DIY lamp makeover

One of the great things about the street that I live on is that we have a Whatsapp group so we can communicate with one another really easily. One of the things that we use the group for is to post any household items that we want to get rid of and more often than not there will be someone who needs whatever it is that is being given away. When one of my neighbours asked if anyone wanted an old M&S lamp I said yes as we desperately needed one in our bedroom at the time. Even though it wasn’t nice to look at I knew with a different shade and a change of colour on the base it would be as good as new.

A salvaged lamp that was being given away by a neighbour.

The shade was cracked and marked and the frame was wonky so there wasn’t much I could do with it. However, with a few pounds or with paint I already had I could see that the pretty shaped base could be transformed. The base is ceramic so I gave it a good clean and taped off the candle part and used an all surface spray paint and it couldn’t have been easier to get a good finish. I actually found the spray paint I used by chance at my local DIY store. It was the only colour they had and it was reduced to £3 (these cans are normally £5-11 in big DIY stores) so I decided to just give it a go!

I used Painters Touch gloss spray paint.

It’s definitely not my first choice of colour normally but I actually really like how understated it is and it works well with the other colours in my home. These sprays are quick drying and intended for use on wood, metal and ceramics. This paint provides a gloss finish.

Tape off any parts of the lamp you don’t want to paint.

Originally I decided to tape off the candle part of the base so I used decorators tape to cover anything I wanted to protect from the paint.

Spray the base outside and do thin coats with lots of drying time between coats.

I find it easy to use spray paints outside and I did three very thin coats and left a decent amount of drying time between each coat (a minimum of an hour). Once I removed the tape I could see that it would look better to paint the candle part of the base too so that’s what I did. And this is the finished lamp with a brand new shade…

The finished lamp with new knife pleated paper lampshade from The Lampshade Loft.

I decided to spend a bit of money on a really lovely shade as I’d only spent £3 on the base. This has been a really good way of ending up with a lamp that would have cost a lot if I bought it new, plus I have prevented the waste of an old lamp and supported a small business from whom I bought the new lampshade. Win, win!

There are some very beautiful unique lampshades available at Rosi de Ruig and Matilda Goad but if you are looking for something similar but much more affordable do try LeKrazyHorse, Pooky, Munro and Kerr, The Lampshade Loft and Compton Marbling. I’m very excited about all the knife pleated lampshades coming back on trend – I so remember having one in my room in the 80s that coordinated with the curtains, duvet cover and frieze!

Katy x

Sebra Kili junior bed review

Since writing my last Sebra Kili cot review we converted it to a junior bed when Mimi turned 2.5 years old. I want to give you a clear review of the cot in this new configuration, as I promised I would in my first review, because it’s the longevity of the cot that justifies its high cost.

I felt very nervous about converting the cot into a bed as Mimi is such a good sleeper so I was worried changing her bed would totally disrupt this. I forecast lots of running around her bedroom, roaming the halls in the middle of the night and rolling out onto the floor! I put the move off a little too long if I’m honest as Mimi was too big for the cot by the time she was 2.5 years so I had to take the plunge.

The cot was super easy to convert and I just had to add an extra chunk of mattress that is sold separately at the bottom. The cot lengthens but it doesn’t get any wider. The very clever design means that the mattress is sunk down by about 10cm so that rolling out of the bed is almost impossible. In the 18 months that she’s slept in it she has never fallen out.

I wasn’t able to find a sheet to fit this mattress size so I use a single one tucked in around the sides and that is fine. Mimi is quite a wriggly sleeper so a toddler sized duvet that fits in this junior bed was no good as it just got kicked to the bottom so I also gave her a single duvet in the hope that that would provide more coverage.

Mimi was super excited about sleeping in the bed for the first time and she had a really great first night. The bed is very cocooning and comfy and I needn’t have worried about the transition disrupting Mimi’s sleep.

As you can see there is lots of space in the bed for the toddler and lots of length for growth. However, the big downside for us was that we couldn’t sit or lie in the bed mainly because of the 10cm lip around the bed. We don’t stay with Mimi whilst she gets to sleep but I can see how this would be a huge downside for some parents. For us, we just had to organise to have a chair next to the bed to read bedtime stories.

The only other potential downside is that the bed is relatively high. Mimi never really had a problem getting in and out, especially as she got taller, but for some less physical children it may be a stumbling block. My nephew, for example, fell out of the bed trying to climb out.

Mimi is about to turn four and we could easily have kept the junior bed as is for another couple of years but we’ve made the decision to pass it on to my niece. This decision was mainly prompted by the fact that we need to create a dedicated office so we need a home for the single bed that was in that room. It made sense to put it into Mimi’s room and I have to say it is a welcome change being able to snuggle in bed with her now, which I was never able to do with the junior bed. But saying that it really did make the transition to a bed so, so easy and I was heart broken saying goodbye to the cot as it’s been such a big piece of the baby and toddler years and we’ve loved it at every stage.

If you do have any other specific questions please do ask me below!

Katy x

DIY faux Crittall doors inside your home

Crittall doors are everywhere at the moment. They are a beautiful alternative to bi-folds to lead out onto a garden as not only do they allow light and views in to a room they also add architectural and design interest, which bi-folds can lack. However, and this is a big drawback, Crittall is mega expensive – for most of us there is just no chance!

These green Crittall garden doors are DREAMY! Image via deVOL
Image via deVOL

The good news is that there is a way of creating the look and feel of Crittall without spending a fortune. Replacing any type of external door costs a lot so what you can try is to make internal doors look like Crittall.

If you are super lucky you may well already have glazed internal doors like these beauties and just by painting the timber a dark colour you can easily create a Crittall look…

I just love this room and all of Sarah Brown’s work. Image via Sarah Brown Interiors
Gorgeous, gorgeous period feature that looks so much more dramatic and striking in a dark blue. Image via Living Etc

If you are installing standard sized internal doors you can choose a glazed option and paint them off black for a Crittall feel. This will look great and also have the massive added benefit of allowing light to flow through from one room to another. These doors do not have to be expensive at all but will have a big impact on a room…

And if you have an existing glazed door but it is dated and as far from Crittall as you can get you can do an easy DIY job like Becca has done. What a brilliant difference!

If your DIY skills are more advanced you can even create faux Crittall internal doors like Frances is currently doing in her home. I think these will look fab!

Image via @100yearsinthemaking Instagram

What do you think? It’s definitely worth considering if you are making changes or renovating at home, especially if you have any dark spaces or rooms that need some borrowed light.

Katy x

Stylish Built-In Wardrobe Ideas

This isn’t a long or detailed post but rather a few images that have really inspired me the last few weeks and spurred me on to take the leap and make a big outlay on buying wardrobes for our bedroom. I will write in a lot more detail about the process of choosing and fitting the IKEA PAX wardrobe system, which is what we’ve gone for, as so many of you sent me messages when I showed what we were up to on Instagram stories the other day. The messages made it very clear that a lot of you are desperate for a lot of PAX chat and I’m pretty sure that’s because there actually isn’t a huge amount of detail about the system online, especially the hack process we want to attempt. That will all come, I promise!

In the meantime, these wardrobes really stood out to me and made me think I could make a large bank of wardrobes work in our small bedroom. I’ve been very hesitant until now to commit to wardrobes because our room is so small (3.1 x 2.9 metres). I was worried about filling the alcoves as any feeling of space and airiness we have is because those spaces are quite empty. I was also hesitant about buying free standing wardrobes as I would want antique ones and generally speaking they just don’t make the most of the space and we are desperate for storage. Therefore, I have been leaning towards floor to ceiling bespoke wardrobes, which we can’t afford (the average quote was £2800), and trying to make them tie in with the decor in our bedroom as much as possible so that they enhance the room rather than swamping it. These are two brilliant examples of that…

Image via Living Etc

I absolutely LOVE the bedroom above. Every single bit of it. The chair, the kilim, the muted colours, the texture of the baskets on display. In terms of the wardrobes they are so simple but very stylish and they enhance the room without detracting from it. The fact that they continue the wall colour helps to make them less dominant. I also love the handles (I’m on the hunt for some lovely ones).

Image via Suzy Hoodless

Suzy’s bedroom above is gorgeous! I love the soft colour palette and cosy textures. Similar to the other bedroom, the wardrobes are also painted in the same wall colour with grooved door panels. I would love to recreate this look BUT we have to work with a PAX door panel as there’s no way we have the capacity to buy and make 2.5m high wardrobe doors ourselves! The PAX doors are laminate and it remains to be seen what I will do with them to customise them to fit with my bedroom.

The only definite in terms of our wardrobe doors is that I will paint them. Our bedroom walls are School House White and even though I love the wardrobes that are painted in the same colour as the walls I’m drawn to using a slightly darker shade. I have used Shaded White in our spare room so I have the paint and I think I’m going to use that for the wardrobes as well as the skirting and bedroom door as I’ve been meaning to do that since last year when I painted the walls!

Image via Kerry Lockwood

Kerry has used the same colour combination in her bedroom of School House White and Shaded White on the woodwork and I think that will work really well in my room. I’ve been saying that I need to change my bedroom door from Brilliant White to Shaded White for a year so hopefully fitting the wardrobes will push me to get the job done.

Lots more PAX chat to come soon!

Katy x

Sanding original floorboards

Soooo, one of our biggest mistakes during our renovation was deciding that one way of saving money and reducing our renovation costs was to take on the sanding of the floorboards ourselves. Big mistake. Firstly, the job itself was EXHAUSTING! And secondly, it is not a cheap DIY and because we made a hash of it we ended up spending more than if we had given our builders the job in the first place.

It must seem odd then that I’m writing a blog post about it but we learnt a lot during the process and did end up with a result we are really pleased with so I hope it will be helpful to share our experience.

When we bought the house all of the floors were covered in cheap laminate that was bubbling up here and there. On viewing the property because it was empty and very obvious that the whole place needed ripping apart we were able to take a peek under the laminate where it was coming up to see that the floorboards beneath looked pretty good. We had to cross our fingers that once all the laminate came up the boards in each room would be decent as we definitely didn’t have the budget to buy and fit new flooring throughout the house. Lucky for us the boards are good albeit a few weak points and quite large gaps between the boards downstairs. This is a big downside as there is no insulation beneath the boards and there was no cheap way of adding it because there is a 3 or 4ft chasm under the ground floor. As a result it can be very draughty downstairs so we really should have filled the gaps between the boards. To be honest, I have notions of replacing the flooring downstairs in the future if we extend so it’s never been a big priority.

Another issue that we uncovered was the fact that some of the original boards had obviously been replaced in the living room at some point. Once they were sanded the colour of the new boards was a lot lighter but lucky for us we had planned a big rug for this area so it’s not at all obvious.

Aesthetically speaking I adore original floorboards and it’s such an easy way to inject character back into a house, especially a 1930s house that doesn’t have all the period features of a Victorian home. They create a warm and lived in feel and practically speaking they can be very easy to look after as well as covering a lot of dirt and wear, which is something I always have to think about with a big dog. I would never recommend painted floorboards from that perspective as the paint chips and scratches so easily and unless that is the worn look you want it will drive you crazy and you’ll be forever re-painting.

The sanding process

Jules took a week off work with the aim of sanding the large downstairs room, hallway, upstairs landing, three bedrooms (two double and one single). He spent the first day getting together the materials he would need including driving to collect a floor sander from HSS (not our nearest branch) and sanding sheets.

Mistake number one: DO NOT HIRE THE SANDER UNTIL YOU HAVE PREPPED THE FLOOR! The hire companies charge you by the day or week so try not to have it in your possession unless you are using it. There is a lot of prep to do before you will be ready to sand such as knocking in nails with a nail punch and replacing certain boards (our builder salvaged a few lengths for us from a skip).

Mistake number two: BOOK YOUR SANDER AHEAD OF TIME. We couldn’t get a sander from our local HSS branch last minute so wasted a lot of time driving around London to locate one.

Mistake number three: BUY MORE SANDING PAPER THAN YOU NEED. HSS sell sand paper on a sale or return basis and they advise buying more than you need and we agree. We used about 15 sheets of each grit: 60 (some people suggest using 40 grit to start with but we didn’t need to as there was no paint or varnish on our boards and they were pretty smooth), 80, 120. We wasted more time buying more sand paper as we ran out. Do note, if you haven’t done enough prep with your nail punch protruding nails will rip up the sanding sheets.

Mistake number four: HIRE AN EDGING SANDER. We tried to save on the hiring cost of the sanders by using an angle grinder for the edges instead of an edging sander. This is just a horrible mistake and there’s nothing much else to say about it. The edging sander is essential to get right up to the skirting boards.

This photo was taken mid-sanding. The living area on the left had been sanded with 60 and 80 grit and still needed its final sand with 120 grit. You can see the un-sanded boards in the hallway on the right hand side.

Jules did manage to sand the whole house with 60 and 80 grit in the week he took off. He planned to go over all the rooms with 120 grit the following weekend but it all went wrong at this point…

Oiling the floor

After the first week of sanding we decided to sort out exactly what finish we were going to use in advance. When it came to deciding on a finish for the floors my main concern was using any type of finish that would make the pine boards appear too pink/red. I also didn’t want to use a varnish that would make the boards shiny or slippy. I was leaning towards a white tint to create a Scandi feel, which is why I was keen to use Osmo Oil White. Jules tested it and it seemed like a very subtle white tint. However, I would say this was our fifth mistake.

Mistake number five: TEST FINISHES ON A LARGE AREA. As you can see from the photo below Jules tested three finishes on three small sections. The issue with this is that it is very difficult to get enough of the oil on such a small section of board and you can’t get a true representation of what the finish will look like on the whole floor. It’s a bit like the mistake of just using a paint tester on a little piece of paper. We believed that the Osmo Oil White was going to look ok on our boards based on the tester but it really didn’t!

Choosing the wrong oil

Jules started the oiling in our bedroom as he had already done the last 120 grit sand in there. I wasn’t there so didn’t see it being applied but he sent me a couple of photographs the next day once it was dry and I HATED it.

The boards looked dull and had a horrible purple tinge. I really, really did not like it in the photos and when I saw it in real life I still hated it. It had to go!

At this point Jules threw in the towel. He was exhausted after a full week of sanding, followed by a full week of work, oiling in the evening, travelling for an hour back to where we were staying and the idea still having to do the last sand throughout the house AND re-sanding a whole room sent him over the edge! Did I also mention it was the extreme heatwave of 2018? Ha! We very quickly made the decision to hand the job over our builders.

We gave up the idea of a white tint as we just didn’t have the time within the building schedule to do another round of testing. We had already tested Osmo Oil Raw and we both really liked it so we just went with that and it turned out really well. Untreated sanded pine has a light, pale character from its natural ‘raw’ appearance. Osmo Oil Raw is designed to retain this appearance. Yes, it does make the wood slightly darker but it’s very subtle, has a lovely matt effect and it makes the wood feel warm and characterful. We used one application of Osmo Oil Raw and then a top coat of Polyx-Oil Original.

This is the same room as above after being re-sanded and applying the Osmo Oil Raw. I loved it.

A regret

One of our builders re-sanded the bedroom that we didn’t like, did the final 120 grit sand throughout the house and then once we had had the house cleaned top to bottom he did the application of Osmo Oil Raw and the top coat of Polyx-Oil Original. However, it was agreed that he wold leave the hallway and kitchen not oiled so he could access the house (i.e he couldn’t oil himself in upstairs or outside, for that matter) and that we would do that bit as soon as we moved in. The plan was to do an application of oil one evening before bed so that it would have enough time to dry overnight.

Mistake number six: OIL EVERYWHERE AND DON’T SKIP THE HALLWAY AND KITCHEN. Urgh – can you guess what we did? Yes, that’s right, we didn’t get round to oiling the hallway and kitchen. Moving in was busy and stressful and there was stuff everywhere and we just never got round to it. Two years later we now can’t do it as it needs sanding again as it is so dirty.

You can see the big difference between the oiled floor on the right and the un oiled floor on the left in the photo above. Now try to imagine two year’s worth of dirt being ground in to an untreated floor. It annoys me every day and how we go about fixing it remains to be decided (I actually want underfloor heating and tiles in the hallway as it’s such a cold space). Watch this space.

Here a few pics of what the floors look like in our ‘finished’ home. I would say we have a rug in every space so at no point can you see a huge amount of the floor…

So, there you go; the story of our floors. I get messages every single week asking me how we restored them so I hope this is helpful in one way or another. Do drop me a line if you need to know anything I haven’t covered.

Katy x