Nursery Tour

Preparing Baby L's nursery has been a really fun project for L and I during my pregnancy. Once we knew everything was looking ok, we relaxed more and started to work out how we'd transform our spare room. Being first-time parents, we took on a lot of advice from parent-friends & family in terms of essentials - but also went with our taste when it came to look and feel. We wanted to create a space that looked light and fresh in the daytime but comfy and cosy at night. And most importantly: FUN!

I found planning the nursery similar to getting ready for Christmas-! A fair bit of prep work mixed with lots of excitement! L and I are quite organised people - I knew I'd want everything sorted before 35 weeks as you never know how you're going to feel by this stage (and how much energy you'll have!). Plus, if Baby L arrived early, I'd feel better knowing the important bits were in place.

Now in week 36, we're confident we have the essentials (Moses basket, car seat, changing table, nappies, muslins, baby monitor, baby grows, etc) and can now start focusing on the upcoming birth - as well as making the most of our last few weeks of sleep and relaxation (!).

Hope you enjoy the tour...

BEFORE

Neutral spare room, which was quickly becoming a dumping ground for random objects e.g. golf clubs, sleeping bags!

Neutral spare room, which was quickly becoming a dumping ground for random objects e.g. golf clubs, sleeping bags!

AFTER

WALLS & CURTAINS

Blackout nursery curtains: Full details here.

Blackout curtains: full details here.

Walls: Pavilion Gray, Farrow & Ball. We chose this colour before we knew we were having a boy, deciding that this shade looks light in the daytime and cosy in the evening. We planned to add brighter colours via artwork and accessories.

NURSING ZONE

Nursing chair / zone: This was my Auntie's chair which I had recovered with a print both my Sister S and I liked (S loves giraffes and I love flamingos). The covers are removable so washing is easy. I also added an elephant table made by my Grandad to keep a light on for night time feeds, plus a place to put drinks etc. A belly basket also provides some storage for muslins and blankets. I also added an extra cushion for comfort - a Roald Dahl Willy Wonka one!

Chair: This was my Auntie's nursing chair & footstool, which glides back and forth (it's the most relaxing thing ever). I had the cushions re-covered with a print both my Sister S and I liked (S loves giraffes and I love flamingos) - just in case she also wants to use it in the future. The pattern also ensures the slightest mark doesn't show up much, plus the new covers are removable so washing is easy.

Cushion: An extra cushion should I need it. This Roald Dahl Willy Wonka cushion was a bargain find at Homesense. I'll also likely be using my maternity cushion to help with feeds (this one has been a godsend so far).

Side table: My Grandad was a woodwork magician. I feel very lucky to have this special piece of furniture he made a long time ago - an elephant side table (full picture here).  It's the perfect place for a lamp to help with night-time feeds, as well as somewhere to put a drink. It's a fun addition that doesn't take up too much room and means so much to me. 

Sea grass belly basket: Storage for muslins and blankets should I need to grab them. Its shape and softness also makes it easy to squeeze into a corner and avoids toe stubbing-! From Etsy.

SLEEP TIME

Cotbed: Although it won't be used for a while, we wanted to get this in place so we could work out the layout. Plus it came as a deal with the matching changing table. We went for Silvercross Nostalgia as it has three base positions that will grow with Baby L, becomes a bed when he's a toddler, baby-safe teething rails and a storage drawer underneath.

Cot bed: Although Baby L will be in his Moses basket at first, we wanted to get his cot bed in place so we could work out the nursery layout. (Plus it came as a deal with the matching changing table.) We went for Silvercross Nostalgia as it has three base positions that will grow with Baby L, becomes a bed when he's a toddler, baby-safe teething rails and a storage drawer underneath. Plus we just liked the design - classic but not too fussy.

Artwork: We wanted some colourful artwork on the wall for when he's older. I wanted to add some playful nods to Disney so opted for this Hakuna Matata print. I think it's a pretty good trouble-free philosophy to start life on...! We found the print on Etsy and framed it with an IKEA frame.

(Baby bag packed and ready to go for our hospital visit! - From Cath Kidston's new Winnie the Pooh range.)

Ewan the Sheep: The must-have sleep aid for babies (apparently). Everyone is raving about it so we're going to give it a go! Features include heartbeat and womb sounds, plus a soothing pink glow. Full details here.

changing station

Changing table: Silvercross Nostalgia to match the cot bed. We went for this one as the changing top can come off so we have a dresser for when Baby L is older. We bought from Mothercare and claimed a discount via price match when John Lewis had a sale on. Silvercross delivers and sets up for you, which is handy.

Changing mat: Mamas and Papas. - They no longer make the star one I have but there's lots of other pretty options.

Nappy bin: Angelcare. Don't forget spare liners!

Blue bin: A separate bin for smelly baby clothes should there be an accident...! (To wash - not to chuck!)

Shelf: We added an IKEA picture rail to the wall to act as a shallow shelf for grab-and-go essentials such as tissues and creams, as well as a Gro-egg (so useful).

Wardrobe

baby-wardrobe.JPG

Rather than purchase a baby wardrobe, we opted for a built-in, regular wardrobe and added two rails that can be swapped out as Baby L's clothes get bigger! Grey storage boxes are from IKEA and are perfect for separating muslins, socks, bibs, bedding, etc. We're also storing some extra items in here for now - playmat, bath, highchair.

finishing touches

Art: I wanted to create a gallery wall inspired by book characters. I framed Beatrix Potter cards and stamps, some Noddy postcards from my childhood, Mog the Cat (Mog had to feature somewhere!) and the main feature: a jungle illustration drawn by Mama B. My mum is very artistic and created a nursery print for both my sister and I when we were babies, so I wanted to continue this tradition (luckily she said yes!).

We also added a Tin Tin print as L looks a lot like him...!

Handy: Whale doorstop we found during a trip to Edinburgh:

Shelving: L up-cycled a scaffold board to create a long shelf to store toys and treasures. So far we've added some childhood music boxes, a stimulating rainbow puzzle, some Beanie Babies & the Bon Bons sign from our wedding sweet station. The shelf is also perfect for hanging some fun items from, including a mini hot air balloon. We'll also be hanging a mobile from it above the changing table to keep Baby L distracted.

Memories: The cutest Baby Book in the world! Not only do you log important facts and milestones but there's little envelopes inside to store scan photos, plus a height chart and family tree. You name it, it's in there. The illustrations are so pretty, too. I found this in Anthropologie during our trip to Guildford, but you can buy it online here.

Storage: We added behind-the-door shelves to store books and spare nappies, etc. 

Books: I know it's a while until reading time but I wanted to get a few childhood classics in the nursery. I used to love 'Ladybird well-loved tales' books when I was little so during my pregnancy I started to source some. My all-time favourites have to be The Magic Porridge Pot, The Elves & The Shoemaker, The Enormous Turnip and The Princess & The Pea.

I also added a couple of toys from my childhood for fun - The Lion King and a tiny Troll.

Lighting: As soon as we added our hot air ballon lightshade, it immediately felt like a nursery. Full details here.

Soft toys: Peter Rabbit plus some baby rattles / squeakers from the M&S sale.

Peter Pan wall sticker: Another subtle(ish!) nod to Disney. This is placed just above the door, from Etsy.

nursery-wall-sticker-peter-pan.JPG

Rug: Useful to protect your carpet from spills, etc! We also found this on Etsy. (Bouncer from Mothercare).

TOP TIPS

  • Clean your carpets after painting so everything's clean and fresh before putting furniture in
  • Blackout curtains highly recommended
  • Use this opportunity to have a good chuck-out - we got rid of 3 cars-worth of things we never really used (not just the room you're redecorating but the whole house - as you'll have lots of baby things you'll need room for!)
  • Amazon 'Subscribe & Save' is a great option for regular essentials e.g. nappies, water wipes
  • Keep an eye on sales and price matches if you're not in any rush to purchase items yet
  • Speak to your midwife about safety considerations before planning anything e.g. not putting sleeping furniture near a radiator - I found NCT really helpful for this information.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! More nursery ideas I love can be found on my Nursery Pinterest board.

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Nursery Curtains

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood bedroom were my midnight blue star curtains. I loved them - lots of little stars scattered across a calming night sky shade. They were really pretty and set a sleepy mood to the room. (Ideal for a baby!) With this in mind, I thought it would be nice to start a new tradition of nursery star curtains, ready for our new arrival in December.

L and I had already decided on a neutral nursery scheme, adding colour with accessories once we knew what we were having. I wanted to go a shade darker to our new grey walls (Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray) to add some contrast. I stumbled across this pretty pic on Instagram and was immediately reassured sticking to a similar colour scheme was a good call:

Via

After discussing our idea with a contact of Mama B's (she's a sewing wizard), we agreed on the fabric, length, tie backs and ensured they would have a blackout lining. Here's the final result...

It's amazing how one pair of curtains instantly transformed our room into a nursery! We are so thrilled with them. They work really well with the blinds we had already installed a few years ago, too.

Next step - art hanging! As you can see from the alphabet print above, we're relying on art and accessories to inject some colour. (Stay tuned!)

For more nursery ideas, take a look at my new nursery Pinterest board.

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Jewellery Hooks

I realise I've already declared my love for jewellery hooks, but I wanted to share another - more subtle - alternative...

After a recent bedroom move, I realised I didn't have an appropriate wall available, so I simply added hooks underneath the ledge of my IKEA HEMNES chest of 5 drawers. Jewellery sits neatly tucked away without making a big wall feature of it. Scroll down for my top reasons why I love this idea so much...

THE BENEFITS

  • Quick access when you're in a rush in the mornings
  • Subtle storage that doesn't require holes in your wall
  • A pretty feature to your plain furniture
  • All your treasures are displayed, so you don't forget what you have
  • Your jewellery can move around with your furniture, without being restricted to a wall
  • NO TANGLES!

If you love jewellery storage ideas, take a look at this top tip for stacking rings.

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Writing Desk: Before & After

I love writing desks. There's something about the useful drawers, handy writing space and all the little cubbyholes where you can keep useful and decorative items. (Plus I'm a massive Austen fan and have always pictured having my own writing desk Elizabeth Bennet-style.) 

After a couple of years looking for one that didn't break the bank, our luck landed when a kind family friend gave us one! We'd been visiting their B&B (the most beautiful place to stay if you're ever near Kelso, Scotland) and it caught our eye. Straight away they said we could have it as they didn't use it. Result!

Since then, it's been moved to a couple of rooms but its dark wood wasn't working with the rest of our furniture (which is mostly white). We had come across Annie Sloan chalk paint during our wedding prep as we needed to paint some french shutters for our table plan. The benefit of chalk paint is you don't need that much prep or coats - it goes on like a dream. We had half a tin left of Louis Blue so decided to use it on the desk.  Here's how we got on:

THE PROCESS

Take your piece of furniture... (the cats decided to model the 'before' photo).

Take your piece of furniture... (the cats decided to model the 'before' photo).

Remove drawers and lid (to paint separately).

Remove drawers and lid (to paint separately).

Lightly sand off any treatment to the wood e.g. varnish, otherwise your chalk paint won't go on well.

Lightly sand off any treatment to the wood e.g. varnish, otherwise your chalk paint won't go on well.

Sand everywhere you plan to paint. Not too hard, just enough to remove the top layer.

Sand everywhere you plan to paint. Not too hard, just enough to remove the top layer.

Hoover up the dust.

Hoover up the dust.

Wipe away the remaining dust (I used a sugar soap wipe).

Wipe away the remaining dust (I used a sugar soap wipe).

Get your chalk paint ready (don't forget this handy paint pot trick).

Get your chalk paint ready (don't forget this handy paint pot trick).

Get painting!

Get painting!

Remember to paint your furniture in a well ventilated area, and on a surface you don't mind getting paint on e.g. an old sheet. We had our carpet up for some decorating so took advantage of the underlay!

Remember to paint your furniture in a well ventilated area, and on a surface you don't mind getting paint on e.g. an old sheet. We had our carpet up for some decorating so took advantage of the underlay!

Once your first coat is dry, sand down any drips and apply the second coat.

Once your first coat is dry, sand down any drips and apply the second coat.

Same painting process with the drawers (make sure to take the handles off first).

Same painting process with the drawers (make sure to take the handles off first).

It's up to you but I didn't see the point in painting the inside of the drawers - I'm planning to buy some pretty drawer liners instead. Also I tried to avoid painting as much of the drawer that you don't see in case it affected (slightly) how the drawers moved in and out of the desk.

It's up to you but I didn't see the point in painting the inside of the drawers - I'm planning to buy some pretty drawer liners instead. Also I tried to avoid painting as much of the drawer that you don't see in case it affected (slightly) how the drawers moved in and out of the desk.

Give plenty of time for everything to dry, then screw the handles back on.

Give plenty of time for everything to dry, then screw the handles back on.

We decided to keep the lid off as we felt we'd be able to use it more easily.

We decided to keep the lid off as we felt we'd be able to use it more easily.

THINGS WE KEEP IN OUR 'WRITING' DESK

It completely depends where your desk is. Ours is in our dining room / living room near to our kitchen so we keep a range of useful items in it:

  • Placemats & coasters
  • Tablecloths
  • Pens, pencils & notepads
  • Business cards
  • Pinboard pins
  • Spare lightbulbs
  • Wrapping paper & gift bags
  • Small bowl for keys & change
  • Note cube for quick memos
  • Trinkets from our wedding day
  • Colouring books to switch off with
  • Paperwork that needs sorting that week

This was our first big furniture upcycle - I was really surprised by how relatively simple it was. Chalk paint makes it so easy - all that's required is some patience to ensure the prep is done and enough time is allowed for the paint to dry. (Saying that, it's worth noting the whole project only took up part of a Sunday.)

Upcycling is a great way to make the most out of the furniture you have. Here's another makeover tip which I turn to time and time again.

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Bathroom: Before & After

Creating our bathroom involved a lot of work. When we moved in, the bathroom was on the ground floor at the back of the house leading off from the kitchen, with a separate loo next to it. All very old school and definitely not practical for us. We love to entertain and spend time in the garden - this layout meant there was only a small side door leading to the garden and the kitchen area was pretty pokey.

THE PLAN

  • We knew we'd want to convert the loft in the future, so we sacrificed a first floor bedroom to turn it into our main bathroom.
  • The existing bathroom and separate loo downstairs were knocked down to create an open plan kitchen diner, with french doors being installed in the back wall to allow better access to the garden.

The photos below pretty much tell the full story - but there were definitely some things we learned along the way (scroll down for my top tips):

PREVIOUS BATHROOM (DOWNSTAIRS)

BATHROOM BEFORE

DurING

AFTER

TOP TIPS

  • Don't be disheartened if you spend hours removing woodchip, to then be told the whole wall needs to come down. Sadly, you can't tell the true condition of a wall until you see it properly. It took us, and our incredible friend Maria, a couple of days to strip the walls... I'll always remember Maria's face when our builder said: "Nope, sorry. It's got to come down." That was a low point.
  • But you do have high points: We discovered layers and layers of retro wallpaper, from 50s Disney to 70s poodles. It had obviously been a children's bedroom over the years. Renovating a house is the most tiring but brilliant experience as you get to piece together discoveries as you go - slowly learning a bit more about the people who lived there before you. 
  • IKEA does the best sink/cabinet combinations. This way, you get loads of storage but don't have to add bulky wall cabinets that can make a room feel smaller, or shelves that collect dust. Instead, add a big mirror to reflect the light, as well as wall lamps either side in case you want some cosy lighting while relaxing in the bath.
  • We struggled deciding on the floor - I loved the look of floorboards but wasn't convinced they would be practical, especially with water. L sourced the most amazing (and affordable) compromise - waterproof laminate flooring in wood effect ("beach house"). It sounds a bit naff, but it really isn't. We loved the final result.
  • Tongue and groove is a great option for breaking up plain walls - if we hadn't used it, I think the room would have felt quite sparse and cold (as I didn't want to tile everywhere), plus it protects the walls from daily wear and tear. We opted for Homebase kitchen/bathroom paint in Duck Egg to add some colour.
  • Our cast iron roll top bath cost us £38 from Gumtree. It had seen better days! So we bought a self-enamel kit online and gave it a facelift with a dusty pink Dulux paint (for metal). We then bought the fittings online to keep costs down. 
  • We decided to build a shelf next to the bath, fitted onto the wall. This provided storage for the taps/pipes and meant we have somewhere to put our bubble bath, shampoo etc when having a bath.
  • Don't scrimp on towel rail radiator size in a medium-large bathroom. We initially put a smaller one in but one winter and we quickly changed it for a bigger one! (The smaller one was used in the new bathroom we put in during our loft conversation the following year.)
  • While we opted for a traditional Victorian toilet to fit with the rest of the house, it does collect dust - so we opted for a built-in cistern in our single loo and loft bathroom. Less to clean and it provides a shelf for toilet roll, diffusers, even books!
  • We store our towels on one of these behind a spare bedroom door rather than in the bathroom as they become a bit dry with all the hot steam circulating when you have a shower.
  • For better light, opt for a door with windows in the top two panels, then add sticky back plastic to them for privacy. 

Take a look at my Bathroom Pinterest Board for more decor ideas.

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Bedroom: Before & After

One of the first finished rooms at Maison Bailey was our bedroom, as its completion (alongside the bathroom) meant we could move in. As long as we had somewhere to sleep and wash - we could get by.

Prior to this, we were borrowing the flat of an extremely kind family friend up the road, who temporarily moved in with my parents for two months (as did Mog). This was a huge lifeline as it meant we could commute to our full time jobs in London, renovate during the evenings and weekends and still sleep in a warm, safe place ready for work the next day. We couldn't have managed without the incredible generosity of our friends and family.

A few weeks in, we quickly realised just how much you can achieve when you set yourself a tight deadline. What would have probably taken us six months, took us two. I won't lie, it was tough, especially after a long day at work. But we got our heads down and once we'd moved in, even though the pressure was off, we kept up the pace. It was only another six months and we were hosting Boxing Day.

Our bedroom was a huge turning point as it was the first time we saw a room visibly come together and the first time we felt the feeling of, 'hang on, we can do this!'. Hope you like the pics...

BEDROOM BEFORE

A green, psychedelic carpet (with vinyl and newspapers underneath on top of the floorboards), a sink in the corner, an off-centre pendant light and mountains of green WOODCHIP WALLPAPER (it took so long to remove):

DURING

Hours and hours of woodchip wallpaper removal, a new wall, ceiling, plastering, doors, radiators, windows, skirting & coving, painting...

AFTER

Dulux 'Chic Shadow' paint makes the room feel fresh in daylight and cosy at night. White furniture and frames tie in with the skirting and coving, with bright stripe bedding added to give it some colour. 

Love before & afters? Take a look at what the Maison Bailey kitchen used to look like.

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Garden: Before & After

Our garden was a renovation project in itself! It was clear it hadn't been tended to for a very long time. It had become a dumping ground - everything was overgrown and broken. But you could tell it had once been dearly loved by the elderly couple before us. So we got a notepad out and started sketching ideas to make the space work for us without compromising on lawn space...

We divided our garden into three sections: 

1. Lower decking: For entertaining straight out of the kitchen. Our garden parasol also offers some cosy privacy in this area.

2. Middle lawn: Sun loungers and rose borders make this area ideal for relaxing with friends in the sunshine (and for the cats to stretch their legs and chase bees on the lavender).

3. Upper summer house: A place to perch and look down on the garden below. Ideal for some shade in spring/summer and a quieter spot for bird feeders (and the occasional squirrel).

Current project: The greenhouse. We're in the middle of installing one next to the summer house (it will be featured as a Before & After post soon, keep an eye out!). We're very lucky to have an allotment three minutes walk away and have been relatively successful so far (runner beans, potatoes and onions in particular) - but would love to try starting our veg from seed. Some also fare better in greenhouses so it will be fun to see what works this year. (Keep an eye on my Instagram this spring/summer for behind-the-scenes progress.)

GARDEN makeover in pictures:

BEFORE:

DURING:

AFTER:

TOP TIPS

  • When you move in, don't dig any plants up. Watch your garden for a year and see what appears. What might look like a weed, might suddenly bloom with white flowers in autumn. Observe, then plan.
  • Tailor your garden areas to fit your lifestyle. We entertain a lot so a decking dining and BBQ area directly outside the kitchen was a priority. Saying that, ensure you keep as much lawn space as possible as it's what many new buyers look for. (Too many areas can make a garden look smaller than it is.) Utilise space at the back of your garden (particularly long ones like ours) by adding seating areas or something useful e.g. greenhouse, summer house, washing line, swing, hot tub(!).
  • Get the professionals in for the important stuff (structural, removal, smart finishes).
  • We opted for ribbed decking as it's less slippery in the rain than plain planks.
  • If you have decking, invest in a pressure washer (we borrowed Papa B's). It's important to maintain the condition of your decking so try and have a blast once a year. Dirt and algae can look messy and cause slippages! If you're feeling heroic, take the extra time to apply some decking oil after pressure washing to keep the wood long-lasting.
  • If you think you might want to take special plants to your next home, plant them in pots rather than the ground. We were given two beautiful roses on our wedding day and planted them into pots in case we ever move.
  • Summer houses can be costly. We bought a basic version online and upcycled it with paint. Adding a clock on the front is also helpful for when you're gardening watch & phone-free.
  • While it's smart to shop around for quotes, go for the pros you feel most confident in. We used the team who worked on our loft conversion - they were reliable, professional and gave us a competitive quote.
  • Opt for plants that flower at different times or are evergreen to avoid a bare garden in autumn/winter.
  • Add spotlights to your decking if you can as it looks amazing at night, especially if you entertain a lot. If you can, add them to steps for safety.

For my favourite garden looks at the moment, check out my Garden board on Pinterest.

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Home Office: Secret Shelving

Small alcoves offer great opportunity for smart storage. Simply add some shelves and you turn a redundant space into the perfect spot to display your treasures or, in my case, hide away some standard office items. Our home office door masks this storage area when open, so to keep our work space clear and clutter-free, we installed four shelves to store things we don't need regularly - photo albums, notepads, craft supplies and spare tech.

FrogTape around the shelves where they meet the wall before painting to ensure a neat finish.

FrogTape around the shelves where they meet the wall before painting to ensure a neat finish.

We painted MDF with two layers of white undercoat, finishing with white eggshell.

We painted MDF with two layers of white undercoat, finishing with white eggshell.

Peel away the FrogTape gently to avoid taking any wall paint off with it.

Peel away the FrogTape gently to avoid taking any wall paint off with it.

Remove any hard-to-reach leftover FrogTape with tweezers.

Remove any hard-to-reach leftover FrogTape with tweezers.

And there you go!

And there you go!

Secretly hidden behind the door.

Secretly hidden behind the door.

The project took us a couple of days as you have to wait for the paint to fully dry before peeling off the tape.

For more smart storage ideas, why not try:


Kitchen: Before & After

Our kitchen used to be three rooms: a kitchen, bathroom and separate loo - all of which had reached 1975 and decided to stay there. We knew we'd spend most of our time at home on the ground floor - relaxing, cooking or entertaining - so we decided to turn an upstairs bedroom into a bathroom to give us space to create a kitchen/diner.

Walls came down, a new ceiling was added and a fresh set of electrics were wired in. We knocked a big hole into the back wall for french doors, allowing better access to our garden and adding much-needed light. L laid underfloor heating before setting down large grey slates (a massive shiver-saver during the colder months. The cats think it's the best thing since catnip.) A new kitchen was installed and we added an L-shape seating booth to maximise space. A new back door went in and the old draughty windows were replaced with double glazing. This was the biggest room transformation of our refurb.

Scroll down for my top tips...

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

TOP REFURB TIPS

  • Make space for the rooms you'll use the most.
  • Do scenario 'walk-throughs' to work out light switch, cupboard and plug placements.
  • Be smart about storage. We turned our seating booth into extra kitchen storage by allowing the seats to lift upwards (great place for spare kitchen roll, tins and pet food).
  • Invest in professionals for important things such as demolition, plastering, electrics, plumbing, built-in bookcases (etc) but embrace the strip-out, painting, up-cycling, etc if you can. How do you know you can't if you don't give it a go? We saved a lot of money by getting stuck in.
  • Use Pinterest for layout and decor inspiration - it keeps you focused and motivated during what can be an exhausting mental and physical experience! 
  • I found plugging headphones in (when safe to do so) helped time go quicker during repetitive tasks as opposed to listening to the radio. It gets you in the zone and into the groove.

Know someone planning a full refurb or kitchen transformation? Why not pass these tried and tested tips onto them via the share button below?

Dining Room: Before & After

2012 was one of the most exhausting yet satisfying years of my life. It was the year L and I took on our first refurb project, while commuting to our full time jobs. Walls came down, skips of woodchip were painstakingly steamed off every wall (big thank you to the 1970s for that wonderful contribution to interior design), stairs were rebuilt, a bedroom was turned into a bathroom, not to mention midnight painting sessions on a Monday (low point).

It was a challenge - but a brilliant one. I wouldn't take back a blister. I discovered that I don't give up easily (which is nice to discover having given up most instruments at school). I also learnt a lot about DIY, that my interior design skills are best when under pressure, as well as one of my biggest realisations: P!nk's Greatest Hits actually speeds up the painting process. (Seriously.)

Here are some before, during and after photos of our dining room:

Before: Mustard woodchip wallpaper, odd radiators and a questionable glass-panelled staircase.

Before: Mustard woodchip wallpaper, odd radiators and a questionable glass-panelled staircase.

During: Yep - that's a bath in the centre (a second-hand cast iron roll-top bath we upcycled), plus two refurb essentials - a professional wallpaper steamer and Mama B.

During: Yep - that's a bath in the centre (a second-hand cast iron roll-top bath we upcycled), plus two refurb essentials - a professional wallpaper steamer and Mama B.

dining-room-refurb
The glass came down and we transformed the open area under the stairs into a handy cupboard for coats, shoes, hoover, ironing board and brollies.

The glass came down and we transformed the open area under the stairs into a handy cupboard for coats, shoes, hoover, ironing board and brollies.

After: New plaster, paint, carpets, windows, blinds and built-in storage. (And wine. An essential sofa condiment after a busy day.)

After: New plaster, paint, carpets, windows, blinds and built-in storage. (And wine. An essential sofa condiment after a busy day.)

Dining room table: Covered in wipe-clean oil cloth (no need for placemats or coasters!). We added a mirror between our built-in storage to make the room appear larger and to reflect light around the room.

Dining room table: Covered in wipe-clean oil cloth (no need for placemats or coasters!). We added a mirror between our built-in storage to make the room appear larger and to reflect light around the room.

I hope these photos inspire you to give a project a go. Not necessarily a full-scale refurb, it can be anything! Redecorating a room, adding some pops of colour with accessories, creating a picture wall... the main thing is to muster up the confidence to give it a go. Nothing makes a home feel more like you than knowing you were involved in its creation. It's like making your mum a Mother's Day card vs a shop-bought one when you were a child. Which one would she have loved the most? Exactly!

What project are you contemplating currently?
Discover additional decor inspiration here.

Living Room: Home is Where the Hearth is

  Duration: 1 weekend A working fireplace was the best discovery of our refurb. We'd removed a gas fire, knocked through the plaster and there it was! We sourced a fireplace surround on Gumtree. All it took was a couple of coats of white eggshell paint and black heat-proof fireplace spray to get it back into shape, with a black slate hearth we sourced locally.* By luck, it arrived with its original Victorian tiles.  The project took a weekend (excluding plastering/painting the surrounding wall) - not bad for a big focal point of HomeLife. Our companion set was a bargain from B&Q, which also offers affordable fire screens. Mog is a big heat worshipper so we use the screen to protect her when a piece of firewood starts to 'spit'. If you ever get new carpet in your living room, use an off-cut of carpet as a protector / camouflaged rug.

 

Duration: 1 weekend

A working fireplace was the best discovery of our refurb. We'd removed a gas fire, knocked through the plaster and there it was! We sourced a fireplace surround on Gumtree. All it took was a couple of coats of white eggshell paint and black heat-proof fireplace spray to get it back into shape, with a black slate hearth we sourced locally.* By luck, it arrived with its original Victorian tiles. 

The project took a weekend (excluding plastering/painting the surrounding wall) - not bad for a big focal point of HomeLife. Our companion set was a bargain from B&Q, which also offers affordable fire screens. Mog is a big heat worshipper so we use the screen to protect her when a piece of firewood starts to 'spit'. If you ever get new carpet in your living room, use an off-cut of carpet as a protector / camouflaged rug.

Mog fireplace.JPG

*Safety shout out: Please ensure you consult a professional before installing a fireplace - as you can imagine, it's important it's put in correctly and safely, and that your chimney is safe to use. We also have a carbon monoxide alarm next to it, and in the room above it.