It's finished ! The kitchen / dining room Renovation

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 When we moved into this house ten years ago this month, life seemed like it couldn't possibly get any worse.  We had lost our main source of income, I was on maternity leave with six month old twins and we were in so much debt we couldn't possibly imagine a way out.  Our only option was to sell our beautiful large house, downsize and try to start again.   Today thanks to our determination, hard work and resourcefulness we in a much better place.  

All those times I sat among the chaos and mess imagining what my kitchen/dining room would look like if only we could afford the money to remove the wall and now, ten years after moving in, I am sat on my sofa in a beautiful room typing this blog post.  Never give up on your dreams, you really can make them come true.


 This really is how the dining room used to look most of the time.  Piled high with stock from my various ventures.  All in an attempt to make us money to live and to slowly renovate our home on a very tight budget.


 I would sit for hours on my laptop in a space I hated, trying to think of ways to make money, putting on a brave face but never giving up.  It took many years for us to claw our way out of the hell we were in.  Many times having so little money for food and robbing Peter to pay Paul but always dreaming of a better future.  We are still not out of the woods but we are certainly "back on track" .  We even managed to have our first family holiday, taking the boys to Spain for their first ever holiday two years ago. So yes, when people tell you you should not be spending money you can't afford on holidays or even a new dress, chair, whatever your "luxury" is.  I say you absolutely should !  For the sake of your sanity, sometimes you have to say "sod it" and do it.

 
We finally got to a place where we had some "disposable" income.  What a stupid word that is.  My mother and step father were in a position that they were able to loan us the money to employ a builder to take the wall down and replace the ancient boiler so we went for it.  See how the kitchen and dining room looked before HERE 


and now here we are. 

Every single time I walk into this room I want to cry with joy !  We have come so very far together as a family and for me this room is my catharsis.  We have overcome so much in the last ten years.  This room represents what we are capable of achieving.  How hard we have worked both emotionally and physically.

AND I LOVE IT !


I am so lucky to have an amazing husband who is incredible at DIY and we certainly couldn't have got this result without paying a huge amount to someone else to do it if it wasn't for his skill.  Mind you it took us about six months to buy the flooring.  A couple of packs at a time as we had the spare cash.  At £26 a pack the total cost of the flooring was around £800 ! 


The cupboard housing my collection of crockery was an old wardrobe we picked up for the bargain price of £40.  We took the mirror out of the front, replaced it with chicken wire and painted it white to make it look like an old French style armoire.  The chair was picked up at a bootsale for now more than £10, painted and distressed and recovered in grey ticking.


I was able to buy the table and chairs after hosting a Christmas sale in my home last year.  Where friends came and shopped.  I sold my old table and chairs to a friend and lots of the stock from my shop.  With the proceeds I bought these beauties !



We decided to leave the kitchen units for now.  The original kitchen was the one room we had no choice but to replace when we moved into the house ten years ago.  It was a tiny space with a huge walk in pantry.  Totally unsuitable for a family of five.  You can see what it looked like on our House Renovation page HERE 
I wanted to remove these white gloss units and wooden counters to have a concrete topped new units but we realised this was an unnecessary expense for now.  Hopefully in the future.



I truly love this space now.  We moved our corner sofa out of the living room to complete the look of the dream I had in my head for all those years.  We are now on the lookout for the perfect sofa for the living room. 



We have so much SPACE now !  and we are back to sitting around the table for meals.  I love that we can cook, talk, sit and eat all together now.


My view from the sofa.  We love the original 1930's french doors to the garden.  Don't think we will ever change them even though they are a bit drafty.


We found the door at the recycling centre.  The sliding barn door into the utility room my husband made for me.  You can also see that post on the house renovation page.

It took ten years,

but now looking back,

it was worth it

xxxx


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Iconic Lights - Poul Christiansen Style Light

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 I have to admit to having a bit of a "thing" about beautiful light fittings.  They really are the finishing touch to a room.  No matter how much time or money you spend on your home, if you don't get the lighting right it can ruin the overall look.  So when the lovely people from Iconic Lights contacted me recently and asked if I would like to become a Brand Ambassador, well, what could I say !


Iconic Lights have a vast selection of lighting to suit every taste.  Launching just 3 years they have rocketed to success selling high quality lighting designs at affordable prices.

Some Brand info : 

Founded alongside the LSE Retail Group offering high quality Iconic, Stylish, Innovative, Classic & Cutting Edge lighting designs. The guys behind LSE Retail found that there was a gap in the market for such high quality lighting designs, sold at affordable prices. Iconic lights appeals to the individual consumer looking for stylish lighting for their home as well as specialising in supplying interior designers, architects and developers with bespoke lighting designs for their own projects.




As I am a total white fiend, it was only natural I was drawn towards the stunning Poul Christensen inspired ceiling shade Scandinavian influence is strong in this beautiful, large shade.  It came fully assembled and simple to hang.  It is made from cut sections of PVC which are intricately folded to produce this designer style shade.



I love how it looks in my bedroom.  It creates a real focal point and brings the room right up to date with its clean, fresh lines.


Like a work of art in itself, it looks perfect when unlit.  When lit, its truly something else !  I love it.


Perfect from any angle .


Many thanks to the team at Iconic Lights for this beauty !  I am really looking forward to seeing what else they have in store for me in the future.  Do pop over to their website at www.iconiclights.co.uk for a browse of their huge range of lighting.



I am part of the iconic lighting Brand Ambassador programme
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Art for art's sake

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Art for art's sake, what does that line even mean ?  It is attributed to a Frenchman in the early 19th Century who adopted it as a slogan. The literal meaning of which goes over my head I'm afraid.  I had the paintings and prints in my home mentioned by a visitor recently, as varied and tasteful.  Which made me start thinking about the different times in my life they were purchased.





The original painting above is by local South West artist Glyn Macey.  I remember my husband and I had just returned from our honeymoon and were moving into our new home.  I wanted to splash out on a once in a lifetime piece of artwork befitting of our beautiful new house.  As soon as I saw this wonderful painting hanging in a gallery in Exeter I knew I had to have it, it was perfect.  Expensive, but perfect.  It has remained with us through good times and bad and now hangs in our forever home giving me joy every day.


Going back to the honeymoon, we happened upon a beautiful, quaint town in Florida.  It was actually scarily perfect with tree lined streets, perfect shutter window houses, immaculate parks and beautiful one off independent shops.  There was even the most wonderful Tiffany museum.  Whilst wandering around the town we came across an art gallery/shop with the most beautiful window display and couldn't resist popping in.  With warnings from my husband that our suitcases were already fit to burst for the trip home I just had to have the three prints above.  By the artist and storyteller Brian Andreas they each described perfectly what my husband and son meant to me at that time and how I felt about myself.

For my son Jacob.- Quiet Pride


For my Husband Nigel - good jumper


For myself - no more Secrets

I remember when the work of Doug Hyde another South West artist became popular and my husband and I were invited to a launch of his work at a local gallery in Exeter.  We got to meet the artist and he was a truly lovely man, with time to talk and interesting too.  His work was all about his family and family life.  I was determined we were just going to look and not buy.  Yep, well that worked !  I took one look at the limited edition print below and was smitten.



Sorry for the terrible photograph.  Called small, medium and large I felt it was our family at the time.  Nigel, me and Jacob and just fell in love with it.  These days it hangs above the stairs in our home and we tell the boys it is them.  Jacob, Milo and Jarvis ! 



I didn't buy any more art for many years until I started selling my own vintage homewares at craft shows and fairs.  At one of these events I came across the wonderful work of local artist Linda Bartlett.  I was supposed to be selling my bits and bobs to make some extra cash but couldn't resist buying this beautiful ethereal original piece.  Its very hard to show it in a photograph but it is almost ghostlike in quality and the paleness is what I was drawn to.  Linda overlaid the painting with tissue paper which gives a wonderful depth and feeling to the painting.


Several years later when I owned my own shop I was fortunate to be given a painting by Linda when she sold her work from my shop.  She didn't like the piece, but I love it.  I think it really sums up the beautiful little harbour towns in and around the South West.


Finally, having no spare cash these days to buy art. I had a dabble myself ! This huge canvas hangs above the bed in our bedroom bringing a splash of colour to our all white room.  I was so pleased with how it turned out but certainly don't think I am ANY kind of artist !

Art for art's sake.......

Its whatever you want it to be.
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Slim Pickings !

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I don't know if its because I am no longer looking to buy stock to sell or because there just wasn't much around today, but for the first time ever I came away from the bootsale with hardly any treasure.  Not impressed having dragged myself out of bed at 5.15 this morning !


I did find this vintage crock bed warmer that had been painted white and given a pretty decoupage heart.  Lovely condition and a steal at just £2.  I'm going to use it as a door stop for my bedroom door which refuses to stay open.


How many times have I said this "I LOVE BUYING FROM MEN" Seriously !  THEY GIVE STUFF AWAY !  Next up this gorgeous Portmeirion Botanic Blue Jug.  Absolutely immaculate and soooo pretty.  50p !!! 50p !!! What was he thinking ! 50p !  I ALMOST told him to keep the change from the £1 !


So Pretty.  Looks lovely in my kitchen and there it will stay, oh yes it will !






I am always on the lookout for baskets or wooden crates.  I have a little obsession going on.  Snatched this huge log basket up for £4 !  Great for all the apples ready for picking at the moment from the old apple tree in our garden.




Going to keep this basket in the house, not sure what to store in it as we have no open fires in our home but love the Rustic look of it.  Its, clearly been around for a while.

So that was it !  Nothing else found today.  I was a bit reluctant to leave the bootsale convinced that I must be missing the treasure and that SOMEBODY must have something.  But, no after several trips around the market nothing else appeared so off home I went.

 As I needed to go food shopping I thought I would also pop into The Vintage Trading Centre on Marsh Barton.  I hadn't had my fix of bargain hunting and I usually find an unusual treasure or two in there.  I wasn't disappointed.  Found this little darling.


LOVE IT ! Solid wood vintage rack with immaculate ceramic and wood canisters for Tea, Coffee and Sugar.

So, all was not lost.

Maybe better luck next week (although hubby was pleased as we have just got the house decluttered ).
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Slipping Through My Fingers

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For Jacob

Schoolbag in hand, he leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch him go with a surge of that well known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I'm losing him forever
And without really entering his world
I'm glad whenever I can share his laughter
That funny little boy

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in his mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
He keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, he and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake I let precious time go by
Then when he's gone, there's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did, but most we didn't
And why, I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in his mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
He keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
(Slipping through my fingers)
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Schoolbag in hand, he leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
 
Miss my little boy
 
(apologies to Abba for changing the lyrics)
 
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Recreating the Vintage Appearance of Your Period Property

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                       image #Pinterest


Three Top Tips for Recreating the Vintage Appearance of Your Period Property

Period properties have a charm that simply cannot be emulated. The cumulative effect of a hundred or more years of rain dashing against the stones,
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Video of the Utility Room Barn Door

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My first attempt at adding a video to my blog.  I have no idea how to make it bigger so any advice would be gratefully received !  Please excuse the shocking Birmingham accent but do admire the amazing hand crafted skill of my husband.
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Fenn Wright Manson Rosmarin Dress

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Is there any better feeling than a beautifully wrapped parcel arriving in the post !  I was recently thrilled to be offered my pick of the Fenn Wright Manson website.  So many beautiful dresses, which one should I choose ?  I finally settled on the stunning Rosmarin Dress, white, of course.  It arrived super fast and beautifully boxed and wrapped in tissue.



The Rosmarin dress is made from vintage style luxury lace in a delicate floral pattern.  A classic shift style, it suits any shape.  It has a clever Grosgrain ribbon trim running down the front and around the waist which gives the dress a lovely silhouette and for someone like me who suffers from a lack of waistline, really nips you in and defines your figure.





I love the detail at the hemline .


Sheer sleeves with scalloped edging. Pretty and feminine.  The dress is fully lined and no hint of underwear showing through which is a must when wearing white.


This dress is perfect for summer events, days out or even weddings.  I think though you might need to add a touch of colour so you don't upstage the bride !  Its a timeless style that would also suit any age .  If you pop over to the Fenn Wright Manson website, it is currently also on Sale !

Thank you once again to the lovely people at Fenn Wright Manson for sending me this delightful dress.

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The Utility Room Renovation - Finished

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It's done ! Finally enough cash and time have allowed my very clever husband to finish the utility room.  You can see how it all began HERE and followed up HERE .  I am so thrilled with the end result and reckon we could give any DIY Makeover programme a run for their money. The utility room started life as an outside toilet and coal shed.  When we bought the house they were enclosed with  just a small conservatory tagged onto the back of the house.  We lived for ten years with a cold, damp space for our second toilet, a boiler that broke down all the time and nowhere except for our radiators to dry damp clothes.

NOT ANYMORE !!!


The handmade (by hubby - post to follow) Barn door slides open to reveal a great space for the washing machine, hanging space for socks, pants,smalls etc and storage of laundry basket and washing powders.  This used to be the entrance to the first outside shed and housed our old boiler.



We decided to take up the old wooden flooring and lay these beautiful slate grey tiles from Homebase.  Running the tiles through into the utility room makes for a much more stylish and seamless look.  These were budget tiles (you can see details in the previous posts) but they are really good quality and are a dream to keep clean with dirty feet coming in and out of the garden all the time.


The view through the door !  I LOVE IT ! My hubby did an amazing job. New toilet ! We now have 3 toilets.  That should be enough with four men in the house.  The shelving is from IKEA and the black and white photo art I made myself.  See the post on how easy it was HERE




It was really important to me to make the most of the small space.  A priority was to have somewhere to hang washing to dry when the weather was bad.  With my almost finished new kitchen dining room I did not want to go back to having wet clothes draped all over radiators around the house.  We found this fantastic modular system again at IKEA that you can build as many or as few shelves, baskets rails etc that you want.  Its perfect for what I wanted to do.    Because its a small space I wanted to make good use of as much of the wall space as possible, so put the broom and dustpan and brush on the wall.  The bag from The White Company holds old towels and rags for cleaning the floor and shoes .



Another thing that irritates me is chargers and plugs in EVERY socket around my home so insisted we had what we now call a  "charging station" ha!  Plug sockets and a shelf but it did the job.   It didn't take long to train them all to put their phones and tablets on charge in the Utility room.


Loads of storage baskets for balls and smelly shoes.




The new boiler is boxed in and has its own magnetic catch door for easy access.

That's it !

 All finished and an absolute dream of a space now.  


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