So we've finally got some tenants in our lovely house.

My sister and her family started to rent off us about a month ago. It's really exciting to have them living in the same town as us, but also so nice to see our house furnished. It looks great, so homely.

It is still missing coving (whoops!) and hopefully we'll get around to putting that up for them soon, but other than that, we love it!


So we've finally got to a painting stage throughout most of the house. As we now have tenants for September, and they kindly offered to help paint, it's only fair that I let them choose the colours. I am incredibly happy though. They look great.

The front bedroom is now 'dusted damson' which I had my reserves about, but is lovely on.

The hallway has had its second coat of buttermilk ands looking lovely for it.

And from the other angle you can see an 'overtly olive' avocado colour in the kitchen.

The kitchen does need a second coat, but the colour is good.

Into the dining room from the kitchen you can see how patchy the kitchen is, but the dining room is beautiful buttermilk again.

And from there you get just a hint of my very favourite room...

The living room.

This colour is called 'Espresso shot' and boy was it hard to paint on!

It was so patchy and uneven, even with the roller, the first coat seemed to take forever. Fortunately the second coat went on much faster and it's sooo beautiful. I would have done the whole room in this (with a south facing window that extends the entire width of the room it won't look dark) but Christine was nervous, so we ended up doing two walls in this, and two in 'intense truffle'.

I ache all over but it's totally worth it.

Next step is touch ups and skirting boards.
Exciting times...

- Kj

We won't be living here...

Well, it turns out we aren't going to be living in our first house.

This sounds like it's really bad news, but honestly, it isn't!

Matt got a job we'd been hoping for, but it includes accommodation, which means we are now just trying to finish the house so that my sisters family can rent it off us. It's been a strange time for the last few months, not really sure how to finish the house (to my taste, or generic in case someone else rents it) and this way has worked out perfectly. Not only are we financially better off, but my sister and I have fairly similar taste, and with us being close, it's not like I won't get to visit the house. She might even let me help her in the garden...

So now it's the final push to try and get the house finished before they have to move in September. Matt, whose idea it was to start this blog, hasn't really posted much, but he has done LOADS of work, so I'll get him to update as soon as it's summer and he has some free time.

Upstairs floor

The plan had been to lay parquet floor upstairs too, as we had loads of it, but unfortunately it wasn't quite right.

For a start it cost us a lot more (money and time) to adhere, sand and varnish the downstairs floors than we had projected.

Secondly it would be an absolute pain to take up again should anything need rewiring/replumbing. So we decided to go with laminate.

Well actually we were donated some laminate.

It's really nice though. Here's the close up:

You can't really see how deep the colour is, but it's lush.

I should probably wait until we've laid it all and show you the photos, but here is the beginning.

I know it's dark, but that's the hallway going through to the smallest bedroom.

It's got a gorgeous, almost red, sheen to it, and it's textured so it looks like proper wood (as oppose to the laminate that it really is).

It is going down really fast, thanks to the expertise of our friend Richard (who also donated half of it from his rental property).

Can't believe how easy this is compared to the parquet...

- Kj


I spent this morning in the garden and I can barely move now!!

That was really hard work. Our entire fence looked like this

And when I pulled all that ivy off inside there was this

Which is a really nasty thorny tree.

Still the hack saw made light work of most of it. I would have taken it all out except I found a birds nest

And it seemed mean to destroy it.

There's so much more light in the kitchen now. It's made an amazing difference. I no longer have to have the lights on in the day!

The fence does look a bit bare, but once I've cleared all the bed at the bottom I will plant something more productive there. I was planning to have a grape vine, but as Elisha is allergic to them, that seems a bit dangerous.

I'm thinking some kind of espalier. Cherry or pear maybe?


Bronze to emerald

Some of you know I had this amazing idea of taking the downstairs WC and painting it bronze. In actual fact, in my mind, it was supposed to look like hammered copper. It was going to look beautiful next to the sapphire coloured tiles.

Problem is, I've spent quite a lot of money and time on various metallic paints, and it still looks rubbish.

Not what I had in mind.

So I have given up, and instead got the people at Homebase to mix me up some emerald green bathroom paint. They have a dulux scanner which can mix you any colour you ask for in any type of paint. It's awesome.

The best part is that if they take more than two minutes to come and serve you (and they did) you get to have a 10% discount on your order.

So now the bathroom looks like this

Much better. This is a second coat. The first coat didn't go on smoothly at all. I can't decide whether that's because it was on top of a metallic paint, or whether it's because bathroom paints are more 'latexy' than standard emulsion in an attempt to water proof them.

Just waiting for the paint to dry so I can remove all the masking tape.

- Kj

Red Walls

As if the orange dining room and turquoise bathroom weren't enough, I started sanding some bitumen off the living room wall only to find another rather eccentric colour choice - blood red!!

I kid you not. As I checked a few other spots around the room it became obvious that the whole room used to be this colour.

There's no accounting for taste...


Bathroom beginnings...

The hideous turquoise in the bathroom just had to go. No amount of encouragement from family could convince me to keep it.

The first thing I did in there was to buy a lovely mushroomy coloured paint (taupe kitchen and bathroom by dulux) from wilkinsons.

I know, I know - painting before taking a wall out was silly, but I so desperately wanted to see a difference in that room. I'm all about instant gratification!

So the first thing I did was paint the walls. Next we took up the tiles on the floor. They were cheap vinyl that hadn't been laid properly and all the gaps had gone orange where the water had leaked in.

They were incredibly well stuck down though, and my attempts to lever them off with screw drivers and knives resulted in shattered bits everywhere.

In the end the best thing for the job was a wall paper scraper. Use an old one though, it blunts them very quickly!

We managed to get tiles for the bathroom and downstairs WC for free as my mum had left overs from having her kitchen re-modeled, and Matts mum kindly bought us a builder to lay them as a birthday present for Matt.

We only had to buy tiles for the wall around the bath and shower. It turned out to be a total nightmare though, with the company we had ordered from dispatching 12 day late and then sending a mixed batch of tiles that were completely unusable!

Fortunately there are loads of tile shops in Bedford, so we managed to get some nice ones fairly cheaply and then bought travertine for the border.

We actually bought large sheets of mosaic tiles and cut them into strips for the border (much cheaper than buying border tiles) but I hadn't realised when I bought them that travertine needs to be sealed before you get it wet.

Luckily we could scavenge some sealer from family, as it turns out that is pretty expensive too!

I'm pleased with the results so far. Next jobs are to grout, fit new taps, new toilet seat and rain shower!!

- Kj

The Kitchen

So my first project was the kitchen.
Actually quite liked the floor, cupboards and work surface, but the tiling had to go!
The oven was also not great for me. It works, but it's gas and I personally believe it's impossible to bake anything evenly in a gas oven.

The problem was we didn't have any budget for replacing it, and in a panic we bought it from the previous owners for an extra £150 because we were scared we wouldn't have any. That was a little hasty, because ovens come up all the time on freecycle, but I panic bought. So a little prayer and a short wait and in a little less than a month later we had a double electric fan oven with a gas hob and matching hood that was less than two years old and in perfect condition. All the lady asked for was a £50 donation to her favourite cancer charity in exchange, which I was more than happy to do.

Unfortunately gas ovens and/or hobs are not really 'plug and play' like I'd hoped, so it turns out I'll have to hire a gas engineer and an electrician to put my new oven in, so at the moment it's relegated to the garage :0(

In the meantime, I decided to get on with replacing those tiles! We found some really cheap and inoffensive black tiles in wilkos which had been reduced and worked out at about £4 a square metre, and using their matching adhesive and grout we ended up paying about £30 total to re-tile the whole kitchen.

The first stage was to sand the original tiles with a coarse grain sand paper to remove their gloss finish. Apparently this was going to help the tiles stick to them (I decided against removing the tiles as we might damage the walls and it would be more trouble than it was worth. Apparently this is pretty standard practice according to the guys at DIYNot. So I began to sand away.

Then I borrowed an orbital sander because I wasn't getting anywhere by hand.

Then I used a detail sander.

Then I used a hammer.

Yes, that's right. You read that correctly, a hammer.

Sanding was getting me nowhere, so the only way to make a dent in these ridiculously hard-wearing tiles was to take a hammer to them. I'm pretty sure you won't see that advice on any DIY forums, but it did the job quickly and effectively.

Following the instructions on the adhesive was easy and I was soon pretty proud of how well the tiles went up. They come in squares of nine tiles joined together, but even the joints in between were easy to get square, and the great thing about easy tile is that you can cut the tiles with a sharp stanley knife, so no tile cutter required. Easy peasy.

The next stage was grouting. This is not so easy peasy. It should be, but it isn't.

I used a mastic gun to put grout and sealant between all the lines and we had a few 'flow' issues.
i) it was incredibly hard work to keep a constant pressure on the trigger and I quickly developed RSI!
ii) because the flow wasn't very even, there was lots of blobbing (easily smoothed with a wet finger) and holes (had to go over again the next day).

But although the job was incredibly frustrating, it wasn't rocket science and my confidence quickly grew.

For a first tiling effort, I think easy tile is a great option. It isn't difficult to cut, but you still get to practice using real adhesive and grout.

And here is my (almost) finished result:

Much nicer. I just need to do a line of sealant along the worktop join and we are done.

The bad news is that I tiled behind the oven, and we are probably going to have to take that all off again when the electrician and gas plumber come to fit the oven.


We have bought our first house!!

It was £116,500 which qualifies it as the most expensive thing we have ever bought by about £111k!!!

We are really excited and have got loads of plans for it. We've done plenty, but before we get on to that I thought I'd best do an initial post to show it as it was when we got it.

So here is the front garden. You can't really see, but most of it is gravel. I'd like to make it a bit more productive, but it's low on our list of priorities at the moment.

The dining room looked like this
although obviously no furniture. That belonged to the previous owners. In fact, here is the picture I took of the room on the day we got the keys

It's a lovely big mirror that we found left in the garage. We haven't decided where it's going yet, but we'll definitely be using it.

The upstairs bathroom was turquoise with dolphins and shells stencilled everywhere.

So that's a little snippet for now. We'll do before and after photos at each stage of the renovation so you can see what's changed.

As far as possible we will attempt to detail, what we did, how we did it, what we could have done better. Hopefully we will inspire you, but you can learn from our DIY disasters and avoid the same mistakes in your home!
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