Bank Holiday DIY

We’ve been so lucky with the weather this week! It definitely made me extend the bank holiday vibes and get lots of diy done.

I started with a few of those ‘I’ve been meaning to do that for ages’ jobs. I put up a wall mount for Beardie’s guitar and replaced our bedroom mirror with a big mirror that used to live in the kitchen.

I’d been putting off moving the mirror because I thought it would be tricky… and it was! It’s really heavy and oval – so difficult to get straight without making markings on the wall. We ended up making some markings on the wall and getting it wonky. Oh well… at least Beardie can now see his head a feet!

I gave my garden bench and outhouse doors a lick of paint so they look lovely and fresh… but the most exciting bit was painting an old chest of drawers with paint left over from our kitchen refurb.

This used to be my Dad’s chest of drawers when he was growing up and it’s lived with me ever since I moved away from home. It was looking quite worn and tatty, but is a really good, solid piece of furniture so I wanted to give it a new lease of life.

It was difficult to get a good picture in the sun and the colour looks a bit darker in real life – but hopefully you get the idea…

I think the colour (Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue) works really well and it looks pretty classy! I had thought about replacing the handles but the original ones scrubbed up nicely with a wire brush and I like them with the blue.

Did you do any bank holiday diy?

New Kitchen

If you know me in the real/offline world – you will know that I spent a LOT of time last year renovating our kitchen!

I’m rubbish at remembering to take ‘before’ photos when I’m decorating… but I thought you might be interested in seeing some ‘mid-decor & after’ photos!

We decided to get the experts in to do a few jobs. They fitted new worktops to replace the old green speckly laminate, plumbed in a new stainless steel sink, hung a new door, replaced the old tiles and tiled the back of the chimney breast arch.

The arch is my favourite bit! It looks lovely and it’s really practical having tiles there because it’s where we do all our chopping and food prep.

I added some shelves so that I can keep my cook-books in the kitchen and free up space elsewhere. I love these brackets from B&Q which double up as bookends and the shelves are made of wood from old palettes which I sanded down and waxed.

I painted the walls, ceiling, woodwork and radiator in Farrow & Ball Ammonite. It’s a warm off white, which looks almost grey in some lights and beige in others. It’s really brightened up the room and made it feel bigger.

We kept the same cupboards, and the doors look fabulous in their new shade of Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue. I also painted the shiny silver door knobs black using Hammerite metal paint (which worked out cheaper than replacing them all).

I still don’t quite feel like it’s our kitchen! It was well worth the many hours of sanding and re-coating the cupboard doors. It feels like a proper kitchen!

Utility Room – From Mouldy to Marvelous

I wasn’t sure whether to write this blog… because it involves showing you pictures of our mouldy utility room. But I decided to share because I’m really happy with our marvelous new utility room and I love “before & after” home images!

So I’m going to start with the reasons (excuses) for living with a mouldy utility room for much longer than I want to admit…

After I last decorated this room we had two washing machine related floods. Our standpipe is a bit short and in an awkward position making it difficult to to get the pipe from the washing machine in the right position. Too far down and the water backed up and overflowed, too high up and the pipe can pop out.

These floods ruined the lovely wooden floor my Dad had laid (but he had also plumbed in the washing machine to be fair…). We tried to save it but it just wouldn’t dry out and the wood was badly warped. So Dad helped me to tile the floor and we now have a contraption to keep the washing machine pipe in place!

But these floods in an unheated room and leaving the floor sitting damp for weeks in an attempt to save it – meant that black mould crept in.

We also had water leaking in through the back wall at one point. Luckily it was nothing major – just minor issues with some wonky guttering, some re-pointing that needed doing and a broken slab sitting on top of our corner chimney stack. Fixing the issues stopped the water coming in but left us with more damp and areas where the top layer of plaster was just crumbling away if you touched the wall.

So that leads me on to why I left it for so long!

There are two reasons. Firsty – I knew it was a huge job and wanted to wait until we had some time to do it properly. It’s a storage room with a lot of stuff in it so getting everything out meant the rest of the house was a mess and we needed to know we could do the job fairly quickly.

Secondly – we don’t live in there! We store things in there and walk through the room to get to the back garden but we don’t sit in there and look around. It’s surprisingly easy to ignore the damp and crumbling walls if you’re not sitting and looking at them.

We’re planning to do a lot of decorating this year and telling ourselves that we’re not allowed to do the fun rooms until we’ve done the utility room motivated us to find the time.

Beardie did a fantastic job with some pretty toxic black mould cleaner and sandpaper (wearing a mask & goggles… health & safety first!) and got rid of the worst of the black mould (below left).

Then Dad stepped in and taught me how to plaster. It was only the top layer that was coming away, so we just needed to skim it… but I officially love plastering and am sort of hoping I need to do more when we decorate the kitchen!

I didn’t get a decent picture of just the plastering – but you can see the beautifully smooth re-plastered corner (above right) with a coat on damp-seal on it.

Before & After

The newly waxed cupboard and pallet shelves give us much more practical storage and we no longer have the garden cushions falling on our heads whenever we open a cupboard door!

Look… no mould!

Less cluttered hooks after moving our larger reusable bags and my yoga mat to the new pallet shelves.

And most importantly – Noodle loves his new window. As we haven’t put a blind up yet he has a fantastic view of the fence!

We used Little Greene Intelligent Matt Emulsion in Air Force Blue and it easily covered in 2 coats.

Pallet Shelves

Project house re-juj is in full swing! We had glorious weather over the Easter weekend so I finished waxing our new cabinet and built some shelves in the sunshine.

After taking apart an old pallet I acquired from my neighbour, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wood and how lovely it looked when sanded down and waxed. I decided it would be perfect for some shelving in our utility room.

I’m rubbish at taking photos while I’m doing DIY. Partly because my hands are messy, but mostly because I’m having too much fun and I forget! So I did a lot in between the last and the next photo…

There was a fair amount of making it up as I went along, but I worked out the size beforehand based on what we would be keeping on the shelves, the space we have and also the lengths of the planks. I even used my set square!

I made the top shelf deeper because this is where we’ll be storing our garden bench cushions… it looks a bit odd without the cushions on it.

The finishing touches were a cross brace at the back to make it sturdier and of course… wax!

It’s exactly what we need and there’s even space for more stuff if needed – I think my yoga mat will fit on the top shelf as well.

After waxing I started to wonder I preferred the pale wood… but it matches the cabinet it will be sitting next to and I think the dark wood will look lovely against the new blue walls (when we paint them…).

The wood really does look gorgeous and rustic!

I bought some more wax and one piece of wood for the cross brace – but apart from that the whole thing is made from a reclaimed pallet and bits & bobs I already had.

I can’t wait to get paint on the walls and get everything back in! Did you do any bank holiday DIY?

A New Hobby

I won’t keep you in suspense… my new hobby is waxing wood!

After doing a lot of work in the garden over the last few summers: putting up a new fence, building a wall, steps & patio area and more recently putting in raised beds and creating new paths in the veg garden…. the house has been somewhat neglected and I have big decorating & DIY plans for this summer!

I’m starting with the room most desperately in need – the utility room. It’s needed redecorating for a long time but as we don’t spend much time in there it’s easy to ignore.

The first thing I need to do is sort out storage. We bought an Ikea Ivar cabinet to replace our two tatty and sagging wall units and I also had a vague plan to build some shelving alongside this using some old pallets I had lurking in the outhouse – but I wasn’t sure if the wood would be good enough.

I can confirm that pallets are very well made and quite difficult to break down! I acquired many splinters but was left with a pile of good quality (if a little rustic) wood.

Whilst digging the pallets out of the outhouse, I took the opportunity to have a tidy up and unearthed a sample pot of Annie Sloan Soft Wax.

It says it’s to be applied on top of paint, but I thought I’d give it a go directly on my pallet wood and it’s beautiful!

The piece on the left is the original wood, the centre is sanded and on the right is waxed. It still looks rustic but the finish is gorgeous – the was brings out the grain and makes it soft and smooth to touch.

I liked it so much that I thought I’d give it a try on the pine cabinet – starting with an inner shelf in case it didn’t look good!

And again… I love it! The finish is more brown than the pallet wood but they still look good together and I really like the finish.

My sample pot of soft wax was really old and it doesn’t look like it’s available to buy anymore – I think the Chalk Paint Wax is probably the equivalent. I haven’t used it as instructed at all – but it seems to be doing the job!

I’m really enjoying the process of waxing. There’s something very relaxing about spending time smoothing the wax into each piece and watching it change. Also – it smells blooming lovely!

 

Crafty Storage

OfficeDrawers1

I love finding out where and how people store their yarn stash – but I would also love to know where you keep all your other crafty ‘stuff’!

DrawDisplayI think we probably all stand united in our love of small boxes, tins and purses for keeping needles, stitch markers etc – but where do you keep your medium sized stuff?

I’m rather pleased with my Ikea drawers. I painted them the same colour as the walls in my knitting room and they’re crammed full with ribbons, pom pom makers, buttons and tapestry wool.

They also came in very handy as display props at Yarndale! The individual drawers made good display boxes for my printed patterns and smaller knitted samples – I also stacked some up to create height.

I’ve always been jealous of my Dad’s garage storage, with his organised bits & bobs drawers and wall of tools.

When Dad came over in the summer to help with putting up our new fence – he arrived with some neat boxes, full of everything we needed, with nails organised by size in yoghurt pots. He probably knew that although I have lots of tools – I can never find them in my huge disorganised box of DIY ‘stuff’!

To have a house big enough to be able to hang my tools on the wall and find things would be a dream! But I do have a bit of space in my utility room and decided to was time for a sort out.

The Ikea drawers were perfect, so I bought a small set for bits & bobs and some larger ones for tools etc. I painted them with chalkboard paint, which covered really easily. I was relieved I didn’t need a second coat because the fumes nearly knocked me out! I used a liquid chalk pen, which was less messy than chalk and I think will stay put better as it needs a damp cloth to wipe it off.

It’s absolutely lovely knowing where everything is and not having to rummage! Where do you keep your crafty ‘stuff’?

Crafty Garden

I’ve been in a bit of a slump for the last couple of weeks and this week I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is. I’ve reached the conclusion that, although I’m pretty good at dealing with change – I’m not great at anticipating change!

I always feel a bit down in August/September and it tends to coincide with a change in the weather. I love Autumn and I’m ready to embrace it – but it’s not quite in full swing yet. I do struggle with the transition from spending all my spare time in the garden, to cosying up on the sofa. I feel like I’m on the cusp of a new season, a busy time and lots of change!

I think I’m finding it particularly difficult this year because I’ve really made the most of the summer and done a huge amount of work in the garden. I always feel a bit of an anti-climax when I finish something. It’s often a few months before I learn to love a finished knit, and when I decorate a room I have to live in it for a while before it feels right. I think all the hard work in the garden will pay off next spring!

I have a typical little terraced house, but I’m lucky enough to have two gardens! The front garden is my veg patch and the back ‘yard’ is where I sit to relax, eat, work and think.

Above is a little reminder of how it looked earlier this year. I had a very wonky fence that fell down on windy days, a bench I couldn’t sit on because the wood had rotted and an old bureau which I wanted to turn into a mini-greenhouse. Dad had already built me some lovely shed doors, I’d moved some slabs around to make a curved path and planted some ‘weeds’ for ground-cover in shady spots, which I was hoping would fill the gaps and eventually cover the edges of the old slabs.

I now have a beautiful new teal fence, a renovated bench with all new wood, a mini-greenhouse, almost finished shed doors (they still need handles), a freshly painted back wall and a lovely patch of weeds. Most importantly – the neighbours cat approves!

The biggest job for me was painting the fence. Two coats per side, plus three coats on the posts was a lot! Dad has been a HUGE help with putting up the fence (not a one woman job), renovating the bench and building the shed doors. I think I’m most proud of the greenhouse because I did it all myself and it looks great.

So next year the plan is to build some steps and raise the back section to create a flat seating area and make a new gate. I think I’ll need to move dad in for the summer!

I hope you’re not having a post-summer slump? Not long now until we can fully embrace Autumn!

Crafty Gardening – The Mini Greenhouse

I used to find it very difficult to keep on top of the garden jobs and still find time to relax with my knitting in the evening. Years of not getting round to the big jobs have resulted in a rather wild garden!

The bugs would often get to my fruit and veg before I had time to pick it, my post-people would get attached to the overgrown rambling rose and the BT man fell through the rotten wood of my bench when leaning on it to check some wires (he was worried I was going to sue them for breaking my bench!). My fence has fallen down every winter for the last few years, and as I haven’t had time to replace it I’ve just been sawing off the rotten ends of the posts and putting them back in the other way!

With things a bit quieter through the summer months this year,  I have the luxury of time to get some big jobs done –  although I don’t have the luxury of lots of money so I’m sticking to a budget and doing some up-cycling.

I’m covered in scratches from cutting things back, but the garden is looking so much better already. I’ve called in the expert (Dad) for some of the bigger jobs and he’s already built new shed doors, started work on replacing the wood on my rotten bench and will be helping me to install a new fence and build steps to create a raised seating area in the sloped back yard.

In the meantime – I’ve been working on up-cycling an old bureau, which has been living in the shed for years, to create a mini greenhouse. I’ve run out of space on my windowsill so I need somewhere warm to get seedlings started and maybe attempt pepper growing.

I looked into buying a mini-greenhouse but all the reviews seemed to say they were very rickety and only lasted one summer. For the same price I have transformed my old bureau into a really sturdy little coldframe/greenhouse.

Ta dah!

mini greenhouse

I’m so excited about getting the new fence up and all the other big jobs. It’s going to be a lovely garden to sit in with a glass of wine and my knitting…it’ll be well worth all the hard work!

Crafty Plans

Now that dad’s renovated my lovely Ercol armchair and the strapping is done, I’m desperate to make the cushions so that I can actually sit in it!

This might be a slow process because I have an awful lot of knitting to do (still secret – sorry). But I love planning a project as much as I love the making process.

If I’m feeling a bit down, nothing cheers me up as much as looking through my knitting books and shade cards. I love emptying a box of yarn or fabric onto the floor and playing around with colours and patterns. I find thinking about and planning projects almost meditative. It’s very difficult to do nothing and even more difficult to think about nothing! But planning a new project forces me to focus my mind on one thing, which is easier than completely switching off, but better than a busy brain.

So – I’ve got the foam ready for the seat pad, a squishy cushion for the back of the chair and a pile of beautiful Parson Gray fabrics.

The armchair lives in my workroom, which also doubles up as my boyfriend’s gaming room. Luckily we have similar tastes and I chose greys and greens for the room. A patchwork of Parson Gray fabrics will fit in beautifully!

What projects are you planning at the moment?