Chalking it up

In our last house we had a small section of wall painted with blackboard paint. The idea was to have a shopping list / to do list on there. In reality we used it to draw silly pictures and to keep a tally of who preferred The Holy Grail to The Big Lebowski (Holy Grail had it). Since as I’m sure you can tell this was so useful we decided to recreate it. This time we have used panels on the folding doors which we can use to section off the kitchen from what will be the dinning room.

from the dinning end of the room looking at back at some of our temporary kitchen

from the kitchen end looking towards the front of the house

There’s one single door and a two panel folding side. We have them open all the time at the moment but they’re really handy as it means you can easily create another distinct room. 

In other news we paid a visit to Ikea recently to buy kitchen shelves as mentioned here. We also impulse bought a rug for our bedroom. Considering we spent about 30 seconds considering it I think it works quite well and makes the room feel cosy.

I’ve posted some shots of our room on here before but I didn’t properly include an image that showed how we have our clothes. We don’t have any storage for them at the moment and so they are on open rails. Given that we have so much else to do in the house I think they’ll stay like this for some time. Also we just haven’t made up our minds how to finally arrange this room.


So thank you once again Ikea.

Kitchen update

This weekend we paid a visit to Ikea. We had to pick up a few things and also collected a few things we didn’t really intend to buy as seems to be the way with Ikea. 

We were mainly looking for some shelves to go around our cooker. We’re quite pleased with the look of this area after going through all this….

Seriously dusty and surprisingly time-consuming. And so we want to make the most of it. On the cheap of course. 

We found some inexpensive small shelves of the right size. They were £2.50 each and a bit dull but we bought six took them home and I carefully painted them all Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose

I’ve suggested pink again and again after cutting out these images from some magazines.  

And finally we’re in agreement to go ahead and that it works. 

We’ve using them for the ingredients we use the most. It looks a bit like we’re playing shop. We also added a metal bar to hang pots from, so they’re always in easy reach and because they take up so much space. 

And we inch forwards a bit more. 

How we’re living now

We’re workmen free at the moment and Klaus is busy preparing for a show which means not much work is happening on the house. However on the plus side since things have settled down a bit we do have a chance to get all the rooms a bit tidy and as functional as possible. 

The front room has a kind of working kitchen. Our last kitchen was mainly free-standing and so we had some bits and pieces to bring with us like the plate rack. The sink was upstairs in the original kitchen (now part of the bathroom) and so we have just moved it downstairs for the time being.  

You can see where we have just roughly painted some sections behind shelves to make it easier when we paint this room properly. It’s all pigeon from Farrow and Ball as we plan to use that throughout this room. 

I’ve got a few paintings I have been working on in this shot. Slightly surprisingly I was letting the first rough stage dry on the oven top, the oven wasn’t on of course. It was just the only place to keep them out of harms way at the time. 

I have been using the other end of the room as a temporary studio space. We’ve had the internal doors partly closed to give me a bit of privacy. 

This is the view back from my studio area.  

The light in the front of the picture I really don’t like, the one at the other end of the room we brought with us from the old house. It’s really intended for the hall but it looks OK where it is for now. 

In this next photo we are in the hall facing into the kitchen. The red mop and bucket makes an entrance in all these shots. That wasn’t intentional but given the general level of work needed I’m not sure these styling lapses really matter.

Outside this room and on the landing you can see that we’ve stripped back much of the wallpaper but left the carpet down for now. 

And upstairs is the sitting room. We have done nothing to this room apart from take up the carpet so we could get the central heating plumbed in, put in radiators and some of our furniture. I know the settee needs upholstering but I kind of like it like this. 

When we were decorating our last house which to be fair was a much smaller job than this one of the most annoying things was moving boxes and furniture from room to room. This time we have the luxury of the basement which is where we are keeping as much as we can out of the way for now. And here they all are. 

Some signs of change

We seem to have finally reached a point where we are adding rather than subtracting from our house. We’ve been busy painting the walls and floors on the top floor to get the bedrooms looking better if not perfect (pictures to follow), Klaus and his brother have been putting up plasterboard in the hall, and all the radiators have arrived

which means once they are all fitted the floorboards can all go back down. We have so many odd boards propped up all over the place that will be a relief.

We have invested in a few stylish radiators in places where they will be on show and more functional ones where they will be obscured.  Once they are fitted we’ll not want to take them down again in a hurry to paint behind so that has meant we have been forced to make some colour decisions. Much of the work on the house feels like this, slowly slowly then suddenly we need to make instant, binding decisions.

In the kitchen we have two windows that are at the front of the house with panelling and shutters. When we first looked viewed the house in deepest darkest January this was one of the things we thought about changing that made us want to go for it. We thought at the time we’d go for Pigeon by Farrow and Ball but we tried another just to be sure. This is Pavilion Grey along side Pigeon.

But Pigeon was the winner. We’re planning to do much of the woodwork and walls in this colour perhaps adding in another colour if the overall effect is too dark as this will run throughout the room to the area where the kitchen units will actually be. One day. In the future. We hope.

Here are some tester shots of the colour plus radiators to get the idea.



 And at the other end of the room the fireplace has finally been knocked out to allow the oven to slot inside. This was much more trouble than we expected but it’s done now and we are pleased with the results so far.

On the other side of the room these are the rather limited facilities we are functioning with at the moment. It’s cobbled together from freestanding parts of our old kitchen and the sink that was upstairs in the orginal kitchen.

So it may not seem like much but to us it’s the first glimmer that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Open plan living

The first big piece of work to take place was taking down the stud wall between what was the bathroom and the kitchen which are both on the  first floor.  Here they are before:

The wall coming down….

and now as one open plan kitchen – bathroom. Soon they’ll be all the rage.

where the old walls once met

On the first night Klaus had a bath and I did some washing up at the same time.

Before photos

To go back to the beginning I have been meaning to post some shots that show how the house was before we moved in.  These images taken by our photographer friend Paul are a good guide.First up is the front room which we will make into a kitchen / dinning room (the current kitchen is part of a room on the first floor that has been divided into two; a narrow bathroom and a narrow kitchen which unfortunately cuts across a window). The plan is to have the more formal eating area at the front and the kitchen at the back so we look out over the garden. Not the heating, we have this kind of thing in every room and they will all need to be replaced with central heating. 

what will be the kitchen

The staircase has been enclosed and so we’ll remove that and need to restore the banisters etc.

enclosed stairs

 A peek at the bathroom which is one half of the upstairs room we will remove the partition wall from. This side has its half of the window boarded up and so a new smaller window has been cut to give some light. 

peeking into the bathroom



Then on the downside (literally) we have the basement / lower ground floor. This area hasn’t been lived in for quite some time, probably decades. We’re hoping to make this a semi-independent flat with a small kitchen and bathroom which friends and relations can use but as you can see it really needs some work. 



And the creepiest room in the house. The storage space under the outside stairs which run up to the front door. Many people are too scared to even approach. One day this will be something cool like a wine cellar but if we’re honest that’s some way off. 



In getting ready for moving we are having a clear out. Klaus has convinced me to throw away my back catalogue of interiors magazines (mainly homes and gardens and living etc). But before throwing them away I have gone through and cut out everything that catches my eye in the hope that it’s useful.

I’ve tried to organise them into themes.

Starting with the hall.  


I like the image of the staircase particularly, the contrast of the dark wood and painted rails. I also really like the corbels. Our new and currently drab hall could so with some features like this.

Sitting room. 

The TV unit on his page is a really neat idea. I’d like to use stronger colours like this on the walls as well. 






I was surprised how similar all these fireplaces were when I lined them up, seems like we like relatively plain white but traditional. 



Pointing out something not relating to chairs on the chairs page, the colour of the shutters behind the black chair is very similar to the colour we’re thinking on for the shutters in our kitchen. We’re considering pigeon which is similar but paler. 


The kitchen bottom right is probably most similar to the free-standing look we are planning. I’m quite keen on the pink walls in two of these shots but Klaus doesn’t seem too keen…..


Again mainly very traditional. Apart from the pair of very modern sinks. Klaus thinks it’s better to go for the more traditional look as these will date less quickly and I like the idea of using some very decorative tiles around the bath and sink as they have in some of these pictures. I don’t want the whole house to be traditional though so we”ll have to keep an eye out for the overall balance. 


Again lots of strong colour but also patterned wallpaper. Something we’re keen to try out as we haven’t used any before. 


It’s big (for London) and bland at the moment. Will need some proper planning.