Home | The not so new bathroom

We’ve lived in this house for almost 3 years now and for 3 years I’ve hated our main bathroom. Each and every single day. It’s blue, I imagine the previous owner of our house (and I hope she isn’t reading this) thought that blue would remind her of the sea. A nautical feel for when you bathe, the sea is relaxing and siren. I can assure you, this is my most detested feeling when I bathe, the colour of the walls and tiles makes me feel cold and uncomfortable. As you can guess, I hated it. I’ve long dreamt of a new bathroom, free standing bath, waterfall shower, wooden cabinet and small Belfast sink, oh yes, thats the dream. Our budget didn’t stretch that far, firstly because we’ve done so many other projects and secondly, we live in a small 3 bedroom town house, these ideas are for our forever home, whatever that means now. The third reason we hadn’t rushed into this project was because we have been thinking about a gas conversion, it has been a long thought process, but now, I think we are going to proceed. With space at a premium in our house we would do with removing the unnecessary and have an gas meter installed easily, we’ve even seen our neighbours get it installed and it’s really simple because its in our area, I”ll keep you posted on the gas conversion chat.

With this in mind, changing the bathroom at all became the furthest thing down our to do list. I also don’t use the bathroom that much, I use our en suite every day and honestly even if it did annoy Chris, he wouldn’t dream of bringing it up, he knows the next year of DIY and projects I have planned for him, why would he volunteer for an extra project. It wasn’t until we decided to host Chris’ family for Sunday lunch that I thought, surely we can’t have people come here for lunch and use this bathroom, it’s gross, yes its that ludicrous that this was the trigger.

Start the Pinterest searching…

I started by thinking – ok, lets just paint the walls white, how bad could blue tiles be anyway if I take the blue from the walls. Then elbow deep a few hours later (we were watching a movie Chris chose, I wasn’t interested) I was practically a plumber ready to install a new bathroom.

As always I had to bring it back a level, it seemed reasonable and after reading various blogs and watched a number of YouTube videos as well as copious product searches, I’d made a list of everything I needed to do in the room and I compiled a to do list:

  1. Paint the walls
  2. Paint the tiles
  3. Paint the radiator
  4. Shaker shelves for towels (and decoration)
  5. Change the toilet seat & toilet roll holder

It all seemed reasonable and surely such a small to do list wouldn’t take that long.

What I needed to paint the tiles:

  1. White concrete floor paint
  2. Clear concrete floor sealant
  3. Sand paper
  4. White Spirit & old rags
  5. Paint brush
  6. Small roller

We headed off to B&Q. This post is not sponsored by B&Q but I wish it was with the copious amount of trips that I made! Also shop around, I picked up things cheaper in Homebase as they had a 3 for 2 on paints that weekend, wish I had known that at the start of the project. I needed paint for the walls and the floor, just ordinary white paint was fine, nothing fancy, I knew I needed a lot to cover the blue, this wasn’t going to be a one coat wonder. Secondly I needed tile paint, but I looked around, I went for concrete floor paint, whats important about this is that I read people painted their tiles with chalk paint and although it looked great to begin with, it won’t last with high traffic, however concrete garage floor paint is made for vehicles to be driven over it so it’s much more hard wearing. Sand paper to give the tiles a quick sand down with a medium grain, I used 120 for our hand sander. White spirit to clean up, masking tape for prep. I also bought a smaller roller but our bathroom floor is very small so I wanted to cover it more thoroughly and not a large wall roller.

Once I got it, the preparation started. I had to remove the towel rail, mirror and shelf off the wall, as well as actually removing everything from the bathroom, I didn’t realise just how much stuff we actually had in there. Everything out, time to sand the floor. This part is not the best, the sound was not my favourite but I do have to say this part was the most important. I gave them a good sand and went through quite a few sanding sheets (I used 40 grit), now to mask the room off, this is where the room is bigger than I actually thought. I completely masked the skirting, bath, sick and toilet. I ended up ripping of long strips of masking tape and putting it on the sink, it saved me going back and forth each time. All done, I white spirited the floor to clean it, then it was time to start painting. More thin layers are better than few think layers. This preparation took so much longer than just going straight in to painting the floor, it is really annoying but well worth it in the end. Coat one done, time for dinner, movie then bed. I will start the second coat tomorrow. I started by going around the room and grouting first with a brush then let it dry for an hour then with a roller I went over the entire floor, this way I covered the grouting and made sure to get it all covered from the first coat, I didn’t do this with every coat but every other coat.

After the first coat, my mind wondered. I began thinking about doing more than just white tiles, what about stencilling the tiles so they look like everyones super cool bathroom floors right now. I measured one of my tiles, it was 31.5cm² so I found a large stencil which was 30cm² I thought about it before ordering but thought there couldn’t be much harm, I would try it and see what it was like. This is where I began researching how to stencil but stupidly I didn’t, I thought I knew all along.

How not to stencil

Five more coats of paint go on the floor, with 4 coats on the walls, it got to the point where when we first came in from work we would get changed into our painting clothes and painted the room first, then the floor then leave to walk Piper leaving it over night to dry. I know the drying time for the floor was less and if you wanted to walk on it when it was touch dry I’m sure you could but I wanted to make sure that each layer was completely dry and hardened to the floor without it peeling. That took us to the next weekend and back to B&Q for more supplies, this time I stopped for Farrow & Ball paint for wood and metal, they don’t do tile paint but I thought it would be better than the wall paint. We came back from the cinema and I wanted to start straight into the floor (this floor became my obsession). My mum would call this, ram gansh, not thinking about it and thinking I know best. Firstly I started using a sponge but the paint was so runny, it was leaving bubbles. Then I moved on to a small brush, that was worse, the paint for metal and paint is much runner than the wall paint. I pulled out a wall paint for this where I found a sample from ages ago, much thicker but equally really difficult to work with for this project (I should say I’ve used Farrow & Ball before for it’s intended purpose and its my favourite but it wasn’t right for this!) I taped the stencil down so I thought I would leave it over night to see how it turned out in the morning. I went straight to bed then that morning jumped out of bed to reveal work from the previous night…disaster! It has bleed everywhere, my YouTubing and Pineresting to find out ways do it without bleed. Next trip to B&Q, I needed temporary adhesive but should I continue with that paint, who knew. I thought a hardwearing spray paint would work, I wanted something that was relatively quick drying and dark glue like my previous paint. I have to say, the B&Q at Holywood Exchange were so helpful, they helped me match it up after I had looped the entire painting section for about 45 minutes. This sprayed changed everything. After my disaster, I had to sand down that tile and repaint it, so I started stencilling from the other corner.

Now for the art of stencilling

What you need:

  1. Stencil to fit the size of your tiles (the stencil I bought had a quarter stencil in it which is good tiles that aren’t full but you could get two if you have a big enough room)
  2. Clear Low Tack Adhesive (I used 3 for my small room)
  3. Spray paint suitable for tiles (I used 2 for my room)
  4. Masking tape
  5. Newspaper to protect the surfaces
  6. Fine paint brush for touch ups
  7. White spirit
  8. Cotton buds

So whats important when it comes to stencilling. Firstly cover everything in newspaper, go around the entire, I covered the bath, sink, toilet and walls, with spray there can be a lot of residue spray which can get on everything. Secondly you need to pick out the full tiles first and move from one corner to the next to give it time to dry.

The best thing about the spray paint is that it drys really quickly, the one I chose was about 15 minutes to touch dry and 1 hour until completely dry, if you have a large enough room, 1 hour is reasonable to dry and spray others but my room was so small that the 15 minutes was adequate to wait then spray the tile next to it. Once the entire room is covered, you then need to start by covering the floor so that you can only spray one tile at a time, use the grout as a guide, put paper the whole way around and tape to the grout, make sure its down really tight and there are no gaps. Spray the back of the stencil with low tack adhesive, be generous, if you have an integrate stencil you want to be sure it is all completely covered. Make sure you do this on a bit of plastic or cardboard as the spray will get on the other surfaces which is tricky enough to get off. Then place the stencil on the tile, move around a little quickly to the desired location, be sure it’s all stuck down, this will help prevent bleeding. Tape down the sides, tape down newspaper all around it if there is anywhere that isn’t covered, the spray will go everywhere. Once you’re sure everything is stuck down, you can start spraying.

Leave for 15 minutes (or the time specified by your spray paint) then left the stencil and start into the next one, making sure not to step on to the new tile while it dries. Remove the news paper from around then 15 minutes later you can lift the stencil carefully to unveil your newly stencilled tile!

Moving on to the trickier tiles

When you have all the full tiles complete give yourself a pat on the back, you’re almost there and reward yourself accordingly. I chose a glass of prosecco for my accolade then its time to move on to tiles that are a little tricker.

If you have two stencils, this would make this a little easier but the one I had also had a quarter tile so I was able to work with that for the tiles that one quarter was suitable for {ideally at the side of the toilet}. When you start to work with these tiles you need to start cutting, make a note of the largest tiles first, I started with the radiator a cut little slits for the pipes then I could easier tape those bits back together again then cut slits for the next pipe. The for tiles for example around the toilet, I began to cut the edges off, I started with the largest one then it was slowly cut down until there was very little left. If you have a few awkward tiles, I’d highly recommend not cutting but used more of the low tac adhesive and really making sure what you can have stuck down is stuck down, then use masking take to tape it down so it a flat as possible,make sure there are no gaps, if there are spray a little of the adhesive on to cardboard and brush it on to any of the stencil thats sticking up.

Once your completely done stencilling then its time for the tidy up, if you follow any of my instructions the most important is to make sure its stuck down really well, be generous on the adhesive and be sure the floor is well covered with paper then you should be fine, it took me a few tiles to find my own way of doing it first so I had a bit of bleed around the tiles. I then took some white spirit, cotton buds and an old rag, I pain stakingly went round each of the tiles and tidied them up as best I could. A  cotton bud is perfect for this to lift any of the drips and because you have used concrete floor paint it won’t lift it, just be sure to run the rag over the top to lift off any excess. Don’t beat yourself up about this, it will need to be touched up and it’s also DIY so it won’t be perfect by any stretch of the imagination so it’s best to try your best to make it tidy. Here you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel, you’re almost there!

The seal of approval

Once you have completed the tidy up, then give the floor a hoover, get up as much dirt as possible then run over it with white spirits as well to be sure its completely clean. Now you are ready for your clear seal. I think this is really important as it just protects all your hard work. I used the same small roller I used for the white paint as it was perfect size for the floor and gave such an even finish to that paint. For this varnish, it did state to use a brush but hey I’m a rule breaker, I liked the roller and it was quicker. I put it on in the evening and let it dry over night, this was it we were almost there. I wanted a matt finish (just like those gorgeous tiles I’ve seen before) but unfortunately couldn’t get one so I had to settle for gloss, now its done I actually really like the gloss, it’s not too shiny and makes the tiles look less hand painted and more expensive that what they really were.

After we finished the tiles, it was time to complete the room with a little bit of decor. I painted the radiator (Farrow & Ball Down Pipe) and the two shelves we made from some spare wood and shaker style pegs for our towels. Lastly we changed the toilet seat and toilet roll holder. A few candles added in for good measure and we are done. I’m still tempted to paint the bathroom cabinet the down pipe but I’m not sure if it would look too dark, what do you think?

In total we spent less than £250, the thriftiest DIY project I have done to date. I now enjoy this bathroom and love showing people it, I often find myself leading people into it and before we know it we’re on the floor checking out the tiles.

It’s not finished yet, once we get our gas conversion we will be changing and maybe retiling the shower (goodbye weird blue flower tiles) but if we can get away with repainting them we will and changing the sink so we have some extra storage underneath then the bathroom will be complete. On to the next DIY project after that….whatever that will be.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your stencilling stories or how you have updated a room on a strict budget!

Lashings of love,

K xo

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Home | Buying our first house

As we now are celebrating being in our home two years (where did that time go!) it got me thinking about the whole buying process. It all seemed so stressful at the time but now that I look back here is the advice I would give my younger self. 

Be prepared to sacrifice 

If you’re starting to save for your first home, like we did, I took a long hard look at my monthly income and outgoings, and this was the daunting start to our process. This allowed me to calculate my bills and my disposal income, shockingly I had more disposable income than I thought, by no means a millionaire, but multiple trips to the shops and online orders seemed to take a large proportion of my salary. That’s the first thing I cut back on, not completely but sacrifices had to be made. 

Save, save and save some more

Although I’ve just said I didn’t completely cut back I was very concise of what I bought, I became more aware of disposable fashion and make up and things had only to be bought for a purpose. There is much more than a deposit, there is solicitors fees, furniture and installation charges. It really racks up so be realistic with the money you can save keep that in mind for your mortgage payments. I went to a mortgage advisor to workout our budget and what were affordable monthly payments. One thing I will say was that with our salaries they were willing to give us more than we originally thought, we could have gone for a higher mortgage with higher monthly payments and probably a bigger house but really we wanted to make it manageable. Only do want you can afford, it’s important to be able to live and enjoy your new home. 

Compromise is key

Whether you’re buying on your own, with your partner or with a friend. Once you have an idea of budget, make a list of things that are ideal. Now go through this list and look through the things that you would compromise on. For us location, south facing garden and car parking were essential. It would have been ideal to have a semi detached, separate dining room, downstairs toilet but unfortunately this was not possible so we had to compromise and what’s important is, for us this is our first home, it’s unlikely we or you will stay there forever and the next house, once you get some time under your belt and maybe a little more saving, you will be able to incorporate these desirable into your essential list. 

Don’t let looks get the better of you

If you walked into a shop that is beautifully decorated and tidy you’re more likely to buy right…it’s the same with houses. The difference is there is only 1 house and lots of buyers. If an estate agent thinks a house has potential they will do an open day. That’s what happened with the first house we bid on. If a house is well decorated, you can see yourself living there. That’s exactly what we thought and although we set a budget there were multiple bidders and we seen ourselves go £12,000 above our budget and £16,000 over the asking price. What were we thinking, we got carried away and I just hope that the other buyers could afford. No matter what, when the furniture is removed and the rooms are bare, it looks completely different and then you will want to reprint walls and change things around. Interiors are not worth blowing your budget, you can and will make improvements as you go along. 

Try not to get emotionally invested 

My dream home is a old house which we can renovate. We viewed multiple houses and fell in love with this one which looking back now was completely impractical, particularly for our first home. We were sale agreed but knew it needed a lot of work and a couple weeks later we got a complete building survey, our dreams were shattered. The house was in such bad disrepair beyond our naive eyes. It need completely rewired, the chimney was about to fall in, repointing on the outside, wood root, a second damp course and to top it all off asbestos. Our surveyor (who was lovely) and we met him at the house while he was doing the survey gave us some pretty good advice. Without £40,000 before we moved in, it would be impossible for us to make the house liveable, all before we even lifted a paintbrush for the internal. This was a tough blow, we were devastated, because we were emotional involved in the house. We were annoyed that we paid £800 for a survey that proved this wasn’t our dream home, really we should have been happy, we identified the problem and saved ourselves a painful and stressful journey but at the time it was difficult not to think that we had wasted that money for a survey. That’s the trick the survey was vital for us to know that was not a sensible investment. 

Don’t be afraid of professional advice

We took advice from anyone who would help and not my mum or dad but professional advice. We went to a mortgage advisor, who proved to give us a better rate on our mortgage than going directly to the banks. We also took advice from our building surveyor on that and the house we eventually bought. Our solicitor who helped us along the way, I called a lot and I’m sure he screened some of our calls but he knows this process inside and out. Other than signing a few documents and giving them a read (I’m probably doing them no justice) but he gave us so much help. Your solicitor works for you and in this case represents you so use their knowledge and expertise. Remember the estate works for the seller of the property so if you have any problems, get advice and help from your solicitor, they are the best person to represent you. 

Be patient

This process takes time. Finding the right house takes time then conveyancing takes even more time. It’s so easy to say this once it’s complete but it’s so important to be patient, you can rush people along, and be sure to keep them on there toes chasing but there will be a lot of back and forth so don’t let that get you down. Once you get the keys and unlock the door of your new home for the first time that feeling is amazing and no one can take that achievement away from you then. 

Lashings of Love, 

K xo

Home | Burn baby burn

From my last post on our wooden floor which we finished back in August, the wood burner seems to be a long way coming. Just picking a stove can be difficult, waiting for it to arrive and then a fitter it’s a well thought through process. It all started last year when there was smoke coming back down from our chimney into our living room, I came back from the gym one night and it was so bad that Chris has all the doors and windows open, it was extremely dangerous. We had chimney sweeps out to clean the chimney and check there was nothing up there so I thought a wood burner was a great solution. Truth be told, this was how I sold it to Chris. After months of reading Country Living, I knew I wanted a wood burner from day one. Our fireplace was deceiving, like many of the fittings in this house, but this is the blog post for that rant. The fireplace was actually a heavy duty plastic, not stone like it would initially have you believe. This made it extremely difficult to clean, the black soot stuck to it, some would say it made it look worn, me, dirty. I cleaned as hard as I could but it just never looked clean. I knew there was so work to be done before we could install it.

Once the wooden floor was done, I went to the Stove Yard, outside Belfast, it came highly recommended from my Auntie who got her stove there a few years back. Thankfully they are open on a Saturday until 12.30pm so we called in on a Saturday morning. They are experts in the burner industry, we wanted a multi-fuel stove as we burn a lot of coal not just wood, without even seeing our room they were able to give us an idea of the size of burner we needed, 5Kw, which is the heat the burner will produce. This is more than enough for our small room, we didn’t even know the energy level of our fire at that time. They arranged for an installer to come out to do a home check to see that we were suitable and give us a price. The fitter called out a few days later, we had no idea of the extensive work that was required. The chimney had to change from 8″ to 6″ and they fitted a lining to that to reduce the width, we also needed a carbon monoxide detector, even though we already had one but it had to be in the room, building regulation changes and not to mention the stove itself. The best part of getting one fitter was that they do everything and I mean everything. Getting this done was going to a two day job, remove the old fireplace, dig out the hole for the new stove, plaster and fitting. We booked it, 6 weeks was all we would have to wait. Now lets talk cost, the cost of the stove was around £550, we didn’t go for a brand name, although a Charnwood would have been right up my street, the one we choose had a good warranty and there was good feedback on it. We would have looked more into the differences in the branded stoves but we don’t intend to stay in this house forever so we wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing but didn’t break the bank. The cost of the remainder of the parts and the labour was £1200 so a total of £1750, of course you can spend more if you want a more expensive stove but for our purpose this was fine.


Six weeks rolled around pretty quickly and we began clearing out the furniture in our living room, apart from the sofas, we just threw some plastic lining over them. I couldn’t wait to come home and see the progress after the first day. I was so pleased to see the old fireplace gone and the hole was prepared for the stove, the stone was laid, it looked good. However there was dust everywhere. It was difficult to understand how every inch of our house had dust in it, I suppose there were parts of our wall coming out so I shouldn’t complain. I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. The day day we came home and it was all done, we were both delighted. The fireplace looked bulky and now the wood burner looked much nicer, it made the area look bigger. Now to start with the clean up. We spent that evening cleaning the floors and hoovering (I’ve never emptied the hoover more in my life). We had to wait a week until we could get it painted so for one week we continued on with minimal furniture in our living room and our spare bedroom completely packed with whatever wasn’t in the hall and living room.



The painter arrived on the Wednesday and we picked our paint that weekend. Because our floor is such a dark wood, we wanted to keep the walls really light so we went for Farrow & Ball Strong White, this did become slight confusing for our painter who has strong white for the walls, white wood paint for the skirting board and white emulsion for our ceiling, there really was a lot of white paint. The colour was It’s the first time we have got a painter and I would highly recommend it, no mess, no fuss, just remove everything and that night we came home and it was all done. Our painter did bring 3 others with him so no wonder it was done so quickly. We began to move the furniture back and then we went to Donegal, living room still not finished, oh well, the fresh air of Donegal will help me forget about the work from home. As we put the furniture back in, we measured up the living room and made the decision on the sofas, that weekend was the last of the Laura Ashley sale so thankfully they are coming on the 8th December, but we’ll take them earlier if you need us too Laura Ashley.

With a long weekend on the cards, the last thing we needed to do for now was to get a mantle piece. As always, I made Chris put his DIY hat on. I had an idea for the mantle and we bought two shelves and we placed the second shelf below so it looked more than just a shelf.

We cut out grooves to make it more interesting and then painted it white. It was done, now just for Chris to put it up. I went up to do one eyelash appointment and to my surprise when I came down Chris has finished it by himself, I couldn’t wait to get it decorated.

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Now it’s all done, we are just waiting on our sofas and we also need a new dining table and I’ve promised Chris that is all we are doing to the living room. The next stop is the stairs, which we need painted and then the carpet put down, I’ll maybe wait a few weeks before I mention that. Time to get our current sofas cleaned and sold to make way for what’s new. As I am finishing writing this, I’m currently drying my hair in front of the wood burner on the first night that I have really seen what granny would call as the turn in the evenings (that’s darker evenings) and its bless being nice and warm, in my PJ’s by the stove, my new favourite thing.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Alternative Christmas Tree

We are now well into the time when we deck our halls for the festive season. Christmas decorations are my favourite, I think I can be so much more creative around the house and the smell of fresh pine makes the house devine. 

A few months ago I got a Cox & Cox Christmas catalogue through the post box and as usual I sat down with a cup of tea and read through the brochure. I spotted the wooden Christmas Tree in the brochure and thought it would have been perfect in my hallway as it looks a little bare, the brochure was laying open on my coffee table when Chris spotted it and suggested using this as inspiration and make something similar very easily and it wouldn’t cost us a penny as we could use wood from the forest and everything else was around the house.

I began to get creative. I worked out that I needed 10 branches largest from 100cm, incrementally decreasing by 10cm each time until I ended up with the final 10cm branch. Then we went out on a hunt for them, into the woods. On my search, I looked for sticks that were roughly the same width and relatively straight but I wasn’t really strict with it, I wanted it to look rustic as though it is just collected from the forest. Once I collected the sticks, I brought them home and measured them out, laying them on the floor and moving them around to suit, I then used a saw to cut them to the length I needed. Once the wood was cut, I began marking where the holes should go and started drilling through. I cut 3 metres of twine and folded it in half at the top, then I feed through twine on both sides and tied a knot just below each branch to hold it in place, I left about 10cm inbetween each branch. When I had finished knotting each branch I cut the end of the twine and I hung it in our hallway and considered how I would decorate it.

The first thing I wanted on the tree was lights, I used 300 fairy lights. I started at the bottom, near the electric socket and looped the lights around each branch until I reached the top of the tree. 300 was a lot of lights for the size of my tree but I do love an excuse to crack out the fairy lights! When I turned the lights on I was impressed.


The tree stayed this way for about a week and although I liked it, I thought I could add the extra Christmas decorations that were leftover from my Christmas tree decorating. This year I seemed to find that I had lots left over, as I kept buying more than I needed but I couldn’t say no to some of the gorgeous ornaments from Sostrene Grene and The Range. I started to add the decorations to the tree using drawing pins, I only added about 1 or 2 on each branch then when I seen how nice it looked with decorations I kept adding until I thought it was complete.


I’m absolutely delighted with how it turned out and its the cheapest Christmas decoration I have in my house. The wood, twine and drawing pins were already in the house and the Christmas baubles were leftover from the tree. Why not try this simple DIY before Christmas, you don’t need to make it as big as I have made it you could make it half the size. Have you made any Christmas decorations this year?

Lashings of Love,

Kerrie xo

 

 

 

 

 

Here comes the bride


Last week I created a gift for my beautiful cousin Ruth with all of the bridal essentials 👰🏽🍾💍

After finding the Pinch Provisions survival kit I ordered it months ago and knew I had to add to this survival kit. A couple of stops later I had picked up a box, candles, prosecco, 2 glasses and love sign ready for the big day.
As her bridesmaid I thought this was the perfect morning of the wedding gift, especially as it had some very practical items, what was most practical, well you can decide yourself.
Lashings of Love

K xo