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5 Ways To Make Your Home Smarter

WiFi control for electric heating

'Smart Homes' are constantly being talked about nowadays; with the advance of technology, people are beginning to find their homes and the tech within it somewhat outdated. From the start of Smart TVs to the Smartphones, the Smart Technology group has grown rapidly over the last few years and who knows where it's going to go next. Smart Homes technology isn't just gadget-y, it's often energy saving, and makes how we use technology more efficient, convenient and user-friendly. So if you're looking to make some simple tech updates to make your home more up to date, then here's 5 basic home upgrades that can make your home just a little more smarter.

First Time DIYers: The Essential Tools

First Time DIYers - The Essential Tools

So I've thought for a while about making some posts on our tools; what we have, what we wish we had, what I recommend and what I don't. Over the last six years, we've gone from owning absolutely nothing to now having a whole wardrobe of stuff. So I'm going to do a little series over the coming months, featuring tools as well as pretty (or not-so pretty!) house updates. For this post, I'm going right back to basics and talking about the essentials for new first-time DIYers. Basically, what I wish someone had told me, when we first started buying tools.

{DIY} Fitting a Karndean Loose Lay Floor

Providence Karndean Floor Review

'Karndean'; the word I've heard a lot around the internet lately - everyone's talking about it. I'd heard of Karndean before I even knew what the hell it was (flooring!), what it looked like, or what it felt like. So when I was offered the chance to give a test, well obviously I was like YES, I need to see what the hell all this fuss is about and what makes it so special.

The Electric Heating Company: EcoSave Electric Radiator Review

The Electric Heating Company Review

If you're a long-time reader around here, you'll know our house doesn't have any form of central heating. The property used to have an old back boiler in the chimney, which we've since removed and replaced with a log burner - which is absolutely FAB - but other than the room the log burner is in (kitchen-diner), the rest of the house is heat-less during the winter.

Living in a house without central heating can be freaking cold at times, it really can. Our old house also didn't have central heating and it didn't have double glazed windows either. Heating the house was a constant battle. Six years on, two heat-less homes and we've now pretty much bossed living without gas central heating - how to retain heat better, how to make heat (affordably), how to dry clothes in rooms without heat. I basically have a whole "how to live without heating" degree 😉

5 Changes That Have Made The Biggest Difference To Our Home

Home Renovating: 5 Changes that will make the biggest difference

Renovating isn't just about putting your own stamp on a property - it's a lot about updating it to meet modern standards and creating a home that works for you. We've been living in this house for 3 years now and we've done plenty of renovating - so I thought I'd share 5 changes we've made that have made the biggest difference to this house and how we live.

[DIY] Painting A Patterned Floor

How to Paint a Patterned Floor

Jumping over to a new room, we're kick-starting the conservatory renovation back up! You might remember last year we started doing some work in this room before the kitchen reno really took off - well a whole year later and one kitchen reno out of the way, we're back to it! And this time, we're tackling the floor.

Choosing & Fitting Kitchen Handles

Satin Nickel Cup Drawer Handles in Kitchen

I thought the hard decisions were done when we picked out our kitchen, turns out of course, I was totally wrong. Kitchen handles. Too big, too small, questionable quality, too expensive, sticks out too much - it goes on. And I mean THAT was after we'd decided on the type of metal/finish as well. Chrome, Stainless Steel, Copper, Matt Black, I could be here all day.

We did however eventually decide Satin Nickel was the finish we wanted - it matches our tap and our lights and it also ties in nicely against the stainless steel appliances as well (cooker hood and fridge). Our second choice was polished chrome, but it wasn't quite rugged enough for us and with polished chrome stuff, it's always pretty hard to keep it looking 'polished'. So with the choice of metal picked out, we then began looking for handles.

How We Fitted Our DIY-Kitchen

How to fit a DIY Kitchen

Back in January, after a year long wait, I finally ordered our new kitchen. I've mentioned previously that we decided to go with DIY-Kitchens (read about our showroom visit here) and having closely watched their website for many months, it was pretty apparent they fairly often offer 10% off. That was of course, until we were ready to order. Months went by, no offer. 10% isn't a huge saving, but every little really helps and I was determined to wait it out.

Christmas day they started their 10% sale, but to my horror only on selected colours and styles of certain kitchens. At that time we thought we would be buying a Lamp Room Grey kitchen, which guess what - wasn't in the offer. Heartbroken, I waited some more. A few weeks later they decided to include all the kitchens and styles in the 10% saving (huge thanks to Kayleigh from Yellow House Tales for the heads up!!) and of course, I had a total change of plan and went and ordered a different kitchen colour anyway. But the point was - it had been ordered! I scheduled it to arrive the end of March as we still had a little to do before kitchen fitting.

The 'Other' House: A New Boiler & Costs!

A New Boiler and Costs

Renovations are well under-way at Grants parents house and I'm pleased to say phase 1 and 2 are complete! If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this post. But, in short the old floor standing boiler has now gone, the dodgy non-locking sliding door is also gone and in their place, a lovely new set of french doors have been fitted and a whole new modern combi-boiler system is in place. Winter is now being welcomed with open arms!

3D Dishwashing?! | Hotpoint Dishwasher Review

Hotpoint 3D Dishwasher Review

How amazing are dishwashers? I grew up at a time (hello 90s!) where dishwashers weren't an everyday household item. Everyone had washing machines but dishwashers were still a kind of luxury item. A non-essential. Fast-forward 20 odd years and to many households now, they're an essential. With both half of a couple working full-time, it's even more important to save time on the little boring every day tasks. And I can totally vouch for how much washing pots is a massive chore, having spent 5+ years living without one.

We've recently purchased our first ever dishwasher and it's been pretty much life-changing. No wet tea-towels draped about the place, no waiting for stuff to 'air dry', no piles of plates cluttering up the side. Needless to say, dishwashers are pretty amazing. BUT, there's so many out there, so many different features, it's confusing as hell.

The 'Other' House: A New French Door!

swapping a sliding door for french door

This is quick little post sharing some updates on Grants parent house, which I talked about in my last blog post (read here), how we're starting yet another (slow) kitchen renovation! This time, we've phased it into numbers and phase 1 was to replace the old dodgy sliding door. This door actually used to open up into a conservatory, which pretty much fell down one day, so it was never really intended as a proper secure back door. It doesn't even have a real lock, just a kind of bathroom-style lock which no longer works. Since that broke, it's been 'locked' with metal poles to wedge the door tightly shut and prevent intruders getting in. Surprisingly it's been this way for some few years now and so far it's actually worked pretty well.

Not Another Kitchen Renovation?

Old Sliding door in kitchen

So we've barely finished our own kitchen renovation (reveal and final details coming soon!) and we're already beginning another. I won't lie - I'm not exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of doing another kitchen. BUT, I do love the planning and designing aspect of a renovation, so it is getting me kinda excited. What am I even talking about? So, we're beginning another kitchen renovation - this time at Grants parents. Their house has featured on here before when we did their bathroom renovation and now we're doing it all again for them. In the kitchen.

Planning Our Galley Kitchen

Planning a Galley Kitchen with DIY-Kitchens

Our kitchen renovation has been one long ass journey, with many ups and downs, frustrations and really it's put a lot of our life on hold. But having a plan from the get-go was something that really helped us to focus on the job and keep going. It was also essential for knowing where to run electric cables, lights and plumbing too! I realised I never shared the plans for our kitchen, or how we came to design it - so this is going to be a very quick post before I share the actual kitchen installation and reveal. I think I'll do a full separate post on tips for designing your own kitchen as well as how to keep costs down. But, for now - he's the grand kitchen plan and design!

Pure Pet Food Review

Pure Pet Food Review

There are so many different brands of dog food on the market; dried food, wet food, tinned food, sachets food, mixers, don't worry I won't go on. But essentially, despite the many many choices, they're all pretty much the same. Some are more processed than others, some have more ingredients than others and some just have the luxury of being a well-known brand.

But what you don't see every day on a shelf is dehydrated dog food. Food made with 100% natural  pure ingredients, the kind of food you'd cook for yourselves. Human quality food. No sweeteners, food colouring, wheat or taste enhancers - just 100% pure ingredients but preserved by natural dehydration. Pure Pet Food is totally different to everything else out there on the market and is essentially the closest you can get to having a pure home cooked meal for your furry friends. Aside from of course, actually cooking a home cooked meal, but who has time for that really?

Painting & Prepping for the New Kitchen

Kitchen Renovation with Farrow and Ball Paint

Walls plastered, floors tiled, electrics complete, new gas line in place - more than 12 months from the start of our kitchen renovation and we're finally at the painting stage, so close to a finished kitchen!! Getting to the painting stage is always the most exciting part of a renovation, you can almost see the end - and the way paint can literally transform a room is amazeballs!

DIY: Repairing Rotten Joist Ends

how to repair rotten joist ends

Okay so, mega confession. One of the reasons I stopped blogging for so long was because I managed to delete ALL the renovation photos off my phone from January till about April. That included some of the most exciting stuff - the arrival of our new kitchen, all the painting, the last of the tiling, as well as the biggest DIY we've taken to date - repairing the rotten joists. I was freaking heartbroken. The only saving grace was that I didn't lose any our holiday snaps on our trip to Venice taken at the beginning of January. How it happened, I honestly don't know. I uploaded all the photos to my mac, deleted all the photos from my phone after uploading and they were gone, from both. Even though I had manually uploaded them! I believe the pesky iCloud system had something to do with it and I've spent hours researching and trying to get them back, to no avail (yes, I checked the recently deleted folder!). Not having photo memories of this part of our renovation is hugely frustrating, but not being able to create a proper blog post is even more frustrating. So frustrating that I haven't blogged since. How do I explain this DIY without photos to accompany it? If only I had whipped out the big camera and not used my phone. ARGH.

So I'm going to try and explain this with very few photos. Luckily I uploaded a couple to Instagram and Facebook and Grant took a couple too, so we'll have to roll with those - but the rest... They're long gone. :( So bare with me and this giant shit-storm of text, but I felt like I really couldn't just skip past without writing about this part of the renovation.

Laying a Limestone Floor on a Budget

Finding And Laying a Limestone Floor on a Budget

You've probably seen a glimpse of our new tiles over the last few posts, because well, our kitchen renovation has been done in a kind of sporadic order, going back and forth between jobs like crazy. It's a job we started back in the late summer of last year (September, if I remember correctly!) and finished at the start of Spring this year. Yep, it really took us that long! It wasn't the actual process of tiling that took us so long, but having large appliances in the way that couldn't be moved until tiles had set, needing to constantly clean the area before starting again and then there was the small (big!) issue of needing to replace some (all!) joists in the dining room and re-concreting part of the kitchen floor before we could even begin to approach the finish line on this job.

But it's done now. And I've had so many questions about our flooring, where it's from, how we laid it, what we used, that this post is looooong overdue.

Home Renovating | 3 Years Update!

Home Renovating : 3 Years Update

Well I've had a mammoth break from blogging, a lot has happened and at the same time, not so much has happened. The kitchen is *almost* finished, we took two weeks off and went travelling around Sri Lanka and we've now hit our three year mark in this house. Which means, three years of renovating! (Obviously not including the two previous years in our last house - does it ever end?) So of course I had to do a house update - what everything looks like, where we're at and what we've got left to do. Spoiler: LOTS.

Free Tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show!

Homebuilding and Renovating Show ExCel London Free Tickets

So, you're renovating - pinning 100 images a day, searching endless hashtags on Instagram #ihavethisthingwithfloors and googling the most unlikely of questions you thought you would ever be asking, "22mm copper pipe, or 15mm copper pipe?". It's fun, exciting, daunting and oh-so bloody stressful. 

Whether you're taking on a DIY renovation, a whole new-build project, a conversion or just remodelling the kitchen, the most invaluable aspect to renovating is being able to get advice and help along the way. And let's face it - sometimes looking through 50 odd google pages can just leave you more confused than you were before.

A Cheaters Way to Plastering a Ceiling

Cheat Way to plastering a ceiling

In my last renovation update post, I shared our DIY plastering. But one thing we didn't plaster (did you catch it?) was the ceiling. Why? Well, because after my not-so-great attempt at the bathroom ceiling and some of Grants imperfect walls (although once painted looked fine!), we were somewhat worried. Unlike walls, there's something about ceilings that just shows up every imperfection. We spent some serious dollar on getting a roof window in this room, which we wanted to be the feature of the ceiling, not a bazillion plaster imperfections. In short, plastering a ceiling is so much harder than plastering walls and we just weren't sure we could pull it off to the standard we really wanted.

And of course, after spending money on a DIY plastering course, we obviously didn't want to fork out on a professional plasterer either. So the alternative was a cheats solution. To not plaster it. To totally cheat-out!


Getting Plastered, DIY-Style

How to plaster your home yourself

Last year Grant went on a DIY-plastering course to learn all about how to plaster, DIY-style. With small budgets and trying to do everything ourselves, we knew this was an area that was vital we did ourselves to save some cash. That being said, plastering is still a skill and we wanted to get it right. I'd plastered the ceiling of our bathroom a couple of years back and the imperfections on it really really bug me. I mean REALLY bug me. This time around, we decided it was worth investing in a DIY course to get perfect. I've done a whole post of the course, which you can read here, but essentially it cost a whole lot less than what we would have paid a plasterer.


Flymo's Mighti-Mo 300 Li Review

Flymo Mighti Mo 300 Li Review

Spring, Spring, Spring! Have I mentioned that word enough on the blog lately? I'm so bloody thankful Spring is here! For me, it means one main thing - gardening. I absolutely love gardening, more than I love painting walls (which if you don't know, is a freaking lot!). I'm not going to lie - I'm no professional gardener. I have a lot to learn, but my garden is my "happy place". Dust cannot accumulate, mess is easily hidden thanks to the alley at the back (much to our neighbours dismay, I'm sure!) and it's just a pretty place to sit and listen to birds and silence. Who am I kidding, it's mostly the dogs yapping and kids screaming in the background. But I don't mind any of that on a beautifully sunny day!

With the Sunday prior to the Easter weekend pinned as "First Cut Sunday", Flymo sent me their new lawnmower, the Mighti-Mo 300 Li to review for this years first garden trim! And just take a look at this grass - it was in a SERIOUS need of a mow!

Are You Asbestos Aware?

are you asbestos aware?

We're always talking about DIY and renovating. How to make a home better, how to rip out walls, pull of tiles, smash up a kitchen, tear up the floor - you get the picture. But what often doesn't get talked about are the dangers behind a renovation. There's many, but the most hidden and potentially dangerous of them all, is Asbestos. It's a word you've probably heard of, but do you know what it is? What it does? What it looks like? Where you can find it? Well, if you're renovating a house - you really need to know this stuff.

1st-7th April is Asbestos Awareness Week and whilst it might be a dull topic, it's a really important one, particularly to DIYers and renovators - and I thought it was about time I created a post dedicated to it. So let's start at the beginning...

March - What a Month!

DIY kitchen renovating

I simply cannot believe we are already in April. Say what? Seriously - where is the year going? How can we be already 1/4 of the way through? I am however eternally thankful for the miserable British winter to go away and sunnier spring days arrive. We've had some absolute fab ones so far and I'm really hoping for even more to come and perhaps even a BBQ too!

Save Money & Insulate! | What We've Done & Our Future Plans

internal insulation

I'm so glad to see the back of Winter and welcome spring - owning an old home certainly brings about its challenges during the winter period and keeping it warm and toasty is often easier said than done. Older homes weren't exactly designed with modern day insulating regulations, in fact - they weren't really designed to be insulated at all! Over the last year we've made a few steps to make our house a warmer cosier place - so I thought I would share ways we've insulated so far, and what we also plan to do in the future too.

10 Home and Garden Hacks for DIY this Spring!

I don't know about you, but there's just something about Spring that always makes me feel more productive and want to whip out my paint brushes, gardening tools and even cleaning products in a kick of energy to just get stuff done! But time is precious as they say, and money doesn't grow on trees, so for that reason I love a good hack. They can make life so much easier and/or cheaper... And with tons of plans for the next few months, I thought I'd share some of our home, DIY and garden hacks as part of the #MightiHacks Challenge, that we've used around the home (or intend to!) to make our life just that little bit easier (and cheaper too!).

Cheap & Quick Garden Screening

When people think of screening ideas for privacy in the garden, they often think of hedges or fences. But hedges can cost a flamin' bomb and they take forever to grow and fences aren't exactly an easy option either. For affordability and super quick screening on the cheap, climbing plants and bamboo are a great hack alternative, both of which we've used in our garden. Or if you're feeling a bit more creative, you could create your own screening out of pallet wood. Simply cut to size, join together with rope and support! You can see a tutorial on how we did this ourselves here.

garden screening hack


Enviromate: How to Reduce Your DIY & Renovation Waste

how to reduce diy and renovation waste

During a renovation project, we often have a tendency to throw away absolutely everything. From skirting boards to flooring to bathtubs, you name it - it all goes into a skip. Even if it's in perfectly good condition. Where does all this stuff go? Through a costly process of going through said waste, recycling anything that can be, and then chucking the rest deep underground, which is something that is most definitely not environmentally friendly. A teeny bit of irony for any renovation project on a mission to create an eco-friendly home!

New Architrave & A Skinny French Door!

period style architrave

We're so fortunate to have the original doors (albeit it with some of them boarded up!) and architrave throughout almost all of the house. But, the exclusion is our kitchen. The room itself is an addition to the house, although a very very very old one and possibly still even Victorian. There's evidence of its age in the brickwork - the fact we can tell it once upon a time had lath and plaster ceilings and even the door frame for the back door has evidence of an old mortice lock. But other than these little hints to the past, there's no period features remaining.

We really want consistent features throughout the house - there's nothing worse than a different style of architrave and skirting in every other room! And since we've opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, it's even more important that they match in the same period style. It's a little too early for skirting board in this room, but tackling the very non-period window and door, was something we could get right on with... And more to the point, it really needed it.

6 Ways to Bring More Light into the Home

feature roof window in lantern shape

There's no better home than one that's filled with heaps of natural light. Let's face it, no one really wants to live in something so dark and depressing as a prison cell. Natural light boosts positivity, makes you feel more awake and generally it just has an overall good effect on us. But, homes aren't always built to make the most of natural light. In fact, some homes (cottages and 'chocolate box' style homes in particular) have very very little light.

Front-of-House Spring Makeover

front of house makeover

With Spring on the horizon, I'm more excited than ever to finally begin transforming the front of our house. The only thing we've changed since moving in over 2 and a half years ago(!!) is removing some grab bars either side of the front door which had been there to assist the elderly previous owner. Other than that, everything remains. Even the internal window blinds! (Yep, all front rooms still yet to be renovated!)

Visiting the DIY-Kitchens Showroom (and Buying a Kitchen!)

DIY Kitchens Showroom

I couldn't contain my excitement and gave it all away in the title - but yes, we have finally bought a kitchen! A whole year without one and it's about freaking time - right? I have a backlog of blog posts I've been trying to get through, but to this current date (20th February) we are still very much without a kitchen and have literally only just purchased one!

Installing Downlights & Feature Lighting!

diy installing downlights

After we'd finished over-boarding the kitchen ceiling, we could then begin to think about lighting. I'd always imagined having two single pendants in this room - the same as it had been before (one where the old kitchen had been and one where it'd been the old shower room) but after we'd boarded the ceiling, I really liked the streamlined, unobstructed view of the new roof window. It was actually a feature of its own and I didn't want anything to get in the way of that. Suddenly pendants in the middle of the room just didn't seem right for the space.

DIY: Venting a Cooker Hood

DIY venting a cooker hood

Older kitchens and bathrooms never have extractor fans. I don't know why this is - I presume they just didn't exist back in the day? But you'll never find them. For modern day living; lengthy showers and multiple pans steaming away - not having one is pretty bad. You'll end up with all kinds of condensation/damp problems and for the small cost of putting one in, it's really very much worth it.

Valentines Chalkboard Art with Chalkola

Chalkola review

Whilst we don't really celebrate Valentines, I can't help but lust over beautiful themed interiors, especially those on Instagram - where I spend most of my free time scrolling through squares and squares of homes I only wished I owned. If you're not on Instagram yet, where have you been?! It's quickly becoming the new Pinterest for home & DIY inspiration and I absolutely love the community on there.

One day we'll go all out on the decorating-front for a celebration; (any celebration - Easter, Christmas, Valentines - I'm not fussed!) there'll be bunting, flowers, food, music, it'll be so pinterest-worthy, all my dreams will have come true. But until then, I'll make-do with small corners of my home having a touch of festivity instead.

DIY Electric Underfloor Heating

Pro Warm underfloor heating kit

Electric underfloor heating, oh the wonders! I've always dreamed of being able to have heated floors, such a luxury(!) and one that I thought would cost hundreds of pounds. But with some clever bargain hunting and doing-it-yourself, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Chasing Cables the Easy Way

how to chase cables easily

Chasing cables - what a feaking nightmare. Have you ever had to do this by hand yourself? The drilling, the chiselling, the dust, the arm ache, oh it's a real pain in the butt. All for the sake of hidden cables in a wall. Don't get me wrong - it's totally worth it.. Surface trunking is gloriously dated, but it's still a damn hassle that takes way longer than it should and creates no end of chaotic mess.

BUT, there is an easier way. A way that creates almost no dust, a way that saves you all the arm ache and a way that takes absolutely no time at all. Let me introduce you to.... The wall chaser!

Home Reno: What We Have Planned For 2017

renovation plans for 2017

Oh.My.Goodness I cannot believe we have reached the end of the year. It doesn't feel like that long ago since I was writing this post for the last year! Needless to say, it's been one hell of a year (erm, Brexit, Trump, WTF?). We've spent 9+ months without a kitchen AND STILL COUNTING and yes, we somehow had Christmas here without one too. It's been tougher than I can explain, we've spent a heck more than we had ever planned for, and quite frankly I'm quite glad to see the back of this year and look towards a new one, which will hopefully include a freaking kitchen at some point SOON!!