We’re Upsizing!

Bedroom Renovation

I can see the finished bedroom on the horizon. With the mattress now in situ, the new bedding washed, pillows purchased then rejected and moved to the living room, it really feels like we’re almost done. I am now very excited to finally sleep in the new bed as we have upsized from a double to kingsize.

A couple of things are still left to do (isn’t that always the case?) and time has really run away with me over the last week or so – I’ve also been busy with another DIY project. In the bedroom shelves need putting up and the radiator needs putting back on the wall but that really (!) won’t take too long.

My mum is making the blind which will be the final piece of the puzzle this weekend and then we will be moving back into the master bedroom. I have started to use the storage under the bed and put all of our clothes into the wardrobes – and thoroughly enjoyed having a clear out at the same time. I have used it as an opportunity to decide if I don’t want the item in the ‘new room’ then I can do without it at all. It really has served me well.

We have had a couple of mattress issues regarding delivery. I ordered from a well known brand and the mattress got lost on delivery and ended up in the wrong depot. A phone call to the delivery company said it was being returned to sender and that I should rearrange delivery with the seller. A phone call to the seller said it was being rerouted and should be with me soon. As it turned out the next day it was no longer making its way to us. It was in fact already heading back to the retailer for a refund and if I still wanted the product a new order would have to be placed, with a waiting time of another 4 weeks. As we *really* didn’t want to do this I went into a local store and ordered one for same day delivery. It couldn’t have been easier. Until. When the mattress arrived and due to COVID the delivery men could only leave it in the hallway. I tried and I tried (and realised I should have filmed it) but couldn’t get the mattress upstairs on my own and had to wait for my husband to come and lend a hand ie. do most of the lifting.

If you haven’t already seen my little update to see what the bedroom looks like so far check out my latest vlog. My sister was a huge help in getting the wardrobes in and the bed up as I was still in the early days post op and I was mainly task supervisor and tool locating. You know, the important jobs.

Now just imagine the same room with a mattress!

Bedroom Renovation: 3 Things I Would Have Done Differently

Bedroom Renovation, HOME RENOVATION

If you weren’t aware, we have been renovating our bedroom for months. Since the end of last year to be exact. We needed the bedroom walls taking right back so we could have the room plastered and painted and even with all of the time to consider certain things, make changes and know exactly what I want there are still things o would change about the process. I thought I’d note a few down so I can remember what I would have done different, with the idea in mind that of course money is endless. As it’s not unfortunately we have had to make a couple of compromises. These aren’t big things and I am incredibly happy with how the bedroom has turned out however I realised 3 things that I would now do differently (Hi hindsight, how ya doing?)

1. Have fitted wardrobes. The alcoves are an awkward size and even the ‘fitted’ PAX system in IKEA didn’t come in the sizes we wanted. We arranged for a joiner to make us some fitted wardrobes but due to COVID delaying his other work that needed doing before ours I didn’t want to wait, it ha already been a couple of months and I wanted the house back to normal. It was then decided that we would have my old wardrobes from my parents house. This worked well for me as they were the style I wanted anyway and would have repurchased and well, they were free. (I mean I paid for them yeeeears ago but I wouldn’t be spending again.)

2. Have a decorator in. A professional would have had the room painted to perfection in two days and all I would have to have done is make the bed and display some candles. A pro would have included getting the skirting board and coving on and painted in the two days without us having to lift a finger. I’m estimating it would have cost around £300-£400 for the work but in some cases it’s worth having the job done in a reasonable time. As much as I love my family for helping and am forever grateful I’d rather them not have to do work when they could be relaxing or doing their own projects.

3. Chipped in for the plug sockets. The sockets either side of the bed have always stuck out and I’ve always disliked them but unfortunately I didn’t have time to chip them in further before the plasterers arrived and now the room is finished I wouldn’t dream of doing them and messing up the smooth walls. It’s a shame but luckily they will be covered by the bedside tables in this case. They will also look slightly better after having new covers (to include the USB option) put on.

This all being said I LOVE the new bedroom look and although there are some things I would have done differently they would either cost money (that I was unwilling to spend) or would have been too messy. The more that gets done in the house the more I realise where I want to out money and where I believe I can do the job myself or with help of course. For me it’s about weighing the options and seeing what comes out on top.

We are also nearly finished! The mattress arrives later this week. I got impatient and moved both bedside tables, even though we were technically using them in the back bedroom I could no longer wait and the window dressing is being altered from curtains to a blind #mumskills.

Is there anything you would change in your house after a DIY project? Let me know in the comments or over on Instagram @lorenjessica_

Why I’ll Always Buy A Project Home

HOME RENOVATION

One of my requests when we purchased our first home was that it had to be a project home. I’ve always wanted to renovate property whether it was my own or someone else’s and well, at the tender age I was when we first bought our house, I had watched enough Homes under the Hammer to know exactly what I as doing. Side note: I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing but its a rough guide. Like, really rough. Sandpaper rough.

That said if we were to move again I would still choose a home that was in need of a renovation and likely would again and again so thought I would state why as I can imagine some people would be looking at me like I’m crazy right about now.

Cost. They tend to be a little cheaper because of the amount of work that needs doing and you don’t have to spend the difference all at once, as long as the house is in a liveable condition and everything works as it should the rest is aesthetic. Before we moved into our house it needed the plumbing and electrics doing before we even moved in and we decorated the living room and bedroom so we had two rooms to relax in but the rest of the house for a long while was a mess. It still is and I still love changing the rooms up.

Satisfaction. That feeling when you stand back to admire your handiwork and you beam because you’re just so incredibly proud of it. You can flip this and there have been plenty of times in the early days where I have stood back to see something shockingly awful and instead of a beaming smile it was a roar of laughter and a sigh. The sigh is knowing it either needs redoing or that it’s staying and you’re going to have to stare at it in its hideousness before you can change it. However, most of the I’m proud of a little DIY job, like the tiles in the kitchen, and I would happily learn a few more skills to have the satisfaction of seeing it finished and likely finished cheaper than getting a tradesman in (unless I have to of course!)

Bare Bones. You can take a project home back to its bare bones, add your own stamp and start from scratch pretty much making it whatever you want it to be. You can keep elements of the homes history and character or you can decide it’s not your cup of tea and take it out and with limitations you can maybe move walls or extend the property. With the right house there is so much potential to make it ‘yours’ and I love that about home renovations.

If you have anything to add in favour or against buying a project home let me know. Maybe I will do a list of the reasons why I wouldn’t buy a home to renovate one day…a lot of work…the hidden costs…being covered in dust regularly…

5 Must-Haves Buying Our First Home

HOME RENOVATION

I recently posted a list of things that I would want a new house to have if we were to move again and it got me thinking back to the must haves that I wanted our now house to include. We were first time buyers so had a lot to learn (we still do) and we were set on a certain radius as we wanted to be close to family and friends. This in itself narrows the options down a fair bit as in a suburban area with a budget we find ourself set within limitations. We just had to find the diamond in the rough so to speak. or even better: the worst house on the best street. Even with certain limitations there were still compromises I wouldn’t make and I thought I would jot them down.

If we hadn’t have found the right house we were in a comfortable position renting a nice cottage and simply wouldn’t have moved at the time but kept looking. We simply wanted to start putting money into our own house and we were in a position to do so. When we moved in our house needed quite a lot of work so I’ve added some pictures to give you a feel of what it was like after just after we’d started but more on that later.

A Garden. We knew we were going to get a dog as soon as we moved in so a reasonable size garden was a must. We hit the jackpot when we bought our house as the garden is a good size and south facing. We haven’t done much to the garden since moving in and we keep saying ‘next year’ and one year will be the right time but for now the majority of it is laid to lawn with an apple tree. (The apples get given to friends and family to make pies – have you seen me bake?)

A Hallway. Another item on my wish list was a hallway so that we wouldn’t be walking straight into the living room. For me I like to get in and have somewhere to take my coat off and have a little buffer to pick up the dirt before heading into the rest of the house. Saying this we don’t take our shoes off when getting in the house and used the back door leading straight into the kitchen for 3 and a half years of the 5 so this point did fall a little to the wayside but I still appreciate having a hallway.

A Project House. Yep it had to be a do-er upper. I wanted a renovation project and boy did we get one. Some times have been harder than others and it’s not cheap but when you stand back from a room and see the changes that you’ve made (with help of course) and know that you’ve learnt new skills doing so, well, I love that feeling. When we need a tradesperson to do a particular job I don’t mind getting quotes and enjoy knowing I’ve done the research to getting the best quote – and quality. I may be weird but I would do it time and time again without hesitation and if anything you can only get better at things you repeat right?

Off street parking. This one doesn’t need much explaining. I wanted to park in front of my house, who doesn’t.

A Good Location. After all it’s all about the location. I know it sound cheesy or cliche or whatever but when we saw our house, we knew. We were only driving round and had 2-3 more to check out afterwards but after seeing one other from the outside I didn’t want to see anymore. I just wanted to get that one, our house now. It was in a quiet location but close to amenities and was the worst house on the best street due to the work that needed doing to it. It was in a good location in regards to family and work and automatically I had set my heart on it. Something I wouldn’t recommend but do we ever follow our own advice? No. Exactly.

Now, call me spoilt or call it simply impossible but if we were to buy again I would want the same as above ADDED ON to the list of things I recently wrote about in my future home post. Compromise? Pffft.

5 *Different* Places to Shop for Homeware

HOME RENOVATION

Sometimes we can find treasures in the unlikeliest of places. Where we are used to going into a shop and getting exactly what we want sometimes furniture and home wares – often being bigger purchases – can be a little pricier than our budget allows. I’m not a stranger to a few bargain buys from various places other than the highstreet and believe in the saying ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’.

I do still love the highstreet and there are some homeware brands that I will always purchase from because once you’ve found your favourites it’s hard not to, but over the years have found some great prices in unexpected places and I thought I’d go into a little detail about some of the other places I’ve made homeware purchases from.

1. The car boot. I have found some absolute treasures in the car boot and during summer I like nothing more than to head head out on a Sunday morning looking for a bargain. My favourite car boot find probably has to be my Fortnum & Mason large hamper for £4. It was half hidden and covered in blankets but I managed to see half of the print and had to have it. Car boots can be hit and miss and sometimes the only thing we’ll purchase is a cup of tea but other times I have been known to have left with 2-3 things, including a 20p Paris print in my living room. I tend to look for stalls that are clearly someone just having a spring clean, as I would, and have items that look well cared for.

Bargain Fortnum & Mason Hamper

2. Facebook marketplace. Another place I have previously purchased from. Now handed to my mum, I bought an IKEA cabinet from Facebook marketplace that sat in my hallway for shoes storage. I will say here that if you’re looking for something in particular going online can be a bit difficult. In relation to the cupboard in the hallway this is the old design unit and wasn’t the same as the one in the living room, even though they are both IKEA and technically the same product the style was updated at some point. Luckily they weren’t side by side but there is a requirement to potentially look at avoiding this in the future if I was ever to buy again to purchase another one or something similar to a product I already had.

3. Friends and family. When we first purchased our house hardly anything in it was new. The dining room table was one that my in-laws had in their garage. My bedroom chair was one that my mum wasn’t using and we covered to match our decor. Our bedside tables and wardrobe at the time were from friends that were having a house clearance. I’m sure I could go round the whole house and pick up furniture with a similar story and we are very grateful that we had the opportunity to save money when we first moved in with help from friends and family.

4. Charity shops. Much like with clothes there can be some absolute bargains to be found in local charity shops and some dedicated to just furniture. In here there is anything from coffee tables to three-piece suites and wardrobes at low prices. Sometimes these items may not be classed as modern however with a little paint the shabby chic style isn’t hard to achieve. I’ve done this myself with a few pieces of furniture including a previous wooden armchair and bedside tables that were previously my mother-in-law’s which I painted up to match our colour scheme in the bedroom at the time. More recently my sister purchased a classic cabinet and beautifully renovated it to match her new flat.

For number 5 I have to give an honourable mention to the bargain corner in IKEA. Although it is technically brand new and straight from the shop they have regular deals on ex-display furniture only found in store. These items can vary but sometimes you can find just what you were looking for as I did. I had been wanting Hermes bedside tables for a couple of months and at the time I couldn’t afford them. I then found them in bargain corner at £35 each saving around £50 off the usual RRP at the time because they were ex-display. They were in great condition and just needed the fixings removing. Similarly I was looking for a white gloss kitchen table but couldn’t see it on the shop floor. Lo and behold there it was, the exact one I wanted, fresh from display and marked down to £105.

It is always a good feeling when what you wanted goes into down in price at the right time and when you’re spending that little bit more on big items like furniture the more saving the better right?

Have you found bargain homewares at any of the places mentioned or have any other ideas on where to look?

5 Things On My Wishlist If We Moved House

HOME RENOVATION

Right now we have no intention of moving house. I know we probably will in the future but at this moment there are a few renovation projects that need finishing before I even look at a potential property purchase. That doesnt stop me from dreaming though and checking out Rightmove and on having lived in our home for a few years there are some things on the wishlist that if we were to move I would love the new place to have. All being said I love our home and the progress we’ve made from moving in to what it is now. It has a roof and walls and does everything it needs to do so we are incredibly grateful. We’re also on the property ladder whereas I understand that’s hard for many people at the minute so I’m very lucky to be having a wishlist for our theoretical ‘next’ home.

This is also a wishlist if money was no object and what I would look for in another property if we are lucky enough to purchase again in the future. I need a bigger house anyway, I need room for all the dogs I’m going to have.

  1. A downstairs loo. It would be great for parties and when having friends round as they wouldn’t need to go upstairs. We’re not a ‘shoes off’ kind of house (we have a dog and she doesn’t take off hers) but it would be nice if our future house was and we could lessen the carpet wear just slightly. It would also solve the issue of one of us in the bath (mainly me) and one of us needing the loo (mainly him). It’s a bit of a relaxation spoiler I’ll be honest and you can tell me its my own fault for having suuuuuper long baths but hey it is a ‘wishlist’.
  2. This is similar with the above but a bigger family bathroom would be a dream. At the moment our bathroom is on the small side and although we are lucky it completely functions as it should you can’t have two people brushing their teeth at the same time, there’s just not enough floor space (I know, problems). An ideal bathroom would have a separate bath and walk in shower and if we were going all out I would have enough room for a roll top bath but we could leave that to the 3rd house if need be.
  3. A utility room – Upstairs. Yeah I said it. I want my washing machine upstairs like the American houses have them. Please tell me why I bring my clothes downstairs, wash them, and then take them back upstairs. It makes no sense to me. I get that it is closer to the water supply but the toilet went from outside to inside and upstairs so I reckon we can arrange the washer to do the same.
  4. A working log fire in the living room. We could definitely fit one in this house but the amount of mess that it would include, the fact that the tv is on the wall and how small the living room is it just wouldn’t be worth the disruption in this house. It would be great to have a larger living space though one day and have a roaring, cosy log burner to curl up in front of. The dog I mean. Ok maybe myself too.
  5. A blank canvas. If we bought again I would take the house back to its bare bones and start completely from scratch. We weren’t too far off that when we bought our current home however now I know better and more of what/not to do I know more of what I would do and how I would want it to look.
Me stood in the renovated kitchen

And that’s only 5 things! I don’t ask for much do I? I am sure if I was to step foot in another house that was a potential future home I would decide on another set of criteria but that’s where compromise comes in (unless you build your own house I guess) and where decisions have to be made. Let me know what your dream home would have either here or on Instagram @lorenjessica_

Home Renovation: Gravelling the Driveway

Garden Projects, HOME RENOVATION

Ourselves. Thats right. We are gravelling the driveway ourselves. If I would have known how heavy gravel *actually* was I may have reconsidered this choice. Yes I know we ordered 4 x 850kg bags of rock however I think I was so caught up in the end result that I forgot about raking and moving it. We also believed naively that we would be able to cut the bags as they came off the truck and the truck would be able to empty them in the middle of the driveway but nope. On delivery the bags actually get placed on the edge of the driveway so that the gravel gets scooped out. I am leaving that sentence there as a strong reminder in case I think about doing the same at another house. Even my husband who is no stranger to a little heavy work said that it is in fact, good graft.

On top of the gravel delivery I also purchased some flowers to line the outer border that I wanted to leave in as a bit of decor and bark to lay on top. I now can’t wait for each plant to grow to really fill it out in the purple shades I have chosen.

If you want to see a little more (and how much we underestimated the gravel quantity!) check out the DRIVEWAY RENOVATION VLOG below.

Any questions leave a comment or get in touch over on Instagram @lorenjessica_

An image of me showing off the new bedroom colour scheme, green and white

Bedroom Renovation Update

Bedroom Renovation, HOME RENOVATION

We have a bed! And by that I mean we have a bed base still packaged in the room, without a mattress. It is still very exciting though.

This room has been freshly plastered and painted and I love the green that we finally chose after much deliberation. I have so many ideas for rooms (I blame Pinterest) that the final say goes to my husband to choose between two ideas and/or colour schemes. Funnily enough the bed was purchased first after my parents spotted it in a store. What I can not wait to see is the ottoman storage that the bed has. We can never have too much storage in our house.

If you want to have a little taster of what it looks like just before the bed arrived check out my YouTube video.

5 Things We Learnt During Our Kitchen Renovation

HOME RENOVATION, Kitchen Project

The kitchen renovation is 99.9% complete. I say that because I can not choose a fabric for a window blind and this is the last thing we need to fully finish this room. Apart from that I am totally happy with how it looks and the work – including family and tradespeople help – that has gone into it. With the project this far complete I have put together a list of a few things we have learnt along the way. We started the kitchen renovation in 2016 and proceeded with little progress steps since then ( I can hardly believe but that time has gone quick) got married half way through and we can now just enjoy being in the space. 

  1. There will always be something we have forgotten or need to go back to the store for. No matter how much we try and plan a project down to the very last nail we always end up back at B & Q for a last minute piece of equipment or a forgotten item. 
  2. It can cost more than initially planned. Because of the previously mentioned ‘extra’ shopping trips there always tend to be a bigger bill at the end of a project. If we end up spending £10-£20 each time we go to the DIY store this can quickly add up. It also takes time. Figuring out what you are missing then heading to the store can take just over an hour out of the day. The only way to overcome this is to plan and plan again. This goes for points 1 & 2 – Go around the room, think about the tasks and write a list of everything that is needed before shopping. With everything online we can even price up the ENTIRE project before we go ahead with it and see if anything needs to come down or if another store has the same thing but cheaper. 
  3. Sometimes we can’t do it all. Occasionally it is best to leave some areas of renovation to the experts and we did outsource what we wanted/needed to. One of these circumstances was that we decided that we would have the kitchen professionally decorated. Even though painting is well within our capabilities I still believe that it was a good decision to outsource it. One evening after the fresh plaster had fully dried I made a start on preparing the wall. I had been informed that I needed to do a half water/ half paint mix but as I layered paint on the wall I got more and more worked up about whether I was doing it right and just the fact that there was A LOT of wall to cover as we had no cabinets up at this point. It would also have taken me way longer than was actually worth so we hired a decorator who completed the work in two days. 
  4. Don’t buy anything until 100% certain. When we first moved in I saw some taps on offer. They were to match the shaker style units I was having and the Belfast sink. A couple of weeks before we bought the kitchen I had designed two styles of kitchen. One completely based on country chic and the other glossy and modern. I could not decide between the two and left it to my husband. He chose modern and the taps I had previously bought, along with tea towels and vases, did not match. Now I tend not to buy into certain pieces or styles until the room is coming together. Luckily I was able to sell the taps, which were unopened and give the vases to my friend who is definitely going for the country cottage style kitchen. I can’t even say that this is the only time I have done this as we have prints that will never see the light of day in our house. 
  5. I am capable of more than I think I am. Recently we tiled our kitchen (you can see the video of it here) and it was one of the things I didn’t know we were going to be able to complete. My Dad has helped with a lot of the kitchen in terms of laying the floor and fixing the cabinets in place and I thought this help would be needed again, however during lockdown this wasn’t possible. With advice via a few video calls to Mum and Dad, myself and Bren tiled, grouted and completed the kitchen. 

I love our new look kitchen and couldn’t be more proud of the kitchen renovation from what it was to now. It should also be mentioned that the project was done on a budget. We didn’t exactly have a final figure in mind but we have saved where possible and do not have a pot of renovation money – I can only dream! Different stages also took longer while we were saving up for the next step as we couldn’t to do everything at once and many of our family and friends reiterated that ‘these things take time’ over the years. Having said this our kitchen is also the hub of the house (and my favourite room) so we wanted it to look good. It may have taken 4 years but if it hadn’t I might have already redecorated by now *renovation obsessed friends where you at?*

If you would like to see more I have put more photos of what it was like before on my Instagram highlights so go check them out and stay tuned for our next room renovation project!