Time for a change

A while ago I inherited some chairs which I painted and very simply recovered. I write about it here. With general use and a specific disaster when I spilt stuff on them I decided they needed a change.

Here they are ‘before’. Slightly stained.


I found some fabric I liked in John Lewis called Deco Tulip.


And I was ready to get started.

This is by no means a proper professional bit of upholstery. I have (I confess) been on a short course where we were taught to lovingly rework furniture and this isn’t really the thorough approach they recommend, but it works.

First I just removed the old top layer.


And cut out roughly the right amount of fabric.


As I paint I’m lucky enough to have a staple gun I use for making canvasses, but I think you could just use small tacks in fact that is a bit more professional.



I then just pull the fabric tight, but not excessively so and staple it in place. A bit like wrapping a present.


Pop a bit of fabric on to cover the edges.


And you’re basically done.







There’s been a small change in the kitchen. Actually the first of a few changes.

Friday night was spent living the highlife and driving to Ikea. It seems like a weird time to go, but it really makes sense. No on in their right mind would go to Ikea on a Friday night. Meaning you have to place (relatively speaking) to yourself.

The main target for the shop was to buy some extra spot lighting for the kitchen. This was successful but tragically I forgot to buy the corresponding bulbs so their great unveiling will have to wait for another day.

However I did take the chance to change the kitchen rug. It’s been subject to a grime onslaught and being made from jute is not easy to clean. Here’s an old picture showing it in it’s former glory.


I was going to just replace it like for like, but then I saw this character and decided it was time for a change.


table 2


table 1


A bargain at £50.


My friend has come to stay with me while he writes a book. So we’re transforming the sitting room into a bedroom and the kitchen/dining room into a kitchen/sitting room. It’s actually been fun. A bit of a struggle moving sofas between floors (the sitting room is…well was..on the first floor) but quite a good challenge.

As part of this I took the chance to get the painting finally done in the kitchen. It got a quick once over with pigeon when the room was first worked on but it was never a polished job. Plus overtime I had decided that it would be better to have all the woodwork, ceiling and walls one colour. I got some raised eyebrows when trying this out on people as an idea but I felt pretty sure it would work. Or I’d like it at least. So I plunged in and got going.

Taking delivery of plenty of paint.

How it was before. 




and after…


I’m also changing the lights in this room to two of these which I bought in the John Lewis sale after Christmas. I don’t think they do this one anymore but they have some similar styles.




Painting the ceiling a dark colour is definitely the most controversial idea, but (and it may seem strange that I consider this a good thing) no one actually notices that it’s been painted until you point it out. Just that something is different and I think it makes the room seem more complete and the ceilings seem higher as there’s not a band of colour demarcating the divide.

Overall I’m pleased with the results.


Recently I’ve had a couple of nice things sent to me to try out.

I’m still surprised by how frequently I get approached by companies and/or individuals and generally I say no (some are amazingly random) but in these cases I was kind of interested….

The first is a metal wine holder. I have no real space to store wine, beer etc the bottles are just all lined up in a corner of the kitchen. I probably should invest in a proper rack, like this that could fit into my alcoves.


Although I’m not sure my “wine collection” totally merits in. In quantity maybe but quality might be stretching it.

However, Black Country Metal Works sent me this little number to try and it’s  made a big difference. It’s tidied things up plus I think it fits in well with the look of the kitchen / dining area. So a thumbs up from me.


You can buy all sorts on their site, including I noticed – cauldrons!

A home for everything

Totally fitted kitchens are (at least at the moment) not really my thing, to my eyes they can be too finished or not in keeping with the rest of the house. I like a mix of old and new with open shelving to display the more attractive items and cupboards to hide away the not so attractive…much the same as my approach to every room.

With that in mind I have been looking for something to hang on the wall over the kitchen sink. I did think of a large vintage mirror but I looked and looked and couldn’t find one I liked.

Then I got a bit more practical and decided to go for shelves, mainly to allow the glasses to reside in a more convenient location. Eventually I found these old pine shelves (I suspect they were previously to top of a dresser) on eBay and the search was over.



I love eBay. Living in London it can be hard to find furniture that doesn’t break the bank. It all seems to have been bought elsewhere, popped in a London lifestyle store, styled a bit and the priced doubled. eBay means that you can buy pieces from all over the country and either pick it up yourself or use the website anyvan. It works really well, all you do is post your job with the main details (description, rough size etc) and the picking up and dropping off points plus a timeframe it needs to happen within. Then a range of courier companies will bid on your job, they’re often combining your job with another so for them it works quite well. I’ve used it a number of times and it’s always gone smoothly and been quite cost-effective. I’m sure there must be something similar in the US and Canada – if not consider that a free business idea!









Before and after – main bathroom


In many ways this is the room that has gone through the biggest change. At some point what had been one room was divided in two to make a small galley kitchen which you accessed from the front sitting room and a similarly sized bathroom your reached via the original entrance from the stairs.

There was also a kind of kitchen in the basement so it seems this was done to allow various members of the family to live in the house but with their own space, whilst not exactly splitting the house up into flats.

Whilst the blue bathroom suite was kind of cool these rooms needed some change. First of all we took down the dividing wall.

 We had to re-plumb the entire house at the same time.

This also meant we were removing the only kitchen in the house and working sinks. So we had to keep the “kitchen” sink working in this room for a bit while we set up a new cobbled together kitchen in the downstairs front room which was intended to be the new working kitchen for the house. For a while then you could have a bath and do the dishes in the same room.

Then we started to add things back in. We decided to have a walk in shower which you can see the first stages of in the picture above. Much agonising over the rest of the layout, but the bath eventually went in the centre of the room by the window (only downside is that you flash anyone looking in from the garden when you get out of the bath) and we installed a utility cupboard to house the washing machine. This was accompanied by a sheila’s maid to dry the clothes.

And now it looks like this.

Totally floored

In recent weeks (well months) it’s all been about the flat. However whilst work still continues on the flat there has been some attention to upstairs, namely the entrance hall and upstairs kitchen / piano room.

We’ve been holding off on this part of the house because of all the work going on elsewhere and therefore all the walking through, carrying building items, dragging things too heavy to carry meant we knew it would just get damaged.

But now we felt it was time for some attention. Mainly all that has happened is we have painted the floors – Farrow and Ball Strong White, like the floors throughout the house. This was also the focus of much discussion; white floors certainly show the dirt more and as this is the main hall and communal room that seemed a silly idea. In the end however we realised it’s easy to clean, easy to touch up and the added light seems to balance the darker wall colours.

So here comes a series of images, some taken in the day and some in the evening showing the results.

obviously the fireplace needs some attention - we're not burning books just yet

rug from Ikea...

And in the daytime….

However this just means we have to face the much bigger decision on how we want the kitchen part of this room to be. At the moment it is just cobbled together from existing units and bits of the kitchen that was already there. We’re yet to totally decide between free-standing /rustic and fitted.

A complete kitchen

Well nearly.

The kitchen in the flat is in and working.

The plan is to add some shelves above these units for storage. Then with this dresser, bought secondhand from the British Heart Foundation (Old Kent Road branch) some years ago now, gives the room a mix of fitted and free-standing.

The door into the lobby you can see here is Farrow and Ball Lulworth Blue which is actually left over from painting the garden shed. The door through to the bedroom area matches.

The rest of the room is starting to feel more complete, although far from finished.

The entrance to the flat has also improved greatly. For starters it’s no longer a death-trap as the roof area has been repaired.

The new front door has been installed. This had to be made for the space as the dimensions are slightly unusual.

Still need to pick a colour for it….

The idea is to paint the exterior well area white so it reflects the light back into the flat. The bars unfortunately will need to stay because it’s a slightly out of sight, plus we need to get a security light working.

The lobby area will be for storage (coats, boots etc). The wires will be boxed in and some kind of cupboard will probably go in front.

Some touch ups elsewhere too. The doors to the bathroom have had a coat of paint. Again using up colours from elsewhere. This is Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster which is the same colour as the sitting room. I think it works really well with the green of the bedroom.

Slowly but surely

The flat continues to become more a flat and less a few damp rooms at the bottom of the house.

The bedroom and bathroom are the most complete.

The bathroom now has a proper mirror, which is a pivot mirror so adjustable for tall and short alike. It comes from Next, which is the first thing I have bought from them.

I still really like this view from the bathroom back into the bedroom.

I have finished painting all the things green that are going to be green, including the double doors on the bedroom side. They just need some handles now.

And some storage has been added to this room. Clothes are hanging in a space which will ultimately be an enclosed wardrobe.

Shoes hidden in a shoe cabinet from Ikea along with some shelves and white boxes for er, more shoes.

I also picked up a little bin for this room from Jane Newbery in Dulwich. Pretty.

One last small addition is a hook on the back of the door. I bought this well over a year ago from Graham and Green in their sale, so pleased to finally have a home for it.

The connecting space between the bedroom and the sitting room will also be the connecting space between the flat and main house. This separation has started. Which also means a space has been created which will hold another loo for the use of the main house.

The green steps are currently standing in for the loo so we can check there is enough space, which there is, just.

And this is the big hole that has had to be dug by the back door to connect all the plumbing.

In the front room which will be a lounge and kitchen space the kitchen has been delivered and partly installed. It’s actually has white gloss cabinets, but the protective cover is still on.

This room us usable now and some furniture has been added. Including this rocking chair which I treated myself too, also from Graham and Green, also in their sale.

By day…

And by night…

Somewhere for me to sit and rock back and forth like a little old lady working on my sewing. Probably muttering.

But the rest of the room is still a bit ramshackle.

The front door for the flat is the next major piece of work.

This kind of lobby area has access to the old coal storage hole. This now has a new floor fitted and is being used for some basic storage. One day maybe a wine cellar.

The roof in the entrance area needs attention and we’ve had to have a new door made as it’s not a standard size.

View out from the front door.

Back the other way. These flagstones have already been lifted and replaced and I think in the finished space will look great.

This internal door from the lobby space into the sitting room will stay but needs some serious attention.

Some temporary measures to keep things waterproof.

The new door is due to be delivered in the next week or so, so this area should be very different in a few weeks. After that it’s work on the extra loo, then the last big project which is the main kitchen.

Kitchen repairs, choosing colours and more work on the basement

There’s been a problem in the kitchen.  Some initial work was done some time ago in this room and colours tested but since then it has left it in a semi-fuctional state while other bigger problems are dealt with.

But there’s been a problem. Some plasterboard that was used to line the gap in the fireplace where the oven now fits,  has buckled and bowed in quite a worrying fashion. It’s been checked out and it’s nothing dangerous, the plasterboard just wasn’t given room to move as it dried and settled. It looked really worrying though.

So the solution was to take off all the tiles and plasterboard and the area has now been rendered and will (probably) be painted rather than tiled again. Here is it with some damp spots where the render is being sealed.

The rest of this room is looking kind of OK. There’s a small desk in here now, and even some flowers when I don’t find the general building dust too depressing to bother.

Not much more can be done to this room at the moment as all the floorboards will need to come up again to put the electrics in the basement which is still largely untouched. In fact if anything the basement looks a bit worse. It needs damp treatment (quotes are happening at the moment) and therefore some paneling that was probably just put in to hide the problem had to come off.

Hmm lovely.

So on a more positive note the entrance hall has been taking a step forward. Again the floor is still untouched because the boards will need to come up, but the current plan is that this will be  Farrow and Ball Strong White which is the same as the bathroom and bedrooms.

And on the walls just on this level, Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose (the same colour as the kitchen shelves).

Just painting this hall and adding in this radiator cover has made quite a big change because when you walk in it doesn’t immediately say “building site” anymore, it doesn’t say “finished home either” but it’s much nicer.

Cinder Rose is quite a strong colour, but even so I wanted a strong colour for the two doors in this hall that really contrasts, whilst the door frames and skirting will be Strong White like the floor.

I got a few samples including some of the new colours from (it’s my favourite) Farrow and Ball.

And I’ve gone for the most punchy, Arsenic.

So far a very mixed response…

And finally some random objects I have been collecting.

A beetle paperweight.

Some regal tins.

A biscuit to hold biscuits.

And some birds, standing guard in the bathroom that I bought in a market in Cape Town.