Thursday, 18 September 2014

Living Room Makeover - Part 5

It's taken me a while to write this post. I've not been feeling my usual perky self since I've come back from holiday - more on that here.

But let's get on to the good stuff.

Well, the above photo probably makes no sense, but what a story it lends to.

We arrived back at Manchester Airport on Sunday 7th September. My parents met us at our terminal and it was a lovely little reunion - particularly as they had missed William so much. We chatted away in the car - and everything seemed normal to me - but, looking back, they made a few slip-ups!

We pulled up outside my house and my mum remarked that she'd opened my windows for some fresh air. My mum does things like this and had been house-sitting, so I didn't think anything of it.

She rushed to open the front door for me. And I followed her in with some bags, and William, while Mark and my dad unloaded the suitcases from the car.

My mum looked a bit twitchy and then I saw my grandparents appear from the kitchen into our hallway. It was then I noticed the smell. Fresh paint.

And I burst into tears.

While we were away, my parents, grandparents and auntie, Julie, had finished stripping the last bit of horrible wallpaper, filled in any gaps and popped lining paper up where needed, sanded the woodwork, painted it, painted the walls and the ceiling and also sanded and painted the fireplace mantle.

And I could barely control the love and utter shock I felt.

It was the loveliest gift to receive and the most wonderful scene to come home to. But it was more than that. I am very clear that I manage as a single mother. And I do. I'm not 'single' as such, but I run the house and all of the finances alone. And that's hard. I'll be frank. I haven't got someone there to help hang up the washing or check if a bill has been paid. And I don't moan about it because I have a huge amount of support and I'm very happy.

But to have my family, come in, once again, like the Elves and the Shoemaker, and give me a gift of hard work and time, which aren't things you can freely give to someone, well I was beyond touched. My Auntie Ju is a single parent too, and she knows how hard it can be, so for her to give her time too was especially touching.

My living room was transformed. Clean and bright and it was everything I could see in my head and more.

We chose Healthcliff's Castle from Crown Paints for the walls. It's a gorgeous shade of white. People often look at white as predictable or boring, but I think it has a huge power to completely transform a room. This shade has a yellowy, almost grey tone to it and I love how bright it is without being stark. It part of Crown's 2014 trend 'Appreciation' so I like how it's a shade that's on-trend because it makes me feel on-trend too.

I also found the Crown MyRoomPainter app to be so useful when deciding what colour to choose, because I was at that stage where I had lots of swatches and couldn't make my mind up. I've absolutely loved working with Crown Paints for my living room makeover, it's no secret it's my paint brand of choice and they have been so unbelievably helpful.

Since the family makeover, Mark and I have been busy ourselves...

The carpet (you can't forget that carpet) came up last weekend. We decided to do it ourselves and take it to the tip as a bit of hard work is free after all, and we could save money this way. The base of our living room is concrete and it's in good shape and ready for new underlay and carpet now!

You can see from the shots above how different the room looks with that paint job. I can't get over how spacious it feels now. We've also removed one sofa and popped it into the garage for safekeeping (as we'll be donating them to a friend) and the extra space in the room is just brilliant.

I'm so glad to see that old carpet gone. I am grateful to have a roof over our heads and the ability to do it up, but it was a great feeling choosing our new carpet. I know that Bill has a guaranteed clean place to play and he can roll around on the floor as much as he likes and I won't mind because this carpet is brand new. We choose a polypropylene carpet, over a wool one, as polypropylene is easier to clean and even bleach can be used if needed, which is great.

This is the sample of the carpet we have chosen. I wanted something neutral that would withstand any marks and changes, but not be too light that it invites dirt. The colour of the sample on the fireplace is most true, the one next to the old carpet and fire surround is slightly overexposed due to such a sunny day.

As well as pulling up the carpet and underlay, dismantling the Welsh dresser (yep we did that to!), and a trip to the tip, we also popped to IKEA at the weekend too.

We went with a specific list in mind, mainly a KALLAX unit and boxes, along with a television unit, which I'll share snaps of once they are built.

As with any IKEA trip though, we ended up buying some other bits too! Oops!

It really is coming together now. I'm so proud of what we've all done together. I've fought really hard to be able to afford this house on my own, and I can tell you now - it's not easy managing a family home alone - not just the bills but the chores, the housework, the maintenance and the inevitable DIY work that comes along with buying a doer-upper.

But it's really starting to feel like home.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Home Renovation: Things To Consider When Decorating

*PR Collaboration

Renovating your home is an exciting task, especially if you are turning a house that is nothing at all like you into a home that is you inside-out. I'm on my second home and, along the way, things have gotten easier. So here are my tips.

First things first. Get rid of all the things that you no longer use in your home. Separate your items into items that you are going to keep, items that you can sell or give away, and items that need to be thrown out. Get help from home junk removal services if you have accumulated plenty of useless items through the years. The skip we got a few weeks back was an absolute game-changer.

When your home is clean and ready for renovations, here are some things that you need to consider when decorating:

Budget – Set a budget and stick with it! We want grand homes with beautiful furniture and a classy look, but not all of us have the budget for it. Before you start renovating and decorating, set a budget. Calculate your budget based on your needs. Always put your needs ahead of your wants. You can always get quality furniture at cheaper prices if you know where to look. Set a ceiling for your spending, so that your wallet won’t be hurting by the time you are done renovating your home.

Style – My favourite part. Style is another aspect that you should consider when designing your newly renovated home. Are you going for a classic look? Do you want a colorful home? Is modern your cup of tea? The good news is you have plenty of options. If you don’t know where to start, I love Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. Play with colors, mix and match furniture, and do your research. When you eventually settle on the style that you want, that is when you can start decorating.

Shop Around – When purchasing furniture for your renovation project, don’t just go to one store. Take time to do the research and visit several stores. This will allow you to compare prices and items. You may even find a lovely chair or desk at a thrift store for cheap. Visit second-hand stores, too! Just make sure that the item you purchase is made with quality materials. Mix and match cheap items with a few expensive ones to create an interesting home design that will fit your budget. I'm a huge fan of upcycling furniture and making it your own. It's a huge passion of mine. You can see some of my posts on reupholstering a chair, my wardrobe makeover, and table transformation.

Usability – We often fall in love with a furniture we like if it is attractive or if it is what we’ve wanted for a long time. However, one thing that you have to think about is its usability. Will it be comfortable to use? Is it a necessity? Is it practical for your home? These are the questions that you need to ask. If you are looking at an item for its aesthetic value, and not for its usability, then maybe it’s better to look for something else. I really wanted a quirky and bright-coloured sofa at first. But then I considered how comfortable it would be, the fact that a two year-old would be lounging about on it, and the fact that, really, we wanted something we could snuggle on as a family. So we chose a comfy corner sofa that is due any day now. We're so excited.

These are some of the things that you have to consider when designing your renovated home. If you stick to your budget and you have an aesthetic in mind, it will be easier for you to come up with a comfortable and functional home that you can be proud of.

You can see all of my home posts here if you like.

Autumn Clothing Wish List

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When I first started losing weight, I really wanted to show off my hard work and my curves again. I'd hidden my body in loose clothes, or cleverly-placed clothes, for so long, and I wanted to celebrate myself. I felt like a completely new person and my confidence has grown a lot in the past nine months in particular. I'm still going to be the person looking down at the floor, or avoiding eye contact as I walk down the street, but I'm less likely to have to fake my confidence now - it's genuine.

That said, as much as I love celebrating how far my body has come, particularly as my medical history, after a trip to see the nurse (I wrote about that here) has shown a bigger loss than what I thought in the past few months, I don't feel the need to show it off as much. It's great to go to a shop and know that something will fit me. And it's great to feel good in clothes, but sometimes, a gal just wants to wear leggings and a big jumper.

I'm a Summer gal, if I had to pick a season, that would be me. I seeing washing on the line, longer days, sunshine and crop tops. I love being barefoot. And I love watching my skin grow darker.

But I do love the change from Summer to Autumn. Those crunchy leaves. Those chunky knits. And the addition of a pumpkin spice to the bog-standard latte. I'm on it.

I seem to be all about the layers this Autumn. I've been eyeing up maxi cardigans, jumpers and blazers with the beadiest of eyes. U have to have the mustard jumper from H&M. It will be mine. I'd like to pop a simple white shirt underneath or just a long vest-top.

Boots are just my thing it would seem. I used to be a loyal ballet flat follower, but looking back on older photos of me when I was bigger make me feel that they just rounded out my feet and legs and made them look stumpy. I have a pair of black heeled boots at the moment but they are so uncomfortable, and I definitely need to replace them. The tan pair look comfortable but still nice enough to add something to an outfit.

The hats? I just really want to pull off a bowler hat. Please say I can? And what would I style it with? Goodness knows. The bobble hat - that's coming home with me at some point, as anyone can wear a bobble hat.

A black blazer has been something I've wanted for a while. I used to have a cream blazer which is far too big for me now, and this one, with the extra detail around the lapels would look great paired with a loose grey top, a long, simple and delicate necklace and some jeans.

Speaking of jeans. I don't really do jeans. Or at least I didn't. I could never find a pair that didn't make me feel big or uncomfortable. This year, I really want a pair of mid-wash blue jeans and a black pair. I think I'm going to go for the skinny style.

But where do you get your jeans from? And, if you've got big hips and a small waist like me, do you have any brands/styles you recommend?
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