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To IKEA and back…………

4 Jul

Well in a Thelma and Louise moment yesterday (minus the convertible and head scarves, oh and the dramatic ending), I took a road trip with a girl friend of mine to …..……………….Wembley, well IKEA’s Wembley store to be more specific. Now I’ve never really been an IKEA fan. I shopped there only once before (the Bristol branch, circa 2000) and I remember at the time not really getting what all the fuss was about. For me it was like shopping in a giant cold, sterile warehouse. I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of choice and even more so by the fact that I needed a compass and route map to find my way around.

Now clearly either things have changed at IKEA since then (although I do think that were it not for my friend’s intimate knowledge of the layout of the Wembley branch, I might still be there now), or I was having an off day back in Bristol in 2000 for yesterday I became a total IKEA convert. For FOUR  hours (we did stop for lunch and then again for coffee and cake, IB scoffed at my ability to source cake even in a furniture shop) we wandered round and this time instead of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, I felt nothing but excitement as I ticked off one item after another that had been on my home furnishings shopping list for months.

The boys are now more or less sorted for storage. I bought them a set of these each………………………


They’ve spent a happy hour this evening loading all their bits and pieces into the drawers. I also bought a couple of these for lego and the like, although my younger son clearly misunderstood me when I said they were for storing his toys ……………………..



Although I am thinking of posting this picture on the IKEA hackers website, because I’m sure curling yourself up in an IKEA storage basket is a form of IKEA hackery! And for those who haven’t heard of IKEA hacking it’s got nothing to do with computers and everything to do with breaking ‘into the IKEA code of furniture assembly’ and repurposing it. On the website you are warned ‘some furniture may be destroyed in the process and you may, please be cautioned, compromise the structural integrity of the furniture and its safety standards, so hacking does have its risk’. I have a sneaking suspicion my son has done all of these things with his boy in a basket routine! In the meantime here are some other examples from the IKEA hackers website……….



Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out…….. this walk in shoe closet is made from bookshelves and a belt rack! And below, one of my favourites, IKEA Expedit furniture has been turned into a very luxurious hamster cage……………



To infinity and beyond……….

30 Mar

Well it had to happen! I’m in trouble with my DIY dad for neglecting my paint brushes. Apparently I don’t wash the paint out of them properly and that’s why several of them have gone hard and are unusable. It’s all true I’m afraid, I’m guilty as charged. My only defence is that by the time I’ve finished painting everyday I’m usually in a rush to get tidied up and back on the road in time for the school run. So often all my paint brushes get is a two minute rinse under the taps and then they are abandoned on the landing where we’ve taken to housing all our painting paraphernalia.

Anyway, in the interest of being able to hold my DIY head up high, and to save us a small fortune in replacement paint brushes, I have vowed to change my ways! And to that effect, here is a top DIY tip – after you rinse off your brushes, put them in a ziplock food bag and apparently they stay bendy and pliable and don’t dry out into rock hard lumps that are only fit for cracking walnut shells!

My second top painting tip today was given to me by C. the painter last night when he popped in with his buddy S. to see if  S. could do a bit of last minute plastering in the bathroom for us in the area where the bath is going to be fitted on Saturday (I am SO excited!). His advice was when painting bathrooms always use eggshell or soft sheen paint, apparently it doesn’t absorb as much moisture as matt paint, so it’s more hardwearing and long-lasting. It’s not such an issue in other rooms as they don’t obviously have the same moisture challenges as bathrooms.  Unfortunately this tip came too late for IB and me as our bathroom is now coated with 100% matt again. It’s kind of ironic though that we should get the advice exactly a week after we ‘accidentally’ gave the walls a second coat of brilliant white in soft sheen rather than matt.

In terms of progress on the living room since earlier in the week, the coving is now finished! And we have cornerpieces! Yes my friends, we decided that the corners were missing a little something, so after an hour on the internet, we found these:



And actually they do make the corners look a little more complete!Although I’m not sure you can tell in this picture as everything is currently coated in a layer of primer.

do it yourself blog

Look closely!


do it yourself blog cornices

Living room primed and corniced!


My DIY Dad (who is just visible in the corner of this shot) is keen that we go the whole hog and put up a rosebowl centrepiece, but I’m not so sure, nor is IB. Also, given we haven’t yet chosen the light fitting for the living room yet,  and we could end up with something that sits close to the ceiling, we’ve opted to hold fire for now. In terms of lighting, I’ve done a little bit of scouting around but I’m tempted to wait till the painting is finished and get a feel for the room before we make a final choice. Although in keeping with my nostalgia for afternoon tea with china teacups and cake stands, I’m quite drawn to antique chandeliers at the moment, which are quite pricey but there are some less expensive replicas on the high street. Interestingly when I was looking at one online earlier, Invisible Hand kicked in (does everyone know about this? Its genius, you load it on to your computer and when you find a possible online purchase, it will pop up and show you other sites that are selling a similar item and how much for. It’s aim is to find you the same item for less) and rather bizarrely as well as providing a link to several other sites selling chandeliers, it gave me a link to a Buzz Lightyear Adult fancy dress costume on Amazon! This has nothing whatsoever to do with chandeliers (unless I’m not being very clever), however, it kept me and IB amused for at least five minutes! What do you think – should we forgo the chandelier and just order a couple of Buzz Lightyear costumes instead? They could be our painting outfits! To infinity and beyond…………..


How would IB look in this I wonder!

Vintage Fayre………

20 Mar

Hurrah, I’ve finally finished painting the bathroom walls!!! Although sadly there is still no other progress on the bathroom renovations to report, other than hunky plumber man has now submitted his quote for installing the new pump for the shower. He’s coming back on Friday to do the installation and for those of you who remember what happened last time he was here, suffice to say, I will not be doing ANY painting on Friday.

So last  weekend, with the bathroom painting out of the way, I had a choice, I could either start putting primer on the guest bedroom walls or I could take advantage of the free listings weekend on ebay and try to get rid of some of the ‘vintage’ light fittings that we took down shortly after we moved in here. Things like…………………..



Exhibit A


And this…………………….

doityourselfblog Fan Light

Exhibit B


And this beauty!!!!


doityourselfblog Wall Light

Exhibit C - the old reading light from above the guest bed



What made me smile about the listing process was that I described all of these lights as ‘vintage’ as if that somehow makes them more desirable and even more interesting than plain old ‘second-hand’ lights. I’m guessing that If I’d had to sell them ten years ago before ‘vintage’ became so popular and powerful a sales term, I would have listed them as second-hand because that’s exactly what they are.  As I clicked on the button to upload my listings, I wondered how it has come about that now when something is described as ‘second-hand’ it kind of sounds like something unwanted and neglected, whereas if its described as ‘vintage’ then it sounds like you’re getting a piece of history…… Anyway, lets hope someone wants a piece of this house’s lighting history!

I also spent some time at the weekend browsing a fantastic website called era of style, which specialises in selling antique  furniture. They have the coolest desk on there with a proper leather worn top like you see in the banks of old western movies. IB loved the desk, although I told him if we get the desk then we’d have to get the big old-fashioned ‘vintage’ leather swivel chair to match! At this point he made me close down the web site and hand over the laptop! I’m desperate to take a road trip down to see the actual shop, not least because they have café  but not just any old café  its described on their website as a ‘vintage’ tea lounge (now see what I mean, substitute the word second-hand for ‘vintage’ and it doesn’t work does it?). There’s a photo of it on the website and it looks like something from a 1940s movie, it’s  got an old-fashioned wooden counter, with proper glass cake stands and because it’s located in the Bexhill way , it’s even got some battered old leather chairs which look like they came out of old steam trains. I love it and can’t wait to go and have tea and cake.

Actually at the moment I’m got a thing about afternoon tea and cake (well I’ve always had a thing about cake, particularly chocolate cake!). Last week I went to Homesense which is the discount home furnishings shop owned by TK Max. I was on the hunt again for some you – know-whats for the living room windows, but ended up buying an old-fashioned glass cake stand instead.


do it yourself blog Cake Stand

Glass 'Non-vintage' Cake Stand

It’s not vintage, more a 21st century take on the concept but I love it. Last year, I bought a proper old-fashioned china tiered cake stand and now I’ve got my eye on a proper china tea-service.  This is comical for two reasons, firstly I have spent years hating both crystal AND china and secondly, I don’t even drink tea! But I do love to bake and I love the idea of having family and friends round for afternoon tea and being able to present my homemade scones, sponge cakes and sandwiches on proper old-fashioned cake stands and pouring the tea into flowery china cups. Of course I’m jumping the gun again, because the kitchen and diner are currently in no fit state to entertain. Still there’s nothing wrong with browsing eBay for some ‘vintage’ china tea-cups, is there???

By the way,  for anyone who is still following my curtain saga (stop reading if like me you’ve had enough of the whole thing!), I did go to the discount fabric shop as recommended by my sister-in-law. But I went on Saturday and so ended up having to take my six-year-old son with me……………. not such a smart move. I had to cut my visit short because after a half hour he got bored and wanted to go home or to the playground or just to anywhere that didn’t involve acres of coloured fabric! Unfortunately, I broke one of the golden rules of motherhood and forgot to put any ‘incentives’ in my bag for him to stay (by which I mean jelly sweets, pomme bear crisps or white milk chocolate buttons!).  Anyway, I’m leaving IB in charge of the boys this weekend while I go back! Wish me luck!