Mr Hello knows I love a good fire. I adore this time of the year, when now that the clocks have changed, we have lovely longer evenings before the dreaded darkness sets in.
My idea of the perfect fire, however, involves sitting in the garden chair with a glass of wine, occasionally throwing a log in the chiminea.
Mr H’s idea of the perfect fire, is getting the incinerator out and ploughing his way through the vast pile of logs we’ve accumulated since cutting down a few trees in our garden.
This mismatch of expectations has long been a source of discontent between us, and the odd teary strop thrown on *ahem* somebody’s behalf. Does it make me a crim to not want to spend every evening doing something to improve the house? No. No it does not.
However, we appear to have reached a perfect compromise. Mr H runs around like a loon, brandishing loppers and waving dry branches around, and I sit down in the garden seat with a glass of wine and watch. And throw the odd log in the incinerator.
More than needing you to spend all of your money, however, these old houses simply demand that you spend all of your time on them as well. That is what is breaking our metaphorical bank at the moment – where is all this time supposed to come from? I’m in time debt to myself and my home and I can’t seem to make the repayments.
Instead of housework, or pottering about on the allotment, or marking the several thousand school books I always need to mark, yesterday we simply curled up on our sofa together, got our laptops and measuring tapes out, and spent the day planning what we want our house to look like in a few months time.
We have a rather snazzy set of drawings that Mr H pulled together, and now all we need to do is find the people we want to turn those drawings into their wonderful, life enhancing reality.
When the house is all said and done, surely, surely then I will have some more time? That’s the way it works, no?
Until then, let’s just take small comfort in the fact that the blue in our small lobby is deliciously on point.
I’d always disliked our front door, which was solid and well made, but was peeling and a shape I had never really warmed to. Once the front of the house was painted, we left the door as we had planned to replace it after finding a lovely Victorian replacement on eBay.
Our doorway is very narrow, so it took quite a bit of looking to find one the right size (and price! I was shockingly naive to the price of front doors!), in the end costing us just under £200.
It was a beautiful shape but needed the letterbox widening and reglazing and to be perfectly frank, I never quite got around to doing it! To this day the new door remains comfortably in our shed. I did, however, get fed up looking at the crappy front door when compared to our lovely newly painted facade, and one evening took to it with some sandpaper and a small tin of Dulux Weathershield Exterior paint in Sage Green.
The paint has worn extremely well, although my one regret is that I sanded by hand, rather than with a power sander. As a result the finish is less than perfect, but as I wasn’t sure if we were still going to keep the door at the time, it’s something I can live with.
We replaced our chrome letterbox and door fittings with brass. Mr H painstaking stalked eBay for an A4 width brass letterbox, and a lovely conical door handle, which to this day I adore, even as it wears a lovely patina. A small hook for our Christmas wreath, and we were set.
A side by side comparison. I have to admit the house doesn’t look quite so bad in the first, but that is the bright spring sunshine compared with the duller days of later in the year. I’m sure you’ll appreciate, as I do, that the same car is parked in both!
We live on a very narrow street, and so it’s virtually impossible to get a whole shot of the house with no car in front. C’est la vie – that’s what you get for living centrally.
We still have a huge amount to do in our house, this being just a short list of what remains:
Decorate the entry hall
Skim and decorate the study, guest room and master bedroom
Replace the old and creaking radiators in the bedrooms
Carpet the staircases and hallway
Fit out and under-stair linen cupboard
Knock down and rebuild our lean-to into a laundry/utility room and downstairs loo.
That last bullet point is tacked on the end but is in fact our main bugbear. Our lean-to currently houses our washing machine and dishwasher, but has no fitted lights or heating and a bare concrete floor. It’s also built onto next door’s wall on one side, so isn’t actually a fully built space! There is a plumbed in toilet however, which does work and houses our boiler, although it is now home to all of our junk which we haven’t yet taken out to the shed. Sigh.
Now that the Year of Madness that was 2015 is over, we’re planning to scale back on our travel and plough money into the house, so we can get it finished and actually enjoy living here fully before we consider having a family.
As a rule I enjoy home renovations, although I’ve started to tire of not having a ‘finished’ house, but hey, are they really ever finished? With the wedding out of the way and no immediate large purchases in our immediate future, we’ve now got more disposable income to throw into the house.
One large change that has come about from both having demanding full time jobs is that we’ve made a conscious decision to do less of the work ourselves. We are by no means strangers to a spot of DIY but these days we simply do not have the time.
I’ll post shortly about the work in our narrow hallway, hopefully with some ‘after’ photos, rather than the perpetual ‘before’ shots that hand around too long! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and would love to hear about any of the projects you’re in the midst of or have planned at your places!
In the first part of last year, our house looked a little something like this. A typical-for-the-area Victorian terrace with some rather delightful pebble dash.
In fact before these photo the front wall was also very cracked and split. As we inched closer to our wedding, we decided to go on a bit of a reno spree and try and spruce the place up for our guests.
Neither Mr Hello nor I had been particular fans of the pebble dash, and briefly flirted with the idea of having it all taken off to expose the brick. We swiftly decided against it in the end not just because of the cost, which we we might have borne had this been our ‘forever’ home, but also because pebble dash was often applied in past for a reason, covering a multitude of brickwork sins which I am and remain quite happily oblivious to, having got a whiff of them when our wall was re-rendered. Rendering the lot was also out because of the cost, and we were both quite happy with the aesthetics of other painted pebble dash houses in our area. So painting it was!
My time in Australia was quite useful for research purposes – quite strangely when you think about it, considering there aren’t exactly a multitude of Victorian houses in Perth. Although my family’s area is an older, established suburb so perhaps it’s not quite so odd. I often walked past this house and surreptitiously snapped this iPhone shot one evening:
Quite the traditional look for an Australian house, but the colours were creamy, bright and inviting.
I also spotted this terrace while on a quick jaunt to Sydney:
Not a great shot, granted, but what’s a girl to do when she’s trying out her incognito photography skills? The common denominator with both is a darker base colour with light highlights, something that I thought would work really well with our house.
I can’t pretend that this was as a result of hours of research, I simply had the colours I wanted more or less in my head, and we have a Wickes quite close by to us and that was that. We did get the feedback that the Buttermilk was a bit of a pig to paint with, as it was quite thin and took several coats. However, it definitely came up trumps and I am so pleased with the final outcome. I am particularly happy with my decision to have the guttering painted, it doesn’t seem to be a common thing to do, but I really feel it brightened the overall look of the house and made it feel really fresh.
In the months since we’ve had the house painted, it has all held up extremely well. We have, however, noticed very fine cracks in the paint appearing between the pebbles, but this seems to be a result of the paint shrinking as it dries, exacerbated by the fact that there is no paint beneath it. If we need to tidy up the paint in a few years I doubt this would reoccur, and it’s not something that bothers me.
I genuinely still get a thrill each time I come home and realise how smart our house looks, particularly since we tarted up our front door. I’ll talk more about that in the coming days, and update you more about the work we’re planning to do.
My family came to visit and many of them stayed with us!
My second job started
My life went crazy when I started primary teaching
I booked my driving test (9 days peeps!)
So, yeah. It’s been pretty crazy. Professionally this year has kicked my butt, but as my new hero Brené Brown says, I’ve been down in that arena, daring greatly. I’ve managed, however, to end on a really high note at school, but am seriously looking forward to having a proper break.
Personally, there are a few goals I’m thinking of setting for the new year, and once I’ve settled on them, I’ll definitely share them here on the blog – perhaps it will keep me honest.
2016 is the first year, in what seems like forever, where there will be no big changes. I’m not moving anywhere, I’m not changing jobs, I’m not getting married again that’s for sure, so I’m looking forward to it being the year where I can really smash out some personal and professional achievements.
It’s been a big old year, that much is for certain. I am looking forward to 2016, but before that, let’s all see out what’s left of 2015 in style.
Lo and behold! I’m still alive! I have finally recovered from the spiritual shock of a new year of full time teaching, and so now I have managed to pull together the inner strength to start regularly posting again. It is now time for full-on wedding posts.
Because this is my blog, I get to focus on…well…me…so I’m going to kick of my series of wedding roundups with the morning when the bridal party got ready.
Before we get stuck into all the photos, of which there are many. I want to remind you of a little company called We Heart Pictures. I introduced you to Hector and Charlie last year, and in all honesty, I cannot think of anyone who would have done a better job with our photos. We are so unbelievably happy. You’ll see why:
It took me a little while to decide, but I eventually budgeted to have my makeup and hair done by the wonderful team at Lipstick & Curls. I am not going to lie, it was a big expense, but I thought for quite a long time about it before I committed. In the end, I decided it was worth it, as they’re a brand I know and trust, and there may not have been another occasion for which I could justify using them!
My stylist was Hannah, who was hilarious, patient and talented. If you’re lucky enough to meet her in the future, you’re in for a real treat. She was joined on the day by Anneka, who did the hair and makeup for my bridal party.
That morning, my Mama presented me with my “something blue”. It was a little blue box, from a tiny jewellery company called Tiffany & Co. You might have heard of them? The delicate heart bracelet you can see was my gift. I’ve taken to wearing it every day now.
My lovely sister and best friend N bought the whole group (even my bridesman S!) our robes as a surprise present. The soft cream jersey was actually quite comforting on the day, and the delicate embroidery on the sleeve was a lovely bridal detail. I’ve always loved the look of a bridal party wearing matching robes, so their thoughtful surprise made me give a squeal of delight!
I truly loved having everyone get ready with me. It was exciting, but also a strangely calm morning. I had a stellar bunch of brides-people around me, proffering croissants and fresh coffee in my general direction whenever they had the chance. What more could a bride ask for?
These photos also make me look at my house in a new light. The week before the wedding we had some plastering done (big mistake – don’t do it to yourself) and I had been feeling thoroughly fed up with the whole place. Seeing it look so charming in these photos, however, has won it a place in my good books once again.
Doesn’t my Mama have the most wonderful smile?
Getting ready is evidently a very serious business. I had very serious eyebrows, and I loved every bit of them.
Even though we started before 9, we were all of a sudden running a little bit late! With a 10 minute walk into town ahead of us, it wasn’t long before I had to hop into my dress quick smart, with Hannah strategically arranging my hair clips and veil at the very last minute.
I’m currently teaching three days a week and doing bits and pieces of cover work to fill up the rest of my week. This morning I fully expected to get called in to a school, but by 9:00 the phone had remained surprisingly silent and I found myself with a surprise day of writing on my hands. It was a pretty great feeling. I got to spend the whole day at my own desk, in my own house.
Mr H recently spent a couple of days putting up new shelving (customised from IKEA) in our study and it’s made an incredible difference to the feel of the room. While we’ve always had shelving here, somehow by taking out a free-standing book case and replacing with something more permanent, the room feels so much bigger!
I never have been and never will be one for a perfectly minimalist, styled home. We love art and books and so my hope for this wonderful home of ours is that we somehow manage to get it to all work together. I’m starting a new trend, it’s called the ‘maximalist home’. It’s the latest thing.
You may have noticed in the corner of the last image that I’ve done a swatch of white paint. The plan is to paint the study all white, *hopefully* before the wedding but we’ll see. I love the look of white houses that are filled with artworks, and so that’s the kind of style we hope to emulate. I quite like the idea of living in an art gallery!
It often feels like we’ve got years to go before the house is done, but then, when I get a moment to look back at what we’ve achieved in the first six months of this year, secretly, I think we’re doing ok.
Sometimes, in this age of pretty blogs and carefully styled Instagram shots, it’s difficult to admit that life doesn’t always look like a magazine. Rationally I have no problem admitting this, but when faced with gorgeous lifestyle blog after gorgeous lifestyle blog, my irrational brain takes over and I feel the yearn of envy grow.
Take a look at this photo. This is my back yard, and it’s a total mess. We killed off the lawn last year to start over again, but we haven’t yet got around to it. We just cut down a tree (sorry tree!) that was growing in the fence line and there a branches everywhere. It’s not the sort of garden you usually see on a ‘lifestyle’ blog. It’s not really even the kind of garden I want to invite my friends over to!
But it will be, and we’re working hard to get it that way. Because having friends over for a barbecue in my backyard is about as Australian as it’s going to get over here!
What you can’t see in this photo is that I am so incredibly lucky to live here. The house belongs to Mr H, and you may not know that I moved in here as a lodger. I fell in love with this old house the moment I walked in. Mr H has incredible style, and from the renovations he’d already accomplished solo I could see that this was somewhere I’d be very happy living. It’s funny to think back to how much that would become true, and how little I realised it at the time.
Over the next few months we’re pushing forward with some renovations to get the house Instagram-ready by the wedding. It’s not really about Instagram, truth be told, but we do want to make a good impression. The married among you will nod your head in agreement with this one, but there is nothing quite like a wedding to make you want to get all of the things in order.
It’s exciting. I’m planning to share some of the journey with y’all here on the blog too! Stay tuned if house reno is your jam. Have you ever felt the need to TCB before a big event?