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

Hello Again!

Wow, it’s been a long time. It seems that life just continues to get in the way of blogging. I started writing this post on the 30th of May and good ol’ WordPress promptly lost most of it… it’s taken until now to get round to finishing. Recently I’ve found myself thinking of lots of things I’d like to share so I think it’s time to get back on the horse. Its been so long though, I think it’s time for a little catch up first. And I’d love to hear from you guys as to whats going on with you?

Going back a little further than the last 2 months, I started working a bit more in January. I used to do 2.5 days of seeing patients and another half day was admin time. It felt like a really great balance as I did 2 full days and friday afternoon, but I’d go in on friday morning to get some work done and keep my admin up to date. Because we are generally understaffed and workloads are getting greater all the time, I offered to increase to 3 full days of seeing patients and do my admin from home (because I don’t have or want childcare for the extra time the admin would require.) I have full access to my desktop from home but it means I’m squeezing paperwork in at home in Bea’s nap times or usually at night, and its really tipped the balance in a negative way. My work days are way busier because I’m trying to pack extra in, I’m staying later and still have stuff to do at home. And that ends up just making everything feel worse. At the moment we still need it at work, but I’m thinking all the time about whether to change things back.

The house is also being a bit of a mental drain, if not a physical one. We started one of our main bedrooms back in January – stripping the walls ready for the mammoth job of replacing the wooden windows, re-plastering, putting a new (old) fireplace in and then getting to the fun part of actually decorating and filling it. Its going to be a playroom for Bea and then in the future will become her big girl bedroom when we need the nursery again. Its been somewhat of a false start however as we have been messed about by the company we ordered our windows from and as I write they are promising they will be fitted next week. Funnily enough, I’ve heard that one before from these guys, more than once, but I’m not going to write any more about it otherwise I am likely to swear. A lot.

We have also got another super exciting house project on the go but that one deserves a whole post of it’s own. ;)

I finally started doing some exercise recently, well in January. I found a running buddy, my friend Meriel, and she basically kicked my behind into making it out of the front door for a change. Being brutally honest I have done pretty much no exercise since Bea was born (another blog post in the making,) and there have been lapses when life didn’t allow or I lost my motivation, but I’m pretty proud that over all, I feel like I can call myself a runner now. I get out at least twice a week and my ‘minutes per kilometre’ number is falling all the time. More than anything the regular exercise has actually made me crave more. I miss it when I don’t have opportunity and I feel good when I have managed to do something, even if it’s a short run. High fives all round!

I’m feeling pretty sad I’ve let things slip around here, partly because I miss the posts I wrote about Bea – the last one was when she was 11 months – almost 12 months ago now and she’s turning into a little rock star. I guess part of the reason I don’t get time to post is that I prefer to focus on her fully, but I miss documenting all her little changes and cuteness. Despite the odd very trying day (hello toddler tantrums!) motherhood is still the best adventure I ever embarked upon.

So I’m going to leave it there, because I want to write more, be here more, and if I waffle on much longer I won’t manage another post!

Now what have you been doing so far this year?

Rebecca
x

The Garden: After

As the Autumn is in full swing, I thought I’d share the picture of my finished garden, probably as good as it’s going to get before everything starts to die off for the winter. As you can see if you look back at my last post, the plants have filled out dramatically.

I absolutely love it. If we left this house I would miss the garden more than anything I think.

Before we start, some obligatory before and after shots – the ‘before’s’ with the garage are from the beginning of May and the photos in this post were taken in mid September, so its has really changed massively in less than 5 short months.

I am SO glad we got rid of the garage. Of course we have the luxury of a cellar to store ‘stuff’ in but in all honesty it’s a few garden tools and a lawnmower. nothing a shed couldn’t have handled and it has been so worth it for the extra space in a small garden.

The only thing that is different other than the planting in these pictures from the last post is that we finally finished off the decking with a glass and steel balcony to protect the edges. I think lots of people think we are mad having such a big open stepped area down but it was an integral part for me of keeping the deck a part of the garden, rather than two areas, and due to the cellars there would always be a drop from stepping out of the house, down to the garden. short of a ramp, nothing would have been ‘safe’ for Bea.

I have a ton of pictures to share so I’m going to split this post into two. There will be more tomorrow with the detail of the design and planting. Once again, the design and landscaping was all by Iain at Outer Space Lanscapes and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again – he was brilliant to work with, hardworking and did an amazing job. In fact we will be asking him to re-landscape the front garden in the future. I will just share the vegetable area of the garden today.

Some of you may remember we had an allotment before we moved and gave it up knowing the house would take up our time, that we planned a family and that we hoped to grow some veg in the new garden. I asked for some custom designed raised vegetable beds to be incorporated in to the design and space for a greenhouse, and I’m so glad we did. I love pottering in my working corner of the garden but it looks just as good as the rest of it!

I wanted a wooden greenhouse but they are so expensive and eventually we found this tiny one online. It was less than half the price of most as it is untreated, meaning we had to protect it with a stain and protect product but I wanted to Paint it anyway so it was not great loss. It’s also got plastic windows which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but painted up, I love it. It still has some of the green plastic film on the windows in these pictures and the inside needs painting still too, but it has been fab for growing in and we had our first tomatoes in there this year.

For the veg beds we concentrated on stuff we would use, that crops heavily and in a short space. 2 courgette plants kept us fed for the whole summer, we grew salad leaves, runner beans, peas and broad beans. And I had a corner of sweet peas solely for cutting.

Come back tomorrow for some more photos of the planting and detail :) Maybe I’ll periscope it when we get a sunny day!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Art Amateur…

I love art. Despite that, many of the walls in our home are still blank, simply out of my inability to pull the plug and purchase something to decorate them with. I hope in future we will have some spare cash to invest in beautiful limited editions or even some original prints and that stops me spending money on lovely prints now sometimes, despite there being so many out there.


‘You are my Happiness’ – Yvonne Coomber

When we renovated the lounge we really had a mind-block about what to put on the walls. It’s not a casual room, although the curtains keep it a bit less formal, (as do the constantly scattered toys on the floor nowadays!) so my usual choice of fun prints wasn’t quite right and my go to for simpler rooms of photographic prints or black and white prints wasn’t right in a room with so much colour.

For my birthday Pete bought me this Yvonne Coomber Limited edition print and it’s absolutely perfect for the space. We discovered her work at the Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall on our first anniversary and have many a time considered splashing out on an original. The prices have doubled since we started looking at them and realistically we’re not yet at the stage we should spend the money on one anyway, so I was thrilled with this. For all the reasons above, I never would have bought it myself, but it’s made me realise we should have done it sooner!

It made me wonder, have you ever spent a bit more on a piece of special art? Or if you haven’t is there something you always wish you had bought or would like to in future?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Kitchen Update…

If my house update posts have seemed a bit thin on the ground, that’s pretty much for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing has been so exhausting and frustrating so far that I really haven’t had the mental energy to write about it here as well as collecting quotes and co-ordinating the work. And secondly, well, there hasn’t been that much ‘progress’.


Our Kitchen, on display in the showroom

Last time I talked about the kitchen I talked about choosing the actual units and style. Plus I have mentioned the issues that prevented us from extending. We initially got involved with an architect when we wanted to see if there was a way around the pipe and there was, but it was expensive. That and I don’t know how realistic his plans were. We have continued to work with the architect and that has been one of the massive delaying factors. The drawings took longer than they should have, trying to get quotes took longer and now we are chasing engineers calculations on modified drawings. Why the modification I hear you ask? Well, because the grand designs the architect drew up were completely unfeasible. I thought that architects not only planned creative solutions but that they worked within the limitations of the structural requirements. Clearly our experience hasn’t been great, but I don’t want to generalise and I’m sure there are lots of great architects out there, ours just hasn’t been. In fact, all we needed was a builder and it’s a shame we hadn’t met the builder who did the work on our bedroom by then, because he has taken on the kitchen job and been a lot more helpful. Hopefully we’re starting work in a week or two, so we can actually see things come together.


Although I’m talking about an ‘Island’ here, we are actually having a peninsula than comes from the exterior wall but you can walk around on three sides, separating the working side of the kitchen from the social side :) so it will look something like this… Image via.

In the meantime, the interior plans have been ticking along. When we found our kitchen it was on display in the shop and miraculously the layout could be slightly rejigged to fit our plans. We had to buy an additional couple of units to finish it off but it meant we could afford a kitchen that was otherwise way out of our budget. As the display was being removed we had the option to buy the worktops and sink too. The worktop is a veined black granite but very unusual, because it has a matt ‘honed’ finish, like the graining on a soft leather handbag. (I posted a picture on instagram showing the finish this morning.) I really deliberated about this decision. It was a good price, but I really wanted marble. Not just for the look but for the pale colour to bounce more light around.


How honed granite looks in situ via Pinterest

On our kitchen research trips I asked lots of people about marble as a work surface and was met with a variety of reactions, from derision to outright patronisation. I was told marble was for show kitchens in the kitchens of the rich, that it would stain and I would regret it. Of course I already knew that, having extensively researched the pro’s and con’s. For those of you who don’t know much about worktops, one of the pro’s for granite is that it’s tough. Marble on the other hand is soft and porous. It can scratch, dent, crack or ‘etch’, which is the correct term for the marks that are left on the surface from acidic foods coming into contact with it. Lemons and tomatoes all have this effect and anything dark can be absorbed leaving stains that can’t be wiped off or cleaned with usual cleaning products because they are sucked in to the stone itself. Pretty terrifying stuff, right? The problem was, I still couldn’t stop myself from wanting it, so I decided to do a little experiment.

The majority of the nay sayers amongst kitchen salespeople simply didn’t want to sell us the marble and be responsible for us then telling them it had marked or stained etc and demanding our money back. Tracy, our kitchen designer basically dared me to try some red wine on it. As much as I told her I would look after it she convinced me that after a party one night or when we had family visiting, someone wouldn’t take care of the marble like I did and it might get ruined. So I put red wine o the bottom of a glass, left it on a marble sample I had and promptly forgot about it until a couple of days later. It left a hideous stain which of course didn’t come out. After a bit of google research I read somewhere that in Latin countries where marble is used all the time for worktops they simply clean it with bleach. And what do you know, out it came. It removed balsamic vinegar too. The etching was still there from the vinegar but that is really only visible when the light shines across the marble and highlights the difference in texture between the polished finish and the matt etched areas. If you go for a ‘honed’ (matt) marble finish, this is less obvious again.


Images via Pinterest 1 // 2

So, decision time. Right now, (although I’m having a last minute wobble with the anticipation of a toddler throwing spaghetti bolognese all over it!) the plan is a compromise. We are going to reuse the granite from the display along the back wall’s run of units, either side of the cooker and in the cabinet where the coffee machine etc will go. This will be harder wearing and give a fuss free prep area. On the island, (where the sink will be) we’re going with honed marble for the look I love. Fingers crossed it works!


Hopefully this is pretty close to how our kitchen will look from one end, looking pack towards the house. Image via.

Because of our limited space there isn’t going to be the option for a dining table but the island will have bar stools for feeding kids (and adults!) at on a daily basis. The Back wall run of units will be drawers all the way along for a sleek look and the sink area you see above will be rejigged to make one side of the island with dishwasher etc. My only gripe now is that the handles that came with the kitchen are chrome finish and I really wanted brass, along with brass taps. Now I’ve just got to decided on tiles, flooring and lighting. It feels never ending but I can’t wait to get it all done and finished. Preferably before Baby arrives!

So that’s it for now readers, I hope I haven’t bored you but it has been a long process. And we haven’t even started yet. Tell me it will be ok?! (Or if I’m making a huge mistake with something!!!)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. If you happen to be interested in Marble, then here are some of the articles I researched from people actually living with Marble worktops:
Georgica Pond
For the love of a house
I also emailed Courtney Adamo for Advice who has this beautiful honed marble worktop.

Old House Tour… Part 1

Hi guys!

It’s good to be back and I’m excited after a very refreshing break and some headspace. Thanks for coming back :)

Today I’m going to share some of the fab pictures of my house that The Lawsons (Laura and Pete) took for the Good Homes feature I mentioned last month. There were so many good ones that didn’t go in to the magazine that I’m going to do the downstairs first and then come back to the upstairs next week. I was thinking that you guys had seen all of this but in fact we had changed quite a few things (decorative accents wise) since I last featured any pictures, so I hope you’ll see something new if you’re already familiar with the house.


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

Since I last shared it, the lounge had had even more colour added, with a selection of mis-matched patterned cushions, the easy lamp DIY I did, and a few more homely touches…



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

It also features the first new thing we bought for the ‘new house’, the (reproduction) Eames RAR rocker.


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

Then adjoining it is the dining room, also looking a lot better than when you last saw it for a bit of styling ;) (I hasten to add, my house did not always look like this, I wish!)



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

I think the dining room might have been my favourite room in the house, if not my bedroom, as it seemed to be the most interesting. This corner has our film lamp in it and an antique Japanese rice cabinet that my step-dad passed onto us and I topped with a sprayed white tray and some bar paraphernalia. With the picture and (cheap ikea) linen curtains, it seemed to evoke old colonialism to me.



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

It also has my other favourite bit of furniture, the oak servery unit we have that holds our wedding dinner set (and a lot of other junk!)


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

I’m going to leave it there for now because that’s a lot of pictures already and I’ll come back to the kitchen and bedrooms. There’s too much ‘stuff’ to list here but if you want to know anything about the house or it’s contents, just drop me a comment. Hope you enjoyed the tour and thanks again so much to Laura and Pete for doing the photography honours!

Love,
Rebecca
XOR

Renovation Ruminations: The Living Room

The longer we are in the house and the more I immerse myself in interiors inspiration, the more I’m finding the creative juices are flowing for our decoration plans. I’m really starting to gain a huge amount of respect for people who take on full house renovations as there is so much to think about beyond the paint colours. At the moment we’re just at the ‘getting quotes’ stage, to get a better idea of the funds we need in place for each room. As much as I would love to get on with the living room/lounge, we’re limited as it’s going to be another whopper of a room to do properly, as it needs amongst other things, new windows, the chimney breast knocking through so we can replace a salvaged fireplace, new flooring and potentially new furniture as the current sofa isn’t ideal for the space.


The perfect living space for me… but is ‘warm’ enough for winter?

Decoratively, my biggest concern and challenge is to make this room work both in summer and winter. I’ve been through two big phases of decor in the last house, initially going with an industrial ‘period’, (when I had red damask wallpaper in the cosy dining room and the vintage salvaged photos on the wall.) Then more recently I moved to wards lighter, brighter interiors. This time, I want some colour and some warmth that will lend itself towards long winter nights but I want that colour to work equally well with brighter colours for the summer.


Office space // Selina Lake // Formal living space

At the moment I’m hugely drawn towards moody blue interiors. Not anything as dark as navy but no coastal or country-ish lighter shades either. I’m looking for the perfect smokey blue, inspired by many of the Bluebellgray images I have seen online. (Fi the creator of Bluebellgray uses Pointer Blue from Farrow & Ball in her home.)


Bluebellgray via Bright Bazaar

I’ve also fallen in love with Bluebellgray‘s fabrics. Previously I thought they were a bit too floral for me, with such a summery vibe, but having seen the latest fabrics and some abstract patterns (Via Bright Bazaar,) I think they could work season-round with toning blue shades and splashes of my favourite yellows and pinks.


Fireplace // Light Fitting // Paint swatches, all Farrow & Ball // Sofa // Floral fabric Swatch and room set, BluebellGray via Bright Bazaar // Gold Table Nest, Zara Home // Gallery wall

We’re planning to source a salvaged Victorian white marble fireplace to restore into the room, which I’m hoping will really pop against the blue. Despite my infatuation with the blues, I’m going to try and balance it by only having it on one wall, and keeping the rest grey. Other ideas include a mix of furniture, something in the bay window like a window seat or pair of danish chairs, splashes of warm gold or brass and some way of including the TV amongst lots of art on a gallery wall so it doesn’t take over the room.

So what do you think readers? Have you got any ideas? I’m really enjoying sharing my plans here – it’s proving really useful to think through all the design elements before actually doing anything!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

New House Tour: Part 2

Hello readers!
It’s time to continue my house tour. There are three floors and we’ve done the ground so lets go upstairs…

The stairs are lovely and wide and have a half turn in them on the way up, with a half landing. The first bedroom you come to is the back bedroom, or as I call it, the blue room. This is above the kitchen and has room enough for a decent double as a guest room, or will hopefully one day be the nursery! It’s already decorated in a dusty blue so we fortunately have bedding and curtains (the ones from Francesca’s old room,) all ready for it in the meantime. It the time these pictures were taken it was just a junk room, and had all the study stuff in there which we have now relocated upstairs. My Scandinavian armoire is also in there currently – something else I’m not sure where we’ll put!

Once we had cleared the boxes we used it as a guest room last weekend when Pete’s family came to stay and it looked half decent!

Next is the bathroom, and a separate toilet, that we’ll probably knock together in time. Having a separate loo is great if there’s not another one, as it relieves pressure on the bathroom, but as we do have another, the space would be better utilised for a separate bath and shower. The tiles really aren’t my choice, but it has a claw foot bath and rain shower which are nice. As a result it’s going to be a long way down the priority list and I can’t see us changing it within 3 years.

Carrying on around, our bedroom is next, above the lounge. This is probably the most tired room decor wise and fairly high on our priority list. I can’t wait to decorate it but as with most other rooms there are large jobs within the renovation which make it costly, like restoring the windows.

We also plan to knock through into the space above the hall, which (accessed from the landing,) was used as an office. We don’t need it for that and I happen to think it’ll make a great walk in wardrobe. ;)

The other room at the front is Francesca’s room. Painted a rather strong red that wouldn’t be so bad if not for the addition of the highlighted red cornice (the thought of the hours it will take to paint over that makes me feel ill!) we’re not going to redecorate while Francesca’s in it, so as not to disrupt her again, and I haven’t really got any fixed ideas for this space either. It’s a lot lighter than this picture looks now without the boxes blocking the window!

On the top floor there are another three rooms. When the previous owners bought the property many years ago, it had been in three flats and the back room, (above the blue room,) was the kitchen and bathroom for that flat.

As a result there is a newly updated and practically brand new ensuite in a rather awkward position, leaving a room that is only good for an office really. We talked about making the whole room a bathroom, but it would mean losing a bedroom and would make for a rather large bathroom, basically for guests.

Instead, I think we’ll end up relocating the ensuite to one of the other rooms, where even if we stole some extra space they would still be double bedrooms. I’d also like to make it accessible from the hall rather than as an ensuite, then it’s available for all the people on that floor to use.

2 more rooms are at the front of the house – one I call the ‘L-shaped room’ which will become a guest suite with a sleeping area, small sofa and table, tv and storage. It currently has old fitted wardrobes in that need ripping out and it’s likely we’ll have to retrofit insulation by taking down the ceiling. Currently as there are rooms in the attic space, there is no insulation and you can hear the rain on the roof so loudly it makes me worry about how thin the ceiling is!

The last room is above ours and probably the one destined to have some space stolen from it for that relocated bathroom. With the built in cupboards taken out again, there will still be space for another guest bed, or we will probably make this our office with a pull out sofa bed.

So that’s it! As you can see, we were very lucky in that everything has been maintained very soundly, but we’ve got three floors of renovation ahead of us, before we even get started on the garden! Right now, we’re trying to decide where to start – we’d love to get on with the bedroom, but we’re currently waiting on ballpark figures for the kitchen renovation which will dictate what we can and can’t do financially before then.

It’s also good to live in the house. I really feel we shouldn’t do anything until after Christmas, but we have a week of leave in November that Pete’s itching to get going on the house in. I’m going to use the weeks before Christmas to get quotes on everything and see what we’re in for, and more importantly, pull together some mood boards to share our plans with you guys!

I hope you enjoyed the tour. If anyone knows anything about retrofitting insulation, I’d love to hear! I’ve heard you can possibly get government grants for this as it’s energy saving?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Once again please excuse the photo’s – they are a mix of hurried iPhone shots the day after we moved in and some Instagram updates since of slightly more organised rooms. I hope you get the gist! Still no camera cable :(