The spare room develops…

I found this rather beautiful old mirror in our cellar – a lovely gift left by previous owners from the past. It just needed a good clean and then I thought it was a good find for the spare room, so our first guest, staying soon, could see themselves.

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Mr Muscle gets to work
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Cleaned up nicely

Having the cleaning bug, I got to work on the spare room again. I cleaned the windows, and window sills. I re-made the bed. I cleaned the shelving unit. And then I dropped the cloth on the floor and when I picked it up, there was a cleaner, much darker patch and I thought, ah, there are decent floorboards under all this dust. So, out came the bucket and sponge and suddenly I was revealing rather nice, old, floorboards.

Before and after as it happened
Before and after

I wasn’t sure about having floorboards upstairs but it was amazing what a bit of fairy liquid did. Suddenly all thoughts of carpet were gone.

And then it was on to finding some pictures to put up. While the renovation happens our pictures had been safely away in bubble wrap, and before that they were in storage for months, so unwrapping some of them was like saying hello to some old much-loved friends.

I bought this one online after a trip to Chicago and have always loved it, and the colours:

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My other half got me this great print (bottom left below) from a shop in Columbia Road for my birthday shortly after we met. It used to hang above our sink in our flat in Stoke Newington and amuse me. The illustration next to it is from The Gruffalo’s Child, which I got when I worked on the book in my first job…


And here is the mirror in place below…along with a gorgeous screen print that was given to me by the very talented picture book and general graphic/digital artist Tom Percival as a gift when I left my second job:

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Extreme close up
Extreme close up

Pictures have basically gone up wherever there were holes in the walls to cover up…so it’s a little random I must say, but, it’s just so nice to have pictures on walls again, and suddenly, suddenly we have one room that seems lovely, even before we paint it. Here it is (with much thanks again to our inherited bed, delivered and put together excellently by my friends)…

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photo 2

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And finally, we needed to shield some unsightly piping and remains of the built in wardrobes before they all get boxed in, so we pinned up a simple white sheet, which though was a pain to put up, seems to have done just the job we needed it to.


And here we have it, our first room – one that I would genuinely enjoy spending time in:

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The spare room exists…

While there hasn’t been much building work progress, as I mentioned in my last post, we have been continuing to find things to go in the house – to try to make it liveable for the time being. So, when a close friend who is also doing some decorating, offered us a double bed for our spare room, we jumped at the chance to take it off their hands.

As we are likely to have family staying with us over Christmas, we knew we had to get the spare rooms in some sort of order soonish, so getting this bed gave us a reason to finish clearing all the boxes and rubbish out of there.

A few weeks back, my other half organised a junk clearance company to come and collect all the building materials and things we’d ripped out during the rewire and plumbing work we’d had done. They were fantastic and I jumped up and down in the new spaces we had that were finally clear.  So after a quick hoover, and moving of some doors from the room (we have four original doors which need to be stripped and rehung at somepoint which are stashed away now), we were then ready for our new delivery.

So, here’s the spare room progression from moving in to now.

The week we moved in.
The week we moved in.
Have I made any progress? 8 weeks in.
Have I made any progress? 8 weeks in.
Remains of the old built in wardrobe
No boxes but, the remains of the old built in wardrobe
What a difference a bed makes!
What a difference a bed makes. 12 weeks after moving in we have a workable spare room.

We still need to repair a wall, revamp a window, paint, and decide on what to do about the floor but, for now – it’s starting to look like a room. And cosy! I even picked up a cute clock just in Ikea at the weekend which I thought gave it a homely feel.

So. Now. Who wants to be the first guest?


As you know, the building site continues. But as we have to live in it for a while, we have decided to try to make it as nice as possible. (As nice as it can be with holes in your walls and random patches of paint everywhere).

So, I have been unpacking more and more and rearranging rooms to make them as liveable as can be. The lounge is looking more lounge-like. This is what we had for a while.

Living room (sans much furniture)
Lounge, before (and without much furniture)

The one comfy chair situation was not one that could last long when there are two of you living there. Try watching a three hour film on a deck chair and you will know what I mean.

This room doesn’t need much work really but the work isn’t going to happen for while. The plan is we need to re-plaster (it’s crumbling), then paint (we picked the colour ‘Orangery‘ already) and then hope to be able to restore the original dark wood floorboards that should be under this bamboo flooring. They look okay from the cellar, but who knows what we will find when they come up. Oh, and we also need to replace the skirting boards too. And this is a room I said didn’t need much work.

But, as there isn’t anything structural, it isn’t a priority yet. So, we need to make nice for now.

First step was thankfully being offered a sofa on loan, which has been gratefully received and much lounging has already occurred. We then moved an old shelving unit from upstairs (which we aimed to throw out, but now I’m pleased we never got round to it) and today I have filled it with just some of our books (we have way too many). And with some pictures unwrapped and balancing precariously on shelves and fireplaces, it’s just starting to look just a bit cosy:

lounge sept 13-1

That will do for a while.  We have a few weeks without workmen coming up, so I did an epic clean today so we can enjoy the dust-free weeks.

The dust-free weeks until we get our kitchen ripped out and redone, and then all the dust in the world will be upon us again.

But, for now, I have my feet up on the (borrowed) sofa and I’m not thinking about anything else but lounging.

Will we ever be unpacked?

We moved in here two months ago and we still have full rooms of boxes. When will it be done?!

I unpacked around another 4 boxes today and finally have put all my clothes away. Prompted by the fact that in a rush to pack for a wedding yesterday I couldn’t find my favourite ‘wedding’ bag or any shoes to go with my dress, and ended up pulling everything out of a box hunting for said items, (getting more and more angry about the fact that we can NEVER FIND ANYTHING), and so vowed to try to make more progress on the unpacking.

The week we moved in
The week we moved in (above)
Have I made any progress?
Have I made any progress?

I feel like we must have made progress. I mean, hey, you can see some floor? And there definitely ARE less boxes.

The main problem is, we don’t have places to put everything yet. In our bedroom, we have limited storage, so until we build more storage it didn’t seem worth unpacking everything. But, today, I felt differently. At least, as my other half pointed out, if I’m looking for something again I know it has to be in this one big unorganized cupboard, as opposed to anywhere amongst the mountain of boxes.

Similarly, until we do the floor in the lounge, it seems counter productive to buy and fill up bookcases, but we are starting to think perhaps we will. It’s going to be a while until we get to the lounge, so perhaps it might be nicer to have our things in the rooms they should be in, rather than in the boxes?

There’s no simple answer really. But, small steps I guess. There definitely ARE less boxes. Repeat after me.

I still didn’t find that favourite wedding bag. But I did find my kitchen clock, which I thought was lost forever. Win some, lose some and all that.

Outdoor lights

We have picked and installed our external lights! And our electrician is one day away from being finished inside now. Progress!

For the front, we didn’t want anything fussy or too traditional, but it had to fit with the Victorian house obviously. We picked this Deck Light from John Lewis:


And here’s a picture of it in situ (strangely hard to take photo of):

Not the best photo but...
Not as good as the professional photo…

In the back garden, we also wanted something simple – and not too ‘hotel/spa/bar-like’ if you know what I mean. Again John Lewis came up trumps here and we ordered two of the following:

Garden Trading Company Barn Outdoor light
Garden Trading Company Barn Outdoor light

And here is one in its place in the back garden!

Just at the place where there must have once been a window
It looks better in the flesh.

Good to have these up and working, particularly now the days are getting shorter. Despite the 27 degrees today, it was almost dark by 8pm.

Sigh. Goodbye summer.

Some colours have been chosen

It’s hard to write about colour selection without sounding wanky. But, okay, picking colours is hard. All we knew was that we didn’t want a totally white house (lovely as they can be). And I have been developing an interest in different shades of grey. Which, as a friend said to me, ‘five years ago I bet you wouldn’t have expected to be saying that, in normal conversation, without a hint of sarcasm’.

But anyway.

Here’s our favourite selection for the lounge:

The bottom row
The bottom row shortlist

I had an idea I wanted orange, but had worried it would be too, well…orange.

But, we found one we liked, and from the shortlist we chose this one:

Trial square
Trial square just to check it’s not too much…

I don’t think it is…so that is one decision made.

Kitchen/Diner – we don’t have much natural light in one part, so this is most likely going to be the lightest/closest to white room of the house.

Here is what we have narrowed it down to:

The bottom middle two...
The bottom middle two…

We’re thinking “Dayroom Yellow” in the diner part, “Skimming Stone” in the kitchen. God, paint names are stupid. (Though, hooray, I have picked a grey!).

The hallway is going to be the hardest decision. It’s huge, and potentially could be the same colour for three floors unless we pick some places to split it.

It could be some time before we decide from this lot…

Help please