Renovation Ruminations: Tiles Tiles Tiles…

I think it’s time I kicked off with some interiors inspiration for the renovation project, right? In truth, you might expect that I would have this all sorted but in fact it has for a long time felt hard to see past the project even starting and getting those piles in, so I didn’t really focus too hard on the interior aspect. The bathroom has had the least of my attention because, well, bathrooms just don’t really excite me. Of course that hasn’t stopped me pinning them and fortunately, as I always say to people who are planning a project big or small, if you pin loads of images you like to Pinterest you can often then find a theme. Particularly because I’ve been using Pinterest for so long, I can also see if my tastes have changed, or pick out things that look dated already which helps to refine what I like, and also try to sift through rooms that are ‘Gorgeous but not me‘ and ‘Yes, I can live with that!

There are a few key themes that have inspired me and tiles have been my latest obsession so lets get on and have a look!


Grown up mermaid tiles

For the longest time I thought if I ever re-did a bathroom I’d keep it all white, white, white. In fact, I’ve learnt enough about myself that I can start neutral but I always seek colour eventually, and I also really don’t want a clinical or cold looking space. I’ve always love patterned tiles, be they Morroccan style, mosaics, or just interesting colours and lean towards anything with a handcrafted feel, so although I started planning a black hexagon tile floor, we soon moved towards looking for something more colourful.


Fish scale tiles // Circle tiled Shower // Star tiles // Concrete and patterned teal tiles.

How amazing are these? But could you live with it? There’s something very ‘holiday’ feeling about these designs I think. They remind me of a beach hotel, somewhere like Miami, or Australia, but I wonder if I’d tire of them or if they would feel out of place in the middle of a bleak English winter. But then maybe they would be just the thing to brighten up your day?

Or if you’re not 100% about taking the plunge with colour, how about this ever so pale and restrained touch of colour?


Pale and Interesting

I find these pastel and muted tones so restful. They’re just the thing I think for a change from the now classic white metro or subway tile, but with a bit of a modern twist. The pale green/grey/blue tones are just so pretty and elegant.


Pale Green shower // Blue metro tiles and marble // Pale blue herringbone // Grey metro tiles

Then there’s the Monochrome trend. Whilst I never would have described myself as a monochrome lover, I find myself decorating in Black and white more and more. Its the perfect backdrop for other materials (wood and metals in the case of the bathroom,) and a brilliant foil for colour too – in fact both the girls bedrooms have black and white wallpaper which is perfect to balance out all the colour that comes with the mountains of toys.


Black Chevron and brass shower // Black Hex wall tiles

What I do like a lot however is texture and a monochrome palette is the perfect way to introduce pattern like the current trends for interesting tile laying (herringbone or chevrons to name but a few) or shapes, like hexagons.


White Herringbone wall tiles

So what do you think readers. Could you or have you stepped away from white tiles? I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations!

Rebecca x

#FFHouseReno: Part I [Foundations]

Well hello, finally I can write our first post about the extension, not in the planning stages but the happening stage. Whoop Whoop!

Yeah, well it was exciting for about 2 weeks I think! Already it feels slow and dirty and messy and just muddy. The mud. Seriously. People warned us about starting building work in January and they were right! But let’s skim over that and start at the beginning.

We were supposed to start on January 3rd and were immediately foiled by the piling company still being on Christmas Break for another week. The next week came and went and I think it was 22nd of January before everything came together and the work finally started. 18x 3m steel tubes were delivered, the drain survey people, piling contractors and our building company all arrived on site at once and things finally started happening.

It was a pre-requisite of our build over agreement that we survey the drain below the works both before and after the building work, and although we had already surveyed the drain to get the drain position and structural calculations for the build over agreement in the first place, that was 2 years ago now so we repeated it to make sure there had been no damage in the interim that we could get blamed for later. All was well and the position was once again marked out ready for the piling.

The piling process was pretty incredible. Our piles were a combination of augered and driven piles. Most people think of driven piles when they think of piling – if you’ve ever been in the vicinity of piling work you might recall the thud thud thud of the piling taking place and the ground literally shaking for what seems like miles around. Because of the drain, our piles were augered which looked like a huge drill bit and essentially drills down, turfing the ground up out of the hole it creates. They did this to below the invert of the drain, about 5m down and then put the steel in and drove the last meter or so down. Fortunately for us, that meant the impact and vibrations of the banging was so far underground it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but that said, it was still thumpingly loud, like make-your-chest-vibrate loud, and the house shook. I’m so glad we have forgiving neighbours! There were other benefits to this method – one being that when drilling down, they would have had a heads up if they had hit anything (like the drain!) However, it also involved some guess work and the final depth depends on when the piles hit firm ground – at least one of the piles needed to go deeper than the planned 6m and the deepest is at 9m underground which is pretty mind boggling. Once in place we could look down the piles to the bottom and it was like looking into the centre of the earth.

Once the piles were in place we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. It was a little bit weird that something we had been focusing our whole minds and worry on was over in a matter of days – I think they were finished in 4. However then there was another wait while the piling contractors disappeared again and our builders picked up the work, digging our foundation trenches, before the Piling company came back to finish off. They had several staffing issues and other overrunning jobs which was beyond their control but it was incredibly frustrating. They were responsible for not only the piles but the whole foundations on top of them so until they finished our builders couldn’t do anything. They eventually came back and created the ring beam – a steel frame that rests on the piles and then was set in concrete to form the foundations and finally the foundations were done! That whole process took 2 weeks, but it could have been a lot quicker as I think we had at least 4 working days where nothing happened at all in those two weeks.

Since then our builders have been on the job and it seems like everything has been happening really quickly. We joked that as they had already built up 9 meters we could expect the rest of the work to be done in another 4 weeks or so! Sadly not!

I guess it’s not surprising but we have had a taste already of the disruption the work will bring. There will be times when we have both the downstairs toilet and the first floor bathroom out of action and holes in the walls of the house so this rates pretty low on the scale of inconvenience, but the outside pipes to the kitchen sink and dishwasher were disconnected during the piling and we’ve had a bucket under the pipes collecting the water that gets emptied daily since then. I’ve been a bit paranoid about using excessive amounts of water, which when you’re constantly cleaning up after 2 kids is not that easy. However I’m sure there’s much worse to come!

I’ve also had my first wobble about the plans as the layout of the steps coming down from the extension were marked on the ground and it just looked massive. In fact the modest strip of paving outside the sliding doors, then the planters and stepped path down to the rest of the garden is almost as wide again as the new room we are building, and eats into the garden further than I expected, however, theres no other way of achieving the design I want so I’m trying to hold my nerve. The foundations for that area were concreted in last week and the supporting walls that are above ground but below the floor level of the house were put in too. The highlight of my week was the insertion of a piece of steel that will be between the glass corner and the sliding windows, that essentially holds the roof up over the largely glazed area. It gave the space a sense of a perimeter and felt like real progress.

Right now however, I’m still having a lot of trouble visualising it all. Because it’s below the floor level of the house it’s hard to get a sense of the space, and the weather has been so awful that it is hard to see past the mud. Thank goodness for the break in the weather. My to do list this week involves trying to pin them down to a rough timescale so I can try and plan when its going to be worst inside and we can try to get away. We met with another contractor to do the finishing last week (the bathroom/utility and loo fitting, tiling, wall panelling etc etc etc) and are awaiting a revised quote and I need to make a decision on who we will be sourcing our internal crittall door from. We’ve also got tile samples arriving and colour chips as I think we will be making a bespoke colour way of the tiles we want. So all together that is super exciting, especially as I feel like I’ve finally found my bathroom mojo after weeks of being less than excited about it – I just couldn’t get interested in off the shelf all-in design, but now I can’t wait to share our plans with you!

I hope that was interesting for those of you planning building work. The photos aren’t very inspiring but I hope they are illuminating at least and I’ll try to do a monthly update and progress report amongst the fun interiors posts. We are actually on week 5 now and a lot more has happened – as always follow along on Instagram – I tend to update my stories almost daily with progress including live videos walking around the site – quick and easy for me, brilliant if you happen to be super nosey. ;)

Happy Thursday Guys!

Rebecca

Introducing the #FFHouseReno

Well where did January go?! Over here it was in a constant state of anticipation for our extension project to get underway, under leaden skies, flat light and constant rain. I for one will not be sad to see the back of January!


How the house will hopefully look when it’s finished!

On a more positive note I thought I would share with you our plans for the building project we have just embarked on (yes, it’s underway as I write – you can follow along on Instagram and I usually update my stories daily with progress if you’re really keen on keeping up!) and get a little bit excited about the planned results! It’s been a long time in the making and what we are doing has evolved through the planning process too, so I’ll talk you all through it here.


The current layout of the house.

Initially the brief was ‘a glass box extension to create a living/dining family space adjacent to the kitchen.’ As you will see from the existing plans below, we currently have a living room, a dining room and a kitchen downstairs, plus the W.C. but the rooms are all off the hallway and just not ideal for family life. We very quickly realised after having Bea that we needed space where we could watch her while we cooked etc and this is even more necessary with Cora as she is a little terror! Also, our Kitchen is just that, a kitchen. We have a peninsula with seating at the worktop which is where we often feed Bea or eat together, but it’s a bit like the three monkeys sitting in a row, isn’t ideal for incorporating a high chair, and I long for a kitchen table to eat around. Although we are lucky to have a dining room it’s a total pain hauling everything in there and then it means there are two rooms to tidy after dinner instead of one!


The ground floor plans: The blue area is the new living space where the deck used to be, the utility area is green and the new WC is pink.

As the plans progressed I started to think about other things that would make family life easier and the biggest thing I wanted was a utility room. Currently our washing machine and tumble dryer are in the cellar, which although dry is damp and dusty and cold, not to mention filthy. It’s a bit like having it in a cross between a garden shed and a garage, and tricky to go down there when there are children crawling or toddling about the house too, that I can’t trust not to come after me. The stone steps to get down are the stuff of nightmares where parenting is concerned. To have those upstairs, with a sink for dirty jobs and a second fridge/freezer plus some storage is pretty much the holy grail for me and I set about trying to convince Pete we needed one. As it happened the back of our house is a bit like a tetris block when viewed from above and extending just the kitchen didn’t square off the house without going around the corner too – this meant a bigger living/dining space and making use of the space which is currently a bin store, into a utility room.


The first floor plans – the purple area shows the new extended bathroom.

As time went on this project became the final stage in creating our medium to long term home, (I’ll never say never to moving again but we plan to be here a while!) and once the idea of the utility room worked out we then had the option to build upwards and extend our family bathroom which is currently a bit awkward and certainly not ideal for the whole family to be in at bath time. Extending the bathroom also meant we could do something I had seen a neighbour down the road do which was take the awkwardly placed separate toilet off the landing and put it into the bathroom. The landing currently doglegs around the toilet, so removing it meant the landing would be much more spacious and we could put in a window to bring light onto that level as it currently only gets borrowed light from other rooms.


How the exterior looks to the rear currently.

Initially we (well, Pete,) discussed the plans as phase one and two. Living/dining area first then the rest later, but as the scale of the project became apparent I became more certain that I was not going to do it twice, especially with the kids living through it too. We can’t afford to move out while the work goes on so I certainly don’t want to put ourselves through it again and it’s all so interlinked that it wouldn’t have made sense to stop and come back to it later either. There was no easy way of splitting the project.


What the exterior will look like.

As this also represents the final stage of our renovation, we can finally sort out the hall, stairs and landing which I have hated looking at since we moved in but it didn’t make sense to tackle (and later have builders traipsing through,) before we did the rest. As there will be walls knocked through into the hall and landing we will be replacing the floor, carpets, plastering, decorating and finally making it just the way I have imagined it.

So you can look forward to a lot more posts from me on bathrooms, living spaces, utility rooms, hallways, and all the details in-between, plus the smallest room in the house, our W.C. ;) Now the work has started although I’m anxious to see it progress I really cannot wait to have it finished and am so excited to crack on with the fun decorating part. So many decisions though!

Until next time…!

Rebecca

*All architectural plans and drawings by our Architects SpaceAP.

Featured and Quoted…

Happy New Year readers! Whilst I’m trying to finish January Joy and a post on my return to work, I thought I’d pop in quickly to share something exciting! Last year an image I submitted as part of the #MyFaBHome competition with Farrow and Ball was selected as one of their 50 most inspirational rooms and included in their digital booklet. Apart from the fact that I’ve been slightly out of the blogging game of late and it’s fun to do a little trumpet blowing, I LOVE the booklet. The rooms featured are incredible and so inspirational, so I wanted to share it here as a little bit of New Year interiors inspiration for all of you.

There’s such a great range of modern spaces, heritage backdrops and quirky styling – it really shows how you don’t have to be decorating a country pile to use Farrow and Ball. I’ll certainly be spending some time pouring over it’s pages while I’m planning the interiors of our new extension… which incidentally started today!

Whilst I’m trumpet blowing, if you’re over here because you saw my review of The Watergate Bay hotel when they shared it earlier this week then hi! Welcome. And if you haven’t read it yet… you can find my whole review here. I’m working on a review of Another Place (the WGB sister hotel in The Lake District) too, so if you don’t want to miss that then please do follow along on Instagram or Facebook for post updates!

Right, back to January Joy… it’s coming ;)

Rebecca

Found: Mid-Century style chandelier lighting

A quickie tonight readers… (I just can’t stay away after the warm reception you all gave me yesterday here and on Instagram. Thank you!)

I’m hoping to bring you all a before/after reveal of our dining room renovation very soon, but for once in this Forth Road Bridge of a house, I’d like to actually finish the room first. I’m very good at sorting the big stuff like fireplaces and decoration but not so good at styling the finishing touches. Must try harder.


Left – Made.com Tangle Chandelier, Right – M&S Sputnik

Anyway, we are currently short of some kind of mirror or art installation on two of the walls and a light. Lighting and I have a complicated relationship. I’m a bit of a fussy madam when it comes to light fittings and have expensive taste. Show me a design classic or something pricey and I’m likely to be all over it, but as my post alluded to yesterday, we’ve got a few outgoings planned (understatement of the year) with this extension so something a bit kinder to the budget would be preferable. Maybe it won’t be a forever light but let’s face it, it’s unlikely I’ll find another one soon and if I have to look at the Laura Ashley circa 2009 butterfly shade that is 50 shades of wrong in there any longer, I may just shut the door and never go back in.

So help me choose readers! Sputnik style or Asymmetrical glass shades? I need to move quickly on this one as the Sputnik style is 20% off until tomorrow night at M&S!

Love, Rebecca.

PS, before I spotted these two today, I was considering this Multi-outlet industrial style light fitting from Dowsing and Reynolds, with the plan to get longer cable and spread the bulbs out across the ceiling – let me know if you prefer it!

A tentative hello…

Well hello readers! Are there even any readers out there? I’d forgive you if not… it’s been almost 8 long months since I wrote a blog post here, announcing that Cora had arrived, bumping our little family to four. I’m lying when I say it’s been 8 long months though, good grief they have flown. The days have whistled past, the nights though? They have been loooooong. Having two children has Kicked. My. Ass.

So many times I’ve wanted to write a blog post but haven’t had the time. When I have had opportunity, sleep has often been higher up the agenda. Cora has not been a great sleeper… In fact as I write this, it’s 05.42am and I’m sat in the feeding chair, having failed to put her back down once and with the genius idea to try and use my time productively, I’m typing on my phone.


Cora at Francesca’s hen weekend // Plannign the amazing flowers with Miss Pickering // The Tipi’s pre-wedding // My sister, The Bride!

Aside from having a baby (which frankly, would have been quite enough thank you,) it’s been a busy old 8 months. Aside from the daily, no, hourly trials and tribulations of having two, we’ve had a few milestone events going on. My sister got engaged just two weeks before Cora was born and married a week ago. With a short engagement it was all hands on deck and lots of appointments and planning to be done that I helped her with. In September Bea started preschool nursery at the local primary school, a decision we had agonised over and I’ll come back to in a separate blog post at some point. And behind all of that… the project that has been grumbling along since we bought this house, but in ernest for the last almost two years, we are finally about to start the extension we had in mind when we first looked around this house.


Choosing floor tiles // My original inspiration for the extension // Bathroom shopping // Architects meetings

Some of you might remember the ‘monster pipe’ story. If not, here is the blog post if you want to read about it. Essentially our house is built almost on top of a large overflow sewer which predates the house and is massive. 1m across, 4m underground. (Which isn’t as deep as it sounds when you consider that we have cellars!) When we bought the house we were told there was no way we would ever be able to build over it but after realising (2 years in) that the house just wasn’t working for us with a baby in tow, we decided to make some bigger moves to try and get the go ahead. We managed it and then were planning to start in January this year when Cora was due in March, so we postponed. Looking back that wasn’t realistic at all… there have been delays and decisions at every turn and I’m determined to get this particular project right. Leaving the top floor aside, it will finish the house for us, adding a much needed family living/dining space and utility room, and rejigging the downstairs loo, hallway, landing and extending the first floor bathroom. What started out as simply adding a ‘glass box’ to the back of the house has spiralled somewhat… whilst I absolutely can’t wait to have it done, I really don’t want to ‘do’ it at all – particularly as we will be living in it throughout.

We’ve also been to Greece, Cornwall (twice) and The Lake District, Just So Festival, renovated the dining room and acclimatised to being a family of four. Honestly that has been my longest and toughest project, one I’m still working on, but also one that I finally feel comfortable with. It’s only taken 8 months!

Anyway, I want to expand on all of these things, and so many others, so I’ll be back. Fingers crossed!

Rebecca.

Spotted: Wall Lights

I promised I’d share a selection of wall lights that I browsed before I chose the ones for our Master bedroom, and here they are!

plug in wall lights

  1. Brass wall lamp – Graham and Green £98
  2. Grey Adjustable wall light - Cox and Cox £85
  3. Molecular wall light – Rockett St George £110
  4. Industrial brass swivel wall light – Alexander and Pearl £165
  5. Starkey Wall Lamp - Made.com £59
  6. Reuben Wall lamp - Graham and Green £225
  7. Junction wall light – Heals £115
  8. Rhea Adjustable Wall light - Graham and Green £76

Let me know if you’re inspired, I’m so happy with mine!

Rebecca xo

Lighting up the Night…

Since we decorated out master bedroom, finishing the decor has kind of fallen by the wayside in favour of, you know… the rest of the house and having a baby. After all it’s nice, but the lack of detail has been bugging me. I already have a new dressing table on order – mirrored again to match the chest of drawers and with several more drawers so hopefully it will hide way more of my stuff that currently resides in baskets under the existing dressing table. That should take care of some of the clutter.


(Bedding: Secret Linen Store // Pink velvet cushions & Gold sequin cushion: H&M Home // Geo cushion: Conran for M&S // Wall colour: Cornforth White – F&B)

However a more pressing practical consideration has been bed side lights. We had a small lamp on my dressing table but it was really awkward to reach round (as the bed was slightly forward of the dressing table as it is against the chimney breast,) and turn off, and meant the only light was on my side. It’s a small thing to turn it off but it drove me crazy that it had to be me to do it every. single. night! The other issue was that the wall above the bed was really a blank canvas waiting to be used. I didn’t want a simple print or canvas up there and started to think some wall lights would be great. One big ‘but’ stood in the way and that was the fact that our bedroom walls have been lined as well as painted, so having something wired in would have been a massive cosmetic issue and hard to patch up, so whatever I chose had to be plug in.

After looking at lots of different options we chose these Ogilvy swing arm wall lamps from Made.com. They were a budget friendly £50 each and despite my dislike for black, actually work really well in here because of the black accents on the mirrored furniture and of course the black iron bed frame. I had considered the white but think it would have looked very wrong in retrospect. Initially we were looking for more industrial bare bulbs but it didn’t fit with the room at all and I’m glad we didn’t force it.

Look out for a post later in the week on some other options I found for plug in wall lamps. I hope you like the result here!

Rebecca xo

The Garden in Winter…

Waking up on a cold, frosty and foggy morning here reminded me I had some frosty shots of our garden that I took a few weeks ago to share with you all. One of the reasons I chose the style of planting that we went for in our garden is that part of the intention when planning is to choose plants that have striking form in the winter months. They might have fabulous seed pods or just hold their shape in the early winter and I happen to think that there is nothing more beautiful than frost coated flower heads in the depths of winter, with the low sunlight streaming across the garden. I was fascinated to see how my planting turned out in this respect and I’m pretty happy!



In fact it’s actually time now to start chopping down the old dead stalks and seed heads ready for the new growth to come through and generally tidy up the garden. It’s also a great time to prune your shrubs if they are getting out of hand. (You can’t really go wrong doing it now but if you prune them hard and they are the kind of plants that flower early on last years wood, you might sacrifice this years flowers.) If you want to be really brutal and reclaim your garden you can chop them by 2/3!


If you would like some winter form in your Garden, here are some plants to look out for that have featured in these pictures:

  • Rudbeckia and Echinacea
  • Sedum
  • Monarda
  • Verbena
  • Verbascum

And of course grasses :) (the pale floaty one you can see here is called Stipa Tenuissima – plant it in swathes of 5 or more for a mass effect.)

It’s also a good time to look at your garden and see where the bare patches are. Now is the time to think about putting something there that would look good at this time of year – something with berries, an early flowering blossom or shrub, or with interesting coloured branches. And if you (like me) are wishing you had got around to planting some bulbs last autumn, go and pick a few up at the local garden centre, ready potted and put them in for instant colour.

Happy gardening readers!

Rebecca x

The Small Things… LOFTi Laundry drying rack

(In the past, one of the things that held me up from blogging was that I felt my posts were going to be one-dimensional or too simple if you like, but there are so many things I find and love and want to share that I’m creating a new column for them called ‘The Small Things’. Short and sweet. ;) )

When I was growing up we lived in a house with an old fashioned airer that was fixed to the ceiling and had a pully system to raise and lower it for hanging the washing out to dry on. It helped that it was in the same room as the boiler (and I believe some people will have seen them above Aga’s?) but it was a demon at drying clothes in the winter. As a result I don’t remember having a tumble dryer when we were growing up either. Since we moved into this house and when Bea was small we now have somewhere to put a dryer (the cellar) and bought one, but I have been wholeheartedly disappointed with it – I find it shrinks Bea’s clothes so they don’t last long at all, and apart from towels which it is great for, the drying takes forever. Bedding just gets in a big warm wet ball.

Over the last 2 years as we have renovated different rooms in the house, lots of the rooms have been out of action as dumping grounds or just out of the way, so we have always had a ‘drying room’. Read: Mountains of clothes hanging to dry, (slowly and sometimes with that damp smell that I hate!) and piles more that have been dumped off the dryer but not put away. I was so fed up of it I decided we needed one of these drying racks and set about finding one. I opted for the Lakeland Lofti aluminium drying rack as it was light and completely smooth so no chance of snagging tights and the like. We have positioned it on the landing of our top floor. It’s not that warm up there, as the roof insulation is virtually non-existent, but its above a radiator and so far I couldn’t be happier about how quickly things dry. The added (intentional) bonus is that once new washing needs to go on it, it has to be cleared and the clean laundry can’t just be dumped on the landing so it is getting put away in a timely fashion. #winwin!

If you have somewhere you could put one, I’d highly recommend it!

Rebecca x

Disclaimer! Edited to add, this is not a paid review, nor was the LOFTi provided for review. It was bought by me and I liked it enough to share.

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