Two months ago we planned to spend around £1000 on removing the concrete in our garden and replacing it with some sort of seating area. It was just supposed to be the beginning of improving the exterior of our house. As it became clear that lockdown was here to stay and we realised how much money we could save this spring and summer our plans began to snowball. We decided to spend more and do more: we repositioned the garden fence and added a side access gate, Jules dedicated himself to building a big deck, we created a pergola in the garden and then there was a pause…
Basically, Jules has finished the deck base (which is the biggest part of the process) but we heard that the deck boards we ordered were delayed by three weeks. At the same time we were discussing the fact that we need to fix the guttering on our house and that led to the idea of painting the house at the same time (I’m not sure what the connection there was!). As soon as we saw this house it was something that we have been very keen to do – Jules in particular finds the brown pebbledash very depressing. In fact, I still look at the estate agent details of our house which led with a picture of the exterior and I can’t believe I clicked through to look at more!
Anyhoo, it makes perfect sense to paint the house before the deck boards go on as the house will need to be scaffolded and putting that on top of a deck is tricky because of the weight plus the risk of paint spattering on it.
It is a very big expense at £2200, including scaffolding for three sides of the house. However, I think the impact of the change will be huge and it would be such a shame to live here for another five years, get it done then and look back and wish we’d done it now when we had the chance.
I will write another post to show you what we will do to the house to soften the white and the plans for the front garden. I can’t believe how many changes we are making at this crazy time – it is certainly a good distraction!
Just before lockdown I had started making changes in Mimi’s room to make it work better for her age. When we moved to our house she was one and we basically moved her baby nursery from the flat straight into the house without making a single change – same colours, furniture, storage (you can see what the room looked like as soon as we moved in here and you can see Mimi’s nursery in our old flat here). That was fine for a while but since she turned three she has become much more interested in playing independently, imaginary play and dressing up (obsessed!) and her bedroom has become much more of a hub to play, which it never really had been as she previously just wanted to be wherever I was. Unfortunately, I got stuck mid way through making the changes when lockdown started so it’s all a bit of higgledy piggledy mess at the moment.
I made a big change by selling the large chest of drawers in her room to create space for toys. The drawers had been perfect for her nursery as it provided a changing area and so much great storage for nappies, baby clothes, blankets. However, it took up so much space and Mimi’s clothes are so much bigger now that we need some hanging space and she is at that stage that she wants to dress herself every day and she had started climbing up the drawers to get to the top ones (!).
As with any change like this it creates the decorating domino effect. We had removed shelves in the alcove to make way for the wardrobe and we now had a blank wall available for toy storage and play.
I bought a couple of inexpensive IKEA Trofast units with the money I got for selling the drawers to provide toy storage and I positioned them in such a way that it created a dressing up nook for Mimi as this is her absolute favourite pass time – ten changes of outfit a day is not unusual. I attached a street-find rail on to the bottom of the wall mounted unit (these wall drawers are mainly used for stuff I don’t want Mimi to be able to reach) for her costumes and I stuck a £5 mirror panel onto the wall. I had planned to paint them and organise them all but then lockdown came and priorities changed so it has stayed as it is.
We removed the picture ledges we had used to store books as Mimi now reads more paperbacks and she loves getting a big pile of books from the library every week so the volume of books and the type was not really suitable for the ledges any longer; to get to one she would inevitably pull all the others down with it. We were very lucky to be gifted the perfect replacement book shelf from Tidy Books that is super slim and could be placed behind the bedroom door and make use of completely dead space.
My real focus is thinking of ways to tie this space together and make it look more cohesive as it is all very thrown together at the moment. Obviously I need to to fill in holes left by shelves and move the large picture but I need to make decisions about possibly painting this wall and the furniture. At the moment I am deliberating over painting the whole room and the wooden furniture Slipper Satin to soften the feel of the room. The other alternative is to use Light Blue, which is the same colour as the door and skirting and I have left over paint, to do just half the wall, which would be a temporary fix during lockdown when we are so busy doing the garden. Alternatively, and this is Mimi’s preference, we could change it all and use a pink all the way round the room and change the wood work colour. Decisions, decisions.
I will write another blog post with some children’s bedrooms that I love to give you an idea of the changes I would like to make once life gets back to normal. Did anyone else get stuck in the middle of a decorating job when lockdown came?
I get loads and loads of ideas from Instagram and if I get stuck with what to do with one of my own rooms it is often a place I can find inspiration. I have been struggling to know how to finish off my spare room as it is such a small room with no space for a bedside table and the bed itself is a very small one with no headboard. It looks plain and unfinished as it is so I decided it needed a wall light above the bed and I started searching Instagram for examples of my favourite Le Klint scissor lamp and I found this:
I’ve always LOVED tongue and groove panelling but wood is expensive and it’s quite a lot of work to install so I got put off. And then I saw this very clever lady pull this DIY panelling off whilst her kids were at home on an INSET day!
It had never occurred to me that I could achieve this myself with just a few batons of wood and adhesive (check out Grace’s highlights to see how she did it). I have to say that I have never been mad keen on panelling, especially when added to new-builds, as it can look out of place or a bit fussy and pretentious. However, I really like the simplicity of these long panels like you can see here in Katy’s extended 30’s house:
I would really love to add some simple panelling to our spare room in due course (remember I am on a self-imposed ban on spending money inside our house this year as we focus on the outside!). I think it’s a great way to add interest and texture without spending too much money and by using different paint finishes you could create all sorts of different looks and effects. Adding in shelves and peg hooks is also a great idea as well as being practical. What do you think?
AD – This post is written in collaboration with Cox & Cox
For me it’s poor seating and a lack of shade. I know for others it’s not having direct access or the garden being overgrown. What about you? I have never been more grateful for a garden than I am now but if I’m being really honest I would have to say that whilst the idea of a garden is wonderful, the feeling of space it gives is invaluable and I love staring out into the garden I am never really drawn to sitting in it or spending much time out there as it stands. I’m really determined to change that because being on lockdown has shown me how incredibly privileged we are to have our own outdoor space.
Very simply if I can’t sit comfortably in the garden I will always retreat back inside before long. Honestly, if we had the space I would buy this swinging lounger and I would never leave it! We currently have a small bench and a couple of folding wooden chairs and they are all very uncomfortable, hard and quite rickety. Our lawn is very lumpy and bumpy and we probably won’t re-turf until next year so we don’t sit on it much. I am collaborating with Cox & Cox to help make our new deck the perfect place to sit and relax and what really appeals to me is the fact that they make so much indoor/outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture that can easily pass as indoor furniture wins bonus points from me from an aesthetic stand point but it’s the comfort level of having indoor type furniture outside that makes me really happy. The full outdoor collection has lots of gorgeous seating, planters and lighting for the perfect outdoor space so do check it out.
A really good outdoor armchair is ideal for time spent in the garden. My mum has some chairs similar to this and they are so comfortable as the footrest and contour of the chair allows your body to really relax.
We currently have a second hand plastic dining table that really doesn’t encourage outdoor dining because it is white so the sun blinds us when we sit at it, it is difficult to keep clean and it is very creaky. We would like to create a shaded dining area under our pergola, which I think would encourage us to spend so much more time out there. I love the idea of shingle in this area as it is such a great natural texture and it reminds me of holidays in France. Adding some gorgeous indoor outdoor dining chairs would make all the difference as the comfort of outdoor dining chairs is just as important as indoor ones.
I also think bench seats outdoors are very practical as you can squeeze lots of kiddos on and as long as the benches are nice and wide they can be very comfy. I can so see this Albany set in an industrial style interior as well as on a lovely terrace.
The second thing that puts me off sitting outside is a lack of shade. Our new deck will be in full sun until about 2pm so to use it in the morning and at lunchtime we will definitely need some shade. I know a couple of people who have proper awnings over their patios but they can cost an absolute fortune so a parasol or sail shade seem like a good solution.
Jules’s parents have a wonderful wooden bench and matching armchairs in their garden that have been there for years and years and they are still the first place we all migrate to when we spend time there. I’ve chosen something similar from Cox & Cox that is quite traditional looking and made of hard wood in the hope that it too will last years and years. The delivery of the decking boards has been delayed but it should be finished in the next couple of weeks so I hope to be able to show it all to you soon!
I first came across Siobhan’s home mid-renovation. I think I had searched for a paint colour and up came one of her rooms and I fell in love with the bare bones of her home that she featured on her Instagram @home__stead. As time went on and she and her husband finished off room after room I loved every single detail that they added and it became a huge source of inspiration for me (she was the first person I asked for advice when choosing a white for my bedroom!). Siobhan’s use of whites and neutrals is so skilful and enables her to create the perfect warm and welcoming backdrop for her beautiful antique finds and characterful furniture and unexpected additions like the Willow Boughs wallpaper and Bancha Green provide the perfect contrast. Siobhan has very kindly sent over some of her gorgeous Instagram shots and is going to tell us a little more about her home and how she has made it so beautiful. I hope you love it as much as I do.
How long have you lived in your home and what made you decide to buy it?
We bought & moved into this house in July 2017. Location was the number one attraction when buying this property. After relocating to Edinburgh from Ireland almost 9 years ago for work we have always lived in the west side of the city. We have lots of amenities on our doorstep, good schools, shops, cafes, etc. & we are only a 20 minute walk from the city centre. Also close to airport (Rory travelled a lot for work at the time so that was important). The size was also perfect for us. We were a family of 3 when we moved in & had started to outgrow our 2 bed apartment. We needed more space. House prices in the area are expensive so if we wanted to stay nearby we had to take on a property that needed a lot of work which we could undertake ourselves. This house was perfect for us (& nobody else wanted it!! It was THAT bad!!).
What was your vision for your home and how much work did you do yourselves?
Prior to the moving day we started working alongside a kitchen designer at Howdens to come up with a layout to best suit the space. We knew the first thing we wanted to do was to take down the wall between the two rooms to create one big open plan family kitchen/diner. Once this was done we could visualise how the space was going to come together! It is a north facing room & because of its function it was important to us that it didn’t feel cold or dark. Taking down the wall helped us to achieve this as best we could. Bringing things back to their former glory is important to us. We have reinstating the vestibule, mantlepiece in the bedrooms, Edinburgh presses, etc. We also painstakingly stripped & sanded the staircase back to bare wood. We undertook all of the work ourselves except for plumbing, electrical work & plastering.
What colours have you used in your home and why did you choose them?
I love colour but I prefer a neutral back drop to spaces we use on a daily basis. Our colour pallet consists of mostly green based neutrals, these give a feeling of calm & cleanliness (Wimborne White, Slipper Satin, School House White, Shadow White, Shaded White & Hardwick White – Farrow & Ball). It isn’t a big house so I wanted to keep the pallet simple & introduce colour in accessories ie painted furniture & soft furnishing. I have accented with blues, greens, pinks, mustard & rust. I have used some statement colours in small spaces like the Studio Green partition in the vestibule. Inchyra Blue under the stairs & Bancha in the utility room.
How do you add character and personality to your home whilst using lots of neutrals and whites?
We retained lots of character in the ornate cornice, the picture rail & the architrave. We also have sash & case windows, an Edinburgh press in most rooms, a wooden staircase & the beautiful glass cupula on the landing. We also uncovered the original fireplace & tiled hearth & the original Edwardian floor tiles in the vestibule. I have always loved the William Morris wallpaper ‘Willow Boughts’ & decided to use it in the vestibule where it can be appreciate by everyone who comes to our door. I love anything old! Be it an enamel bowl or a great big chesterfield. I quite like to mix old & new. I like using free standing furniture & I am always on the look out for the perfect piece. I enjoy moving furniture around the house & painting it in a muted tone to give it a new lease of life.
What items do you prioritise spending money on when decorating a home and where do you think you can scrimp?
We spent a lot of money in the beginning having the whole house rewired & then a few walls skimmed. We also spent a lot on salvaged cast iron radiators (purely for aesthetically reasons but we are so glad we splurged on them in the beginning). We had a wood burning stove fitted. This was life changing during the cold winter months. We actually scrimped on flooring. We exposed the original pine floorboards, sanded them back & treated them with a product called Treatex to take the yellow tones out & used a hard wax oil on top for durability. & sanded them back & waxed them using a product called Treatex. We painted a runner in the stairs using Farrow & Ball a Modern Eggshell in a Hardwick White.
What or who influences your style?
I would describe my style as an eclectic mix of old & new. I am greatly influenced by Scandinavian design. I love classic Scandinavian furniture with elements of old furniture.
What’s your next project in your home?
The next room we are going to tackle is the wet room that we plan on building into a space gained from the hallway/kitchen. I am very excited about this as we will be designing from scratch again. It will be a small space with no natural light, however I will opt for keeping it an off white to create a clean & calm space.
Thank you so much, Siobhan! Do pop over to Siobhan’s Instagram @home__stead for more info on the paint colours in each room (check out her highlights).