Showing posts with label honest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honest. Show all posts

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Everything will be ok in the end

Sometimes it can be hard to keep going. To pick yourself up from the mistakes. To find the energy to do something.

I'm not that brilliant at always doing things. I often have days when I really need to push myself to not just sit around and stare at my phone and be bored. I have high expectations of myself and that can be part of the problem. I am one of those people who will start the day thinking about what I want to achieve, reflect on what I have done at the end of the day and occasionally feel disappointed in myself that I haven't done enough. I know that is crazy and that I should just be. You know, in-the-moment. Mindful.

I have a busy internal monologue and love talking to myself. Maybe that's one of the reasons I need alone time but can also be fairly sociable.

I'm trying out different sayings I can use to help myself, mantra's if you like.

One of my current favourites is 'Get Shit Done'. I love it, just start. Like writing this post. I didn't feel particularly inspired today, I didn't feel like I had much of value to say but once I started it tends to flow. And then, I get it done.

That, by the way is why I am writing this blog. While I pour out my thoughts on here, I switch off somehow and go to a different place. It's magical.

Here is one motto that has helped me tremendously over the last few years. I first heard it on the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by the way and it's "Everything will be ok in the end, if it's not ok, it's not the end'.

Which is such a lovely way to describe fate or karma or just life, however you prefer to call it.
I've been thinking a lot about resilience lately, for a few reasons. One I went on some resilience training at work (and wrote a blog about it here if you are interested). And Two as there has been some family stuff going on recently that has really got to me. Nothing dreadful, just part of the normal ups and downs in life.
That's part of what I want to show on this blog. That I'm real, and don't live a gilded life. I'm just like you. It's hard to always be upbeat and full of energy and hope and enthusiasm, and it simply is not true. We are all beautifully flawed and perfectly imperfect after all.
I do strive to think positively as much as possible and consciously make myself do this, as it works. Life with a positive attitude is, I reckon, 1000% happier than without.
When I find it harder to do this, positive sayings help remind me. I wonder if that is why they are so popular on the web, and in particular on Pinterest. If you're struggling, just search some out, say them aloud to yourself and watch life improve.

And, remember, everything really will be ok in the end.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Evolving Interior Design; The dining room

Or maybe I should call it the slightly-more-than-two-year-saga-of-removing-a-fireplace... Yes folks, that is honestly how long it took! I know because of the wonder and sometimes sadness that is timehop.

Do I feel ashamed? A little. Does my husband feel ashamed. No, speed doesn't matter to him at all and the fact that I'm always after INSTANT GRATIFICATION does drive him a little bit mad. Same for all the people I know really, I don't get it. Why not want things done yesterday now!

The dining room was pretty much the worst in the whole house. It's hard to remember exactly how grim it was, but looking at this picture I'm sure the point comes across.
The wallpaper was hanging off, and an ugly used-to-be-green-but-is-now-nicotine-yellow. The carpet was one of those exceptionally good quality yet exceptionally ugly patterns. The curtains were filthy and disgusting. Although, after a wash, they now are exceptionally good painting cloths so every cloud...

The fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. Strange stone, exposed and ugly-shade-of-beige concrete, painted black bricks, random gold fire-hood-type-thing, a semi-decent fire surround and then a gap above the fireplace with a strange and badly fixed strip of wood across it.

On a side note though - look at that original pantry cupboard. Stunning! We even found some left over crystal glasses in it, surely from the days of glamour and before anyone installed the monstrosity to the right.

Here is a more recent picture. Just so you know, I kept the beautiful pantry and managed to uncover a gem! That is the best thing about old houses (ours is around 110- 125 years old).

Back to the beginning. We had to live with it for a while. This must have been a very early picture as I took the curtains down very quickly indeed. (Wearing gloves). I love the way I've photographed a feather duster on the table, as if, yeah I dust regularly! (I don't.)

After much persuading, I convinced the chap to tackle removing the bricks to see what was underneath. I had a good feeling, but even I was surprised by how good it turned out to be.
Above you can see husband in the act of removing concrete and a close up of that strange fire hood thing.

After about two hours.
Doubts and feelings-of-omg-how-long-is-this-going-to-take started here.

A mere 4 billion hours later we were here. Ok, it might have been more like 15, but it felt a lot looonger.

And then another 4 billion later we got to this. I stopped taking pictures of the bits in between due to the general despondency and tiredness.
It's hard to get a sense of scale but the bottom of the lintel rests on my shoulder. It's about 5 foot high. The removal of bricks was just neverending. But look at the lintel. It's mahoosive and sandy-coloured-stone and just overall gorgeous!
We saved all the good bricks though, for the garden. The fire surround was painted matt black and put to good use too. Waste not, want not and all.
But then, we didn't really know what to do.

We lived with the whole room like this for a long time. I stripped the wallpaper and painted the whole room white.
As you can probably tell from the pictures the light in this room is wonderful and it's also very private. Nobody overlooks this space.
I cleaned and repainted the pantry cupboard too and sprayed the handles black.
Then very little happened.

We looked into the soot blackened hole every day and stopped noticing it.
We had had the chimney swept so it wasn't a dirt or soot problem. It was just ugly.

I restored a beautiful 1950's kitchen cupboard to match the gap where presumably a second pantry cupboard would have been. On this piece of furniture I cleaned it and sanded it and replaced the handles and sprayed them black. It had these stunning three vents though, so I painted them purple so they stood out slightly more. It was one of those serendipitous moments as it fitted so perfectly.
Then we finally hired a plasterer, the lovely Steve, who is a friend of ours and also supremely talented and he made it look amazing.
There was a lot of cleaning prior to that, but, you know, cleaning isn't the most exciting thing to discuss. Basically hot water, spray bleach, wire brush, repeat ad infinitum!

Here was the first moment I started to love this room. I knew it had potential and could be beautiful but at this point I sort of fell for it.
The window is huge and looks out over my garden, it isn't overlooked and the light is fantastic. I started spending a lot of time in here.
It's the room where I blog, where I journal and where I talk to my friends and where I read.
Recently I also got rid of the carpet and my brother-in-law and husband fitted some beading around the wood floor. I sanded and then painted the floor and it's now a lovely space.

And after all that, I think that concludes the saga of removing a fireplace.
It was worth it.
Yes, I wish it had been quicker.
Honestly, it's just the way things happened. I've moved on from ashamed to proud! Happy days.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Interior Design; Gently does it - The Bathroom

The bathroom in a house is so important and it was one of the first rooms I finished in my renovation. I wanted it to look like something from a magazine.

Do you think I suceeded?

This was what it looked like at the beginning.

I'm not sponsored by Andrex or anything and it's pictures like this that remind me I have learnt a lot about composition-of-photographs in the last few years.
Practicality wise though, we needed a drastic and fast solution. The bath you see there was a two third size bath. My husband is 6 foot 2. There was no working shower just a huge cupboard full of a boiler/ water tank or something else that was pretty huge.

However we couldn't afford to do everything at once. We paid for a new bath and shower to be put in, tiled most of the room and then lived with foisty plaster and a half done space for about a year. This was far from ideal, but less ideal was thought of said-husband declaring daily that the bath was too small. To be fair to him, I'm pretty short and pretty much love baths so I would have coped no problem, but in a marriage it's not just about me, it's about everyone who uses the bathroom. It was dingy and pretty much horrid...

We coped. Like I've said before, gently does it, and sometimes you have to put up with less-than-perfect-let's-be-honest-grim surroundings rather than end up with something unaffordable. I may be a bit of a dreamer, but I'm pretty practical too.
One year later we finally could afford to have the whole room replastered and replace the sink and loo. Here you can see how it looks so much brighter with fresh-clean-straight walls.

I wanted this space to be very calming and a retreat from the world. I painted it all in an elegant gray - night jewels from Dulux and chose the deepest bath I could find that wasn't £8000 pounds. I really did drool look over the Jacuzzi baths but had to move on.

My criteria for the bath (which said husband likes to announce to anyone who sees our bathroom - so can't complain about me stating it here) is that it had to cover my boobs while floating. Sorry if this is TMI but to me it's a really important thing. I climbed in all the baths to check in the showroom we visited and I am very glad I did as I like the slipper shaped baths, but actually found them pretty uncomfortable and nowhere near the top trumps of covering-boobs-baths. Dear reader, fear not, I found one.

And after all this talk, let's move on to the big reveal...

I always try to keep whatever features we have, so here we have the original gas vent? Made of Zinc? Plastered around and I added a little decorative detail, which I picked up from Salt's Mill. 

And added some simple accessories including some beautiful coat hooks a friend bought for me from Prague. The mirror you can see was originally gold, but as I love antique glass I bought it, masked it and painted it black. 3 years or so later and I'm still wondering whether I should paint the radiator black.

Oh doesn't the sink and waterfall tap combination look amazing?
Yes it does but sadly....
You can only turn the tap on a teeny bit bacause it just sprays all over you. Really everywhere in a quite-embarrassing-no-I-haven't-had-an-accident kind of way.  
It's still like that, 3 years later. Shame.  I STILL want to change it. (Remember I said this blog was honest.)

But other than that, it's a great room. The bath is looooverly by the way.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Interior Design, Gently does it.

I've been thinking about interior design a lot lately and this much I have learnt - It's best to take your time when you are on a budget. Don't rush it.


We bought an old house which was beautiful but badly in need of a renovation 4 years ago this week. It's a Victorian semi-detached with 4 bedrooms and outbuildings. It has wonderful original features and is a former dentists, we think.

I love it so much. I get a real sense of peace as soon as I walk in.

But, as is often the case, we spent most of our money on the house and have been refurbishing it on a tight budget. Originally it was really tight and recently not as tight.

This means I have had to take my time. To not rush into anything. To restore gently and let the house and space evolve.

I gave the house a photoshoot 2 years ago and I'd like to share how the space changed over the first two years. I'll do another photoshoot soon I think as it looks quite different again as it continues to evolve.

My goals for my house have always been to be comfortable and welcoming. I love colour and pattern as you know but living with three boys who don't love colour and pattern keeps me in check (a bit). This house is filled with natural light though and I've tried to celebrate that.

Let's start with the living room. It's approximately 3 metres high, 5 metres square with a bay window and faces East so it gets the morning sunlight.

Here is the before picture on the day we got the keys! It was an unloved house so the first day we paid for all the carpets to be cleaned and it made a huge difference in terms of smell and general feelings of cleanliness.
Two years on. Lighter, brighter, no horrid carpet.
So, let's look in a little bit more detail of the first two years transformation of this one space. Here are a couple more images of how the house looked on the day we took ownership. The room was a bit dingy but it's all fairly sturdy. There isn't much falling down - except those curtains!
The windows are the original sash windows. Over 110 years old and still lovely. Bit draughty but worth keeping.

Then all our stuff arrived and things got a lot worse!
So as I said, we were on a tight almost zero budget. The wallpaper wasn't falling off and as we had no idea the state of the walls underneath we thought the safest option would be to paint over the wallpaper. I choose a flat white and it took three coats. (It always does with white paint, sigh.)

Work in progress shot.
Then we ripped all the carpet out and hired a sander and sanded the floors back.
Work in progress shot 2 and 3...

They came up pretty clean and I loved the original colour. But I decided to put a stain on the floor so it was hardwearing. Here it is... It's a little hazy because it was a very long few days and was about midnight when I finished painting the floor.

Then it was a question of doing all the fun bits, putting the furniture back and decorating the space. This is one of my favourite parts of interior design.

Except this couch. It just doesn't fit the space. It's from our old house and I have tried every layout but it does not work. I've almost convinced husband of this now and we will hopefully be replacing it soon.

And that's how our living room evolved into a brighter and more comfortable space. It's taken time and it didn't all come together particularly quickly. The fire is still the same and still as ugly as ever. We want to replace it with a real fire at some point. But we can wait.
It'll get there. Gently and at it's own pace.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to do the Life Changing Magic of Tidying for your clothes

Is this the secret to a clutter free wardrobe forever? Being able to find every item of clothing you own easily and quickly. Getting rid of items without guilt, worry or regret?


I read this book recently, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I think most of the world has too. I can see why though. This is actually a way to balance your life, to "banish clutter forever" as Marie says.

I didn't want to banish clutter forever, I love clutter! Maximalist all the way. But, I had to admit I was lost when it came to my clothes. I had far too many, I had two bursting wardrobes and a semi-permanent-clothes-mountain next to them. I'd know what I wanted to wear but couldn't always find it and getting dressed was taking longer than it should.

I'm always interested in what is new, so when a few blogs mentioned this book I took a look at it and read some reviews. A few mentioned that they had just used it for their clothes and that it had worked so I bought it.

It's quite easy to read, if a little repetitive. There are only so many ways you can describe getting rid of stuff after all. Marie is interesting and although an extreme minimalist to me there were certainly parts of the book I could resonate with.

There were three main steps to clothes.

1. Take everything out. Every single top, and then you move on to trousers, dresses etc.

Here is my pile!

It was huge and that is just tops. It was a pile taller than me. Scary and quite shaming really.
I couldn't remember the last time I had seen this original 1970's drawer liner! The chest by the way is a hand-me-down from my Mum and I really love it. It's huge and chunky and has lots of scars and dents. It used to be in my Mum's bedroom and I spent ages in my childhood staring at it while we hung out in her room in the mornings so I just have happy memories of this.
Anyway, back to tidying.
2. Look at each item, hold it and ask if it brings you joy. Simple really.
Anything that doesn't get rid of it. If it was a gift or reminds you of a special moment, it's ok to say thank you to item and let it go. I felt a bit silly saying thanks to things but I soon got into the swing of it.
I ended up having three piles (humongous-gravity-defying ones). One of items to sell, one of items for the charity shop and one for things that needed to be thrown away. I did put a couple of pieces to one side that need to be mended too.
3. Put the things away that give you joy and try and fold them so you can see them. Vertically or rolled, not in piles on top of each other. Ideally you need to see everything in the drawer at once.
So here are my results.

Then, three weeks later, this is still how it looks! It's working really well for me...


My wardrobes can breathe and are nowhere near full. I'm storing a spare pillow in one that I use when I read in bed. I've got space for a chunky pillow!

I took seven bin liners of clothes to charity shops and have two large bags waiting for me to put them on ebay. I can find things easily and so far I haven't missed anything at all.

I have less choices, but it's easier to decide what to wear. I realised what clothes I am missing so have bought one new pair of trousers and one more maxi dress for work. I might add some more bits but not too many. I've bought some storage boxes too so I can keep everything in order. I have one full of shorts, one of jumpers, one of pyjama's, one of shapewear even!

I should probably point out that I haven't been sponsored to write this or anything and I'm unlikely to follow it anywhere else. I already disagree with Marie profoundly as she thinks people rarely re-read books. Pah! I re-read books all the time.

But I am super pleased that it has worked for my clothes and I hope it lasts.