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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.

do it yourself blog

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.

do it yourself blog


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 importance of contingency funds and other worldly DIY advice!

16 Mar

So, if you read this blog on Monday, you’ll now be expecting to see pictures of our new bathroom tiles in place. Well the disappointing news is that the tiling is on hold (well actually everything has come grinding to a halt!) because the plumbing for the new filler tap is still proving a challenge. Although, the beehive hole is gone and the pipework is now boxed in……………………..

doityourselfblog Where the beehive once was

Hive out, bricks in

doityourselfblog No more pipes!

Where have all the pink pipes gone?

But basically the hot water is still dribbling rather than gushing out of the filler tap  (and shower) and nothing can move forward till its fixed. IB has now resorted to contacting hunky plumber man for his advice and he has suggested that if we fit a ring system and pump for each bathroom then that should overcome the problem. Apparently the new filler tap is currently plumbed into the main water system rather than the hot water tank and so the water pressure isn’t as strong as it should be.  We could fit one pump and that would solve the problem but it would also mean that when both showers/baths are in use, then only one person would get good water pressure, so each bathroom ideally needs its own pump……. Still following? Good. Because the upshot of all this of course is that we are now faced with an unplanned for expense, so we’re likely to go over budget on our first room! Now I have heard the advice on a zillion TV programmes about the importance of a contingency fund but I was always slightly suspicious of the whole idea. I figured if you project plan carefully you will know in advance what tools/materials/expert labour you will need for renovating any room and can budget accordingly. I’ve even been arrogant enough to think that we won’t spend our contingency fund because our planning has been so careful and thorough, luckily I hadn’t got as far as planning what we might do with any unspent money (well except for a tiny bit of day dreaming about a holiday somewhere hot and sunny to celebrate the house being finished).

Anyway I’m now starting to panic that the bathroom won’t be ready for Easter which is a bit of a downer as my parents are coming to stay for a week. With no shower and only one (sunken) bath it’s going to make the mornings fun, NOT! I think a bath rota pinned to the fridge might be a necessary step! The other thing is with Easter so close I better get cracking on the guest bedroom next week which is still in its raw post plastered state! That’s another mood board that needs to get underway this weekend! Maybe I can distract my parents from our lack of shower facilities with a really nice bedroom to sleep in! But before I can start on the guest room, I MUST finish painting the bathroom today otherwise I’m going to fall behind schedule. Speaking of which, IB bought me the most fantastic gift last weekend, not diamonds, not shoes, not even chocolate, but this baby………………………..

doityourselfblog New Roller

My new DIY toy!

It’s an extension arm for my roller and OMG I’m in love! Maybe it’s a consequence of living my life so far below the clouds at a weeny 5 foot 2, inches which means that ANYTHING -not just high heels – that helps me to reach places that other grown-ups can is always going to bring me joy. Seriously though, putting the primer on the ceiling with just the roller and a step ladder was ok but having the extension arm meant I put the first coat of paint on with NO need for the ladder and I did it in half the time. I’m actually looking forward to painting today because I get to take the extension arm out again……I wonder if they come in other colours……………………….

By the way the curtain saga lingers on, only there is now finally light at the end of the tunnel/window, thanks to my sister-in-law, who having read my blog earlier this week emailed me to share the curtain solution she’d recently stumbled on (thanks in turn to her sister-in-law). Apparently, and forgive me if you already know this, but tucked away in various corners of the retail world, are discount fabric shops, where you an source curtain material and even in some cases get your curtains made up to your specifications. And they are not as I assumed filled with discounted fabrics of the kind no one except those rare creatures with a fondness for 1970s poly-cotton and acrylic would appreciate. They also carry scrummy ‘posh’ fabrics (as my sis-in-law calls them) and they are significantly cheaper than usual retail prices. She snagged herself some material that is currently featured on the front page of Country Living mag (Trailing Oak leaf by Voyager)   which normally retails at £37.50 per m, but she got it for only £21 per metre! So guess where I’m off to this weekend? Hopefully I’ll have good curtain news for you next week!

Weekend woes

12 Mar

OK so the good news is that we have FINALLY chosen new bathroom tiles.  IB brought home three samples yesterday and I must say it was hard to choose between the three of them as they all could have worked with the wall tiles. However, in the end, once we put them next to the oak dresser we bought for the sink, there was one definite winner which I will be able to show you photos of in situ I hope by the end of Thursday evening. Essentially, they’re a medium brown with a faint metallic sheen (hence they come from the Metallik range at Topps Tiles) and they contrast really well with both the wall tiles and the oak bathroom cabinet we bought recently on ebay.  Actually I have to admit that I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to oak furniture. I’ve always loved wood. When we first got married pine was very much in fashion and we filled our little flat with it. We had pine book cases, a pine bedstead, a pine wardrobe, a pine bread bin…… you name it. The only survivors from that era (we have been married nearly 13 years) is the bedstead and one wardrobe but they’re both on their last legs, although they’ll have to do for a while longer. We’re only buying essential new furniture at the moment. In part because we need to see how our budget survives the bathroom and kitchen renovations and in part because we’ve agreed that we shouldn’t rush into buying stuff for a room until we’re actually working on it. Although if we do happen to spot an absolute bargain…………..

I know I’ve said it before but the curtains are still defeating me. Although now we’ve decided to go for roman blinds in the boy’s room, where we are currently using brown paper on the windows as a temporary measure – the boys have taken to doodling on it from time to time! I’ve just sent off for six colour samples from the 247 curtains website.  They should be here tomorrow so fingers crossed, one of them will inspire us. The trouble is with that room we are doing things the wrong way around, so out of necessity we’re having to choose new blinds even though we haven’t starting renovating the room yet! In the meantime I’ve also chickened out of making the curtains for the living room (remember how my friend H. offered to teach me?) largely because every visitor we ever have will see those curtains and I really don’t think my sewing is up to such scrutiny (to give you some insight, when my eldest son started school I sewed name badges on all his clothes, but they all fell off after the first wash!  On Friday I went to town to try and buy some living room curtains but after two hours I got curtain fatigue and ended up coming home (but not before I’d popped into a discount day in one of the department stores and unintentionally bought a cute blue cardigan – why are clothes so much easier to buy than curtains?!?).

But back to the bathroom because even though we’re over our tiles crisis, there’s another one looming. Things had been progressing nicely at the weekend. On Saturday our two smiley bathroom fitters put our funky new shower fitting in and attached the circular shower rail to the ceiling. Even without the bath in place we could see that things were coming together nicely.

doityourselfblog New shower fittings

New shower and shower rail

Yesterday though the fitters hit a snag. They put the lovely new shiny free standing taps in position only to find that the water pressure for the hot tap was way too low and there seemed to be no obvious cause. At worst this means the taps just won’t work with our plumbing system and at best that there is some simple but not obvious fix that will make them work. Anyway IB is on the case. He’s been online and made some phone calls including one to the tap manufacturer so fingers crossed by the next time I write, all will be well in tapworld!

doityourselfblog New Bath Taps

The offending tap!

Curtain challenge

23 Feb

The sun is out! And what a difference it makes to this house. For a start, I’m only wearing  three layers of clothing instead of the normal five, even tho’ the  guys are still working on the windows!  But outside, WOW, the difference! The back garden is bathed in sunlight and it just makes it look so much bigger and greener. All the fir trees are standing tall and the various ever-green shrubs around are looking more pert, even the pile of old concrete slabs that the previous owners abandoned behind one of the oak trees looks good in the sunshine. And Max has come out to play! Max is the squirrel that lives in the bigger of the oak tree.  he seemed to have a partner when we first moved in, but either she was just a fling and has moved on to pastures new, or he’s forbidden her to leave the tree trunk because of poor nut etiquette or some such squirrel misdemeanour. Either way, he’s been gallivanting around the garden all afternoon! The kids love Max as they know all our spare cash is being sunk into the house and he’s the closest they’ll get to a family pet until everything’s done.

The sun has been a welcome distraction from the panic that’s starting to set in about sorting out new curtains for 18 windows. Up until now we’ve made do with what was there, generally creamy yellow floral numbers with mahogany pelmets (hard to imagine but true, see the photo below, they were clearly especially made and probably cost a bomb). Then there were a couple of sets of mustard curtains – and some white and lavender ones made from thick crunchy polyester, the kind they stopped making circa 1979. We had planned to buy the curtains room by room as we decorated each one, but the problem is that as the new windows are going in, the curtain poles/pelmets are coming down because they were attached to the old wooden frames and obviously can’t be reattached to the new PVC ones.

So now I’m wondering where to go for curtains and whether blinds (maybe with curtains) might be better on the upstairs windows of which there are six in total.  My friend H was round at the weekend and she is a marvel with a sewing machine. She’s only ever bought about three pairs of curtains in her life, the rest she’s made herself, along with cushion covers and various other material based household items. She regaled me with earnest tales of how easy and satisfying it would be to make my own curtains. Unfortunately she did this in front of IB, who now thinks this is a great idea. I wasn’t altogether convinced as a. I can’t sew to save my life and b. I’m sure the sense of satisfaction I get from ordering curtains from John Lewis or Next will be just as great! In the end though the prospect of saving a thousand pounds did strike a cord so I might just have to give it a go, although the first step is to buy a cheap second hand sewing machine on ebay. In the meantime, I’ve been searching the internet to see what sort of curtains I might like to ‘copy’  while looking for blinds that are not prefixed by the word ‘blackout’. I’ve  found some good ones on blinds2go and 247 curtains!

I still have no idea about colour schemes and I’m not very good at picturing what a room will look like once I’ve done it up a certain way.  But I’ve been reading up on mood boards at young house love, they seem like a fantastic solution for me.  It basically involves pulling together all your ideas for furniture, wallcolour, curtains etc., in one place, whether on a physical board or on the computer, so you can see more easily whether it will all work together.  I’m going to try putting one together for the living room and the spare room, now where did I put those house/decor magazines……………….

Max playing in the sun

A sunny Wednesday in our garden

Mahogany Pelmets