Kitchen planning appointment

So on Wednesday, our first kitchen planner came round.

He spotted a few issues with where the kitchen is (not arguing with the current problems!) – there’s a structural beam half way along that’s going to make moving the hob and hood tricky. Oh, and we don’t have a stopcock.

But, he was on the whole quite positive. Certainly helpful! He thinks we can have all the things we want – a washing machine and dryer and slimline dishwasher! That, I wasn’t expecting, I thought we’d have to give up the dishwasher. He does think that he has to make me forfeit a tall cupboard that I wanted for the ironing board and mops and stuff. A bit disappointing, but something I can probably live with I suppose.

Anyway, full plans tomorrow so I’ll see what I think of it…Another designer coming round on Sunday though, so we should have some options!

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Finishing up the study

In the blogging hiatus, I rather forgot that I left the study in it’s glorious, slightly icy blues (apart from the dark colour on the radiator I suppose), with clean white furniture.

Just a nice Ikea desk and Ikea desk chair, but in that room they look pretty much perfect.

Still, the room was a bit stark like that. Serene, but not welcoming. And it needed accessorising!

Well, it’s a study, and that says travel to me, so the art on the walls is maps including a vintage Tube map. (I’ll tell you a secret. It’s not real vintage. It’s a replica that was used as wrapping paper but we loved and framed and you’d never know it used to be wrapping paper. That’s how easy fabulous art can be).

We’d been using the study to store some bits and pieces while we unpacked elsewhere, including my beautiful faux irises, and I noticed that the purple worked really well with the blue walls. It adds a little warmth, and a different colour to accent the room. Turns out we had quite a lot of purple knick knacks that look great, plus some other bits that have personal significance.

The result – a room that’s beautiful and relates to us both very personally, which makes it inspiring as well as serene to work in. So, with that and the bedroom, there are two rooms that give me that wiggle squiggle of happiness when I go it. Just three/four to go!

Overview o the desk

Moving on to the study

I’m not blogging these updates in the order we did them in – progress on our house wasn’t as simple and linear as I’m pretending to create some sort of coherent narrative…

Anyway, while doing the bedroom, we were also doing up the study. This is a tiny little room, sold as a single bedroom, but would only just be big enough for that. And in fact, having a study was a big selling point for the flat. My partner needs some space and a bolthole (yes, even from me!), and having a room to go to was going to be a big thing. She’s also hoping to write something, and an inspiring, beautiful place was going to help. Or that was the plan.

Anyway, the study was predominantly going to be ‘her’ space, so it was important that she picked the colours. Her absolute favourite colour is, if not teal like the sofa, a clear, slightly greenish blue. Duck egg, TIffany style blues. Blue is, of course, also a very serene colour, and so we felt that it would be suitable for a study space. Out with the Dulux charts, and nearly endless discussions of colour. Eventually we found the right Tiffany blue, but were slightly scared that it would be too intense in such a small space, so we decided to paint two walls in a paler, sky like blue to offset that problem.

Finally we went really intense blue and painted the skirting boards, radiator and door in a really dark version of the Tiffany blue. This not only added some drama and interest, but the darker colour feels warmer – good in an icy blue room with only north facing light!

Below is the radiator and the paler wall, with a sneak preview of some of the other stuff…

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Finishing touches

So, the bedroom now has painted walls, a wardrobe, a bed, curtains. All the main things anyway.

So we needed just (maybe I should say ‘just’) the finishing touches.

We stencilled the wardrobe doors – those very plain ones I was talking about before. I found a massive Virginia creeper stencil online (Etsy is amazing) and used that. I think it looked very clean and very smart.

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

Unfortunately we had a slight problem. To get the depth of colour, we needed two coats. On our third door, the stencil fell off between the two coats, leaving a very pale stencil. There was no way I could possibly put the stencil exactly back over it again. So we decided to make the best of a bad job and turn it into almost a third dimension. It looks pretty good, I think, though I do prefer the cleaner first look!

The 3D stencils

We also decorated the bed. I know its a bit girly and possibly a bit twee, but I had my heart set on a canopy. With garlands and flowers and twinkly lights. You can see how it turned out…and whatever you think of it for grown ladies, I LOVE IT. Which is, fundamentally, all that matters.

The fairy princess canopy

So, just a few finishing touches. I can be a bit of an addict to bedding, so I bought some new bedding – white with flower themes. You can see some of them in the photos, and they definitely add to the overall feel of the room. My favourite is the recent purchase covered with little 3D blue butterflies. It’s so delicate and pretty and matches the feel of the room perfectly.

The butterfly bedlinen

And then, keeping with the bower theme, little bedside lights (from Ikea) that give a beautiful soft glow in the evenings – and the whole room just makes me delighted!

Bedside lights

The bedroom curtains

So, the bedroom is green, and has the major furniture in place. We just needed a way to tie it all together. I had this idea of making the room into a bit of a bower – so lots of flowers, vines, that sort of thing. Very girly and with the possibility of being a bit cutesy, but something I really wanted to do. And as its my bedroom (our bedroom, but this we more or less agreed on), that’s what’s important.

Which is where we were when we came up to the decision point about the curtains. The room, as I mentioned, has a big bay window, but that opens out over the front drive and the road. Neither of us were comfortable with having this just open, so we wanted to have some sort of way of shading us from the full view of passers by. I was a bit uncomfortable with the vibe from net curtains and even voiles, as being a bit grannyish, but it was the only thing we could afford. So we wanted something that had flowers and at the same time was quite young….hmmm….

We hunted everywhere, and in the end it was online that came up trumps, with curtains we could get made to measure. Ours have a trailing flower pattern, which was the best we could find to tread that tricky line…

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On top of these we needed green curtains. As mentioned in a previous post, it was tough to find something in the shade of green that we wanted. So we ditched the matching idea and went for something contrasting – a dark green. Again, made to measure online was our best bet – the windows seemed to be an unusual length – too deep for short curtains but the longer ones would have been trailing on the floor. We also found some in a velour – a nice luxury fabric to contrast with the feel of the room so far.

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And the best bit – when the sun shines through onto the curtains you can just see the shadow of the vine pattern on the curtains, which is genuinely lovely. Room is getting there at last!

Greens – so very many greens

I know, if we were doing this project properly, we should really have decided on the wall colour first, painted them, and then got the really big, heavy, immoveable objects in place.

However, we were moving in and we needed the bed and wardrobe or we’d really suffer. So we really did have to wait to redo the walls. Not wait too long though as the peachy/magnolia colour on walls allegedly made my lady feel ill. Not at all the vibe you want in a bedroom!

So, we wanted green walls. I was quite clear in my head that I wanted a fresh green. Apple green, spring leaves, maybe fresh peas. Something that seemed natural and light. The sort of green you see looking out of the window at lawns (maybe a bit less jewelled green). Quite a pure tone of greenness.

And we thought maybe we should try and find curtains and soft furnishings first and match the paint to them as that was going to be easier than the other way round.

Except that, apparently, the sort of green we wanted simply doesn’t exist in the world of soft furnishings! Look at the ‘green’ section in any catalogue. Go on. You’ll see some sage greens – that sort of grey almost blue-green colour that I agree is beautiful but not at all what I wanted to give that fresh feel to the room.

Sage green bedding

There are also a quite incredible number of quite harsh lime-ish (although the colour known as lime green is a long way away from anything you get from an actual lime), almost brown greens. Personally, I can’t stand this colour. I genuinely think it’s hideous, so it was out. It’s also quite vibrant and energetic, which wouldn’t be restful. And as we were going for a girly sort of feel, it wouldn’t work so well to get that sense either.

Lime green bedding

We turned to our endless paint charts and samples, deciding to get that right and worry about the rest later. Thank heavens for Dulux mix-labs, which provided the best range of possible colours. We have debates on how strong a green we wanted – I was quite in favour of a fairly strong, vibrant, green, my lady wanted something more pastel-like. We’ve found in conversations before that we see greens differently, so this was quite a challenging conversation. In the end, we ordered more or less every tester from Dulux that even vaguely fitted the brief, and raided every other range we could find for similar colours. We painted up endless sheets of paper to see what we felt would work – as you can see from the photo.

We weren’t happy with any of the first batch so we went back and scoured the shelves and paint cards for more (as an aside, the Dulux website is excellent in many ways, but the rendering of colours is bizarre. None of the paints look anything like the colours on screen, as we found on several devices. This is especially true of greens and yellows. No idea why, but don’t trust the screen, get a card. Admittedly this is true of most paints I would think, but we did find it a particular issue with Dulux. But I digress)

Eventually, we came to a conclusion. The answer was green parrot two. Which is not some secret spy code, but a slightly paler version of, yes, the colour of green parrots colonising London. It’s very fresh, very green, and we both liked it.

Update – since doing the room, we realised that green, especially stronger greens, are generally considered a bad idea in bedrooms and bathrooms as the colour can make you look very sickly when you’re getting dressed or looking at yourself, which is obviously a bad thing. All I can say is that we haven’t noticed this in our bedroom. I think the huge bay window, meaning the light gets to you without bouncing off the walls and the very large pieces of white furniture (bed, on which we put mostly white linen, and wardrobe) mean that this problem doesn’t manifest itself. Worth remembering for other projects though!

A close up of the green bedroom wall (with cameo appearances from the bedside table and lamp)

A close up of the green bedroom wall (with cameo appearances from the bedside table and lamp)

The final big ticket and urgent item – the wardrobes

So to wardrobes. As you may have gathered, we are two ladies living together. We both like clothes and I have a slightly unhealthy collection of shoes. Wardrobe and clothes storage space is important to us. And so, we turned to Ikea. On our endless trips round their maze, we also spent endless hours in the wardrobe section. Looking at doors. Lights. Finishes. Layouts. Really REALLY clever gadgets that you think are amazing and then realise wouldn’t work for you. More layouts. More doors. We went back to the flat and measured the ceiling height – realised we could fit in the taller size of wardrobe. Went back to trying layouts.

The Ikea online wardrobe builder was in the end brilliant, but nearly ruined the whole thing. You can set up the room to the right dimensions, for a start, which was fun, as was painting the walls (and thus restarting the whole debate on what shade of green we were looking for….). Building a wardrobe turned out to be a touch trickier. As did deleting one I’d got wrong. It turns out that I managed NOT to delete the old wardrobe, but merely moved it out of the room (and thus out of most views). This resulted in the price quoted being double what it should have been and putting us off… Thankfully I spotted this problem before we got to the tearful stage, figured out how to delete the first draft, and we ended up with a double double wardrobe, going round a corner. Ingeniously the two sections are different depths meaning we have one lovely deep wardrobe and the other fits beyond the end of the bed. The interior of the wardrobe is laid out to my design with a mix of rails (in the deep one, to fit clothes on hangars properly), shoe racks, shelves (at the top, for things we don’t use often) and drawers (in the shallow wardrobe). I didn’t get it all quite right – the rails are a little too short so not all the clothes hang well – but it’s better than anything I’ve seen on the market and that’s a start. And it fits everything in, which is also kind of important!

The doors were another challenge. We needed sliding doors for the space – there literally isn’t clearance for a door to open in the room with the king size bed. I wanted at least one mirrored door as it means you don’t have to find extra floor space for a full length mirror as well as adding space and light, but with the oversized bed and layout we didn’t want full on mirrors right at the end/side of the bed. Having mirrors on you while you’re in bed and getting dressed has always felt a little weird to me, not my kind of thing at all. So we went for a mirror on the corner unit – not directly facing the bed, but useful when needed. It does help with the space, but with the bay window the room overall is quite light so it’s not needed for that reason.

Ikea doors are bizarrely priced as well. The basic, absolutely flat white door is fairly reasonable. The next one up, with minimal decoration is double that, and for any interesting finish at all, it’s insanely expensive. Funnily enough, we decided to go flat white and use the wardrobe as our first decorating project of that type.

Of course putting the wardrobe together was a whole other story…me, the in-laws, a power drill that broke before we could use it, late nights, stressful work while moving meant that there were quite literally tantrums with someone (ok, me) flouncing off in tears. Were over it now, and it’s pretty solid!

I think if you see the layout of the bedroom we ended up with, you’d probably scream. Everything is too big for the space. But we’re actually quite happy with it and critically it works for us. I guess we made the right compromises for us and our situation, but I don’t know if I’d recommend this style to anyone else!