What to do with our bare stairs

Our stairs are still languishing in their bare, rough, paint and plaster splattered state nearly eighteen months after moving in. Ideally I would carpet them in sisal or jute as I love the look and the colour and texture of natural carpets disguise the muck brought in by a big dog much better than a wool carpet. However, realistically, we do not have the budget for that – sisal and jute carpets are particularly expensive as the fitting costs are higher than other carpets as they have to be glued – and the only wool carpets I would consider (I always, always have to think of the dirty paws!) may be a bit too dark for the space considering the dark walls, front door and the fact the hallway doesn’t get a great deal of light. Therefore, I’ve been thinking about a more affordable solution using paint and I wanted to share some inspiration here as I often get asked about what we will do with the stairs so it seems a lot of people are in the same boat.

Carpet options

Choosing carpet and the way it is fitted is a bit of a minefield AND can cost thousands – literally! To give you a rough outline you can either have a runner and paint either side of it or you can carpet stringer to stringer, which basically means you carpet the entire stair covering all of the risers and treads. I prefer the way a runner looks, especially as you can choose to have the edges – the whipping – sewn in any colour you like. It looks very smart and you can use the colour you paint the rest of the risers and treads to contrast or tone in with the carpet; the options are endless really. However, you need to think about the disadvantages including the fact that the stairs will need to be painted, dirt and dust collects on the hard part of the stairs not carpeted and for us it may not work with a dog as he tends to walk up the side of the stairs so we would have to make sure the paint was very hard wearing.

I love how this stair runner looks, especially the contrasting tape. The stairs are painted in Inchyra Blue, the same as our hallway, so it’s a useful reference for me. I worry about having such a dark carpet not least because of the white dog hair in our house. Totally swooning over that floor too – that’s my ideal floor covering for our hallway. One day! Image via The Vawdrey House
This would work well for us as it’s very hard wearing and disguises dirt well however, it is very expensive to fit so not an option for us right now. Jute stair runner from Alternative Flooring naturals collection
My second choice would be this Striped stair runner as stripes hides dirt well but I’m still nervous about how well it would hold up to cleaning and big paws. Image via the gorgeous Come Down to the Woods.
This is a very inexpensive carpet that could be option for us budget wise. Striped carpet from Carpet Right Image via The Idle Hands (such an amazing Instagram account!)
Alex’s hallway is so beautiful and her blog post about choosing and fitting this gorgeous Wool stair runner with striped tape border is a very useful reference point. Image via The Frugality, whose interior style I love!

DIY paint options

For now, I think we’re looking at a DIY paint option as I’ve promised not to spend any money on the interior of our house this year as we want to do as much as we can afford to do on the outside of the house this year. Jules feels depressed approaching the house every day as it really is in a bad state so I’m willing to make the compromise. We would need to sand the stairs (urgh!) and I have Railings, Inchyra Blue and Light Blue paint that we could use but I think it would have to be on the risers only as otherwise it really will feel too dark. I also worry the paint will get wrecked in time.

We could do this with either Railings, Inchyra Blue or Light Blue but i do worry we won’t ever get a good finish on the treads of the stairs as they are in such a bad state and seem quite oily from previous paint jobs. Painted stair risers – Jérémie Blancféné
I love this so much. Such a clever use of contrasting colours. Painted pink stair runner Image via Making It Lovely
Painted stairs – Image via Home World Design
I do really like the look of Bare wooden stairs but the issue is we have too much wood in our hallway what with the floor and doors. it looks great here with a white backdrop. Smita Patel’s home photographed by Penny Wincer

Here is how our stairs currently look to give you an idea:

You can see how much work needs to be done to the stairs.
This was taken just after we moved in.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has a carpet or paint job that has withstood a lot of dirt and dogs particularly!

Katy x

Top 10 bedside tables

I have been meaning to do this round up for ages ever since I asked on Instagram whether anyone could recommend a bedside table that was ideally made of wood and had a drawer/shelf. I was deluged by messages from people who were looking for the same thing and were desperate for recommendations themselves. I had a stool next to my bedside and Jules had a printer next to his (don’t ask!) for months and I had spent a long time looking but nothing seemed to suit other than some very expensive finds that were way out of my budget. I wanted two matching tables as our bedroom is very small so symmetry helps to make it look and feel bigger and therefore some lovely vintage finds weren’t an option.

These are the tables I found on my hunt so for those of you who are still looking I hope this helps. If you are not keen on these particular tables do use the links to go through to the shops and have a browse as sometimes it can be difficult just figuring out where to look.

  1. Solid oak vintage bedside table 2. Bedside wall shelves 3. Marble top bedside table 4. Oak and cane bedside table 5. Ercol bedside table

6. Oak and rattan table 7. Marble top table 8. Jalousie door bedside table 9. Birch and leather handle bedside table 10. Floating bedside drawer

In the end I chose these oak and cane tables from La Reroute and waited until they were 30% off so I managed not to spend too much and I really like them. It’s also the first time I’ve had a drawer in my bedside table and it’s a bit of a game changer.

Oak and cane bedside table

If you are interested in a vintage option I would definitely have chosen a Victorian pot cupboard (use that search term in eBay etc). My ideal bedside table would have been something like this…

Image via Avenue Lifestyle

Just remember to think about the height of the table you choose, especially if it’s not being sold as a bedside table or if you have a particularly low/high bed. For example, I liked this table but luckily realised it would be too low for my bed.

Hope this is helpful as a starting point – do let me know if you have found anything really nice out there that I can share!

Katy x

Paint colours and finishes

I asked in my last post and over on Instagram what would be useful to know more about when it comes to renovating a house. Thank you so much to those of you who got in touch – I’ve got a good list of topics to cover. I’m going to start with something that I get so many questions about so hopefully this will serve as a good reference point that I can direct people to when they have questions about the paint colours and finishes that I have used in our house.

First off I just want to explain the finishes that I chose for the paint throughout the house. Our contractor organised the decoration throughout the house so I selected Farrow & Ball for the woodwork because I love the colours but for the two rooms I have since re-painted (as I changed my mind about colours) I selected Farrow & Ball because I find the paints so, so easy to use. I love that they are water based, so no nasty smells and chemicals, and I find it so easy to apply – you will never find me using an oil-based gloss paint because of the drips, the clean up process and the drying time. I selected the Estate Eggshell finish for the woodwork in each room as it is a lovely semi-matt finish, whilst still feeling silky and easy to wipe clean. I selected the Modern Eggshell, which has a higher sheen than the estate eggshell, for the hallway woodwork as I knew it would see more traffic and suffer more scuffing and knocks. The higher sheen makes it even easier to wipe clean and it feels nicer under hand on the banisters. I feel like it repels dirt more than the estate eggshell. Throughout the house the walls are painted in matt emulsion (mostly brilliant white as that’s all we could afford) as I’m not a fan of using any type of sheen on walls.

Here is a list of the colours and the paint finishes that I have used and you can read more about why I chose the colours we used here:

Living room

Wood work (skirting, architraves, doors, fire surround, window sills) – Light Blue, Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell

Walls – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Fire surround and skirting in Light Blue – Walls in Brilliant White
Door, architrave and skirting in Light Blue – Walls in Brilliant White

Kitchen

Kitchen units – Railings, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell

Door – Light Blue, Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell

Walls – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Kitchen units in Railings (photograph by Katharine Peachey)
Kitchen door in Light Blue – Walls Brilliant White

Hallway

Wood work (skirting, dado rail, architraves, doors, banisters, under stairs cupboard) – Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell (this particular paint was gifted to us by Farrow & Ball)

Walls (below dado rail) – Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell

Walls (above dado rail) – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Door, architrave, banisters Inchyra Blue – Walls Brilliant White

Radiator bottom coat – Grey Metal primer

Radiator top coat – Inchyra Blue, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell

Walls, wood work and radiator Inchyra Blue – Walls Brilliant White

Front door bottom coat – All purpose Primer, Ronseal

Front door top coat – Railings, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell

Front door Railings

Bathroom

Wood work (tongue and groove, skirting, architraves) – Ammonite, Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell

Walls – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Wood work Ammonite – Walls Brilliant White

Mimi’s room

Wood work (skirting, architraves, doors, window sills) – Light Blue, Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell

Walls – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Wood work Light Blue – Walls Brilliant White

Master bedroom

Wood work (skirting, architraves, door, window sill) – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint eggshell

Walls – School House White, Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion

Above picture rail – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Walls School House White – Above picture rail and woodwork Brilliant White
Walls School House White – Above picture rail and woodwork Brilliant White

Spare room

Wood work (skirting, architraves, door, window sill) – Shaded White, Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell

IKEA IVAR cabinets – Shaded White, Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell

Walls – Brilliant white, Johnstone’s trade paint Matt Emulsion

Cabinets Shaded White – Walls Brilliant White
Wood work Shaded White

I hope that is helpful – do drop me a line if you have any other paint questions for me.

Katy x

Five arguments we had during our house renovation

I’ve been meaning to write in more detail about the renovation process but haven’t really had the time until now. I often get messages from people who are about to start the process and they have lots of questions, as I did before we started our renovation, so I thought it would be helpful to write a series of posts dedicated to the subject.

This may not seem like the natural way to begin but I wanted to tell you about five things Jules and I really struggled to agree on during our renovation I guess because they have really stuck in my mind because of the arguments!

Replacing picture rails

Believe it or not this was our biggest point of conflict. We had to have the whole house re-plastered so the original picture rails were removed. We had accounted for replacing the skirting and architraves but forgot about budgeting for the supply and fitting of picture rail, coving in the living room and adding a dado rail in the hallway. These three things would amount to £950. Jules was adamant that this was a waste of money and that we could do it ourselves at a later date and in fact he still thinks it was a waste of money. However, it was something I felt very, very strongly about. We had lived in a new build flat for about eight years and we made a conscious decision to buy a period home and I felt it was really important to salvage or replace period features as otherwise this house could very easily have felt completely soulless and once inside you would never have known it was a period home. And yes, we probably could have done it ourselves at a later point (the materials needed are not massively expensive) BUT I knew full well that that would never, ever have happened as we don’t have the time or energy. So yes, I can see why some people would see it as a very unnecessary thing to spend that amount of money on but for me it was crucial to making this house feel the way I wanted it to. Anyhoo, cut a long story short and I won the argument and Jules still resents it!!

Replacing the picture rail adds so much character in my opinion and it such a distinctive feature of 1930s houses. I love the effect you can create by painting above and below the picture rail in different colours. As it happens we have since changed the colour of this room but you get the idea.

Radiators

When it came to our building quote the building materials and labour were fixed costs but we were responsible for choosing and purchasing top coat paint, radiators, bathroom suite, tiles and underfloor heating. Therefore, we had the ability to reduce our costs by choosing the cheapest of these items. However, I felt very strongly that it would be very wrong to choose ugly radiators just because they are cheap. I knew that all of the radiators had to be replaced and I knew that they would be positioned under the windows in most rooms in full sight and I hated the idea of saving a couple of hundreds pounds and having to stare at them for the next however many years knowing they could have been a lovely feature instead. I insisted that we got traditional column radiators and we are both very glad that that decision was made now as it does make a huge difference to way a room looks and feels. Also, we bought them in the sales so they didn’t end up being ridiculously expensive – they are these double panel colosseum column radiators (the one below was painted by our decorator).

Word of warning – do NOT let your partner make renovation decisions without discussing it with you first as otherwise they will authorise the cheapest ugliest plastic valves for your lovely new radiators!

Front door

From the moment I viewed the house I said we had to change the front door as that and the windows were the only original features that had been replaced over time. I could deal with the uPVC window frames (and there was no way we had the budget to replace them as they worked perfectly well) but the front door was ugly, blocked out a lot of light and it doesn’t feel particularly sturdy. Let’s be frank though, it was the ugly thing that bothered me most! Jules was very pragmatic about it and insisted it was just an aesthetic issue and there was no way of justifying replacing it. I soon accepted that our budget just wasn’t going to stretch to it and our builder confirmed that it would be an easy enough job to do at a later date was it doesn’t really affect anything else – it’s a nice neat job that wouldn’t require ripping up any other work we had already had done. We actually got a quote for it relatively recently but unfortunately we had to buy a new car so the money allocated for the door went on that instead. I have to say that I’m kind of glad we haven’t had it done as I now see that money spent on the garden will be far more beneficial to our quality of life. However, painting the door the uPVC has made it look so far better! I wrote a blog post about how to paint uPVC if you need more information.

I hated the uPVC door and was desperate to replace it immediately.
However, I managed to improve the way it looks by painting and now realise that money will be better spent improving our garden for now.

Fireplaces

Jules and I were both in agreement that the two original 1930s fire surrounds needed to be removed as the tiles were chipped and they were really not our style. Jules just wanted to plasterboard over the chimney breasts but there was no way I was letting that happen for the reasons I explained above about making the house feel like a period home. Not only did I want to replace one of the fire surround downstairs but I also wanted to add fireplaces into the bedrooms as we uncovered the original hearths when we pulled up the laminate flooring and I knew that the bedrooms would look so much better with a bit of character. To appease Jules I made sure I sourced fireplaces very cheaply from eBay and I agreed we wouldn’t spend money on a wood-burning stove for the living room any time soon. Compromise, compromise! I hope you agree that the fireplaces I sourced definitely add a lot to each of these rooms…

Re-sanding the floors

There’s a very long story to the sanding of our floorboards (I’ll do a separate post about what we did as I get SO many questions about it) but to summarise Jules was so over the whole thing by the time it came to finishing them. He set off one weekend to start the oiling and sent me update pics – remember we were living at my sister’s during the renovation so I usually had to stay behind with Mimi who was at the ‘trying to kill herself’ phase so a building site was most definitely not an easy place to take her. By the next morning when the finish was dry on the first room he sent me a picture and I was horrified! It looked purple! In my mind there was no way we could keep it as it was but Jules was so worn down by that point he couldn’t even consider having to re-sand and then re-finish the floors. Deep down he knew it didn’t look right but he really didn’t have the time or energy to do it all again so we ended up handing over the job to our builders -.

This was the floor after Jules had used Osmo white oil and it was horrible! It looked purple so it had to be re-sanded and re-finished. I will write a post about the final finish we decided on soon.

I think we did relatively well only having five arguments during the renovation – haha! I hope I don’t make it sound too fraught as I’d say we had a really straightforward experience with no major stresses or strains. As I said I will follow up with some more details about the process – if there is anything in particular that you would like to know let me know via email or in the comments below.

Katy x

New Year House Resolutions

I know this is a month late but hey ho. I never make resolutions for myself but I decided to make a couple of house resolutions this year. I think both Jules and I felt frustrated by the end of last year at the extent of work we could do on our house but not having the funds to carry any of it out.

The outside of our house needs a complete overhaul.

Therefore, my first resolution is to not spend any money on home accessories this year (I have a long list of things I want, believe me!!) and instead try and save any money we can. If there are things that need to be done or bought (for example, we could do with a wardrobe for Mimi’s room) I will use eBay or Gumtree etc to source one and ensure I sell something from the house to cover the cost.

Secondly, we have resolved to clear out our loft. I have no idea whatsoever how or why it is so full considering we moved from a two bed flat – where oh where it was stored in there I will never know! Anyway, it is bursting at the seams and it is a literal and metaphorical weight on my shoulders so it needs to be sorted. Lots of it can be sold, some can be passed on to friends/family and the rest can be donated or recycled. Of course, there are a few things, like Christmas decorations, that will be stored up there but otherwise it has to go. It’s a massive job so I’ve promised to get two large things or one box down each weekend and get rid of them in a very considered way and I hope that makes it a more manageable job.

The horrors that lie above!

There are definitely quite a few things that we still want to do inside the house: the hallway floor to be tiled, the stairs to be carpeted, the fire hearths to be tiled, the spare room to be accessorised, fitted cupboards to be installed in our room and I still want to wallpaper the living room. However, Jules and I have both agreed that we are going to leave all those jobs for now and focus on the outside of the house. Firstly, the house needs to be painted, the front garden and fence needs a complete makeover and back garden needs a complete overhaul.

So there you go, I’ve written it down now so it has to happen, right? How about you? Any house resolutions of your own?

Katy x