A Home for the Black Mirror

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ebay / Living Room / Vintage Shopping

Hi. I’ve been holidaying on a remote island in Croatia but now I am back and I am here to tell you about our TV cabinet. If that’s not going to draw the crowds I don’t know what will.

Remember this set up we had going on? (Hi there Michaela Strachan):

Well you will be pleased to know it has been rectified for a princely sum of £30. 
Everyone loves an Ikea Expedit bookcase as some point in their lives, don’t get me wrong, but that point was over for us (me). Our Expedit was too tall and too dark and too wrong for that space. I’d been hunting for an ideal cabinet that had taken residence in my imagination for approximately 8 months. Eight months of searching ebay every other day, trying to think countless different ways of searching ‘vintage-retro-tv-unit’. Finally it appeared, sent by the retro gods.
I love it.
It was actually sold to us by a charity shop in Sheffield so that kind of makes it even nicer…and it also makes us less annoyed that they sold it listed as G Plan when it clearly isn’t. But hey, it’s old and it has nice handles, fits the space, holds the telly and even all of our other technology boxes. What more can you ask for, for £30?

8 Hours

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Bedroom / Wallpaper

This bank holiday Monday just gone (in the UK) we decided to be as cliched as possible and tackle some DIY in the form of our bedroom. It’s finally getting a look-in after 11 months of living here and to be perfectly honest it wasn’t as grateful as I’d have hoped. I’ll explain…

Our bedroom has a feature wall consisting of this wallpaper:

Totally inoffensive but totally no our tastio. We knew it had to go from the moment we bought the house and after a successful experience using this technique to remove wallpaper from the living room, we decided to finally get cracking. I think our exact words were “let’s get this done this morning and then we can go out and do something fun in the afternoon”. 
Oh foolish, foolish, fools. 
Look how happy and short Ben looks (we have really high ceilings). 
Anyway 8 hour story short. It took 8 hours. 8 hours of scoring the paper, soaking the paper, scraping the paper and crying. At one point I heard Ben muttering “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE” directly to the wallpaper. 
It was hideous. And what’s even more depressing is that it has to look worse to look better, so now our room is sporting even more Crack Den Chic than usual.
But there you go. Real life DIY tribulations. 
We still have to go back and scrub all of the glue off of the wall and then see where we are at. We are hoping to paint as soon as possible but after that small ordeal we might have to take some time to recover. 

Woody Woody Wood Wood Wood

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Dining Room / Painting

In all the excitement of getting the new £10 side board, it took me a while to notice this:

You don’t see it? All the freaking wood? EVERYWHERE! Sideboard, table top, cupboard door, kitchen surfaces…the list is endless. It’s just too much. So I played the ‘I own this house’ card and cracked open the white paint. 
Slightly less insane I think you might agree. It was dead easy to do as well. 
The door was originally varnished so I applied two coats of Dulux Ultra Grip primer to stop any bleed through and peeling. I like that stuff because it’s water based so a) I don’t start tripping off my face quite so early on into the process and b) it’s so much easier to clean the brushes afterwards. 
Then just a couple of coats of Dulux White Satin paint with a small foam roller and an even smaller paint brush for the fiddly bits and Bob is indeed your uncle. 
*I’ve not been perked in any way by Dulux by the way, it’s just what we bought and enjoy using*

How Many Homeowners Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

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Lighting / Stupid

*This post is really, incredibly, dull for the majority. 

We inherited these Next light fittings in our downstairs hall and upstairs landing.

I’m not in love with them, but I we haven’t yet dabbled in electrics, so they are staying put. 
A couple weeks ago I went to pop the landing light on to go upstairs and…nothing. Oh. But there are THREE bulbs in there, they CAN’T all have gone at once? Them’s some serious odds. SO there must be something more serious at fault? Maybe the light fitting? Maybe our electrics? Ahhhhhhh! Thoughts of an electrician knocking out our walls and rewiring things ran through my head. IGNORE.
As I mentioned before, Ben and I have no experience in messing with electrics. We also do not have any dads living in the Mancunian vicinity. So we did what we thought best to do. We left it. We used the bathroom light as a replacement landing light, we used the light from our phone screens, we took turns turning off the hall light at bed time and running into darkness. It seemed to be working for us. 
Anyway, last night my friend Rob came over. He’s a bit more practical than Ben and I and probably (and weirdly) the closest thing to a dad we have up here. He got up a step ladder on the landing and replaced the light bulbs. WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? All three bulbs HAD blown at the same time! Apparently that does happen? Apparently it could be the bulbs or the light fitting or even the light switch, but at the end of the day it was a bloody blown lightbulb. APPARENTLY we could have just got up the bloody step ladder ourselves two weeks ago!
Anyway, I just wanted to let people know that the three bulbs blowing at once thing does happen. Who’d have thought. 

Do Not Look & You Shall Find

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Bargain / Dining Room / Furniture / Vintage Shopping

Here is a perfect example of how not looking for something really does work.

We’ve had this Ikea PS cabinet for a little while, travelling from house to house, posing as a TV cabinet and a side board. I really like it, but it didn’t quite fit in its current role.

It was too wide for our TV nook in the living room and yet a little too small in the dining room as a sideboard. It just seemed a little bit lost. So, I was on the look out for a replacement sideboard for a while, in all the usual places…but given the general size of sideboards I’ve managed to talk myself out of most of them with the excuse that they will be a ball-ache to get home. So I promptly forgot about my sideboard quest…
…until last week, when I was having a mooch around a really random second hand shop round the corner from our house. It was having a closing down sale and amongst the tat was a lovely solid wood sideboard, big enough to live in our dining room and yet small enough to fit into my neighbour’s Ford Focus estate. And guess how much? TEN POUNDS YO. 

I bloody love it!

It’s got that old furniture smell inside the cupboards that I really like. Kind of musty but in a nice way. 
I had a bit of a Google of the manufacturer ‘Minty Library Specialists Oxford’ and a few ebay listings came up selling bookcases of the same make/age for over £300, so I’d like to think I got a bit of a bargain. 
And it holds all of our DVDs and vinyl very nicely indeed. I still have to shove all my Will & Grace box sets to the back because Ben is offended by them, but at least they get to live in a lovely solid wood home from now on. I’m very glad I wasn’t looking for this sideboard because I am very happy I found it!

Relight My Fire

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Fire Place / Living Room

Oh my GOD I hate our fireplace. HATE. IT! And my hatred grows by the day…by the hour! I swear when we first bought our house I thought it was fine, that it was just the floor and the horrid wallpaper that was making it look bad, but no, it was the just the effing fireplace.

I hope I’m not offending anyone who has a similar fireplace but it’s just not for me. I’d love a more Victorian style fire with tiles and a black hearth and a simple white or black surround. But no, we have the Cream Wonder. Why would anyone choose cream? And the insert…don’t get me started on the insert. It might have worked had the rest of the fireplace had an Art Deco thing going on. But it doesn’t. It has a B&Q thing going on.

So anyway, reason for rant. I’ve been looking at ways to make this fireplace more palatable on the cheap. First and foremost I did a bit of covering up with a certain Mr Dylan.

Goodbye mock Art Deco insert. Obviously we can move the frame when it’s cold enough to have the fire on but until then it’s staying firmly in place. So now I just have to kill the Cream Wonder. 
I’ve Googled the hell out of this and have come up with this. It’s a primer and paint by a company called Stonelux designed specifically to paint stone/marble fire surrounds. You are supposed to a) be able to paint over marble and b) end up with a stone effect. It’s £41.24 for a litre of primer and a litre of the stone coating paint. Not only that but it’s been used on ITV’s 60 Minute Makeover. SOLD. 
Seriously though, I’m really considering it. The only issue I have is that it’s not available in a huge variety of colours:
I can’t decide whether to go darker or lighter. I’ve ordered a free sample of the Grey Limestone but I have a feeling that the White Limestone might also be a contender. It’s a tricky one as the wall the fireplace is on is grey…but it’s a hell of a lot easier to repaint a wall so I guess I shouldn’t let that make the decision for me. 
Has anyone else used a paint like this before or had success painting a marble/stone fire surround?

Naughty Chair

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Dining Room / Vintage Shopping

So, my self imposed spending ban isn’t going that well.

Welcome to our hause old rocking chair.

Basically we need to break our Saturday routine of breakfast at Trove followed by Levenshulme Antiques. It’s a bad combination. But I really wanted a rocking chair! Ben did too! And it was only £75, which split between two is only £37.50 which is basically nothing right? That’s what I’m telling myself. 
Excuse the wires
I think we are almost certainly committing some kind of interior design faux pas by including a chair that’s basically ‘farm house/rustic’ into our current more ‘stream lined modern/mid-century’ get up. But who cares? I don’t! My house, my rules innit. I mean, I completely love the mid-century Danish rockers that are out there, don’t get me wrong, but they usually sell around the £400 mark and I think that might be blowing my spending ban out of the water a bit.
Anyway ol’ farmhouse is super comfy and in really great nick, plus Ben is having loads of fun rocking it and running away screaming that the Woman In Black is in the house right before bed, so I think it was worth the cash. 
PS I know that print of London place names is way too high on the wall, but it’s hiding a hole. Keeping it real yo.

Treasure Trove

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Decor / Review

I’ve not written a review of sorts on my blog before (aside from my bonkers rant about made.com) but I feel really compelled to after a little jaunt we made for breakfast this morning.

Where we live in Manchester there isn’t a whole lot going on in the area of coffee shops. Being first time buyers we were priced out of all of the desirable locations like Chorlton, Didsbury and Heaton Moor, so we usually head into the city or to one of the above locations if we fancy a nice coffee or breakfast/lunch out at the weekend. To be honest, it’s not really a big deal given that all of those places are only about 20 minutes away from where we live as Manchester is only wee, but I’ve always hankered for somewhere a little closer to home.

So anyway, this morning Ben and I decided to make our usual trip to Levenshulme Antiques Village (about 5 minutes drive from our house). Once we’d parked up we decided to have some breakfast at a little place opposite the called Trove.

The food (they bake their own bread), service and even music taste was brilliant but that’s not what this is about. I was just so enamoured by the decor of the place. It’s completely up my street in pale shades of grey and white with lots of wood and most importantly tonnes of little touches that made me disproportionately happy. 
On our table we had little glasses, bottles of water and milk and sweet fresh flowers. There is art all over the walls that is in keeping with the calming colours and relaxing but minimal feel. Little origami cranes were hanging above the window and tiny ceramic pots were offered holding salt and pepper. It’s the coffee shop version of a spa, I kid you not. If there were a genre called Japanese Rustic Modern then this would be it. 
The light fittings hung over our table

I didn’t really take enough photos to do what I am saying about the place justice, so if you are in the Levenshulme area you’re going to have to check it out. It really made my morning eating breakfast in such lovely surroundings, and not only is it on the right side of whimsically twee (as in not too close) but it’s bloody good value for money. £3 for poached eggs on home made sourdough? Fit!

Garden Good Times

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Since we moved in back in October we’ve done nothing to the garden apart from put plants out on the patio and watch them slowly die.

We only have a little yard that’s completely concreted but given our track record with plants I’d say that not having grass is a bit of a godsend. As the weather slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) begins to brighten up a bit we’ve started to open the patio doors to the garden and see what awaits us. At the moment it’s mainly this…

with a bit of this…
…and also a crap load of snails. Seriously I’ve never seen so many snails in my life. They really freak me out too. Just a moment ago I got my friend Rob to collect them all up and throw them away whilst he called me all manner of names for being such a wuss. 
Anyway, we’d like to make the place a bit nicer to hang out in and I think we need to start from the ground up. If we hired a really hard core power washer we might be able to get rid of that nasty green mouldy stuff on the pavers and reveal something pretty and clean so that’s definitely the first step. After that I really don’t know. The iron gate you can see in the picture above leads to our little utility room that houses our washing machine, tumble dryer, a hell of a lot of painting related nick nacks and probably some more snails, so it could do with a bit of sprucing up too. 
Writing this all down has made me realise I actually need to do some research and I’d imagine a lot of pinning on Pinterest to get some ideas going before our non existant Mancunian summer turns swiftly to winter. 

Guilty As Charged

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Not Much

Has anyone else seen this? Am I the last one? Either way, when I spotted it on Living Longingly’s Twitter is made me do a laugh. How guilty am I of ALL of that? VERY. How about you?

“Fuck your frame cluster with keys and a vent, antique sewing machine cum object repository, ornate lanterns, vintage suitcase with things on top, book stack, dolls and figurines, and your old globe.”

I’ve not written much of late, mainly because we’ve not done much to the house of late. It’s hard to update a blog about something that’s not being updated. This weekend we are getting back on the wagon though and are planning some mini projects in the spare room to make it less depressing, so hopefully I’ll be back with some decent updates next week.

Ta ta until then.