Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Kitchen Nightmares

In decorating, home on November 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm

So, it’s been some months since I could bear to commit thoughts to paper/pad/screen and discuss the arduous progress of what has fast become known in my circle as The Bastard Kitchen.

However, I’m delighted to report that seven months later, it is complete. Things changed a bit. We sacked off the shabby chic eau de nil/vintage ivory up-cycled theme I first dallied with I’m favour of (three guesses…) purple!

As it goes, before you ask, I didn’t paint the whole thing and fill it with violently violet accessories like some Prince fantasy, we went for smart white lines and modern white accessories with a sumptuous purple backdrop, teamed with my must-have wine glass light and our canvases of choice.

Considering we both wanted very different things, I think that the fact that the kettle looks like a stormtrooper and when illuminated, the cupboards look like there’s an alien landing, while Audrey Hepburn presides on high means that we’ve managed a compromise extremely well and somehow both feel like we got our own way.

On the whole, I’d have to say that the endless expense and time was worth it… Just. I know I’m biased, but I LOVE it. What do you think?









Purple Reign

In home, shopping, Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hurrah! I’m getting excited now, turns out the best way to get me on board with the outrageous and unplanned expense of a kitchen refit was to allow me to paint part of it purple.

Now that the boy’s agreed*, I am far more inclined to show support and measure walls for cupboards and choose oven hoods.

I’ve now unleashed my inner interior designer and am planning the finished look, which is what I need to do to keep me going through the next few weeks of rewiring, plastering, floor fitting, banging and swearing.

Thanks to the support of my fellow purple passionistas Eve and Liz I’ve now identified tons of purple accessories and appliances, but none of them have excited me as much as this aubergine DeLonghi coffee machine. I may only have one latte a day, but what a stylish way to have it.

Of course, I’ll have to have the kettle and toaster to match.

I’ve also been forced to accept that the Catherine Colebrook picture I’d planned on having simply won’t go with the new colourway, so I’ve set my decided on striking black and white pop-art for impact. Personally, I have set my heart on this shot of Audrey, but as this will be about my fifth attempt to bring her into a room in the house, I have to tread carefully.

But I have a plan – while I see Audrey presiding over the kitchen from the main dining wall, I think I can convince Adam to go for it with the diversionary tactic of suggesting that this guy gets to take centre stage on another.

Not just a hat stand. Oh no.

*in principle, it could all be off by Sunday

Bright idea

In decorating, home, Uncategorized on June 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

Much to my surprise, my proposal to scrap the caramel kitchen colour scheme in favour of a more regal deep purple was not met with utter horror last night. In fact, we’re actually going to pick out a few tester shades to get an idea of the finished effect.

It’s made me wonder if I can push things a bit further. I’m all for the recessed ceiling spotlights we’ve agreed on, but wouldn’t THIS be amazing over the dining table?

I realise there’s the risk that dinner guests will smash their heads in, but really, isn’t that their look out?

The Colour Purple

In decorating, home, Uncategorized on June 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

I’ve had a bit of a change of heart on the kitchen front. I am taking a new ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach to the whole project and instead of grumbling about the spectacular failure to stick to my initial plan, I am going to suggest a few changes to my original decor idea.

Essentially, I shall be putting forward the – I think – perfectly reasonable suggestion that instead of carrying through a lighter version of the colour scheme from our sitting room, and opting for duck eggs and caramels to match the new white cabinets, we rip off the offending wood panelling that I’ve already painted (as per Adam’s original desire, clever eh?) and opt for smooth plastered walls, but choose a more striking colour combination.

I am thinking, naturally, of purple. I see no reason why it needs to be confined to my wardrobe, and while I’m not going to hedge my bets and ask if we can get glossy aubergine cabinets (but I would like that, I would), I think a statement aubergine wall will have a fantastic effect with the white units.

It also means I can buy all manner of striking statement accessories as a souvenir of this traumatic time, such as THIS one:

Say no more.

Memo to self: say nothing in future

In decorating, home on June 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm

As I predicted, the whole ‘let me up-cycle the kitchen as a fun weekend project’ idea has been well and truly hijacked and has now escalated to such a point that I am considering just moving out and living on my own free from brick dust and interference.

Despite my having painted the cabinets and the wood panels, replaced all the handles and having bought paint and paper for the walls, my painstakingly painted cupboards have now been removed from the walls (along with the tiles, with not a thought that we hadn’t even started looking for replacements) and – joy – a wall has been demolished so that the alcove is no more. This is to make room for the enormous American style fridge freezer that we’re now having instead of recessed painted shelving to store and showcase all of my cocktail glasses and Rosanna Bowles J’adore les shoes crockery as previously discussed.

From this:                                                                                To this: 

Beautiful crockery that deserves to be seen…

Massive metal box.











Because as we all know, nothing fits in with a vintage style kitchen like a massive metal ice maker, does 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.


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.

The strangely therapeutic art of stripping

In decorating, home, shopping on November 10, 2011 at 11:19 am

I’ve discovered a rather unexpected new way to tone up and release stress – stripping.

To clarify, there’s not a sequinned G string in sight, just a bucket of hot water, a sponge, a stepladder and a scraper, and a load of walls just waiting to be attacked. Yes, the great renovation plan of 2011 has begun, and the clock is ticking.

Having never had to strip wallpaper before; I’ve only ever come across smooth plastered walls; I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the task ahead, but I found the whole thing very therapeutic – watching the reams of paper come away from the wall, removing the remnants of lining paper and – best bit ever – the feeling of satisfaction when great swathes of paper came away from the staircase reaching right up to the ceiling that I hadn’t a hope of reaching.

Quite apart from the opportunity to either bawl my lungs out singing along to my music or simply use the time to think about things that are festering anxiously in my mind, I also lost several pounds over the course of three days – clearly all that reaching,balancing,  heaving and pulling was as good as any Body Pump class. Right now, the sitting room looks ugly, and is so cold without its dado rail and coating of nasty 70s paper, but it already seems so much bigger.

Work In Progress

In the next couple of weeks, the walls will be re-plastered, our flooring will be ripped up to be replaced with rich deep brown elm, and our nasty fire will be removed, to be replaced with this…

We’re at loggerheads at present over new iron balustrades and radiators, but I’m just waiting for the chance to splash out on all of the rugs, cushions, candles and finishing touches that will make the show-house a home.

In the meantime, Project Bedroom is so far going to plan; the chandelier is waiting to be hung, the sumptuous duvet, throw, cushions and candles are all in place, and I’m just waiting for the right weekend to paint the feature wall a deep damson shade. Who knows, maybe I’ll decide I love that too.

In terms of toning up, it’s proving a winner, Karate Kid style. It’s not so much ‘wax on, wax off’ and ‘paint the fence’ as ‘wipe on, yank off’ and ‘paint the wall’. Not that I’ll be winning any trophies soon…