My Victorian house renovation - the final push!

Apologies for the radio silence but frankly, I didn't feel that writing about skirting boards was a valuable use of time given that our lives have been turned upside down by the final phase of Project House Sanctuary. It's all hands on deck as we push for completion of this monster house renovation within the next month.

 My first ever en-suite!

My first ever en-suite!

Unpredictably, the upstairs has proved far more challenging to manage than the downstairs. It seems I can cope without a kitchen far easier than I can cope without a bed or a bathroom which, in hindsight, shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, since I like sleeping far more than I like cooking.

Far from sanctuary status, as a family we are currently teetering on the other end of the calmness spectrum, camping in the attic with no shower and a daily challenge of locating essential belongings. 

The boys have given up even trying to manage their mess. It's a free for all of washing piles and discarded footwear, proving to me beyond doubt that the state of your home and your mind are intrinsically linked. 

A family holiday came just at the right time for us all. It was a perfect opportunity for House Candy Andy to rip out the family bathroom (the last room to get the Wreck-It-Ralph treatment) and for me to sit on a sun lounger with my pad and pen sketching out living spaces that could actually spark joy thanks to their functionality, elegance and in added cool factor.

So here's a few pics by way of a progress report for those of you that have been following the journey so far (and can I just take the opportunity to thank everyone who has messaged me and offered words of support!)

The Boot Room

boot room.JPG

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the entrance is going to be my favourite space in the house. I've dipped my toe into the dark(er) side with Farrow and Ball's Charleston Grey as the background to what promises to be a very warm welcome home. I decided to take the colour to the most dramatic effect by painting the ceiling, coving, skirtings and door frame the same colour. I've left the window boards white to bring this out as a feature.

The new brick fireplace will house a fire grate and HCA played a masterstroke by adding another alcove as a much needed log store.  

Pops of lime green, with lots of lush plants will provide a transitional space from the outside, in. Storage is key here with the old dairy cabinet set to become a swoon-worthy shoe cupboard and a Victorian storage bench reclaimed from my son's Grammar School giving us the luxury of a place to sit and kick off our boots. 

 If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

In the adjoining downstairs loo, the old butlers sink from the demolished outbuilding has scrubbed up well enough to be fitted onto the legs of an old singer sewing machine. This is a sentimental touch as both my gran and my mum used to sew regularly on this style of machine.  HCA has promised to make me some taps out of copper piping and with budget stretched to breaking point any opportunity to save a little bit of dollar is most definitely welcome.

I like to add a bit of glamour where it's least expected so the boot room, functional as it sounds, is going to get a great ballroom style chandelier to make it feel special. 

This space leads straight into the hall and I wanted to make these two spaces connect, without merging them into one. The Victorian Minton tiles are the showstopper here and they are also the inspiration for the colour choices in all rooms that feed into this central anchor of our home. 

I've kept the walls and panelling deliberately simple, allowing as much light as possible to flow into this space which is limited on natural light as it is a semi. Interest will hopefully be added with artwork and accessories which I look forward to updating you on very soon!

hallway.JPG

The en-suite

en-suite.JPG

Ridiculous as it sounds, our new en-suite bathroom looks set to be the first room of the renovation to actually be 100% finished. I went for a period style sink from Victorian Plumbing as I wanted to see as much floor space as possible. I've gone for small-scale white herringbone mosaic tiles on the floor which really plays with the proportions of the room and a crackled glaze subway tile in the shower (which I'm less enamoured with, but hey, it does the job).

The shower situation has been problematic and we're still waiting on a replacement for a faulty part from Victorian Plumbing after a couple of days of swearing and head scratching from HCA. Meantime, we're all taking it in turns to have baths in the tiny slipper bath in the attic. The boys moan but I think they are all secretly enjoying the extra chill out time that bathing allows.

The en-suite is also Charleston Grey but it looks less brown in here where there is more light and white than it does in the boot room. This shade does a great job of bridging the tricky gap between cream tiles, white floor and white sanitary ware and also went brilliantly well with Marks and Spencer's gorgeous wooden beaded Mila chandelier to bring a bit of boho glam into the proceedings.

In the bedroom, I've gone for classic F&B Elephant's Breath which, unlike its name suggests, is fresh and sensual. We have long-standing sleep issues in our house and I needed a soothing neutral that would work with my vintage accessories without being too girly for Richard. Layering will be key in here and I plan to mix and match textures without going too crazy on the colour palette, opting instead for a more pared back take on vintage glamour.

The boys have switched rooms because you know that Arsenal map wallpaper that I was convinced would stand the test of time for George? well guess what, now he's 14 he wants rid. It was extortionate money at the time so there's no way I'm scraping it off. Instead my younger son who would happily have us cover him head to toe in Arsenal wallpaper, is delighted to be moving in. Both boys' rooms have been given a lick of Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White which is actually a very lovely pale grey and with any luck the carpets will be fitted this week which means an end to three months of bedroom sharing for these two and I actually think they're going to miss each other!  

The Family Bathroom

new bathroom.JPG

The family bathroom is the last room on the renovation hit list but is by no means least. We've gone all out on period detailing with luxury double height skirtings, deep coving and a central ceiling rose to really make the room feel grand. As an extra treat, we've re-used the fireplace from the old dining room as a feature for the chimney breast wall. It won't be a working fireplace but it will add further drama to the room. I've ordered the biggest bathtub I could find for a truly indulgent spa-like experience in this bathroom - the ultimate switch off sanctuary for our busy team (and big enough to cope with at least a couple of mucky footballers)

Again I'm keeping the bathroom fixtures and fittings classic because I want a timeless feel that will be impossible to fall out with. Throughout this renovation, I have been conscious of not repeating our past decorating mistakes. We have always tried to do the best we could afford, but in many cases it has led to additional, unnecessary expenditure further down the line. This bathroom is for keeps so I make no apologies for its safe-ness design wise. There are lots of places in a home where you can experiment with trends, but in my mind, the bathroom isn't one of them. 

Downstairs

kitchen update.JPG

We have held off installing the flooring downstairs until most of the muck and debris is out of the way and we're hopeful that we are approaching that welcome milestone very soon. I've actually got used to the raw concrete floor in the kitchen/ dining area but I'm sure the lovely herringbnone Amtico we have chosen will be the perfect icing on the cake. 

Speaking of cake, it's t'husband's birthday weekend, it's sunny outside and there's a half eaten chocolate sponge cake with my name on it within arm's reach. I'm a good half stone heavier at the end of this renovation than I was at the beginning which I put largely down to the comfort eating and increased wine consumption that has helped see me through. Still, there's every possibility that we will be living on rice and beans for the next five years so let's call this next slice stockpiling and say no more about it, deal?

See you soon for some exciting big reveals (EEK!)

Happy weekend all,

Claire xx

 

 

 

The gift giving memo you need to steal

I'm not one of those people who can say, hand on heart, that their affections cannot be bought because today I found there's nothing quite like a parcel with my name on it to perk up a mediocre Wednesday.

 Fluro write with me pencil £1.50  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Fluro write with me pencil £1.50 www.featherandnest.co.uk

That said, I wouldn't be moved to instantly write about the contents of said parcel unless I could describe it as "right up my alley". This one is. (See my Instagram stories for deets)

Feather and Nest - a new independent store selling quirky gifts and homewares is SO up my alley it makes me want to move to the picturesque Oxfordshire town in which it resides just so that I could be lucky enough to call it my local. Fortunately for t'husband they have a website as well.  

Now I don't know if Feather and Nest nicked my slogan, or I nicked theirs, but it's cool because the more believers in our shared theory that "your house should tell your story" the better. We like a curated house we do. As I keep saying, these days "House Candy" should have a place in our heart if it has a place in our home. This notion not only makes us excellent decorators but outstanding gift givers; because our pressies are both thoughtful and co-incidentally cool. 

I love buying gifts but I don't always have the time to do the job justice. Now that I've found a store that thinks on my wavelength I'm really happy that I can head straight here for items that can be delivered with all the love and affection I would normally put into a dedicated shopping trip. 

Please scroll past if you're moving house, having a baby, getting married or just so downright wonderful that you are deserving of a random gift from me this year because the following shopping memo might well spoil the surprise. 

Memo

Things to buy for people I REALLY like, but probably haven't got time to go shopping for:

1) For the New Baby

The baby gift stresses me. What size will they not have an overflowing drawer full of already? Is what I think is cute also what they will think is cute? Have the parents still got a sense of humour or are they just too bloody tired? The cactus lamp suits everyone. It's fun, it's cool, it's useful. When all the other gifts have been left unworn because by the time they fitted it was the wrong season... the cactus lamp will still look funky and remind the parents to stay cool.

 Cactus lamp £10  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Cactus lamp £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

2) For The Bestie

Cushion buying is a risky business but when you win at it, it's the gift that says you get your mate like no other. This cushion is a winner. It ticks a lot of trend boxes, I have to admit, but it's also a monochrome, palm print, tassle-tastic classic. Buy it for your very best and most stylish friend. And also, please, for me.

 Palm print tassle cushion  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Palm print tassle cushion www.featherandnest.co.uk

3) For the Friend in Need.

Winnie the Pooh said that nobody can be un-cheered with a balloon and it's possibly the only one of his musings I don't 100% agree with. I'm not a fan of balloons, but I AM a fan of candles for making any mood unquestionably better. I am, however, a candle snob and not only do I want the candle to smell divine, but I want it to come in a really gorgeous pot that looks the part too. Paddywax has nailed this niche with a range of hand-poured soy wax candles, matching diffusers and handwash that smell yummy, but also leave you with the prettiest of little jars to re-use long after the flame has died out. 

 Paddywax urban candle £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

Paddywax urban candle £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

4) For The Midlife-er 

Resist the urge to buy Gin. They've got tons. Buy them something nobody else has thought of instead. Buy them a quartz arrow pendant because excellent accessorising will see them stylishly through the midlife crisis. 

 Arrow jade pendant (black) £38  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Arrow jade pendant (black) £38 www.featherandnest.co.uk

5) For The Student

Remind them to never lose their sparkle (and to please change their socks)

 Sparkly lurex socks £8.50  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Sparkly lurex socks £8.50 www.featherandnest.co.uk

6) For the woman who has everything but can't seem to find any of it

This book will show her where it was all along. Kate Moss buys it for everyone she knows. Be more Kate.

 Self Care for the Real world £16.99  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Self Care for the Real world £16.99 www.featherandnest.co.uk

7) For the one you share a bed with

Basically bottled love potion.

 Magic organic body oil £28  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Magic organic body oil £28 www.featherandnest.co.uk

8) For the one you were shitty to

Because it sucks to have to say sorry and we all need an ironic sloganed notebook to note down the people who are shitty to us.

 Notebook £6.99  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Notebook £6.99 www.featherandnest.co.uk

9) For the girl that thinks she's SJP

Because a clashing purse is an instant outfit update and this one looks way more expensive than it is.

 Turquoise purse £22  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Turquoise purse £22 www.featherandnest.co.uk

10) For The Homemaker

An anglepoise lamp in must have pastel green avec coper hinges. A bringer of lightness and positive chi in one chic, yet totally useful package? I mean, give it away by all means. But hell, you deserve a gift too don't you?

 Desk lamp £69  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Happy weekend you generous bunch. 

Claire xx

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to My House Sanctuary

Instagram followers will know that I’m having a bit if an identity crisis and the reason is this: The never-ending house renovation has knocked the sugar coating off me. Too much House Candy has made me feel sick and I'm in search of sanctuary!

 My fresh new interior thinking (and fresh eco kicks)

My fresh new interior thinking (and fresh eco kicks)

It's grated on me for a while, but the realisation that maybe I'd outgrown the House Candy label was all too evident last week. The snow had come to make a difficult living situation just that little bit more trying and a trail of discarded wet clothes led me to my boys who were thawing out watching Shrek in the lounge, the only room that remains unaffected by the house renovation. It was that bit at Shrek's kids' birthday party when the ogre can't cope with being nice anymore and lets rip with the most outrageous roar. 

 When Shrek had had it with sweetness.

When Shrek had had it with sweetness.

"That's you!" they all laughed, hysterically.

Ha bloody ha.

Now I wouldn't normally take any notice, but there was something about party pooper Shrek that really struck a chord. There were all these people in his house, it was noisy and messy, he should be having fun and yet "ROOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR". He just longed for his old life back and the sanctuary of the cosy little hideaway he used to call home. I totally get Shrek’s beef.

Life is stressful and our home should be our escape from that. When we come home, it’s important to feel relaxed and yet so often we come home to be faced with more mayhem. There’s the pile of ironing waiting for us, the kids to feed, the dog to walk, the bathroom to clean… the list goes on. That’s just life of course, but I totally believe that your surroundings can soothe your mental state and suddenly I'm all about interior design being my self-help for the home.

I’ve designed my new spaces with wellbeing in mind. I want to create a home that appeals to our senses and helps us all to be our best selves, not the fat, green ogre some of us have a habit of turning into. 

So that’s why I wanted a new start and a name change and why I'm hoping to re-launch the blog when I've finished re-launching my home! The decision may appear to have come out of the blue, but please know that it actually comes from a good place in my heart and a better place in my home. 

My House Sanctuary is definitely where I’m at style-wise at the moment thanks to the opportunity I've had to start over with the house renovation. The clear outs have made me vow never again to fill my space with pretty stuff just for the sake of it. It takes up space in my house and my head that I no longer have room for. 

Maximalism suddenly feels too chaotic for me. Trends feel too fickle, flat pack too throwaway. I've filled WAY too many skips and would really like to leave more than landfill as my legacy when I'm gone.  I've been involved with every little detail of re-designing my living space and am excited to show you how it turns out over the next few weeks. But this time around, I'm not looking to wow you with a jaw-dropping instagram hit of a house. I want it to be more laid back than that, more soulful in its styling. Be prepared to be under-whelmed!

I've always said that your house should tell your story and My House Sanctuary feels like the next logical chapter in the design journey for me. I've learnt so much about myself in the last six months and would like to think it's time to lose the candy floss fluffiness and get serious about my style. I''m all about relaxed living spaces that give us less reason to lose it.

Soooooo, a refreshed blog is in the pipeline and hopefully I will be ready for a bit of a re-launch when the house is finished in a couple of months' time. That surely means we need a party right? (I'll be the green monster stifling a roar)  

Happy Mother's Day to all you other Mummy Hustlers out there. I've just had the most amazing news that tomorrow's football match is off due to waterlogged pitch which means breakfast in bed is most definitely ON. How's this for a bedroom sanctuary tho?

 Fornasetti II Collection Chiavi Segrete wallpaper by Cole and Son

Fornasetti II Collection Chiavi Segrete wallpaper by Cole and Son

Claire x

The Hallway Hangover Part II - Light Therapy

As far as I can tell, a Polar Vortex is good for one thing and one thing only. Downtime. House Candy Andy is snowed in, which means he's not shouting for me every ten minutes to decide where I want a radiator pipe, how high I want a skirting, which particular style coving I had in mind and, whilst I'm choosing the en-suite, can I be quick with the cuppa. Tea, half a sugar in case you want to join his waiting list.

So yay for The Beast from The East and the opportunity (wifi permitting) to update you on the hallway situation, which I know you've been worried about, as have I.

stairs and landing.JPG

It's fine. The panelling is still very raw and a bit masculine for my liking, but now that the paper is off and the new plaster dried, I can see that it's going to be great. In fact I've even agreed to just a weeny bit more woodwork. I know, I know, I was all about overkill last week, but I've figured out an opportunity for extra accessorising and in my book, that's never a bad thing. In this instance, I wanted somewhere on the stairwell to flaunt my love of flowers... and then I remembered Rule No 3 of my (yet to be published) laws of decorating: No one ever regrets an extra shelf. See below for details. 

panelled shelf.jpg

I'm going light guys. Sorry for all you dark divas out there. I get that it's cool and all, but it's not me. Not here anyway (though I may reveal a dark side to my character elsewhere in this renovation).

However daring I start out colourwise, I finish the day French. Light, airy, nonchalantly elegant and above all CHIC. The decorator is with me next week so I'll have definitive colour choices then, but expect pale and interesting, rather than dark and dramatic. Okay? I can sense disappointment, don't panic. I will style this one out, you see if I don't. 

I've been in my absolute element choosing lighting and mirrors. I don't want to spoil the big reveal, but suffice to say, here's where I'm balancing out all the hard edges of the panelling with some signature boho glam. I've chosen the main three lights from my fave online interiors store www.ohwhatsthis.com and they will soon be added to my style picks (which means you get a 10% discount on them too).

 Bronze Ballroom Chandelier £585  www.ohwatsthis.com

Bronze Ballroom Chandelier £585 www.ohwatsthis.com

I'm looking for a classic, timeless feel to the hallway, which, as it joins up all the rooms, feels like the main artery of the house. Timeless is key because of course, I AINT EVER dramatically changing this space again. Just thought I'd be clear on that point. We can change it up accessory-wise as the fancy takes us, but this is the last major overhaul for this space under our care. FACT.

I plan to add interest with art, mirrors and of course a few vintage accessories, but I doubt I'll be going overboard in my new found appreciation of SPACE.

I've really enjoyed the clarity that has come from starting with a blank canvas. I'm loving unpacking boxes and only putting back what I love. This phase may pass, (although my husband hopes not) but for now I want to appreciate each piece of the jigsaw that pulls the final look together. Space, I have discovered, helps with that. 

Whilst on the subject of my new, holistic approach to decorating, I should warn you that I've had a bit of an epiphany of late. Along with the Polar Vortex, these Easterly winds seem to have swept in another Beast;  Me, on a mission. 

I could go on for hours about how this whole renovation process has changed my style, but it's also stirred something deep inside. No, not a hernia - although I am haemorrhaging pound notes right now - what I mean is, it's brought about a more considered approach to interiors and a more mindful me. Expect BIG changes here on the blog in the coming weeks and months as I pull the rest of the decor together and reveal the positive steps I've taken to nurture the soul of my home through interior design.

Sound smug and a bit annoying? I really hope not because that's the last thing I want to be, but I do feel there are basics of creating amazing living spaces that are not really discussed on interior blogs and yet hold the key to truly fulfilling homes. In other words, there's more to this decorating lark than creating gorgeously Instagrammable rooms and I would love to share with you some of the things I've learned. Change is afoot and I could not be more excited. But first, can someone tell the Beast from the East to do one, I've got a house renovation to be getting on with and the best my builder can build is a snowman.

Hope you like my ideas so far? The boot room is also coming along nicely. You might even have seen the brick chimney breast on my Instagram stories? For those of you that missed it, here it is:

brick wall.JPG

This will house a fire grate to defrost footballer's frozen toes and also provide a handy log store for the house. The new front door arrives next week and the floor has been chosen already so I'll look forward to sharing more photos with you in my next post.

Happy snow day(s) and more importantly, I'd be a very bad Pricey if I didn't wish you all a Happy St Davids Day.

Claire x

 

 

 

 

 

My hall has got a hangover!

Help me I've been panelled!

Seriously if you stand still long enough round here you get a piece of 6 by 4 screwed into you. That's what happened to the hall this week and I can tell you it was not a pleasant experience. Never mind the dust and the noise, there was that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I'd overdone it.

stairs.JPG

The morning after the first run of panelling had gone up I couldn't look at it. OVERKILL. I panicked. I felt the burning need to hide House Candy Andy's circular saw before the place turned into a period drama room set.

 The depressing state of our landing :(

The depressing state of our landing :(

How did I let this happen you say? Greed, that's how. Filthy, stinking GREED. Hopefully you've been there at some point in your shallow existence too? When you love something like I love the dark blue panelling in the kitchen/diner and you want more. KNOW WHEN TO STOP PEOPLE.

So it's done now and I will have to live with the extra layer of dust that will gather weekly on the grooves for the rest of my life. As extra punishment, I've also had to scrape off the extravagant Farrow and Ball lattice wallpaper I pleaded for about 5 years ago.  It was all too much see - panels, patterns, picture rails (sicky mouth).

Instead, I now need to spend some time un-restoring the hallway. Stop it looking too OTT and ridiculous. I must tone things down to let Andy and Paul the joiner's really rather marvellous handiwork appear - not as a greedy afterthought - but as the beautifully strategic architectural detail that should always have been here.

 Elegant panelling inspo from the Parisians

Elegant panelling inspo from the Parisians

I plan to simplify things with soothing hues, modern lines and elegant lighting. Interior wise, I need to do the equivalent of swallowing an alka seltzer. House Candy Andy also needs to put the circular saw away once and for all. It's given me a headache.

What are your thoughts on panelling? Love it or loathe it? Have you ever overdone it interior wise and lived to regret it? Let me know in the comments section.

Claire x

 

The family that bathes together, stays together (said nobody ever)

I'm literally bossing at bathroom design having smashed out three completely different schemes in the space of a week. House Candy Andy is back with bells on and he wants to know where I want my pipes putting, (which I must admit, isn't something I'd ever given much thought to).

I have now. In fact, if you'll excuse the pun, I've become quite anal about it.  

Take the downstairs loo for instance. It's now a corner of the new boot room entrance and will be used to wash muddy football studs almost as frequently as it will to wash hands. Glamour has therefore quite literally gone out of the window. I'm going for a rustic wash house look and hoping to utilise the old butlers sink that came out of the outbuilding before that got demolished.

A bit of utility chic here and there is a great way to stretch the budget and for once I'm pleased to say House Candy Andy is thoroughly on board with a make-do-and-mend approach. There has even been talk of him making taps out of copper pipes which I kid you not excited me more than anything else on the project so far. 

 Utility chic wins for the boot room bathroom 

Utility chic wins for the boot room bathroom 

Toilets, on the other hand, do not fill me with joy, but this week I did learn to give a crap about where they go. Different models need to be positioned in different places, see. You can't go buying bogs willy-nilly. It requires thought, which is why bathroom brochures are now the reading material of choice in our little boys and girls' room. 

Upstairs I've had my design wings clipped a little in the girly en-suite powder room I was blissfully creating. The black marble sink top I had made for my old downstairs loo was going to re-emerge in here, sat upon a new bespoke cabinet. Practically, this hasn't proved to be the best option since it will take up far more floor space than is necessary in a compact room. It saddens me to say it but my first ever attempt at bespoke design could be heading to Ebay to make way for a shop bought freestanding roll top sink instead. Meh! you say?... believe me, only the styling will save it.

My en-suite is my little pamper parlour so I'm going all out Man Repeller in here. I'm taking the opportunity to exercise diva-like design ideas with the basic principle based around keeping all the boys OUT. We're talking pretty wallpaper and vintage mirrors, candles and cut flowers. 

 Man-repelling vintage bathroom inspo by www.interiorsbycolour.com

Man-repelling vintage bathroom inspo by www.interiorsbycolour.com

The old family bathroom meanwhile will receive the equivalent of a hormone injection. 

This is soon to be both the little and big boy's room. All of them. See, a neighbour and friend of ours recently told me that separate bathrooms were the key to a happy marriage. With all of us currently sharing the one bathing space, it's fair to say modesty standards have slipped. There's not even a lock on the door FFS. This morning I was happily muti-tasking on the toilet whilst searching for regency style radiators when my husband walked in stark naked for a shower and proceeded to talk me through the Arsenal goals.

This cannot be allowed to continue. My sons cannot grow up thinking that this is acceptable adult behaviour. The boys are therefore receiving a dedicated "Hygiene Space" in which they can gather in force to talk balls to their heart's content. It will be less bohemian free for all, more boy/he/man common room. They can wash their own whiskers down the sink. They can wallow in their own wet towels. Okay, okay, so I'll make it look photo worthy for the interests of the blog, but after that they're on their own. What goes in the boys' room, stays in the boys' room. Unless it looks this cool, then it can be shared with 3 million Pinterest obsessives too.

 Shared boys bathroom image courtesy of The Swelle Life

Shared boys bathroom image courtesy of The Swelle Life

So you can see I've had my hands full designing bathrooms. But what a nice problem to have right? If the end result is a home in which we can interfere less with each other's personal space; where we can quite literally be responsible for our own shit, then I feel there's a much better chance of a happy ever after, don't you? 

The family that bathes together, may well stay together, but they'll carry around a little too much information about each other too. 

I'll let you know how we get on.

Claire x

 

Where's the Love In Da House?

Oh, hello. Remember me? Sorry for taking unauthorised leave of absence but I just needed a month off to chisel the dust off my laptop after the Christmas kitchen extension and have a good old pause for thought. 

 New year, New House Candy Goals

New year, New House Candy Goals

There's a lot of us doing this interior blogging thing and I'm not sure the world needs us all shouting about the same stuff, do you? I wanted to step back and assess what noise I am contributing and the truth is, it's taken me a month of drying out over January to think straight and gain a bit of perspective. Anyway, here's what I found:

I've realised that I can only talk with absolute authority about the stuff going on in my own home and life, so that's what I'm sticking to and what you'll find here is more on the designs and interior choices that are helping me towards MY dream house scenario (which I'm kind of hoping you'll like too). This could take a while since what started out as a kitchen extension has somehow turned into a four storey overhaul. I know, right? *crowd funding ideas welcome*

I've got a lot of work to do and of course a budget to work to, so I'll be looking at ways to stretch it as far as it will go. My main objective for the house is to restore it to its former Victorian glory. It has been stripped of many of its original features over the years and because every job here turns into a big operation, there's been plenty of bodge jobs, make-dos and cover ups. It makes no sense to keep throwing good money after bad so the main bulk of our budget is to be spent on getting the basics back to their best.

We've only ever had one main bathroom and a downstairs loo and the structural changes have allowed us the luxury of incorporating two more shower rooms into the house, which I'm sure will become necessary with two growing boys! All the bathrooms are having to be re-done which of course is a lot of money and I've got a few ideas to try and get the high end look I'm after at a fraction of the cost. Keep following to see how that pans out and if House Candy Andy can cope with any more of my unconventional up-cycle ideas. The word Pinterest is enough to send him into meltdown as followers of the story so far will be all too familiar with!

 Do not adjust your sets, this is modern up-cycling at it's bright and beautiful best!

Do not adjust your sets, this is modern up-cycling at it's bright and beautiful best!

As you know, I love vintage style more than modern but that's not a passion shared by the rest of my household. Still, I believe vintage style is timelessly chic and doesn't have to be all about pastel pinks, frills and florals (though all of the above are fine with me).

Hopefully in creating a home that blends vintage with modern I can inspire a few more people to re-love old furniture that doesn't deserve to be scrapped, support more amazing charity shops and also bring ideas that may help you achieve the interior look you want, for less. 

 Masculine vintage is how I'm pitching many of my new room designs!

Masculine vintage is how I'm pitching many of my new room designs!

There are some items that I believe you should invest in the best you can afford. I'll only splash the cash on luxury items if I believe they are keepers and that's why I always prefer to go for classic styles rather than trend led furniture. I was recently asked to curate a page for a wonderful online interiors store called Oh What's This. If you haven't already checked out what I chose, have a look here. I keep referring to this list when I'm designing rooms and adding furniture and accessories because it's easy to get distracted by gorgeous new trends, but really important to nail down your own unique style. This is totally mine and if you like this Classic-with-a-twist style too, bag yourselves 10% off with the code HouseCandy at checkout. I'm going to spend some time explaining why each piece is a keeper in my next post.

I've got ongoing beef with social media and for the sake of my sanity, this year I need to buy back some of the time I am prone to wasting on there to do more things that make me happy. Making this discovery of extra creative time has already led to an exciting new venture which I don't want to jinx by blabbing about yet, but rest assured I will BLAB MY MOUTH OFF about across ALL of the medias if it actually comes off in the future.  

So that's what the future holds and a few things I needed to get off my chest before we began. Unfortunately I've been further stalled because House Candy Andy has had a wobbly start to the year health-wise (nothing to do with me) With any luck he'll be back to his bolshy best by Monday and we can get cracking.

In and amongst house do-er-upping, there's a family to look after and style goals to maintain; the life of a Real Housewife of Suburbia is multi-facetted as you may already be aware. If you're in agreement I thought it might be cool to share any life-wins I discover along the way, be that the get-me-anywhere outfit of dreams or a £5 gravity defying face cream that you need to drop whatever you're doing and head out for RIGHT NOW.  But look, I'm as much work in progress as my house is and I'm still reading the manuals. I've recently discovered a couple of good ones including Self Care for the Real World by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips. In it they have turned the essence of what I've been banging on about for three years into an international best seller that Kate Moss herself proclaims is her bible. Nadia and Kate say: "Your home is your identity and it tells a story about how you want to feel in it: make that story comfortable, calm and beautiful." That's House Candy goals 2018 right there.

Ready, Steady, GO.

Happy weekend all,

Claire xx

Happy House Candy Christmas

Day Twenty Four

 All ready for Christmas dinner... if I could only find the knives and forks!

All ready for Christmas dinner... if I could only find the knives and forks!

We're off. I'm on my third glass of champagne already so it's in everyone's best interests if we keep this one short and sweet.

Forget the House Candy anyway, it's all about these two now.

 George and Charlie icing the edible place settings

George and Charlie icing the edible place settings

The boys are getting big and this could be the last one where we need Santa's help so I'm determined to soak up every magical moment. 

We had a plan B if the kitchen wasn't ready for our Christmas dinner but I'm so pleased we didn't need it. I can't think of a better way to christen this space than with a big old family Christmas. 

Have a fab time celebrating everyone. I'm clocking off to spend time with the fam. Hope you do too. Thanks for all your well wishes support and advice about the extension. I love it, of course I do, but it's only a house. It's what we fill it with that counts ;-)

Happy Christmas, 

Claire x

 

 

Adding the aaaahhhs, the Ooh La Las and the Ay Ups

Day Twenty Three

 The finished kitchen (again)

The finished kitchen (again)

It's Christmas Eve Eve for goodness sake, how did that happen?

Today behind the advent door ('cos just to remind you that was the point of this daily blog throughout December thing) it's been a hive of activity much like at your place I suspect.

Wrapping, food shopping, sending the husband out last minute gift shopping because one pile is bigger than the other, more wrapping, more food shopping, because can you even call it Christmas dinner if you haven't got After Eights? It's all go in the hope that tomorrow we can actually start enjoying this thing that we laughably call a holiday.

Admittedly the usual Christmas Eve Eve frenzy has taken longer than normal because:

a) I have a bit of a panto hangover which I didn't know was a thing until my friend taught me a lesson in panto-ing involving handbag sized bottles of prosecco and straws.

b) I keep having to pause to look at my bloody gorgeous new kitchen.

Am I showing off too much? Sorry. Well actually no, I'm not sorry. It's been blood sweat and tears in the making has this kitchen of ours and if I sound a bit smug then that's because I am. I LOVE it and all the dreaming, mood boarding, planning, saving, splurging, sourcing, scouring and scrubbing has been totally worth it. 

Yesterday I was excited to show you my new Distinctive Chesterfields Northbank sofa:

 The fully accesorised Northbank Sofa by  www.distinctivechesterfields.com

The fully accesorised Northbank Sofa by www.distinctivechesterfields.com

...But as I was rushing to get out for the panto, I didn't have time to tell you about the accessories. The patterned cushions and yellow throw are all from B&Q whose home accessories range was full of gorgeous surprises when I popped in for lightbulbs the other day. The large star-shaped metallic silver cushion is by Suburban Salon from Hilary and Flo. It's one of those show stoppers that just makes everything look cooler.

There's one more surprise I can't show you yet because I'm afraid to unwrap it until I get a proper floor down. It's a navy blue velvet version of this, The Paris chair, with a matching footstool, also from Distinctive Chesterfields.

It's these finishing touches that are adding all the oohs and the ahhs and in this case the ooh la las to my new living kitchen. And that's all very well, but undoubtedly it's the "Ay-Up"s I'm looking forward to most. I'm hosting two family gatherings in the space of three days and this party kitchen is about to find out what a Big Fat Yorkshire Christmas looks like.  

Let the fun begin!

 Panto dames finding everything bloody hilarious (including Snapchat filters) with the help of handbag prosecco. Henceforth the only way to panto.

Panto dames finding everything bloody hilarious (including Snapchat filters) with the help of handbag prosecco. Henceforth the only way to panto.

Claire x

The sofa's arrived and all I'm missing is a Magic Carpet

Day 22

It's panto time and I'm well up for it because like the good Fairy Godmother he is, House Candy Andy has finished the kitchen in time for Christmas. Not only that but I waved my own magic wand and got my new sofa delivered in time for the grand finale too. Check out my Instagram stories for a view of the furnished room, all ready except for the floor.

sofa.JPG

This is The Northbank sofa in herringbone grey from a local store called Distinctive Chesterfields  and of course I fell for the whole fairy story that came with it. Distinctive Chesterfields is a family firm who hand make beautiful sofas, armchairs and footstools just up the road from me in Honley, near Huddersfield.

You choose the sofa style and fabric, pay your deposit and hey presto, a team of tiny elves work day and night to hand stitch your individual piece of upholstery using finest cloth spun by Rumplestiltskin himself in a faraway chamber of the giant's castle... 

Well Okay so I'm a bit sketchy on the details, but suffice to say, it's handmade near home and it will live happily ever after in my new kitchen extension.

Part two coming up after the interval!

Claire xx