entertaining – the catalyst for this move was my sports-mad boyfriend buying a huge new TV and we’ve already hosted a 6 nations (rugby!) night in here!

Read more…

Bank Holiday DIY: Terrarium

My collection of houseplants started, as I expect most people’s do, with a humble spider plant. It survived all the way through my university years and now sits on my desk at work. Thanks to my Mum and my boyfriend’s mum, my current house is hardly short of plants – I’ve got everything from tiny succulent pots to a palm-like mini tree over a metre tall. I can’t lie and say I’m green-fingered – my boyfriend is usually the one who waters them!

Houseplants seem to be having a big moment in interiors trends. They are great for adding colour and interest to a space. Plus (here’s the scientist popping up!) some of them remove unpleasant chemicals from the air! Succulents seem to be particularly popular right now.

I’d had my eye on a terrarium for a while and a family member bought me a beautiful angular copper one for Christmas. Despite how much I love it, I’ve only just got around to filling it with plants….this was my mini bank holiday project!

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I chose three cute little succulents for my terrarium. I won’t go into detail about how I created it – there’s tons of info out there on the internet (Pinterest is a good start for tutorials :-))

I would consider buying a ‘pre-prepared’ terrarium. This one was surprisingly tricky to arrange. My hand only just fits into the top opening and it took a while to get it looking tidy – the soil and gravel are easily trapped in between the plant shoots. I’m really happy with how it looks though – for now it’s on the window sill in my closet so that I can appreciate it in the mornings when I’m getting ready.

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I have also added this Aloe plant to my collection – a plant with white spots in a white pot is a winner!

Let’s see if they survive….

H x

 

DIY Ikea Kitchen – The Finished Result!

As promised, here’s some photos of our (95%) finished IKEA kitchen.

I talked a little about the trials and tribulations of the DIY process here.

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The kitchen is almost a replica of one of the displays in IKEA Bristol at the time – off-white shaker-style doors (GRYTNAS), speckled black acrylic worktop and grey laminate flooring. We didn’t want the fuss (or expense) of tiling, so we chose these narrow edging strips to border the worktop.

Originally I was very keen on wooden worktops with the white cabinets. After a little research I realised that they needed regular maintenance and have to be treated very carefully to avoid burn/scuff marks. I thought this could drive my boyfriend (who is very tidy and clean, bordering on obsessive!) mad with worry. Wooden worktops just aren’t practical for us now, but I wouldn’t rule them out for a future kitchen….

The kitchen is relatively small, narrow and dark at the farthest end, so I  wanted a simple, relatively clean design and colour palette. White walls open up and freshen the space and complete the calm and bright atmosphere that we wanted from a kitchen. To stop it feeling too ‘cold’ I’ve added small pops of colour from kitchen accessories and artwork.

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I love fun touches like my Edward Monkton Tea/Coffee/Sugar jars (I love Edward Monkton – I have quite a few mugs with other designs on too!). The Fixie Bike Pizza Cutter was one of my cycle-mad boyfriend’s birthday presents from his family this year.

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The ‘Kitchen’ Print was from the lovely Etsy shop Ivory Mint Cards. The moment I saw it I knew it was the perfect wry reminder of the design process – particularly Ikea’s cock-up with the sink measurements! I chose it in orange to pick up the colour of my casserole dish which I sometimes have out on display.

I found this ‘Caffeine Tea’ card in the gift shop of Bristol’s Arnolifini gallery last weekend (from the For Science range) I think it’s a nice nod to our scientific background – it will probably go up next to the ‘Kitchen’ print.

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In addition to the bright accents, my reclaimed wood chalkboard adds a bit of warmth to the space and breaks up the white and grey.

Minimalist purists will notice that, unfortunately, there are a number of different chrome finishes – we went with brushed chrome for the handles, tap and plug sockets, but they don’t match the shiny kettle and toaster that we already owned!

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I kept the wall above the sink free from cabinets to keep the space open. In hindsight I think it would have been ideal to put all the wall cabinets on that side of the kitchen (with the hob) and have the sink on the other side with clear walls to make the most of the light from the window. However we wanted to keep close to the original layout to avoid the cost and complexity of moving services around.

We’ve crammed in as much storage as possible at the far end of the kitchen with a tall cabinet next to the built-in fridge/freezer. IKEA didn’t have the model we wanted so gave us an upgraded one for the same price (bargain!) – unfortunately the design change meant that the false front at the top of the fridge door wouldn’t open against the slanted ceiling. We got around this by using two drawer fronts instead. Not quite as good aesthetically but at least we can access our food!

The future:

  • I’m going to add some slim white shelves next to the boiler to balance out the cupboard on the other side of the sink. We are also going to build in a small wine rack in a gap under the window.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into how we completed the project – we are really pleased with the result!

H x

The Saga of our IKEA DIY Kitchen

Our house needed a lot of aesthetic work when we bought it in 2014. The kitchen was a BIG project – original 20 year old cabinets and poor use of space. Outdated design aside, the entire kitchen was filthy dirty with years of chip fat grease lingering in every crevice. I couldn’t wait to rip it out!

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First things first – removing an old extractor unit with 20 years’ worth of grease!

As this is our first house and we might not be here in 5 years, we wanted to keep the cost down. We were also restricted by  the room layout and the type of house, keeping future potential buyers in mind. It is a galley kitchen and we kept the oven and sink in the same place to save moving the services. We considered keeping the relatively new cooker and under counter fridge that had been left behind. We eventually decided that in-built appliances would not only help the re-sale value, but be a better use of space.

We didn’t go all out on a ‘dream’ kitchen for the reasons I’ve already mentioned.  It’s not the most radical design ever – the worktop, cupboards and laminate floor are all identical to one of the display rooms in the Bristol store! I’d read a lot on blogs about customising with more unique hardware from other stores, but in the end I was so keen to get a new kitchen that we decided to go all-in at IKEA.

I am terrible for diving head-first into projects whenever I have a spare minute. After just a few months I enthusiastically started ripping tiles off the wall. While we were prepared for the hard work of a complete DIY re-fit, I don’t think we were prepared for the amount of time it would take (7 months) or the stress of unforseen setbacks.

The main stages of the project:

  • Remove all tiles
  • Remove all cabinets
  • Move sockets and re-plumb sink to accommodate movements to washing machine and addition of dishwasher
  • Wire in underfloor electric heating
  • Plastering (An unexpected delay. The tiles had been stuck directly to the plasterboard (d’oh) and after they had been removed the wall surface was a complete mess)
  • Decorate
  • Assemble new cabinets and fit
  • Install worktop
  • Finishing details (e.g. splashbacks, light fittings)
  • Lay underfloor heating and laminate floor.
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    Taking over the house with cabinet assembly

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    Father to Son plumbing lessons…

Given this was spread out over such a long period of time, it was incredibly inefficient. We still needed to cook, so things were moved in and out. But the biggest and entirely unexpected delay was with the worktop.

We chose a pre-cut Acrylic worktop. As the name suggests, the dimensions are taken and the worktop is cut to size, including the holes for the hob and sink, in Germany. This means a 6 week lead time. It was a crucial stage of the project and was already holding up the installation of half the kitchen.

Unfortunately for us, when the sink section of the worktop arrived the hole had been cut in the wrong place. The kitchen designers responsible for interpreting our measurements had made an error. (They also use a ridiculous system which is very open to interpretation, but that’s another story). It wasn’t our fault so the bill was on IKEA – lucky for us, as the worktop wasn’t cheap – a third of the cost of the entire kitchen!

It’s a well-known fact that IKEA customer service is terrible and it took over a week to painstakingly explain to them what they had got wrong. The replacement took another 6 weeks to arrive. We had removed the sink on the day of the original worktop arriving, so were without water in the kitchen for the entire time. It was incredibly frustrating!

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Spot the mistake with the sink cut-out….

Once that drama was over, we were able to get on installing the sink (YAY) and actually finish the rest of the kitchen.

Last thing was the floor. Originally it was tiles laid directly onto concrete and was freezing cold in winter. We removed the radiator to give us space to fit cupboards right up to the wall and plumped for electric underfloor heating, laid on a thick wodge of insulation. The kitchen is so narrow that the area of the mat is only 2m2 – it wasn’t too expensive and we’re hoping that running costs won’t be too high at the low levels we’ll be using.

We have now had our lovely new kitchen for nearly a year and we still love it.  For months I just reveled in the joy of having a working sink! I wanted to try to capture a few memories of the project so that we don’t forget how difficult it was at times. We had an electrician and plasterer in but the rest was LOTS of hard work by the two of us and my boyfriend’s dad.

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Half a new kitchen!

I’ll throw in some more pictures and decorating detail in my next post. If you’re struggling with kitchen re-fit at the moment, keep at it – you’ll get there!

H x

Light and Bright Makeover for Living/Dining Space

A couple more photos of our dining/day living area, now that it’s completely decorated and ‘livable’! Like the rest of the rooms in our house, it’s an odd shape – therefore I’ve tried to use our existing furniture to create zones.

First up, the dining area:

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We’ve got the Expedit Ikea unit on loan from my boyfriend’s brother and his fiancee while they wait to move into their new house. Everyone knows what amazing storage these units are so I don’t need to extoll its virtues, but it was a lifesaver while we were going through the kitchen re-fit! I can see why they are so popular..

I would love to dip dye or paint/distress the table and chairs but have do far been forbidden to do so by my mother – they’ve been passed down through her side of the family.

The other side of the room is the ‘day’ living area – it’s a beautiful warm area on a sunny day like today.

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(unfortunately my camera isn’t doing the light justice!)

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With the french doors open it feels like a garden room, so I stuck to neutral and natural colours. It’s my favourite weekend reading spot!

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This is my attempt at a rustic Ikea Raast hack – I simply stained the wood and swapped in some bronze-effect handles.

Unfortunately all the windows and doors that fill this room with light during the summer months make it a bit chilly in the winter – so I’ve got to make the most of it while I can!

H x

Room transformation: Big steps and Small steps

A milestone in the house this week – we finally had the carpet fitted in the back room/extension. This is the largest room in our little house and was covered in a mysteriously stained, moth eaten red carpet when we bought it – I couldn’t wait to tear it up! For the past two months we’ve been living with a bare concrete floor, with a few strips of carpet forming a walkway to the kitchen. But it’s been worth the wait!

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I had my heart set on laminate for this room for two reasons; firstly, to deter the moths that had invaded the last carpet, and secondly because it would be easy to clean – the garage door leads onto this room, which is our only access to the garden from the front of the house. But it wasn’t to be…there’s a drop in the floor between the original building and the extension!  We didn’t want to faff around with screeding the floor so decided to go back to carpet. A bit disappointing, but at least the carpet is cosy 🙂

It’s feels great to finally have this room ‘livable’. When I came home to it I spent a good few minutes jumping around the room just enjoying the space!

A small step for me this week was finally getting around to putting some pictures up. I was almost scared to do, in case I changed my mind later. But tonight I thought, ‘life is short – just do it!’and grabbed a hammer. It’s those little things that really make a room feel homely.

H x

 

 

 

Bedroom Transformation – Calming Grey and Moody Dark Blue

Long time no see! Since our house purchase in July, it seems my whole life has revolved around painting and decorating. When we bought the house I assumed that decorating would be a fairly swift process, say, two weeks….in the end it was two months before we even moved in!

The house was previously owned by an elderly couple and it was in serious need of cosmetic TLC. We jumped right in at the deep end – painting every room from top to bottom (days and DAYS spent sanding and glossing) and several new carpets.

I’m very happy to start sharing some of what we’ve achieved so far!

First up, a few highlights from the main bedroom…

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For a master bedroom this is surprisingly long and narrow, and therefore quite dark. I chose a pale, warm grey as the main wall colour (Polished Pebble by Dulux). I love feature walls and strong colours and fell in love with this dark blue (Sapphire Salute, Dulux).  Friends and family were concerned that using such a dark colour was a risk in a room like this, but I knew that it would make a nice contrast with the white bedroom furniture we already had.

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This is my favourite room in the house so far – the colours are calm and serene. I’ve kept a few pops of pink in there to brighten things up. I’ve kept furniture to a minimum to keep it feeling spacious.  It still needs a few finishing touches – I’m on the hunt for some white curtains, a free standing mirror and most importantly, some pictures for the walls!

More soon – H x

And just like that, we own a house

The past two months have been some of the most stressful, albeit exciting, of my life.

At the end of June, my boyfriend and I had an offer accepted on a house. A whirlwind (and many would say, mere) 28 days later, we had the keys in our hands and we were officially home owners.

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Yes, those ARE grab rails either side of the door…could come in useful after a night out

Getting the keys was a bit of an anti-climax. The timelines were very tight – we had been promised them on a Friday but hours passed without phone call. I fidgeted at my desk, unable to even pretend to do any work. At 4.30 pm we began the drive home, resigned to a weekend of waiting – and then got the call! We raced to the Estate Agents and managed to grab the keys before they closed. Then we went to the house and it hit home what we’d undertaken.

Tip: Do not buy a house from an elderly couple who haven’t cleaned said house for 20 years unless you are prepared for a LOT of work! We had taken the week off work to clean and move in – with hindsight, very naive. At the end of that week, we’d only managed to make two rooms look and feel acceptably clean, let alone start any painting. It was a LOT more than the relatively quick re-decorating job we’d anticipated.

The first two weeks were pretty exhausting and demoralising. Both our immediate families were on holiday or busy with existing commitments so we had to tackle the mess ourselves. The kitchen was fit for an episode of Kim and Aggie and the bathroom a health hazard. The majority of the carpets had to be ripped up and we had a moth infestation.

We had moved out of our rented flat and into my boyfriend’s parents house before the offer was accepted, so there was no pressure on us to move straight in. I am ridiculously glad of that fact, despite the difficulties of living with the ‘in-laws’. It may be a hard slog now but at least we can make the house our own.

Three weeks in: the house looks a bit like a building site but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve started painting (my favourite part!!!!) and the smells of old people are no longer all pervading. I will, of course, post some updates along the way 🙂

Time for some positivity: we actually have a proper big grown up house! After years of renting I am insanely excited to have a blank canvas of my own. And a garden with some slightly spooky gnomes and animals in it…

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Guess the creatures…

H x