Friday, 27 May 2011

Our kitchen...and our life is about to change

It's been almost a year since I've written on here... shocking! And as I sit here typing our first baby is one day overdue (doesn't he know that his mummy likes schedules and good timekeeping?!) and so I'm trying to entertain and distract myself. I've cleaned and tidied and read books in the two weeks I've been off work on maternity leave, and the Boy says he can't tell whether I'm nesting or whether it's just my 'normal' tidying. However, as I was compelled to wash all the cushion covers yesterday AND iron them, I think we can safely say it's nesting. I've also been napping. I've always been a fan of the afternoon nap, but two hour naps most afternoons are new even to me. I wonder how I ever had time for full time work! I do realise, too, that I'm in the unusual position of only having myself to look after at the moment - no needing to take care of other children or even cook meals... I'm very lucky. Having said all that, I'm more than ready for our little one to arrive now!

Anyway, waaay back I posted a few 'to do' lists, including one about our kitchen.

In January our kitchen finally got the attention it deserved, and a bit of an update. We repainted, bought some new appliances, replaced the work surface and sink etc and I'm really thrilled with the results.

As ever, budgets were an issue so we kept costs as low as possible. We couldn't really justify new cupboards because our old ones were in good condition and the layout was fine so we opted to paint them instead (in Farrow & Ball's Pavilion Grey) and it makes such a difference.

I had originally talked about painting the walls in a bright pink, but I changed my mind and decided to go with simple white, which ties in with the rest of the flat. I thought that we could easily change it if we wanted to, and I was keen to keep things simple and uncluttered looking.

We bought new appliances (over, hob, hood and dishwasher) from Currys at very competitive prices; a beautiful iroko work surface from Kitchen Worktops direct (recommended by a couple of people I know) and a ceramic sink and tap from Kitchen Appliances Direct. It also had been recommended by a friend and we found the prices to be really, really competitive. Although we contemplated a belfast sink for a while we're really delighted with the one we chose - a double sink is handy, it's deep enough to hide the dishes before they make it into our new dishwasher and it also meant that we didn't lose the valuable cupboard space below. Our tiles were from Topps Tiles and we went with simple white metro tiles, but with grey grout, which I think makes them stand out a bit more. The other change, was a cabinet that we got built to box in our boiler, and provide some valuable storage (as we'd lost a cupboard and a drawer to accommodate the new dishwasher). We also added a bit of a breakfast bar, that I love. We bought some bar stools from eBay (which I need to stain still) and it's a lovely place to sit with a morning coffee. It's also a handy extra surface for serving up meals etc.

Anyway, here are some 'after' pics, which I do hope you like. (You can click on the link of the post above for the before shots).

Our new 'breakfast bar' area - and you can just see the still-to-be-stained stools, too. We want to stain them darker to match our Danish-oiled work surface.

The handy storage in our new boiler cupboard. Slightly messy, I admit...

And in case you can't be bothered to click on the link above, here's a quick 'before' shot of our cupboards, old work surface and dated tiles. Yuk!

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Sunday, 13 June 2010


SO, as promised quite some time ago, here are some pictures of the boy's new music studio, which also doubles as an office space.

This room is the biggest 'bedroom' in our three bedroomed flat, so when we moved in it automatically seemed to be the one that we should sleep in. However, I just never really liked it. Part of is was probably the furniture - whilst we were in that room we never really satisfactorily sorted out storage, and so had too many clothes in far too small a wardrobe. Another big contributing factor was, I think, the light. That room faces east, and I just didn't like the quality of light if you ever went into the bedroom during the day. After some time we moved into the box room, which I love. Then we thought it was silly that the largest room was our guest room, so we decided to re-jig and use it for a studio space (as the the boy isn't nearly so bothered about light issues as I am); we'd move into the medium sized room (the former studio) and our guests would have to make do with the smallest room. The whole arrangement now suits us perfectly.

I've posted already about getting wooden floors laid downstairs (apart from the studio, because of the sound), which makes everything look cleaner and airier, and also, even though they're dark oak, seems to throw light around better than the old carpet ever did. I've also posted about getting decent wardrobe space for the first time ever. SO, here are just three pics of the new studio.

The boy is saving up for decent studio furniture, which would keep things much tidier than the current arrangement where he uses an ancient, battered old table that we bought from a man in the neighbourhood for just £20. We also need to get at least one office chair and I'm planning to paint the cheap little ikea stool (that you can just see under the desk, with a cushion on top) a cool, battle-ship grey.

A key part of sorting out this new space for to find a spot for my late Dad's fabulous old desk. My Mum is planning on moving house, and so didn't want to keep this ancient, heavy piece of furniture, but I've always loved it, and plus I couldn't see my Dad's desk going to anyone else. Dad rescued it from a pile of stuff that his work were getting rid of in the 70s. He just couldn't see it go to waste. Who knows how old it is, but its solidly made and I'm sure it will out-live me. I love that its old and battered and has a bit of a story. I also like that I now have somewhere for stationery, gift wrap, cards, ribbons, sewing things, old diaries etc etc

The studio is a very functional room, and also one that we've spent no money on, so it's not the most stylish room in the house by any stretch, but it's perfect for what we need it for. I love that we've re-used old things and also that it's a room we can all use - I'm including Millie the cat, as she has her cat flap in this room too, as it backs on to the garden!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Watching my garden grow...

It's been SUCH a gorgeous weekend! I love the sunshine, and it makes such a nice change when it's here at the weekend rather than in the week when everybody is stuck in the office!

We have a shared back garden - us and five other flats, but only us and the next door flat really use it, which is great! I do any gardening that gets done, aside from the occasional grass cutting, which the management company does. I know very little about gardening, but I would like to learn a bit more. I love going down to Columbia Road flower market on a Sunday and trying to soak up some of the knowledge that those guys there have, and I always come back with bags laden down with plants. I did my window boxes last weekend - simple pink geraniums - and this weekend I planted some tomato plants and lettuce. I haven't grown either before, so fingers crossed in a few weeks we'll have some lovely fresh salad ingredients.

I planted the lettuce in a pot - they said that 3 plants could easily fit in a 12 inch tub, and I used a peat free compost too, so hopefully that will work. The tomatoes I put in a window box that I've got hanging from some railings, and I just used normal compost. I'll let you know how I get on...

Millie being curious about the lettuce -

Little tomato plants -

Some shrubbery -

Some bluebells in amongst the weeds (though as they're quite pretty weeds I decided to leave them there!) -

Some window boxes, which are actually on the back wall rather than the window ledge. Pictures of other window boxes out front to follow another time

Friday, 21 May 2010

An attempted return to the blogging!

Sorry! I know I haven’t written for an eternity, and it’s for a mixture of reasons. I’ve been busy at work; we’ve been busy at home (with the boy preparing for the launch of album number two); we’ve been on holiday and also, I realised that when I was writing blog posts I found that they weren’t really coming out quite the way I’d originally intended when I started the blog!

I guess in the beginning I was feeling all gung ho and inspired by a few things that I’d put together cheaply for the house that people had commented on, but then once I’d written about DIYing pictures; what a difference some cute cushions can make etc etc I was kind of stuck. We’re not great at the DIY, and so even though our floorboards, for example, are only from B&Q the fact that we didn’t lay them ourselves seems to preclude them from being truly ‘thrifty’. Luddite that I am, I don’t really fancy re-naming the blog as such, but maybe from now on in my own head I’m going to think of it more as ‘thifty stylish homes & random inspirations & some room reorganisation & the odd bit of decorating’. I hope this will encourage me to carry on writing, because I was really enjoying it when I was doing it, and also mean that I feel I can write about a broader range of things, too. Having just had 10 days off for example, I’ve also come back all buoyed up about some great books I’ve just read and longing to see our cat, who I realise hasn’t been pictured on here nearly enough! Books and cats – both inspiring in their own way!

Here's Millie, in the studio, sitting on the printer! (More pics of the studio to follow soon, as we've just had a little move around in there).

And here are 3 of the 5 books I enjoyed on holiday! I wasn't so keen on the new Maggie O'Farrell (not pictured), which I also read (though I adore After You'd Gone and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox), but I loved One Day; Brooklyn and I also really enjoyed The Group by Mary McCarthy, which follows eight graduates from exclusive Vassar College as they find love and heartbreak, forge careers, gossip and party in 1930s Manhattan...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A floor lamp needed

Meant to say in previous post, what we are still missing is some sort of lamp so that we can read in bed. I quite like the idea of something quite modern, to contrast with the more traditional wallpaper. What I'd really love is an anglepoise lamp, but sadly the budget won't stretch to that. I was looking online and saw this one from B&Q. What do you think?? (and sorry, you'll have to squint, because I can't seem to get the images any bigger!)

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