Category Archives: Rock n Renovation

Rock n Renovation: Our Bathroom Reveal (Kinda) and Win £200 to Spend with Soak.com!

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I don’t think I truly understood the poignancy of this quote until we started our home renovations. EVERYTHING takes longer than you expect. EVERYTHING costs more, EVERYTHING is more complicated than you think it’ll be and every time you feel like you’re making significant progress life throws a curve ball or another challenge at you and oh look, the bathroom is still not finished!

Here you can see what the room looked like in October, before we started the work. Now, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to share any updates because, quite frankly, there’s been nothing to show. Progress has been slower than a sloth at a spa day, but finally, FINALLY we’re very nearly there. Nearly there enough to show you some photos of how it’s looking anyway!

At first, I really wanted to hold out until it was actually finished/ perfect/ Insta-worthy but HONESTLY, I actually feel like it’ll be much more interesting for you guys to hear about the realities of doing a project like this completely DIY and when you have a business to run at the same time!

IT IS A LOT.

For those of you who don’t know, we’re attempting to renovate our house with as little outside help as possible. Unless we physically (or legally!) HAVE to hire tradesmen, we (read: Gareth) want to do it entirely by ourselves. This isn’t just because of the money we’ll save but for the satisfaction of doing it! Gareth in particular is super handy with DIY stuff, and a brilliant YouTube learner (seriously, he’s taught himself to plaster, plumb, replace joists and fit a kitchen just with Google and YouTube as his guides). I’m now a most excellent painter and decorator, although I’m yet to master wallpapering. Maybe next year!

Obviously, this has its downsides. Things take a long time and sometimes things have to get put on hold while life happens… but, for us anyway, we know it’s going to be totally worth it.

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Revamp, Restyle, Reveal: Our Cosy, Dark Snug!

One of the most stressful, yet satisfying, house projects we’ve done so far is our kitchen which we did last summer in just a month (!) as part of an interior’s challenge called Revamp, Restyle, Reveal. For those of you who missed it, here’s the drill: A group of sucker-for-punishment bloggers + a selection of generous sponsors + a room of our choice + four weeks to make it over = a fuck load of unexpected stress, a ferociously active group chat and a whole heap of fun!

We swore afterwards we’d never put ourselves though something like that again… But then the Revamp, Restyle, Reveal babes only went and invited us back to take part in the 2019 edition and one of the sponsors was only bloody West Elm. I mean, we just couldn’t say no!

We decided to give ourselves a slightly less taxing room this time, and chose to do our snug (living room/ front room/ sitting room/ den for those of you less pretentious than us – haha!) The only BIG thing that really needed sorting was the joists under the floor. They were all rotten and needed replacing, but Gareth had already done this in our other reception room so we were pretty confident that it wouldn’t be too difficult. OH, HOW WRONG WE WERE (laughs/ cries in equal measure). There were also some cracks that needed to be filled and a fireplace to be stripped but other than that it was all basically just decorating… EASY… Right!?

Well my friends, I take it all back. It may have been Easy Street in theory but as we’ve come to learn these things are NEVER as straightforward as you think they’ll be. First of all, our bathroom project had run over, meaning Gareth was attempting to tackle both rooms at the same time. That lasted about a week until he finally admitted defeat and we decided we’d just have to do without our dream bathroom being finished until Revamp, Restyle, Reveal was over.

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Rock n Renovation: Bathroom Goals

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.

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Rock n Renovation: A Sexy Kitchen Sink?

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.

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Rock n Renovation: Worktop of Dreams

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.

Fuck.

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!

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Revamp, Restyle, Reveal: Our Kitchen Reveal!

You’re doing the kitchen… in four weeks!?!?”

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?

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