Tag Archives: DIY

Moody Hues

30 Nov

Life has been going at a roller coaster pace recently but I have been able to sneak a bit of time to pick out a color for our formal living room. I wanted an accent wall and after being inspired by the images below we finally made our choice…..

Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy – it’s a rich dark grey/navy tone which I cant wait to get on the wall! Updates and pictures will follow but in the meantime here’s some other homes to drool over…

Dark Gray walls provide a dramatic backdrop

Dark Gray walls provide a dramatic backdrop

A glamorous home

A glamorous home

Dark walla in a dining space

Dark walls in a dining space

Have you used a dark color in your home? Any styling tips/tricks?

Image sources   1.   2.   3.

Our House,Year Two: Weeks 30-31 – Our guest bath sorta takes shape.

20 Nov

Um so yeah I’ve fallen behind on the updates again (2 months!!) and there’s actually NO real reason other than I’ve been at this for over TWO years now and I think I’m tired! But a lot has happened in the house….we are so close to being done I can almost taste it  and its driving us crazy as I think we are both just fed up with living in constant chaos!

Anyway  enough of the moaning where were we…ahh yes I last left you at the guest bathroom…

The shower in here had been ripped out about 4 months ago  when we were remodelling the family room as we needed to break into the walls to put in a beam. This made having guests in the house a slight logistical challenge as there were 4 adults and 2 kids using one bathroom to shower! And so this room became pretty important quite quickly! Once the walls had been sealed and the shower pan made watertight we were ready to begin the tiling phase.

This is our only full size bathroom downstairs and as its now a windowless room we decided to keep it clean and simple and chose a mostly all white color scheme. We picked white subway tiles  for the walls to give it that classic finish and then a small mosaic for the floor to add in texture.

Guest bath floor mosaic tiles

The white subways went up first and already I was excited. Our tiler (who we nicknamed George Michael due to his uncanny likeness!!) was working so fast it was amazing to watch. He had the whole back wall done in no time.

Speedy Subways!

But then…… DISASTER.  We’ve actually been pretty lucky in that we havent made too many boo boos until now however we/I decided (having been inspired by this picture on Pinterest) that we should run the floor tiles vertically and not horizontally.

(I know stop me RIGHT NOW)

Dark Grout & Wiggly wall lines = tiling mistake no 1.


Why? Well our walls aren’t straight  ( yeah old house etc..) so the tile lines weave in and out against the wall and it looks messy. To make it worse I chose to highlight the lines with a dark grout  (again more Pinterest inspiration) so its even more obvious that they aren’t straight. Wahhhhhhhh

I must iterate at this time that our tiler totally  suggested we run them horizontally and was completely confused  by our request to do them vertically and we insisted. He did his best but in the end we messed up!

Note to self – just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t make it ok!!!

Spot the tiling error…….

And now there’s nothing we can do about it… and we hate it. Like “I couldn’t sleep that night due to thinking about it”  kind of hate it.

I’ll be totally honest – we came very close to ripping up the floor and starting all over again but our budget just doesn’t allow for that kind of extravagance right now. So after a few deep breaths and a resigned “it’s not that bad” we have decided to live with it and move on. Ya win some ya lose some.

And so David installed the toilet just before he had to head back to the UK and  Jon fitted the shower pieces.

Jon “testing” out the new guest bath…

See you can sit on the toilet and almost shower at the same time..genius!  Actually there’s a big old piece of glass to go in there but not yet  because ya know that costs over $1k and it’s almost Christmas. I don’t imagine  a giant piece of glass going over well with the kids as their gifts!

Also we are missing a vanity (which is embroiled in the kitchen drama), lighting and a mirror but hey its progress and we are proud of it!!!!

Up next….the Kitchen.


A Cable & Cotton special offer….

12 Nov

Have you heard of Cable & Cotton?

They are so great for making a cool light feature in a room and you can customize them in ANY color choice  using their pick your own tool, which is perfect for the little light feature I am making for my eldest sons room.

Based out of the UK  (and shipping to the USA) they create beautiful handmade string lights in Thailand  using skilled workers  to weave natural cotton and glue into the ball shapes around balloon which they then pop and  secure onto the sting lights. They also provide training and education for their workers and insist on healthy working environments so you rest assured that your dollars or pounds are ging to help others.

Cable & Cotton String Lights

There’s so many things you can do with these lights – table top decor, or a cool light feature in a glass vase. You could even make a set of lights to match your holiday decor – I just ordered a plain white string so that I can hang them over our stairwell.

Cable & Cotton light decor

They  have a great deal on right now – 40% off for their US-based Customers. Enter XMASUSA  at the checkout. And don’t delay – this offer expires in either 7 days or when they sell 1,000 sets of 20 lights!!!!

Splurge vs Steal: Accordion side tables

22 Oct

Its been a while since I had a splurge vs steal to share with you but I did just find  a good one!!

Claw foot Directors table from H&H Home

Check out this gorgeous side table from H&H Home. Yes its beautiful and yes you could spend $615 on it OR you could freestyle  and get this side table from Urban Outfitters for a mere $74.oo and add a custom cut mirrored top to it.

Metal accordion side table from Urban Outfitters

I know which one I will be going for!!!

Our House,Year Two: Weeks 30-31

3 Oct

It was time to tackle the guest bath. This was not a job we were looking forward to as it was an original bathroom from the old house which meant all kinds of renovation gremlins were no doubt hiding in wait for us.  So far we have just closed the door on it and focused on other things, we ripped out the old bathroom fittings a good 3 months ago and have basically ignored it since.

Well the time has come to face the music, we need to get this bath done asap and the starting point for this is putting down a new sub-floor and  getting updated plumbing in place.

Out with the old…

David ripped up the old flooring and gave the underneath a good clean out and then proceeded to renew the plumbing. The pipes (and drains) were old screwed iron ones and we needed to swap them out for code compliant plastic ones! We used shark bite fittings to do this job which made it a lot quicker as they have a push to fit solution on them…according to the man in the know this has revolutionized this task!

Can you spot him hiding in the picture above..if not here’s another great angle..

Hello Grandad!

It’s not pretty down under the house that’s for sure. We havent had the spare cash to do a full foam seal on the crawl space yet (something I would love to do for energy efficiency reasons) so there’s still gaps and all kinds of nasties down there! Also we found once looking around that some of the wood was rotten so a couple of bits of that needed swapping out too.

With the plumbing all finished we were able to lay down the sub-floor and start the waterproofing process. This was the exact same process we had done on the upstairs bath so I wont bore you with pictures again but if you really want to know you can see that here.

Whilst David was busying himself crawling around under our house Jon was putting up closets! We had decided to outfit the guest bedroom and office closets with Elfa storage systems from the Container Store. They were doing a cheeky 20% off so it was the perfect time to  jump on this project. I laid out a basic design online and then took it into the store for refining. If you are ever planning a closet/storage space then I highly recommend doing it this way as  the folks in store can get you exactly what you want that messing around online couldn’t.

This is where the guest closet netted out:

Guest closet design

We chose to have more hanging space in here for clothes as our families visit the most and are often here for extended periods of time and so need to be able to hang  lots of clothes, along with some space for shoes & folded items.

And this is what we did for the office.

Office closet design

The office space , whilst also being an additional guest overflow room, is more for us to store things in – like winter jackets and big boxes so we had less hanging space here and more shelves. We also added in an additional vertical bar for extra strength on the closet – given the use case for it.

And here’s Jon putting them up. He got them both done within  a couple of hours which was amazing. Its pretty straight forward  but you must follow the Elfa directions to the letter, use their screws & don’t try to freestyle then you wont have any issues!

Installing the Elfa system.

Our parents were pretty stoked with this development especially as they could now get their clothes off the floor!!! It hasn’t quite affected our storage situation in the house yet, I still have a giant pile of crap in the front room but it’s slowly getting smaller!

One other small but  definitely on the list of things to do was tiling inside the fireplace. We  had picked up some great dark grey tiles at Heath Ceramics for this and it was just a matter of taking the time to put them in. To complicate things Jon and I decided we wanted them to be done in a herringbone pattern.  So David and Jon laid them out on a board and then cut everything to fit perfectly inside the space and then began  putting them on.

Tiling a fireplace.

This looks so good and I am pleased with the way the pattern is coming out and the contrast between the light of the breast and the dark of the tiles.  This is quite possibly the most annoying job in the world ever but it’s about to get even worse – we have to get the sides done next!!!!

Coming in the next update – a tile-a-thon…..

A sneak peek: The kitchen goes here……

28 Sep

It’s a BIG day at the renovation diaries today…the start of  the new kitchen going in….after 4 months of kitchen-less living we are FINALLY getting our new cabinets installed.

This is the space its going into all prepped and ready to roll..well minus the fire truck and baby that is!

Kitchen goes here….

And this is a sneak peek at the design….

Kitchen Design Sketch

Here you can see the proposed media cabinet as well. We aren’t ready to install that yet but hopefully one day soon.

Watch this space for a finished kitchen reveal!!!


Designing Our Guest Bathroom : The Inspiration Behind The Idea

28 Sep

We are quickly having to choose a tile scheme for our guest bathroom. As it’s a windowless room with no natural light I knew immediately that I wanted to keep it as clean and serene as possible. Hence all white became the color scheme mantra. It’s also a room that is pretty small so we have to utilise the space as best as possible – unfortunately for our guests this means no bath. We have decided to rip it our in favor for a walk in shower instead to keep the room feeling as spacious as possible.

Looking around for inspiration I  have decided on a combination of these bathrooms:

Remodelista bathroom via Desire to Inspire.

I love the white subway tile and the rectangle Mosaic flooring in this image. Also the clear simple glass shower panel will be perfect for our small guest bath however I want to do something curbless so that people dont trip.

Modern Vanity from Ikea via Vtwonen

A simple white vanity that floats off the floor will also help keep the room feeling spacious whilst providing storage. I love the shine on the mosaic tiles in this image but they were vetoed by Jon!!

Finally the shower panel, hardware and the tiling in this last image are just perfect. I also like the way they have been paired with a softer color on the walls – this is something I hadn’t thought about doing but now I am thinking about ways in which to bring some color into this space.

Bathroom Image from House to Home.

What are the other essentials for a guest bath that we might be missing? Any advice?

Our House, Year Two: Weeks 27-29

26 Sep

To say I am behind in these updates is somewhat of an understatement. I’m not quite sure how I let 6 or is it 8 weeks slip by without even mentioning the house progress once but hey it happened! You’d be quite justified in thinking that we’d given up renovating and were happy to just live in our half-finished abode…whilst that feels like it might be true we are plodding along getting on with the kind of jobs that don’t feel like you are making much progress  but in actual fact they are readying you for  a big thing to happen… like tiling the master bathroom.

Previously the master bath was a semi-drywalled shell. I don’t think I’ve even mentioned it for months because nothing has happened with it. It has basically been waiting for us to make a decision on tiling and boy has it been tough. I’m not joking when I say that I have been to the tile showroom 10 times, and come out with a new idea or a “definite” plan each time. The woman in the showroom is about ready to kill me and in the end I will have only ordered a few of the total tiles we need from them. However I like to think I’m not all that bad as I do always return my samples !!!

Whilst I was driving the lovely folks at Ceramic Tile Design crazy, Jon pressed on with getting us to that point where we even needed them. The shower pan had to be formed with concrete and waterproofing. Here’s what that process looks like….

Prepping the shower pan

It takes 3 layers to ensure that  a shower has proper drainage in place. First up they lay down the tar paper barrier over the sub-floor. Then they added in the galvanised wire mesh which when combined with the mortar (concrete) gives you a solid surface for tile installation.

Then it was time to concrete the pan. For this we just made a home mix, it was on the drier side so we could manipulate it easily. Jon spread it carefully across the pan working hard to get a smooth and even finish.

Spreading the concrete in the shower pan

He used a trowel to apply the concrete and get it semi even  and then he smoothed it off using a flat bit of wood. I don’t think Jon has ever done concrete work on a shower pan before so I was very impressed with his technique.

The ultimate concrete smoothing tool.

Once the concrete was dry we moved onto the next layer which is a CPE waterproof barrier. This will provide us with a watertight surface for the shower pan. And then we added in one more mesh & mortar layer and then once dry you can tile on it!!!

We also had to build in the curb for the shower. This was done using a product called Kirb Perfect which made it super easy to create our curb and then mortar over the edges and leave it to set. It has a waterproof barrier underneath it already.

Its waterproof you know!


With the shower pan already to go it was inspection time yet again. We had to fill up the pan and let the water sit there and show that it was watertight in order to pass the inspection. It was a tad nerve-wracking to say the least but we passed with flying colors and that means we can move on and that our home done shower pan works! Technically we could shower in it as it is but I think we can wait!!!

Whilst Jon and David were working furiously in the master bath we had Felix back to finish off the floors in the front of the house.

Front room mid Varnish

The shine he gets on the floor is amazing He uses a Bona varnish that is rated for use in sports courts. We pay a little more for this extra hard wearing finish but with two small boys I can definitely say its worth it. The Bona stuff is also low VOC which is great – it still smells a bit but not enough that you would have to move out of the house for a day or two. Luckily between this area and our bedrooms is a lot of open air space and it was still warm so we all slept with windows open!

The finished front room.

The front room looks amazing all stained – so shiny and new. I’d love to say that it stayed looking like this but about 10 seconds after I took this picture we had to move all our crap into this space to clear out for the kitchen going in. The new floors are covered with white dust. I feel bad for Felix after all his hard work getting them so perfect and one day soon I promise that I will bring it back to this kind of shape.

Up next – the guest bath which needs a WHOLE lotta love.

Shopping secrets of the stylists….

28 Aug

One of the big secrets of the interior design world is to shop in unexpected places for your home. Designers know that select kids stores have incredible grown up design that you can use to add chic and inexpensive accents into your home.  In fact Emily Henderson talks about finding great drape solutions at kids stores in her blog post here. I’ve been known to buy things for my bedroom from the Land of Nod . I’ll shop anywhere that has great design at an affordable price!!

My personal favorite is Pottery Barn Teen…You would never know it but they have tons of chic grown up designs for teensy prices. Check out some of these fabulous finds….

Elegant teardrop chandelier

This chandelier will be making an appearance in my guest room very soon!!! It’s such a gorgeous and simple design and for only $129  who cares that its made from acrylic beads and not glass??!!

Boho Bedding Set

The mix of dots and print on this bedding is very on trend and super affordable – this would look at home in any grown up space.

I love the simplicity of this walnut mirror and it’s currently on sale for an incredible $189!!! Now that’s a bargain for a solid wood mirror!

Walnut Ornate Mirror

There’s literally so much choice that I recommend browsing here.

What’s your favorite alternative decor store for your home? Have you found great items in places you would never normally think to look???


Tips for designing your Ikea Kitchen

20 Aug

Jon and I spent a ton of time recently figuring out the kitchen design process when working with Ikea. We discovered that there’s basically 3 options for you…… here’s our quick run down of each of those.

(Disclaimer: I should add in that this is purely our experience and you shouldn’t use this to solely make a decision on whats right for you!!!)

1. Use Ikea’s online kitchen planning tool.

Now I don’t know about you but we were excited to jump into this tool and start designing our kitchen and its FREE. BONUS!

Jon got cracking first and spent a good 3 hours one night playing around with designs till he got to a decent place – or so he thought. Then I logged in to tweak the design. The issues started here. Somehow I accidentally deleted a ton of stuff and then struggled to put it back. I could NOT get the tool to put a cabinet in the right place. I tried 10 times. Logged off. Logged back in ( see I DO listen to my IT folks!!). NO Joy. Then Jon tried  and again nothing. So we started from scratch and then it happened again.

Ikea’s 3D Kitchen planner tool

The thing I REALLY hate about this tool is that its SLOWWWW  and with my (ahem) slightly impatient nature I found myself clicking on the plan several times which basically sent the tool into a spiral and then it crashed. Like I said this happened  10 times. And then I screamed at the computer and finally gave up. Would I recommend this option? Hell No. But maybe you are more patient with technology than I am.

2. You can pay Ikea $199 to design your kitchen for you.

When we saw this option in store we thought HURRAH. This is clearly the way forward so we don’t have to deal with that blasted tool again (see point 1.)  However we were still in browsing mode when in the store and weren’t quite ready to jump on this service so we took the info and asked if we could call to book later. Yes they said – simply dial this number, and then ask to be put through to kitchens and we will help you book. Great and so we went home.

Have you ever tried calling Ikea? Dont. Seriously. You CANNOT get through and when you finally get put through and you leave a voicemail and then no-one calls you back for days!!! Um thank goodness we aren’t on a tight schedule or anything. 5 days after I first tried, I finally got a call back to be told we don’t do this over the phone but I will fax you a credit card auth form to pay for the service and then someone will call you back to schedule. Did I ever get that fax? No. Did I want to drive 15 miles back to the store JUST to book an appointment?? Um No.

So now what???  Fast forward to number 3……

3. Pay someone else to design your Ikea kitchen for you!!!!

Feeling somewhat frustrated I googled Ikea Kitchen design. And I discovered  IKDO. They have a very comprehensive blog that features their recreation of great  kitchens with IKEA cabinets. I found myself spending hours browsing through their past posts.  Then I discovered that you can hire them to design your kitchen for you for only $65?? Amazing.

A sample of an IKDO design

We gave them a quick run down of what we wanted (high gloss white, island blah blah) and some measurements and BOOM 48 hours later a finished design in hand. Then we had the opportunity to review it and provide feedback to make any changes we wanted and discuss other options and ask questions (e.g why no cupboards on one wall? Better use of visual space. Ahh yes good idea…thanks!!) . 24 Hours later changes were made and back with us for a final review. After 3 DAYS we have a finished design in hand with a complete parts breakdown so ordering will be a cinch.

Annnd relax. No more stress trying to deal with the big bad swedish megastore (well until it comes time to place our order that is!!!).

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