It’s been a while since I’ve given you any kind of house renovation updates because the reality is.. there hasn’t been anything to report! This year has been rather insane on the work-front for me, and Gareth was pretty much wiped out after doing the kitchen in a month (!) so we’ve been taking a bit of a break from it all. We’ve done odd-little jobs here and there but nothing really exciting enough to write about. I’ve been looking at my favourite interior’s Instagram accounts wistfully, trying not to feel discouraged by our lack of progress over the summer, desperate to get started on another project!
But that is all about to change because next month IT’S BATHROOM TIME! The bathroom is right above the kitchen so has the same long/thin footprint. It’s actually really massive for a bathroom and the suite and tiles, although old, were perfectly fine so it was quite low down on our list of big projects that needed doing. That was until I dropped a glass bottle in the sink and shattered the damn thing – ARGH! For the last few months I’ve been brushing my teeth using the bath taps and spitting it down the loo – LOVELY.
So, doing the bathroom quickly moved up the priority list and I got to work on my new favourite thing… pinning all the things and creating a moodboard! Somewhat surprisingly both myself and Gareth (who usually have quite different tastes until I convince him that my ideas are way better than his) are completely on the same page design-wise. We both like the idea of dark walls, a statement floor, quite traditional-looking sink and loo (to suit the Edwardian era of our home) and a copper bath! I’m unsure about tiles yet, I love the white subway tile look (which we’d do the bottom half of the room in, painting above it dark grey) but I also love the all-dark, just painted look. One thing’s for sure though, I’ll be filling the room with green plants, it’s going to be A DREAM.
If there’s one thing that got the most comments when I shared our new kitchen, it was our copper sink. Someone even said they’d be HONOURED to wash up in such a beautiful thing and you know what, I think I agree with them. I would leave my husband for this sink and tap combo, they’re just that beautiful (not really Gareth I love you forever).
You know me, I’m not ever one to just go for a standard option and finding them was no mean feat, but oh my goodness was it worth it. The combination of the quartz worktops with the copper is just completely SEXUAL. My late night Google and Pinterest binges introduced me to Olif and it was love at first sight. Initially I thought we might go for a copper tap with a porcelain sink, but when I found they did sinks in metal finishes too, well, that idea went right out of the window.
Now I’m no expert, but to me Olif seem to be light years ahead of the game when it comes to the finishes and styles of their products. After drooling over their website for a few hours I decided to do what any good home renovator would do and look into other options and to see if I could find them cheaper elsewhere. Let me tell you right now, you can not.
Most of the usual high street DIY store suspects had exactly zero options that were anything but chrome. I did see a gold coloured tap in one place (not copper though) but it was horrible and cheap looking. The great thing about Olif’s designs is that they’re contemporary and perfect for a modern home.
I am so so SO happy with our Alveus Monarch Variant 40 Copper undermount sink and Nivito RH 350 Brushed Copper, kitchen mixer tap. They might just be the most beautiful things I’ve ever laid my eyes on, let alone owned. I was initially worried that they might discolour, or that the sink would be a nightmare to clean (like my copper pans which discoloured the first time I used them – sad face!) but being as they’re actually made of premium 18/10 stainless steel and coated in copper finish, clean up is a total breeze. You literally just need to use a kitchen spray on the sink and then wipe it down to get rid of any smears and voila! I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned something so well in my life actually. I want to preserve their beauty for as long as possible.
You’ll find a utterly beaut selection of products from Olif including finishes in gold, copper, bronze, anthracite, matt black and brass. They even do one with a glass surround which is available in pink!! If like me you want something a bit more unusual for your kitchen then, my friends, you NEED to check them out.
When it came to my choice of kitchen worktop, I’m not ashamed to admit to being a bit of a cliché. I wanted Carrara marble and I wanted it now. It was my dream before we’d even bought the house. Even Gareth was in complete agreement without me having to put up a fight… and that never happens!
But then we found out the price – OUCH – and after a little bit of research discovered that unless you’re the kind of person who tirelessly cleans and polishes your surfaces on the daily then it’s probably not the wisest investment. Real marble is porous (so it stains) and unless you seal it and are very careful it can also scratch easily – bummer. We were back to the drawing board.
Now here’s the thing about making over a kitchen in just four weeks – there’s so much to do that sometimes you drop a few balls. We had decided that quartz would be a great alternative as its much tougher than marble, just as beautiful, and slightly cheaper too. So we started talking to some companies, booking in appointments, costing it up and planning the kitchen layout. It was still going to be pretty pricey but, in our opinion, totally worth it.
And then, at the eleventh hour (AKA the end of week 3 of 4!) the company who we’d assumed were a sure thing turned around and told us they couldn’t deliver it on time.
We considered all the other options but none of them felt very appealing – wood isn’t our thing, concrete would be too much effort with just a week to go and we really didn’t like the idea of stainless steel. Thinking we’d have to resign ourselves to a laminate (that we’d change at a later date – yeah right!) I decided to try one last ditch attempt and took to my Instagram Stories to ask if anyone had any other bright ideas. Kate of Mad About the House reached out, telling me I should get in touch with Caesarstone. She warned me that a week turnaround was likely completely impossible but if anyone could help, it would be them.
So, I dropped them an email, assuming they’d laugh me out of their inbox but within 20 minutes their press contact had not only replied but she told me they’d love to help – so long as we could find a local fabricator who’d be able to template, cut and fit it within the time frame.
And they delivered! About two hours later I was taking a call from Brian from Roktops, based in Arborfield, and we were arranging for me to pop down to their showroom the next morning to make my selection!
That was pretty much the standard response we got when telling people about our insane plan to gut and basically rebuild our entire kitchen in a month. So why the ridiculous time frame? Well, we were invited to take part in Revamp, Restyle, Reveal – a challenge with ten bloggers, nine sponsors, one room (of our choice) and four weeks to make it over… And well, apparently my husband and I are suckers for punishment.
Our to do list was enormous:
♥ The door being used as a window in the middle of the outside wall needed taking out, bricking up and a new window putting in.
♥ The entire room needed plastering.
♥ Everything had to be painted (all the walls and the ceiling).
♥ A few of the electrical sockets needed moving and/or replacing.
♥ The sink needed to be moved (hence, plumbing!) and a new sink and tap fitted.
♥ Oh, and just the small matter of rejigging the layout and fitting a brand new kitchen + worktops!
With the onus on DIY, we also wanted to do a much as we were physically able to do ourselves and oh my god did Gareth step up to the challenge. To refresh your memory, here’s what the room looked like before (shudder).
He taught himself to brick lay, to fit a window and plaster from YouTube and Google. He fit the kitchen units in less than 24 hours, all by himself, when our worktop situation got critical (more on this in a future blog post!) He pretty much didn’t stop for the entire month. I would come by regularly and hand him plates of food and endless cups of coffee. He also didn’t shave for the duration and he may or may not have bathed. If you kept up to date with my Instagram Stories or our weekly update videos you will know that by week four he was beginning to bear a striking resemblance to Tom Hanks in Castaway…
So why were we mental enough to tackle the kitchen, when all the other bloggers involved were very sensibly doing their living rooms and bedrooms!?
Well it all came down to the amazing sponsors that were involved. In order to help us pull off our rooms, the challenge hosts Bianca and Lisa had gathered a collection of the most amazing brands who were going to gift us items to use. When we found out that ao.com was the headline sponsor we thought we’d actually be insane to NOT do the kitchen. It was – by far – the worst room in the house and definitely had to be done eventually so what better an opportunity than when your favourite appliance website (we’ve literally bought every electrical item we’ve ever owned from AO!) were on hand to help us?
‘Before’ – no we had absolutely nothing to do with that awful yellow mural!
Wow that’s a lot of words beginning with R right there. I am so very VERY excited about this project though so all that alliteration is worth it to share the news!
Revamp, Restyle, Reveal is an interiors challenge which I was asked to take part in by interior designer Lisa Dawson (I mentioned her in my favourite interiors Instagram accounts a few months ago, isn’t it funny how these things always come full circle!?) and blogger extraordinaire Bianca Hall of French for Pineapple.
The concept is simple: 10 bloggers, 9 brands, 1 room, 4 weeks. It’s kind of like Changing Rooms meets 60 Minute Makeover but without Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, Linda Barker or Peter Andre (didn’t he present 60 Minute Makeover for a hot minute? It’s probably quite shameful that I know that…)
Now because Gareth and I are suckers for punishment, and also because one of the sponsors is one our all-time favourite appliances websites (seriously, we’ve bought every appliance we’ve ever owned from ao.com – their service is quite frankly brilliant)we decided to bite the bullet, dive in head first (and a million other clichés) and do our kitchen. Yes, in a month!
And we have a door that needs bricking up and turning into a window…
And the entire room needs plastering…
AND we’re doing as much of it as we can ourselves…
Hi friends! Goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a house post for you hasn’t it? I have to admit that I think I was a tad ambitious thinking I’d be able to update you weekly on our renovation. I’ve mentioned this before, but things have progressed really slowly (aka they haven’t progressed at all!) over the winter months. The motivation to tackle big projects has been seriously lacking but now that spring is finally here (allegedly!) we are PSYCHED to get back on that reno-train. IN FACT we’re doing the kitchen next month, which I am SO EXCITED about so I’ll have lots more updates for you soon.
ANYWAY, I digress.
So, the pink door. Those of you that follow me on Instagram will already know that I’ve been lusting after a pink front door for as long as I remember. I hoped that once we bought our dream house that my fantasy would finally become a reality. But then we bought a red brick house and Gareth informed me that it would look shit.
I attempted mocking it up on Photoshop with as many different shades of pink as I could find but frustratingly, he was right. It just didn’t work at all.
But then saw that a few of my interior inspos had painted the inside of their front doors pink (Lisa, Elsie, Sarah – honestly, so good!) and I thought I’d found the perfect solution. I pitched it to Gareth… and I was shot down once again. GOD, someone remind me why I married such an opinionated man please?
And then it hit me. I WOULD PAINT THE INSIDE OF MY OFFICE DOOR PINK. We have a rule in our house that we can’t make any decisions on house decor/ big purchases without the other person’s agreement. After all, we both have to live here and we can have very different tastes in things (I’m right, he’s wrong but ya know…) This rule is strictly enforced EXCEPT when it comes to our offices. Those are our personal spaces and we can do whatever we like to them without the other person butting in!
So I excitedly headed off to B&Q immediately and collected approximately 15161 swatches – who knew there were so many pinks? I then taped my favourites up on the door and left them there for a few days so I could see how they worked in different lights, and see if I was more drawn to certain ones as I got used to them. In the end I settled on Dog Rose by Valspar. They actually colour match too so I was going to get an exact match to one of the prints on my wall, but in the end I liked this one so much I didn’t really need to. It’s the perfect cool toned blush pink.
I was actually pretty nervous about making the wrong decision. Our entire house (and our previous one) is painted entirely white at the moment so making choices on paint colours is not something I’m used to! But I kept reassuring myself that it was only paint and if I hated it I could always paint right over it.