Friday, 30 May 2014

Re-thinking organising

I love organising spaces. Give me a cupboard, a room, any space and I immerse myself in the many ways of maximising that space whilst making it more practical and easier on the eye too. I might get it right first time or I might have to re-visit and change a few times. But, that's what I love doing and feel I'm reasonably good at (if I say so myself!).

What I'm not good at - and ends up ruining things on the organising spaces front - is time management, sticking to a medium/long term schedule and keeping my cool (i.e. not becoming overwhelmed) when there is a gigantic To-Do list (or many gigantic To-Do lists!) to get through. The other thing is I can get so anxious to get everything done yesterday and then I start to loose focus on the priorities. So, this is where I'm at right now. 

My goal when we bought our current home was to do as much of the decorating/renovating as I was able to do myself and save our pennies so that the bigger and specialised jobs are done by the professionals. Also, I quite enjoy DIY, so I hoped I would be able to do it around the kids, house chores, etc. And indeed, I have achieved a reasonable amount of work in a relatively short space of time, like the living room, part of one of the bedrooms and the hallway, and a few other smaller projects, which are in the post pipeline. BUT! This came at a cost: I ended up stressing about everything that I wasn't able to do because I was DIYing. Well, duh! How I failed to see that this would happen is beyond me! 

The reality is that I can't do it all (at least, not as quickly as I would like ;) ). So, I think it's ok to stop and re-group, right? What I need to do is re-prioritise and organise myself in a way that is easy for me to keep on track and not loose focus, whilst keeping myself from stressing. And I need help. I need to think of which jobs/tasks I can really do myself and which are worth paying for. I mean as much as I can do the decorating, for example, and it would save us some dough to DIY it, is it really worth the stress? And, as much as I make sure I spend the time with my family, when they're not at work/nursery, I'm find myself not "being" with them, but thinking about what I have to do and end up not having quality time with them. Is it really worth it? No, is the answer. 

So, the only plan I have at the moment is to take some time out from actually doing any of it (I must resist the temptation!) and use the time I have to myself in the coming days and weeks to organise my thoughts, re-prioritise, make (short, medium and long term) lists, get quotations for some of the jobs and sort out finances, in order for us to make more realistic plans. I also need to work on my ability to stick to plans... :P. 

Wish me luck!

P.S. I have a few unfinished blog posts, which I should be able to finally finish and publish soon, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Our boy's room - Phase I

As mentioned before, we wanted to replace the flooring in the living room and in our boy's room, since the smell was pretty awful in those particular rooms. No amount of cleaning or use of products helped, as we later discovered that dog wee had basically pooled on the underlay. So, the only way was really to get rid of the carpets (and underlay, of course!). Downstairs, we wanted laminate flooring, not only in the living, but in the hallway too and in our toddler's room a new carpet. We tried to decorate all these areas before the floors were due to be replaced, but by the time we finished painting the living room, we realised we weren't going to have time to do it all, so we chose to decorate the bedroom and leave the hallway for a while. I thought cleaning paint from a carpet would be much harder that from laminate, should there be any accidents - which there probably would be (have I mentioned I have the clumsy gene?).

Anyway, I plan to decorate my son's room, so that hopefully it's fun, but not too kiddy-ish. But, I haven't yet decided what colours and furnishings to go for and a consultation with the room's occupier proved fruitless. So, for now we're just blank-canvassing it with white (magnolia, be gone!).

I started, as usual, by removing nails, screws, wall plugs and also the pelmet (hence the line above the window) and filling holes and cracks, including one long crack across the ceiling.

Once all filled and bumpy areas were sanded, we got painting. We painted the ceiling, walls, radiator and woodwork (except the doors). The walls and ceiling needed about 3 coats for an even finish, but, the radiator only needed a couple of coats and the woodwork 1. All the doors upstairs will eventually be replaced, so I didn't waste any time painting these, although I plan to paint the front of the cupboard doors in my son's room in chalkboard black. I'm sure he'll enjoy drawing on them and they too can be replaced later if he wishes to do so.

It was a rush to get the painting in here all done before the new carpet was installed, but we managed. We decided to go with a light gray carpet (which will eventually be installed in all the bedrooms), as we feel is neutral enough to complement lots of other colours and it definitely goes with our base colour scheme for the house (white, gray and black). Here are the befores and afters:

It's not a massive difference as the room was light anyway, but it feels (and smells!!!) fresher and it's the perfect basis for making it (hopefully) a great boy's room for my son.

Here's what is left to do here - although things might get added/changed as the plans become more concrete:
- chalkboard paint cupboard doors
- feature wall - maybe stripes or a mural
- lampshade
- curtains and soft furnishings
- storage (bookcase or bench)
- desk (my son's nearly 3, so he probably won't need to use it - for studying - until he starts school next year, but we need something in there that doubles as bedside storage)
- pictures/wall art
- replace door

I can't wait to bring in some colour into this room and hopefully my son will like the end result!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Living room - mostly done!

The plans for the rest of the living room included finishing painting the rest of the walls and wood work, but now the pressure to finish it off was on as we decided we couldn't live with the dog smell on the carpets any longer. So, I went and booked the floor fitting which left us about 10 days to decorate not only the living room, but the hallway (as we wanted the same laminate floor in there and in the living room) and our son's bedroom too (smell was quite bad in there too!)! Yikes! This would have been fine and I would have enjoyed doing this, if it hadn't been for the fact that it's hard to find the time to fit it all in - it did take me about 3 days to do that one wall in the living room! So, all steam ahead! We would just have to not clean, eat or sleep for the next 10 days...

By the way, these two where the final laminate flooring contenders:

We decided to go with the one on the left (Lifestyle Chelsea Traditionl Oak), as we wanted something that looked nice with the grey walls, but that it wasn't grey itself. Also, should we one day decide to change the colour scheme, I think this floor colour is more flexible, in terms of matching/complementing other colours.

So, this is how it all went down in the living room (Note: this process took about a week, but here's it all summarised in one post for you!):

First, I removed the flowery wallpaper above - actually done before booking the floor fitters and actually didn't take too long. I was so anxious to get rid of it, that I lifted a little corner and peeled... then carried on peeling until all the top layer was gone:

Then, I thought I might need to steam the rest of the wallpaper and scrape it of, but decided to look online for ideas before I did anything else. I'm glad I did, because I found out I could just wet with a cloth or sponge and remove what was left of the paper with minimal effort. So, I tried it...

... and it worked! See where the first to columns of wallpaper used to be?

I just had to make sure I let the water soak through the paper for a few minutes, but that I removed it while it was still wet. Before I knew it, the whole wall was done!

 There was just a little bit of adhesive left here and there which I cleaned off using a sponge with a solution of warm water and vinegar (great suggestion also found online). I then let the wall dry overnight and it was ready to be painted!

In meantime, I sanded the rest of the walls, where wall plugs and nails had been removed and holes and cracks filled. I then started to paint the side walls:

Oops! I had to clean and touch up the already painted grey wall as I got a little over excited with the brush and roller on the corners there... But, all good! While I was at it I "fixed" the coving where our straight line along the edge of the wall wasn't so straight...

It took 3 coats to get good coverage on these two walls, so I painted the woodwork (except door - to be removed and painted outside when the weather is better) between coats. I used Dulux Satinwood in Brilliant White, as I prefer a less shiny finish (compared to gloss).

I also removed radiator from the wall (with hubby's help)...

... which I then cleaned and painted:

Finally, I painted last wall gray (had to let white wall cure for a few days to use painter's tape), which thankfully only needed one coat.

I also painted the wooden step (or windowsill) white - although it still needs another coat or two:

So, this is what the (almost) final product looks like:

I'm loving this space more and more! And we're almost there - here's our To Do list with two more items added to it:

 - Remove curtains and poles

 - Remove screw plugholes and nails
 - Fill holes and cracks on walls and door frame
 - Paint/line fireplace
 - Spray paint clock
 - Remove wall paper
 - Clean off wallpaper adhesive
 - Paint walls  (decided on 2 gray and 2 white)
 - Paint radiator
 - Paint coving
 - Paint skirting boards
 - Paint door and frame - Painted part of the frame, but found a hole where the previous door furniture used to be, which was filled and is ready for sanding and painting
 - Paint wooden boards by doors and window to conservatory - Started
 - Remove gas pipe (for fireplace) - From floor, ready for floor fitting. The bit on the wall will have to wait until we replace the fireplace
 - Get new lampshade - Ordered this
 - Get floor/wall lamp? - Still not sure about this...
 - Fit skirting board by window to conservatory
 - Replace flooring
 - Get new sofas
 - Put art/photos on walls
 - Decide what to do with alcove to the left of the fireplace (shelves, sideboard, plant,...)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

New nest tour - upstairs

Finally, I've organised myself enough to give you a tour of the upstairs. But, before I do, I want to quickly show you the downstairs cloakroom I neglected to include in the downstairs tour post :

Now, on the the tour of the upstairs... This is what our old house was like upstairs:

We had 2 good sized bedrooms and a great bathroom, with separate shower cubicle - we were spoilt, I know!

Now, we have this:

We have 3 good sized rooms, one box room and an ok size bathroom. And we have lots of storage (which I'm very excited about!)! We also have a considerable loft (I think we could fit a good double bedroom with en-suite and still have plenty of storage up there, if we were to convert it).

This is the upstairs landing:

Our bedroom:

The box room is quite small, but because it's next door to our bedroom works really well as the nursery:

Are you loving all the creamy magnolia all over the walls and woodwork? Yep, me neither! And there's more...

Our son's room:

What is now the office (but will one day be our daughter's room, when she's outgrown the current nursery):

The bathroom:

So, there you have it! All of these rooms are going to receive some TLC (or a LOT of TLC, in the case of the bathroom and cloakroom, seen as we plan to completely gut these and start again!) and I can't wait to share the detailed updates as we work through these projects!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Living room - Orange fireplace no more!

As I said in the previous post, we are starting the long road that will be decorating and organising our new nest in the living room. There are lots of tasks to tackle here and I will list these here. However, the 2 main issues for me were the red flowery wallpaper (with matching red velvet curtains) on one of the walls and the "orange" fireplace, which were not to our taste at all. Also, I think they made the room look darker.

Orange gas fireplace
Red wallpaper with flowers and red velvet curtains

The wallpaper can be removed and that wall painted, so no problem there. As for the fireplace... we know we want to have a wood burner installed there - hubby has great memories of a part of his childhood when he lived in a house with one, so he's dead set on it and I would like one too, although I have never had one. So, we know that it will probably be an expensive thing to do, but that's the plan... eventually. Because of the expense, we know that having a wood burner will not happen for a while and until some of the other higher priority (expensive) projects are done, so this had to be an exception to our "Do it once and properly" rule, because I personally couldn't live with it as it is and it wouldn't take/cost to much to change to "match" the planned colour scheme.

Speaking of colour scheme, my love for gray has been growing for a while and having read many design/decoration/organising blogs and looking at a lot of photos online, I have been inspired to go with a black, white and gray colour scheme on this house, maybe with some bright coloured furnishings here and there.

So, the first thing we did was to remove the fireplace mantel, to see how we could change all the parts. Painting the wooden parts white was the obvious thing to do and I already had some wood paint (from painting the doors in the old house).

When we removed the mantel, we had to try to figure out what to do with the plastic marble effect surround...

Fireplace minus mantel. P.S. Chic Shadow is the smudge of paint above the fireplace on the left
We found out that the plastic surround and hearth were double sided, the other side being black marble effect, so we could turn them around and the fireplace would look instantly different! Only the surround was so very stuck to the wall with so much glue, that I don't think we'd be able to remove it without damaging the wall. So then, I decided to just  cover it up with white shelf lining paper (bearing in mind we had no intention of actually using the gas fireplace!).

Now the wall... The base colour all around the house is currently creamy magnolia, which will over time be change to white. In the living room in particular, I wanted at least one of the walls painted gray and the rest white. The obvious choice for the "feature" wall was the one with the fireplace. So, we got a few tester pot paints in different shades of gray and tried them our on that wall. I wanted a contrast between the gray on that wall and the white on the adjoining walls, ceiling, and skirting board, but I didn't want it too dark - the objective was to brighten up the living room afterall! So in the end, it was between Dulux's Night Jewel 5 and Chic Shadow. Night Jewel is lovely, but just that little bit too light and slightly blue, so we went with Chic Shadow.

Even the brown minimalist clock got a coat of glossy black spray paint:

And this is what that wall looked like after all the changes:

Here's another look at before...

...and after...

I love it! And it definitely motivated me to get the rest of the room finished!

So, at this point our To Do list for the living room looked like this:

 - Remove curtains and poles
 - Remove screw plugholes and nails
 - Fill holes and cracks on walls and door frame
 - Paint/line fireplace
 - Spray paint clock
 - Remove wall paper
 - Clean off wallpaper adhesive
 - Paint walls  (decided on 2 gray and 2 white) - started
 - Paint radiator
 - Paint coving
 - Paint skirting boards
 - Paint door and frame
 - Remove/paint wooden boards by doors and window to conservatory
 - Remove gas pipe (for fireplace)
 - Get new lampshade
 - Get floor/wall lamp?
 - Fit skirting board by window to conservatory
 - Replace flooring
 - Get new sofas

A lot of this work in the living room has actually been done, but as always I need to find the time to organise photos, etc, before posting about the rest. It's all, looking great, if I say so myself!