Archive | June, 2012

All aboard!

24 Jun

Well finally, DIY Dad is back in town and the DIY train is moving again!!! Although it had started to gather speed again earlier in the week before DIY Dad’s arrival, with IB’s mid-week attack on the built in wardrobes in the pink bedroom, aka our current store room for unpacked boxes and  unplaced furniture. Wardrobe doors down, we discovered lurking behind them some interesting pipework and a (non-functioning) radiator, in addition to some very strange sloping in the ceiling covered up by the dodgiest wallpaper job I’ve ever seen!




As was the case with the built-in wardrobes in our bedroom, the decor inside the units bares NO resemblance at all to whats on the walls in the rest of the room. Take note all you would be diy-ers, always paint inside your wardrobes when you redecorate or you too will be judged by future owners of your home.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the first task that DIY Dad turned his hand to on Friday morning was dislodging this ‘antique’ from its place of residence…….



No not the (stage) curtains, they’re long gone, but the ‘interesting’ cabinet in the top left of the picture which was taken down to reveal this –



…. a mass of wires that seem to have no particular function, again a reocurring theme in this house. Anyway now we have another ebay offering:

So, with this down and out of the way, we decided to up the ante and start stripping the wood chip off the walls (and ceiling) because rumour has it (and I’m trying not to get excited) that we have found a builder who is willing to start in August – watch this space!! Oh and in the absence of their friends from next door, who are away for the weekend, we have FINALLY managed to get our boys interested in DIY, although I suspect that when I was out of the room Grandad promised to take them to the sweetshop after lunch if they helped.




Son no.2 was heard to mutter as he ambled off to his bedroom – ‘mmm, that was fun but my muscles ache’…..I think he might think he’s done, but there’s still the hall, stairs and landing to go, better stock up at the sweet shop later!


Not so sweet kitchen dreams!

20 Jun

I had a dream last night that we’d got our new kitchen fitted. Well actually to say it was a dream is probably misleading, as the kitchen itself had some nightmarish qualities! All the cupboards for example looked great on the outside but when I opened them they were painted (literally you could see the streak marks) black on the inside. All the worktops were made from a sticky, gungy, green slime that stuck to my hands when I touched it and then instead of an island in the centre of the room, there was a teeny, tiny table with four little smurf size stools around it! Clearly this dream was telling me that I am more than a little stressed about getting a new kitchen and no wonder, now that I’ve read up on what’s involved and how many things we have to make decisions on. I live in fear of choosing the wrong splashback or carcasses or kickboards or oven etc, etc, etc. Forget kitchensdirect, I need we’!

I made the mistake the other night – for the purposes of research you understand – of googling ‘amazing kitchens’. On one level it only served to intensify my fear and anxiety but on another, it actually reassured me, because on there I found a number of kitchens that I would truly never refer to as ‘amazing’. While not quite as bad as the kitchen in my dream last night, they left me with a feeling that I might be able to do better! Now forgive me if you look through the following photos and you think, wow that looks amazing what’s diydame talking about? And forgive me even more if your kitchen is featured in the photo or looks just like the one in the photo. Don’t judge me for not appreciating these kitchens. Simply bear in mind that we all have different tastes, it’s what makes the world go round and it keeps kitchensdirect in business!

This is from


The next two are from

And courtesy of!:

And my particular (not-so) favourite (see


Actually I do almost quite like this one (from!

Well splash my back!

17 Jun

Did you know that on average UK households spend £6,000 on a kitchen while 16% of the population spend at least £25k? Well that’s according to Beautiful Kitchens the monthly periodical which I’ve spent all weekend studying!  I am SO determined now to get us the kitchen of our dreams (well the kitchen of our carefully budgeted dreams) that in the absence of any kitchen design expert stepping forward to do the job, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.  It would be nice to think that we could get the whole kitchen refitted for £6,000 but that might be something of a challenge given that there is absolutely NOTHING to work with in our current kitchen. The cupboard doors, the carcasses, the worktops, the oven, the fridge, the sink, literally EVERYTHING needs replacing.

One of the biggest design challenges we face is maximising the available space because even with the building work that we’re planning, the kitchen is never going to be that big. With that in mind we have to decide what to do with the larder? Do we keep it, give it a lick of paint and some new shelves and continue to keep it as valuable storage space. Or do we put the washing machine/tumble dryer in there and use it as a mini-utility room? We even thought about putting our fridge/freezer in there, but we’ve abandoned that idea now. Opening a door in order that you can open another (fridge) door is just too many layers for IB to cope with.  Besides, given that larders are effectively olden day fridges, it would be like putting a fridge within a fridge!

Beautiful Kitchens is very supportive of the larder concept though. In particular they note that larders are ‘highly functional and practical’ (not to be confused with ovens or fridges then!). They can be ‘left open during the day for food prep and closed at night to blend in with the rest of the furniture’! Forgive me but clearly the author of these words doesn’t live in a household full of men (well two small boys and one big one). If I left the ‘larder’ open all day we’d have no food left by the end of it.




Something else I learned while flicking through KB is that amongst all the important decisions that we have to make about worktops, cupboards, frames, flooring, ovens etc, there is also the small matter of the splashback – which as the name suggests is the protective material you put on the wall behind the ‘cooking area’ and sink.  Truly it hadn’t even registered on my kitchen planning radar. However, it seems you can’t underestimate the power of the splashback! Apparently if you go for a tiled splashback, the grout can harbour grease or bacteria. A one -piece splashback is apparently more practical and hygienic – who knew? So important is this piece of kit that BK has dedicated two pages to ‘how to choose a splashback’! And in doing my online research on splashbacks, what did I find? Why a website called splashbackdirect of course who specialise in vitreous enamel splashbacks in an array of colours. Is it the case that whatever household appliance, item, furnishing etc that you need, somebody somewhere has set up a website with ‘direct’ in the title? It even seems that so gutted was one kitchen company service at having missed out on the chance to call themselves, they decided not to be beaten and opted for How about that for creativity!!!

From Jane Raven Glass

See hidib

See Home Klondike


Or if you prefer something more traditional:

From Modern Kitchen Ideas

Light my fire!

13 Jun

On the recent albeit rare, warm days that we’ve had since summer ‘officially’ started, I’ve learned a little bit more about the idiosyncratic tendencies of our house and garden. Of course this is our first summer here but we’ve lived in the house for six months now, so I thought we knew most things about it already. But that is so not the case.  Recent discoveries, in no particular order:

  1. No matter how hot it gets outside, the rooms downstairs will ALWAYS feel like the (non-existent) air conditioning is set too high (so that’s why if you peak through the living room window on a hot day you’ll see me in a vest top and fleece).
  2. The boys bedroom is the coldest room in the house in winter and the warmest in summer.
  3. The living room is incredibly attractive to ants (be warned small creatures of the earth, I WILL track your home down and block access!)
  4. The trees and shrubs in the front and back garden, with the help of just a little bit of sun and an awful lot of rain can take on forest type dimensions (hence finding a tree surgeon is the next thing on my todo list).

Anyway, it’s all good thankfully. Unlike my friend who found that the summer heat filled her new house with a strange odour that no amount of open windows or air freshener would expunge. It turned out to be a dead rat under her living room floorboards!

Meanwhile, back in the world of diy and home décor, I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs since I got back from Dublin, although I have been more about the research than action, given my current work commitments are quite high. IB and I have decided that over the summer we should replace the fire in the living room, which is a very old-fashioned (circa 1970 unsurprisingly) plastic coal effect electric number.


We can’t make up our mind whether to go for a gas stove or a proper log burning one. With gas stoves, apparently they have ‘realistic flame patterns and excellent efficiency’ (according to the Windsor Fireplaces website). They come in lots of different sizes – far more than I ever realised existed – and some makes even come with a remote controls not to mention ‘large viewing areas’ terminology I wouldn’t normally associate with gas stoves!!!

We do however have a preference for a wood burner particularly given Mr. Tree Surgeon is likely to provide us with enough wood to last a couple of winters, courtesy of the 20foot tall fir trees at the bottom of the back garden. Although at first we didn’t think it would be possible to go for the wood burning option because we haven’t got a chimney but apparently that’s no longer an obstacle as they can be installed with a balanced flue ‘vent’ to an outside wall.

In terms of our options, these are some of the ones I’ve found:




A little too modern for our tastes!

Much better! From woodburning-stoves

So maybe next winter our living room will be just a little bit cosier like these ones featured on housetohome:

Oh these four walls………..

10 Jun

You know that feeling that you get when you return home after a holiday? It’s a mix of sadness that your holiday is over tinged with a little bit of joy at being back in your own house, with your own space and your own things. I have a ritual when I arrive home after a holiday. Before I can even contemplate unpacking, I have to do a tour of all the rooms in the house, checking as I go, on how much chaos we left behind on the day we went to the airport. Then room by room, I tidy and clean. Even if we arrive home at mid-night, I always end up at the very least cleaning bathrooms and wiping down kitchen surfaces. I guess it’s my way of reclaiming my territory. If I were a dog, maybe I’d go round sniffing everything and then peeing on it!

Anyway my point is, that this time round, as I was undertaking my cleaning duties (and yes I know IB was here all week, and yes he did tidy up before we arrived home, but what can I say, except something sexist – sorry boys – which is his male outlook on cleaning prohibits him from doing as thorough a job as I would ), it occurred to me, that this house finally feels like my home! The day we moved in, I cleaned and scrubbed it, to vanquish the presence of the previous owners, but this time, I was cleaning it to reassert and reaffirm our ownership. I wouldn’t mention it except for the fact this is a really big deal for me.  During the last two years we spent in our old house, we no longer liked it. There wasn’t enough space, the garden was too small, the road outside was too busy…… the list of faults we found with it was endless.  The house was nothing more than a possession that we were trying to sell. So hurrah for having a home again!

Now, as I mentioned in my last blog, IB was really busy moving various DIY projects forward in my absence. Including putting up the curtains in the spare room which I bought just before I left for Dublin (ssshhh, don’t tell my friend H., she still thinks I’m going to make them all under her tutelage and I really should, but I’m struggling to find the time and therefore the motivatioin).


So, just that light fitting to take care of now………………..


Oh and in terms of the dining room/my office, now that IB has stripped the walls, the view is even more hideous than I thought it would be:




Just look at that crack, isn’t it a beauty? We’re not going to be able to fix that one with Polyfill! Given how much time I spend working in here, I’m thinking I need to print off some photos of my dream dining room and pin them up on the walls, just to help my sanity for the next few months while we’re ‘in transition’ as IB calls it!

When in Rome……

6 Jun

Well, we’re still in Dublin and IB’s still working away at home. Apparently we no longer have woodchip on the walls and ceiling of the dining room which is progress indeed. It means when we eventually find a builder and get our kitchen/diner project underway, that’s one less thing we will have to do before they start. Sadly it means my ‘office’ space (i.e. the dining room table) is not going to be too easy on the eye for the next couple of weeks/months!

Anyway, only 24 hours left of my DIY free existence. I have definitely overdone it this week a bit on Butlers cappuccino’s and glasses of Rose wine (not before 6, I hasten to add), so come Friday morning it’s definitely back to DIY reality and maybe a bit of a detox!


It struck me this week as I flicked through the Irish Independent that I’m very UK- centric in terms of the websites I look at for inspiration and ideas for our house. So from time to time, I think I’m going to go ‘international’ with this blog – just in time for the European Championships and the Olympics – and look at what’s going on around the world in design and DIY, starting with Ireland of course!

from House and Home

from Gallagher Architects

from Irish Plans

A Polish-Irish House from Style Room

Oh and given that one day we will be back living on Irish shores, perhaps when we’re finished with our (current) house, we could take on this………….

from DHL Architects

 Or this……………

 from Nneue

Okay well a dame can dream can’t she –  again!!!!!

DIY the Dublin way!

3 Jun

So what happens when a DIY Dame jumps on a plane back to her home town leaving DIY IB in charge? Well lots actually. So far this bank holiday weekend he’s done the following:

–          Put up the guest bedroom curtains (and I hear they look fab!)

–          Resprayed the radiator in the same room

–          Made two trips to the tip (about 75 more and the floor of the garage will finally be visible!)

–          Steamed the remaining woodchip wallpaper off the ceiling (spot the misnomer!?)

–          Fitted a light in our windowless larder (not just put the bulb in but did the necessary rewiring and fitted the light switch)

–          Put up the new light fitting in the living room which we bought last weekend

–          Started the necessary preparations for insulating the eaves under the double dormer windows

So all in all, IB has proved himself to be a very good DIY egg! The lighting looks great in the living room:


It’s not quite the chandelier that I’d dreamed off, although at £2k a pop that was never really going to happen. Mind you technically IB didn’t actually say we couldn’t buy it, he just pointed out that the ceiling in the living room was too low for a chandelier and that people would just end up crashing into it!  I did point out that at 5 foot 2, that was never going to be a problem for me!!!


 (From Kilkenny design).

I do feel slightly guilty leaving IB behind to hold the DIY fort, particularly as I spent most of today meeting friends and hanging out here:

Until we’d had enough of coffee and decided something stronger was called for! In my defence though, I did spend some of the morning browsing in Kilkenny Design, looking  at celtic inspired paintings, pottery and lighting. I was very tempted to buy some more candle holders, however I think it might be a challenge to get these bad boys back on the plane!



I’ve also been looking at furniture made by designers from Irish hardwoods and fallen a little bit in love with this (although I can’t make up my mind whether its because of the room – look at that wooden floor and those windows – or the table and chairs!).