Big Kitchen // Little Kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram (you can here,) you might have seen my post this sunday sharing the Ikea Hack Pete did (I take no credit for the labour but it was totally *my* ahem, Pinterest’s) idea. ;) Now it gets more attention than the actual kitchen does when people come to the house.

I thought this kind of thing was pretty commonplace but guess thats what you get from being a Pinterest addict as many of you asked me to share it… so here’s what we did to make Bea’s mini-kitchen.

It was pretty straight forward. Our kitchen cupboards are painted and we had some of the paint left over so they got a coat of undercoat and then 2 coats of Farrow and Ball’s Dove Tale grey. You can buy the Ikea Duktig play kitchen for £45

We have marble worktops so I found a marble effect adhesive vinyl (basically sticky backed plastic) they we used to cover the worktop, folding it around the edges and cutting in to make it smooth round the corners and under the sink and hob.

We sprayed painted the handles and tap gold (Wilko’s is my favourite for the best gold tone.) I always wanted gold hardware in our kitchen but it didn’t quite happen so I thought why not for Bea?! We are thinking about sourcing some knobs to add to the front of the kitchen above the door with the window to make an ‘oven’ for her but I haven’t got around to it yet.

Of course you could do anything with your IKEA kitchen, and this doesn’t have the upper part that you buy separately – Bea is as yet not tall enough to reach it so we though we would save it for a future birthday ;) . I’ve seen these kitchens done in vintage style with pink cupboards and frilly gingham curtains, or putting a wood effect vinyl on (or real wood top) and adding some metro tiles to the backsplash would be awesome as a country style kitchen.

I hope it has inspired you – it was so quick and easy, and dare I say, although Bea probably doesn’t appreciate it yet, I love that it looks great in our kitchen!


PS! more inspiration here

The Garden: During and After

If you’d like to see how the garden looked before, then head on back to my first post here. We started ripping out the garage at the beginning of May and had it ‘sort of’ finished by mid-June. I hasten to say from the outset, we did not do this work ourselves! We had the amazingly good luck of stumbling across a brilliant garden designer and builder who was just a pleasure to work with – Iain from Outer Space Landscapes and his very capable sidekick, Shaun. I knew straight away from our first meeting when he asked me if I knew of Piet Oudolf, (you might remember me mentioning him as inspiration for the garden a while back,) that I was sure we were going to be able to work well together. These are all quite candid phone photos that I took as we went along. The finished ones are a bit glossier. ;)

This was the initial design on paper:

The first thing we had to do was knock the garage down. We actually listed it on eBay on the advice of our builder and unbelievably sold it (for less than £100 but it paid for one of the 3 skips we needed to complete the work so not bad,) when it would have cost us hundred more to have it dismantled. In the end it became clear that the people who bought it weren’t able to remove it fully and we got our usual builder to finish the job but it just goes to show, its amazing what will sell on eBay!

Of course it got a lot worse before it got better. The weather was against us (although the wet summer was later on a godsend for the new grass and plants.) One of the first things that were built were the raised vegetable beds at the side of the house, before the old grass was even taken up and the whole plot levelled.


When the border edging, grass and patio went in, it all started to take shape and I could see where the design was going. It all seemed very vast to finish with plants! I did a huge order at a local garden centre, (I chose all the plants myself and designed the planting scheme,) and you can see them delivered here on the steps to the deck.

As you can see, part of the design was these three large box balls in the lawn to give a sculptural element and I thought they would also be fun for kids to hide behind and jump over! ;)

The final part of the design was the modern pergola. Our patio is in full sun pretty much from sun up to about 5pm in the height of summer and as we planned to enjoy lazy lunches there we were going to need some shade. Eventually wisteria and other climbers will provide dappled shade over the whole structure.

I’m going to post some more pictures in the next week or two that show how the garden has changed again since these were taken at completion. The way it has filled out and matured already is amazing, but for now, this is what the process looked like. Please do ask any questions and if you’re looking for a garden makeover in and around Manchester I would recommend Iain at Outer Space Landscapes in a heartbeat – incredibly hardworking, knows his stuff and beautiful results.

I hope you like it readers! I can’t wait to show the more recent pictures – the difference is amazing!


Art Attack…

I’m always talking about how we never get around to finishing our rooms with real art on the walls and our Lounge, completed before Christmas is no exception. We partially remedied this with Pete’s birthday present to me, an Yvonne Coomber print, but there is still a large blank wall opposite the bay window and to the left of the sofa that looks very unloved. As the room already had a blue theme with a lot of jewel brights in it, choosing something has been tricky so I decoded to mock up a couple of ideas and I’d love to hear your thoughts…

One option would be to put up a single large piece, mirroring the other wall, but I’m not sure if that won’t look a bit odd. The wall, although it’s actually the narrower length of the room, looks long because of the radiator I think and it certainly needs a landscape print.

The other option would be to combine a few images. We are terrible at getting family photos printed out and I thoughts about combining some black and white prints with another print I spotted on Etsy from Clare Elsaesser. (The black and white images are of our bump shoot and Bea at 6 weeks by The Lawsons.) It’s just always difficult to choose images that don’t feel too personal or too ‘in your face’ for what is essentially a public space. I don’t want to do a more ‘gallery wall’ style of display as I think lots of pictures may look busy in here, in what is essentially a formal room and I have plans for one elsewhere downstairs.

What do you think readers? Any other ideas or suggestions?


Five interiors trends to Obsess over…

After a hiatus of apathy and fatigue, I’m getting my interiors mojo back, ready to tackle another 3 rooms in our house over the next 6 months. Cue a pinning spate and lots of inspiration to share here. Some themes keep resurfacing though and one or two have taken me by surprise – not being my usual style, but now I can’t wait to shake things up a little bit.

1. Patterned tiles

Metro tiles have their place for sure, but recently I’m loving the idea of geometric or moorish patterns in kitchens, bathrooms and on hallway floors as a modern twist in an otherwise simple space.

2. Monochrome

I never thought I’d see the day I toyed with monochrome patterns and prints for a modern look instead of my go-to brights but theres something about how clean it looks that makes it the perfect foil for a few bright colour pops… you didn’t think I’d forgo them all together did you?!

3. Making bedding the focus of the room

I’m usually all about white bedding and a patterned wallpaper backdrop but as we work on another of our attic bedrooms I’m drawn to super simple spaces with minimal furniture and brightly patterned bedding as the star of the show. Watch this space.

4. Out with art, in with texture

Filling the wall space is something I’m really bad at getting round to finishing but instead of looking at prints recently I have been drawn to more textural or sculptural pieces for walls. I might just try and DIY something to rival this stunning ombre hanging.

5. Scandi style Multi use spaces

Right now we are busy with a couple of other rooms, but before the winter I want to tackle our dining room and plan to make it a multi functional space, to make up for our lack of dining/kitchen/family room. I’ve been trawling for inspiration on how I can make it warm and cosy yet light and bright.

What interiors trends are you obsessing over right now?


PS Follow my pins here

Spotted: x Living Etc

Imagine my excitement when joined up with my favourite interiors magazine to design a collection of design pieces with that extra modern edge? This summer’s isn’t the first collection but it’s the first that has been right up my street in terms of my own home’s decor and I’ve got my eye on quite a few pieces. Our master bedroom after being initially finished (i.e. no longer a building site) has languished at the back of the queue in terms of finishing touches and we’re on a renewed drive of enthusiasm towards getting the house more ‘finished’. And that includes those finishing touches. You can see our bedroom here.

As you can see, I was going for a grey and pink theme but really struggled to get the right shade of pink for what I wanted. We were still looking for a rug, cushions and throw, which I might have found in one go with this collection.

You can view all of the current x Living Etc collection here (including the pieces I have featured;) – Let me know what you think!


PS More of My House Here:
The Attic bedroom
The formal Lounge
The Kitchen

Secret Linen Store

Happy Monday readers! Now who is up for some bed linen inspiration, and interior style with a discount to boot? I thought so, read on!

Artichoke in Navy

Secret Linen Store were recently kind enough to send me some of their Navy Artichoke bedlinen for my bedroom. When I wrote about the yellow room which featured the Dotty Coffee spot bedlinen, I was a little sad it would only get used by guests, ;) so I am thrilled to have some to use myself. It’s breaking the habit of a lifetime for me to not have white bedlinen, so it’s different, but it’s so luxurious in feel I can’t help but love it. (You can see it on my bed here.)

Coastal Stripe in Navy

It seemed like a good time to share some of the current collection as the room sets themselves are rather inspiring, as well as the bedding!

Teasels in Dove Grey

Aside from the quality and feel, I think Secret Linen Store have really nailed the balance between style and colour. The designs are modern, fresh and stylish yet won’t date easily because of their timeless feel and classic choices like the coastal stripes. I particularly love the abundance of chic grey designs! ;)

Graphite Ferns

Giant Purple Artichokes

Coastal Stripe in Natural Linen

So if you are looking to update your bedlinen for summer, you’re in luck!I have collaborated with Secret Linen Store to give a reader offer of 10% off everything with the code SLEEPY at checkout! Offer ends on the 16th of August ;)

Luxury 600 thread count white bedlinen

And there’s still all white if you’re a die hard white bedlinen fan ;)

Happy shopping!


PS! A Cow Parsley Attic bedroom

Spotted: Bargain outdoor furniture from IKEA

A very quick post for you this morning readers… my latest bargain find from IKEA. As you know, we are doing the garden at the moment and it was finished last week (look out for a full post showing you the ‘after’ pictures soon!) but we were lacking in garden furniture to sit on and enjoy it. Typically, we were by now on a very tight budget, having spent the rest on the garden work. Any of you who have ever looked for garden furniture will know, cheap it usually isn’t. We looked everywhere but it was hard to find good quality, stylish furniture for a decent price. We actually found ourselves in exactly the same position last year when we finished the kitchen and deck and had no furniture to sit on it with, and we eventually spotted a rattan look sofa set in IKEA for £120. I remembered this and decided we should check out IKEA this time – their garden range is amazing, really well styled and made, with a good variety of classic, modern and vintage looking ranges, at great IKEA prices as always. I’ll let you guess what we went for. ;)

IKEA dining set with bench and chairs £235

IKEA table and white arm chairs £305

IKEA metal table and 2 chairs, £59

IKEA outdoor lounger £40

IKEA Rattan look modular outdoor corner sofa £500

So just in case you need some and thought you couldn’t stretch to a new set – make sure you have a look, although still costing a fair amount, all of this IKEA garden furniture is around 50% less than you would see in the usual high street stores I reckon.

Happy garden lounging!


KItchen lessons (and living with Cararra marble worktops)

I promised I’d write a follow up to our kitchen reveal, talking about what I’d do differently and I should first of all say, I’m really happy with our kitchen overall. There are however always things that pop up with the benefit of hindsight and if you are using a space differently to the original layout, then things have changed again for us with the addition of a little one.

But lets get started…

The biggest thing I would change is the handles on the doors and drawers. They are actually a very fancy Italian brand but we just got them with the kitchen as they were the display handles. We could have changed them but I actually like the modern edge they give to what is a very traditional kitchen style. What isn’t good is that they are so long, occasionally when you pull one end, it puts the draw out of line instead of opening it and the drawer catches. They are also very shiny and get finger marks all the time, and lastly they have very sharp pointy corners, which kind of worries me a bit as Bea is now more mobile and pulling up around the kitchen.

The herringbone Karndean floor and long kitchen drawer handles

I also wish we had put a socket in on top of the upper cupboards so we could plug in a sound dock or speaker and keep it off the work surface.

You might have noticed we have no tiles… this isn’t necessarily something I would change, but it’s something I kind of consider unfinished. I don’t feel we need much behind the worktops, but behind the hob is inevitably messy, (we just wipe it with a cloth,) I just can’t decide what I want!

I also wish we had had a bit more flexibility and given a bit more thought to the configuration. Being an ex-display kitchen we were limited to what the cupboard set up was, but we didn’t give enough thought to waste and recycling storage and because we have a lot of drawers and only a few cupboards, which are glass fronted, we have nowhere to put chopping boards and nowhere to store bottles that are taller than a large jar – the hidden cupboards have three shallow shelves in them.

The beautiful veining and natural marking on the island slab.

Living with Marble worktops…
Before we chose marble work surfaces I did some serious research. What I found was a lot of bloggers who had fallen in love with marble and nothing else was going to do. All of them were warned off it by kitchen companies and the majority were still happy with their choice. You can read about the research I did and some of the blog posts I read here. For those of you who don’t know about marble, it’s a natural stone and as such has certain qualities and characteristics that you need to take into account before buying it. Marble can stain, chip, etch (marks to the surface of the stone that don’t change the colour but change the finish, making it matte when the light hits that area,) and stun (bright white dots that appear if it is banged with something heavy and pointed – for example a pan going down flat won’t ‘stun’ marble but the corner of a bottle will,) and scratch. Marble is NOT like granite.

When we got our worktops I was terrified of them. Not in a ‘didn’t want to use them‘ way, but in a ‘very expensive thing I wanted to keep nice‘ kind of way. We babied them, told everyone (read:family,) what not to do on them and tried to keep them perfect. They still etched. Then we had a baby and didn’t have time/the inclination to baby the worktops too and people were in the house ‘helping’ all the time. They etched some more. But they still look almost exactly as they did when we got them unless you get your nose down to the worktop level to inspect them.

Etching on the marble. As you can see, it required a certain viewpoint and particular settings on my camera to capture these. From the same place stood up normally, they aren’t visible.

My main concern with the worktops was staining. I didn’t want (essentially) white worktops with horrible yellow or orange stains on them. I didn’t need to worry at all, I’ve found coffee and blackcurrant cordial on them from goodness knows how many days previously and it simply wipes off with no residue. They have been sealed before and after installation and it works. What has happened a LOT as I said before, is the etching. You can be as careful as you like and etches will appear. They happen when anything acidic hits the worktop so fruit, cleaning products, some drinks and tomatoes to name but a few. It’s pretty instant too and you can even spread the etch by wiping the offending item along with the cloth. But, you can hardly see them. Our worktops are honed (so not shiny,) marble and the etches are still more matte, but less noticeable as a result. You really can’t see them unless light is bouncing off the work surface where the etch is. We have also had a few stun marks (where I keep banging the oil bottle or condiments into the up stand) and scratches have appeared. You can never figure out what caused them, but there they are.

The big question is would I get them again? And the answer is definitely yes. I like things with natural character and the veining in our worktops is stunning. (I actually went to the stone yard to choose the slab and am so glad I did – I thought it might be a bit OCD but the one that was ear marked for us was quite spotty and dotty and not very clean and white looking. I ended up choosing this one from 3 others and I’d recommend making sure you choose yours if you want marble. The variation is huge.) Our house is old, the skirting boards are bashed, the walls aren’t straight and stairs creak. On first glance you would think our house was pretty perfect but look harder and scrutinise the edges and you’ll see the signs of its age. The worktops fit in with that. I got them because I was completely obsessed with grey kitchens and marble worktops, but now I look back and I really can’t see any alternative still. There is nothing else that I wanted. And I should add, many of the issues I have mentioned above can and will happen with other work tops. I have friends with Corian worktops that have chipped and stained and granite that has scratched and has smears on it all the time. Marble does it easier, but I love it and I’m still happy with our decision. If you’re a bit OCD, like everything to look super modern and stay looking like that in your home, they will not be for you, but for me, nothing beats the cool feel of smooth marble and that beautiful, elegant look. They also were the least expensive option, saving us hundreds if not thousands on some other choices.

The secret cupboard as it was…

I should probably list the things I am really happy with too, while we’re at it!

I love my hidden cupboard. Someone commented on the last post that I either didn’t have a kettle or it was tidied away. We did plan to get a boiling water tap but cut it from the budget so I do indeed have a kettle, and a toaster and a coffee machine, none of which are on show, and thats not blogger behaviour styling the room! This is how it always looks (with the exception of a few stray papers and toys cluttering things up,) because they are hidden in my secret cupboard. ;)

…and as it is now – the toaster broke and we changed the coffee machine!

We love the floor – it was a great option, is wearing really well, (actually people told us Karndean was bullet proof and it hasn’t bean at all, it scratched really quickly but they seem to have disappeared!) and look so good in the parquet style.

I’m glad we kept the old tap – it actually looks great and saved us loads of money! I’m also glad I pushed for a 1.5 bowl sink, its so useful. The only think I didn’t anticipate with the sink was that the square shape means the edges get a bit dirty, which I hadn’t anticipated.

The square edged sink

And thats it I think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything you wish you had done differently if you have recently re-done a kitchen (or other room) and if you have any questions about the marble, feel free to ask!


PS Our marble was sourced from Manchester Marble, honed at the stone merchants and templates and installed by Manchester Marble.

The Garden: Before

Our garden has already been through a partial make-over as when we did the kitchen we also did the deck which the bifold doors open out onto and that made quite a change. It drastically altered our living space as it becomes an extension of the kitchen when the weather is nice (not yet this year then!) but other than when the doors are open, the bigger change was looking back at the house, rather than our view from it.

Lets start at the very beginning shall we?

When we moved in the garden was tidy and shall we say, ‘a mature low maintenance garden.’ There were a lot of shrubs, many of which were taking up a lot more space than they should in the name of ground cover, a lawn and an enormous double garage. This had been there since before the previous owners bought the house and was apparently built to house the previous owners classic car. Apart from having electricity to it, it was rather ramshackle, an eye sore and took up masses of space.

When we built the deck it seemed massive, and in the planning stages I worried that it was taking away too much of the garden, but in fact if you look back at the pictures it was built over some rather ugly paving and in the main a big hedge-like bush that we pulled out (with the yellow flowers in the picture above.)

Once the building work and kitchen was done we built the deck, using Ecodek, a composite decking material made from recycled tyres and finished the edges and steps with normal decking that was stained to match.

I really didn’t want the deck to feel like a separate entity to the garden, opening up the garden to the house was the whole point of all of our work so far, so we planned very wide steps. In the spaces either side of the steps we built huge raised beds to allow for planting to soften the deck and bring more garden up and around the deck, making it feel greener eventually.

Then we had Bea and everything came to a grinding halt!

These last pictures were taken this spring, before the garage was taken down. You can see the (still empty) boxes around the deck and not much else has changed, other than it all getting a bit untidy and unloved.

We knew the hard landscaping of a garden this size was beyond us so we looked for Garden designers and found Iain at Outer Space Landscapes who I spotted round the corner from us working on another garden. Once we got chatting I knew he was the right person for me to work with. I knew what kind of design we wanted and the planting style, so when he mentioned the designer Piet Oudolf, that I had been researching and who’s style I had been inspired by, I knew we’d found our man. He drew us this plan (the third draft) and is now well underway with bringing it to life for us!

The next pictures I show you should be of the finished garden and it should be almost completed this week, so hopefully you won’t have too much longer to wait!