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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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do it yourself blog


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.


do it yourself blog


do it yourself blog


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!

do it yourself blog




do it yourself blog


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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do it yourself blog


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!!!

Project plan – what project plan?!

28 Mar

Beware the Dame is in pain – again! This time it’s a paint brush injury. The skin on my index finger has rubbed right off leaving raw red flesh on display! Very attractive! On the plus side, it is proof for IB of how hard I’ve been working while he’s been away on his business trip!! On the down side though, it does make painting harder which  is why I’ve started to wear a thick industrial style rubber glove on my right hand when I’m painting – very Michael Jacksonesque!

The thing that occurred to me this week as I laboured away slapping primer on the guest bedroom walls while my dad worked downstairs putting the  coving up in the living room, was how much longer everything is taking than I thought it would. I thought once we’d got the walls of both the rooms plastered then everything would pick up pace and within a couple of weeks they would be painted and ready to go. But now I realise that I was a little naive and overly optimistic and Sarah Beeny would probably say I told you so!

For example in the living room the coving has taken the best part of three days to put up, rather than the one day we allowed in the project plan (by which I mean the unofficial timeline we’re working to in my head where the room is ready in time for Easter weekend). Putting up coving is not as easy or quick a job as it might look and my DIY dad is a perfectionist so extra time has to be allowed for that. On the plus side it means he is doing a really professional job. He’s even filled in all the tiny gaps between the coving and the walls (of which there are many, a by-product of the walls being so uneven), whereas  I might have been tempted to  start slapping the paint on and hope for the best!  But not my DIY dad. He has painstakingly filled all the gaps in, even the tiniest of them. He then spent yesterday afternoon sanding the whole lot down, paying particular attention to the joins in the coving, sanding and rubbing for hours until the filler /coving cement was smooth and shiny.

do it yourself blog Coving


do it yourself blog


The whole process puts me in mind of icing a cake and the painstaking effort of making sure you roll the icing out thinly enough to cover the whole cake. Then you have the challenge of getting  it flush against the cake, with no lumps or bumps before you get the icing plane out and rub and rub until you have a really smooth almost satin finish all over giving you the perfect surface to ice on! Shouldn’t have written about cakes, now I fancy some, but only if its chocolate cake………I’m resisting posting a picture of chocolate cake because I know that just means I’ll have to stop writing and go and make some!

Upstairs in the guest bedroom, things are not progressing any faster. Priming the walls and the ceiling took a day (my  DIY day lasts from 9am-3pm which is when the kids are in school!). Then I’ve had to sand down the skirting boards, architrave and that funny little bit of wood that’s embedded in the ceiling which I actually think is quite cute and is a nice feature of the room, or it will be when it receives some TLC. I think this room in particular has the potential to be a nice little oasis in the house. Its got a real country cottage feel, not only because of the curve in the ceilings, but also given its tucked away in the corner of the house, overlooking the garden. Actually speaking of the garden, I must take some pictures later in the week, its bursting into life at the moment and is the nicest place to escape to on my painting breaks.


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Guest room 'feature'


Post primer painting will start in earnest in the guest room tomorrow, although even that’s not a simple job. Because we can’t put coving up in this room (due to the sloping ceilings I just mentioned, which you can see more clearly in the pre-plastering picture below) I have to make sure that the paint goes on in a nice straight line at the point where the wall and the ceiling meet.

do it yourself blog

See the slope?


That’s where this little beauty comes in:



do it yourself blog

My new toy


It’s a ‘precision edging pad’, recommended by a friend. It’s meant to make painting edges of any sort, along ceilings, skirting boards, sides of doors, wherever, so much easier. It promises no drips and no mess! I’ve yet to try it but I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, in summary, this week, I’m a bit worried that we’re falling behind and that the living room and the guest bedroom won’t be completed in time for Easter. But you know what my wise DIY Dad said yesterday? ‘If they’re not, they’re not’ and you know what, I’ve decided he’s right. If I stress about getting everything finished by a certain date, then it takes away the pleasure of progress! And that would be a shame given I am STILL loving doing the renovations, in spite of angsting over my project plan timeline! In particular I can’t wait to see what the colours we’ve chosen for the guest room and the living room  look like once we’ve painted the walls. And of course once the paint is on, then the fun bit comes, i.e. shopping for cushions, bedspreads, carpets, lamps………………. (notice how I didn’t mention curtains?!)