Saturday, 22 July 2017

How to cut costs in your bathroom revamp.



James is brilliant at most things. He can sing, act, played sport to a high level at school and university, is a brilliant business man- basically Mr All Star. However, he has the DIY skills of a baboon and thinks a U-bend is a type of driving maneuver. So, when it came to the bathroom and en suite refurbishments, I was swiftly labelled 'Project Manager'- how very Grand Designs; give me my high viz jacket, hard hat and Kevin McCloud.

Help me, Kev.

How to save money in the process? Do it ALL yourself. I'm kidding. But if you can, that's the answer and you can stop reading now. If not and you need the help of the professionals, here's what I learnt and how I saved money whilst doing ours, as you will probably part with more money than anticipated 99% of the time due to hidden obstacles that love to rear their ugly heads.

Hidden costs: not long after this, the ceiling started peeling off due to badly glued on coving.

Go online
Tony, who did our bathroom, advised us to go local. I tried, I really did, as I like supporting small businesses and it always feels more personable. If you're on a budget like us, this was quickly becoming problematic due to the prices of even the basic stuff. By going to online stores like Soak and Victoria Plum for your sanitaryware, you are literally saving thousands and the quality is good. If you catch the sites at the right time, you will find they're often doing 10% flash sales too. Tons of Tiles came up trumps and have a brilliant range of tiles to choose from, all at great value.

At 94p a tile, these matt black hexagons from Tons of Tiles
were a bargain and make the bathroom look really chic.






You're already saving over 50% on this Soak black slate effect tray.





























Re-use your hardware
Do you really need new taps, shower system and shower screen? I thought I did but realised they were perfectly fine and all they needed was a clean. I soaked my shower head, hose and taps in strong de-scaler, and they came out like new. The shower screen for the bath just needed a clean and it's good to go again. As our plumbing is quite old, there was also a chance that newer shower units and taps wouldn't have had the same pressure and it would have been costly to adjust this, so it's always best to go by the old saying 'if it ain't broke..' you know the rest.

Upcycle
You've heard me talk about this before, but it's always worth considering this avenue, even if buying something new. We wanted a grey sink unit, but our dreams were shattered when Tony told us due to the industrial sized waste pipe that ran through, having a unit with drawers was pointless, as he would have needed to hack the insides to pieces to accommodate it. I'm a firm believer that bottomless options should start and finish in Nandos, so only a unit with doors would do. We had to go back to the drawing board. So, I bought a good quality basic white sink unit and using one and a half sample sized pots of Farrow and Ball Plummet, had a grey sink unit like the one I was lusting after, saving nearly £150.

The hardware needed some personality injected into it, painting the sink unit helped massively...


One and a half sample size pots of Farrow and Ball Plumett later and it looks soooo much better. To add even more drama, I used Kalk Litir's lime paint in Nero.

My biggest upcycling triumph during this process was my old towel heater in the main bathroom. It appeared bland and knackered, but it worked well, was giving me all kinds of industrial vibes and I loved the curved edges. Like any stereotypical 'nerd to hottie' American movie; it just needed a makeover. I used Hammerite metal spray in Black Satin and Tony said was fine for my towel heater, but it's always worth double checking, as you don't want black stripes running across your finest Egyptian Cotton...

Goodbye to Sandra-dee.

Tell me about it, stud... This fab 'Completely Devoted print from Soouk, that I bought from BHS compliments my upcycled rad perfectly.

As we were having our decking done by my lovely cousin's equally lovely hubby, I found a piece in the garden that I sanded down and with the addition of some leather strap that was hanging around (for decorative purposes only, there'll be no Christian Grey antics here, thankyouvellymuch), I had a shelf ready to use (with the expert execution of Tony, there was no way I was going to drill into the tiles myself). The grooves in the decking are fab for ensuring picture frames don't slip down and clobber you on the head while you're washing your money maker.

There's now a gap in my decking. Joking. Obvs.

So there you have it and I hope it's been more useful than a chocolate fireguard. Have a look below at the before and afters of our main bathroom and en suite!

Main bathroom before...

...and after! Note the reused shower screen and taps!

En suite before...

...and after. So much better.


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Friday, 7 July 2017

How to give your kitchen some va va voom for less than £150

Since doing up my kitchen units, I've received so many messages about how I did it, so thought I'd better get my behind in gear and write a blog about it. So, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll most likely know that I've been undergoing bathroom, garden and kitchen works simultaneously, meaning that I've been doing a lot of throwback pics and photographing corners of my home where there isn't any evidence of men at work. As soon as my kitchen was tiled, I got stuck into updating the units and extractor fan (I knew that if I left it any longer, I would keep putting it off; poor Sienna gets blamed for a lot of these incidences). Here's what I did and my tips and tricks that I learned along the way...

Before. Perfectly fine, just not for me.


TALK TO THE EXPERTS: There was no way I was going to attempt to do this without seeking advice from my lovely followers, some of whom came up trumps with recommending primers, rollers, paint etc. I also asked (read interrogated) the lovely people in my local paint shop, who pointed me in the right direction of the Zinsser 1-2-3, which is perfect for laminate units as it's water based and there's no need to sand your surfaces prior to application; a great time saver if, like me, you'd rather spend your time Instastalking. Apply using a foam roller for smooth application and synthetic brushes in those hard to reach areas.

Metalwork sprayed and ready for priming. I used exactly the same process as the units to do the extractor hood.


DO WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN: I cannot stress this enough, but then again, I leave it at least one hour between coats of nail varnish. Zinsser says leave it a week before applying paint. Obey. You will live to regret it and you'll be buying a new kitchen before you know it, which defeats the object totally. I didn't lay the primer on thick, you just need enough to cover the units and it's OK if you can still see some of the colour underneath. If you run your hand over the primed surface, you shouldn't be able to feel any of the laminate underneath.

IT'S WHAT'S ON THE OUTSIDE THAT COUNTS: No, I'm not giving duff relationship advice and I know there'll be those that really disagree with me on this. I would've disagreed with me before I'd done it, but I'm so glad that I didn't try and paint the insides of the cupboards, as it took me a whopping FOUR coats of Farrow and Ball's Railings in Eggshell finish on the framework and both sides of the doors. I've since found out that if you can find a good dark water based primer, I probably could've done it in two. You live and learn, even if there are less tedious ways to do so. I painted the inside and outside of the doors- make sure you take them off to get even coverage around all edges. The classy bird that I am, I used cans of Carling that we can't seem to shift at family BBQs to hoist the doors off the floor, to make for quick and easy painting around the edges, which avoids excess paint gathering and that awful 'stickiness' you get when paint isn't spread thinly and evenly. I also painted the backs of the doors first, in case my Carling cans damaged them in anyway, it would be out of sight.

One coat of Farrow & Ball Railings. The moment I realised it wasn't going to happen in two coats as previously assumed. Ignore the Coco Pops.


UPCYCLE, UPCYCLE, UPCYCLE: You might hate your kitchen units, but if you look at them, are they in good nick? Are the knobs or handles OK too? If so, upcycle! I really wanted new handles, but couldn't justify the cost of getting them right now, so I simply sprayed my existing ones copper, and they surpassed my expectations!

My, what gorgeous knobs you have!



Total cost of upcycling units:
Zinsser 1-2-3 primer 1 litre - £21.10
2 X Farrow & Ball Railings in Eggshell 2.5 litre - £100
Rust-O-Leum Copper Spray - £7.98
Rollers - £9.54
Synthetic paintbrushes - £9.95
Total - £148.57
AKA- Much cheaper than a new kitchen.

Have a butcher's to see the results!

New units featuring the very gorgeous reclaimed leather rug from Elvis and Kresse you can save 12% on anything on their website with the code NESTTWENTYEIGHT12

So. Much. Better.


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Saturday, 11 March 2017

How to work with what your Mama gave you (in your home)

With it being International Women's Day earlier in the week and Mother's Day coming up, I thought I'd dedicate this post to my Mum and all the amazing pieces of furniture she's passed down to me (albeit via the Aladdin's Cave that is my parent's garage, but that didn't quite have the same gushy sentiment I was going for.) It also dawned on me when I did my recent feature on the fab Topology Interiors blog, that these hand me downs form the base for my home inspo.

I'll share a bit of history on my favourite pieces that I get asked about a lot on my Instagram feed and give you tips on how to utilise your hand me downs!


The Arab Chest
Mum picked this up in Zanzibar in the late 60s. As soon as I was grown up enough to have a house of my own, my parents offloaded a decades worth of end of year school books (remember making those and sticking all your work in them?!) which now reside inside here. If you remove the two right hand drawers, there's a secret drawer that pulls out! I love how it works alongside my vintage record player where I've put one of my favourite prints from Ginger & Fraggle. As you can see, James' pride and joy sits atop it, I shall say no more (although I must admit, watching movies on it with the sound bar and subwoofer blasting is quite something- don't tell him I said this).

The Arab Chest. Makes having such a monstrous TV on display bearable.

Take the drawers out and reveal...

...the secret drawers- nothing to see here, moving on.!


The Cow Skin Drums
So, when I asked Mum for deets on these, she told me that the black and white one was bought by a relative to commemorate my birth in 1987; I came over all regal. It's probably apt that it's ended up with me. The smaller, white one was bought in Uganda, where my Mum is from, in 1983.

An offering to commemorate my birth.

Lop-sided, but well loved.



The Mid Century style table
Not as old as I thought, this was bought by my folks in the early 80s in a furniture store. It was recently storing champagne, wine and lemonade (2014 vintage) in aforementioned Aladdin's Cave. I love how it compliments the legs on my mid century style sofa- legs galore, it's like being at the Moulin Rouge! What's more, it has the perfect space underneath for my gorge Violet and Thistle lightbox! Also, how cute is my handmade concrete tea light holder from Eme and Grey?!

Bet these legs could do a good Can-Can.


Vintage Singer Sewing machine
Mum bought it for a fiver from the Friday Ad in the late 80s and actually used it as a sewing machine, before it was retired to Aladdin's Cave and had several hundred plastic bags shoved in its gaps and endless bottles of BabyBio on top of it. What a fall from grace. Now, it's in my kitchen and I just can't get enough of the gold detail on the machine and the ornate metal frame.

Bought for a fiver. It pulls my black and orange zone together in my kitchen.


Tips for your hand me downs:

Don't upcycle the piece, upcycle the purpose. 
I haven't had to upcycle a single piece I've been given, firstly because I don't have the heart to and secondly because there's no need, I love them as they are. I use my cow skin drums as tables, my sewing machine as a home for my Penguin Classics and table lamp and my Arab Chest as a TV stand (don't get me started on the unnecessarily large TV, but at least the beautiful chest counteracts it... slightly...)

Enjoy them in your everyday life. 
They've stood the test of time so far, my big sister and I definitely abused all of the above over the years when our parents' backs were turned. We used to pretend the sewing machine was a getaway car, so we used to pump the pedal as fast as possible, sending the spindle into overdrive. The drums were jumped on, banged loudly and tipped over. I'm not advocating the same sort of treatment, but use them for more than display purposes, after all, they're in your home, not a museum.

Mix the old and the new.
If you're not after a completely vintage look in your home, there is no rule to say that you can't mix old pieces with modern. It's a great way to bring them into the 21st century. If they're mid-century style pieces, it's even better as it's very on trend, so will blend seamlessly into your home.


Help! I have no hand me downs!
If your parents aren't hoarders like mine, then great places to find hand me downs:
- Charity shops- shopping whilst helping great causes, what's not to love?
- Online- nothing like a good Ebay/ Gumtree trawl.
- Antique shops and markets- great finds to be had, and if you're like me, great bartering opportunities.

I'd love to hear how you've used hand me downs in your homes!
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

How a pot of paint transformed my living room

If like me, you've got champagne taste on beer money but want to make a dramatic change to a room in your house, then this blog post has your name on it! By changing the wall colour and utilising the home accessories I already have and have recently acquired from my parents, I have transformed my living room. Before, the room was Magnolia- the wall colour of dreams in the 90s. The sort of colour I'd swoon over when I was a kid watching The Generation Game and the contestants would win a luxury weekend for two in a hotel, clad in lots of frills, matching floral sofa/curtain combos, and yes, the Magnolia. In my home, rather than make the room feel light and airy, made it feel bland and generic.



Bland, lacklustre and meh. I loved that pallet table, but the baby didn't so it had to go.



I'm forever shuffling the chairs and sofa around, but bear with me...


I'd always thought about going for a dark colour, as I love how it looks in country houses and Gastro pubs, but wasn't convinced that my 1980s home could pull it off. That was until I saw so many beautiful homes on Instagram that were nailing the dark look in such a fabulous way, I decided it was time to take the plunge. After all, YOLO.



Previous owner's curtains used as protection (sorry).



No going back now...



Enter, stage left Farrow and Ball's, Hague Blue. 'You said you were on  budget, you lying cow!' I hear you cry. Yes, it's not the cheapest paint, but I promise I didn't spend much elsewhere..!

The first obstacle was selling the idea to my husband. He will to be the first to admit that he has the interior eye of Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby combined (jeez, I'm loving my 90's game show refs today). So, I took a gradual approach and told him I was only going to paint one wall. Knowing full well I wanted to paint all of them. I'm such a Ninja.



Was far too tempting to not put a pic of these two in.


Fast forward a few weeks and LOTS of faffing, I'm totally in love, the hubs is totally in love and the baby is totally in love (she's not really, she has no idea but I have a thing for triples). My sofas, chairs and home accessories all popped and the room looks so much bigger. I found that one wall needed some TLC, so got a plasterer in to sort it and actually liked the way it looked, so have decided to leave it as it is. I would've spent much more if I'd gone for a subtler colour as I'd be over compensating with home accessories as my home isn't a period property with features that speak for themselves. Have a butcher's at the process- hope you like it as much as I do!



One wall done. One hoodwinked hubby and some Hague Blue, and the whole room was done.



Despite going dark, the room still feels light and bright.



My naked plaster wall that I've since chosen to leave. Arab chest from my folks, vintage record player from my sis- my family have such good taste.



It's love.





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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

DIY Christmas Fans!

I feel like a washed up old boyband as I resurrect my blog. Since having my daughter, I feel so out of touch with it as I try and remember the steps, the words and the lyrics- all whilst looking a bit tired and bloated (I'll blame the mince pies).

Instagram has become my mini-blog since becoming a mum- it's so full of amazing homes and inspiring ideas- and not to mention THE loveliest interiors community. Thank you so much to those who follow me on Instagram and for your support and kind comments, it's given me the confidence boost I needed as I embark on a new chapter in my life- kinda like a member of East-17 might feel when given another shot at a career (I can only remember Brian Harvey. Maybe there was a Tony in there too..?)

This blog post actually came about as I posted a picture of some paper fans I made for Christmas decorations and to my surprise, some of you asked how I made them- so this is for you!

I'm a teacher by trade, so I hope my instructions are clear (don't tell OFSTED if they're not) - here goes:

What you'll need:
- Good quality wrapping paper/ coloured paper
- Stapler
- Scissors
- Thread
- Sellotape


Any size goes with these fans- so it's up to you! Try and choose paper that has the grid on the back- if it doesn't use the pattern on the front to help you cut in straight(ish) lines.

Cut your piece of paper, then split it in two so you have equal sizes:

Fold your paper like so, then turn it over and fold it again, in concertina style- keep going until you have a strip of paper:




Both sides of your strip should have the patterned side on it- if it doesn't cut off any excess:

 



Measure your fold against the first strip you've done so they're the same width- repeat the steps to make the second strip:





Nearly there! Fold your two strips in half. For the next steps, you need to have the back of your paper facing upwards:



Run a length of thread underneath your folded strips- this'll make it easier to tie:






Tie a tight double knot:



Pull the gaps together and staple them together on the back of your strips:



Sorry, I got distracted:



Cue Bon Jovi- Woah, we're half way there. Make sure you keep your thread out the way and that it doesn't escape to the front of your fan:



When you've finished stapling the strips together (on bigger fans, you'll need to do a few staples to close the gaps), take your thread and sellotape it to the edge of the fan:



Ta da!



Make as many as you can handle, you'll get quicker as you go!



So there you have it- how to make your own fans. I'll forward it to East-17; they'll feel popular again in no time.
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