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Our kitchen makeover

by Clare Mansell

Over the last few weeks I’ve been using most of my spare time to give our kitchen a makeover. Although we’ve owned our house for 9 years we’ve never actually seen this room with fresh paint, the last time it was decorated was shortly before we rented the house out for four years. Then when we moved in, the building work started and once it was finished there never seemed to be the time (and perhaps the energy) to tackle it.

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Guest room makeover – Reveal (with video)

It’s been so long since we started making over our guest room that you’d be forgiven for having forgotten all about it, but between alternating periods of frantic activity and doing nothing at all, we have been slowly but surely moving towards a finish and tomorrow our housesitters who provided us with the motivation to start sorting the room out to begin with, arrive for a long weekend, so I’m delighted to say it’s finished!

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Just to refresh your memories, our spare room is on the ground floor of our house. It has the advantage of a good en suite shower room, but the considerable disadvantage of a large window that looks out on a brick wall! We used to have a single bed in here, which was fine when Jim’s dad came to stay, but the room felt unloved and like it was trying to perform several jobs at once.

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HomeSense Christmas homeware finds (with haul video)

Last year I blogged about my very belated discovery of HomeSense, an eclectic homeware store which unbeknown to me was the sister company of my favourite homeware store in Canada. Since then I’ve been back several times and bought various things including a lovely glass unit for our kitchen which is made out of recycled wood.

Rather cleverly HomeSense change their stock quite frequently and often only have one of their larger furniture pieces in store at any particular time. They also sell a lot of stuff which us crafty folks love, from DIY kits to things like block letters which are great to use in a creative project and they have bold colourful things that I haven’t seen in any other shop.

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Luckily for me, HomeSense asked me to work with them again this Christmas, promoting their decorations and festive accessories. I needn’t tell you this is pretty much a dream gig, not least of all because I can legitimately take myself off to the store on a Saturday morning for a whole hour of peaceful browsing without the children.

This year rather than photographing and writing about everything I bought, I decided to film it, so you can get to have a peek inside the store at their Christmas stock (they don’t sell online because the stock is always changing) and I can explain what I bought and where it’s going in our house and tell you about what the lovely lady at the checkout said about one of my purchases.

So without further ado here’s the video of my HomeSense Christmas haul…

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Guest bedroom makeover – Part 1

Early next year we will be doing something we’ve never done before, we’re handing over our home and our dogs to housesitters and this impending arrival of guests from outside the family has suddenly spurred us into sorting out our guest bedroom. The room is ok as it is, but lacks a double bed and storage and could definitely be more welcoming.

There were also some more practical problems we had to tackle immediately. A quirk of the plumbing meant that when the loo was flushed the water in the trap below the shower was pulled through the pipes leaving it to dry out and rather unpleasantly the smell of the drains then started to invade the room . After years of the problem bugging me (and us resorting to covering the shower drain with parcel tape) when we knuckled down and realised we now had to solve it, it ended up being a 20 minute job with Jim fitting a valve to an outside pipe. With the drains fixed we could then move on to thinking about what we wanted the room to look like…

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Aside from swapping the single bed for a double, we also need to add a wardrobe and give the room a cohesive theme. The bedroom window looks out on the back of our garage and a brick wall, so we’ll be looking at ways to improve that view perhaps with some DIY outside wall art and/or some clever planting. The room is also full of stuff at the moment, so we’ll need to find a home for things like the garden furniture cushions and the laundry baskets and airer.

There are one or two niggly dull DIY jobs to do too, I need to fix the curtain track as the pully is broken, the plaster on the ceiling is damaged in one spot (a side effect of putting an extra storey on the house two years ago!) and the shower controls are missing a small but irritating part of the facia.

So here’s a look at the room in all its very real and cluttered glory. It’s not huge, but big enough.

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During the makeover I shall wherever possible be reusing, DIYing and seeking out bargains. We’ve already done a deal with my sister by agreeing to swap the sofa bed from my office for a double pine bed she had, along with a tin of paint and a bedside lamp! I’m now in the process of sanding down the double bed (headboard part is done, footboard and side parts still to do) and then I’ll paint it white.

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I’m not sure if starting with the biggest pat of the bed was a really good or really bad idea. It’s taken me about a fortnight to recover from doing the first part, using a sander has a way of making every muscle in your body ache. Later today I’ll be tackling the footboard.

And finally here’s the Pinterest board that I’m collecting my ideas on…



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Front door makeover – from varnished to painted

Today I want to share with you a really exciting makeover which took place at our home last week. Some of you will have seen me sharing photos of tester pots on my facebook page, so after all the teasing, it’s time for the reveal, but first a little back story…

When we did the big extension and remodel works of our house two years ago the plan had always been to buy a wooden door and paint it, but the day it was delivered all pristine and fresh, people started telling me it would be a crime to cover up the wood and that we should varnish it instead. So against my better judgement I listened to them and I really shouldn’t have…

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Despite the fact we used the second-most expensive weatherproof outdoor varnish we could find the door started to deteriorate really quickly.

Parts of the wood started turning black within months and within two years you could see parts where the varnish had worn off completely, it was quite soul destroying having a house we’d done a load of work on which looked so tatty so quickly. This wasn’t what I expected a brand new door to look like only two years down the line!

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So, for the last few months we’ve been debating getting it painted. With Jim only around at weekends and me with my hands full with a baby, we felt we needed to get someone in to do it for us, otherwise there was a real risk our time constraints would mean we’d bodge it up even more.

Fortunately we found a lovely decorator who was able to fit in three half days of work over three separate days and was happy to take the job on. He’s done work for my parents so we knew we were in safe hands. The time between him quoting, us saying yes and him starting work went by alarmingly quickly and one minute it was a theoretical idea, the next we were picking paint colours! On Thursday the week before last he sent me a text to say he could start work the following week and the next day we collected tester pots for colours.

It had originally been our plan to paint the door red, but my lovely creative friend Robyn who blogs at The Little Woman Pretends suggested we try teal or mustard. The tester pots were a disaster! Nothing like the colours on the Dulux chart and I started to panic! On the Saturday I had a school reunion and sharing my paint woes, a friend suggested we try Little Greene. The upshot of which was that I ended up leaving the reunion early to drive to Brewers to get a colour chart and three tester pots before they closed at 5pm!

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I came home with three pots, Turquoise Blue, Marine Blue and Celestial Blue. The latter was way to pale and looked almost white so we were down to two choices. As always I had been collecting images on a Pinterest board to help with my decision making and as I started to narrow down the colours we liked, two photos in particular became a big influence…

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The darker teal on the left is from Christina at thediymommy.com and the paler one comes from the RC Wiley blog. In the end Christina’s lovely Canadian home swayed us and we decided to go for Marine Blue. I am so happy by how great the result looks…

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To keep costs down we had been planning to keep the inside of the door varnished, but the outside looks so good I think an interior makoever is next on our list. We’ll do the frame white again, but the inside of the door will be painted in the Little Greene Turquoise Blue that was our second choice.

Our makeover of the front of our house isn’t quite complete. You may have noticed that the path that leads to it is in a terrible state, so we are plotting some DIY work for  when Jim is on leave, which may involve completing the deck area under our veranda and/or laying a gravel path to the door.

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