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!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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

Nursery Update: Open wardrobe storage

When I shared Bea’s Nursery I mentioned that there were a few more things we needed in there, including some hanging storage for Bea’s clothes. We have a chest of drawers but I hadn’t anticipated the need for hanging up her dresses and decided to create some open storage so I could also admire them ;)

The walls are very thick in our house and so the chimney breast alcoves aren’t that deep. We had a funny sized alcove in Bea’s room, only 66cms wide and about 30cm deep, so a wardrobe was difficult and shelves seemed to work better. I wanted rails, with a shelf above to add boxes or folded items, but wasn’t sure how to get a rail attached to the wall. Eventually IKEA came good with a typical cheap as chips solution, pimped up with a bit of Wilko’s gold spray paint!

Requirements:
Ikea BYGEL rail £1.50
EKBY HEMNES shelf £12
EKBY VALTER bracket £2

The rails are screwed in under the shelves (after spray painting) so I can hang her clothes from them. I decided the leave the brackets untreated as the wood fits in with the wood blinds and floor in an otherwise very white room. The hangers are from Dunhelm in case you’re interested. I was intending to spray paint them white too but decided to leave them coloured for now (too lazy!)

The whole thing cost about £37 and I’m so pleased with how it looks. I hope you like it too and it inspires you to get creative! ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Make something with your hands

I’ll ‘fess up now and admit, this isn’t the ‘Make something with your hands’ prompt I had planned to share but what d’ya know, January has whizzed by and instead of feeling it has passed me by, I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed all of it with Bea. :)

This is however something I have been planning to do for ages. I’m a huge scented candle fan and often buy them or am lucky enough to receive them as presents. What always bugs me though is that last centimeter or so at the end when the wick runs out of lovely scented wax. I’d always wanted to do something with it and now I finally have. I melted down each of them and layered the wax with a fresh wick and made ⅔ of a new candle with the leftovers from just 4 other candles that would otherwise have been binned!

So, you’ll need:

  • An assortment of old candles (scented or otherwise)
  • Some new wicks (I bought 20 from Amazon – 10 Pre Waxed Wicks For Candle Making)
  • A clean, dry container for your recycled candle
  • A medium sized saucepan and a small plastic pot
  1. Use a knife or something sharp to scrape the candle ends out of the pots
  2. If you are using scented candles then you will have to melt the wax individually and layer the scents, but if it’s just old wax, then you can melt the whole lot together. This is similar to melting chocolate for cooking, so just bring a pan of water to a simmer and float your plastic pot with the old wax in it on the water until it all melts. Keep an eye on it, it’s usually quite quick, and you don’t want the pan to boil dry and melt your pot to the pan! ;) The wax will melt clear and you’ll see the old wick floating around. Remove the wax from the heat and fish out the old wick carefully – it will be hot!
  3. Centre your NEW wick in the clean and ready container for your new candle – you might want to balance it against something (like this knife in the photo) to keep it centred, which is important otherwise your wax will melt unevenly as it burns. Then pour in your wax and allow to cool.
  4. Repeat the process for each separate candle and scent, allowing to cool between each layer.
  5. Finally trim your wick to about 1cm long then light and enjoy!

Of course you can also clean up the empty glasses and containers that the other candles were in (I just use hot soapy water after melting the excess and wiping them out with kitchen roll,) and use them as vases or pots around the house for pencils or make-up brushes. If you’ve got any you really love you could even buy some wax chips online and make new candles so you can keep enjoying the decorative pot.

Did you ever make candles when you were younger? I had loads of DIY craft kits for candle making – it was fun to do it again in a grown up way!

Have you made anything this January?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Found: Dot & Fox Print shop

Today it’s just a brief post to share a fab find I made over the weekend, Dot & Fox Print Shop. Set up by Joanna Brown, the shop is named after her son Beau Fox, (born shortly before Bea) and Dot, the daughter she sadly lost in pregnancy. The prints in the shop were taken as she walked in her local area following that loss, then the shop set up while she was on bed rest awaiting Beau. Although I follow Joanna on Instagram I didn’t know about her shop and so when I stumbled across it at the weekend I had to share it with you all. I’m always looking for prints for our house and am currently obsessed with photographic art so these are right up my street.


BOOM Neon pink A3 print

I can just imagine this huge neon print in our bedroom, and I LOVE this A1 giant print inside what looks like a botanic gardens glasshouse.


Urban Jungle A1 print

These two are particularly beautiful, almost like still life oil paintings, there’s so much texture…


Don’t tell the others but you are my favourite‘ and ‘Oh so quiet‘ Ltd edition prints.

I hope you like them readers – Joanna also donates 5% to Tommys charity for every print sold if you are interested. It’s always a bonus to support a good cause whilst shopping ;) Do click over to the Dot & Fox Print Shop and have a look around – these are just my favourites.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Plan a project

Good morning readers!

I’ve left some of the prompts for this years #JanuaryJoy deliberately vague to allow as many people to join in as possible and whilst this particular prompt could encompass many things, for me it will be a house project. We’ve got quite a few things planned this year, big and small, from whole rooms to finishing touches. I’m keeping it small for now as I want to enjoy the remainder of my maternity leave dust and stress free, so I thought I’d share a couple of the projects I have in mind for this month.


Alcove storage // Peach and grey alcove

A Nursery wardrobe.
When we planned the nursery (which I will share soon, I promise!) I was convinced I was having a boy and didn’t give any thought to wardrobe space. We have a huge chest of drawers in there but since having a girl I’ve realised I need hanging space for dresses. The best place for the storage is in an alcove to the side of the chimney breast but it’s proving difficult to find a pice of furniture as it’s an oddly sized 66cms wide, so I’m having to think outside the box. I love the idea of being able to see Bea’s tiny clothes and so I thought some kind of open storage might work and hopefully won’t look too untidy as she doesn’t have that many clothes and I can still keep the majority folded in the drawers. Or do I do some kind of IKEA hack with something like this?

IMG_9491.JPG
Garden design by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Deck planting.
When we built our deck outside the kitchen last year we added some raised beds made of sleepers, half the height of the deck. They’re pretty big and the idea is to plant them with tall perennials that will surround the deck with foliage so it doesn’t seem separate from the garden. So the first job is to order some topsoil to fill them as they have stood empty since we built them, and secondly to plant them up with appropriate plants. I’m going for delicate drifting styles, in shade loving plants for one of the boxes on the north facing side and pretty flowers for the other west facing side which gets lots of sun.

IMG_9493.JPG
Bathroom via

Bathroom revamp.
Our bathroom is perfectly adequate and not on the agenda for change for quite some time… if we did change it, it would be part of quite a major reconfiguration of the first floor so we need to give that serious thought. In the meantime, I think I can make it a lot more us, with some simple additions. A new mirror, new light fittings, a bit of paint and some new hooks should make a big difference and it’ll be fun to change a room without all hell breaking loose in the house for a change. ;)

So what projects are you planning this January readers? (It doesn’t have to be house related!)

Love
Rebecca
xo

Driving me crackers…

Sorry. Festive pun. But I’m not sorry…

If I didn’t laugh right now I would cry, things are so unfinished in the house. I think a few people who have heard me say this have wrongly assumed it was a need for perfection that was stressing me out pre-Christmas, but in fact it’s a need for safety – we have children visiting and wires, boxes and heavy/breakable items (granite hearth propped up against a wall anyone?) everywhere wasn’t my idea of a relaxing Christmas for me, or I imagine their parents! We are so close to having the lounge finished but there will then be a gargantuan effort to tidy/clean in time for relatives arriving on Christmas eve. Then I might just curl up in a corner with Bea and let everyone get on with it!


Photography: Jemma Watts // Styling: Laura Sawyer // Styling assistant: Rosanna Johnson

Getting back to that pun… This year I decided it might be nice to DIY some crackers (because I have so much free time…) and I’m persisting with the idea dispute the chaos as it’s turning out to be keeping me sane whilst I’m stuck in with tradesmen, trawling the internet for little gifts and ideas. I was fully braced to completely DIY them after seeing a DIY featured in 91 magazine (the latest issue is out now!) and so I asked Caroline to share the stylists tips here…

Cracker Snap pulls were sourced from Ebay at £5.99, and you’ll need some toilet paper tubes. The stylist stuck a snap pull to the inside of a tube, filled the tube with presents, then wrapped the whole thing up in beautiful wrapping paper from Paperchase, and tied it off at the ends with ribbon from John Lewis.

How easy does that sound? Unfortunately in my disorganised state I hadn’t pre-collected the necessary loo-rolls and didn’t have time for snaps to arrive so I ended up with a DIY kit from M&S but I’m still happy filling them. I love that if you make your own you can label them for each individual person and gift accordingly, as well as tying them in with your table decor scheme. I’m planning on activities to keep the kids busy at the table, chocolate and treats for the ladies, with possibly a lottery ticket or something for the men. Crackers are always full of rubbish anyway, so why not fill them with stuff your family and friends will love and even tweak the jokes or motto’s into dinner games for between the courses?

Makes sure you check out the new issue of 91 magazine (there are some really great interiors and printables for Christmas in this issue,) and thanks to Caroline for sharing the crackers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Inspiration: Guest room style…

Before Bea was born and whilst we were having our kitchen finished we suddenly decided we should tackle one of the attic rooms, as we didn’t have a guest room for grandparents to stay if needed; (because my sister is still living with us… more on that another time!) At the time it was the LAST thing we needed but it made sense as we had all the tradesmen on site. The rooms didn’t need *too* much spending on it, (in comparison to the other rooms) but it did turn into a bit of a last minute headache. In fact we were putting curtain poles up and finishing the decor the day before I went in for my C-section.

I was going to share it with you yesterday but instead it will be coming on Monday along with a special offer for readers. In the meantime I thought I would share some images I’ve been collecting for guest room inspiration. As we have a couple of spare rooms I’ve been looking for ways to decorate them that are cheap and cheerful, whilst appealing to my personal sense of style.


Attic Bedroom // Iron bed in attic room // Simple sloped ceiling room

Because the room is on the top floor, there are sloping but high ceilings and so I’ve been able to look at cosy attic rooms that will directly translate into our homes style. I’ve also been attracted to simple pared back furniture and accessories – something that would be impossible to maintain in our own room with all the junk, magazines, clothes and cosmetic stuff we have around, but perfect for a mostly empty room.


Simple display shelf // Copper and colour mix bedding

My own bedroom is planned as a relaxing and calming space, with more than a hint of hotel chic and luxe appeal, so these are very different styles. They are styles I love none-the-less and it’s nice to be able to play around with something different that you don’t need to commit to in the same way, as you don’t look at a guest room everyday.


DIY headboard // Vintage modern room

And at this time of year, is it only me who wants to create a ski cabin or scandi vibe with faux furs, fairy lights and black, red and grey accents?


Nordic Bedroom

So readers, does anything inspire you here? Have you got a spare room and how have you decorated it? Did you think about who would be staying in it when you did?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. See more guest room ideas on my Pinterest Guest Rooms board and my bedroom here.

 

Found: The Nursery Paint Company

When we were preparing for Bea’s arrival I decided against a moses basket in favour of a swinging crib for our room and were lucky enough to be given one just like the one I was going to buy. I had however planned to buy a white one and this was a natural wood crib so I decided to paint it. Because it was going to be so close to her head and all around her while she slept, I decided to look into baby-safe paints and was recommended The Nursery Paint Company .


The finished crib in ‘Twinkle’ by The Nursery Paint Company

Their paints are VOC free and made from natural soya beans so there’s no nasty vapours being released around the baby, and they are all toy grade paints – meaning they are safe to be chewed. They also happen to be antibacterial and have a good range of colours, including a few greys which pleased me. ;)

The paint was beautiful to use and whilst not cheap, went a very long way. I thought those of you looking for baby safe paints might like to take a look…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Moody Blues


Blue room with dark floors

Although I’ve been talking a lot of baby stuff recently, I’ve been thinking a lot of interiors ideas. Our builder only left 2 weeks before Bea was born, after finishing the kitchen and decking – I promise I’ll be sharing that soon; and with a new baby plus a house that was clean for the first time in about 6 months, I had no taste for returning to renovations. However, now I’m living in the house everyday, I’m getting more and more fed up with our living rooms heavy cream walls and peachy curtains (from the previous owners) and ready to change it all. Dare I say it, I don’t think I want another grey room, dispute it being a favourite of mine, but luckily inky, dramatic, moody blues are where it’s at in interiors right now and I thought I’d share some inspiring images I’ve been looking at for ideas.


Period living room with marble fireplace

This particular image with the fireplace is exactly what we are going for in our more formal living room. I think these blues really lend themselves to a sense of formality and period grandeur, don’t you?


Traditional style bedroom


Navy bedroom with bright accents

It seems to work equally well with bright accents and colour pops though – which is perfect for me as I always come back to colourful accents.


Dusty blue, lilac and copper room set

This (relatively) paler shade with lilac and copper makes for a more feminine combination…


Aerin Lauders home

And I love darker shades framed by a bright white and light room when you are coming into them, like this shot of Aerin Lauders home.

What do you think readers? Could you take the plunge with dark walls? Or would you consider it as an accent? See more over on my Pinterest board Moody Blues

Love,
Rebecca
xo