Wednesday, 26 February 2014

BABY'S TOY BOX DILEMMA

It's challenging sometimes to find stylish kids furniture that goes with the rest of our decor, but I'm sure every parent would agree that children need a large toy box.

I wanted something neutral that doesn't look like a toy box (but more like a side table). The table we got in the end is actually a blanket box (it's part of a bedroom furniture set) from the Paul Simon Plaza Range. We have the same in walnut colour in our bedrooms and the white one seemed to fit the bill.

When I first got it I thought it looked too white on it's own but by placing a tray and a plant on it, it seems to have toned it down a bit. The problem with a toy box is that we keep opening it a lot so that's why I chose to put a tray rather than a table runner on it. The tray is very easy to lift when I need to open the toy box and also quite heavy as it's made of gun metal, and therefore too heavy for our toddler to lift! Unfortunately, this is not the case with the coasters and magazines... She seems to think they are her new toys!











Tray: Chilewich Manhattan Tray
Placemat: Chilewich Basketweave White/Black Rectangular Placemat
Candle Holder: Iittala, Aalto
Coasters: Dwell (very old...)





This box fits so many toys!

I was contemplating whether to add a lamp or plant next to the tray... I'm still not 100% sure but I came to the conclusion that most likely our little rascal will be able to do less damage to the plant than the lamp... By the way, this plant is the only one that I have managed to keep alive for years. I remember to water it maybe once a month, if that, and I've had it for 5 years... I think it's some type of palm tree (could be wrong) and I purchased it from M&S years ago.


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Saturday, 22 February 2014

INTRODUCING MORE COLOUR TO OUR HOUSE

I have a terrible habit of buying everything in grey, white or black. Those are my favourite colours both in interior design and in clothing. It can be boring I know, but I like the harmony and tranquillity of these colours.

It has taken me a long time to admit that our house needs more colour. I found the best way for me to see this was by taking pictures and looking at the room and the space from an outsiders point of view. To be honest, I was quite astonished how bare and clinical everything looked so I decided it was a time to buy new art work.

The problem with putting paintings up is that I need to really love them because inevitably they will leave a nail on the wall. Secondly, I am terrible at making decisions. I'd also like to think that art work and furniture I buy is a long term investment. Sure it is easy to replace the Ikea stuff but if I am having to live with something everyday, and don't like it, it is going to get to me.

So, in the hunt for some new paintings, I came across a very good website www.art.co.uk. Their selection is huge and best of all they always seem to have some sort of a sale (although I'm sure this is factored in the price). They also have several framing options and you can choose what type of glass you'd like, for example clear or non-glare. The non-glare option is slightly more expensive but if you don't want the picture to reflect light from it, it's a good option. I opted for the clear glass this time as I was worried the non-glare option might darken the vibrant colours in the paintings. That is the difficulty buying online, as I cannot compare the two before making a decision.

My paintings arrived promptly and well packed. As you can see, I had a little helper who was very curious to get into the boxes. I had to keep the paintings very far from her as she would have loved to take a bite off them!
















I think they are stunning! The artist is Esther Wragg and the art prints are called Desert Road I and Desert Road II. I have been having mixed feelings about them before but I do think they are beautiful and look great in our contemporary living room.

The only negative is that the frames are extremely fragile. I already managed to damage one side (fixed it with a black marker pen so we are all good!) but I have never had this problem with any other frames. The materials they use are obviously not high quality, but then again they are probably right for the price.

I had a perfect spot picked for them in our living room behind our giant TV and my husband did an excellent job hanging them up! I found it quite difficult to get a decent photo of them as the light was reflecting from our main window but hopefully the pictures will give an idea of the end result.






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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

MINI MAKE-OVER: DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM

When we first moved in, both bathrooms were relatively recently renovated, so we didn't need to do any big changes. However, we had spotlights put in, and we also wanted to get rid of the laminate flooring in the downstairs bathroom and use tiles instead. Well, actually we wanted a marble flooring as I have recently become obsessed with marble! Especially grey marble tiles. They are so timeless and elegant.

Here's few things we've learnt:

1) GOOD TILERS DON'T GROW ON TREES

Try to find someone who is recommended to you rather than picking up a trades guy on www.ratedpeople.com. We have used this website in the past and the tradesmen have been fine but the guy we hired to put in the new floor was no good (even though his ratings were excellent). There are loads of dodgy tilers out there and this became very apparent after a quick search in google for 'tiling job gone bad'.

Our tiler showed up looking hangover and totally ignored what we told him. As a result, the tiles on the floor don't look straight and are slightly uneven. To be honest, this is not noticeable when you first walk in, but being the perfectionist that I am, of course I noticed this afterwards (although it doesn't really bother me anymore). If I hadn't been dealing with a newborn baby I would have probably gotten into an argument with him but we just wanted to get the job done and move on. Next time we are doing up bathrooms it will be by RECOMMENDATION only!

2) MARBLE FLOOR IS VERY HIGH MAINTENANCE

I knew this before we started but we got quite a good deal from Topps
Tiles (www.toppstiles.co.uk) so we decided to go ahead. Perhaps the reason why we came across some of these issues was that the tiler we hired for the job didn't fit the floor properly in the first place....

The main issue has been hairline cracks and scratches on the tiles. Since marble is a natural stone it is very porous even when sealed. Our marble tiles are polished and we were told they did not need to be sealed (there are some mixed opinions on this). I have been cleaning the floor few times a week with Kilrock Granite & Marble Cleaner but I'm not sure if this has made a difference. Soap residue and water needs to be wiped off very quickly as it will stain the marble. The grey parts still look pretty good but the scratches are more visible on the black tiles.

I still don't regret getting the marble floor as it does looks beautiful and I feel it brings a certain period look to our downstairs bathroom. The pictures below will show what the floor looks like today and to be honest it really isn't that bad. If you are looking for imperfections and flaws with a magnifying glass you will find them as marble is a natural product which means it will show life.

If and when, we do up this bathroom properly in the future, I would choose quartz over marble. Quartz is obviously much more expensive but it is the only hard wearing option I can think of that looks very similar to marble. After all, I still love marble and I am very happy how it transformed our bathroom in the end.




BEFORE



NEW FLOOR 1 YEAR AGO


FLOOR NOW











 


SOME VISIBLE SCRATCHES AFTER 1 YEAR.
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Thursday, 13 February 2014

PLACEMAT OBSESSION

It seems I have a thing for placemats... I remember the day we bought our black glass dining room table from Harveys Furniture and my biggest concern was not how it will work as a everyday table (being glass and all) but how can I find nice placemats to go with it?!

I was obviously aware that it might scratch easily but a table cloth was out of the questions as it would hide the pretty table underneath, hence placemats were the way to go. Now, my husband doesn't share the passion for placemats with me. Quite the opposite. He thinks it is a waste to buy a new set of 6 placemats when you already have some but you see honey, people (I mean women generally) get bored of them eventually, and since I haven't found the ideal placemats I have had to settle to some BHS and Ikea ones.

Until today.Yay! My new placemats arrived from Heals (www.heals.co.uk) and they are exactly what I wanted. They are made of vinyl and supposedly heat resistant (although not sure if I want to test this!). They are easy to clean with a damp cloth which is handy when you have a toddler in the house.
The main reason I got these was that they are substantially larger than my old ones (they are 36x48 cm) and I'm hoping there will be less scratches on my dining room table as a result.

You can find out more about them on www.chilewich.com.

The ones I ordered are called Chilewich Basketweave White/Black Rectangular Placemats.

I will consider these as a Pre-Valentines present for myself :)






PS. After I posted this I found out that Next do identical placemats for the fraction of the price! You can find them here: http://www.next.co.uk/x538368s5#111819x53. Oh well... Next time! :D
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Sunday, 9 February 2014

New Boiler & Flooring

From day one, I have hated the back boiler in our dining room. All 1930's houses in the UK used to have one, and some still do, but we couldn't even have a warm bath downstairs, as the boiler wouldn't heat enough water (not the mention it doesn't really fit into my idea of contemporary). In order to remove the old back boiler, the old carpet had to come off and they had to lift the original floor boards. Just as well we didn't put in the laminate flooring first!

Luckily, we found an excellent boiler specialists in our local newspaper called, Danny Williams Plumbing & Heating, and were delighted with their work. You can find them here:

http://www.boilerguide.co.uk/listings/danny-williams-plumbing-heating

It is quite common in the UK to put the boiler in the kitchen but this takes loads of cub board space so we wanted the boiler in the upstairs hot press. Luckily, they were able to accommodate this request and have the new boiler tucked away upstairs.



We decided to have our new laminate flooring fitted afterwards in every single room downstairs and what a difference does it make! We had some difficulty choosing between laminate and engineered wood but in the end went for laminate. I did a lot of research on what kind of flooring would work for us and also compliment our house.

In the end, we chose Quickstep Perspective 4 Natural Varnished Oak with a V groove as this is supposed to expand the room optically. We also wanted to make sure that there were no breaks where the doors are so the floor would flow seamlessly in all the rooms.

The flooring was installed by O'Brien flooring (www.obrienflooring.co.uk) We were very happy with the end result and Barry's work. In fact, we are so impressed with him that we are having him back this month to do our kitchen floor.

We have had the laminate now for two years and it has been incredibly durable and scratch resistant. What I love about it is that it looks like engineered wood but has the durability of a laminate floor. It is easy to clean (even with the v groove!) and even though you need to be careful with spills, we have it in our conservatory which has been leaking from day one (yes, really!), and the floor still looks fantastic despite the occasional puddle. I can absolutely recommend!
 
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Friday, 7 February 2014

Before & After (well, so far...)

It has been 2 years since we bought this house and I must say, I am quite proud of what we have achieved. The old stinky carpets are gone and so is the ugly back boiler (if you live in a 1930's house, you might have been unlucky enough to come across one!).

Here's a few pictures. I will be posting some more before and after pictures and explaining the changes we have made in more detail!









 
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