Student flat 24 hour makeover

You know when time slips away from you…I am feeling full of guilt as I have not posted for ages, and I apologise to those of you who nudge for an update.

24 HOUR MAKEOVER

I have been really busy of late, my daughter has moved to London to study music at a Conservatoire and we did a 24 hour makeover on her new abode.  It is an unfurnished flat where she will live with her partner, and I really wanted her to have a clean, safe space that felt like home.   

So we hired a van, stripped my house of a lot of furniture and accessories and then headed up to the big smoke.  

Apart from getting a few bits at Dunelm and IKEA, the latter which I delighted in handing over for flat-pack building lessons, we had pretty much all we needed.  Plus we had zero budget!  It went from a dark, bland place to a rather smart des-res in 24 hours with a bit of creativity and styling.  

My daughter is definitely a chip off the old block, she had Pinterest boards ready to show me in the style she liked!  It is very Scandi, with lots of palms, copper accents and retro touches.  

Here is the flat when we viewed it originally.

For the bedroom I made some great bedside lights from old IKEA wooden shelf brackets I had lying around.  

Using Annie Sloans Graphite chalk paint to jazz them up, I upcycled them into light holders.  A long retro style pendant light with a filament bulb is wrapped around each one and hangs over the bedside tables.  These were reduced to just £5 each at Dunelm so the total project cost just £10!  The bedside drawers await a makeover with paint and new handles, I am trying to train up my daughter to embrace chalk paint!



The sitting room has to be a multi functional space- living, working, a music studio and also a spare bedroom for when mum comes to stay (that’s me!).  It is a good sized room which really helped.  We used a day bed that coverts into a full double bed as a sofa, and covered it with lots of emerald green velvet and shaggy cushions.  A leather chair from home and a cute retro table which my daughter’s boyfriend owned finish off the seating area.  

Above the daybed we hung large rattan plates as the start of a collection of natural objects.  My daughter also started to map out a gallery wall with frames ready to fill.  For the moment they have wrapping paper in them!


We got two lampshades from Dunlem which are made from twisted wire and they cast great patterns across the room.


One corner is used as a recording studio, so IKEA came to the rescue with their work tables and some wall hooks for all the leads.  I have had the shelves for years in storage and never got rid of them as I knew they would come in useful again.  They got a lick of paint and have lots of baskets on them to stash things away.



The bathroom got a fresh coat of paint and some accessories to jazz it up.  It’s very small so not many options to get creative, and I fitted a nice new loo seat, (it’s my least favourite job crawling around lavatories).



Finally we dressed the sitting room with layered rugs and lots of plants, and for a student pad it is pretty nice.  In fact, my own student flat was grotty beyond belief so I think she has landed on her feet.  I drive home feeling exhausted in a large empty can, but I know she loves her new little home and it is somewhere to go and relax after very busy days at Conservatoire.



Hang on!  My daughter has nicer mugs than me 😳. There’s still lots to do such as hang pictures and sort out the kitchen, (which has a garden table and chairs in it for the moment until we find a bargain on eBay or gumtree).  But they have a lovely home now and can grow into it themselves with their own styling and treasures, plus I can visit and pretend it is my pied a terre!

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Photo Shoot for 25 Beautiful Homes

‘Jewel In The Crown’

This week my house featured in the December 2017 issue of 25 Beautiful Homes.  The house was dressed to the nines with Christmas cheer, and styled beautifully by Sian Williams and photographed by Brent Darby.  It’s the second time one of my houses has been featured in the magazine, so thank you 25 Beautiful Homes.

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What is always odd about shoots for magazines is that they are done so far ahead in advance.  This feature was shot months ago, and since then new bits have been added or tweaked, so the photographs always remind me how much evolves in the house.  The houses always look so large due to the lenses used, and so CLEAN too!  The latter is due to a whirlwind of cleaning in preparation, so the ‘owner’s photo’ is always a bit hideous as I look very tired!

Here are some of the proofs that were taken.  The favourites are then picked out by the editors for the final piece:

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And here is the final layout, my rather useless scanner has not shown how lovely they actually look so apologies about that…

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Anyhow, job done.  It’s time to move house again now I think so I can start all over again….

 

Dream Living Room Plans

I have been looking at a fabulous website called Arhaus who are based in the USA, and am seriously wishing they would open a shop in the UK, (hint, hint….).  Their collections are really beautiful, very classic, and I would snap up a lot of their items, especially the furniture, in a flash to use in interiors.

I have based the room around artwork by Fin DAC, who produces huge scale street mural artwork around the globe.  I love this image, and used it as the inspiration for the room.  It would look amazing as a huge piece on one wall, and he sells via online galleries so I am after one now… although I may have to save up a bit….

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Having recently completed a grey, black and orange dining room, I am still slightly obsessed with these colours and was immediately drawn to the sofa and daybed in the Clancy range, they are both traditional with the buttoning but have lovely sleek modern lines as well.  Plus, (and this is key for me), I really hate plumping up base cushions of sofas, so this is a dream design for me!

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Hatfield House – the best ceilings in the world ever…

This week I was near London with the eldest child whilst she was performing as part of the Hatfield Chamber Music Festival.  We had an hour free afterwards, and although this was not much time at all, it seemed madness not to go into the house and have a peep.

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Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. The Estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout the House. I got very over-excited looking at the wonderful portraits, all of my history lessons at school, (and I was a bit obsessed with the Tudors), came to life again as names and faces appeared.

 

 

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It is an iconic building in British architectural history.  Thousands of hand thrown bricks in red clay, and a lot of glass leaded windows.  The turrets are also very similar in style to Hampton Court and the Tower of London.  It is also famed for its beautiful knot gardens and parkland:

But is THE CEILINGS which amazed me.  The most ornate plaster work, pargetting, gilding, embellishment and decoration is pretty much in every main room of the house.

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Before & After: The house renovation is complete.

Finally, it is done….

For those who have noticed a somewhat silent blog recently, I do have a very valid reason as I have been slogging away 7 days a week over the last couple of months to get this house completed.  My life has been consumed by this project, but I now it is done I think I have enjoyed it…(?!)

I have learnt many new things; how to fit door architraves and skirting, mix plaster, fix windows, mitre corners properly and much more.  I think I have used about 125 litres of white emulsion, and got a sort of snow-blindness by the end of it.  My hands are like a workman’s, and I am exhausted and have spent hours in builders yards and sourcing things online to get the best prices  But it has been worth it, and I am on budget which is a miracle…

In the middle of the job my builders’ firm went bust, which could have been a total disaster and left me up the creek without a paddle so to speak, but we managed to muddle through and finish the renovation.  My builders honoured the contract and worked extra hours unpaid to finish the job, so someone up there was watching out for me I think!  It meant a 3 week delay on the build, and that I had to learn lots of new skills pronto, but circumstances meant that I just had to forge on.

Here come the before, mid-point and after pictures…..

The facade of the house…. from grubby magnolia to zingy blue… I got over vertigo on that scaffolding after a couple of days, and it was a lovely view…

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The garden…. from rubbish dump to a much more elegant space…

The once small and festering loo… now a wall has been moved to create a spacious shower room…

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A large curved shower

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Simple clean lines

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House Renovation Diary Part 2

For the last few weeks I have not had a minute spare to post anything, and have been trying to juggle the renovation, still do another existing part-time job, carry out my school Governor role, look after my kids and still run the family home.  I kid you not, this is multi-tasking to another level.  Luckily, we women have brains that can compartmentalize and manage these feats, otherwise I should be a gibbering wreck being carted off to an institution for intense therapy!

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My view for the next few weeks

PROGRESS

So, since the last post the house renovations has been cracking onwards.  All of the walls have been stripped bare, discovering along the way that the original builders glued woodchip wallpaper straight onto bare plasterboard in some areas, which is impossible to remove without damage. At least 3 walls had this finish so we had to budget for more extensive works to them to get them sorted out.  Who invented that paper and why?

I had to source a building team pretty quickly, and was amazed at some of the outrageous quotes that came in from various trades.  Differences for wiring quotes, as an example, were from £2,800 to £10,000 for the house.  The phrase ‘are you having a laugh?’ came to mind (and more explicit ones that I will not share)..  However, perseverance and a lot of cash deals sorted out a great team.  I then contracted the builders to come in and do the following lengthy list:

Plasterboard where necessary all ceilings and aforementioned walls, re-plaster all rooms  in the house, re-wire and chase in all new electrics, re-plumb, move two walls, install new central heating and radiators, hang & fit all new doors,fit two bathrooms and one kitchen… the list goes on and on.  I also have a gardener stripping out the hideous junkyard that was the garden, with new lawn, planting and fencing coming next week.  My main job is decorating both internally and externally, chosing the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring.  I have been sourcing new joinery and hardware for all the doors in the house, and am become a wizard with my tape measure and minute measurements!  I am also on first name terms now with trade suppliers at the Builders yards in the city.

I asked my building team to start from the top down so I can at least prep the new plaster with mist coats whilst the messy work is being done.  We are at the stage of first fix electrics being finished, and 50% of the house is plastered.  Most floorboards are up and the debris is incredible.  It’s a dust bomb basically, it even gets in my teabags somehow.

Stripping a room, can someone explain the painting method on the door to me please?

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So here are some photos of the works so far.  A small loo has the wall smashed down in preparation for extending it into a shower room.

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House Renovation Diary Part 1

Biting the bullet…

I have been away from the blog of late, and here is the main reason why.  I have gone into partnership with a property developer as the designer and project manager, and we have the following property to turn.  It is a 3 story Victorian house in central Bristol which we purchased at auction.  That in itself was really exciting, I have never been to property auction before, and my business partner had the most rigid arm when it came to our lot!  It seems crazy to buy a house in less than 5 minutes, but it is a lot easier than going the usual protracted route.  Here is the street it is in.

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So, the house.  For years it was owned by the Local Authority, and they are now selling them off.  So it has been structurally looked after, but the interiors are somewhat horrible.  In fact they are really dire.  The only original feature left is a lovely winding staircase.  Everything else has been ripped out over the years, so a lot will need replacing.

The house has 2-3 reception rooms or 3-4 bedrooms depending on how it is configured.  There is also a large kitchen-diner and 2 bathrooms.  It also has a garden, which is a good size are rare for a city center house.

Prepare yourself, this is what it looks like now:

Wallpaper over wallpaper, electrics in conduit on the outside of the walls. layers of cheap flooring.  I am seeing a lot of skips outside to take the debris as we strip it out.  The kitchen and bathrooms are particularly choice!

 

We take possession in early April, and then it will become a whirlwind of activity as we strip. purge, re-wire, re-plumb, move walls and fit new bathrooms and a kitchen.  The garden also needs landscaping, fencing and clearing, at the moment it is a breeding ground for brambles, debris and rotten mattresses.

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I will continue the story as it slowly evolves.  We are looking at a 3-4 month turnaround.  For now, I am trying to juggle other work with planning this renovation, so my other blog posts may fall by the wayside a bit.  Wish me luck!

Has anyone else out there taken on something that looked this bad to start with?

Heals – A rather fabulous shop

I was in London yesterday, whiling away the time whilst my eldest daughter was singing in a concert.  Heading to the Tottenham Court Road, I visited Heals, a fantastic furniture emporium which I have not been to for at least a decade.  A lifetime ago when I lived in London and was furnishing my first apartment,, it was THE place to get your cool, edgy statement pieces.  Happily, it is still just as cutting edge in design as I remember.

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The first thing I saw on entering was Abigail Ahern‘s flower shop.  These are the most realistic blooms and plants I have even seen.  The cactus’ especially intrigued my youngest daughter who was with me.  She could not believe they were not real and kept stroking them, with no spines and spikes to hurt her little hands.

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You can order these on-line if you cannot get to London from her on-line shop, and I guarantee they are worth getting.  They are amazing, and you would probably end up watering them by mistake.

We then headed into the shop where I was assailed by the most beautiful lights, they are like huge teardrops in hand blown glass.

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There are well priced selection of wall lights.

IMG_2320IMG_2321Then on to the scented candles to smell some delicious scents, and where the Tom Dixon candles are sublime, if not unbelievably pricey.543205Every item is chosen carefully to represent the best in design in Heals.  This new cinema chair is very sweet too…

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And I feel that the Pinner bed would look great in my spare room.  Like a modernist colonial upgrade.

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This is tableware called ‘Ink’.  Each blue and white motif evokes classic Delftware porcelain and 1950s Midwinter ceramics.

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I recommend a visit to anyone who loves interiors when in London.  And if not, the website is well designed and ships internationally.  A final swoon over Abigail Ahern flowers designed into a huge hanging beast of beauty….

 

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Stately Home Visit – Dyrham Park

Roll over Downton Abbey (aka Highclere)… today I visited Dyrham Park near Bath which is in the middle of a huge roof overhaul, and a rarity in that the National Trust lets the visitors see the conservation work which goes on in one of their properties.

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The Estate

The house is set in 274 acres (1.1 km²) of gardens and parkland. The west front of 1692 was commissioned from the Huguenot architect, Samuel Hauduroy, and the east front of 1704 from William Talman, architect of Chatsworth, by William Blathwayt, who was Secretary at War to William III.

Because of Blathwayt’s royal connections, and his influential uncle, Thomas Povey, Dyrham became a showcase of Dutch decorative arts. The collection includes delftware, paintings and furniture. 18th century additions include furniture by Gillow and Linnell.  The interiors have remained little altered since decorated by Blathwayt. The Blathwayt family lived at the house until 1956, when the government acquired it. The National Trust acquired it in 1961.

The overall design of the first ornate gardens is thought to have been by George London, these gardens then went to ruin and were redesigned into parkland as was the fashion in 1790 by Charles Harcourt Masters, a Bath architect and surveyor.

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Original formal garden design at Dyrham 1691-1704

Interiors

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Top 10 decorating mistakes to avoid

Sometimes, however hard you try, certain mistakes come up again and again.  These are my top 10 peeves in interiors which I have been mulling over this week.  Feel free to add more in comments.

The paint colour that looked so good on the tin but in fact is actually hideous.

This is the one colour that ends up looking like someone has been sick on the wall, looks really bad against all of your other furniture and fabrics, and which has one of two outcomes.

a)  You pretend you like it to avoid admitting it was a dreadful mistake and then shudder whenever you look at it for the rest of your life, or..

b)   You paint over it all again before anyone notices the initial pukey colour.

Buying a rug that is too small.

It looked great in the shop or online, but when you get it home and site it under the coffee table/dining table/bed, you realize it is in fact a rug from Lilliput and only the edges are visible.

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