Painting internal uPVC window frames

Happy new year, friends! I hope you have all had a lovely break and feeling ready to take on 2023. I think I can count on one hand how many blog posts I wrote in 2022 but I hope to do a lot more this year, especially whilst I am studying at KLC School of Design until the summer. I spent my Christmas break painting our living room so be prepared for a few updates on here, starting with the windows…

I have spent a long four years staring at the horrible plastic window frames and doors in our living room. We inherited all of them and they would never be our first choice but they are very practical, do not need replacing and we definitely do not have the budget to replace them. Therefore, I decided at the end of last year, whilst I had a break from college, it was about time that I gave them a little glow up.

I have long been a proponent of painting uPVC since we did our front door the first year we moved to the house. It has withstood so much battering, dog claw scraping, scooter bumping so I know it is a good long term solution. My experience of using Ronseal’s All Purpose Primer on the front door has been nothing but positive (I collaborated with them on that project) so they were my first port of call for this new project. I asked them to send me a new tin of the primer and it has worked a treat, again!

As with most painting projects preparation is absolutely key and definitely will take the majority of the time. Once the cleaning, sanding and priming is done, the painting itself is pretty easy. And I hope you agree it is well worth the effort. For me, one of the biggest benefits of painting uPVC is getting rid of the shiny plastic so whatever colour you choose just applying paint makes it look better and gives it more of a feel of painted timber. However, my advice to you is to choose a dark colour if you really want to make it look less like uPVC as this is what disguises the tell tale chunky plastic frames and unpleasant joints. The shadows created by the block like frames disappear with dark paint and it all looks much more cohesive.

Anyhoo, here are the simple steps to painting uPVC – DO NOT skip any of these as there’s only one thing worse than plastic frames and that is chipped painted plastic frames.

You will need:

Primer, cloth, 120 grit sandpaper, eggshell topcoat, paint brush, mini roller, paint scraper.

I have used:

Ronseal All Purpose Primer (PR Product)

The Tobacconist eggshell

Paint scraper (I wouldn’t recommend this as a great product – it works but I worry the blade blunts very easily. It was what I had so I used it but you can get better alternatives.)

  1. Choose a mild day that isn’t too hot, too cold or wet so that you can leave your windows/doors open (I did mine in the middle of the cold snap so I couldn’t open the windows so I still haven’t finished parts of them).
  2. Wash down the plastic really thoroughly and dry off.
  3. Lightly sand every part of the frames that you plan paint. Use 120 grit. Hoover the frames to remove all sanding dust.
  4. Apply one thin, even coat of primer with a brush ensuring you cover every part of the frames but don’t heap it on. Don’t worry about taping the windows, you can paint primer onto the glass itself as it will scrape off very easily at the end. Technically, you can paint over the primer in four hours but leaving it to dry overnight is better in my book (this is not a job you can get done in a day).
  5. Choose an eggshell paint that is intended for interior wood or metal for your topcoat. To all intents and purposes the primer turns your plastic surface into a wood surface so you now can paint your frames as though they are timber. Apply a very thin first coat of eggshell with a small soft brush – the patchier the better! You want to build up two or three thin coats to give it a nice strong finish. I leave each coat to dry overnight and then it needs a few days to completely dry before you can put things on window sills etc. Again, don’t worry about the paint going on the glass as this will easily scrape off and you will get a much better finish by painting all the way to the edge of each frame and onto the glass than taping the windows will give you. Also, a mini foam roller will be your best friend to give a lovely even coat but don’t be scared of brush strokes – they make it look even less like plastic!
  6. Use a paint scraper to remove the excess paint on the glass – you should end up with a really neat finish this way.
  7. Replace hardware to improve the overall looks of the windows. UPVC require specialist handles/locks as the lock mechanism is different. Try The Door Handle Company for some really good options.

I’m really thrilled with the topcoat colour that I’ve chosen, The Tobacconist, which is a very dark bronzey green. It has none of the harshness of black or graphite as it’s full of warm bronze undertones. Also, because it is a very dark colour it helps to blur the lines between all the joins and layers of plastic to make the windows and French doors more streamline.

I need to replace the handle to the door and I need to finish the new curtains I am making but this really feels so, so different.

What we inherited…

Look forward to showing you more of the room now that I have nearly finished giving it a makeover.

Katy x

Making cafe curtains for a bay window

When we first moved in to our house nearly four years ago the first thing we did was put up two sheer blinds we had brought from our flat and bought two more for the big bay window in our sitting room that overlooks the street. Our road is a dead end with the entrance to a park so although there is no traffic there’s quite a lot of footfall and every other person turns to look in through the window so some privacy felt much needed. However, the blinds were always meant to be an interim measure for a few reasons: 1) I find them quite sterile and cold feeling 2) If you want privacy they have to be pulled all the way down and I dislike not being able to see any of the window or the sky 3) They are completely opaque during the day but not at night – they only offer a soft blur once the lights go on in the evenings.

I’m sure there are a lot of people in a similar boat who live on a terraced street with minimal front garden so I hope you find this post helpful as I think cafe curtains are a really great solution to the problem of wanting to allow in light whilst still having privacy. The thing I like most about cafe curtains is the fact that they are hung across the window so that I can still see sky. This makes the room feel so much more open and the quality of light when the curtains are drawn is much nicer as natural light is mixed with the diffused light that comes in through the curtains. The other big bonus is that I used curtain rings so that I can draw them completely if I want to, which I do do most days as I actually really like being able to look out especially when I’m working at the dining table during the day. I hated the dull diffused light of the sheer blinds that were almost always pulled all the way down as rolling four blinds up and down was a pain.

These were the blinds we put up as an interim measure (nearly four years ago!!). They were cold and sterile and gave total privacy during the day but none at night. These are John Lewis’s Sheer Blinds.
I much prefer being able to see the sky above the curtains and the softness the fabric adds to the window. I will hang Roman blinds at the top of the window eventually.

I chose the fabric of the curtains very carefully and it required a lot of fabric samples as I needed the curtains to allow lots of light in whilst being opaque at night. Ultimately we will have a set of Roman blinds over the cafe curtains for the evenings but I know that may take a while as they’re expensive therefore my priority was finding a fabric that would give us complete privacy in the evenings. I found a linen from Merchant and Mills that ticked all the boxes and wasn’t too pricey and although not the prettiest linen I was happy to compromise for the other important qualities. The fabric is Tumbled Linen Warm White and I bought 5 metres for my window. The sewing job is an easy one it’s just awkward as the pieces of fabric are so large so unless you have a full size sewing table it’s tricky cutting to size. But other than that it’s just a case of hemming the fabric once you have decided whether you want gathered curtains or a more simple panel. I decided to go for fitted panels as I knew I would want to draw the curtains on a daily basis so I didn’t want too much fabric gathered at the side of each window. One tip I would pass on is to wash the fabric before making the curtains as linen will shrink so your perfectly fitted panels will no longer be perfectly fitted after a wash.

I bought curtain poles from East London Cloth as they are lovely and slim and the brackets fit my square window perfectly, which is very tricky to find. I chose the least expensive brass cafe curtain pole and I’m really happy with them – do go and have a look at the site for some beautiful cafe curtain inspiration. East London Cloth also sell beautiful linen curtains or fabric by the metre if your budget is bigger than mine. I teamed the poles with some very inexpensive antique brass curtain rings so that I can draw the curtains really easily and the combo works brilliantly. I have four rings for each 50cm side panel and eight rings for each 120cm middle panel.

Our windows are uPVC and they were in the house when we bought it. They wouldn’t be my choice but they are in really good condition and work extremely well so for now I want to make the best of them. I was happy to screw the curtain poles straight into the plastic as I know this will be a very long term window treatment and I will be painting the window frames green very soon, which will make the curtains look even better. If you are interested in painting uPVC have a look at my previous blog post Painting a uPVC Front Door.

I hope this is useful – do let me know if you have any questions.

Katy x

The finished IKEA PAX hack wardrobes

As promised, here are pictures of our PAX wardrobes now they have been hacked and painted. If you missed it I shared how we hacked our PAX wardrobes last week and although it was a long process for us – mostly because we customised the door fronts – it has been so worth it.

The concern most people have when they opt for built-in wardrobes is losing a sense of space. However, I would say the opposite is actually true. When you add free standing furniture to a room, especially in a small room, it is the gaps between the furniture and the walls that they stand against that can make a room feel disjointed and cramped. For example, when we had built the wardrobes and had not started the boxing in process the room felt a lot smaller suddenly. This was because the gaps between the sides of the wardrobes and the alcove walls as well as the tops of the wardrobes and the ceiling created horrible gaps and resulting shadows that made the room suddenly feel higgledy piggledy and as I looked around the room my eye just didn’t know what to look at first as there were so many awkward shapes and lines. The moment they were boxed in the room felt calm and cohesive again.

I chose to paint the wardrobes Shaded White, which is ever so slightly darker than the School House White on the walls. It allows the wardrobes to disappear into the walls but the slightly darker tone provides just enough contrast. I just LOVE how light and calm this room is now. When I come into the room it is like walking into a big dreamy cloud. The black fireplace, Inchyra Blue door (when open from the hallway) and a few dots of colour from cushions, plants and the Jitney woodwork are just enough points of contrast for all the neutral paintwork.

I chose to add the corner cupboard rather than having two alcove wardrobes as I really wanted as much storage as possible. Yes, I could have had a a chest of drawers or dressing table along that wall instead but in such a small room it would have been impossible to fill this space with anything that gives me as much storage as the PAX does.

We are so pleased with how the cupboards have turned out. Believe it or not we still haven’t fully organised the interiors so I will have to show you those at a slightly later date when they are finished (quite a lot of just stuffing things in is the current situation. But for those of you wondering, the first cupboard on the left is a shelf with a mirror that acts as a dressing table area with drawers below it for makeup and drawers for underwear. The second cupboard is forward facing hanging, the third cupboard is half shelves and half drawers and then the cupboard in the alcove, which is the deepest is all hanging with high shelves at the top. I will show all soon but it is amazing what it can fit!

I’m very pleased with how little floor space the cupboards take up as we were able to to choose 35cm depth frames for the left hand wall so when I enter the room the cupboards do not feel obstructive.

The big issue I was left with covering so much wall space with the wardrobes and not having any other furniture in the room besides bedside tables was the lighting. I had always had a lamp in the alcove, which combined with the two low hanging pendants over the bedside tables was a perfect amount of light for this small room where I never ever need overhead lights. Therefore, I had to consider wall lights on the chimney breast but this would be a big expense for the light fittings and getting them wired in. So I decided a good option would be to find a small lamp to sit on the very shallow fire surround – a pretty difficult challenge, I can tell you. I did find one from John Lewis (they no longer sell it unfortunately) that fits perfectly as it has an irregular sized shade and luckily I love it, especially the plum coloured base. It was only £55 so this was definitely the least expensive way of dealing with the issue as well as the least hassle and it emits the perfect amount of light for the room. We took a hole out of the side of the wardrobe frame and box so we could plug it in where we have an existing plug hole in the alcove (we made sure all of our plug sockets are exposed by cutting our notches in the cupboard frames).

Jules’s cupboard is on the right side of the room and fits into the alcove but is only 35cm deep as there is so little space between the cupboard and the end of the bed. Jules was concerned that having no symmetry between the two sets of cupboards would look strange but it really isn’t a problem, in my opinion because of the colours we have used. Yes, one set of cupboards is deeper than the other, neither set are central within the alcove and the left hand set has a massive 15cm gap that required boxing in but I really think the boxing in process has smoothed out all of those differences and has made it all look very cohesive.

I took these photos on a very dull day and just as I had finished the sun came out and poured into the room so i took a pic of the the window and I think this gives you a really good sense of just how small the room is.

We’re super pleased and I will follow up with more about the interiors and costs!

Katy x

DIY desk for child’s bedroom

Firstly, I want to say a big hello and I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the blog for so long. Unfortunately, the blog was hacked back in May and it took a long time to restore it (there are still a lot of images missing) and then I took the summer off whilst Mimi was on holiday before she started primary school a couple of weeks ago. I’m not quite sure how we have got to the primary school stage but there you go! Anyhoo, I hope you are all well and I look forward to updating you on what we have been up to in our house and some of the projects I have been working on for clients.

We struggled with Mimi’s room throughout the pandemic as we had planned to update it for her changing needs from toddler to child just before the first lockdown but then got stuck with everything closed etc etc so it became a real mish mash over the last eighteen months. We finally got it together to sort it out, minus the high bed she really wants but I reckon that will make a good Christmas present.

The biggest issues were needing somewhere to put all her trinkets, papers, toys as well as somewhere to sit and draw. I also didn’t want to spend very much and use leftover paint from our initial renovation three years ago. I designed a desk to wrap around the slightly awkward angled wall in her room from one £48 piece of MDF that provides storage and a very large surface for toys and an all important dedicated place to draw, colour and write, which are the things she loves to do most. Everything has been painted in Light Blue by Farrow & Ball – the walls are Estate Emulsion and the woodwork/desk are Estate Eggshell because we have loads of it and I love the colour! Please note that Light Blue is neither light nor is it particularly blue. In some lights it has quite a lot of green, at other times it is very grey or silvery and it never appears ‘light’. I would also not advise using it in a north facing room as it can appear rather drab without a decent dose of sun light.

So, this is where we were at with the room by the end of the third lockdown…

There wasn’t enough space for anything, stuff was always on the floor and she had outgrown constant dressing up so this side of the room just looked a mess and she just stopped using it altogether. No surface was big enough for her to spread herself out and everything was a jumble. I started by painting the whole room, including above the picture rail, Light Blue to make the space feel bigger.

You can kind of see in the images above how taking the colour above the picture rail stretches the walls upwards and makes the room look and feel bigger. The door and woodwork was already Light Blue and I chose to keep it that colour mainly because I really, really didn’t want to re-paint all the woodwork (!) and also because the colour block effect does make a small room feel less disjointed.

We then used one sheet of MDF to create two lengths that join in the middle where the room angles outwards. It would have been sooooo much easier had the wall angled inwards but we needed to create a support for the two lengths, which we did with some of the MDF. We also decided to integrate the exisitng IKEA Trofast unit into the desk for more storage.

The left hand MDF surface is supported by the Trofast unit and then on the right hand side we put MDF batons on the wall at the back and on the right hand wall. We also cut a notch out of the back of the right hand length to reach the plug hole.

We really went to town sanding the edges and corner of the MDF, which makes all the difference. We used woodfiller to fill the gap where the two lengths of MDF meet. I then painted the lot, including the Trofast unit in Ronseal All Purpose primer and then Light Blue Estate Eggshell (I would have used Modern Eggshell but I was trying to use up old paint and the Estate Eggshell has actually worked really well).

We also took down the shelves that were on the wall and used the rest of the MDF sheet to make one long shelf that runs above the desk. Mimi calls this her ‘special shelf’ and puts all of her little trinkets on it (I have to admit I moved a lot of them to take photos!!).

I didn’t originally like the support we made for the centre of the desk where the wall angles outwards but I realised we could use the nook it created for all of the oversized books that Mimi has, which is perfect! I bought a new chair for the desk as her old IKEA one that we got from a neighbour was too small and she was complaining of a sore neck.

I also bought a new duvet cover and poster to add a bit of contrast and to ground all of the blue. On the most part though we have kept things from her original nursery including the quilt, pillows, cushions, toys.

We haven’t done much on this side of the room as this is where we plan to put the high bed – for now Mimi has the old single divan that used to be in what is now our home office.

The great thing about the new desk set up is that the floor is no longer absolutely covered in stuff and it will definitely grow with her even if we have to raise it slightly. And for now it’s just right for our big school kid!

Katy x

Source list:

Walls – Light Blue Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion

Woodwork, desk and shelf – Light Blue Estate Eggshell

Trofast drawer unit – IKEA

MDF sheet – A standard sheet 2440mm x 1220mm but it needs to be 25mm thick. We got it from a local wood merchant delivered.

Shelf brackets

Desk chair – Sebra

Cane mirror – Kidly

Fine Little Day Jaxx poster – Tea and Kate (I used an old IKEA black metal 50x70cm frame)

Monochrome spot duvet cover – H&M

Bookshelf – Tidy Books

Rejuvenating my bedroom for Spring with The Fine Bedding Company

*This is a paid collaboration with The Fine Bedding Company

Happy New Year everyone! Having spent the last week holed up in my bedroom in isolation (desperately trying to ensure Mimi didn’t get Covid right in time for the start of term!) I have never been more motivated to give this room a deep clean and freshen everything ready for the new year (I’m skipping right over winter and going straight to spring if that’s ok with you). Serendipitously I had agreed a collaboration with The Fine Bedding Company in December and they sent me a coverless duvet to try out, which is a new-to-me product. I immediately got it on the bed when I knew I was going to be isolating and it honestly made the time so much more pleasant!

So let me start by explaining what a coverless duvet is, as I have to admit I found it difficult to get my head around at first. Basically it is a duvet that is washable so no cover is needed. Instead of changing bedlinen each week the whole duvet goes straight into the washing machine and you can then fling it over the line, or the banisters in my case, and it dries in a couple of hours (I’ve tried it and this really works!). Therefore, there are many advantages to this type of bedding as it means less effort in terms of changing bedlinen, less storage needed as multiple sets of bedlinen aren’t required and the duvet can be kept a lot fresher compared to a feather filled duvet that can’t be laundered at home.

The first thing I noticed about the Night Owl coverless duvet was the fact that it feels so cosy. I’m one of those people who actually really enjoys snuggling into the duvet when the cover has been taken off to be washed before a new one goes on. There is something so nice about being in direct contact with the duvet rather than the cover. There is none of that really annoying excess duvet cover as the duvet itself bunches up – why am I always the one left covered in just sheet?! It is also super light and a few quick shakes is all it takes to make the bed in the morning; no re-jigging to get the duvet straight inside its cover.

I chose the plain white seersucker coverless duvet from the Night Owl range as I really like the freshness of white bedlinen. It arrived in a drawstring bag and it made me realise how easily stored it is, which also makes it absolutely ideal if you have regular guests to stay. No hassle of sorting and changing bedlinen or never having quite enough for guests. It would be so easy when the guests leave to just pop the duvet in the washing machine, super quick to dry and ready for the next guests.

There are a couple of other coverless duvets from the Night Owl range that appeal to me including the Outdoor Duvet, which would be PERFECT for camping trips as I so miss a cosy blanket when we camp. Normal blankets or duvets get damp due to the condensation but the outdoor duvet would be a revelation! The other design that I would have snapped up a couple of years ago when we were potty training Mimi is the Junior Duvet as there were far too many occasions that I had to wash duvet covers and pray that feather duvets were kept dry.

I also have the breathable pillows from The Fine Bedding Company and I have to say that in combination with the coverless duvet I really have been the perfect temperature whilst in bed. I am normally far too hot and end up pushing the duvet off but that has not been the case with these pillows and duvet.

I don’t think there will be much staying in bed all day for the foreseeable (I can’t believe I am actually saying this but I really hope there isn’t!) but it felt so nice yesterday to pop everything in the wash and a couple of hours later it was all ready to go back on the bed, clean and fresh and ready for a new year.

Katy x