A little pause…

Excuse me while I take a pause to familiarise myself with our new little family member! Needless to day the DIY and house projects have slowed somewhat for the time being… but I will post soon when a window of opportunity presents itself.

In the meantime, here is a photo of some beautiful flowers from my friend Heather, whose amazing plant filled home in Chicago you may remember here.


A Book Nook with Ikea Mosslanda Picture Ledges

Alex installed the Ikea Mosslanda picture ledges in the study/ nursery over the weekend, so now we have a cute little ‘book nook’!

As I briefly mentioned in my previous IKEA related post, these picture ledges replace the Ribba range that were discontinued (about a year ago?). The Mosslanda ledges are a little deeper (120mm),  have a ‘V’ shaped groove routed out of them, and have a taller upstand at the back (as you can see from the side view photo above).   As a picture ledge, I feel as though the Ribba ones were perhaps a little more elegant, but if you are using them as I have as a forward facing book shelf (or for anything with a bit more weight on them) – these modifications work well. The taller upstand at the back also makes them feel MUCH more secure on the wall! As an aside – I’ve also seen these shelves used to display a favourite selection of vinyl records – which also looked great!

As the shelves were being fixed into our brick party wall, we first drilled holes into the masonry, which we then filled with plastic rawl plugs before screwing in the shelves. For more handy tips for fixing into masonry check out this article from the DIY Doctor. I only just discovered this website, and will certainly be back if needed for another project!

It is a really sweet tradition at my office to give anyone expecting a baby a selection of children’s books, as chosen by each employee.  Because the staff range in age from 25-45, and come from a total of 11 different countries, a really interesting collection of stories results… and now we have somewhere to store ours!


Dealing with Damp

We have had an ongoing issue with  damp in our study near the roof level around the chimney which has been a low level annoyance for about a year and a half now. In investigating the potential cause, we discovered that our shared rear chimney was in a pretty sorry state in terms of one particular area of lead flashing around the base which was missed in an earlier inspection back in June 2016, the brick pointing, the bricks themselves (some of which were split), and some areas of the parapet capping (which you can see here).  While rectifying these issues, we ended up rebuilding the whole chimney and reducing it in height (as many had already done on our street) to minimise future risk of collapse (they were all built just a bit too high!).

As a belt and braces approach, we also added chimney caps to all pots (our neighbours kindly agreed to let us put temporary caps on theirs as they aren’t using their rear fireplaces at the moment), and also added in a pair of cast iron air bricks in our 2 flues to allow for some air movement (which I bought from ebay here as they have lots of fancy Victorian patterns!), so if any moisture got in, it could dry out. We couldn’t obviously put air bricks in our two neighbour’s flues as then our house would fill up with smoke if they every used their fireplaces – but as their flues are still open internally – there would still be the opportunity for air movement in all 4 flues.

Well… unfortunately, despite roughly 11 coats of paint being applied over the course of a year and a half, including the initial base coat and 3 top coats to provide sufficient coverage over the existing masonry,  two different brands of stainblock paint, and more top coats in between, we still seem to have some discolouration at high level. It doesn’t look like mould luckily… but we are stumped!

We’ve recently had a desk top and shelf built in as part of the nursery/study/ guest room swap around (pics later once we eventually get around to painting them!), and the carpenter who helped us out recommended this Zinsser BullsEye 1-2-3-Primer. Apparently in the building industry it is the go-to solution – so we are giving this one last chance.  If this fails, then we’ll call the builder back who did the chimney re-build to see if perhaps a bit of flashing has fallen loose… ooof.

I’m not suggesting this stain block will solve all your damp issues – its always best to find the source of the problem (not always so easy as moisture can track for quite a distance before manifesting) – but apparently this is the best stuff for dealing with the aftermath of staining that keeps grinning through.




Annual Visit to IKEA

My main reason for going to IKEA this year (unlike in previous years) was to pick up some economical drawer units for the nursery to house all the stuff that seems to come with a tiny baby.  I could of ordered the units online, but then I’d of missed out on seeing the new Hay Ypperlig range ‘in person’, and being inspired by all their sensible clever storage solutions for small living in the display areas.

I am pleased to report that the Ypperlig range is all lovely and well made except the shelving unit (which was a little too rickety for my liking), and the felt blankets (which felt a little flimsy and likely to pill within minutes).

So, this year, in addition to the Nordli drawer units, I came home with:

  • Ikornnes Table/ Wall Mirror  – Last year I bought the floor version of this mirror for the guest room, but now the corner that it occupied will be used by our mini study.  The floor mirror therefore found its way into our master bedroom, leaving the guest room without a mirror.  I always kicked myself for not getting the table mirror last year when I went, so this year I rectified that problem! The table mirror can also be mounted on the wall, with the stand flipping forward to be cleverly used as a shelf.
  • Stockholm Round Tray – This high quality walnut tray was introduced into their Stockholm range this year, so I couldn’t resist. It matches the Stockholm mirror that we installed in our living room, which I absolutely LOVE, and which no one believes is from IKEA!
  • Mosslanda Picture ledges – These simple picture ledges replaced their old RIBBA picture ledges when they were discontinued back in 2015. I’ve seen quite a few super cute IKEA hacks of people using these as shelves for children’s books as you can face the books outward and they can take up to 5kg of weight!
  • Salviken Waffle hand towel – Their new range of bath towels with one side waffle, and one side terry is surprisingly soft and economical – so one had to come home with me!
  • Goddag table runner – As I’ll be here in the UK for Christmas I thought I’d pick something up to dress up the table. I thought it might look nice with some festive red candles and napkins.

I didn’t buy the Lisabo coffee table or 2 side tables pictured, but I thought I’d mention it here anyway as one of my ‘IKEA picks for 2017’. The fact that the side tables fit neatly beneath the coffee table and that they could also probably be used as additional seating, is a really clever design for small spaces. Its also made in solid ash, so feels a much more upscale than their laminate furniture and could easily pass for a more expensive brand.


Staircase Finishing Touches

Our re-built staircase has been complete for a little while now, but I only got around to photographing it today – so here it is!

The treads and risers were finished and white washed last month when we had our floors done upstairs, and I painted the uprights a few weeks ago slowly over the course of a few days. As with the rest of the woodwork in the house, I used 2 coats of the Johnstone’s Acrylic Satin for wood work, on top of 1 coat of the Johnstone’s Joncryl Primer Undercoat, making sure I did a gentle sanding before starting.

I’ve decided to leave the handrail and newel post unfinished for the time being (you will remember that we decided to keep the original ones!). I quite like how all the different colours it has been painted over its lifetime are slightly visible.

We still need to finish sanding and painting the plaster repair that Alex has neatly executed above the skirting on the rear wall – but its good enough for now!  We  haven’t got around to the top landing balustrade and handrail.. but at least the downstairs bit is looking sharp.

P.S. The slots are to provide a bit of ventilation and air circulation to the cupboard under the staircase. There was originally a surface mounted plastic grille at this end of the cupboard – so we replaced that with some cut out slots for a slicker look. To lessen the ‘blackness’ of the slots, I taped one of the white curtain fabric samples that I received when trying to select curtains to the back side! Job done!


Nursery – Material Board

As most of you know, Alex and I are expecting a new little family member to join us in about 2 weeks time.  So, with that in mind, we needed to make a few adjustments to our current room arrangement. We’ve been told by our good friends Claire and Sam (whose beautiful home in Manchester you may remember here) that when you have a baby you should psychologically prepare for your room plan and sleeping locations to all change… but for now, this is what we are doing:

  •  The guest room will remain as a spare bedroom (for the time being) so that our family can come and visit, and so that when Alex goes back to work he has somewhere where he might be able to get a full night’s sleep.
  • We will add a small desk in guest room in the niche beside the fireplace to serve as our ‘study corner’ and a place for our computer.
  • Our study will be turned into the nursery

The above material board is our aspiration and plan for the nursery:

  • Leander Cot – Sold to us second hand by some friends of friends. This white washed birch plywood cot is a classic ‘architect’s’ choice, and can adapt and extend into a junior bed to suit the child up to the age of 5.  More details here. You can buy them second hand on ebay for half the price, and then get a new mattress.
  • White-washed floorboards – Already done as you can see in progress here and finished here.
  • Black and white rug – As we don’t  know whether we are having a girl or a boy, (and also because I’m an architect, so the nursery was never going to be pink or blue anyway), we thought we’d keep the rug we only just bought this year for the study and go for a gender neutral ‘Black, White and Whitewashed Wood‘ theme.
  • IKEA Nordli drawer units – As children’s rooms need to change frequently to accommodate their changing needs over time (bigger beds, desks etc.) we didn’t want to spend a fortune on storage that may not be suitable later. The Nordli range is great as you can group units in many different configurations. So with two new £20 tops and plinths, a 3 unit chest of drawers can be broken apart into 2 smaller units. Plus I didn’t really like their children’s STUVA equivalent range, which is a lot less adaptable.  Our space saving IKEA hack is that we intend to use the top of this low chest of drawers as a changing table!
  • IKEA Mosslander picture ledge – Used as book shelves for outward facing books. I can’t take credit for this super cute IKEA hack (its all over Pinterest and the internet), but I really love the idea of these bargain £4.95 picture shelves being used as book shelves.
  • Hanging clothes rod – Most of the baby clothes will go into the Nordli drawer units, but some are just too cute to hide away. I thought I could also hang other bits and pieces from a rod too, which I intend to hang from our exposed rafters.
  • Swan Mobile – White and elegant… I couldn’t resist buying one of these inexpensive paper mobiles from Trouva for £13.95.
  • Black with white crosses fabric – I love this fabric from Robert Kauffman (£6.31/lm), which you can buy here on Etsy. I’m thinking it would be perfect for black out blinds.
  • White Eames rocking chair –  A design classic, and one of those ubiquitous luxury nursery items.  Certainly an ‘aspiration’, rather than a necessity!
  • Penguin Print – The Etsy store TinyKiwi sells inexpensive prints of all sorts of animals in this minimal geometric style. I can’t decide!
  • Picture frames – IKEA sells both the HOVSTA and the BREDARYD picture frame ranges in light toned wood for low prices.

IKEA Designer Collaboration – Hay

For the past few years, IKEA has been undertaking collaborations with famous upscale designers and this year was no exception. (Read about my post about IKEA’s collaboration with Interior Designer Ilse Crawford here or ceramisist Ingegerd Råman here)

This year, not only did they work with British designer Tom Dixon to design a sofa bed called ‘Hacking’ (which you can read about here on his website, or here on Dezeen), but they also collaborated with Hay, one of my current favourite furniture designers.  (You may remember my Hay ‘About a Chair‘ purchase which was delivered back in January…)

I have to admit that I don’t love the sofa bed, so have decided to share with you some of my favourite pieces from the Hay collaboration which form the recently released Ypperlig range.  They do both a table and floor version of the light – both of which are clean lined and elegant.

Get yourself to IKEA now to snap them up before they are gone if you need any of these items (unfortunately we are currently well stocked for lights, benches and mirrors!).