Spring Reset – Kitchen Planning

It finally feels like Spring and, much like the polar bears in this video, I feel like I am emerging from hibernation. Only it’s safe to say, not nearly as cutely as a polar bear and into a mound of DIY, not snow.

As I mentioned in my first post of 2017, we had an appointment with a kitchen planner in January. One thing led to another and somehow we ended up ordering a kitchen a few days later, in the January sale.

Tiverton Slate

Image Source

We’ve gone for a Wickes kitchen after reading lots of positive reviews and having eyed this one up in store every time we popped in for screws/paint/skirting board etc etc (which was pretty often!) It’s called Tiverton Slate and, like everything else in our house, is grey! We’ve opted for a natural oak worktop and white metro tiles, with integrated appliances.

Despite being half price in the sale, the kitchen will be the most money we’ve ever spent on anything (aside from the house itself!) and some of it has gone on interest free credit from Wickes to allow us the cashflow to get the work done that we need to prior to it being installed in April.

As a reminder, this was how the kitchen was when we moved in:

Kitchen before

Until we started this project earlier this month, we hadn’t really changed anything since this photo was taken, other than scoring a bargain second hand dresser to fill the gap to the left of the doorway.

We are now T-4 to the installation and this is a quick update on progress:

Kitchen wall

We’ve ripped out the old bathroom and knocked down the wall separating the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.

Terracotta floor times

We’ve removed several hundred very badly laid, but still beautiful, terracotta floor tiles (looking for a new home on eBay if anyone is interested!)
Studwork wall

We have built the studwork for a new wall to even out this little corner (as units will go on this wall eventually).

There’s lots still to do to make this room ready for the new kitchen included laying a new floor, moving the boiler, re-routing all pipework, fixing the holes in the ceiling, blocking in a doorway, plasterboarding and plastering, re-plumbing the radiator to name but a few! We’re doing most of the work ourselves to save money, so will check back with a progress update soon 🙂



Never Judge a Blind by its Cover

Our bedroom blind had suffered as a result of the damp back wall and didn’t really go with the overall scheme (it was a bargain buy before we decorated when we just needed something to block the light). I wanted a dark grey blind to replace it, but didn’t want to spend much money.

I found this John Lewis blind on eBay for £10.59; a bargain because it was damaged, but in the spirit of never judging a book by its cover, I realise it’d work perfectly with a little bit of TLC. I initially planned to replace the buttons, because as you can see, they were either missing or broken.

JL blind JL Brompton Steel blind

Removing broken buttons

N thought that buttons were a bit fussy for our simple, Scandi style bedroom and I realised that I could just cut remove the buttons, cut the blind off at the level where the buttons had been and remove and replace the rod in the higher slot.

p1020402 p1020403This worked out nicely and we now have a blind that is far more harmonious in the bedroom:

Blind before and after

Now we just need it to get a little warmer so that we can get on and paint that window!

What a Difference a Pipe Cover Makes

Spolier alert… this post contains a sneak peak of our new bathroom!

Pipe Covers

These little beauties were just 99p for a pack of 8 from the 99p Store. Not bad for 25p per radiator.

The benefit of these covers compared with the more expensive variety – like these – is that they are flexible and wrap around the pipe, thus disguising the fact that our pipes are in fact only 10mm (the covers are designed for 15mm pipes) and ever so slightly wonky!

Walls: Valspar Cottage Door Kitchen & Bathroom Paint ( B&Q £27, 2.5 litres)
Radiator: Acova 2 (purchased from eBay for £25)
Valves: Verona (Screwfix, £9.99 for 2)
Floor tiles: Bertie (Tons of Tiles, £27.54 per m2)
Pipe covers: White 15mm (99p store, 99p)
Pipe collars: White 15mm (Screwfix, £1.97 for 10)

Kitchen Herb Garden

I’m pretty pleased with these new herbs on my kitchen windowsill:

Herb Garden

The pots are from IKEA’s Socker range. I used a hammer and screw to make some drainage holes in the bottom with the help of my glamorous hand model:

Plant pot drainage

And finally, cute little lolly stick labels, which was obviously my favourite bit as it involved eating ice lollies 🙂

Lolly sticks

How much did it cost?

Painterly Stripe Tray – £5 at Tesco
Herb plants – 79p each at Aldi
Socker Pots – 95p each at IKEA

Total cost: £10.22


Happy growing!

Garden Landscaping Splurge

Most things we’re happy to tackle ourselves to save some money, but when it came to landscaping the garden, I decided it was time to get the professionals in. What a revelation!

We got a couple of quotes and went for the guy we felt most comfortable with (who also great online reviews) and in just two days, our garden went from zero to hero! Here are a few before photos:

Garden BeforeThis is how the garden was when we moved in. Fifty shades of brown, anyone?

Old garage

This is just before we took the garage down.

Bare garden

We then lived with it in this bare state for a while, whilst deciding what to do next.

Concrete slab

Oh and then we got a bit carried away and broke up the concrete slab with a sledgehammer (this is when we were still intending to do the paving, turf etc ourselves) which resulted in about 12 trips to the tip and newly acquired biceps.

Sketch Up Garden 1We used Sketch Up to design the layout and initially came up with this, but a we soon realised that running a fence down the side wouldn’t leave enough space to swing the car in (lucky we checked!) I also thought that the curves looked a bit artificial, so we simplified it right down to have a rectangle of paved driveway, a rectangle of grass, a rectangle of gravel and a rectangular planter.


Garden after photo

At the moment, it looks pretty plain, whilst we work out what to plant and how to create some privacy for our seating area, but overall, I’m pleased. These photos were taken the day after it was finished, so the turf is still in squares and the chairs haven’t been put back in place, but the clematis was out then and it looked lovely in the evening sun. The car also gives some context to show the proportions, which are fairly compact, but that suits us just fine.

The table and (missing!) chairs are IKEA’s Angso range, purchased from Gumtree and strapped to the roof of my car for the 2 hour drive home, but so worth it as I paid £100 and this set would retail at £450. They could do with a lick of paint, which is on the to do list.

I will return with an update once we’ve worked out what to plant where and how to shade our table, just in case the sun ever decides to come out again so we can enjoy our garden landscaping splurge, which was totally worth every penny we saved for it!


Tag Your Bag

Do you Tag Your Bag? If you donate goods to Oxfam, sign up to the Tag Your Bag scheme to earn Nectar points on every donation.

Tag Your Bag

Tag Your Bag also means that Oxfam can earn 25% in Gift Aid, so it’s a win win. You get a lovely email every 6 months to tell you how much your items sold for and as your Nectar points add up, you can spend them on all sorts of fun things like meals at Pizza Express, watching films at Vue Cinema or even Eurostar tickets and EasyJet flights.

I’m stickering up lots of bags to go to Oxfam this weekend, as I delve deeper into a Marie Kondo style clear out.

Sign up here and get tagging!



Candle Jar Bathroom Storage

The bathroom is progressing… slowly. To try and distract me from my impatience for it to be finished, I am already planning the finer details (cotton bud storage, anyone?) even though we have no toilet, sink or bath installed.

Cotton buds in candle jar

I’m back to candle jar storage. This time, the candles are from Sainsbury’s and come with handy glass lids. Once cleaned out, they are just the perfect size for a pack of cotton buds 🙂

Candle Cotton BudsNow I just need a bathroom to put them in!

£3 Headboard Update

We’re really pleased with how our guest bedroom is looking now, but the Malm bed that we snapped up for £24 last year (it was one of the last ‘IKEA size’ beds before they conformed to regular sizes) didn’t quite look right after we’d painted the room. It just wasn’t quite so white as the newly whitened paintwork:

Malm Headboard Update

One of my 2016 goals is to ‘cosy up’ the house and I thought the perfect way to go this was to cover the headboard with something soft and cost, that matched the room a little better.

I used this IKEA Polarvide throw in grey. It was a bit of a tight fit as the blanket was only just big enough to cover the headboard, but I simply held it in place, stapled away with a staple gun and trimmed off the excess once I was done.

Malm Polarvide Headboard


It’s not the perfect finish, but it’s a nice and cheap little update that will see us through until we next change things around (or maybe one day buy a bed that’s not from Ikea!)