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INTERIORS My house

Our (not so) new house!

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Finally! It’s my long overdue through-the-keyhole post! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this up – to be honest I wasn’t really sure how to approach blogging about the house because we’ve done a few bits before moving in but really it needs a LOT of work, but the budget and time aren’t quite there yet. So I thought I’d start with the ‘Before’ pictures – here goes! – here’s what our house looked like when we first got the keys. These pics were taken by Oli, so apologies that they’re not hugely professional! They weirdly make the house look quite dark when it is anything but.

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First to go in the living room was that charming faux Victorian moulding… *mind boggles*

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We have also got rid of the magnolia!

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Check out the built-in cupboard that really looks like it belongs. Not

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The exposed pipes everywhere are a bit of a PITA

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Thankfully under that carpet we found the original hardwood staircase…

A little bit more about it… it’s a four-bedroom terraced house in a really lovely little cul-de-sac in a rather pedestrian town in Surrey. It was built in 1969, and is surrounded by £2m BEAST houses, so we think our cul-de-sac was actually the huge grounds of a bigger house that obviously got knocked down and developed on. But this was back in the days when developments were far more sympathetic to their surroundings. As a result, it’s just a small string of five houses in a row, all slightly offset, which means we don’t completely overlook each other’s gardens.

They are ‘architect designed’ (I used to think all houses were but apparently many are designed by builders and the like) which means they are quite quirky, with asymmetric zinc-topped roofs, and huge windows in all the rooms – the windows originally went down to the floor but the previous owner said it was like living in a fish bowl so she had them changed for more traditional ones. We’d like to get them changed back at some point.

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Our bedroom with its ginormous window

The spare bedroom at the front of the house

I think what we love most about it is the quiet! It’s such a shock after living in London, where ambulance sirens blazed past at five-minute intervals (downside of living right by St George’s Hospital). We also have a garage in a separate block, which we have predictably filled with crap already.

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My office! Desk now gone, as is the yellow (?!) dingy wall colour. And lampshade

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The kitchen is not to our taste at all (black granite – sob!) but it’ll be staying for a while as it’s all new. It feels enormous in comparison to my flat

I know that 1960s/70s houses aren’t to many people’s tastes, but we love the space and the open-plan layout and the fact they are so much cheaper than period properties. We actually also offered on a period house round the corner just before this one – much more ‘pretty’ and trad and charming with open fires etc, but then we found out it had been underpinned, so we pulled out. In hindsight I am so glad we did as it was on a much busier road – cul-de-sacs are bloody awesome, seriously. I can leave the buggy out the front and never worry someone’s going to come along and nick it, and I’ve also just instructed Amazon Prime to leave things in the porch if we’re out (how middle class is that sentence).

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There are floorboards under the horrible carpets! I can’t decide if I like the fact they are narrow or not…

And best of all, is the garden. It’s 80ft long, green, peaceful and SOUTH FACING – which was one of our dealbreakers. It is amazing and I’m so glad we moved in before the weather turned so we got to make the most of it.

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I haven’t got any before pics of Daphne’s room as we decorated that pretty much straight away – I’ll do a room tour post about it ASAP. The bathroom and downstairs loo are also not worthy of sharing – the bathroom is newish but I find it really horrible and depressing for some reason – I’d LOVE to change it but really we can’t justify it.

First of all, we want to build a garden pod for Oli to have as a studio, and then replace the large downstairs toilet with a shower room (there’s only one bathroom upstairs). And then change all the flooring – it has cream carpets throughout which are just totally unsuitable for Daph as well as being old and stained. And THEN we have to tackle those horribly upsetting tiles in the hallway and kitchen.  I’m not sure what flooring the hallway would have had originally – maybe lino? – as there’s just concrete under there. So lots of decisions to make and planning to do. We want to add a 60s/70s vibe about the place, I think, rather than making it super contemporary but we also don’t want it to look totally naff. It’s quite a challenge!

INTERIORS My house

Review (ish): Setu chair by Herman Miller

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Taking pride of place by my Sebastian Cox desk – more on that in another post!

Right so I promised you interiors posts, but I didn’t promise you pretty interiors posts (if you want them, may I suggest my friend Vicky’s blog Style Made Simple?). I’m starting with this because it’s quick and easy for me to blog about (unlike all the decorating/room scheme planning that’s been going on and which requires decent photography) but also because it is possibly the most exciting purchase I have made since we moved in. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s certainly ONE of the most exciting purchases.

As with most desk-chained work drones, I have had to endure years of backache thanks to uncomfortable ‘ergonomic’ desk chairs. When I worked at IPC (now Time Inc, but forever IPC to me) and they moved into their fancy new office (which has since been sold off at the same rate as all their magazines) they gave us all these swish Vitra chairs. They looked lovely – all black mesh and sleek curves, but within days I was in agony. I think because I have a ridiculously long back (seriously I can’t wear a swimming costume because they don’t reach over my nipples), I just can’t get on with most chairs that are sculpted to fit. Anyway, we got free physio at work (like I said, this was back in the days when people still bought magazines and there was lots of money floating about) and I took full advantage of this. After using up my six free sessions and still finding work about as comfortable as walking across nails, I complained to my manager, who ordered me a hugely expensive Stephen Hawking-like contraption which, quite frankly, was actually worse.

Oh god, as usual, I’m being ridiculously verbose here – what I meant to say is that I prefer simple chairs rather than someone else’s idea of ‘ergonomic’. In fact, some of my most comfortable desk days have been sat on a kitchen chair with a cushion under my bum.

But obviously after a while this set-up gets a bit bum-numbing. I have searched high and low over the years for a solution. Just a comfortable desk chair – not too much to ask, right? And then finally I found one in John Lewis. About three years ago – the Herman Miller Setu. I sat on it and it was like being given a great big bear hug from behind. It was LOVELY. I was in love. But I was also wary – much like shoes you try on and prance about the shop in for five minutes that FEEL comfortable, chairs have a habit of turning on you after an hour. The chair was also expensive. Really expensive. I walked away.

But then I came back. Four times. Every time I went to John Lewis I would go and sit in it for as long as I could get away with before whoever I was shopping with wondered where on earth I had gone. And it was always the same: a great big bear hug. So finally, two weeks ago, I ordered one.

It arrived. I was so nervous. I sat in it but it was just as good as I remembered. Everyone who’s visited the new house has also sat in it and sighed in envy. It is a good chair. It’s not particularly fancy – in fact the only thing you can adjust is the seat height, but somehow this works. You can’t tilt the seat or fix the back or raise the arms but this means you’ve got less chance of locking yourself into some godawful position which seems comfortable at first but is slowly and stealthily crushing your spine.

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Also, even though I said this wasn’t a pretty interiors post, it’s a pretty chair right? It’s bloody lovely to look at. It comes in lots of sophisticated shades – in fact the ‘Berry’ one, a kind of navy, was my favourite in the store but after much deliberation I went with the neutral ‘Alpine’ to match my new office decor.

So yes. If like me, you’re in need of a new desk chair and you also can’t cover your nipples in a swimming costume, maybe go and have a sit on it in John Lewis for three years too. I reckon you’ll be as convinced as I was.

INTERIORS My house

Daphne’s nursery tour

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I just love this ‘D’ Flower Fairies print – possibly my favourite thing in the room

I didn’t really want to do a post on Daph’s nursery because it’s basically been a bit of a… CHALLENGE. It’s a teeny tiny room, which I stupidly while pregnant made even tinier by adding a whole wall of mirrored wardrobes. I hadn’t realised at the time that this made it impossible to fit a normal-sized cot bed in. I basically used up the one good wall with these damned wardrobes – while we needed the storage, I really didn’t think it through.

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Less is not more when it comes to shades of pink. OK?

It’s also a really weirdly shaped room, with the door at an angle – sort of cutting off one corner of a square. Plus it has an awkward chimney breast sticking out on one wall. Anyway with a lot of measuring and squeezing, we’ve managed to get in a small cot – the Mokee mini cot in fact – as well as a small chest of drawers and a shelving unit (which we already had). And a chair (although you have to move the chair to get into the wardrobe but luckily I don’t need to do it that often!).

It’s not the ideal child’s room/nursery that I had in mind when I pictured myself as a mother, but despite this, it’s actually turned out to be a really cute, happy room. When I’m feeding Daphne last thing before her bedtime, I sit in there and look around at the random mishmash of stuff (and different wood finishes!!) and I can’t help but smile. It’s ridiculously girly (especially with those pink polka dot curtains that I already had) but it suits a tiny baby girl and I feel like there’s plenty for her to look at it, all of which has some story or meaning behind it – as with everything else in my flat.

Here are some more pics… (apologies for the crap photography. The light in this room is also a bit of a challenge!)

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Don’t worry, she sleeps with her head away from the window

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A present from her Auntie Sophie

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Daphne’s great-grandmother, who she was named after, and her dad as a littlun

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We bought Florence the doorstop when I was pregnant – total random M&S purchase but I just love her!

It’s a bit cluttered, it’s probably a bit too PINK, it was done on a budget, but it’s a room full of love. As we’re house-hunting this won’t be her room for too long (can’t wait for more SPACE!), but I think it’s quite a good start, and I’m pleased with how we manage to work around the tiny floorplan and create a usable space for her. It’s my new favourite room in the flat. I hope she feels safe and happy in there.

INTERIORS My house

Sourcebook: My Bathroom

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The baby is still enjoying a delightful period of night-time wakefulness (basically, wakes at 2am screaming for no apparent reason – beginning to suspect teething; and then 5.30am whereupon she decides it’s time to start the day), so I’m a little sleep deprived at the moment. Hence this rather uninspiring post – the last one detailing all the bits and bobs in my home. I’ve already done a blog post specifically about my bathroom makeover, but here’s a list of all the products you can see in the pictures in case you like any of them!

I’ve decided not to do a similar post on my kitchen as to be honest very little of it is of my choosing – the cabinets are Ikea and fine but not what I would have picked, the worktop is also Ikea and is a white laminate, the flooring is godawful and I have no idea where it’s from, the walls are painted in French Gray from Farrow & Ball. If you want to know any more about it then do drop me a line/leave me a comment.

But enough of that, on to the bathroom – done on a massively tight budget, I think it cost me about £2k in materials and then another £1.5k in labour.

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Wall colour, Dove Tale, Farrow & Ball
Flooring, vinyl in Slate Grey from The Colour Flooring Company
Tiles, Topps Tiles
Basin, Bauhaus from CP Hart’s trade centre
All taps and shower fittings, Grohe from Amazon
Towels, Missoni Home from Heal’s
Bath, was existing bath
Toilet, Duravit from CP Hart’s trade centre
Towel rail, Victoria Plumb
Cabinet above basin, Homebase
Pedal bin, SimpleHuman
Cabinet above toilet, Ikea (spray-painted white)

All photos (except the last two) copyright Houzz UK and taken by the supremely talented Chris Snook

INTERIORS My house

Sourcebook: My Bedroom

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Oh isn’t it lovely when you think of an idea for a SERIES for your blog? No effort involved, no racking of brains trying to find something of interest to share with the world. All the hard work is done already.

So here we go, without further delay and following on from my previous post all about my living room, it’s time for the lowdown on all the bits and bobs in my teeny tiny bedroom. Yes, I do manage to fit ALL MY CLOTHES into that one built-in wardrobe and chest of drawers. Ha ha ha, only joking.

Enjoy. As ever, please leave me a comment if I’ve missed anything off or you have any queries! I do love talking interiors.

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Wall colour (pink), Calamine, Farrow & Ball
Wall colour (white), Brilliant White, Dulux
Bed, Loaf
Bedside tables, Ikea
Bedside lamps, Original BTC
Screenprint, by Clare Cutts from Baxters Gallery
Framed postcards, frames from Habitat, postcards inherited
Tissue box, The White Company
Bedlinen, Laura Ashley
Cushions, H&M
Curtains, Dunelm Mill
Storage baskets on top of wardrobe (just seen in first pic), Ikea

lifebylotte-bedroom3Chest of drawers, Ikea
Clock, Heal’s
Mirror, Ikea
Pigeon light, Thorsten van Elten
Wicker washing basket, Debenhams
Vase, inherited
Glass storage jars, The White Company

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Carpet, Wool Cord in Moon, Alternative Flooring
Ottoman, Loaf
Mirror, taken from an old wardrobe door, painted in Ammonite, Farrow & Ball

All photos copyright Houzz UK and taken by the supremely talented Chris Snook