Archive | April, 2012

Kitchen Lingo

29 Apr

So progress has slowed down a little – well a lot actually – since DIY dad’s departure. It was always bound to happen I guess. But it’s not bad overall, three rooms in 5 months. The living room and bedroom still need new carpets but for obvious reasons, we’ve decided to hold fire until the building work in the kitchen has been done. I’ve never met a builder yet who is willing to take his shoes off at the front door, much less wipe his feet before he comes into the house! Besides, everyone keeps telling me about all the dust that the build produces and how it gets EVERYWHERE, so definitely no to putting down new carpets and hanging the new doors before the kitchen is done.  The doors were a bargain that IB sourced at Wickes recently. They were running a 25% discount sale on ‘selected items’. Have you ever noticed that when a shop has a sale on ‘selected items’, that’s normally a euphemism for ‘nothing you want to buy’, but for once the opposite was true.

In terms of the new doors, that will be MY next project. 10  doors and they all have to be varnished guess how many times? …………………………… not just once, but THREE times! That’s THIRTY coats of varnish! That’s not going to be a boring job at all! How do I make it more interesting – all suggestions welcome!

The one thing that we have started looking into this week is the kitchen build. Basically we have this right now………………


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And this – our vintage cooker!


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And then there’s this very interesting storage space!

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But we want something more like this……….


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From Kitchens UK


OK, well I can dream can’t I??!! Anyway, what I’ve been learning this week from looking through my copy of ‘Beautiful Kitchens’ is that there is whole language associated with kitchens that I knew nothing about and which I now feel obliged to swot up on before the nice man from Magnets comes round on Thursday evening.

For example, when ordering your kitchen you might be asked about your ‘kitchen scheme’ which is basically where you plan to put your cupboards, oven, fridge etc. (and no I don’t have one sorted yet!). Then they might speak to you of ‘cabinetry’ which are your cupboards and carcass (the framework and walls of your cupboards). Kitchen design lingo doesn’t stop there, you also need to know about ‘cut-outs’, ‘kickplates’ and ‘upstands’.   Then apparently there are a whole bunch of rules we should follow to achieve the ‘ultimate ergonomic design’………… who knew! IB has told me not to bother reading up on all of this, because he says the only terminology we should be interested in, is ‘percentage discount’!!!


When is a door not a door?

25 Apr

Anyone who has been following this blog from the beginning, might recall that one of the more quirky features of this house is a Jack and Jill en suite bathroom. For anyone not familiar with such a concept (like me before our first viewing) it’s a bathroom that’s got two doors and is basically accessible from two different bedrooms. Good idea? You decide…….. personally  I’ve never been very sold on the idea and having spent the last few months trying to remember to lock TWO doors when using this bathroom, I didn’t shed any tears yesterday when DIY dad in a last DIY act before he left these shores, blocked one door up! We needed this done in preparation for fitting a walk in shower later in the year but apart from this, the other advantage is that in one of the bedrooms we’ve reclaimed some much needed wall space.  So  now our Jack and Jill en suite is only accessible to Jack (not to be rude to Jill but given it can only be entered via our boys’ bedroom………………..)

Anyway more interesting than why we bricked up one door to the en suite is how it was bricked up. For some reason (which I still can’t explain, maybe because it lends itself to a step-by-step systematic approach like baking) I was fascinated by this and followed DIY dad’s progress with great interest – interest which I think he was more irritated than flattered by yesterday morning as he rushed to finish the job before he caught a 15.30 flight out of Heathrow.  However, I do now know the steps involved in blocking up a door, so look away now if this doesn’t interest you in the slightest.

  • Remove the architrave on both sides.

  • Take down the door


  • Cut thin strips of wood into appropriately sized battens and place at strategic points in the doorway as so:



Remember the battens will ultimately support the plasterboard that blocks up the hole, so there should be a suitable number of them and they should be screwed in tightly.

  • Next measure up the doorway and cut your plasterboard to appropriate size shapes.
  • Then fit the plasterboard, on both sides,  into the lower section of the doorway and secure into position with appropriate length screws.
  • Pack this lower cavity with acoustic and draft proof insulation.



  • Then fit plasterboard to ONE side of the top section of the doorway. Secure in position.
  • Pack the top cavity with insulation as before.



  • Finally fasten the top section of plasterboard into position.



And there you have it, one blocked up doorway! It’s not chocolate cake but it looks just as good (well not quite but you  know what I mean!).


A trip down DIY memory lane………

22 Apr

So yesterday marked the demise of the last of my Blue Peter curtains. Remember these:


do it yourself blog Blue Peter Curtains

Blue Peter Curtains


Well in their place we now  have these:

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We ordered them from blinds to go which of course sounds like the McDonalds of the blind world but the blinds are good quality and look exactly like they do in the online photos (not of course that I am implying that there is ever any disparity between the photos that McDs post of their food and the actual food they serve!). The only tip I have if you do order from blinds to go and if for some reason you want the same blinds as us, then don’t go on their website looking for beige blinds or even latte coloured ones. No you actually want the colour  Sevilla Pampas! So there! I thought it was only paint companies that came up with ‘interesting’ names for their product, but no, it seems curtain and blind companies are in on the act. I wonder what job title the people who think up these names have?!

Anyway, you wouldn’t believe the difference the blinds make to the bedroom. Even though we have done NOTHING else in this room (apart from replace the windows of course, which was only about 8 weeks ago but it feels like a lifetime has passed already) they’ve still made a massive difference. The room looks brighter and more cosy. Even the boys got quite excited by their new blinds – closing them all yesterday after they’d been put up and making a tent in which to have a ‘midnight’ (four o’clock!) feast.

Meanwhile, keen to make the most of his last few days here, DIY dad (who leaves us on Tuesday, unless I can find his passport and hide it first) left IB fitting a light in the larder while he worked on putting the finishing touches to the guest bedroom. Apart from touching up some last bits of paintwork, he was keen to sort out the built-in wardrobe/cupboard space.


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After we moved in, I slapped a coat of paint on it to brighten it up and make it a more appealing place to hang clothes, but DIY dad was suitably unimpressed with my efforts. He stripped it back, repainted it and then fitted a new shelf and clothes rail. It’s positively luxurious in there now!

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So, apart from a new lampshade, some bedside lockers (I have my eye on some nice oak ones………..) and sadly yes new curtains (although my confidence has grown in this area after the success in the living room), the guest room is done! Time for a photographic retrospect I think…………………………


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Wallpaper striping - phase 1


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Down comes the ceiling!


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Getting plastered!


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All primed and ready to paint!


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Bring on the sunshine!


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When DIY became BIY (bake it yourself!)

18 Apr

The thing about writing this blog and recording my/our DIY progress is that I feel like I have to ‘fess up every time I let a few days go by and don’t make any progress on the house. So like this week, I’m afraid I’ve done very little. And the reason for this? Well instead of playing with my DIY tools,  I’ve been playing with this beast –

do it yourself blog Mixer


Oh yes, it’s the Kenwood KM331 and it was delivered on Friday. And FYI before you judge me, I didn’t  blow our DIY budget on a deluxe food processor.  DIY dad and mum very generously gave it to us as a house-warming gift. Now when I say they gave it to ‘us’, I am of course being kind to IB, because I don’t imagine he’ll be using it to knock me up a batch of fudge brownies anytime soon. If it doesn’t come from Toolstation or B&Q then IB isn’t interested. Although he did of course appreciate the gesture his in-laws had made and he has generously offered his services as a taste tester for anything I make using the KM331!  And therein lies the problem. I have spent the last few days producing all manner of baked goods – brownies, meringues, almond pastry cases filled with fruit, instead of painting the skirting boards in the guest room and the bathroom, planning colour schemes for the next bedroom renovation, sourcing kitchen cabinets, etc, etc. On the plus side though, DIY dad and IB are keen to burn off all these extra calories they’ve been consuming (IB is worried about his six-pack!) and so they’ve been working doubly hard which makes up for the lack of effort on my part (well sort of!).

So what has been achieved over the last few days? Well at the weekend my DIY husband and father managed to sort out a tricky problem with the new bathroom ceiling. The builders who put it up had cut holes in it to accommodate the spotlights which had already been fitted by the electrician back in December. It was no big deal they told us (another lesson I’m learning is NEVER feel relaxed when a builder tells you something is no big deal, it usually means the opposite!). Their plan was simply to unclip the spotlights, then dangle them through the pre-positioned holes in the plasterboard before the ceiling was secured in place. A plan which would have worked beautifully had the builders cut perfect sized holes for ALL of the spots.  But for some reason, maybe because it was the end of the week and they were a little weary or maybe they’d been for a pint at lunchtime, but they ended up cutting holes for two of the spots that were almost an inch wider than they needed to be, leaving us with this interesting effect!


do it yourself blog Spotlight Disaster

A perfect fit - Not!



do it yourself blog Spotlights


Anyway, the solution came in the form of Painters Mate, a malleable white seemingly magical substance that you can use to fill gaps of almost any size and without leaving any unsightly seams or lines.  It’s like the vaseline of the DIY world! You apply it using a silicone gun, my new favourite toy and the only DIY tool that lured me away from my Kenwood Mixer over the weekend!


do it yourself blog Painters Mate

Painters Mate to the Rescue



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My new favourite DIY tool!


The one thing I have been helping with this week is sourcing a company to do the building work in the kitchen and dining room. The bad news is we are apparently now entering peak house renovation season – i.e. spring/summer when the weather is milder (well in that’s the theory) and people feel more inclined to lift the roof off their houses/extend their kitchen/build an air raid shelter etc. etc. A couple of builders have agreed to come and give us a quote this weekend but they can’t guarantee that they will fit us in before late summer and we want the work started in June ………………. I wonder if there’s any way to change their minds? Brownie anyone?!

Lips, lintels and lights!

15 Apr

So now why is it that if I’m going to do anything dippy or silly in my DIY endeavours, IB is always around? (or hunky boiler man who may be coming back next month to do some more work for us, I might move out for the week!) Given how much time I spend home alone it just doesn’t seem fair.  Yesterday for example, I managed to give myself a fat lip whilst wrestling some old curtains (what else, curtains have been a source of torment for me one way or another since we moved in!) off a wide white, highly bendy old curtain track! I was tugging downwards very hard on the curtain to get one particularly stubborn hook off the track and as the curtain hook and track parted company, the track snapped back up right into my face, with my top lip taking most of the force. One cold cloth and fat lip later, I had to explain to IB what had happened and instead of sympathy I got an afternoon of curtain related jokes! See if it had happened on a week day, he wouldn’t have been home till the evening, by which time the swelling would have gone down and IB would have been none the wiser!

Anyway, on a more positive note, things are progressing well in the bathroom, guest room and living room. In the guest room, DIY dad has managed to turn the room a more acceptable shade of yellow with his half white emulsion, half Dulux hazy daze mixture. The walls are now more of a pale morning sunlight colour rather than full-on, I’m standing in the mid-day sun yellow.  The woodwork still needs painting and the door has to be changed, but already it feels like a very different room to when we started out.

do it yourself blog guest room

Meanwhile in the bathroom, IB has put up the new mirror. He finally tracked down the mirror of his dreams –on ebay last week,  one with a shaver socket AND a light.

do it yourself blog bathroom mirro

I have to admit, even though I wasn’t keen on the whole modern mirror idea – you may recall I wanted something framed with a bit more character – it does look quite good.  The little silver disc protrusion at the top is actually the light which is controlled by a little sensor at the base of the mirror that you wave your hand under to turn the light on.  Very Star Trekesque!

Back downstairs in the living room, DIY dad was very busy on Friday putting up curtain poles. It took a lot longer than planned, as has been the case with so many of the projects (big and small) we’ve undertaken to date. In this case it was because for both windows, in order to put the brackets for the curtain poles in the right spot, DIY dad had to drill holes into the supporting lintels. Four broken drill bits, several hours, and a number of expletives later, he was done! For the first hour after they went up, IB and I weren’t entirely convinced we’d made the right choice with the pattern and colour, but I think we’d just got so used to the purple sheet and sticky tape look that it took us a while to adjust to having real curtains up.

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Front window

do it yourself blog French doors

French doors

Finally, this week, I’ve discovered a brilliant website called It covers every room in the house and for each one offers lots of different photos of layout/decorating options. So for example for kitchens, it has sections filled with photos and advice on country kitchens, L-shaped kitchens, modern kitchens and there’s even a section on ‘handleless’ kitchens! It also offers a great ‘how to’ section that includes advice on how to save money on DIY which I’m off to read now!

Blinded by the light

12 Apr

Well I thought I’d be able to show a picture by now of the living room curtains in place but sadly the curtain poles I ordered last week still haven’t arrived. So we’re still using our makeshift curtains, fashioned out of an old sheet and some sticky tape.


do it yourself blog Our Bluepeter Curtains

Our Bluepeter curtains


Its total coincidence that the sheet matches the colour of the walls, although I will be most put out if it turns out the sheet looks/matches better than the new curtains when they’re up!

This week I’m also waiting (sort of) patiently for Parcel Force to deliver the caramel blackout blinds I’ve ordered for the boys’ bedroom. As we’re nowhere near the point where we can renovate their room, I haven’t a clue what colour scheme we might end up with, so buying curtains isn’t an option just now (and given how difficult it was to get some for the living room, that’s actually fine with me!). But there’s only so long you can put up with having brown paper line the windows (of which there are three in their room, so you get where I’m coming from) particularly as it’s so bright in the mornings now from about 6 (and our youngest son remains unconvinced by the argument that just because it’s bright outside doesn’t mean you have to get up!) so blackout blinds in a neutral shade seemed like a nice compromise.

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In my search for something suitable to block out the morning light in the boys’ bedroom, I came across panel screen blinds at Clarkes Blinds, which look fab but unfortunately, they are primarily  meant for sash windows  and we don’t have any. They basically involve covering the bottom half of the window with a sheer fabric (plain, textured or patterned) which attaches to the window with velcro. The top part of the window is then left clear so light can continue to flood through. Apparently they increase privacy, rather than reduce light, but nonetheless I thought they were a very clever idea and they look very smart.


do it yourself blog Sash Panels


I’d quite like something similar for our landing windows where we desperately need privacy as the windows are mainly outside our bedroom door and are overlooked. I could put black out blinds up, but inspired by the sash window panel screens, I went hunting for something similar and found decorative window  film which can be stuck on to the lower half of the windows. There are some really pretty patterns available at

Meanwhile back in the guest room, DIY dad has been busy today trying to tone down the bright yellow walls in the guest bedroom. Left as it is, it could be a very effective treatment room for anyone with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Five minutes in there has got to have the same impact  as being out in the sunshine for a half hour! Anyway, my dad has spent the afternoon in re-painting the walls in a half and half mix of white emulsion and Dulux hazy daze, so fingers crossed tomorrow we can go in there without sunglasses on!

We were originally hoping that we could sand down and varnish the floorboards in the guest room too because they looked quite promising when we first pulled back the carpet. We thought bare varnished floorboards would be in keeping with the country cottage feel of the room which I’ve mentioned before.  I’d even sourced some eco-friendly wool rugs at Roger Oates, made out of leftover material from the carpet industry.

Anyway on closer inspection, too many of the boards have bits missing and would need replacing. Then we found that there was an inch gap between the boards ending on one side of the room and the skirting board.  It would have been impossible to fill the gap with a cut down piece of floorboard because there is a massive hole under the boards on that side of the room so anything you tried to slide in to fill the hole would have just have dropped down in to the hole. We could have had the floor re-laid but after much debate over the weekend  we didn’t think it was worth the effort and expense so instead DIY dad has done a good job of filling the gap in today using some plywood so that we can lay some carpet when the time comes!

do it yourself blog Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap!

The joy of paint!

8 Apr

So, its confession time – I’ve allowed myself to get distracted from my DIY duties this week. My mum’s been visiting and she and I have mostly been shopping rather than DIYing!  Then of course today there was Easter lunch to be cooked and how else are you going to spend Easter Sunday afternoon but eating chocolate?! Still IB and DIY dad have been hard at it all week. IB’s had the week off work and has used the time to finish all the last bits and pieces in the bathroom, like fixing the shower so that it sprays cold water AS WELL AS hot, cutting the top drawer of the sink unit so that it can fit around the waste pipe, painting the new skirting board etc, etc. I’m particularly impressed with the job they’ve done on the drawer as it not only needed a piece cut out of it for the pipe but a new ‘wall’ had to be created so that we could still use the drawer for storage.

do it yourself blog Carpentry

Look at that u-shape, its carpentry art!

do it yourself blog The finished product

When one drawer closes...

IB’s also put up the new shower curtain which finally arrived this week. This house had no shower when we moved in, well unless you count this little device which was set up above the sunken bath:

do it yourself blog - Our temporary Shower

Our so-called shower for the last four months!

It was impossible to control the temperature, so you could either have a very cold shower or a very hot one. Actually I use the term shower loosely as it barely gave out a trickle of water and so didn’t get used for anything but hair washing. Anyway, there was great excitement on Thursday when the new shower was officially declared open for business!

do it yourself blog - New shower

The new shower

IB has also been trying this week to track down curtain poles for the living room as well as a bunch of new doors and door handles. A lot of our doors are quite flimsy and the metal handles have blackened badly with age. In his hunt for online bargains, IB’s come across a couple of interestingly titled sites, like, which sounds like an online dating site for Polish people and which you might expect in true Graham Norton fashion to be full of pictures of people’s overflowing midriffs, however, it’s actually  a site that sells door handles!

When not eating chocolate and wandering around the shops with my mum, I’ve been ruminating about how best to ‘dress’ our newly painted living room. There’s been a slight blip in the sense that the colour we painted the room is looking more ‘lavender’ than ‘blush pink’ (which was meant to be our attempt to escape all the neutral shades we favoured in our last house) but luckily it will still go with the curtains we’ve bought. But plans for cushions, lampshades and carpets might need revising. This has been just one of the painting challenges this week as the “creamy yellow we painted the guest room proved – even with just one coat – to be more blindingly yellow than cream. I sort of liked it but IB is insisting it’s too yellow and sunglasses are required on entry. So next week I’ve got to repaint it! I’d post a picture of it but truly I’m afraid it might damage your eyes!!!