Monday, 26 May 2014

A few finishing touches

With a few finishing touches we final have our new, fully functioning kitchen. Hoorah!
Pretty chuffed with the result and in at just under 20k, including building work (knocking 3 rooms into one), kitchen cabinets (incl. fitting and painting) plumbing, electrics, new appliances, engineered, oiled wood flooring and extras such as light fittings. All in all, quite a good result for the budget.


A few mementos of our travels. I painted the frames with Farrow and Balls 'Railings' to contrast the mustard walls and to frames the blues in the picture.

For the first time in years I can actually see exactly what I have in my cupboards! 2 larder cupboards are amongst my favourite elements. May have to do a slightly bigger food shop to fill one though!

Source book.....
Kitchen cabinetry
Building, plumbing and electrics - Trident Heating & Electrics Ltd/Snap Developments
Appliances - Bosch inducton hob, Bosch cooker hood, AEG built in double oven, Rangemaster undercounter freezer, Hotpoint larder fridge, Zanussi dishwasher, Blanco double sink and Franke Basel tap. All
Paint - (French Grey Dark) from, (Mustard)



Saturday, 17 May 2014

I love English mustard. Now it's even on the walls!

Progress in the kitchen department!

From this (November)....

To this......a couple of weeks after we moved in!

To this......

Still a bit of a way to go but we are nearly there. Another week and we will be able to actually start properly using the kitchen/family room.

The kitchen units need their coat of Little Greene's French Grey Dark and we've added the fabulously uplifting yet warm mustard colour by Habitat on the end wall.

For anybody that loves spicy yellows I would urge you to try a tester of Mustard. I was a little apprehensive, not being a massive fan of any member of the yellow family, and I worried that it would not look as good as the magazine photo I referred to in my last post.

I love a cheese sandwich, on ham, with anything and everything to be honest....but on the walls?

You know how it is. It normally happens to me with outfits. I see a great outfit, picture myself in it in my head and then when I actually try it on I'm crushingly disappointed by how I actually look in it. My worry was mustard on my wall would disappoint in the same way.

But no! I love it. This photo was taken at dusk and it looks as good, if not better, as day light fades. So much so, I'm painting a little more. We're going to paint the wall with double doors out on to the garden with the same colour. This will also tie the kitchen/dining and seating areas together. All other walls are brilliant white.

I hope the sun is shining where you are.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Progress in the kitchen department

This is going to be a short, sharp blog as I am working between coffee catch ups, school run and more coffee catch ups!

I've had what might be described as an epiphany on the kitchen front. As anyone who knows me and has spoken to me of late will confirm, I have been backwards and forwards again and again with the decision of what colour to have the new kitchen units painted! As ever, I have had 3am arguments with myself on what to do. We have tested endless pots of paint and not one has quite left me with that 'Yes. That's the one' moment.

What has actually happened, and what often happens with me and the decision making process, is that I have just about come full circle and ended up with the colour that I started out with....just a little darker.

So. To the plan.

The kitchen cabinets have been arriving. Progress. The kitchen has been filled with a lovely wood smell. I about collapsed when, in the absence of any other men other than the joiner, I had to help him lug a couple of larder cabinets from the van in to the kitchen. Obviously I had a point to prove, that a wimpy looking woman could indeed manage such a task. The fact that my arms were wobbling like jelly as a result and I nearly dropped his cup of coffee kind of gave the game away....but at least I didn't have to call on a neighbour!

We are having the cabinets painted in Little Greene's French Grey Dark. The work surface is white and the floor, light oak. The kitchen below is French Grey Dark, to show an example.

My original thought had been to paint the cabinets a very pale grey. I then decided this looked boring next to the floor and moved on to lime-ish green colour, via yellows. I then decided that looked a bit too bright and moved on to slate blue/grey. That looked too dark so I moved back, via a few other obviously wrong choices, to grey. French Grey Dark gives that good balance of neutral but strong enough to contrast the white work surface. It is also very definitely grey. Farrow and Ball's French Grey, for example, has a definite green tint to it.
My other reservation was that from the start I had wanted to avoid the end result being too traditional looking (hence my brief foray in to the world of limes and yellows). With this in mind I spotted this pic in a magazine and  had that moment of knowing exactly what I was going to do.
Just off picture (of the new cabinets above), but at this near end, we have a utility room and the idea is to paint the wall between the kitchen and utility in a shade similar to the above (Mustard by Habitat), if not the exact colour above. The door in to the kitchen is at the opposite end of the room so you will see this flash of colour as you come into the kitchen. Our table and dining chairs are similar to the ones on the picture and therefore the overall effect should be a good balance of modern and classic with all other walls , running in to the dining/tv area, painted white. Greys and citrus colours do generally work well together.

We are still managing to stick to a really strict budget. The windows in our kitchen/family room are pretty standard UPVC ones (already in before we bought the house) with pretty corny sills.....but they have scrubbed up quite well and frankly, we can't afford to replace them. They are white and in perfectly good working order. They are staying.

My long suffering hubby will sigh with relief that the tester pot shopping is over for now.....provided that the Habitat colour is not too mustardy.....................

Don't sit back yet, darling!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Home improvements update!

Here is a little update on all that has been going on in our new house.

We moved in in November last year and it has been non stop since then!  We've achieved a fair amount but there is still loads to do! It is proving to be a labour of love as although the house really needed (needs) some serious tender loving care and was seriously challenged in so many ways, not least of all its kerb appeal...or lack of, we absolutely love the house and its location.

So. What have we done so far?


From the main bathroom.



An en suite with shower...... 


A downstairs loo....

 And the main work in progress.....but already looking a million times better....

The kitchen!


Dismantling.....utilising any labour we could find!

Progress to date....  


We have had many a sleepless night deliberating on floor choice for the kitchen. I have read and re read reports on all options of flooring for kitchens and have spoken to more joiners and sales people than I wish to remember and have concluded what I always conclude....that there is virtually no consensus of opinion on this subject which is really helpful!

In the end we have gone for engineered wood in a medium to lightish oak which we intend to run throughout the whole of the down floor...once we have won the lottery or sacrificed a few more holidays and meals out and lived on beans on toast for a while!

Is wood a good choice for the kitchen? Well. I've again concluded that as long as you look after it (wipe up spills etc. which I think most people would tend to do anyway?!) then it is perfectly fine in the kitchen. In the event of plumbing disasters, are they not disasters no matter what is on the floor?

We chose wood as we wanted something with a slightly softer look than tiles and also our budget would not run to under floor heating and therefore tiles would have felt a little colder under foot.

I have to confess that when the wood turned up, I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach...thinking that I had made the wrong choice and that the tone of the wood was not quite right. I did not fess up to my husband at this point! It is such a difficult thing to decide and is such a significant expense that getting it wrong is painful and had it been wrong, may have resulted in my disappearing under the boards!

Thankfully, now a good area has been laid, my fears have subsided and we love it. It has very few knots which was my fear with wood. We wanted it to look quite modern and clean so that was a huge sigh of relief!! We went for an oiled finish. On this, there did seem to be a consensus of opinion. Oiled wood is easier to repair than lacquered. The downside, if you choose to see it as such, is that you have to re oil the boards every 18 months to 2 years.

So we are half way there with the kitchen. The floor should be finished in the next day or so and the kitchen fitters start after Easter.

Have a great Easter!


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bargain buy of the week.

My bargain buy of this week has to be my 6 Eames style dining chairs, as seen below.
Now, I had some reservations about this purchase, mainly because this chair has been somewhat done to death I think. Flicking through magazines, these Eames chairs appear on every other page, just about. Mmmm. A little predictable maybe.
The cynical side of me also always wonders whether the pictured (magazine shots) chairs are, in fact, 'genuine' Eames when it states they are, retailing at around £320 or indeed, 'inspired by' copies, such as mine...a mere snip at £31.99 each on Ebay with free p&p!
Frankly, who cares? I ordered a single copy from a couple of weeks ago and then visited a retailer of the original version (£328) and quite honestly, I could hardly tell the difference. The additional 6 I ordered (different supplier) are identical and came well packaged and the next day.
Predictable they may be, but these chairs are incredibly comfortable, durable (essential with children) and as I required at least 6 for the table, cost effective. I would post a picture of the chairs around the table....but I haven't got the table yet!
They may fall to pieces. Let's see. If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford the real mccoy, then great. They may well be a better build quality. I would hope so!
My second purchase this week, and as with the chairs, a subject on which I have blogged recently, is this pendant light shade below.
This may not have been such a bargain (Kura pendant, £50, Habitat) but it fulfils the brief perfectly.  Apologies for the poor picture. This room is mid-rescue, as you can see! The mix of laminate and deep pile brown carpet will not be staying.
I'm not a fan of central ceiling lights, but this room is quite large and the intention is to keep it minimally decorated with white walls and wood flooring, making the most of its triple aspect. As a result, I think it needed a central light, more as a statement and to help draw the room in, rather than as a functional light. This light is the extra large version and is made from toughened paper. I like the sharp, modern style and whilst I would have liked to have spent less than this, it is considerably cheaper than the £160 shade I did have my eye on. That makes it a bargain!


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

An Ideal bath that I won't be taking a sledge hammer to!

Things seem to be progressing nicely, albeit the house very much resembles a building site with every room either under construction or being used as storage for materials, tools etc.

Thought I'd share the bathroom transformation so far. My choice here was very much based on a simple, clean, non-fussy look. I'd rather add interest with things like towels or maybe odd bits of furniture than being stuck with a patterned or coloured tile, for example. But that's just my preference.

We've opted for a plain white, fairly bog (excuse the pun) standard Ideal Standard bathroom suite, partly because of cost and partly because I wanted plain, bog standard design! Ticks in both the style and budget boxes.

In our last house, a cottage, we had a roll top bath and though it looked the part, when it came to a nice long soak with a good book and a glass of something, I realised that from a comfort point of view it just wasn't happening and spent the next few years craving a standard bath! The low point came when I was pregnant with my son, and in the early throes of labour.  A nice, warm, relaxing bath would ease the agony, I thought. Instead, had there been a sledge hammer handy, I would have taken my stress out on the roll top! The moral of this tale....if you are considering a roll top or similar style bath, make sure that you (dry!) test run one first. Climb in and have a recline. Consider the upright nature of the ends. Reclining is almost impossible. They also take for ever to fill, unless you have super powerful pressure...and by the time you have optimum volume of water, it is invariably too cold!

So, here it is so far. Half way through I guess.


Sanitary ware and shower screen from Ideal Standard. Shower - Mira. Taps - Vado. Tiles - Imola Porcelain, Creacon (approx. £22/m)
In all, so far, we have spent approximately £1,400 on kitting out the main bathroom....including lighting and chrome heated towel rail, both still to be installed. We are re-fitting an additional en suite and a downstairs cloak in this phase of works which will, in total but excluding labour costs, come in at around £3,300 for the 3 rooms.
I've also taken delivery of a towel ladder/storage unit as seen below.  Some nice, bright towels will inject some colour at some point. John Lewis 'House' Bamboo 5 tier shelving unit - £80.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Show me the light!

I like to think that my overall vision for the new pad is fairly clear in my mind. Nothing fussy. Clean lines. Modern but not too 'out there'....we have young children....'out there' just won't work. Needs to be kept too spotlessly clean!

One of the problems with this project is that the final decision making bits are coming all too thick and fast now. My fault. In my eagerness to get cracking I probably haven't left time to actually sit and plan. That's not my style though. I'm sure some trendy out there would describe my approach as 'organic'. Certainly, I prefer to make decisions about detail as I go along rather than having a plan set in concrete from day 1. My brain doesn't function that way....probably much to the irritation of our fab project manager, Phil! 

Take lighting, for example. With my general excitement about the whole task, I have to say that deciding on the lighting has given me the odd sleepless night.

At the moment we are concentrating on the kitchen dining area. It's a whole chicken and egg situation. As the ceilings are being boarded imminently, we have to decide on where we want ceiling lights. Our current dining table came with us from the cottage and in the new kitchen looks like a side table! We've had to measure out what size table we might want to fit the new space and then plan lighting above accordingly! It looked a bit like a crime scene last night, with a black marker pen outline of the table we have yet to get drawn on to the floor! I'd already decided that I was going to have pendants above the dining table hence we needed to know where the table would be....even thought we haven't got the table yet...
Then....were we having a single pendant, or two...or three...You get the picture.
Had I found the light of my dreams, these decisions may have been easier. I haven't yet found the light I want.
My poor husband. We now have lights on order left, right and centre in a bid to make a decision. For a wide selection of lighting, I have found that Habitat and an online retailer, Sparksdirect, both offer a really good selection of styles to satisfy all budgets.
Here are a selection of my favourites, from the budget-busting classic, Laviani's Kartell Fly below, availabe  in 11 shades, to the Saffron paper light at £12. I've got a thing about this saffron shade at the moment, so this paper pendant may have to feature somewhere in this house!
Budget, and the fact that most of the room will be white, will probably steer me more toward the grey or black drum shades to give a little contrast...but we will see! I've ordered a selection to help. The Kartell is on the living room floor at the moment and although it is nice, it's not right...and for £159 (times 2) it would need to be!
I'll probably make the decision 5 minutes before we sit down for Christmas dinner!

Laviani Kartell Fly ceiling light. £159

Saffron paper pendant. Habitat. £12
Black/copper shade. Habitat. £44

Black cotton drum shade. Habitat. £20

Balun ceiling pendant. Sparksdirect. £130+

Slate grey shade. Habitat. £20

Carter pendant light. Habitat. 31.50

Kura white large paper drum. Habitat. £21.00