Tag Archives: Renovation

Our new home – the living room renovation

I was in two minds about writing about our renovation projects as I’m not a DIY expert nor an interior designer. Then again, I’m not a stylist either and I’ve been writing about clothes for almost 9 years! After all the questions I’ve received on Instagram about our new home, and the projects we’ve undertaken, I decided there was enough interest to write a few blog posts to help you out, if you are considering something similar. Learn from our mistakes – though I’m delighted to say, to date, there have been few. 

We moved at the end of October and I have to say we’re thrilled with our new home. The first few weeks were challenging as I was desperate to start decorating, but we first had to get all our boxes from Atlanta out of storage. The majority of these contained clothes – which complicated matters – we had nowhere to store what we unpacked! Hence for a lot of our short term storage we made a few trips to IKEA. Malm chest of drawers are cheap, roomy and the perfect interim storage solution. I’ll share my current closet solutions in a separate blog post.

Once we had unpacked we made a plan to tackle the communal areas first, especially as we are heading towards Christmas – I wanted to be able to decorate our first tree (a £199 faux one bought here – it’s incredibly real looking!) in Leeds. We started with the living room, so at least we would have a sanctuary, or an oasis of calm, while other projects take place. Having placed our offer on the house back in July I had tried not to get too carried away with plans, just in case…however by September, with our confidence buoyed, I started to spend time on Pinterest and interior accounts on Instagram (I’ll be sharing my favourites in future posts).

I was determined to create a room that showed off the period features – the high ceilings, the incredible coving, the fireplace and the floorboards. I was also convinced that I wanted to go dark with the walls. It was met with skepticism by some, and I was nervous it would make the room too dark, but heck if it doesn’t work just paint it white right!? I’ll reiterate – I have zero experience in design – but what I lacked in design knowledge I made up for in creative vision and I began to create a Pinterest board packed with ideas.

It was around this time that Farrow & Ball released their new colours. These included Peaen Black – an incredibly deep purple that reflects the colour of hymn books. I was smitten, but again cautious – it’s called ‘black’ for a reason! Also I didn’t want to pay Farrow & Ball prices but I fortuitously discovered Seagulls Paint right here in Leeds. They will match any colour and they repurpose paint – great for my pocket and the environment! Then it all began to fall into place. I found this rug on Wayfair.co.uk which I immediately clung to as an anchor for the entire room – it ended up providing the colour palette of jewel tones – golds, teals, purples and pinks. 

Wayfair Darcia rug

This is the image that inspired the room.

Living room inspiration

Initially I was going to select sofas from Loaf.com – they’re simply stunning, but with 2 dogs and 2 children practicality/value-for-money played a part in our final decision and we chose three sofas from Made.com. We’re thrilled with them. I got a little nervous as I read some poor reviews – but upset customers tend to shout loudest – and our experience with Made.com has been fabulous. We’re still waiting on one more sofa to be delivered next week, but we’re already planning to order this bed there in the New Year.

Our sofa choices are the Claudia Love Seat in Antique Gold:

Made.com Claudia loveseat

The Arianna three seater in graphite grey:

Made.com Arianna sofa

The Sofia three seater sofa in plush asphalt velvet :

Made.com Sofia sofa

I absolutely love them and delivery was as scheduled. To continue with the jewel tone colour palette I ordered a bunch of cushions from H&M Home – they’re cheap, colourful and perfect! Contrary to what my Husband says, you can never have too many cushions! To appease him we went with his choice of coffee table from Habitat – the Orrico in rose gold – it’s currently 30% off here too!! 

Habitat Orrico coffee table

I should mention that before we installed the furniture we decided to sand the floors ourselves! They were VERY dark and with dark walls we wanted a lighter floor – blog post to follow on my tips and suggestions for sanding and finishing floors – in the meantime read our friends’ post here at Fresh Start Living – they gave me the confidence to give it a go. We found it so straightforward that we’re doing the dining room floor this week.

We also fitted our own ceiling rose and new light! Having seen Alex (The Frugality) with hers I decided we should tackle it – what did we have to lose? As long as we follow safety precautions and turn the mains electricity off we’ll be fine right!? And we were! It’s so rewarding to do it yourself!

Our ceiling rose is from The Plasterwarestore, and our light is the Dexter Sputnik light from Marks & Spencer. Again I think the installation of these requires a separate blog post to follow.

So here we go! Here’s the before photo from the estate agent listing.

And here are the after photos. We’re still missing artwork, some of which I’ve ordered on Etsy.co.uk, and a mirror for above the fireplace. I highly recommend Homesense for accents like coffee tables, planters, foot stools and decor – it’s my favourite store right now!

Marks and Spencer Dexter Sputnik light
Made.com Arianna sofa
Claudia loveseat Made.com
Farrow and Ball Peaen Black
Wayfair.co.uk Darcia rug, Habitat Orrico coffee table

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions – it can be quite nerve wracking making expensive decisions and trying DIY tasks! I assure you – the two of us can manage it – you can too!


Accessorizing my home.

So we are half way through the renovations and I’m really starting to see how it is all taking shape.  The new huge windows are in the bedroom so we can wake up to the garden every day, the wall is in for the new closet, and the bath tub is sitting ready to be installed.  Thankfully we’ve also gotten rid of the remaining carpet on the main level – I find carpet a complete no no with two dogs and two children.  Of course with a remodel there is the expense of the actual work itself, but a bit like losing weight or changing your appearance with a new haircut, there has to be some new attire and accessories.

We’re going for a very minimal contemporary look so our walls will be some kind of white – there are hundreds to choose from!  For the interior of the closet we have set ourselves the challenge of designing it ourselves using the Pax modular closet from IKEA.  Again it is very modern and extremely versatile with different drawer and hanging options for all types of clothes.  Personally I LOVE IKEA though would probably never furnish my entire house with it.  They offer the best furniture for children’s rooms and solutions for storing all the shrapnel that children seem to collect, and dare I say it – I love assembling a flat pack.  This week I have assembled two Expedit storage cubes for the kids – one for our family/tv room and the second for Poppy’s room.  They are brilliant and look fab – I’m even thinking of getting a red one now for our laundry room as a place for all our bags etc. when we walk in from the garage.

For years now I have been on the hunt for my perfect vanity/dressing table and I’m glad I have waited till now to buy one as I think I have a much clearer idea of where our aesthetic is heading.  I have always liked the idea of a mirrored vanity but most are either ridiculously expensive, are too traditional in style, or have zero storage for cosmetics.  I think I might have just found the most perfect one at West Elm – the mirrored Parsons desk.  It’s not cheap at $599 but has the sleek look that I was aiming for plus 2 small drawers for cosmetics.  To soften the blow I am considering the Tobias chair from IKEA to pair with it.  We have 2 of these around our Big Sur breakfast table and they add a great contemporary feel, open up the space and contradict other styles like natural wood well.

To allow me to continue to indulge in my outfit of the day blogs, and to open up the bedroom given the fact it will be slightly smaller due to my immense walk in closet, I also have the Parsons floor mirror from Crate and Barrel on my wish list – it is huge and will look fabulous leaning against the exterior of the closet wall.

We also thankfully got rid of the dogs’ chaise.  Yes the dogs had their own chair but as they would now rather lie on any other piece of furniture than their own I decided that it was time for it to go.  It smelt and looked rather horrid after years of use.  So a large area has opened up in the kitchen where I plan to create a ‘coffee nook’ that can be transformed into an area for entertaining given that all our parties end up in the kitchen…though our house has very few walls it can be argued where the kitchen actually begins and ends…I’m going to get two Tullsta arm chairs in black leather from IKEA which are cheap enough to get trashed by the children, but look neat and sleek enough to be pleasing on the eye too.

As a coffee table solution for this small space I’ve ordered another Stow ottoman from Crate and Barrel in persimmon.  We have a green one already which I love – the lid flips over so it can be used as either a seat, a foot rest, or a table – and it can easily be moved around the house – brilliant!  Given our house is full of neutral tones accessorized with either pops of orange or green I went for this lovely orange.


So no clothing allowance for me for a while – at least till I have accessorized my home…

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