Not quite a she-shed but definitely my garden sanctuary. I have managed to get the roof of the arbour painted with a brush taped to a stick (well a lantern hook). Whilst my neighbours watched on in amusement… it looked funny but it did the job. I had to use a couple of different sized brushes to get into the hard to reach bits!
The aurbour had a couple of purposes, one was to block out a gap in the neighbours fence with a view straight to their kitchen door so there’s no more views of the neighbours in their nighties letting the dog out, and the other was to catch the late afternoon sun and this corner was the best spot!
It took some digging and rearranging of the garden, as I mentioned in my previous post to fit the arbour in the right spot.. but I hadn’t thought through painting the roof… I’m only 5’2″!
I’ve added a couple of tall plant pots either side, one with an acer and one with bamboo that I got for bargain prices in the sales. I’m hoping the plants grow a bit to hide the fences some more.
Best thing is walking home from work on a sunny day (rare I know but today is one) and taking off my shoes and heading out across the grass for a peaceful moment to myself in the sun.
I thought that painting the garden furniture would be easy! It turns out that outdoor paint is much runnier than chalk paint….
I’ve picked a couple of Cuprinol paints, Silver Birch and Country Cream to paint my corner arbour… but getting it done is taking an age. Trying to catch a dry day is tricky with this years British summer. It’s August and rainy. The paint instructions suggest 2 coats no longer than 8 hours apart, I’ve managed to get most of the arbour painted with just the roof to go. Rain is forecasted this afternoon so I’m not sure if I should risk it!
The painting has been a bit tricky to get into all of the nooks and crannies, and as I’m painting with 2 colours I’ve had to be careful. I started with the cream, thinking that any splashes could be easily covered by the grey… good job as there was lots of drips. I had to use masking tape where the 2 colours meet up- leaving about an hour before taking the tape off. It’s not perfect but much tidier than my cutting in.
I’ve opted for the cream inside so it’s bright when you’re sitting in the arbour and it’s a lovely contrast with the silver birch. I can’t wait to finish the roof but the rain won’t let me! I’ve got a string of solar lights to hang up and I’m on the lookout for wooden bunting to paint in the same colours as the corner arbour. I just hope I can get it finished before the end of summer!
After enjoying a few days of Summer and then what seems like a month of rainy days I’ve decided to bring some of the garden indoors; lavender.
I have lots of roses in my front garden that have been clearly loved and looked after for years, so I’ve been adding to the garden around them. I googled to find out the best companion plants for the roses, and lavender seemed to come up as a good option. It’s also got the added benefits of ground cover and a wonderful scent! I planted around 10 lavender plants last year to my garden border and this year they’re starting to fill out.
With all the rain we’ve had I haven’t even cut the grass around them for a couple of weeks and I’m waiting for a sunny day to tidy up around them and for a picture. I’ve been trying to find out how to dry some lavender to keep the smell and the purple flowers in a vase indoors.
Apparently the easiest way to dry them is to simply cut a bunch and hang them upside down in an airy space for a couple of weeks (not cutting into the woody bits of the stems or the lavender won’t grow). Seems straight forward, so I have a little bunch hanging on my mantelpiece until they’re dry enough for a vase!
So I haven’t really been very bloggy in a while. After the bathroom and stairs the house is all homely and there’s only a few cosmetic improvements to be made to my house (indoors). So I had a little chill out and have been enjoying the luxury of breathing in without the dust! YEY.
Outside however is another story. After living in flats with yards, having a garden was high up on the ‘must have’ list when I was looking for a house. Maintaining said garden has been right at the bottom of the to-do list. It’s funny that as soon as I got a garden, everyone I knew became an expert at gardening and have been dishing out advice for the last year. Advice to which I’ve just replied ‘the garden is next years job’ whilst in my head I’ve been thinking ‘F-off can you see the state of inside, do you think I care what the weeds are doing?’. Anyway the time had come to tackle the garden….
The thought of getting in a gardener is amazing, the thought of paying someone is not. This garden will be transformed with my very own little not-so-green fingers.
I started with some weeding and quickly discovered that flowerbeds are hard work and grass is definitely the way to go! So, I’ve been gradually flattening out the flower beds and putting down some grass seed. Some of the flowers have been fighting back though and once a flower has given me some colour I’ve not had the heart to grass it over. I’ve had some beautiful poppies pop up adding a wonderful touch of red and pink to the late spring days, but they only seem to last a couple of weeks. I’ve also got some bright red, yellow and orange roses that have won me over.
As the longer summer days started I realised that the sunniest spot of the late afternoon was a back corner of the garden filled with some large bushy shrubs… growing on a bit of a slope. The perfect spot I thought for an early evening wine.
I didn’t have myself down as a landscape gardener and I asked a few people if they thought I’d be able to flatten the ground out and add a bench… no was the prominent answer. That tree will never come out was another. It took me all day with a little spade and some rolling around of the border rocks but I did manage to dig the shrubs out, level up (ish) the ground and even make some steps from some strategicly placed rocks. I’ve chucked a bag of bark on top to try to keep the weeds at bay. I even replanted the big shrub, I think it’s a butterfly tree… it looked dead for a few weeks after moving but it’s now started to grow some purple flowers. It’s been hard work has this gardening lark and I always hiss a little when I hear the neighbours lawn mowers going because I know I have to do it too; or the jungle will take over again! The best bit was with the money I didn’t spend on a gardener I’ve spent on a corner arbour to sit and enjoy the sun… and some wine. On the downside it has rained since I got it so I haven’t been able to paint it but hey, when the sun gets out I’ll be enjoying the sunny rays and a glass of vino verde and I guess I’ll be mowing the lawn and weeding forever!
I had planned on simply hanging some potato sacks up, with a café tension rod and clips, for my kitchen curtains. It turned out that the potato sacks I’d bought weren’t long enough for this (I didn’t measure first). Anyway, I’ve had a little bit of a cut, sew and play and I’ve repurposed some potato sacks into some cafe curtains.
I decided to make the curtains with hessian to let some light in whilst having a rustic feel. I then thought that some print on the hessian might look nice- which led me to potato sacks. I found some French potato sacks and bought a pack of 3…. thinking I could just hang them up and be done with it. They did look ok but didn’t cover enough of the window so instead I started to unpick the sacks.
I unpicked the stitching to open the sacks up, making wider curtains and then cut one in half to sew to the top of the other 2 sacks, giving me the extra length.
The top is simply folded and clipped into place with clip rings. That’s it, potato sack curtains. The edges even have a lovely pattern where the string has been unpicked.
I’m not usually one for making New Years Resolutions because I generally don’t keep them at all. I’ve also had a gloomy January full of a long lingering cold that’s left me a little bit flat! Now that February has arrived and the nights are slowly getting later I’ve got a bit more of a skip in my step and am looking forward to some longer spring days.
I’ve decided on a February resolution to be more money wise and less wasteful. Now, don’t get me wrong I am definitely a recycling, upcycling maker kind of girl but this doesn’t always come at a low cost. I usually buy old furniture to upcycle and whilst this is often cheaper than buying brand new from shops I do it because I like a decent piece of sturdy furniture and for the shabby chic look of a finished piece rather than for the money savings. Then on the other hand I’ll happily throw out perfectly good items without thinking about it, or I’ll be entirely cash wasteful by getting a £10 taxi to a meeting cos I just couldn’t be bothered to walk then take a long £2.50 bus journey (I did this today, prompting my resolution). Im not very consistent in my thriftiness. I think I keep forgetting that last year I resigned from a very well paid job, professional reason is noted as ‘to achieve work/life balance’ after working 60+ hour weeks, actual reason is that I just hated my job. I have to remind myself that my current job for a charity does not give me so much disposable income!!
I might be being a little premature when I say I’ve started to prepare for a thrifty Christmas 2018 but I have saved a baby Christmas tree from the garden bin. I’ve hidden the reindeer pot with some twine and I’m planning on keeping the baby tree alive until next Christmas. This could be a real challenge as every plant I have ever touched has unfortunately died…. but for now this is my little reminder to think of the thrift (ignore the almost dead mint plant in the background; it doesn’t indicate much hope for the baby tree).
I’ve just been looking back at pictures of the kitchen before and after the refit. We lived with the existing kitchen for about 8 months before the refit started, so in the meantime we gave the kitchen a little makeover to make it more cosy to live in.
We had a free standing fridge so the first thing to do was make some space for it. The kitchen had a breakfast bar type seating area so we took this out to get the fridge in. We freshened up the cupboards with some white paint and we changed a couple of the ugly doors to curtains. This is easy to do using a net wire and hooks. The curtains were made with iron on hemming as my sewing machine was still packed away- and they were only ever temporary. I have to admit to loving the way the temporary kitchen looked, but there was no doubt that the cupboards needed to be replaced.
We added some Georgian style French doors made by a local company to let some more light into the kitchen. The kitchen units are a cream shaker style with a rustic wooden top and Belfast sink, adding a bit of a traditional country feel to the kitchen. The tiles are in shades of cream, white and grey to compliment the fake tile laminate floor. I love the laminate flooring, it was a great find and not at all what we were looking for I’ve never seen a patterned tile effect laminate floor before and everyone always comments on it.
The bathroom and loo are both pretty small (so small that I can’t even manage to get a decent picture). I really struggled to find any bathroom design ideas for such a small bathroom that didn’t look all squashed in but then I found a roll top corner shower bath that answered the questions about how to fit a roll top bath and a shower into the small bathroom. I’ve picked out quite vintage looking tiles to give the room a nice old fashioned feel, and opted for a part shower screen and a shower curtain (I want it all) the tiny loo also now has a high level cistern.
From start to finish the job was stress, stress, stress. I got a bit irritated when people said to me ‘it’ll be worth it in the end’ as I was sleeping in a child’s bunk bed at my parents house due to a lack of a toilet for what seemed like forever. We used workmen that we’d used in the past and they were great, extortionate (I always think I’m paying too much) but really diligent. They fitted our kitchen and we were really impressed with the work, they do everything from start to finish, leaving the place decorated and new. We got other quotes for the bathroom but we couldn’t find anyone else we had the confidence in.
One of the main issues was that the tiles didn’t arrive on time, causing us problems having the tiler booked in…. but it all worked out in the end. I’m still not entirely convinced that leaving the loo separate is the greatest idea, as although we don’t intend on selling the house, if we had to; I wonder if having a loo and bathroom in one would add value? But for now I get the joy of relaxing in a big tub, or have a long shower with a lovely powerful watercan shower and retro shower curtain!
I’ve just been adding some detail to my white chalk painted chairs. The chairs weren’t in very good condition when I started, they took a lot of cleaning and 2 coats of chalk paint with 30 minutes drying time between coats.
The seat pads were broken with metal sticking through, I had to replace them with new wooden inserts, new foam and I’ve reupholstered with some grey and yellow polka dot cotton fabric- the fabric was attached with a staple gun.
Lots of cleaning!
The dining chairs are really sturdy so I’m pleased that I’ve managed to upcycle them. They’ve got some nice carved detail to them so I’ve painted this with grey and yellow paint to make it stand out. I’ve distressed the chairs with a sanding block around the edges, I’ve been a bit heavy handed with the sanding but I really like the ‘distressed’ bits to be clear rather than looking like accidental scratches.
I think they look really pretty with the polka dots and white, so now I’m gonna have a sit down and a cup of tea!
Well it’s not really a rag, it’s an old cut up curtain repurposed!
Having a 1930’s house means a lot of big windows, including in the bathroom. I wanted to get some privacy from the neighbours without blocking out all of the light. Cafe curtains seem a bit old school but they let in the light from the top of the window whilst screening off the bottom of the window when you need to; unlike blinds that block out all of the light when they’re closed.
Rather than buy new curtains to hang I had an old pair of cream cotton curtains with no lining and cut them to size with pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying. Because they were already curtains I cut them keeping the hem at the bottom and one side, hanging them with the top cut edge folded over and clipped into the hooks. Pretty simple and effective way of providing privacy in the bathroom whilst still letting in the light.