Monday, 13 October 2014

We're All Toasty and Warm (and Skint)!

You may wonder where my posts have been for the last few weeks!  I'd like to give you a great excuse that my leg has fallen off, but that would not be true.  I've been busy, kind of!  I've been my mother's plus one for an overnight spa trip (an anniversary gift from my dad), I've had my very first weekend house guest to stay, I've had the world's worst viral infection / flu type thing, and I've given up smoking!  All told it's been an anti blogging conspiracy

Excuses / apologies done, and now the nicotine withdrawal rage has subsided, so to my topic of the week, which I am sharing as the weather is NASTY, so much so, we're in the loft at some stage this week to pack away the summer clothes and get down the winter gear, as I'm already partially hibernating, luckily, unlike last winter we are in a much better position to snuggle up and hunker down!  

This time last year, I practically had zero heating right up until November when out of desperation, our plumber came around and fitted a few radiators here and there as all we had was a Dyson Hot that we would carry with us wherever we went!  Now, two years and one week from our move in date, we finally have the main house plumbed in and heated...YIPPEE!  AND we finally have a wood burner installed and in use (although I'll save that for another day)!  Told you things were progressing.

Here are our additions in all their glory..with some sneaky peaks of some decorating we have done, and (more commonly) the bits we haven't finished as yet!  

B&Q Acova Radiators
Master Bedroom
B&Q Acova Radiators
Guest Bedroom
B&Q Acova Radiators
The Radiator Company Ancona
Dining Room
The Radiator Company Ancona
Living Room
Now, before we get down to brass tacks, disclaimer time, I have an issue with radiators, they are ugly, nice ones are expensive, and when I mean expensive I mean GDP of a small country expensive, this is the first time I have totalled up the costs.  I'm scared!

Basically, I was going for a Victorian but modern look, so chose and ordered the living and dining room radiators from this company, I did this way back when we still had our first lump of cash when we moved in, I did almost poop my pants at the cost of them, but went ahead anyway, after that the money was dwindling to non existent so I found some looky likey cheaper (although only slightly) ones after that, those were from B&Q! 

Radiator Costs
The Radiator Company Ancona Living & Dining Room - £994.01
B&Q Acova Radiator Master Bedroom £127, each but they were on sale so - £198 
B&Q Acova Radiator Guest Room - £159
B&Q Acova Radiator Hallway - £219
Thermostatic Valves x 5 - £150
Estimate Fitting at £150 day rate - £300
Total Cost - £2020.01

The only thing remaining to buy are white pipe snaps to cover the copper pipes and white feet to cover the hole in the floor where the pipes go, which I need to find and buy when I get up off the floor after cringing at how much money we have spent on radiators!

Ever delayed tallying up costs cos they were ridiculous? too!  Tell me all about it! 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Well That Escalated Quickly!

Today has been weird so far and it's only mid-afternoon.  It has been a slightly fractious morning, there have been short tempers (mine), some bickering (me) and a tape measure thrown out of the upstairs window (also me)...this was the preamble to measuring up lots of things and spending an inordinately large amount of money on my credit card as we have finally pulled the trigger on the remaining made-to-measure blinds for the living room and the upstairs doors and hardware...eek!

This has been in contrast to last Saturday when we had fun times awaiting the arrival of our new washing machine.  Basically, this saga all started mid-week when Matthew surrendered in one of our many battles of will regarding household chores and brought home some washing machine descaling solution.  You see, the washing machine has stunk since day one, and finally after almost two years, Matthew gave in first decided that it must be sorted.  

The door seal was particularly gross, and the mildew was not budging, so I told Matthew to pull it out and soak it.  He had got half of it off, when he realised all too late that the door seal isn't actually meant to come off, and by then it was too late as it most certainly wouldn't go back on.  So that's how we ended up paying £338.99 in stupidity tax!  In fairness it could have been less, but we decided to spend the extra £10 for the delivery guys to take the old one away, and an extra £40 as we decided the washing machine should really match the tumble dryer we had bought last winter.

And, this is how we went from this....

Minging, but perfectly serviceable...

To this...

And this...

 And this, in no time at all!

The normal steps associated with fitting a new washing machine are as follows: 

First task, TURN OFF THE WATER, once bitten twice shy on this one (Many moons ago, Matthew+plumbing=Poseidon Adventure)
Second task, remove the waste and water connections.
Third task, install new washing machine, and turn on water. 

Ah!  This is where it escalated, we did the above, and then some!  We actually stripped and cleaned the waste pipe, and holy shit, it was caked in yuck from where the people we bought the house from had a dishwasher feeding into the washing machine waste!  All I'll say is, thank goodness neither of us were hung over or it would have been curtains!  Then we ripped up the manky flooring that was damp, mouldy and held together by duct tape, the floor was literally peeling off where some idiot had put down levelling compound, very badly I might add and it was peeling off in places, and the rest of it, I spent a good three hours scraping off!  As it was so damp, that led to us ripping out the breakfast bar which we found out was supported by cobwebs and not a lot else and the then we started hacking off plaster just for fun, as we might as well let it dry out a bit...then we had to clean up and then finally we got to installing the washing machine a good 5 hours after it arrived! 

Now we'll have to live with a partially demolished kitchen for another year, but I actually had loads of fun as it's been ages since we demolished anything!  This just sums this house up really, even though we have been at the renovations for almost two years, simple jobs still turn into full on chaos!  

Demolished anything lately?  Bitten off more than you chew?...Join the club, feel free to commiserate / vent / I'm up for what ever!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Nobody Likes a Damp Patch: Revisited!

The weather was getting much cooler when I started to write this post, that is until this week which has been lovely so far.  I've even been doing some gardening in the sunshine and have the 16 mozzie bites to prove it.

But when it was all grey and mizzly, I was being a bit 'glass half empty' and was thinking about last winter which was a total nightmare.  I literally don't think it stopped raining for 5 months straight.  Definitely one of the worst in history according to the MetOffice, so many people were flooded that it makes our little watery winter nightmare pale in comparison.  

So, we have established long ago that I have an obsession with damp, I have done several posts on it like this one here and then this one here.  This house was riddled with it and just as we thought it was drying out the winter hit and water literally started pissing in all over the place.

Leak Number One
By the time we noticed the first leak it was too late, the water was pooling on the new wooden floor and it had warped slightly, much later we realised that small section needed to be cut out to lay the hearth for the wood burner.  Phew!  luckily crisis averted.

Damp patch...Yep!
Leak Number Two
This time coming from the back chimney and running onto our brand new plastered ceiling in the 2nd bedroom.  Nightmare!  This was the week before Christmas as well which is always fun and adds to the festive spirit!  Matthew noticed this leak when he went up in the loft for something or another, and water was literally pouring down the chimney was less than a week before Christmas.  

Leak Number Three
Water started to come into the living room, through the roof of the bay window, again on the freshly plastered ceiling...this was becoming ridiculous!  

Leak Number Four
The fascia board and guttering at the front were starting to come away and the join between ours and the neighbours was leaking and running down the front wall.  Luckily, the summer before we had the telephone wire removed from the house, as we knew it all needed replacing at some stage.  We were ready to get this done when we had some money.  

Leak Number Five 
The rain and wind were so bad, the water was coming up through the angled louvre vent in the chimney breast and running down the freshly plastered wall again in the living room.  I don't have piccies of this either as it was a total nightmare keeping up with where the water was about to start pouring in next.  

So, the first action was to call our local building and roofing roofing company for an emergency patch up job of the worst of the leaks which was through the back chimney breast.  We tried calling the guys who had fitted lintels in the living room first, but unfortunately, that company had gone bust, so we called the roofing company that had moved into their premises in the village.  They came round on the 23rd December as quick as they could to try to patch up the dice as the rain kept coming and so did the water ingress, albeit slower this time.  They had a quick squizz at the front chimney and could see no obvious damage causing that to leak, so we left it there.  They waived the original charge for the patch up and came back out in the new year to remove the chimney breast above the roof line all together...phew, no more pacing past the bedroom worriedly looking at the growing wet patch on the ceiling.  £834 later, a dislodged bird's nest in the dining room and a new bit of roof and no more leak, hooray! 

Chimney Removal

Then we had to cross our fingers and hope there was no lasting damage to the house until Spring, when we finally had enough cash put together to have more work done, we were really happy with their price and service with the chimney so it was a no brainer to have them back (more info on that here).  We gave them a list as long as my arm to complete, and they did with speed and efficiency so happy days, they are now officially our go to builders, and boy, we'll need them a lot in the next few years.  They replaced the fascias, soffits and guttering at the front, removed a TV aerial, re-pointed the brickwork and reset the air brick at the bottom of the bay window, re-leaded the bay roof, patched in the chimney air brick as now it's not needed as the chimney is vented in the loft, and finally, they rebuilt a window arch that had dropped in one of the upstairs windows.  

Here's some before piccies just so you can see how knackered everything was.  

Dropped Archway & 110+ Year old Fascias

Knackered Lead

So, fast forward and they started work...Hoorah!

Scaffolding up ready to go

Then £2014.32 later, we had this!

New shiny fascias and repaired window
Renewed pointing here
And here!  And a few other places too!
Renewed Lead Work

They checked the front chimney again, while the scaffolding was up, and nothing was untoward, so we are waiting and seeing on that this winter, they seemed to think the volume of water and driving horizontal rain had soaked the stack and rain was coming in up and over the chimney cap.  In the picture below, it looks a bit dog eared but we'll see if more work needs to be done on it.  

Then just as we thought we were water tight, this happened a few weeks back...the back guttering has come away as the fascia board is rotten, that's the next job once we get some cash together!  And there's a bloody wasp's nest in there, so that'll cost some money to remove too!

The moral of the never rains but pours...Total cost of winter 2013/2014 was £2848.32, eek! 

UPDATE: We got that final bit of facia board and guttering done, luckily the wasps nest died of its own accord in the colder weather, so that adds another £485...making the new total £3,333.32

Has the weather been causing you some troubles this year!  Holler back and vent should you need to! 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Wash & Scrub Up: Finishing the Bathroom

This post has been a long time coming, I shared the other bathroom stuff with you way back in Feb and March, and the bathroom was actually the second room we tackled with paint.  I would say we are about 95% done, so perhaps the above title is misleading, but hey ho, whats a bit of truth stretching between friends.  There are still some snagging bits & bobs to get done, none of which taxing or expensive, just really dull, which I'm sure I will get to once the 'to do' list goes below 1000 or I get really bored, which ever comes first.  

Now, lets get the cautionary tale out of the way!  I thought painting fresh plaster would be a dream!  I WAS WRONG!  It's horrible, firstly it needs a mist coat, 50% paint, 50% water, then it will take another 3 coats at least to get good coverage, and even then it doesn't look smooth, there will still be some patches that catch the light differently, plus gluey bits that need to be scraped back and filled.  It's not perfect, but it'll do for now.  

Regarding colour, we really pushed the boat out and went with white, which was possibly a silly choice as it shows up all blemishes!  We toyed with colour for a while, considering lime green, turquoise or grey, but nope, we were not brave enough and we couldn't make up our minds, so we went with brilliant white.  After all it goes with everything, mind you, you get snow blind putting it on the walls, but it looks fresh and clean!  We used our normal 'go to' brand, which is Dulux, we used Dulux Trade Supermatt for the mist coat and then Dulux Bathroom paint for the final coats, 10l of the trade will set you back about £40, we bought 3 originally, so I am pretty sure it was on a 3 for 2 deal at the time, we have only just used our last drop a few weeks back so I'll count it here, but actually we have got 3 rooms out of it.  Let's call it £80 for the 3 x 10l, then £23 for 2l Dulux bathroom paint.    

So we had a white box, next up was getting some privacy going as this was a bedroom there was no frosting in the windows, and the panes are pretty low down, so anyone looking could actually see you on the pan...bad times!  The privacy thing is actually a work in progress, as this room doesn't yet have a door, anyone at the front door can actually see straight up the stairs into the shower!  That'll be sure to give the postman a shock!   

We actually got a quote for replacing the panes of glass with sandblasted versions but this was going to cost £300 that we just didn't have.  Instead we opted for the cheap as chips option of window film, you can get it all over, it cost about a fiver and it works a goodun once you figure out the film needs to be cut a few millimetres less than than the space you are covering or the seal around the glass panes will make it bubble round the edges!   We went for opaque at the bottom, and had loads of offcuts, so did a striped design at the top, we think as it looks pretty snazzy.  Finally we ordered a made to measure plain bathroom roller blind from Direct Blinds, you send them the measurements and they post it out you, I've used them before in the old flat and they are really quick to manufacture and post them out to you.  This set us back just £26.74.  

Window film DIY striped design
Striped Window Design
Next up was some homely touches and the essentials like toilet roll holders, a bin, laundry basket, bathmats, towels, loo brush, & toothbrush receptacles.  I'm not even sure how much all these bits and bobs cost as they were bought over a period of time mainly from IKEA, but it was probably more than it could have been if I'd have shopped around. I know the cute sign below was £12 from Sainburys, kind of a lot as it's only small, but it was vintage-y looking and cute so I couldn't resist.  

Sainsburys decorative metal sign
Wakey Wakey!
Next up, the mirrors to sit under the sconces (lighting counted here) were £12 each from IKEA, they no longer seem to have the oval mirrors on the website, but I'm pretty certain they were the KOLJA range.  As an added bonus, as they are light weight, no drilling was needed, we stuck em on with waterproof 'no more nails', about £5 a tube me thinks. 

Then as we have kept the under sink area open instead of having cabinets, we needed some stylish storage, yet again IKEA came to the rescue with their RASKOG kitchen range, we got the grey cabinet and trolley for £50n each.  They cabinet in particular has a vintage vibe and was the right colour for the room, so even though we could have / should have checked out some furniture we could up-cycle for mere pennies, we were eager to get this room usable so we took the plunge.  

IKEA RASKOG Cabinet and Trolley
Think 1950s Apothecary!
IKEA RASKOG Cabinet and Trolley
Matching trolley provides much
needed storage
You might notice some of my other finds scattered in this room too.  Did you see them?  I used the elephant hooks I found here next to the basins for hand towels, and the altimeter I told you about here, it finally made it out of the loft!

Vintage Altimeter
Vintage Altimeter

So, there you have it, the finished-ish room from the doorway and from the window...It's a pretty big room, but I just couldn't seem to get it all into just one shot.  I have a disclaimer too, this has not really been staged, it looks like it normally does, maybe slightly tidier, but there's always stuff on the ledge that we use...I do promise to get better at lovely magazine-esque styled shots for future though!

Vintage bathroom design
Done for now!

And, now for the brass tacks!

The Sums
Paint: Approx. £103 although we only used a fraction of this,
Window Blind: £26.74
Window Film: £5 
Sundries, bits & bobs etc.: Approx £80
Mirrors: £24 
Mirror adhesive: £5
Storage trolley: £50
Storage Cupboard: £50
The other bathroom costs for taps, shower bath etc. are outlined here valued at £6,296.07, and the above comes to £343.74.  Cripes, it's a lot when you add it all up, but the bathroom is lovely, and exactly how we wanted it, so that's the main thing!

Added anything up recently that has made your hair curl..?  Let me know, leave a comment and we can commiserate with one another! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Guilty Pleasure, Vintage Treasure!

Actually, it's vintage, but not so guilty this time around, that's right everything I'm sharing with you was scored FOR FREE!  

Let this post mark the awesomeness that was my very first SKIP DIVE, and holy balls it was amazing!  I've had amazing stuff for nothing before, but it has been given to me by my Mam or my Grandma, this is a whole new exciting prospect.  

The Saturday started out normal enough...we went out for a leisurely stroll round the village roads with the woofers we have nice loop that we take them on which takes us to some of the loveliest roads in the village.  

Then I spotted a skip outside a large 50s house that was up for sale, and I could see a vintage trunk sticking out!  Now, I've been looking for old suitcases and trunks for absolutely ages, there was an amazing steamer at an antiques fayre I went to last year, fate even saw to it that it had my EBM initials painted on it, fate however did not take care of the price, at over £300 I walked away!  But here one was just sitting there!  So we zipped home with the woofers and whizzed round in the car.  

So skip diving has some rules here in the UK, you must ask permission before you take anything, which I did, and the lovely lady at the house invited me to have at it.  Astonishingly she was very apologetic that all I might find was old rubbish, that's Britishness for you, isn't it just so proper!  Here's what we got and it most certainly isn't rubbish!

Here the vintage trunk, very careworn, but I'm sure I can do something with it, I was thinking it could go on top of my wardrobe (which still needs to be up cycled) for extra storage.

Vintage Steamer Trunk found in a skip
I'm in love!
Also nestled in there was an easy chair with distinctly mid-century looking legs and and a missing cushion, I estimate it's late mid-century, possibly 70s...snagged that too!  There is an upholstery course next year in Newbury that I'll take my find to to learn how to properly recover it in something a bit less brown!  I was thinking it could go in the living room under the bay window for some extra seating.  We'll see where it ends up!

Vintage Mid-Century Easy Chair found in a skip
It has potential!
Then I found lots of other bits and bobs that had some potential, an old shopping basket, which I was thinking could be spray painted a bright colour and be used for logs for our wood burner, a tray with pretty copper inlay, an old fruit crate, and finally the demijohn. 

Vintage Decorative and storage items found in a skip
Loads of useful stuff!
Best Saturday morning EVER!  What have you all found for free?!  Let's compare!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Master Bedroom Chronicles: Starting the First Room

The first room in the house of horrors we tackled was the master bedroom…after all we had been sleeping in the dining room for months while the upstairs was gutted and re-plastered.  

We moved downstairs in June 2013 and If I remember correctly, we didn't get back upstairs until November 2013, it's now September-ish 2014, and even though almost a year has passed we haven't touched it since!  We are officially incapable of finishing anything, we flit around doing odd bits and bobs, and are the the most proficient people in the world at procrastinating!

Now, down to business, the first job was replacing the broken and missing floor boards, some of them were really damaged from the years of being chopped into to fit heating, wiring etc., luckily we were able to use the salvaged boards from the bathroom, so other than screws and the like this job was free.  Annoyingly, there was loads of packing out needed to level out the floor, it's nowhere near level now, but it's a damn site better than how it was.

Warped floor joists
World's wonkiest flooring!
On to step two, once everything was screwed down, no nails for us, we were going for stability and nails have a tendency to work loose, we got to sanding those buggers, messy and very time consuming!  We bought a belt sander but it was way too vicious for the flooring and made it furry, and yes, you are right, we were using the wrong grade of paper and were too lazy/tight to go buy the right one, so in addition to Matthew repeatedly sanding the electric cable, we had to go over it all again with a finer grade with a hand sander!  It took ages, and was possibly the dullest DIY job ever! 

Right about now you are probably asking yourself if this post is going to get interesting anytime soon.  I understand, I'm right there with you...but that's the thing with a renovation project like ours, stripping out everything and then renovating from bare bones has been, at times, soul destroying!  This is the dull as balls nonsense that has to be suffered through before you get to the good stuff.  This is what makes you want to punch other home bloggers who are picking out paint colours and cushion covers in the face!  I'm keeping it real, and if it makes you think twice before buying your own renovation project then you're welcome!

If you can contain yourself from the excitement, the next job was filling the screw holes and filling the gaps between the boards.  It took an enormous amount of wood filler and flexible caulk, that it simply defied sense!  And I got bruised boobs, knees and ribs from spending days lying on the boards.  I have to say, this job is also up there along with sanding shit as the world's dullest blog topic and DIY job! 

Renovating Victorian Floor Boards
Thrilling Filling!  Yep, that's sarcasm!
Now, before we all start drinking bleach and jumping out of open windows, this is the last topic that I'm going to share on the master bedroom, it's slightly more interesting than filling and sanding, but I'll be honest, not by much!   

Steady yourself now...we built a hearth!  We had to smash out the existing 110+ year old concrete hearth as it was not held up with anything other than some lath and plaster on the ceiling below, bad times!  This wasn't costly as we already had some kiln dried 4x2s kicking about from the bathroom reno, so we bolted in a simple frame to the brickwork and existing joists to hold the new hearth and us if we chose to stand on it!  Then we chucked on some thick ply wood also from the bathroom renovation!

Tah-dah!  The torture is over, here is where we are leaving it..a room all ready to paint!

I'd like to say there will be no more dull as dishwater posts, but actually I'd be lying...more to follow on the master bedroom soon!  Laters folks!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

I'm Officially the WORST Blogger Ever!

Well hello there Internet folks, it's literally been an age!  

Why?  The usual I guess; stress, work, time, money, and inclination both from a bloggy and a DIY point of view, nothing happened here for weeks and weeks, months even, and we still don't have a finished room even though we will have lived here for 2 years in just over 4 weeks time!  It's insane, where does the time go?

Things have been a bit more positive recently though, things have started to move forward again on the house front, the summer seems to be coming to an end, so we have been more inclined to be indoors, so much so, we have several almost finished rooms now and not just one or two.  We have built some stuff, had some trades in, up-cycled some bits and bobs, AND I have scored some major home awesomeness recently, both free and dirt cheap.  Some of my purchases, which have been squirrelled away for almost 2 years have also started to come out of hiding and make it into the house!  Hoorah!

Since I last checked in, loads has happened.  Matthew left his job, was almost unemployed, but then wasn't, we sold our car, promptly spent the money on the house, I went to India again for a couple of weeks.  I was crippled for a short spell with recurrence of my back injury which luckily sorted itself out after a month or so.  

On a more positive note, our family has grown, Matthew and I are now parents to two furry dog-babies...they are noisy nightmares, but I wouldn't change them for anything!  Here they are in all their furry glory!  Lolly is Dottie's doggie mother, she is the sweetest, most timid dog ever, she likes to walk for miles and she plays fetch!  We are allegedly fostering her, but now she's been with us for almost two months, that's it, she's officially dognapped!

Two Sleeping Chihuahuas
A rare moment of calm!

So, as I alluded above, I have mucho DIY stuff to share, and will try to put keyboard to blogger soon to share some happenings from last year that I haven't even shared with you all yet as well as recent DIY highs, lows and everything in between!  

Monday, 10 March 2014

Wash & Scrub Up: Fitting the New Bathroom

Spring has sprung, the Daffodils and Crocuses are out, the washing is hung on the line for the first time this year, plus we are doing some of our chopping and cutting of stuff outside and the birds are tweeting…It's so nice, and let's hope that is the last we have seen of the grim and very WET winter!  

As you will recall, I started our bathroom renovation story a few weeks back, then I kind of ran out of steam, and just couldn't get my arse in gear to finish up to tell you about the fitting and then about the decorating and furnishings etc.!  One of the many reasons I think I have been putting it off relates to the Reading area and its ridiculously hard water…I'm keenly aware we need a water softener installed, but they are about £600, and that's £600 smackers I just don't got!  If I had one, cleaning and polishing the copious amounts of chrome in the new bathroom for post pictures would be a much easier task (what can I do, I'm a slattern and cleaning is balls), so with a bit of free time this week as I booked some annual leave for DIY in other areas, I thought I would gird my loins and finally get it done, nightmare descaling and all!   

We covered the planning and all the kafuffle that that entailed here…when I left off we had our blank canvas, all freshly plastered, our bathroom kit was delivered, and we had our skilled tradesman ready to go…rock and roll!  Now for the fitting!

The first task was pulling up the wonky, woodworm chewed original pitch pine floor boards and replacing them with nice modern engineered hard board flooring & marine ply.  Destroying those original features is not really my bag, in fact, I'm spending a ton, putting them back, and if we wanted the filled bath with us fatties in it not to drop through the floor, and a level base for the new tiles they simply had to go!  We did save them for patch up jobs in the rest of the house though, those buggers are a pain in the arse to match exactly in reclamation yards.  

Next was the pipework, waste and inlets, and the frame work for the bath and sink unit, then the bath.  Next the tiles went up!  And it was then, it finally started to look like a bathroom.  The very last job, was the floor tiles.

As money, regretfully, was not in an unending supply, we made a few design decisions aimed at getting the luxe look for not a lot of dough!  First up, we went for a tiled bath surround, that was put on the frame above, and it looks way better than the plastic moulded panels that come as standard with bath tubs, we went with very the moderately priced metro tiles and gussied them up with some contrasting black grout.  We teamed this with a shiny chrome expensive looking 2-way shower, that was not all that expensive, and a bog standard glass screen door.  Incidentally, the bath screen and shower (and probably the tiles) cost the same as one piece of glass for the fancy pants Bette shower I showed you here.  

It looks great, however a word of warning, the scratch resistant polymer modern baths are made of are pretty underwhelming, and we spent  a bit extra on an alleged new fangled thicker, tougher material called Carronite, which was a waste of money.  Even though we have been super careful, the bath has suffered some scratches already.  It was a tough call though, as steel baths with enamel coating, are almost nonexistent now-a-days, and the ones that are on the market are VERY expensive, especially in the L-shape we wanted, we had to settle, but I wish I had spent the extra money to get what I wanted, which is a bath I could take a pan scourer to without issues, the below is not it, a stray painted fingernail will spell disaster as it scratches and the colour transfers really easily, I did it in the plastic bath downstairs, it has red streak that just won't come off.  

We opted for a double sink mounted on a frame to give us a shelf to keep all our gubbins on and to hide the pipework.  With some fancy looking sconces to boost the feeling of luxury, when in fact the lights were only £12 each from Ikea, we called it a job well done.  We also opted to spend a little more on tile trim, usually you get a plastic white quarter round, but we opted for shiny stainless steel square trim, which just looks a little more top shelf.

We opted for the under sink area to be left open, so it gives the illusion of more space.  The cabinet that the double sink unit can sit on looked cheap, and wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in a wet environment, there is a picture here of the offending item in the showroom.  My parents spent double what we did on their new bathroom and their cabinet trim peeled right off like hooker's knickers, which is no bueno!  Instead we opted for shiny traps as shown below.  The floor tiles we opted for are black and look like cast concrete, they have been laid in a brick pattern to mirror the wall pattern and contrast with the white.  To make it sleek, we kept our colour palette to just three colours, black, white and grey.  

For taps, we went plain chunky and shiny, with chrome pushdown plugs, to give the modern edge we wanted to the victorian-esque tiles.

I also opted to spent a little more money on the toilet!  Why?  Well I hinted to it above, I hate cleaning, and I especially hate cleaning bathroom nooks and crannies.  So I bought a toilet with no extraneous bits for muck to get in to.  Fancy!

Pipe Cleaning?  Nope!
Rim Job?  Not for me!
Anyway, you have some sneaky peaks at the finished room and some more in progress shots, however as this post is already has novel proportions, I think I'm going to have to come back to you all with a third instalment, the decoration and styling, you never know, by the time I get around to it, those last annoyingly fiddly jobs might be done too!


Monday, 3 March 2014

Oops I'm in the Middle East!

There certainly won't be any house related posts today as I'm far too busy doing absolutely nothing lounging in the glorious sunshine next to the Arabian Sea as this week I'm in the Sovereign Arab Emirate of Qatar.   

Intercontinental Doha
So idyllic, so peaceful!
The view from our room to the left!
This is the view to the right, that skyline is awesome!

Qatar is diversifying into tourism in a big way, and they are dropping big money to draw the crowd.  In fact, Qatar is slated to be the next big thing after Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, they have already bettered their neighbours by submitting the winning bid for the 2022 World cup, and you never know, they might get the Olympics too. 

Why am I here you may wonder, well good question!  My friend entered a competition in the London Evening Standard sponsored by the Qatar Tourism Authority, and she won, and as she's awesome, she asked me to come along for the adventure as I was all 'DIY and no fun make Eve a dull girl' I literally snatched her hand off!  

The trip included return flights, 4 nights bed and breakfast at the Intercontinental Doha, one of the nicest 5* hotels I have ever stayed in, and finally 3 excursions with Qatar International Adventures!  It's been amazing....the City is very impressive now, but there is new stuff flying up on every corner, and you can see there has been billions spent!  The architecture is stunning now, so wait till you see it in a few years!  

Bullet Tower with a crane, which is the national bird
of Qatar 
Tornado Tower
The World Trade Tower Doha

 There are restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping to die for in downtown Doha, plus some of the best luxury brand hotels on the planet.  Outside of the City, there is desert for miles and miles and massive sand dunes you can go dune bashing in…I have a bruised collar bone from that exciting adventure!  And as the 2 million strong population are only 3/4 non Qatari, and you can only own the lesser share in property here, they have built a man made Island just for the expats called the Pearl, which is the only place in Qatar that none Qatari nationals can buy property outright, it's got everything needed for the jet set lifestyle, Hermes, Fendi, Chloe, Missoni and of course a Rolls Royce and Ferrari dealership!  

We are having such a brilliant time here, so it's annoying we leave for London tomorrow afternoon, but we have seen the sights, we have stuffed our faces on amazing Middle Eastern food, we have eaten the best seafood of our lives and had a massage, life's very tough right now.  NOT!

As an aside; to counteract the eating of ones own body weight, washed down with a few glasses of vino at the hotel (hotels are the only place you can purchase and consume alcohol in Qatar) I did actually bring my work out gear as this hotel has an amazing gym, yoga studio, tennis & squash courts.  However, I was so busy checking out the Museum of Islamic Art's amazing I.M. Pei architecture and the amazing view of the Doha skyline, I fell down a 3 inch step and sprained my ankle!  Awesome, as now I have an airtight excuse as to why I have not set foot in the gym or on a tennis court, or in a spin class…..etc.!  

We save toured the city, seen the desert and it has been fab, we are now off to enjoy our last evening in Doha, so see you next week from the rain sodden UK!  Boo! 
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