The No-brainer BOGOF Bar Stools

Day Eighteen

Jeez, bar stools are expensive aren't they? I need four and hadn't planned on this being a big budget allocation. Doh! I trawled the internet but every modern rustic style I liked cost upwards of £100. Then I stumbled upon these from Next that also cost £100, but for a PAIR.

Hudson Bar stools £99, per pair  www.next.co.uk

Hudson Bar stools £99, per pair www.next.co.uk

In House Candy Maths that means they are buy one get one free or BOGOF - always a welcome turn of phrase at this time of year. 

I'll let you know if they are actually a bargain, or whether I should have saved harder when they arrive on Friday. It will be House Candy Andy's last day at work and I'm anticipating me and him perching on a pair of these for a well-earned beer before he clocks off for Christmas. That's if he hasn't told me to BOGOF of course. Also a strong possibility.

Claire x

The annual Christmas Card Conundrum, solved

Day Seventeen

Is anyone bothering with cards this year? There seems to be a general loathing of them. The joy of spreading Christmas cheer via the post box appears to have turned into a chore we could do without. I bought mine in November with the aim of being super organised. Needless to say they are still in the box. At this stage of the game I thought it wise to invest in Nickie Kelly's festive poster instead. Does it still count as a greeting if I send you a screenshot?

A bit of friendly festive filth £7.50 by  www.nickiekelly.com

A bit of friendly festive filth £7.50 by www.nickiekelly.com

Displaying Christmas cards is always a bit of a pain tho isn't it? I do love getting them and if there's a letter or photo inside then that's extra nice, but please don't be offended if I don't blue-tack them to my new walls. Poor Des the singing/dancing decorator would never forgive me. Here he is tending to his covings again. What do you think to the dark panelled wall that happened yesterday? I can't get a lot done because I keep having to break off to go and look at it in a different light.

Panelled wall colour matched to Magnet's Newbury Midnight kitchen. Railings by Farrow and Ball is similar.  

Panelled wall colour matched to Magnet's Newbury Midnight kitchen. Railings by Farrow and Ball is similar.  

Hope all your final prep is in place. There's still a whopping great to-do list here but I'm looking forward to opening the doors of The Love Cafe for the first time on Thursday when my mates are coming round for mulled wine. I'm sure the kitchen will look great, but there's a good chance I'll be looking something like this:

Bad Santa print now £6.99  www.nickiekelly.com

Bad Santa print now £6.99 www.nickiekelly.com

Thank you for all your comments and messages throughout the advent posts. Here goes for the final push.

Claire x

The special love cafe where amazing things will happen!

Day Sixteen

Phew! I haven't stopped all day and I suspect the same goes for you. Mums at Christmas ... we are just something else aren't we? How we multitask, how we rise to the challenges set by Santa who promises SO much and delivers ...  Hmmm, about that.

In between finishing off the shopping and breaking the back of the wrapping I went to pick up my framing. I took all the posters that were in my old kitchen to be re-framed. Excessive you might think, but not if you consider I'd picked them all up from second-hand shops and either the frames were falling to bits or I'd just shoved them into the nearest match shop bought frame with their dog-eared edges still perfectly intact, it kind of needed to happen.

The framer is one of those masters of his craft. He can match a mount at ten paces this guy. What could have been a terribly lengthy process of deciding on which mounts and frames went with which pictures, actually took about half an hour. The actual framing itself must have taken him hours, but his time and expertise has certainly paid off.

Here's my soon-to-be-gallery wall unwrapped and laid out on the light flooded floor of The Special Love Cafe, where Amazing Things will Happen...

Love Cafe.JPG

I KNOW!!!!!!

That is the message it spelt out when I laid it all out on the floor! And so despite my sore feet and my paper cut hands, now I do believe in Santa, I do, I do, I do. 

Claire xx

 

 

Time to fluff the tail feathers

Day Fifteen

It's Mad Friday (one of them anyway) which feels like the perfect day to mount a blush velvet swan head wearing a pink glitter crown on the living room wall. Natch.

Swan head wall decoration from  www.outhereinteriors.com

Swan head wall decoration from www.outhereinteriors.com

Swans are my Christmas theme this year, I like a theme, do you? All that looking graceful on top and paddling like a mad thing below surface - we've covered that already haven't we? But also there's the ugly duckling emerging into the beautiful swan message that they represent. And with all the progress that's happened this week in the kitchen extension that's exactly how it feels.

There's actually a bit of a party atmosphere on site at the moment. Christmas FM is on constant. The tin of Quality Street has been cracked open and Des the Decorator is pelting out Fairytale of New York from up on his painting platform.

The Bells are ringing out for  Cornforth White

The Bells are ringing out for Cornforth White

Once everybody clocked off tonight I even cracked open the Prosecco and assumed the position of leaning on the island unit, glass in hand. It feels like a party kitchen already and I feel sure it's going to see some happy family memories being made over the coming years. Plenty of feathers fluffed and no doubt a good few spat as well. 

Swan head from  www.outthereinteriors.com

Enjoy your parties, people. 

Claire x

 

 

 

What a difference a door makes

Day Fourteen

Knock knock.

Who's there?

ME OF COURSE. And I could be here a while just staring and knocking, knocking and staring at my beautiful new DOORS.

My new four panel door pre-painting.

My new four panel door pre-painting.

Do not underestimate the power of the door. It's a draft blocker for one and there has been an arctic current drifting up through the hallway for the last 2 weeks. Today I can feel the power of the radiators and it warms my very soul. 

The doors are to be painted the same colour as the walls, which is Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White in case you were wondering. The surrounding woodwork is also being painted in the same shade - the first time I have strayed from white gloss so as you can imagine, I'm feeling so very avant-garde today. 

We went for four panel doors to go with the new panelled walls. The main kitchen door has glass, which I love from inside the kitchen...

Glass kitchen door (still with it's polythene coating!)

Glass kitchen door (still with it's polythene coating!)

But I'm not so sure about from the hallway. In there it's a mis-match of features from different eras collected over the last 150 years. The modern four-panel look doesn't really go. But hey, you can't have everything (well not all at once anyway). Give me chance to get Phase 1 out of the way and I'm sure we can work something out involving House Candy Andy, a circular saw and a stack of MDF.

There's a mini-tour of the new kitchen wing (yaaass wing) on my Instagram stories if you'd like a look around. Please do knock for entry tho, it's only polite.

Another door shot. Just because I can.

Another door shot. Just because I can.

Claire x

 

 

Making Progress in the Man Cave

Day Thirteen

Stairway to teenage heaven/parental hell

Stairway to teenage heaven/parental hell

The Man Cave has happened as a bit of an accident. Basically, this whole extension got designed around a disused staircase leading down (at one end) to a dingy, damp cellar and up (at the other) to the first floor.

Back in the day, it was where the housekeeper used to leg it up and down to pander to her ladyship's needs, whilst avoiding contact with the main household. Since I'm now the housekeeper and Her Ladyship all rolled into one schizophrenic little ball, the back stairs has become redundant. However, it was positioned right bang smack in the way of the kitchen and however we tried to work around it, it always looked like a big lump of ugly wall, hiding a disused staircase.

So, guess what, we got rid of the stairs going up and opened up the staircase going down. All very well except this meant that we then needed to splash some extra (unbudgeted) cash on reinventing the dark, dingy cellar into something habitable that could be accessed via the kitchen. 

A man cave seemed like the perfect option. Once it's done I will be able to banish the boys, their mates, their noises and most of their smells below stairs. In other words, we can both have our mates around in the party kitchen and still have our own space.

The cellar has been tanked, central heating installed and plastered. It's a pitch black dungeon at the moment so I've no pretty pictures to show you, but this squishy, cosy sleepver pit gives you an idea of the kind of teenage hideaway the boys would love.

Image via hometheatrehelp.info

Image via hometheatrehelp.info

Today House Candy Andy got saw happy again as he recognised an opportunity to utilise his new found panelling skills on the staircase leading down to the Man Cave.

The back kitchen wall with access to the new Man Cave

The back kitchen wall with access to the new Man Cave

I was so happy with his handiwork that I filled up and had to disguise a rogue tear as sawdust in my eye. We'll have to wait until after Christmas to get a railing sorted, but I'm currently deliberating over a glass option like this:

Modern cellar access by Jo Cowen Architechts

Modern cellar access by Jo Cowen Architechts

Or a railings option like this:

Railings by Archiproducts

Railings by Archiproducts

What do you think? I'd love to know your thoughts and suggestions. 

The doors are going on tomorrow and I'm nervous that I chose the wrong ones. There's so many choices to make all at once and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. I could do with a lie down in a darkened room. OOOhhhh hang on, I know just the place! 

Hope your Christmas prep is going OK. Anyone else feel like it's coming to get you?

Claire xx

Beasts, bedlam and Bethlehem. (How to plan to do it differently next year).

Day Twelve

There was an Animal Farm style revolt in the Price household today even before breakfast.

It was the cold water that got us in the end. The lack of lighting we could overcome (phone torch) and though the toilet doesn't flush, you can throw a bucket of bleach and hot water down it of a morning and it seems to do the trick. But we were clinging onto the trickle of a warm shower as our little bit of hope in a bleak, broken bathroom which cannot be mended or replaced until the kitchen is finished and funds replenished. And this morning that trickle ran cold. We were bereft of our most basic creature comforts and we crumbled.

We're only maybe a week away from a fully functioning kitchen. Today the missing units were fitted, the utility room kitted out and the worktops measured and ordered. But man it can't come soon enough. I feel like we are being taught a valuable lesson in appreciation, like the patron saint of utilities (possibly my Gran) is looking down on us and saying, "I hope you know what lucky beasts you actually are." We do now.

Today was also Nativity day, emotional at the best of times, but today I couldn't take it. Oh God it was good. Mary had her baby, despite being told there wasn't a bed (never mind bathroom facilities) The farm animals learned to share their humble stable peacefully and despite everyone's difficult journey, they all had a very Merry Christmas. 

And with that I think I'll hit the hay and dream about where to hang my Evermade family zoo portraits like the ones above. It's the last day of school tomorrow (gulp) and I've still got shed loads to do to get ready for Christmas. Evermade must have sensed unrest in the camp for they sent organisational back up in the form of a 2018 planner. Not only is it the prettiest colours, but it's got little foil stickers to mark on special dates and notes to self like "never EVER fit a kitchen before Christmas," and that kind of thing. Genius. Thank you Evermade, from all of the herd.

Claire xx

2018 year planner £10 by  www.evermade.co.uk

2018 year planner £10 by www.evermade.co.uk

The New Year Resolution that needs to start NOW

Day Eleven

OWT.jpeg

This is a little bit sick bucket - and also the first time I've told anyone - but every year when I switch the Christmas lights on for the first time I take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to have another year together with all of us in good health. *Look, just keep reading, there's a gift in it for you, if you get to the end*

My youngest son came close to knocking on the pearly gates when he was a baby, and obviously, it scared the bejesus out of us. I don't know why I reflect upon it more at Christmas than any other time of the year, but something about putting twinky lights and delicate glass decorations on a tree (of all things) reminds me that every day is a gift that ought to be treasured. I think that's why I'm rubbish at saving anything for best. Life is the special occasion people. Know what I'm sayin'?

Recently I was bowled over to be asked to curate a page for a beautiful interiors website called Oh What's This. Everything on this site has been handpicked to make it a special on-line marketplace of just really gorgeous homewares and accessories. It was tricky picking my top ten favourite pieces from such a vast selection, until I started to think of how I want to approach filling my brand new kitchen.

Basically, if I don't love it, it ain't going in. This is the only New Year's Resolution I'm making and I'm applying it to my entire (overcrowded) house/life. Even the pans will be bloody lovely pans... until I burn the buggers of course. If I have to take my time filling it, fine. I'd rather have four lovely mugs than 16 okay ones. I get that things need to be practical, but that needn't stop them being beautiful. Who knows, they may even get looked after better if they feel special. It shouldn't be that way, but let's face it, it just is.

So when I came to curating my shoppable page for today's re-launch of Oh What's This, I gave a lot of thought to beautiful items for the home that would make every day of using them a treat. 

See what you think to my choices by clicking this link: www.ohwatsthis.com

And as a special treat for all of us to feel mushy about, here's a 10% off discount code to help with those particularly special items over £100 from the entire Oh What's This site. Simply enter OWTCANDY at the checkout. 

I'm kicking off my New Year's resolution early by purchasing a luxury sixteen piece set of brass cutlery which I will relish putting in my brand new kitchen drawers in a week or so... and which I hope will give my folks an extra forkful of joy when they have their Christmas dinner. 

Luxury brass cutlery, £120  www.ohwhatsthis.com

Luxury brass cutlery, £120 www.ohwhatsthis.com

Sorry if that was just a little too nauseating right after you've eaten, but look, if you're anything like me you'll be feeling a bit frazzled right now. Too many mince pies already, too many pre-drinks, which inevitably leads to too many actual drinks. Not enough hours in the day and a to-do list as scary as the thinning skin around your eyes. You, my friend, need to be reminded how flaming special you are. Go on, treat yourself and your kitchen. Santa's orders.

Claire x  

The devils and the details of the painting process

Day 10

It may be only a powder coating of snow, but it is enough to get the 9YO's football tournament in Newcastle cancelled, which means lucky Des the Decorator has got me thrusting paint samples in his face all day instead.

He knows his stuff, our Des. The best in the business according to House Candy Andy and so far I'm inclined to agree.

Our current thinking (if I'm letting the decorator have a say in the paint choice, he must be good) is to go with the same colour of the kitchen units for the panelling and soon-to-be-made MDF shelves. The rest of the room will be a more subtle, pale grey shade. 

Paneling in Farrow and Ball  Railings

Paneling in Farrow and Ball Railings

The kitchen extension is a huge, south facing room with lots of light so it can take a deep colour. The guy at Magnet told me that the Newbury Midnight shade is colour matched to Farrow and Ball's Railings, which I used to have on my chimney breast in the kitchen. I've tested his theory and it's bang on. Railings is a rich black/blue and pretty much goes with anything. It's made me love my kitchen just a little bit more.

For the rest of the walls, I'm thinking classic Elephant's Breath, but for today it's still all go with the white undercoat on House Candy Andy's extra deep coving, handmade architraves and the skirtings, which today he added extra depth to, without even asking. (He's like that, you'll get used to him). 

I'm quickly learning what HCA, Decorator Des and my Great Auntie Valda (who has been politely "sticking her oar in," as she calls it) already know about period properties. "The devil is in the detail, dear", she says. And if the right paint combination can turn a bare plastered shell into something like the image below in time for Christmas, I'll feel like a very lucky devil indeed. 

Railings  woodwork with  Elephant's Breath  walls.

Railings woodwork with Elephant's Breath walls.

Please let me know what you think to my current colour choices. Any more suggestions very welcome, please drop me a line in the comments section if you have any ideas!

Claire x

The tree that nearly killed Christmas

Day Nine

This year, for the first year in a few, we were all together for the special tradition that is The Family Christmas Tree Choosing.

And Oh. My. God.

The magical family tree buying experience. NOT ours.

The magical family tree buying experience. NOT ours.

I will have to keep this post brief as a 9ft Spruce is about to be dropped off and I need to get it in position before the boys come back from football and reject it for being less than perfect.

They are looking for that ultimate cone shape you see; the one off of Christmas movies. They want it scraping the ceiling and fat enough to fill the whole bay window. They want deep green, not blue-green, they want a thick covering of branches so that minimal trunk is visible and they want a good 10-inch pointy top.

I am not kidding you, more than 40 trees were rejected before we were able to agree on a keeper. Our favourite supplier seems to have bred mutants this year. They had two points FFS. Is that to spare us the pain of arguing who gets to put on the star?

Anyway, we finally struck lucky at our third Christmas tree selling establishment only moments before my husband's hangover got the better of him and he suggested an alternative place to SHOVE THE F***ING TREE.

Here it comes now, just in time for a Saturday night family decorating session. What joy awaits. Now feels like an excellent time to break open the rhubarb gin.

My favourite Christmas tree of the day on board a mini vintage beetle. ALL of the heart eyes.

My favourite Christmas tree of the day on board a mini vintage beetle. ALL of the heart eyes.

Claire x