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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The plans for the plans

SO now that you know what we have planned, this is what we are thinking of doing to the space.

I love the idea of a separate dressing room and ensuite to the main bedroom, but the space is not big enough and the architect said that putting a wall up will compromise the light to the room to the back.

One day while flipping through Living Etc, I saw this picture and fell in love (in fact I love the whole house, you can see it here

So I sort of imagine the layout to be something like this

The green diagonal lines are to show built in cupboards and drawers. The placement of the bed unit will depend on the head height that we manage to get. A neighbour has already converted their loft and we are using the same company, so I might ask to go and measure up so that I can get the dimensions to make sure it will work. The drawing above is not to scale, so I am still unsure of how much space there will be around the bed, so this plan does depend on it not being too cramped with the bed in the middle of the room!

The walls will be white, and I plan to order the following samples of Engineered Oak Flooring from Element7 - they are both a grey toned oak.

I love the idea of this, I just hope the reality will match expectations.

The ensuite will not be huge, sadly! From the same house in Living etc, I have become a bit obsessed with a carerra marble bathroom.

No space for a bath in the middle of the room sadly! How lovely it must be to have a soak in there. One worry I have about the marble is that it might stain. The water we get is very hard and in our current bathroom it tends to leave a lovely orange residue on the grout which I can (and do!) scrub off, but I know marble is very porous. So I have ordered a sample of the marble from Stonell and it arrived yesterday. I am going to put it in the shower to see if it stains. It has a polished surface, so I hope that will be enough to stop it staining. I also have some marble impregnator (tee hee, such a funny word) that I plan to paint on half the tile to see if that helps. Do you think I am totally anal!!?? ;-) I just don't want to spend all that money on tiles that are going to look crap in 6 months.

So that is the start of the ideas we have for the room. Would love your thoughts....

Monday, 22 February 2010

20/20 Hindsight

Anything I would have done differently in my kitchen I was asked by a friend the other day? Hell yes!! Where to start? We have SMEG appliances (other than the fridge freezer which is by Maytag) and they haven't been great. The cooker is much hotter on one side than the other and cooks food unevenly and the hob scratches so easily and is really smeary. I also regret not having a gas option for the hob. The fan oven has also broken twice now and cost us a considerable amount to repair. I know hindsight is always 20/20 but I REALLY wish I had spent some more time researching appliances.

I am also not sure of WTF I was thinking when I chose that cooker hood. I bang my head on it all the time and it is very noisy plus I am not that keen on the shape (I was really rushing when I ordered it)...

A recent post on the Living Etc forums made me drool over this Mercury

Want it. Am now figuring out how we could reconfigure things and how much we would get for our oven and hob on ebay!! At almost £4k, it certainly isn't a priority (hello, loft conversion pending), but it doesn't stop me thinking about it...

Other regrets? I really wish we had put wiring into this central beam (in the middle of the rooflights):

To hang one of these (which I love very much...)

I know there wouldn't have been the budget at the time to buy the light, but if the wiring had gone in, the option would be there. I was talking to Mr SLS about this the other day and he did say we could get an electrician in to quote for the work if I wanted, but then I hadn't told him that the Sarfatti light would set us back £975. Also, with the loft conversion on the horizon, it hardly a priority.
We also spent a considerable amount of money on the floor, we went for a slate from Original Style. While I love the look of the tiles, they are incredibly time consuming to maintain and need regular sealing. Slate is also very soft, so we have quite a few scratches and dents now. I really wish we had spent half the money on porcelain tiles rather than getting stuck on the idea that we needed to have 'real stone'.

I am aware that all of this makes me sound like a moaner, and I know I am very lucky to have what I have, but I think with all projects it is important to learn something. I will spend more budget on appliances next time (the fridge was my big ticket appliance and I am very happy with it, so I do think it pays to spend money on them) and I would also spend more time planning the lighting (future proofing it in case I want to add to it later). If we ever do it all again, I will hopefully not make the same mistakes again!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Onwards and Upwards...

One of the many reasons I decided to start this blog is that we are hoping to do a loft conversion this year. I wanted somewhere to record all my plans, ideas and to chronicle the work. Plans are currently with the council and we expect to hear mid March if it has been approved.

Here are our plans:

This is the current front elevation (sorry it is a bit wonky, I am still working on my technical skills - another reason for starting a blog)!!

We are proposing a new gable end roof, which means that as you look at the house, it will be a slope to the front of the house, a slope to the back, and lots of extra headroom in the loft.

This is the current side elevation, with the hip roof

This is the proposed new side elevation, but from the other side of the house (imagine splitting the semi in half - wouldn't that be nice) - there will be a rear dormer to create more headroom.


This is the current rear elevation. You can see the slope to the back.

This is the proposed rear elevation, with windows into the new loft room matching in with those of the rest of the house. The original roof line is the dotted line across the new dormer.

So that is how it will look outside. There are a number of these these loft conversions in our road, with quite a few of the 'semi' pairs unbalanced. But to be honest, these houses are quite tall, and you really don't notice those with extensions unless you are looking for them.

So how about inside? Here are the plans

This is the current ground floor. It will remain unchanged, but I thought you might find it interesting anyway!!

Our house is strange in that the back of the L shape is 3 stories (but only two at the front) so there is already a bedroom and bathroom (the window that you can see on the rear elevation on the third floor is Miss SLS's bedroom and a bathroom (well, actually a bath and a sink, no toilet which is the way it was when we bought it, but we have plans for that that I will come to. )

I have put a red line around the new space. Here it is a bit bigger (the ensuite is outlined in blue):

(Sorry, just noticed that the shower should read 900x 1000, not 900x100!!) So those are the plans. I am REALLY hoping they will be approved. I will let you know once they are. I will post my ideas for the space soon!!! Also, I know the drawings are RUBBISH. I have to say the bloke who came around to do the survey and the drawings was a wanker who made a big black mark on my landing carpet and then was really shirty with me when I complained. I have complained to the loft company, and they were very apologetic. Hopefully not a sign of things to come! Good friends of ours in a house a few doors down used them, and they had a good experience. So fingers crossed!!!!

Is half term really finished already...???

Gosh, this one went so quickly. I had plans to post pictures of my Valentines Day flowers this week and all of a sudden it is Saturday again!!! How did that happen? This was one of my worries about starting a blog, the time needed to update it!

Thanks so much for your input on the last post. I am leaning ever so slightly towards the Florence Knoll looky likey. I think we might go to the shop to sit on them and see if that forces a decision. There hasn't really been a nice vintage Danish armchair on for a while, I will keep looking as that is my second choice.

I am gutted because I was bidding on some lovely yellow velvet to make a cushion for the grey sofa and I lost it. I now cannot find another shade as lovely. The yellow velvet was to make one like a lovely one that was on the TOAST website and then sold out just as I was going to order it... I should have bid more for the velvet, I should have just bought the TOAST cushion when I saw it, now have serious non buyers remorse.

Miss SLS had a friend over yesterday for a sleepover. We took them to the Tate modern and then walked across the wobbly bridge (or Millennium Bridge as it is known to most!) and then home. It was a lovely day in London yesterday, and I love the Tate Modern, it is just such a fantastic setting and collection.

So because I hate blog posts without photos, here is a bit from my week:

Valentine roses from the kids:

Flowers from Mr SLS:

Trying to do a close up....

My amaryllis finally opened:

And revealed it wasn't white at all...

I bought a friend some lovely Chanel body creme for her birthday, and while at the counter, the lady let me try the newest hot chanel nail varnish called Particuliere. So hot you can't buy it, but she painted one of my nails just to make me really want it more!! SO have been combing the internet looking for a bottle. Unavailable everywhere except for ebay where you can get a bottle for £30 (normally retails at £16) - I am sure that they do this just to create a buzz and to annoy me. Please excuse the cuticles, looks like I have been a bit slack in the manicure department for a while (oh, say for about 6 years since having children...)

It looks pretty rubbish here, but it is a a taupey griege colour and I want it.... I am a marketing mans dream, create a buzz and I will buy into it!

This is the yellow fabric I lost out on. One of those cases of not really thinking of how much it would cost me to buy it in the shop and underbidding...... the Toast cushion was a very similar colour, now nowhere to be seen on their website.

With the little ones back at school next week I think I will make the trip up to Peter Jones or John Lewis to see if I can get something similar....

Friday, 12 February 2010

Front Room Help Please....

This is my front room. It is your fairly standard 16' x 12' room with a bay window. It faces directly south so it is very sunny and bright. This photo was taken just after we replaced all the horrid UPCV windows with timber sashes. We were just about to start decorating it. This was two years ago!!!!! The room has been decorated and sat quite empty other than the bookcases and a baggy old beige sofabed. This has been partly due to an inability to make any decisions and the fact that Mr SLS worked for that big American Investment Bank that triggered the whole credit crunch. Also, we do have plans in about 4-5 years time to knock through into the room behind which is currently the playroom. That is why there is a silly great radiator behind the sofa and a quite bland and boring carpet, we thought we would wait to do these things until we knock through. SO the room isn't really how I envisage it will be one day, but I still wanted to smarten it up so that we can use it in the meantime.

Even now that things are a bit more stable financially I have really struggled with this room. I spent ages looking for sofas. I really love the Florence Knoll sofa, but at over £5000 (over £7000 for the 3 seater) this beauty would sadly not make the final cut.

I did find a cheeky fake for £800 (that is more like it) but the 3 seater was too wide for the space, and the 2 seater was too small.

So from the sublime to the ridiculous, one day I was walking past Argos (yes, Argos) and in the window they had a photo of this sofa:

Turns out it was the perfect dimensions for the space, and the colour would work well. Well, for £400 it was worth a try. I ordered it kept my fingers crossed. It didn't work. The sofa looked very blue in the room, and there was a pull in the stitching of one of the cushions, and the smell of chemicals coming off of the fabric was nauseating. It was the perfect size, but the quality was poor. So off it went back to Argos (who, to be fair, have a fantastic delivery and returns service including 2 hour delivery and pick up slots!).

I then went back to the place I always go back to when I try to do something different, Ikea. Now, there is nothing I dislike more than an Ikea snob (I know quite a few). I think that even if I had won Euromillions last night (over £100million, can you imagine?) I would still shop in Ikea for certain things. I love it. So off to Croydon I went, and decided that the Karlstad was a winner.
Here it is in situ:

Do you like my cushions? They are from the very clever Nicky at

The size was just about perfect, the price was good (although I would have spent more money if needed, I did flirt with a beauty in SCP but was too worried about the kids trashing it) . However the Karlstad was missing one thing on my list, I did want some buttoning (not sure if that is the technical term!). However, I figured I could get some of those buttons that you cover, and then get my mother-in-law who is an upholsterer to do it for me. This has yet to happen, as they have not been down for a while, and so I am considering doing it myself. But in the meantime, there was a need for more furniture. I wanted two armchairs for the room for this space

And one to go in the bay window to replace this very old and uncomfortable, baggy and too big for the space sofabed

I was thinking a Balzac chair would be perfect in the room, and while cruising ebay for one I happened across this:

The Matthew Hilton Wing Chair. Which I won for £300. So it now graces that long bare wall.

This cushion is from the very clever Becca at .

So now I am left with the decision as to what to put in the bay window. With funds uncertain due to the volatile nature of Mr SLS's job, I am as always being encouraged to be 'frugal' (a word I loathe) Currently in the running are:

A vintage danish leather armchair (they range from about £300 - £600 on ebay:

The Barcelona Chair (sadly, it would be a fake) in ivory (couldn't seem to upload the ivory pic £629:

The Florence Knoll Chair, again an impressionista! £399

I still love the Balzac but in every photo I see of one 'insitu' it looks knackered and the leather appears to stain. Plus, it is the most expensive at over £1000.

Also needed are some art, and a light. But I think they might be another post. At the rate I move, probably in about two years.....

So what do you think? I would love to know what you think would work best. I am currently favoring the Florence Knoll chair, and I think it would work well, but can you think of a better alternative?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Dusty and Gusty

Well, I left you off at the plasterboarding stage. This is when things really started to drag, as the company who were making the concertina doors and glass above were TOTALLY crap and screwed up a number of times. We therefore had a massive hole in the back of our house for 10 weeks. I was getting more and more irate, and more and more pregnant.
The original kitchen was turned into a downstairs loo, a storage cupboard and a utility room.

Finally, on a freezing cold day in December, the doors and glazing went in. I walked in expecting to be delighted and instead wound up pitching a massive fit as the glazing above the doors was wrong. The glazing bars were in the wrong position, they were supposed to line up with the breaks in the doors. So I made the fitter stay until 10pm to take them back out. I knew if I left them in, I would have had a battle to get them back to redo it. SO back on the lorry they went. The fitter told me he thought I was really 'mean' to make him stay. UH, you fit something that was completely wrong. I then had a massive battle with the company to finally get them to correct their mistake. I even managed to negotiate some money back. Never mess with a pregnant woman. So we had another couple of weeks of this

Finally the glass arrived and we could start doing this. Lots of this.

And then finally time for the kitchen to be installed (or playframe as Miss SLS thought...)

And after weeks of finishing off lots of little jobs, we were left with this:

So there you have it. The biggest bit of building work we have done to date. In retrospect, it doesn't seem that bad, but I know it wasn't fun while it was going on. A couple of months after it was all finished, we had a little Master SLS.