Tag Archives: storage

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……………



This DIY life…..

23 May

‘So how are things going with the house?’ It’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis and normally its one I love to answer. It somehow validates what we’re doing when friends or family show a genuine interest in or curiosity about our progress. Even more so when something about our experiences triggers them to remember and share their stories of DIY or renovation projects. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not the only one who has struggled with misogynistic builders or an on-line radiator sales company whose definition of good customer service is to shout at you and slam down the phone because you ask why your radiators haven’t arrived!

The thing is, I’ve noticed that just lately the question ‘how’s the house going’ is not causing me to light up with excitement. I know it’s not because I’ve lost interest in what we’re doing but rather we’ve reached a point where there is simply nothing to talk about because NOTHING is moving forward! Well when I say nothing, I mean specifically the kitchen, which is meant to be our main focus just now. But the DIY gods are not smiling down on us and we’re just not making any progress. Obstacles to date have included :

  1. Our favoured builder – of the three we got quotes from – is not returning our calls. So either he took a dislike to us or he’s just so damn good (which I have to say is the most likely option given the three page email filled with free advice he sent with his quote) that he’s booked out for the rest of his working life.
  2. The building regulations people cannot decide how much money we need to pay them or even what form we should fill in – all we’re looking to do is incorporate the external utility ‘room’ into the main kitchen space. So far we’ve spoken to two different people and been given two different quotes and two different application forms to complete! Granted on a positive note, the price is going down (by nearly two hundred pounds), so IB is in favour of us ringing a third time to see if the price will drop again.
  3. In terms of the kitchen design, well the first company we approached gave us a plan for a kitchen that was totally lacking in creativity and imagination. Something to do I think with the designer being clearly hung over on the morning we went in to the showroom. The second – remember Mr. Magnet – has not even bothered to come back with a design for us, despite us calling to chase him. So now, we’ve got to start all over again…….

Anyway, you know what, this DIY Dame is not going to be beaten. We will get the kitchen renovations up and running and in the meantime there are still lots of smaller projects that we can tackle – although time is proving tricky to find just now as we’re both so busy at work, earning the money to do the renovations – you know how it is!  Still, even if our renovations have ground to a stand-still, it doesn’t stop me looking for ideas and inspiration. I’m still obsessing about how to maximise our storage options (remember the stair storage ideas?)  and have been hunting around for other clever tricks we could use. I found these ideas on the channel 4 home design site. They focus on the living room but the site is worth a visit as it features ideas for all different rooms in a  house.



I love the idea of building a window seat with storage beneath in a bay window (although we don’t have any in this house!).  A lift up lid is the least expensive option of course but putting drawers in like this looks better.

Or you could have a sofa bed which also has storage below the cushions (checkout IKEA).




Oh and then I found this, which has nothing to do with living room storage, but I love to bake and I love the idea that one day in my new kitchen, I might have space for one of these (from Infarrantly Creative):




Finally, I also found some interesting storage ideas on one website for children’s playrooms but they could just as easily be used in childrens’ bedrooms.



I love the chalkboard idea in particular, but in terms of the last picture, well there’s no way my boys would ever settle for a bedroom or playroom that was that neat and organised, but hey a Dame can dream!

Sexism, storage and stairs!

20 May

So, hot on the heels of my experience with the less than politically correct builder, Mr. Awright Darlin’, last week, I read a great article in this month’s Ideal Home magazine about the rapidly expanding population of women DIYers in the world. Apparently B&Q interviewed 2,000 women last year for their opinions on DIY (sadly I wasn’t one of them even though I have a lot to say on the subject!) and 70% said they were happy to tackle DIY jobs in the home. Of those, 75% claimed to be as good at it or better than men!



(from the National Archives and Records Administration)


Now I am not at all advocating yet another battle of the sexes, with DIY being the chosen battleground, but I think it is interesting that while many people think of DIY as a traditionally male dominated arena, the opposite might just be the reality. It seems there are a lot of us DIY Dames around. Unfortunately, I don’t have an address for Mr. Awright Darlin’, otherwise he’d be getting a copy of the Ideal Homes article pushed through his letterbox with the paragraph noting that 50% of men admit to being hopeless at DIY underlined in bright red ink. I wonder how he copes on trips to B&Q where now apparently nearly half the workforce are women and they’re not all backstage working in admin or finance. I’m actually thinking of inviting him back to tell him that we’re considering getting an all-female building company in to do the kitchen work, an option which apparently is just a click away via the Women and Trades website. Strangely, IB is very supportive of the idea! I think he might be imagining a posse of tanned, young women in hard hats, denim shorts and vest tops working on our kitchen extension. Even as I write, I’m changing my mind about the whole idea and thinking maybe we’ll get Mr. Awright Darlin’ in after all!!!!!

Now on to a lighter, non-gender related topic – under stair storage! What do you think of when someone says ‘under-stair storage’ to you? Maybe this:


Or this?



Me too! Until earlier this week, when I discovered that understair storage can mean this……………….



 from habitat.com

Or this……………




Fab aren’t they? My favourite is the first one, stairs quite literally as storage! Genius! Now building us some under stair storage………….  surely that’s a job that’s got my female DIY name written all over it!!!