Tag Archive | decorating

a whiter shade of pale

Over the bank holiday last month Jon took a coupe of days either side, & we used the time to sort out a diy job that has been bugging us for ever such a long time.

One of the things Jon brought to the relationship when we moved in together 13 years ago eek such a long time) was a rectangular pine table that had been the kitchen table when he was a little boy. Over the years its been several things in our various residences, a kitchen table, my sewing table, a desk in the study, & finally it became our computer desk in our bedroom.

Now basically our bedroom sharing a room with the study has never been an ideal solution, Over the years since we moved here we’ve gradually replaced a load of plastic drawers containing clothes with nice Ikea ones, however we were still left with a load round the computer. Our dream computer desk would have shelves above it and drawers beneath, but we were completely unable to find anything that practical, except recently in Ikea & that was made of completely shitty looking laminate & therefore not worth spending £350 on as only a medium term solution. (I do seem to think ikea has got crapper the last few times we’ve been there, the prices have gone down at the higher end, but the quality has as well, & virtually nothing they sell is made of real wood anymore.)

So we thought, how about we spend as little as we can get away with on a short term solution? And went to the British Heart Foundation Furniture Shop in Lewisham and bought a cheap, small welsh dresser instead.

In terms of storage, this has worked out ideal, it fits all our excess computer crap and stationary, with room for a few decorative items too. In terms of aesthetics, not so good.

All our bedroom furniture is either natural wood antique (0r natural wood that we’ve jazzed up a bit to look antique) that we’ve inherited from various parents over the years, or  white ikea units, & now plonked in the middle were these 80’s style orange varnish cheap looking desk & dresser.

I forgot to get a picture of the desk before we painted it, but here is the dresser in its original state….


In real life its a lot more orange and looked horribly cluttered with all our stuff on it.

So yeah, over the bank holiday, Jon painted it all! 🙂

This was a  bit of a mammoth task as we had to do it in the living room & it took over all the space & the kitchen for 5 days.(so we ate out a lot, which was awesome then, but has somewhat come back to haunt us now its the end of the month) Also we were idiots and bought the cheapest primer and undercoat all in one we could find in B&Q which meant it was quite drippy, so the finish isn’t perfect, & it took about 2 coats more than we were planning,

However, given it is our first real try at painting furniture, I am really pleased with the results…


Here they are back in situ without anything on them. Already they go so much better with our  bedroom.


and this is what we changed the doorknobs for. While I was immensely tempted by the gorgeous expensive mineral ones in Anthrapologie, we found these randomly in the clearance section of TKMaxx, six for a fiver, & I think they do fine.


& here they are with everything back on them. Obviously we need to work on that chair cushion, but it makes the room look so much more coherent and brighter! (due to a whopping great wardrobe in the middle of the room & the bed taking up much of the rest of the space, our bedroom is pretty impossible to photograph.)

So because of the painting i had to put my sewing machine away & kept it away for a couple of weeks, but its back now, & in the meantime I’ve finished my hat, which I have yet to photograph properly (mainly cuz it won’t stop raining 😦 ) This means I get a fun trip to Loop in Islington for wool for my next project (rubs hands together).

The Bathroom, normality and the trouble with Disney.

So now that we’ve given it a week or two to wear in and nothings actually leaking, here are a few pictures of what has kept me away from the internet and my sewing machine these last couple of months…..


DSCN0703                  DSCN0701

DSCN0698                 DSCN0695

It is quite difficult to take photographs in there as it is a very small room and so its hard to get nice angles. Also the window is very bright compared to the rest of the room, so it skews the colours a bit in photographs. The wire locker is off the internet, and the shelf unit, lantern and metal stuff on the window sill is all from the garden department of TKMaxx. We are still working on some kind of attractive storage method for the toilet roll! The pictures are not spectacular, but we are very pleased with the outcome.

Even though the building finished 2 1/2 weeks ago now, the thing that is holding us to ransom is that as this is a very small flat with only two rooms apart from the bathroom, dust from the building work got everywhere. We have literally had to deep clean the whole flat including stuff like taking out all the cds and vinyls and cleaning them all individually. This has happened at a time when Jons work has gone ballistic and I have ended up with a Chronic Fatigue relapse as although at the beginning of the building work I was safely tucked up at my parents, I ended up having to come back to London and run round after the builders which has been very damaging to my health. So it has taken us a little longer than we planned to get the house back to normal. Hopefully it will all be sorted this weekend.

However this week things have been organised enough that I have been able to get my sewing machines back out and find some fabric ready to work on. All the fabric is sadly piled up in bin bags in its wardrobe at the moment, as we had to put it like that so the decorator could move the wardrobe to paint behind it (oh yeah, we had our bedroom repainted and the kitchen and living room ceiling and an air brick put in whilst we were at it.). Also the shelves inside the wardrobe, which are cheap garage ones from Argos, didn’t last the move (the plastic warped) so we are going to have to buy new ones before we can put my fabric back again properly 😦

Luckily however, when I opened a couple of bags up to see if I could find something I felt like working on, the straight dress fabric was near the top, so I was able to pull two pieces out and they are currently hanging on the back of the door washed ready to get used next week.

First up is this one….


Its a really vivid floral brushed cotton effect fabric (which was not cooperating when I was trying to photograph it in focus)

I’m intending to use this pattern with it:



Which I used to make this dress (link to post with considerably better photos, initial construction post here!)

I have only made it twice (the first time was a mock-up) but it is one of my favourite patterns as it is really quick to sew and only takes a few hours, and right now, even though I had a list of stuff I wanted to sew this year, I just need to get a few wearable things out quickly to regain some momentum, as having been out of action with the building for the best part of two months, and having spent the two months before working on that steampunk/lolita dress (which incidentally having mulled it over for a while I now reckon I know exactly what I need to do to fix it.) I’m kind of really rather behind and a little frustrated. I also have a massive gap in my wardrobe for just every day long sleeved dresses.

The second piece of fabric I  have is this….



Which is just a standard viscose. But I absolutely love the pattern on it. For some reason it massively reminds me of Studio Ghibli films, especially Nausicaa, as its the same shade of blue as her outfit and has pollen/dandelions on it.

However, when mulling over what to do with it, I realised it has a much more mainstream pop culture reference going…

Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


(image nicked randomly off google)

Which leaves me with a bit of a quandary. What I would like to do with this fabric is a 40’s style dress same as the one above, but there is only just about 2m of it, so even if I ignore any ideas about directional pattern placement it is going to be a bit of a squeeze. A pinafore dress such as my dragon one would solve the problem nicely (with less ruffles as I don’t have enough fabric). But if I’m going to do that, I might as well make it full on Belle cosplay, which does not go with my current hair colour and actually, despite me happily wandering round half the time wearing lolita or other OTT fashions, kinda isn’t my style. So I am going to have to go through my pattern collection really carefully and work out a way to use this fabric I’m happy with.

Hopefully I’ll have at least one dress to show by the end of next week, however I am once again struggling to get my roots dyed in a timely fashion (seriously giving Courtney Love a run for her money at the moment) as the towels I customarily use for the job (Ie the old skanky, it doesn’t matter if they get bleach on them ones) have been used to clean up for the builders, and it is only as I intended to sort it out today that I realised I needed to put them through the washing machine. So it will be next week before I get to do that too, and I’m sure as hell not taking any more pictures with my hair in this state! I’m sure I’ll manage though!


I haven’t posted for ages again. there is a rather good reason for this, which I shall come too later. but what I intended to post about, before evil black growing things got in the way…..

Nearly a month ago now (14th-17th of March) I went with my Mum and one of her friends to the Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia…

The only picture I took…

knitting and stitching show

Just as we came in, as you can see it was massive. Also it was Really Not My Kind Of Thing!

I had a nice time, and Mums friend who does patchwork had a very good time,and I think if you did cross stitch or decoupage or knitting (though tbh, given the knitting bit in the title of the show I thought they were under represented) it was the thing for you. The dressmaking offering consisted of a couple stall selling all the kind of tat you’d get on Goldehawke Road or a Market Stall in the Rag Market in Birmingham, and one large stall selling Liberty fabric reasonably cheaply and Alexander Henry at a far higher price than I could get it from etsy and a load of other stuff that was mostly overpriced. There was nowhere selling haberdashery stuff (which was a pain as I have a reasonable list of stuff I haven’t been able to get in Lewisham) or patterns, I managed to pick up a french curve from a stall selling quilting equipment but that was pretty much it.

Oh I also picked up a load of silk flowers from Miss Rose and Sister Violet  who the internet tells me is an Australian brand, but for some reason had a stall at the show selling flowers for considerably cheaper than they seem to be priced on their website! Which will be ideal for hatmaking when I finally get into central London as I’ve run out of combs again.

However….there was a stall there selling sewing machines, and Mum bought me an overlocker for my birthday!!! It is a Huskylock S15, so not a super expensive one, but it will do the trick nicely. I will be able to get a much more professional finish on the clothes I make.

So excited! 🙂

It arrived about 2 weeks later and is currently sitting boxed up in our living room as events unfolded that have stopped me getting on with anything for the last few weeks…..

Firstly a sunny day arrived, roughly about the time I offered to have my parents stay overnight and I realised that with Jon and I having been ill so much over winter the state of the flat had got somewhat bohemian. So a week of hardcore cleaning occurred, which would all have been fine, except in the process I pulled a chest of drawers out from next to our bed and realised there was a bit of mould there, and then realised that if there was some there behind the bookshelves would be crawling with it.

We are not habitually filthy btw, our flat was built in the 60’s or 70’s by someone who thought it was a good idea to use only a single course of bricks but an extra dense one, probably thinking that the special new bricks would keep the place warm without needing the expense of a cavity wall. Unfortunately  it does no such thing but the combination of  no insulation the specially dense bricks and the fact someone a few years ago put upvc windows in, means no moisture can ever get out. So we have a damp problem. We have sorted it mainly by buying a dehumidifier and painting the walls of the living room with bathroom paint which is mould resistant and stuff. We were intending the bedroom repaint to be our job for next summer.

There is thankfully no ‘before’ picture of the corner of our bedroom where the bookcases were, but there were 3 of them, two Ikea,one wooden, double stacked with piled up books, in our previous flat we had a small study and had room for 4 bookcases so when we moved here we’d had to condense it down. We sort of organised it when we moved in, but hadn’t really touched it since as it was too much trouble.

We quickly came to the realisation that the solution to this was that a good 3/4 of the books had to go, luckily they have been rehomed in my parents attic, so it wasn’t super traumatic…I don’t think I’d have managed it if we were never going to see them again. And in the  process quite a lot of other stuff too.

We moved here three years ago, although we were incredibly grateful to have found a place we could actually afford in London as Jon could no longer manage the commute from Hitchin, at the time we only really saw living here as a temporary fix, but the recession, family circumstances and skyrocketing house prices in this part of London now make us think we’ll probably be here for a good few years yet. Which is not really something we had adapted for in the way we live in the place.

Getting rid of books (Especially when you know you’ll get them back in the end) is actually easier than I’d though. Its amazing how your tastes change as time progresses, we had duplicates of most of the Harry Potters as we were both really into them when we met, but now neither of us can envisage reading them again for the next 5 years or so.. so they went!

I went mainly for stuff I hadn’t read but was intending to, Jon for certain key books that mean a lot to him, and a load of Fantasy series that are half way through being written, so we’ll want the first few again every time a new one comes out.

We got it down to 3/4 of a bookshelf in the end, which leaves loads of room for additions, though we do hope to get a bit better at using a kindle instead.

Of course getting rid of stuff has meant we now intend to rearrange the flat entirely, which is going to take over our time for the next few weeks. We’ve got rid of the mould though…

In pictures…..


with the wallpaper on, and what was growing behind

IMG_1409 mould 1

once the wall had been stripped and now we’ve put the lining paper up.

Obviously it was completely gross, luckily we think it had only been there a few weeks with the really damp weather.

We are really proud of ourselves for our lining paper attempt. Theres a tiny crack where its not perfect, but that won’t show when the paint is on. Its the first time we’ve attempted anything like this though, and we had only the vaguest idea what we were doing, so its come out mercifully alright!

We’re not intending to paint it for a couple of weeks and have to order some stuff online before we can get on with rearranging everything, so I have had a quiet week to get back on with my life again 🙂

So this week I am sewing together a dress I had cut out before the overlocker arrived, as soon as this is finished I intend to go completely nuts on jersey for a while, I think I’m showing complete self restraint, but actually while we are redoing the flat its better new expensive machinery stays in its box for a bit. 🙂

It is really slippery fabric, I’m having to iron it all the time, if you have to undo stitches it marks like anything,I have no guarantee the things actually going to fit, but if it all works out I will be so happy with it. 🙂


unicorn bodice

the art of putting up posters.

So we bought our flat two years ago, and found rather quickly that the walls, which are made of two layers of very dense 70’s brick, really didn’t like having holes drilled into them.

We got the builder when we moved in to put some hooks up for pictures and mirrors and things, but as we settled in we tried to put some up ourselves using our black and decker drill and couldn’t get more than a couple of centimetres into the wall.

So we spent the past two years, firstly waiting for a friend to lend us her masonry drill, which never happened, and then saving up to buy one ourselves, until it was pointed out by my dad that , given we don’t intend to stay here forever anyway, and given the sort of drill we’d need to make any kind of dent in the walls would cost over £200, and given we don’t have that many framed pictures to go up at the moment, it really is bad value for money to buy one. And apparently blue tack doesn’t damage the wall if you take the residue off using nail varnish remover, so its a far better idea to use posters.

This has been a bit of a poser. Somewhere in my parents attic, waiting to be rescued next time I go to see them, are all my posters from when I was a teenager, a few of them are still cool, a lot of them just scream 18 year old. And I think thats the problem with posters in general. We haven’t had any on the walls in 8 years, everywhere we’ve lived, be it rental or bought we’ve used framed pictures. And thats what I was planning for this place, I was on the lookout for gold baroque looking picture frames from local charity shops, ready to fill with incongruous images of pop culture figures and photographs of twisted tangled branches, preferably both at once. I’m not really in the headspace for posters anymore.

We had a good look on the internet anyway, I think if I’d been buying/stealing posters regularly for the past 8 years, and had loads to collage everywhere all over the walls, I’d be a bit more up for band or film posters. I mean we really like music, but if you just buy two or three, thats kind of defining your taste in music and your taste in art publicly a bit more than I feel comfortable with. I always over think things, but to me for example, a lone Manics Street Preachers or Suede poster says ‘I was 17 in the 90’s’ whilst a Lady Gaga poster kind of says ‘I’m not 17 now, but I’m going to pretend I am’.

Hopefully over time, we will organically get posters of things we are into and build them up into a mass of images, and then maybe we can fill our walls and still look cool.

However for the moment, we decided, after several hours of browsing that the immediate problem of filling our walls wasn’t going to be solved by buying a personality off the internet. But we still really need something, every time I take a picture of our flat, I am totally struck by how plain it looks and slightly dingy with endless ikea book shelves and then nothing. So I decided to make some.

Coincidentally I have a couple of new iPhone photo apps that needed playing with. 🙂

So I created these photos……




yeah, ok they are of our toy collection, but they are for our bedroom, which has a lot of wooden furniture and a fairly old fashioned, and matching(!) bedspread and curtains, and desperately needs glamming up.

I am hoping to get them all on the walls as A3 posters, with one A2 sized one to fit a particular space, however the online printing company I am using thinks they are too low resolution, so I have sent one off for a test print to see what happens.

If they don’t work I will make some more along a similar line.

I can’t wait. Its a so much cooler, and cheaper, way of decorating the walls than buying loads of commercial posters I wasn’t massively happy with anyway.

BTW Photos are copyright to me and anyone attempting to use them without my permission will be in trouble!