It’s the little things that make a house a home

The wedding has taken up most of our time and money these past few months and apart from a few outdoor projects that Joe has done, preparing the house for the winter, we’ve done next to nothing in terms of renovation or decorating.

However, just because you’re on hiatus, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to tart up the place a little.

Here are my three favourite recent additions to the house that have put a big smile on my face.

1. LOL
I saw this in a cute little shop in Birmingham ages ago when visiting my mum, and haven’t been able to find it since. I know that these have become really stylish, usually with words such as “home” or “dreams” – quite frankly, i don’t like these. I can’t pinpoint why. I think it’s because they’re just a bit too vague and I would like our house to have a sense of humour and for it to be a bit unique. My mum and sister found it a few weeks ago, and surprised me with it.

2. New York

I am completely and utterly contradicting my last point now with this poster. I’m sure every man and his dog has some sort of New York artwork in their posh urban flats. Well, Joe and I found this in Spring and it was the yellow that stood out in it for us. We decided then and there that whenever we get around to decorating the hallway (after the wedding, after the kitchen) this will go up in the entrance hall. For the time being though, it was going to waste in storage, and Joe decided it should go in the second bedroom for the time being and it makes me smile every day.

(Pardon the mucky walls, they need re-plastering…one day)

3. Welcome
There’s nothing quite like smiling at a welcome mat, and then taking a picture of it to make you feel middle-aged. Well, i don’t care. This is another gem that Joe just picked up and added to the house whilst I was at work. It really is the little things that turn a house into a home. The leaves have been swept up since this picture was taken. Promise….

Karen x

Re-using tester pots to make wedding decorations

If you have spent a lot of time decorating your home, like me you will probably have accumulated a large number of paint tester pots. I hate waste and have been looking for a good way to use them up for a while.

Luckily our wedding colour is green, and as our bedroom is also green, I thought I could find something wedding-related to use it for.

I’ve noticed in the magazines and on plenty of blogs, it’s becoming popular to have some sort of Mr & Mrs ornament, or the initials of the bride and groom. Joe’s sister took us to a place in Leeds called Country Baskets a few weeks ago to pick up a few bits and bobs for the big day and I found these cardboard letters – They were about 70p each.
 (I know this kind of thing is popular in children’s bedrooms in the past few years and the baby shops charge almost £10 a letter, so I think the fact that ours are cardboard and less than a quid each was a bargain!)

So, I got some newspaper out, a paintbrush and the tester pots and got painting. I think they’ll look lovely next to our post box, and after the wedding I can put them in a frame and mount it on the wall since it’s the right colour scheme!

We used Dulux’s Melon Sorbet for our initials and Dulux’s Chic Shadow for the ampersand.

Any other ideas of what to do with tester pots?

Karen x

Blogiversary, housiversary and anniversary

So last Friday marked mine and Joe’s ‘official’ 6 year anniversary. Exciting times!

It also marked a year of living in our lovely house and as a result, a year of this blog!

I started writing on here when we moved into the house so that when we finish renovating and decorating, we can look back and have a great scrapbook of our progress. And, only a year in, we are already able to do that. The other day I was looking through my posts tagged with Bathroom and I can’t believe how awesome it looks now compared to when we bought the house.

Along the way, I’ve followed some new sites, and been introduced to other bloggers also on a DIY journey. Not only has it been interesting, but it’s been an eye opener for ideas, and helpful sources.

And it looks like some are enjoying mine just as much as I’m enjoying their – I’ve certainly had more views than I expected! I’m really glad others are enjoying this process with us and it’s lovely that our family gets to see our improvements even if they’re dotted all over the country.

As for mine and Joe’s anniversary, well, six years went by very quickly.

We kept it very low key with a Chinese takeaway and a TV marathon. It’s pretty much our favourite way to wind down and mostly due to wedding budget, we wanted to keep it cheap and cheerful.

I’ll be sad to leave behind our August anniversary though. We’ve had some great mini adventures on that date but, our April wedding anniversary in the future will definitely be something worth giving it up for.

Here’s to the next year of blogging and the next six years with Joey.

We looked so young back then!

Karen x

De-cluttering my life! Well, the bedroom.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a hoarder. I know that it drives Joe absolutely mental because he loves the house to be nice and tidy. It’s not that I don’t, of course. I just really struggle to throw things away.

However, I made him a promise that I would eventually get rid of what I didn’t want, and organise what I want to keep.

Well, I don’t think I’m doing too badly. I started off with our bedroom and admittedly, it’s taken me a while. On my side of the bed I had a large number of boxes and a few piles of stuff – I honestly have no better way to categorise what it was. It was just stuff.

In fact, when I painted said bedroom I threw this pile onto the bed. Bit embarassing…
And for good measure, here is Pebbles rolling around in it…
I saw a programme recently about hoarders on Channel 4 (It was called The Hoarder Next Door – Anyone else watch it?) and I never want to end up like that. They struggled to part with rubbish. And I don’t mean useless ornaments that we all have. But, actual rubbish. The episode I saw had a fella that couldn’t bring himself to empty the cat’s litter tray. Ew.

(Joe, if you ever think I’m messy, please just think how lucky you are, that I’m not quite so bad! :))

Needless to say, I did some extra tidying around the house that week. Completely unrelated of course…

It did get me to thinking though – I’m not alone! In fact, I came across this blog post on a blog I read regularly, Popcorn on the Stove, and it had some great tips and ideas on how to prevent clutter in the future.

Time to put this into action. I’m on a mission to get rid of a lot of my“stuff”. I’ll be putting some of it on eBay (can’t be a bad thing for the wedding fund!), donating some to charity, and binning what I can – although, I’d much prefer to find new homes for things. Green power woo!

Our bedroom looks so different now without all the clutter. It looks a lot larger and unfortunately, because all of our rats have now died, we’ve removed the cage.

On a positive, the room is now finished. I touched up the paintwork over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend, which I’ve been putting off for ages, and gave it a really good clean. Once I’ve put some stuff up on the walls (a shopping task for next payday), I’ll finally get some pictures of the finished result!

I did try and use a new app on my phone where you can do panoramic images. I’m not sure how well this is going to translate…
I went through my wardrobe and donated to charity (or my sister!) any clothes that either don’t fit, or that I haven’t worn in more than 6 months. It was brutal but it felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

Next, I’ll be clearing under the bed and the attic to see where we can make more room and shift what we don’t want.

Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I always have this excuse to fall back on…

Karen x

I caved and joined Pinterest

This year, I will be embarking on wedding plans. When you consider that I already talk about interiors and home DIY on this blog, the natural thing to do is to get my butt onto Pinterest.

For my relatives that may not know what this is, Pinterest is like a pinboard on the internet. You ‘pin’ things you like onto a board that you create as a source of inspiration.
For those that do know what it is, apologies for my utterly basic explanation. But, as you know, the website is just full of house ideas and wedding images, so I thought it was about time I got on it.

So, I’ve created 3 boards so far:
Kitchen – Ideas for our kitchen one day.
Wedding Fun – Just fun images related to marriage and weddings.
Wedding Inspiration – Research for the real deal.

So far so good.
It’s fun and let’s me indulge in all the things I enjoy looking at without boring my friends to death with this grown up type stuff. (Also, I’m finding wedding magazines really uninspiring – everything looks the same!)

We’re not getting married for a while yet so we can save up for a good do, and we don’t want to neglect our work on the house (there’s only so long we can go without a kitchen!) so Pinterest should fulfil my needs for now. I’d quite like to create a Wedding Dress board, but for that I’ll stick to cut-out images from magazines. Can’t let Joe see my ideas!

Karen x

Wealthy washing

I opened up my inbox today to discover an e-mail with the subject: “Win a washing machine worth £2500.”

Since moving into the house, I must admit, I’ve entered a few competitions. It has left me inundated with junkmail but I optimistically do it ‘just in case’. I get bombarded with stuff like this: “Win a toaster”, “Win a £500 voucher” “Win a new kitchen” blah blah. I never win of course. And more often than not, it’s stuff I’m not really interested in. But today, I had to do a double take. What on earth qualifies a washing machine to be worth so much dosh? I’ve had cars that weren’t worth that much money!

For £2,500, I would want my clothes, washed, dried, folded and ironed.

I think it’s pretty obvious from the very existence of my blog, that over the past year, I’ve had a growing interest in all things interiors and household stuff, as me and Joe try and make this house a home, but sometimes I really think companies take the royal piss out of people. Either that or some of you have more money than sense, in which case, can I borrow a tenner please?

This is what i imagine a person with a £2,500 washing machine lives like.

Sorry about the negativity. It just baffled me. Normal smiley service shall resume shortly 🙂

Karen x 

We’re engaged!

Yesterday, Joe popped the question and I, of course, said yes.

Wooohoooo!

My mum, step-dad, sister, and baby niece, came to visit yesterday morning. I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I’d like because the family is scattered between Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Worcester at the moment. After they left, Joe said he’d like to take me to the Manchester Museum – we’ve been planning to go for ages, because:
1) It’s something to do for free, and…
2) I just love dinosaur exhibitions, and they have a T-Rex there.

So off we went. Being the nerdy person I am, I took far too many pictures…
This elephant walked from Edinburgh to Manchester…

They had a zoo section, which I didn’t know about. This guy was my fave…
I also love Space. I did a little sqeal when we got to this area…
Stan the T-Rex!

After what I thought was just a lovely spontaneous afternoon outing, when we got home, there was a box in our lounge…
…with another box inside…
…and another…
…and another…
…and another…
There were actually 10 boxes altogether! The lounge became a bit messy…
And inside the smallest one was a note…

I was so suprised.

I turned around and Joe was on one knee with a ring. He’s such a softy 🙂

We rang around our immediately family to let them know the good news and in the evening we went out to celebrate at a chinese restaurant that we’ve been going to for years.

In fact, we were planning on going there this Saturday night anyway, because we have a running joke that we always tell them it’s our anniversary, and we get free wine. We’ve probably had about 8 anniversaries there, and we joked that we’d go for a ‘special occasion’ this time around too. Turns out, this time it was genuine!

It was an amazing day which I’m sure we’ll never forget.

I was going to post a picture of my ring, but I think I’ll wait. I absolutely love it. It’s gorgeous. But, today we took it to get resized and unfortunately, my fingers are so small they don’t even stock the ring size in the country. It will need to be specially made and could take up to 6 weeks. I’m pretty gutted that I won’t get to flash it to everyone just yet, but I’m sure I will make up for it when it arrives!

For all those congratlations and nice words, thank you! I haven’t had chance to thank everyone individually yet, but I will!

I know I usually talk about housey-type things on this blog, but it’s called “Well I guess this is growing up” and I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than our wedding plans. I’d best get started!

Karen x

5 DIY sites I love this week

I often wonder what I did with myself before the internet as I’m sure many others do, but I ask it now more than ever as a homeowner. With this blog, I’ve enjoyed ‘meeting’ other people in similar situations, trying to tart up their homes. They’ve given me inspiration, tips and sometimes, praise.

Joe & I don’t actually have much to report in terms of the house at the moment. We are in a ‘saving up’ phase and getting price quotes for the bathroom (post to come on this later) but this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped nerding out to interior blogs and DIY videos on YouTube.

So, to show that I’ve not completely abandoned my blog, I share with you some of my favourite finds on DIY this week. If you’ve seen any, throw them my way! 🙂 Enjoy!

1. Smart tips to make life easier.
These funny pictures will make you kick yourself whilst questioning; “Why didn’t I think of that first?”
This one is my personal favourite. Reminder to self: buy post-its.

2. Tips on choosing paint colours.
One thing we’ve learned whilst decorating is that if you pick a colour of paint you want, you then have to pick a shade. But there are millions of shades in existence. It’s hard work!
However, if you’re stuck with picking a colour – full stop – then I thought this would be really helpful: a guide to picking paint colours.
I love how we picked green for our bedroom, which acording to this, promotes sleep. Woo, go us!

3. Could decorating be the answer to the flagging sex lives of Brits?
Erm, can it? This article is clearly a pile of PR hogwash, but it sure made me chuckle, as well as the Dulux advert on TV at the minute.
(P.S I actually met the Dulux dog about a month ago at an exhbition with my old job. It was so cute!)
4. The You Can Do It YouTube channel. 
I personally think that B&Q is pretty overpriced, but despite this, we do find ourselves wandering around their warehouses looking for inspiration a couple of times a month. One thing they really do well though is their Youtube channel. I’m sure I’m not the only one that, when I get stuck, I either Google/YouTube it before I even consider asking an actual human. Well, B&Q have some pretty decent video tutorials on basic DIY, for basic people like myself.

5. Nest design studio blog
This blog does a feature called Interior of the Day, which always makes me wants to drop everything in my life, run home and decorate my house. It’s pretty simple: just some stunning pictures of some amazing interior design. I love it. You should go love it too.

Karen x

Excuses, excuses

So blogging has taken a back seat to life this past fortnight. Sorry!

In a nutshell, here’s my excuse:
After Jeany died I couldn’t even stick around for her to be buried as I was sent to London with work for a few days on business. I then finished working for that company at the end of the week and went to Leeds to visit Joe’s sister for her birthday at the weekend. I then started a new job the following week (yay!) and went away this weekend for Joe’s sister’s wedding – which was amazing.

Needless to say, we’ve been busy and I’ve simply not had time to blog, or had all that much to blog about! The house hasn’t changed a smidge in the past 10 or so days. I’d even say it’s a bit messier from all the packing/unpacking.

Here’s what we are going to be working on this April (fingers crossed)…

  • Joe has hit a wall with the bathroom and getting the shower in. It’s definitely about time we got in some professional help.
  • The house opposite ours is currently having a new driveway built. Their old gates are no longer needed so they offered them to us for free, as they were just going to scrap them anyway. We, of course, thanked them wildly, giggling like Hyenas who had just won the lottery (we must have looked like utter geeks) and now we just need to find a way to make them fit. Some new posts perhaps? Either way, it looks like we may get a gate up soon – stop all those dogs attacking our front garden with their ass.
  • This weekend, we were given the centre piece from our table at the wedding to take home. It currently has a candle and stones in it, but as soon as the candle burns out, I’m going to make one of my dreams come true: fill it to the top with peanut butter M&Ms and have it on the dining room table. 24/7 access to my my favourite sweet. (If a future fat me is reading this, I’m sorry)
  • I’m also looking for a place to host this piggy bank. It was one of the activities on the hen weekend for the wedding. I painted it, and gave it a moustache for Joe. It’s going to be a starter for our kitchen fund. Or perhaps a ‘cash to get the bathroom finished’ fund. I haven’t decided yet.
  • I’m also on clearout duty this month. Before we can get any other major jobs done, I need to stop being such a hoarder and carry on chucking/recycling/donating general stuff. I’m hoping to do my wardrobe as part of this which is surely going to be painful. Wish me luck!

Karen x

The house down the road…

Have you ever wondered what your neighbours’ house looks like on the inside? Or is it just me? Well, it makes me very curious indeed. Our area is currently in a ‘state of transition’, if you will. The houses on our street and surrounding roads fall under one of the following categories:

  1. Really well maintained family home. Most likely have a few children and a pet.
  2. Young couple that hasn’t lived there long and are updating the property.
  3. Elderly woman (not seen any elderly men – Eat your greens gents!) living on their own in a very outdated house.

All of the houses in our area have exactly the same build. They are spot on identical. We pretty much bought the shell of the house and many are similar to ours. I get the impression that the elderly of the lot are passing away (grim but true!) and the houses haven’t been updated since being built – again, like ours. Because of this, there is plenty of construction happening as the properties are getting a makeover. This is great because:

  1. This should, in theory, increase our house prices as the area gets tarted up.
  2. We can ask them for advice! (The family opposite us are re-building their driveway at the moment. I plan to harass them for their research and quotes!)
  3. Some houses are being sold for profit after they’ve been modernised, or they’re being bought after someone has passed.

Apart from all the death and that, this is absolutely brilliant. It means we can look into our neighbours’ houses without having to look like weirdos wanting to go into a stranger’s home. Hoorah for estate agents!

One house has just popped up for sale this week a few doors down, and as me and Joe are always looking for inspiration on how to extend and make the most of our house, I think we are going to go for a viewing! Pretend to be a young couple (well, we are) who are on the hunt for a new house. Is that creepy? I’m not sure. It’ll be a laugh though.

Speaking of this house, it is up for £100,000 more than we paid for ours, meaning it’s a great look at what our house could potentially be – especially as it is fully modern and largely extended – something me & Joe hope to achieve one day.

Here was the floorplan we received when viewing our house.

(I think I could have done better on Microsoft Paint, I’ve gotta be honest.) 

And here is the floorplan for the house down the road. Look how many more rooms they have!

(Not to mention the fact that their floorplan is 3D. Jealous much?)

They have extended at the back of the house and down the side, therefore lengthening and widening their kitchen, added a conservatory at the end of the lounge, added an extra bedroom upstairs, and added a gym and shower room on the ground floor. Wow.

What do you think? Is it weird playing pretend and having a nosey at your neighbour’s house? I feel a bit like Michael Paine from Harry Enfield. Anyone remember him?

Karen x