My New Front Door: The Sun is Shining in Manchester!

Liz's new front door

At the time of writing this post our front door has been living with us for less than a week and I feel like a new Mother. I’m currently sat on the steps as I type, and every so often I keep glancing beyond the laptop to have a look at the beautiful new addition to our home. I mean look at my face – could I be any happier?

The yellow may be considered a brave choice but coupled with a classic door, it’s a simple but tasteful way of bringing a Victorian Terrace bang up to date. A contemporary twist on a Victorian original. Think Charles Dickens styled by Anna Piagi…

 

Lizs-door-before-and-after

Light now pours through the etched panes, brightening up our narrow hallway. The door is yellow on the inside too. Think of it as a feature wall – not as a necessity that needs to be hidden.

The door itself was lovingly crafted by Chris Waldron from The Grand Victorian Door Company. He’s a real nice guy and has this front door lark down to a fine artform. He even put up with my pernickety Graphic Designer requests when it came to selecting a typeface for the fanlight.

As for door furniture, I delight in telling people that we opted for a doctors knocker and a mushroom knob (*snicker*). I guess the colour is loud enough, so we wanted to keep the accessories as simple. Who knew that brass and yellow could be such good friends?

Liz-door-detail

 

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A Snoop Around Our Favourite Rooms

Have you seen the Habitat Voyeur ad?  It’s a touch racy, but we’re loving all the sumptuous red and copper 70’s style, and envying the very hip pads of the creative folk featured on the site (and coveting their outfits).

Peeking into our houses isn’t quite as thrill inducing, but everyone enjoys a nosey now and then (and some people make a full time hobby of it), so here’s a little tour of our own habitats, and our respective picks from the Habitat collection…

Kath's-place

Kath's-house-dining

My art wall is mainly sourced from Etsy, but I found these two little weird creatures in a wall in Barcelona (they have friends in Liz’s house). The milk bottle is from my grandad’s farm and makes a perfect specimin vase for the flowers I accidentally break in my garden (I’m more clumsy-fingered than green-fingered).

Kath's-house-mantle

Now that my garden is taking shape, I try to make use of the free outisde flower supply when I can – this blossom on the living room mantle is from our quince tree.

Kath's-house-dresser

I love ceramics and vintage curios, so I’m forever rearranging the bits and pieces on this dresser. I was going to replace the images in the photoframes, but I’ve become rather attached to the stern looking chap and the winsome ladies.

Kath's-house-shoes

I have a soft spot for antique mahogany furniture – I love the warm tones of the wood, and the shoe ladder was my inspired idea to make efficient use of space in my bedroom (I’ve colonised 80% of it so far…)

Kath's-house-globe

The globe lives in our spare room, so our visitors can plot their travels. Our desk is framed by washing lines of art postcards – I pick them up every time I visit a gallery. I affixed them with some twine and mini pegs so I can switch them out whenever I want to change the view.

Kath's-habitat-picks

1. Mickey Natural – Rattan dining chair £60   2. Peeta – white metal and wood desk lamp £28   3. Hop – grey hare patterend cushion £12   4. Trunk – small grey metal storage trunk £35   5. Flap – small analogue wall clock £60   6. Marne – small yellow jug £5  7. Marteau – copper coated brass ceiling light £150

Liz's-pad

Liz's-house-study

My room. My stuff. I love my office. The shelving and wireframe storage mean everything is lifted off the desk, giving me more space to work – or to make a mess…

Liz's-house-sweden

I’m obsessed with Sweden and here lies my shrine. Dalahest (Dala Horse) is my fave, rescued from Stockholms Stadsmission. Clearly he’s had a tough life but it was his broken nose that appealed to me.

Liz's-house-objetcs

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ — William Morris.

I have a lot of random objects in my house, and quite a few are animal themed. They’re not in any way useful but I, at least, believe them to be beautiful.

Liz's-house-bathroom

The smallest room in the house – my bathroom. Note the animal detail continues…

Liz's-habitat-picks

1. Ginnie – orange office chair £70  2. Tommy – yellow metal desk lamp £18  3. Sushi – cat patterned cushion £12  4. Pollo – grey metal wire chicken object £25  5. Durrie – red/white patterned floor cushion £95  6. Durdle – blue patterned small vase £18  7. Hatch Yellow – metal yellow bin £20

 

This post was created in collaboration with Habitat

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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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Carpet Copycat – The Wonders of Natural Flooring

Liz's Coir CarpetLiz’s living room with ‘tiger’s eye’ sisal carpet

Admittedly carpets aren’t the sexiest thing to blog about.  Even interiors magazines give them pretty short shrift.  You never have to consider such things as a renting dweller, but when you buy your first home suddernly have to start thinking about things like flooring choices.

When replacing our living room fireplace, we found ourselves with a nice new hole in the carpet as the replacement was smaller than the previous hearth.   Being thrify types we repurposed the carpet by shifting it to the upstairs offce, which saved money but we now had a bare living room floor.

My first port of call for inspiration was Design*Sponge (the US design blog), but every single living room I wanted to emulate had a wooden floor.  Every single one.  I was beginning to think it was a situation akin to the great hidden TV conspiracy – there wasn’t a carpet in sight.  Much as  I love the original floorboards look, it just wasn’t going to work here – not only are the original floorboards a bit of a mess and missing in places, but the room is north-facing  and a touch on the nippy side in the middle of a Yorkshire winter, so it really needed full-floor covering.

I happened upon an interesting alternative – a sort of half-way house between the natural, rustic look I wanted with floorboards, with the warmth and coverage of capet: natural flooring.  Often it’s looked to as an option for hardwearing spaces like hallways (especially the jute and coir types), but some of the finer materias like sisal and seagrass are less rough and can make for an interesting and unusual carpet covering for living rooms.

living room wth sisal carpet2Kath’s living room with copycat carpet (spot the difference!)

Unbenownst to me, Liz was also looking for the same stuff for her newly redecorated living room.  She’d seen pictures of it but didn’t know what it was called.  I think she was typing things like ‘hairy brown carpet’ into Google which was bringing back some interesting results…

I realised what she was talking about, and pointed her in the direction of Kersaint Cobb and Alternative Flooring (UK manufacturers of natural flooring).  She found a local stockist and swifly narrowed the vast array of choices down to the Kersaint Cobb ‘Tiger’s Eye’ sisal carpet in amber.  As usual I dithered for ages, before sheepishly choosing exactly the same one as I loved the look of it when it was out on display at our local stockist in Baildon.

You’ll need someone who knows their stuff to lay it, as it’s trickier to work with than normal carpet and it needs ‘resting’ in situ for 24 hours before they pinning it down as it can shrink slightly after it acclimatises to your house.  It hides the dirt really well, but it’s not a fan of spills as it can’t be washed as easily as woolen carpet, so you need to think about the usage before you go for it, but we’d definitely recommend as an alternative option to floorboards.

 

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Dachshund, Pug or Whippet: The choice is yours

Polly-Horner-dog-cushion

I choose the Whippet. I’m not responsible enough yet for a real one so this was a good second best. Children’s illustrator Polly Horner has collaborated with Magma bookshop to create a series of pooch inspired products for your home. Her characterful depictions capture these creatures personalities perfectly. Only three (Dachshund, Pug & Whippet) made the final cushion cut but check out her site to see the complete collection.

 

 

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My Orange Ercol

My orange ercol

(ignore the floral paper – we’ve yet to decorate this room)

We went shopping for a coffee table and came back with a new chair. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m not usually one for impulse buys, even if there is a jacket in the sale for a tenner I like to go away and think about it – perhaps spend the equivalent in coffee and cake and then go back to buy it.

Vintage furniture markets have a strange effect on me though, maybe it’s the added pressure of knowing that often there’s only one of them available and I don’t have the option to sleep on it or order it online later.  In this particular instance though I knew I had to have this chair, it was perfect for our dining room, somewhere comfy to sit and listen to records. It was also reasonably priced – a rarity at a vintage fair. I’ve featured the sellers from Your Vintage Life before, their site is well worth a visit.

I’m sure you recognise the design, it’s an Ercol chair complete with the original fabric, featured in the ad below (an advert it seems which is still effective, as I really want the matching stool now too!)

Ercol chair

Ercol are British furniture manufacturers established in 1920 and famed for their innovative, affordable and long-lasting designs.  Their bentwood frame and the arched wooden back has become something of a signature, and is a timeless classic that’s still going strong today (take a look at the originals section on the Ercol site). Good design stands the test of time and this piece certainly has. Now the real test – whether it can survive another 50 years in my company…

 

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A charming chai tea set

Chai tea glasses

I was innocently browsing in  Manchester’s Fig and Sparrow when this charming tea set caught my eye. Originally from Fairtrade company Nkuku the sets are handmade from recycled glass and then encased in a wire frame reminiscent of old milk trays.

They’re actually designed for sipping chai tea but I didn’t realise this until I was informed at the till. Instead I had them in mind as water glasses that would sit permanently on the dining room table. They’re pretty small though so no good if you’re really thirsty but I love the informal ‘help yourself if you want’ attitude they have. I’ve also found them an ideal size to accompany wine or coffee, so perfect for dinner parties.

I’ve since had my first cup of chai tea too – turns out it’s pretty nice. Now all you need is a teapot, take a look at some of our favourites...

 

 

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Charity shop finds: Furnishing your house for less

Vintage-Furniture-chairty-shopping

After moving from a small flat into our three bed terrace we had a lot of space to fill, but no money to spend on the furnishings needed to fill it. I’ve always been a charity shop fan but never really considered them as a place to buy furniture, but now my priorities have changed from dresses to dressers I’ve discovered a wealth of them that are dedicated to that very thing.

There is a certain amount of luck and patience involved in the pursuit of a bargain but the key is to go in with an open mind, they’re never going to have an exact replica of that coffee table you’ve been dreaming about for months. In fact we’ve found it works out for the best if you don’t go with a particular item in mind either. Last week we snapped up an old fashioned Gentlemans’ wardrobe from our local YMCA, complete with labelled compartments including space for ‘underwear and pyjamas’. It’s perfect for our spare room but we didn’t know we wanted or needed it until we saw it!

Gentlemans Wardrobe

Of course many of these items do require a little TLC, so it’s not quite as easy(?) as assembling an IKEA flat-pack, you often need to spend a little more time nurturing them back to life. Often they just need a good clean but when you’re browsing try and picture how you could improve upon it, sometimes a simple as a lick of paint or a change of handle could transform that cabinet you can buy with your loose change. I intend to document the renewal of my charity shop buys here, which so far includes a sideboard, record cabinet, dresser and the aforementioned wardrobe.

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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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