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!


The en-suite


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. 


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




Tickled pink with Interior blog awards nomination


The Candy Files - What's hot, what's not and what's what at my place.

This week...

House Candy = Pink & perky


Voting is now open for this year's Interior Blog Awards, hosted by gorgeous interiors brand Amara and it is with rosy cheeks and puckered lips that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for my nomination. 

I am totally bowled over to be in the Best Design Inspiration category and up against some ridiculously cool brands and actual journos-turned-superbloggers... I know right.

Voting is open throughout August when I will be ramping up my output here on the blog and bringing you more design inspiration than you can fill a vintage cadillac with. 

Starting today with a tickled pink inspired Candy Files, dedicated entirely to the colour of my latest crush.

I am officially obsessed with PINK.  

This thing with pink started back in Easter when I bought a pink trouser suit and realised after years of failing at any Kings Road style camel colours, THIS was a nude that actually suited me. Mine was from Next and is now sold out but Top Shop's new range proves the trend is good for Autumn/Winter too.

Pink trouser suit £100

Pink trouser suit £100

It got me me thinking, if pink works with fair skin and freckles, then maybe it works in other places it shouldn't too. Like doors for example. 


Or beds that aren't for grannies or baby girls.


Even boys can love pink!' s luscious lazy linen is similar to this.

Even boys can love pink!'s luscious lazy linen is similar to this.

Also on Floors.


This blush pink thick pile sheepskin is a vintage find but  has a large selection of pretty pink rugs.

This blush pink thick pile sheepskin is a vintage find but has a large selection of pretty pink rugs.

From palest blush to shocking fuscia, this month's Elle Decoration has hailed pink the hue of the moment and I'll happily drink to that.

Fine and Candy = Pink drinks

Always appropriate in summer, at weddings or on random Tuesday's when you get an actual IBA nomination. Pink champagne is the essence of this shade; all girly and giggly and glow inducing. 

So fond of pink bubbles am I, that I've taken to drinking them in dainty little vintage beakers, featuring... well whatdyaknow... more pink bubbles. Hic.

Pink spotty tumblers - find similar on ebay.

Pink spotty tumblers - find similar on ebay.

On the subject of pink bubbles, I'm wondering if they are also to blame for this retro blown glass lamp shade which I fell for at the skip shop yesterday. 

Flamingo lamp perhaps?

Flamingo lamp perhaps?

Does this trouble you? Follow me on Instagram to watch its reincarnation into sassy plant holder.... or something.

Candy Pandy = Pinky Promise

Like when you SAY you're gonna vote for me in the Amara Interior Blog Awards and then you never quite get round to it and all the other amazing bloggers get shortlisted and go to The Ham Yard for the glitzy award ceremony and I get to stay on my sofa with a cheap bottle of pink fizz to drown my sorrows.

Look, I scrub up REALLY well and nobody EVER in the history of my home town has been to a blog awards, never mind one about creating cool houses and, and well I'm 41 FFS. If it doesn't happen now, when will it happen? 

Seriously, my dad is getting impatient. He wants all the money he invested in my university education back and is threatening to find me a real job.

My kids are also breathing down my neck: "Believe in your dreams," I said, "You can be anything you want to be," I said. "Go on then," they said.

"Oh, alright."

You are the only people who can change this situation people. The power is in your fingertips. All you have to do is click on this link:


And help me be that blogger from Brighouse who blagged her way to The Ham Yard with all the cool brands and the top bloggers. I mean, wow, if you really want to see someone blush. 

Do you?

Claire x

PS If you share this post you will also get put into the draw to win a weekend at my fave seaside hideaway as per my previous post .. because - and let's just be clear on this - I am NOT above bribery. Not yet.

Spring Garden Shelfie: How to not waste time on planting

I didn't start the day all that bright and cheerful but two things happened that changed my mood.

1) My favourite girl popped in for a cuppa.

2) I put some pretty coloured Daisy's outside my kitchen window. 

Boom. Happy bomb landed, right there.

This old plate rack (the top of a dresser actually) was sat doing nothing in my garage when I went in looking for garden tools. At the weekend I will get round to painting them in Farrow and Ball's new Vardo no 288 for a bit of that mood enhancing gypsy vibe it does so well. A sample pot or two will be enough for this job.

Farrow and Ball's gypsy caravan inspired Vardo paint 

Farrow and Ball's gypsy caravan inspired Vardo paint 

Exterior paint will also make wooden shelves stand up to the elements whereas left outside, untreated like this will just result in warping. If you do want an au naturel look, seal them with a waterproof coating such as yacht wax.

Try the local fruit and veg market for bedding plants like these Bellis Daisy's that can be picked up in trays for under £10. I got 15 for £7.50 - That's cheaper than a nice bunch of flowers!

The idea wasn't to stand them all on the shelves at all. There was a plan involving top soil and digging, but you know what, I didn't have time. So I stood them on the shelves, plonked the shelves outside my kitchen window, did the washing up and inhaled a great big breath of happy.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section, I'd love to hear from you.

Enjoy the sunshine all.