Fitted Cupboards & Shelves for Books

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front whilst I have been trying to plan how to fit the contents of a large house into a smaller one.  Books are the big issue this past couple of weeks – I have cleared the blockbuster paperback shelves and donated them to the charity shops, but still have a lot left that I re-read constantly including loads of penguin classics and art books.  Even after the purge,  I still have hundreds and really do not want to part with them  My tape measure and I are constant companions now, and I have spent days researching various options for bookcases and cupboards that I need to fit into quite wide alcoves in the dining room of our new house this summer.

They need to look something like this and fit the spaces perfectly.

Ikea hacking came to mind as a first option, with cunning combinations of shelves and mouldings – but I am not made on melamine, and even when painted it chips easily so I know it would drive me nuts spotting flaws on shelves.

I then got in several firms who build bespoke shelving units to quote.  Most were averaging £1K per unit.  Unbelievable!  For that I would get MDF, not even solid wood.

Finally I have found a firm online who can make solid wood ones to order for very reasonable prices. I supply all measurements and they make, deliver and fit.  It is millimetre perfect so is actually not scribed into the wall but removable.  I can move the shelves around to suit the book sizes, and they come primed and sprayed in any paint I want as well – all F&B colours or any RAL.  I am thinking plain white but I will paint the back beading a much darker colour to make things pop.

I am going for a combination of these library shelves below, but with doors not drawers on the lower part top hide the uglier books!  I just love the ladder – the unit will be 9ft tall so I think I can justify one!

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What do you think?  I am putting the order in this week… can’t wait!

Organizing For Your Lifestyle

ORGANIZATION

Being a pretty obsessive OCD organizer, (mainly due to a lot of ‘stuff’ in my home which if I don’t control results in chaos within hours), I can happily spend hours sorting, catagorizing and decluttering areas. I find this a really calming thing to do, whereas to others it might seem like hell.

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I always thought that this was my own personal madness, as I can get itchy when I see clutter.  But I recently read a new book by Jane Stoller called ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’ that delves deep into the psyche behind organizing, and which explains what the benefits are as a whole to your life.  With the clutter controlled, there is more time to actually ENJOY YOUR LIFE!  I don’t usually read self-help books, but  ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’   is a really useful hybrid as it offers both practical advice as well as explaining the psychological benefits of organization.

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Plus it is a realistic book, as I do not have the patience to look at everything I own and murmur in the latest fashion ‘But do I really love it?’  Of course I love it, I love all of it and am never, ever going to be a minimalist!  But I can be a tidy and organized maximalist, and this book has excellent tips on how to evaluate what you have and how to look after it all so you have more quality time on your hands.  It also makes you look hard at things so you can let some of them go without regret.

USEFUL ADVICE

Some of the tips are really useful, I loved the wardrobe section on how to store and look after items.  Like most ladies, I own more clothes and shoes than I realistically have cupboard space for.  There are great tips on how to look after and store things so they are not creased, crumpled and hence last longer.  If you think of the hefty financial outlay that we females spend on clothes, it makes sense to make them last.

Traveling away?  The book has great ways to make packing less stressful, and without the dreaded over-packing that I usually do so I end up with a massive suitcase full of clothes I don’t even wear on the trip.

The book breaks down areas of organization, so it can be something you can ease into this is a new process and makes you shake in your boots.

You can follow Jane on Twitter where she has motivational tips to keep the spirit going.

 

 

Christmas Decoration Storage

TOP TIPS FOR STORING CHRISTMAS DECOR

As Christmas draws to an end, it is all too easy to take decorations down, shove them into various bags and secrete them in attics, garages, under beds, and even in random places where space can be found, (I am guilty of the last one, for years my faux tree has been stored in an airing cupboard).

This is all very well until 11 months later, when you need to get things out and find them twisted, smashed, crumpled or just gone!  Fairy lights are particularly good at getting lost in our house, sometimes not turning up for a couple of years by which time replacements have been bought and then there are strings of them lying around everywhere.

So this year I am have a New Year resolution; packing away Christmas efficiently.

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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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Ikea Hack – Bookshelf Unit, Part 1

PLANNING:

Yesterday I was over at my sisters house.  She has been working really hard recently on decorating, de-cluttering and generally removing the ravages of children over the years.  She has a sitting room with a newly installed woodburner, (she enlarged the fireplace and taught herself how to lime plaster to help install this, bravo!), and her style is very boho.  Lots of indian/ethnic furniture, kilims, fabulous battered leather armchairs and artefacts.  The room is skinny with a low ceiling, and not much natural light, so it ends up like a tunnel with dead space at either end.

There are two very long alcoves either side of the fireplace, and one is very underused – in fact it is crying out for something more.  So I suggested some sort of storage combination so she can get all of her stuff like LP’s, DVD’s, books etc into one dedicated place.  Budget is an issue, and we always like to get creative and avoid shelling out a fortune where possible. So I came up with an idea for an IKEA hack that we will be making this week.  Here are some very fuzzy images of the room and alcove, apologies for the quality!

Using an extended KALLAX as a central piece and two Billy bookcases either side, plus wood mouldings to revamp the front areas and to create some grandeur, we should be able to come up with a lovely break-front bookcase that will store a huge amount of things, fingers crossed!  As the room has generally dark furniture we are going to use white Ikea units, but paint the backs of the shelves in a dark grey to highlight whatever ends up on the shelves.  We will also paint everything else in white once the mouldings are attached.

The KALLAX units comes with great square baskets available made in rattan and palm leaves, so in some shelves clutter can be hidden in these.

SHOPPING LIST:

So here are the basics we will be buying:

Mouldings will be detailed with vertical rises like this:

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And the top pediment moulding like this:

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The base will also have a small skirting added to finish off the piece:

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The Top 10 Things You Never Get Around To Doing In Your House

The lists just keep coming!  Here are my Top 10 things I never seem to get properly done in my home…. sinful but true…

  1.  Cobweb Removal

However much I try, these things just keep coming.  I live in a period house with 12ft ceilings, so those little weaving people have a lot of space.  Sometimes I can go weeks without noticing, and then the sun comes out and.. LO!  Once there were so many on one ceiling that I performed an impressive ‘candyfloss’ manoeuvre and swirled a stick that pulled them all in one go.  It was very satisfying.  The downside of the cobwebs is that you then have to hunt for the critter that perpetrated them, and I am not a fan of spiders…

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OK, mine are not as bad as these but you get the idea….

2.  Paperwork

I have many piles all over the house.. some to do, some done, some not even opened.  Even when I have a monthly purge I discover really old and important things that I have managed to miss.  That can include bills, permission for school trips, and the worst one was a Safeguarding document which could have resulted in a school having an emergency Ofsted inspection (luckily I found it 24 hours before the time was up, I was not popular that week).  I do try the in/out box thing that everyone recommends, but it is just not really me…. (note to self: sort it out or hire a secretary).

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An incredibly organised effort by Delightful Order

3.  Christmas Decoration management

Keep all Christmas Decorations/Lights/Stockings and so on together when they are stored away.  Last year I managed to lose all of the fairy lights.  I then had to go out and buy all new ones, (and we use a LOT).  On packing the new ones away after Christmas, I found all the lost ones (in the linen cupboard under some sheets of all places).  It was a pure irritation moment, and one that I need to address.

Our Christmas decoration boxes have themes from the last two decades; cute gingerbread, smart navy, homespun stuff.  They document my children’s ages more than anything, so I am loathe to get rid of them, but they do take up an awful lot of space for things that actually do not get used anymore.  If you change themes a lot, be ruthless and get rid of old ones that make you wince when you remember how stylish you thought they were at the time, oh and keep the lights with the decorations if you can…

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I am not quite as bad as this lady here, but I could be getting there if I do not cull…

4.  Window & MIrror Cleaning

This sits along nicely with the cobwebs moments.  Everything looks great in the house until the sun comes out and shines through the windows.  Except it isn’t shining, but turgidly trying to break through the grime accumulated on the glass.

We have a lot of open fires, so the insides of the windows get as bad as the outside.  Although it is a dull task, the difference is amazing when they are cleaned.  I swear I thought my garden was generally blurred recently until the windows were cleaned, and I realised I was not short-sighted but just peering through filthy glass.

I rest my point...

I rest my case…

Mirrors are a different matter.  They look lovely when sparkling clean, but I also think they are incredibly flattering with a fine mist of dust as they take years off my appearance.  A sort of de-liner of lines if you will.

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Better at diffusing than an Oscar winning cameraman

5. discovering what actually lurks under the stairs, or not.

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Paint Storage Continued…. or is it baby poo?

So following my recent post about Paint Storage, which showed pastel paints looking great like the below, I spent the afternoon decanting my own paints into jars.

fcf65-paintinjarsI made some sweet labels for the lids, and put them into my own mason jars (free download at bottom of post which is editable).  I got rid of 4 large bags of old paint tins and was feeling super tidy, if not a little worried that I am developing OCD.

BUT WAIT………! 

I am realising from the below photos that the colours in my house look like the insides of various babies nappies, all except one vivid aubergine.  Hmm, feeling that I need to up the ante on stronger colours now…  Hurrah, another reason to redecorate!

paint montageClick here for download of paint label

Great Bookshelf ideas

I saw this post on House & Garden and there are some great ideas for displaying books here:

Get organised: stylish bookshelf ideas

From brilliant bookshelves built into stairs to floor-to-ceiling libraries, these bookshelf ideas for living rooms, the study and beyond are just as inspiring as the tomes that fill them. Fancy creating a clever book nook of your own? We have bookshelf ideas for every room of your home, from fitted and floating bookshelves to corner bookshelves (and even colour-coded bookshelves). How novel…

Here are few examples but head over the H&G as there are lots more amazing photos for inspiration.

  • The Italian Job
Secret bookcase door
A work space with a view (of books)
Modern classic
Ladder Bookcase
Desk Space

Displaying collections Part One

Coming from a marriage of two compulsive collectors, it is really hard not to let the objects accumulate into chaos and clutter.  We are dreadful at always coming home with bizarre treasures, and love taxidermy, old medical paraphernalia, books and actually anything odd that grabs our fancy.  For Christmas I received a vintage medical model of a hair follicle and a also Biologist’s fish’s brain model – bless him!  However, with so much stuff and growing collections I often have to reorganise the items into some form of controlled display.

I am inspired by this house featured in Apartment Therapy where the owners have as much ‘stuff’ as we do, and have managed to group it into some semblance of controlled display.

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Eclectic collection of items

I love their version of a kitchen unit – a dream for hoarders like me.  Cannot see myself chopping onions anywhere on it, but it is a small price to pay for such a beautiful piece of furniture.

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Photo: Apartment Therapy

There are lots of ways to display items and they can look great en masse, this is a collection of antique textile fibres I picked up at a flea market and grouped together in a shelved box frame:

I always remember being knocked out by this photo of a collection of baskets in a hotel.  Amazing.

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I have a large glazed cupboard in the hallway where I store bits and pieces like magazines, ribbons and so on (neatly hidden away in boxes).  I wanted it to be visually more exciting so backed the cupboard in fabric, then added in collections of shoe lasts, fossils and some very old books:

 I am working my way through the various collections and trying to space them out around the house so they can be seen clearly and preferably not gather dust.  It is a long winded task, this one below is one of my husband’s ‘cabinet of treasures’… I don’t even know where to start on this one but it needs an edit.  He has also swiped some of my treasured insect taxidermy into it I note…

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