Monthly Archives: January 2014

Adiós amigos!

Well, we’re escaping this miserable weather and are off to sunny Mexico for a couple of weeks. Woohoo!!

Humph really helped with my packing

Humph really helped with my packing

We’ve felt a bit guilty about this holiday – on and off. Should we have not saved our annual leave and worked less like dogs and missed out on less things last year? Should we really be spending our money on a holiday when we have a boiler and central heating debt to clear and rooms still to renovate? Hell yes, we should! Life is too short for not spending quality time with the one you love. Especially in all-inclusive loveliness.

And, above all, we’ve earned this!! We literally didn’t stop for months; by Christmas we were gibbering wrecks.

When I fished out our mini folder that we always use for travel documents I discovered that even that had plaster skank on it!

Nothing escaped the plasterer.

Nothing escaped the plasterer.

It reminded me just how far we’ve come. How much filth we had lived through and how right we were to have saved up for a holiday. The thought of it kept us sane!

So, I shall have a Mojito for all of you and really do promise to share pics of the rest of our house when we return. Adios amigos!

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Bedroom colour schemes

We have four bedrooms and – for now – we’re ignoring the smallest one that is a bit of a dumping ground/study. So there’s three that have had the full makeover.

I realised we hadn’t yet shared our chosen paint colours, so thought I’d do that now as I still haven’t taken photos of the finished rooms. (Sorry! I keep meaning to but need to get some shots in daylight but as we’re at work throughout the week and busy at weekends I never seem to get round to it.)

So, for now, you’ll just have to make do with the colours.

Back bedroom

I really didn’t want to love Elephants Breath – it seems to be the shade that everyone associates with Farrow&Ball – but, oh, one little tester pot and I was hooked. It’s such a lovely soft neutral with surprising hints of purple. Calming, elegant and serene. It had to happen.  Our chosen woodwork colour, Dimity, doesn’t seem to be chosen often for woodwork but it’s a lovely pairing due to it’s very slightest hint of pink – in some lights. Oly is smug because he picked this one out.

farrow and ball elephant's breath

Elephant’s Breath on the walls

farrow and ball dimity

Dimity on woodwork

Farrow and Ball Slipper Satin

Slipper Satin on the ceiling

Farrow and Ball All White

All White for the cornicing and ceiling rose

Music room

We knew we had a few bright accents for this room so wanted to keep it a fairly neutral backdrop. Plus, as Oly has insisted on calling it HIS room we wanted to keep it a little masculine.  So, we turned to the delicious grey palette.

farrow and ball Lamp Room Gray

Lamp Room Gray below the picture rail

farrow and ball Pavillion Gray

Pavilion Gray above the rail

cornforth white

Cornforth White on the ceiling

Farrow and Ball All White

All White for the woodwork, picture rail and cornicing

Master bedroom

This one was the most contentious and Oly needed a fair bit of persuading – what would I do without Pinterest? But, in the end, we opted for full-on drama with the utterly fabulous Hague Blue. Perfect white woodwork was the obvious choice but – as with the rest of the house – we didn’t want to use white on the ceiling (and lose the focus on the cornicing) so we went for the softest of blues in Cabbage White.

farrow and ball Hague Blue

Hague Blue on the walls. Yes, that’s right on the walls!

farrow and ball Cabbage White

Cabbage White on the ceiling

Farrow and Ball All White

All White for the woodwork, cornicing and ceiling rose

So, there you go, that’s our bedroom paint colours. Each room is deliberately quite different, but they don’t fight with each other as you cross into them.

What do you think of our choices?

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You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties….

We knew our kitchen diner would be the perfect party space. We knew.

Last weekend our theory was proved correct as we held an absolutely awesome party! It was exactly a year on from our Mexican housewarming party and a chance to show our lovely guests what we had achieved in a year.

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Oly a year ago, standing where our kitchen island now is

This year, we hosted a black-tie cocktail party, fitting for our new elegant surroundings. There were house tours and then overly-strong cocktail mixing (thanks to a friend mistaking the double measure for the single!). There was super-competitive beer pong followed by a bit of a disco. We fell into bed at 6am.

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Due to a high prevalence of lurgy and prior engagements we had less people than we had originally anticipated but the 25 people or so who did make it were absolutely swallowed up in our wonderful kitchen diner. We probably could have had that number again with no problems. Well, our neighbours may not have agreed.

Anyway, here’s just a brief snapshot:

Just this brief glimpse hopefully shows what a great time we had and how happy we were to be able to host.

It also made us reflect how lucky we are to have lovely people nearby to invite into our home – people who know how to live life to the full, how to have a laugh and – importantly – how to just accept each other for exactly as we are.

Our friends from earlier parts of our lives – growing up and uni – are incredibly dear to us but live in other parts of the country; though we frequently long to be closer.

Over the years since uni we made some close local friends but – on the whole – we found ourselves with more friends miles away than those close by.

Me and my lovely Emma

Me and my lovely Emma

That was until a couple of years ago when we went to Corfu for the wedding of an exceedingly lovely Lovely; I was her first boss and she’s now a very successful journalist.

Anyway, in Corfu we met her childhood friends (who I had already heard so much about I felt as if I knew them) and instantly fell in love with them and they, happily, with us. We’re now privileged and thankful to call them our own friends and adore spending time with them.

So, at the start of 2014 we’ve found we have lots to be thankful for. And, obviously, we’re already planning our next party.

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Love is stronger than death

In my last post I showed you our gallery wall, but there was one wall I hadn’t shown you. This one:

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This is on the opposite side of the disco loo and has just three frames, which kind of didn’t go with the rest. All of them are on the sentimental side. Indulge me…….

The first is a card I gave mum for Mothers’ Day in 2009. I found it in her bedside drawer when I had the hideous task of cleaning out the house after she had finally given up the fight against her poor broken body. It was a card in which I had written about how we were both coming to terms with the fact she wouldn’t be with me on my wedding day. I described how, in her absence, I was going to walk myself down the aisle, knowing she was with me every single step. I described how no-one else could take her place.

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no-one else can take

The second card – that I found in her desk drawer – was one Oly and I spotted in a bookshop in the Lower East Side, NYC, 2010. Whilst we were away she got pneumonia. The card just jumped out at me as what I wanted to know that she knew. She effectively kicked me out when I was 19 – I had delayed going to uni for  a year and then got an unconditional offer for Leeds. She told me if I didn’t go and live my own life then she would kick me out anyway, she would be ok and so would I. So, the hardest thing I have ever done – or will ever do – was to leave my caring role behind and go and find me. No matter what I was doing or where I was, I don’t think I stopped worrying since 1996.

You are in my mind, inbetween red lights and meetings, inbetween sips of coffee, inbetween ringing phones

The final card was the last birthday card she gave me. If you hadn’t yet worked it out – keep up! – I bloody adored my mum; she was incredible. She had the most amazing tenacity, abundant kindness, ridiculous sense of humour and greatest resilience for the constant shit life had thrown at her. She adored Oly – loved him like a son – and he loved her back. She valiantly fought illness for 26 years and we were as close as a mother and daughter could ever be.

This is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart, I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart

When Oly and I were framing these cards we discussed whether they made us sad and we both agreed it was the total opposite.

They remind us of the importance of love and the strength of words, they make us smile.

Mum is buried in a peaceful memorial woodland and, under her growing oak tree is a stone that includes the words: “Dearly loved, and confident that love is stronger than death.”

And, ok, ok, you’re wondering if this indulgent sentimentality really has a place in our disco loo. It has. She’d have died laughing.

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Gallery wall

(Apologies for the terrible photo quality in this post, this is what happens when you take pictures through glass!)

Just when we thought we couldn’t love our Disco Loo more than we already do we’ve gone and added a wall full of happiness.

Disco loo gallery wall with Dulux Proud Peacock

Gallery wall (background colour is Dulux Proud Peacock)

We’ve long had this plan for the main wall in the downstairs loo but have been kind of busy doing the bigger, more important, things in the house – like actually getting it habitable in time for Christmas.

So, as soon as we had the chance we were wading through old cards and photos and trekking off to Ikea for frames. Good old Ikea, what would we do without the humble Ribba frame? Affordable, simple design which – en masse – looks pretty good.

What did we decide to include on the wall? Well, first we went through photos and pulled out ones that make us smile – either for a memory or – more often – for the sheer stupidity. There are photos of my best mate and her gorgeous family, a pair of tiny sandy feet belong to our ‘charge’ (we’re his legal guardians) and there are some that maybe need a little more explanation, for example:

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We helped a friend who was compiling a recipe book by testing out recipes and taking pics. Someone decided to sneak into shot – it’s always made us laugh.

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We got married at Hazlewood and our surname is Tipper. You can imagine the hilarity – in fact, this image was our ‘thank you’ cards. It’s now a family favourite.

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Oly and his bro at our wedding playing ‘horse lips’. Never tried it? Blow a raspberry and take a pic…..

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See? Horse Lips is always fun!

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A few years ago I found this photo at my mum’s. My darling, skint, ill, only just about getting by mum. Turned out she had saved up and bought a water pump for a village in India. She just kind of didn’t tell anyone. Sums her up perfectly.

After we’d decided on photos we looked back at a stash of cards; many of which Oly and I originally gave to my mum over the years. She kept nearly everything we gave her so, when clearing out her house, I came across them stashed in books and drawers. They still make us smile and we like the fact they have kind of gone full circle.

And then there’s this:

Far Side cartoon

Far Side cartoon

This was from a Far Side wall calendar from, probably, about 25years ago. It was cut out and put in a clipframe and hung in my mum’s loo  – Oly has always loved it and the sheer inanity of putting cartoons in unexpected places. So, now it is hung in our unexpected place!

Also, in need of a little explanation is the needlepoint hunting picture.

We couldn’t find a place for this in the main house and – honestly – we’re not too keen on the subject matter yet can appreciate the craftmanship. However, it was given to my grandfather by his mother (made by her) so we wanted it to have a place somewhere. Is it wrong to hang a family heirloom in the loo?!

So, forgive my dodgy photography skills and take a look at what else is included:

To figure out the gallery wall layout we measured the wall space and mapped it out on the floor with tinsel (errrrr, obviously, doesn’t everyone?).   We then created an arrangement we were happy with (with Humph’s help, of course) and took a photo to work to.

We then just transferred the whole lot onto the wall – which took HOURS!! We started with each corner, then along the line until we had the outline, before filling in the middle. We weren’t patient or anal enough to measure and calculate distances between frames, so it definitely has a homespun feel to it and is all the better for it. Well, that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.

It’s almost impossible to get a good shot of the full wall, given the tiny room and space to manoeuvre, but here’s my best shot(s) at it.

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So now this creation makes us smile and hopefully it will amuse our guests too – it’s very “us”.

The Disco Loo is now complete. Well, until I manage to convince Oly that we really do need that revolving glitter ball from Ikea.

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Happy new year!

Hope everyone had wonderful festive seasons and you’re full of hope and inspiration for a new year? This quote – by the unmistakable Tennyson – perfectly summed up the usual New Year expectations for me:

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.”

So, for us, 2013 left with a whimper and 2014 entered the same –  thanks to dreaded lurgy that induced chronic asthma and even an (almost unheard of) day off work. Meh. Still, it has at least made us slow down and consider the year ahead – in house terms anyway.

As you know from our last hurried pre-Xmas post we completed what we set out to do in 2013; get all the main ‘lived in’ areas of the house sorted by Christmas. I’ll look forward to catching you up with how it all looks over the next few months, with full room reveals I promise! The reaction from friends who visited over Christmas kind of affirmed how well we’ve done!

So, what lies ahead for the house in 2014? Well, honestly, we’ve run out of money and have a big old credit card (don’t worry, 0%) to pay off but – once that’s behind us – these are the bigger things still left to do:

  1. The study. It’s the 4th bedroom, but we’ll use it as a study plus maybe a bit of an over-spill dressing area.
  2. The utility room. What was the old kitchen and currently just a dumping ground.
  3. The house bathroom. Whilst it’s had a decent lick of paint and is certainly very useable we do plan to start again.
  4. The back garden. We have a patio/paving solution to find plus some general maintenance.
  5. The steps/driveway. Again, nothing that can’t wait and – I suspect – once we find out the costs, something that will end up waiting a good few years!!

Of course, there’s lots of little things and ongoing maintenance too but they’re the big ones. Will they happen in 2014? Some will, some won’t. We certainly won’t be having such a crazy year!

So, upcoming blog posts will mostly be showing things you haven’t yet seen (because I was so rubbish at staying on top of it all) plus other random ramblings. I’m not quite sure what direction this blog may end up taking – but hey, let’s just see. I ain’t gonna plan for anything, or plan against it.

In the meantime, I have had comments that there haven’t been enough Humph pictures. Sorry, here you go:

sunlightHumph

He isn’t actually that happy about the nasty, dirty, old carpet. It’s the sun he likes. His taste is far superior, honest.

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