Before & After: My Living Room. My haven.

Liz's living room after

The living room has perhaps been the most involved of our renovations so far. Thankfully we chose this as our first project when we were still very much in the honeymoon period of home-ownership (a brief period in which you have a relentless amount of enthusiasm for decorating and you don’t mind rolling your sleeves up after work and getting stuck in to a bit of stripping, plastering or painting and everything seems to progress so quickly – it’s just like the happy-couple, first-home, trying-to-flog-you-paint adverts. Honest.)

I had definite ideas for this room, and it meant starting from scratch, which in turn meant parting with a lot of cash.  So perhaps the biggest requirement of the revamp, was that whatever we created had to be timeless, it had to be something we’d never get tired of – we only wanted to be spending that sort of money once so it had to be right.

Here’s the results. If it were a painting I’d title it ‘A Victorian, with a Sage-Coloured Bonnet, Lost in Mid-Century Copenhagen.’

And it would sell for millions obviously.

 

Before:

Liz's living room before and after

 

After:

Liz's living room before and after

 

Under the cut:
In detail how and what we managed to achieve, whilst still in the hazy throes of first home bliss…

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Before & After: Floor To Ceiling Bookshelves

Bookshelves in home office

Once upon a time (like many little girls), I had a brief ambition to be a Disney princess.  It wasn’t the frocks or the (interchangeable) princes I was after though, it was Belle’s library.  Books as high as the eye can see, floor to ceiling windows, spiral staircases to balcony walkways, an open fireplace and period furniture.  It’s basically an interior designer’s dream, and as a book lover it caught my imagination – definitely a better romancing strategy than the usual ‘saving from an evil witch’ schtick.

Skip forward 20 years or so to buying our first house, and though our budget didn’t quite stretch to a palatial library wing, it was my ambition to have a room I could make into a small office with my very own (modest) wall of books.

Books Make a Home Book

It was one of our first home projects, and our talented carpenter friend John did the tricky bit of actually building them for us. I found inspiration in Damien Thompson’s ‘Books Make A Home‘. I sent John away with post-it notes in the pages of the book marking the style of bookshelves I liked, and John ingeniously managed to work out how to recreate them using materials within our budget.

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Accidental Reupholstery

Before-and-after-upholsterI thought arts & craft involved sugar paper and safety scissors until I was trawling Ebay for a small couch to go in our living room.

Having just invested a good wodge of cash on our lovely new Sofas & Stuff sofa, we couldn’t stretch to a 2-seater in the same style.  Queue Ebay to the rescue!   I was searching on vintage / antique seating  to try to find a different sofa style (rather than look like we’d tried but failed to find a match) when I happened on this little gem.

It’s of the Arts & Craft style, so circa 1900 which is about the same period as our house – right at home.  Amazingly we nabbed it at just £50, which was a bargain even with the shipping costs from Scotland.

The only down side was that what we thought was a William Morris style cover, was actually just a sheet covering it for the picture (probably should have read the item description more closely).  So what arrived was a dated 1960’s avocado green cover which was ripped and in serious need of some TLC.

Luckily I discovered the talented upholsterer Heather Linnett, who replaced the worn foam and created brand new covers for the two seat pads. We chose a pale grey woollen fabric with a light check from Romo to complement our main sofa and bring a bit of pattern to the room without overwhelming the largely neutral grey / blue colour scheme.

Swatch 2

So many sellers on Ebay take vintage sofas and armchairs that are past their prime and get them reupholstered in more modern fabrics and sell on for a profit, but if you can find a good local upholsterer it’s easy to arrange yourself.   Romo, Just Fabrics, Ada and Ina, and Fabrics & Papers are great starting points for upholstery fabric – you can order samples through their websites, or a good upholster will also have swatch books.     So long as the piece is structurally sound, it’s a great way to source stylish additional seating without stretching to a matching set or pricey restored vintage items.

 

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My Bathroom: Before and after

Liz's bathroom improvements

I’ve never been one to spend hours in the bath, or on the loo for that matter, so after we bought the house I was more than happy to push the renovation of the bathroom way down our priority list. Those dark blue tiles weren’t so bad after all.

I could not have been more wrong though, two weeks in and the roof leaked causing a stream of water to flood down the bathroom walls, leaving us with a large smelly damp patch. But it was the feeble dribbling electric shower that was the final straw, I needed more than a few droplets of water to wake me up in a morning.

Thankfully my fairy godmother (aka my lovely Auntie Catherine) came to the rescue and funded my new bathroom, and as you can see it’s quite a transformation. More pictures and details after the cut…

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