Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

(Not so) hot and bothered

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Another week, another saga. If you’re bored of reading about it, I assure you, it can’t be nearly as dull and depressing as living it.

All those things I said abot this project being completed by today; scratch that. We’ve encountered yet more setbacks. You know that fire we had fitted six weeks ago? This one?

It’s been covered up by black plastic ever since to protect it from plaster and paint, and this weekend was going to be its grand unveiling. We unveiled it to discover that in last week’s storms, water’s poured down the chimney, reacted with the soot and the resulting acid has dissolved the shiny black metal, leaving us with plates coated in rust. There’s a grand well spent. Getting an expert to clamber onto the roof is going to cost us even more, and there’s no guaranteeing he’ll be able to help once he’s there. Oh, and he’s coming on Friday. That’s the 23rd.

My chances of a cosy Christmas beside the fire are fast diminishing.

That said, we made definite progress on the decorating front this weekend. We’re currently here:

Chimney breast (and destroyed fire)


My would-be reading corner (with shiny new door)

Which gives us five days until our guests descend, and a considerable way to go. I grow weary of it.


Wall to wall chaos

In Christmas, decorating, home, Uncategorized on December 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm

One of my lovely clients, Kiss Me Cupcakes, thoughtfully asked me yesterday how the DIY project was going, and sadly reminded me of some stupidly optimistic pledge I’d made to be finished by the 17th of the month. What are we on today? 14th? Yes. That’s not going to happen.

Remember the 1986 Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit? I’m living it. What started out as an exciting project has now dragged on and on for weeks and cost almost double what we anticipated, and we still have no radiators, no floor, and no wallpaper on the walls. That said, I have discovered that I am a demon with a paint roller and that the mixed-to-order Dulux paint we chose is every bit as lovely as we’d hoped. We have walls painted and skirting boards glossed. Adam’s got handy with a sander to avoid us shelling out yet more cash on cupboard doors, and we’ve restored the existing old doors on our meter cupboards to make sure they’re inkeeping with the rest of the woodwork. The interior glazed door, we found when we chose to replace that, was in fact hanging on by one solitary screw thanks to the previous inhabitants.

Right now, this is what it looks like:


Which, while it looks like there’s a long way to go, is a massive improvement on how it looked a month ago:


Aah, how I miss that television, that sofa…

I’m crossing everything that by the time I next post, there will be radiators on the wall, maybe even wallpapaer on the recessed walls and the new lights fitted. The end is in sight (how many times have I said that now? Don’t tell me.) The floor will be fitted early next week and I sincerely hope that by Friday 23rd, I’ll be able to put the Christmas tree up and drink a vat of eggnog in a desperate bid to capture the festive spirit I’ve missed out on.

Until then, I’ll continue to have my Christmas iPod play-list blasting out to try and remind myself that the house should be filled with fairy lights, holly and mistletoe. Thing is, I’d happily give up a Fairytale of New York forever in return for a Fairytale ending.

For the greater good

In Christmas, decorating, Holiday, home, Travel on December 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

This time tomorrow, I should be sipping Champagne in Hamburg. The boyfriend and I booked it a couple of months ago as a reward for working so hard that we hardly see one another. Neither of us have ever been to Germany before, and following rave reviews from my uncle and brother, we decided a pre-Christmas festive break was in order. We planned to peruse the markets, eat and drink, enjoy the snow (snow has a place on winter holidays) and generally enjoy some time away from our iPhones, Blackberrys and emails.

Unfortunately, what we hadn’t allowed for when we booked our flights was the fact that we’re be neck-deep in plasterdust, sawdust and paint fumes. The idea of taking four days out to enjoy a city break and to return to a home that still needs so much TLC is simply unthinkable, so we’ve cut our losses and agreed that we’ll put all thoughts of Christmas markets and gluhwein out of our minds in favour of varnish, emulsion and gloss.

Maybe next year...

I’m telling myself that it’ll all be worth it, but right now, I’m struggling to see that it will.

What lies beneath

In decorating, home, shopping on December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I’m not sure I can take much more. Four weeks in, and less than three weeks until Christmas, and the house still looks like a building site. We had a trying weekend… Saturday was spent mopping down plasterwork and fitting radiators – oh, how excited I got! Actual heat! Until, alas, we decided that this would be an opportune moment to take up the existing flooring.

It was logical, we said – once it was taken up, the new one could be laid and then we could have skirting boards. We spent 40 minutes, our hearts plummeting with every one, ripping up the boards and looking despondently at the dark, damp flooring beneath. What had happened, we discovered, was that the former residents of our house, Mr & Mrs Botcha-Job, had basically laid underlay and plastic directly onto a wet concrete floor. And what happens when we lay an air-tight cover over something wet, kids? That’s right, the air can’t get to it and it becomes a nasty black putrid stinking mess.

The Gods of Renovation were, however, smiling down on us and almost immediately, the floor began to dry. We spent a couple of hours chipping up black bubbled surface stone and four days later, the ground is completely dry, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the delay meant another night without radiators.

On Sunday, our carpenter arrived bright and early – oh yes, we have the rare breed of workers who arrive at 8am every day, no chance of a lie-in at this establishment- and spent 10 hours ripping out our cobbled together crappy banisters and replacing them with white pine Georgian spindles and deep hardwood sapele rails.


And – stop press – one of the radiators is working. Not that we’re exactly in a position to sit there and enjoy it, but it makes the next phase a little more comfortable.

The next phases are painting, wiring in lights, fitting new doors, laying the floor,  and fitting the skirting boards, before I actually get to do the fun bit and hang the mirror, picture and start tossing cushions around with gleeful abandon. Last night we went on a window shopping spree to remind ourselves how it was going to be worth it.

I’ve promised myself a reading corner and, further to the devastating realisation that my chaise won’t fit in the alcove I’d earmarked it for, Im buying a striped chair and footrest to curl up on with my kindle.

Of course, the fact that we’re just 19 days away from Christmas puts us under immense pressure, but not as much as I’ve decided to pile on with my insistence that we’re finished by the 19th so that we can put our Christmas tree up, stick on feel-good festive films and wrap all of the gifts that are stacked high in the bedroom.

So, that’s what? 13 days to get it done? Easy.


Going LaLa

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm


I have a new style crush. Five years ago, I was obsessed with Tiffany jewellery (the silver, affordable kind) and spent hundreds of pounds on it. Two years ago I developed a thing for Pandora and all things charming and shiny, and this month, I’ve been bowled over by LaLa Rocks.

Last night, LaLa Rocks held a showcase of its winter 2011 collection at The Wedding Club in Birmingham, and I joined lots of other ladies (and a few nervous looking men) there to see the different pieces for myself. I’d already got my eye on a dyed freshwater pearl bracelet, but after seeing the whole collection, I realise they’re a bit like Pokemon – you just have an insatiable need to collect them all.


I particularly like the pyrite and silver one, but I wouldn’t say no to the sparkle rock crystal one, the aquamarine one, the hematite one, the grey agate, the rose quartz, the amethyst… you get the picture.

While I prefer the classic styling with the 9 carat gold bead detail, the Howlite skull detail was getting a huge amount of attention.Looks like everyone’s planning to get their rocks on this Christmas!

From skirts to skirting boards

In Christmas, decorating, home, shopping on December 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

Bad times.

Last Saturday, I returned a dress that I really liked, because I thought I was being irresponsible buying two new dresses. Twenty minutes later, I spent £25 on lightbulbs. LIGHTBULBS.

The next day, I tried on the stunning blue velvet Charlotte Olympia-esque velvet shoes I’ve been coveting for weeks, and I didn’t buy them, even though they were just be-e-e-ea-utiful, because they were quite uncomfortable. I have at least three pairs of shoes in my wardrobe I’ve never worn because they’re so uncomfortable, so since when did that matter?

And then, yesterday, I’m almost too embarrassed to write it, I spent £300 on bannisters.

Let me tell you, I am rueing the day I started banging on about renovating our house. For the past year I have stomped and stormed about how much I hate the nasty decor and the boyfriend finally gave in. For a month now, I’ve been basically living in one room; the sitting room is empty, fire fitted, walls stripped and replastered. The conservatory is stacked with furniture and the kitchen is just a mess. My bedroom is the only room I see from dawn till dusk – and beyond.

This weekend, at least, the plaster will be dry and the painting will begin. The carpenter will fit my freakishly expensive bannisters, and next week, our new oak floor will be laid and our skirting boards fitted. And then – and I can’t tell you how excited I am about this – we can have the new radiators fitted. At present, it’s like living in a fridge. What possessed us to undertake this project in November and December I don’t know (Yes OK, I do. It was me saying I wanted it done by Christmas).

I know it’ll be worth it, I just hate the waiting. And the fact that my nails are all broken, I’m not getting to the gym, and that I’m having to forsake clothes in favour of wood varnish and light switches.

And yet, I don’t learn. Even though I can’t bear the disarray and the dust, I still want everything done at once. That’s why I bought all the bedding I wanted and why I waited for Adam to be otherwise disposed before sweet-talking his Dad into fitting the chandelier I bought weeks ago (which Adam kicked into the spare room and shut the door, I might add) for me. And doesn’t it look fabulous?

Oh, the lovely purple glamour of it

I confess, I wasn’t prepared for quite how much hassle it would be – it took a good two hours and that’s not allowing for the fiddling about with the crystals (I did that bit), and then I was slightly aghast at the £25 lightbulb revelation. But not as aghast as the discovery that there’s a fault and only one of the five lights works. I am acting oblivious, if it gets taken down, there’s a good chance it won’t get put back…

My current mission – and I do think that Adam will spontaneously combust if I push the issue, which has so far been met with a surprisingly loud ‘NO.’ – is to get a new floor fitted in the bedroom when the lounge flooring is replaced with lovely heritage oak and the stairs and landing is treated to a plush new coffee-coloured carpet. After all, it will just look scabby and untidy, will it not, on traipsing over all that loveliness to tatty old carpet?

I am currently torn between white limed oak and smoke brushed elm boards – rather rustic and gorgeous with the white furniture and deep purple accents, I think. All feedback welcomed.

Smoke brushed elm or white limed oak?

Although given that the bedroom is the one haven I have amidst the mess, maybe I am mad to even think of it.

In the meantime, I’ll just continue to oversee things in my supervisory, tea-making capacity, while demanding to know why everything’s taking so bloody long.

I’ll keep you posted.