There’s nothing I like better than getting the girls into bed of an evening and settling down in front of the Tellybox for a couple of hours of escapism. Now and then I’ll try my hand at something I think I ought to like, because it’s critically acclaimed, ‘raw’ or well acted. A couple of episodes in, as I cower behind my cushion in tears I wonder why I bothered. I don’t want to spend my precious evenings a nervous wreck, waiting for the serial killer to pounce.

So I’ve given up on the hard hitting dramas for good, and am now indulging in my latest discovery Escape to the Chateau on Channel 4. The first episode I watched was midway through the second series, I stumbled across it when poorly and I just needed something to keep me occupied in my sick bed. From that moment I’ve been hooked.

chateau 2

Escape to the Chateau follows husband and wife Dick and Angel with their two young children, as they renovate a 45 room, 5 storey French chateau without bucketloads of cash. Over the four series you see a delapidated building with no sewerage, heating or electricity transformed into a beautiful, characterful family home and events venue. The best thing about it though is that you see every element of hard work, the setbacks and the surprises. You see Angel squeezing in a couple of hours of creativity here and there as she is also fully occupied with motherhood, you see Dick having to leave the family behind so that he can earn enough money to fund the next part of the project. It feels so real and uncontrived compared to other programmes of its kind.

I have found myself falling in love with this courageous pair. Their passion and confidence is quite incredible, not to mention their considerable talents. But they just don’t seem to fall out, despite what appear to be some very high stakes, stressful situations.

And look what they’ve achieved. Unique style, and you guessed it, on a shoestring. My heros!

Now onto the next one, I’ve now discovered Escape to the Chateau DIY. Trip to France anyone?

My Latest Obsession: Nautical Stripes

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Thank you to those of you who said you’ve missed me, it means a lot! I’d like to be able to give you a really exciting reason for my absence. A backpacking holiday to India perhaps, or an intensive course in nail art (a long time secret interest of mine, who knew!) Unfortunately the reasons are depressingly mundane. A combination of tummy bugs, birthday parties, housework and general life has rendered me pretty incapable of coherent thought after 8pm, which is the time I usually sit at my laptop to write.

I find that tonight I have the energy, having spent a restorative day at home with my family. The summer weather really does help give life a little boost. So here I am, introducing my new occasional feature titled: My Latest Obsession, in which I will be sharing trends, furnishings and objects that I covet. Indeed there are many so I’ll try not to bombard you. From blog post famine to feast!

This week I’ve found myself drawn to all things nautical, particularly stripes. If you’ve read about our Blue Kitchen you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the colour blue already but our latest purchase brought stripes to the forefront of my mind. As the weather has improved recently we’ve been spending more time eating outside on the decking and our old parasol desperately needed replacing. Not just because one of the struts was secured with brown tape (the shame!) but it was also generally looking tatty and I wanted something with a bit of colour or interest. There’s not a great deal of choice around it seems, a few plain bright colours and two main shapes: Standard or Shanghai. However, I did find a lovely navy blue and white stripe version from John Lewis which I couldn’t match elsewhere and after a few weeks of deliberation it has now massively upgraded our outdoor dining area.



Once I have a style on my mind I usually have to stop myself from buying everything I see that matches. It’s tough because there is so much brilliant stuff out there, but below are a few of my favourite affordable picks for the sailor in you.



That’s enough for now, I’ve worn myself out. It’s too much too soon. Enjoy the sunshine me hearties!

How to upgrade your home for under £100

It gets quite tiresome always counting the pennies and trying to work out how to do everything cheaply. I’d love one day to redecorate a room by simply walking into a shop and picking out what I want. How simple that would be. Instead, I trawl the internet, check the cashback sites, hunt for voucher codes and always visit every sale section in a homeware shop- just in case the perfect thing is waiting for me. With our current home I’ve been doing this for two and a half years, and am happy with the result. I am also left with a huge sense of satisfaction because I’ve put the work in, and I know I’ve not wasted a penny.

The process has proved to me that budget homes don’t have to look cheap, it’s just a matter of choosing the right things and using them in the right way: If you want a blush pink room don’t just buy up the blush pink aisle in the bargain shop, because the result will simply be a room full of matching tat and you’ll find yourself putting it in the charity bag in a year’s time. Fact.

So, below is a summary of my favourite tricks with some of the buys I’m interested in right now.

Buy a posh handwash for the bathroom or loo. There is always a huge choice in Homesense/TK Maxx so you can usually find one there to match your colour scheme for around £6. If your budget is really tight and you’ve managed to find a nice bottle (especially if it’s a glass one, extra points!) then refill it when it gets empty with a supermarket version. In our en suite I love our White Company handwash. It smells delicious and is narrow enough to fit on the little sink. I get this from the outlet shop for £8, look out for their seasonal sales otherwise and treat yourself to whatever’s reduced. They’re all good!

Find a beautiful vase and fill it with flowers. I know this is an ongoing cost because flowers need replacing, but really, what a difference they make! You can pick up lovely flowers nowadays for £2-£3 a bunch from the supermarket too. Aldi do great fairtrade roses, and you can’t go wrong with a few stems of lilies. Find a medium sized vase in clear/frosted white glass or a colour that suits the room it will always go in. I’ve found a few here.

Put a mirror on the wall. Either in the hall or the downstairs toilet if you have one, or both. Mirrors are a common designers’ trick as they reflect the light around the room and create an illusion of space. They are also very useful for checking yourself before you leave the house of course-many a time I’d have taken the kids to school with cereal on my face if it wasn’t for that final glance in the mirror. Thanks to the fantastic high street there is always a great choice, the current trend being for round or hexagonal mirrors suspended by chains or leather, but you don’t have to buy new. I just upcycled an old floral and gold one with a lick of chalk paint.

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Hexagonal Hanging Mirror £10 from ASDA

Frame a poster.

It’s possible to find just about any image online now in the form of a poster, usually available in a choice of sizes with prices starting at around £7. Pop it in a frame (if you can get one with a mount even better) and you’ve got yourself some instant wall art.

This set of prints in our hallway are from the Natural History Museum, unfortunately they don’t have a huge choice online. I’m lucky that after I fell in love with one in the museum shop my good friend bought me some for my birthday and sent them in the post, it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received.


Sites I’d recommend for posters include:

Poster Lounge



Find a fancy throw. Or a blanket to drape artfully across your bed/armchair/sofa. I’m sometimes guilty of overdoing it and have to have the occasional soft furnishing cull, but I do love to sit under one on a chilly winters evening (or spring for that matter, what is up with this weather?!) Just try to avoid materials that will bobble quickly, or that look shiny because frankly they just scream poor quality so really what’s the point?

Upgrade your bathroom accessories. Sometimes we get so used to living with the everyday things around the house that we stop really seeing them for what they are. Look at your home with fresh eyes and you might well notice the rusty bits on the shower caddy or the grime around the toothbrush mug. It doesn’t cost much to buy a new matching set for the bathroom-not forgetting the loo brush. I always seem to find something I like at Matalan. If matchy matchy isn’t your thing, improvise with a pretty saucer for the soap (mine is from a Chinese supermarket) and a glass or mug for the toothbrushes. The finishing touch is a container for cotton wool which can be anything from a dainty drawstring bag to a jam jar. I found a Kilner style one in the sale section because it was missing a lid and it now houses our cotton buds and cotton wool pads perfectly.

Paint something. Most of us have an item of furniture or an accessory that is useful yet unattractive, so we just tolerate it. Buy a pot of paint (tester size will do for something very small) and paint it, sometimes the transformation is quite surprising and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It doesn’t take great skill and often is a quicker job than you’d expect. I painted this little wooden cupboard (originally meant for a hallway I think) for the bathroom with one coat of bathroom emulsion and swapped the glass in the doors with plastic mirror tiles.


Create groups of three. It’s a classic design trick to display items in odd numbers, because things just look better in threes or fives. You’ll notice it in everything from toothpaste adverts to showhomes once you start to look. So, find three items you like around the house, like a vase, jar, figurine, candle, plant…and display them as a set. Something like this:

In an instant, a few unremarkable items become a focal point. Simples.

Happy homing everyone, I’d love for you to let me know if any of my tricks worked for you. But for now it’s time for me to climb out from under this cosy blanket and into bed.

First impressions count. Transforming the front of our house.

It is with great pleasure that I can now announce we have finished the front of our house! Hooray! I might put up some bunting to celebrate our achievement. I am no longer embarrassed, perhaps even proud now, of how it looks. It’s taken two years though; there was so much to do and we could only afford to do a bit at a time.


At the very beginning we looked at getting a new front door. The original was a scruffy white with gold coloured ‘furniture’ (that’s door speak for the shiny metal bits) but even the cheapest composite versions were over £1000 so we couldn’t really justify it. Instead we painted it with an external waterproof paint in sage green, and replaced the gold with polished chrome. It made an unbelievable difference and set us back less than £100.

The slate house number sign is made to order, and illuminated by the exterior wall lights. They are up & down lighters and look really pretty at night. The only thing that would make them better would be a dusk to dawn sensor so I didn’t have to remember to turn them off!

To complement this the most recent (and in my opinion best) addition is our storm porch. It’s made from softwood as it’s cheaper than oak so has had two coats of primer and the green exterior paint on top to protect it. Apart from the practical benefits of protecting us and the front door from the worst of the elements (our postman is particularly grateful!) It has created a ‘proper’ entrance on an otherwise flat house.


We’re lucky to have a pretty big lawn at the front of the house, and this is where the sun falls in the evening. For the first time last week we took a picnic blanket to the front and the girls ate their dinner outside, it was really satisfying to be able to enjoy a whole new area of our home. It was too open at first so we have enclosed it with a low fence and a picket gate. It defines the area, gives us more privacy and helps to make it obvious where our house ends and next door begins

The huge expanses of empty brick wall needed covering with something, as did the area of new bricks used to block up the second front door. We built a raised bed using sleepers and filled it with as many evergreen plants as we could fit, including jasmine to climb up the wall. My frustration with plants is waiting for them to grow. I love paint because the transformation is immediate, but with plants you have to wait at least a year to even begin to see the fruits of your labour. Now we are entering spring those backbreaking hours are starting to pay off with a new flower or shoot appearing each time I look.


We’ve recently had the moss removed from the roof so our garden is no longer littered with it every time it rains, and last but not least was the removal of the wobbly concrete slabs to make way for a new stone chipping path, framed by block paving bricks. If money was no object we’d have chosen a bound resin or entirely block paved design as they’re a bit easier for pushchairs and wheely suitcases (for my many exotic holidays obviously) but this alternative seems to work pretty well. Stone chippings are more practical than gravel because they don’t spread so easily and end up everywhere but the path.

So, just for my own satisfaction and the chance to be a little bit smug, here is a reminder of what it used to look like. The only bit of this picture I’d like to keep is the sunshine. Come back my long lost friend!

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A birthday party with Creative Spirit at Bonds


This weekend I had the pleasure of collecting 10 unique works of art by emerging artists, original glazed pottery hot off the kiln! No, I’ve not started an art collection (chance would be a fine thing), in fact this was one of the truly nice side effects of being a parent.


Last week our eldest daughter Rachel had her 6th birthday party at Creative Spirit Studio, run by a lovely lady called Nina. Rachel and her friends chose from a range of figurines and crockery, and sitting around a table together were given free range to paint them, with a huge range of colours to choose from. All of the children were engrossed in the task, and impeccably behaved because they were so engaged. After the crafts each child was given their own packed lunch (lovely thick ham and shiny fruit!) before birthday cake and colouring in their own gift bag, in which their finished pottery would be sent home after firing.

For the parents this seemed to be the perfect party, as while their child was occupied they had the chance to browse the rest of the building. Creative Spirit Studio is housed within Bonds which is an enchanting antique, lifestyle and interiors centre. With over 40 concessions under one roof here you can find beautiful kitchens, vintage furniture, glassware, paint, vases, artificial flowers, candles…the list goes on. I originally knew this place as Stratford Antiques and Interiors but came across it under its new identity when on my search for supplies for my desk renovation project The wonders of chalk paint.

Another pleasant surprise was the reinvented cafe, with a menu of homemade and locally sourced treats-including breakfasts, cakes, curry, sandwiches, soups and coffee. Plus free fruit for children. Bonus!

The only problem with Bonds is that it is difficult to visit without making a purchase. EVERYTHING here I wanted to buy, and so far our home has been enriched with two vintage magnifying glasses, blue chopsticks, a Royal Doulton horse figurine and a decorative coat hook. It is these touches though that make a house unique and characterful, rather than a showcase for a budget catalogue range so I’m definitely not sorry!

Back to the party; the finished articles were really impressive. The colours glossy and bright having been fired, and Rachel can’t wait to hand them out to her friends. An item they have created which they can keep is something so special. Nina also offers decoupage, foam clay, mosaic, canvas & fabric painting parties so that’s a good few years of parties covered on my part! In addition, on this return visit I discovered that Bonds also offer workshops in felting, chalk paint, upholstery and pottery which really took my fancy- maybe I’ll get the chance to create something myself soon too.

A Sanctuary for our Sacred Guests.

My childhood home was a chocolate box cottage in the grounds of the retreat & conference centre that my Dad ran. Ever since I can remember I was answering the reception phone and helping to lay the dining tables. Every Sunday we’d eat roast dinner with the guests staying at the main house and the little me would chat happily to strangers more than ten times my age.

As a teenager this became my first place of work, I changed bed sheets at speed and became an expert at operating a catering size dishwasher, but that wasn’t all I learnt. A lasting lesson from my life there was the importance of hospitality, to always welcome people into our home without question and to treat those people with an extra level of care and attention. My Dad was frequently bringing someone down the garden for my Mum to produce a meal for, and though she wasn’t always thrilled about it at the time she would never have let on. They always left with a full stomach, and probably late at night, having been engaged in conversation over a glass of whisky or a box of chocolates.

I was taught that guests are sacred, and for this reason it’s always been important for me to have a guest room. Of course this isn’t always possible, but until our girls insist on having separate bedrooms we’ve got a room to spare. I wanted it to be an unfussy and restful space, which I think we’ve achieved.


Our guest room is the second largest bedroom, and the good size is helpful as we have inherited furniture from my Grandmother which fits perfectly. We’ve made few changes to this room, other than stealing a little space for the ensuite on the other side of the wall.


The furniture has touches of pink to it, but I wanted to avoid an all pink room so decided on blue as an accent colour. The curtains pick out the tones in the pictures above the bed but otherwise the scheme is fairly neutral.

For similar accessories:

Asinara White Matt Pendant Light

Hoppvals White Cellular Blind

Wilko Picture Frames

Next Plain Dye Bedding in Natural

I hope we’ve managed to create a restful room in our humble home, and that our guests feel welcome here despite the usual chaos that surrounds them as soon as they set foot through the door. Most of our visitors have to read a bedtime story or two in exchange for their bed and board, but at least there’s somewhere comfy to retire to at the end of it all!

Our Mustard Yellow & Grey Master Bedroom.

Having written about the ongoing saga of my bedding size issues last week, I thought I’d round up by telling you about our master bedroom. This was the last room we sorted out, which meant that I went to bed every night for a year gazing at piles of boxes and dusty clothes, and getting increasingly frustrated at our lack of proper storage. The trouble is that wardrobes seemed to be the only type of furniture that were almost impossible to do well cheaply. It’s fair enough, I was looking for two matching large items which needed to be sturdy, practical and attractive. I did hours and hours of research and eventually settled upon the IKEA Hemnes Wardrobe for £260 each. The main attraction was the sliding doors, which allowed us to position them close to the bedside tables without causing an issue when opening them.

The other alternative we considered was to add built-in floor to ceiling wardrobes, but this would have shortened the bedroom. If you want to maximise the appearance of space I think it’s better to retain the ceiling space above the wardrobe so that you can see the wall behind. Otherwise the room would appear to stop at the wardrobe line, losing a huge 60 cm off the length of the room.

Our curtains were another find from Next Home Clearance which is my go-to site for window treatments. They inspired the colour scheme for the room. The ceiling pendant with the gold inside was my first purchase however, and I love it. I find lighting very hard to choose but B&Q have one of the best affordable ranges I have come across Kapsel Pendant from

Our bedroom decor is a combination of old and new items which I think prevents it from looking like I’ve just copied it from a catalogue. We’re lucky to have inherited several pieces from family and I’ve re-purposed a few items. Our ‘terrarium’ on the windowsill is a broken lampshade donated from a friend, and our gold lidded jar came from M&S with chocolate truffles in-from the same friend, she obviously knows my taste!

Here are my Top 5 Bedroom Buys this week:

matalan duvet

Seersucker Duvet from Matalan

Available in double to superking for £35-£45. No need to iron! Say no more.

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Cactus Print Cushion from George Asda

Add a touch of colour to your bed. Orange and Turquoise with blue pom poms £6


Skarig Wall Clock from IKEA

Navy Blue with Gold Detail. This classically styled clock has a quartz movement so should keep accurate time, unlike some of the cheaper clocks on the market. £14

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Jacquard-weave rya rug from H&M Home

Available in light green or beige. 140 x 200 cm for £119.99. The thick pile would be soft underfoot when you step out of bed.

B&Q Lamp

Markham Blue table lamp from B&Q

A slimline bedside lamp in matte finish. £18. Being my favourite colour I am drawn to this, but this looks like it could cost four times the price.

Starting out as a blogger; my photo shoot at the Malt House Emporium

You may be able to tell that I’m a virgin blogger: I decided to start writing in order to give myself a creative outlet, and to stop myself from boring my family to death with talk of paint colours and soft furnishings. Since making that decision I’ve had, and still have, a great deal to learn about the art of blogging: How to write in the first place (a pretty important place to start), tags, categories, Facebook, Instagram, images, links, titles. The list goes on…

It was a priority for me to write the About page, as that’s the place where people learn who you are and what you are really writing about, so I called on my friend Holly Marsh to take some pictures of me for my profile. Holly took possibly my favourite photo of me ever on our wedding day: A relaxed, unposed photo. Six years on it is still my Facebook profile picture and I’m not planning on removing it any day soon. I challenge myself to beat the wedding day me – let’s see how the new gym membership works out!

Holly lives in Stroud so we decided to meet halfway at the Malt House Emporium, partly because they have a Tea Room where we could have lunch and a slice of cake (try the lemon sponge), and also because we both wanted an excuse to have a look around. Luckily, Holly shares my affection for all things interior.

From the road The Malt House (Ashchurch, junction 9 off the M5) is a pretty uninspiring modern warehouse style building, but inside you’ll find an amazing collection from over 70 unique antiques and interiors dealers. We didn’t have time to explore all of the stalls (school run at 3.15, life goes on!) but I really could have stayed there all day. The items on sale range from Cornishware and antique toys to concrete planters and quirky prints. There really is something for everyone and it is the perfect place to find that little, or big, something to make your home unique.



As is usually the case I dragged our youngest, Charlotte, along with me. Holly also had baby in tow. I envied Charlotte’s unashamed posing. Her ability to relax and just be in front of the camera. I, on the other hand, found myself to be incredibly awkward and embarrassed when confronted with a big fat lens to smile at. Somehow, Holly managed to coax the 3 year old out of me and got some good shots. (I have removed the ones that my Husband said made me look like a smug author).



I’d like to say thank you to the Malt House for allowing us to take our photos there. I look forward to my return, when hopefully I’ll have the time to truly enjoy all it has to offer, and maybe even buy something!

Just how big is a super king bed? And other mundane questions.

It’s a good job we bought a house with a good sized master bedroom, as we were determined to keep our superking bed-it has a Tempur mattress and is the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on. Sleep is extremely important to me, as even my children have realised. (This doesn’t stop them waking me up whenever they fancy, but I do appreciate their attempts at ‘sssshhhhh, let Mummy sweep’ while they clamber over my head to hunker down in the middle at 6 a.m.)


Our third-time-lucky bedding is white waffle with grey piping from Next

Much as I love it being big enough for a family of four, the only drawback to its enormity is finding bedding for it. Many shops/brands don’t produce superking bedding, and when they do it’s obviously always the most expensive size.

But here’s the question that has caused me to spend many frustrated hours in shops, hunting online and standing inside my own duvet cover trying in vain to make every corner marry up with the duvet; what actual size is a superking bed/duvet/mattress? and what about a king, double, or a European double? Then there’s the queen size and the emperor, or the new-build trick of the eye small double. Or is that a queen? Not to mention the single and small single. Then there’s cot or cot bed, toddler size bedding…and don’t even get me started on IKEA sizing…flat sheet, fitted sheet, valance sheet, deep fitted or extra deep. Square pillow, rectangular, oxford or housewife, and even KING SIZED PILLOWS. Aaarrrrggghhhhh…

By the time I’d admitted defeat with our third set of not-quite-fitting bedding, I decided to get the tape measure out and do some research. So for anyone out there who cares, here is my guide to bed and bedding sizes. Though, all that hard work has brought me to the conclusion that there is definitely slight variation between the majority of retailers & the only way you’ll guarantee a perfect fit is to buy everything from the same shop, or to measure everything yourself. Sorry!

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Blue Kitchen, the heart of our home.

I started to question my mental state this week when I couldn’t wait to get home to move my wooden spoons into my new utensil pot. The girls were hungry, I had to get changed to go to the gym and I had the usual five hundred or so items dumped by the front door waiting to be put back in their original place. But no! They had to wait! I needed to take the bubble wrap off the pot and put those wooden spoons in their new home immediately.


Ta Dah! Large Utensil Pot from Le Creuset Bicester Outlet Village

So I did that, and all was well with the world…for about 30 seconds until getting pasta and cheese on the table became a matter of life or death.

I know I have a very real obsession with interiors. Some find it exciting to receive a much coveted pair of shoes, to try out a new gadget, or to research the latest cars on Autotrader. I, on the other hand, take great pleasure in arranging whisky bottles into height order, and moving every piece of furniture in a room just to hide one cable. But when it comes to our homes most of us would agree that the kitchen is the most important room to get right. We spend hours in it cooking, eating, cleaning and entertaining. That’s certainly true for me-though usually I am just entertaining my daughters who would rather watch a fully grown adult opening Kinder eggs on the i-pad than engage in conversation with me. Anyway, with the image of familial harmony in mind, when doing the building work we knocked through a small galley kitchen into the main lounge to create a kitchen/dining/family space.

The kitchen mid-build

The kitchen today

The U-shaped kitchen area itself isn’t huge but I really enjoy using it, as everything is within easy reach. I really don’t want to have to walk 20 steps just to make a cup of tea! My friends can sit on the sofa and chat while I cook, and it’s easy to serve people at the table.


I hunted for weeks to find the right blue tiles, and finally found them at Miles of Tiles in Leamington Spa. They were really affordable (if you don’t count the cost of fuel for my two return trips to buy top-up tiles due to a miscalculation in quantity). I love the blue, and with the LED under-counter lights they really stand out.

Our kitchen is from Magnet and we were really pleased with the value for money. We chose units from the Simply range which is the lowest priced, but the Haptic handles were among the most expensive and they transformed the look of it. We also found a pull-out larder unit from ebay for a fraction of the price.

We tried to use as many items of furniture, appliances and accessories that we already had as we could. It’s easy to replace things later, but building work and renovations are so costly that we wanted to minimise the unnecessary spending in the early stages. In all, I’m pleased with what we have achieved. This is a space that we really enjoy spending time in, and thanks to my new utensil pot I’m pretty sure I won’t be making any changes for at least a month!

A tribute to our parents. Where would we be without them?

When I open up my laptop to add to this blog there are so many things I can write about. I look forward to sharing on here the things in our home that I’m most proud of, as none of it has come easily. We have changed every inch of this house and I’m constantly thinking of the next thing to tweak. I can’t help my obsession with interior design, with rearranging the kitchen drawers to make the storage space that little bit better or looking at where we might extend or adapt the space.

We’ve come to the point now where we’ve become a little bit in love with our house, something I never thought I’d say. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve worked extremely hard on it. We’ve painted and sanded late into the night and spent every last penny we have, to the point that even doing the grocery shopping made me nervous. Now, I like every room and even the front almost looks pretty! (just waiting for the tiles on our storm porch & then I’ll write about it).

However, with it being mothering Sunday my thoughts have turned to the other people who have contributed to our life as it is now. We bought our first house with a great deal of financial help from my in-laws, and invaluable advice from them with regards to the renovations. I’ve always been a person who knows what I want things to look like, but structural alterations were something I knew nothing about. My father in law was so confident about where to move walls that I trusted everything he suggested, and rightly so because it all worked out so well. We all got on so well that my now husband and I lived with his parents while renovating that house…and again once we’d had our first child…and the next…and then just a bit longer while we renovated the next one. For this unquestioning generosity I will be forever thankful.

A moment that will stay with me forever when we moved into that first house was when I was talking about a piece of furniture I wanted to buy. My Dad told me that ‘sometimes you just have to make do’. I thought I already knew that. I thought that the fact we were missing a wardrobe and that the builders hadn’t caulked the skirting boards meant we were managing to live in a less than perfect situation thank-you-very-much. Looking back on it, that 25 year old me didn’t realise how lucky she was, and his words have resonated with me ever since.

Sadly, neither my Dad nor my Father in law are alive now for me to tell them how grateful I am for their wise words, but thankfully the mums are, and I’d like to tell them thanks. Thanks for your help. Thanks for your advice and support. Thanks for the flowers you bought to brighten up the new house. Thanks for the childcare, and the cleaning, and the money you lent us when things were tight. We couldn’t have done any of it without you, and we will be eternally grateful.


Creating a Budget Ensuite Shower Room

Upon viewing this house we were amazed by the size of the master bedroom, and with two double windows it was also flooded with light.

I’m ashamed to admit that we’ve been spoilt over the last 10 years and have got used to having an ensuite bath/shower room, so it was a priority for us to create one here (albeit a lesser version). I really didn’t fancy the idea of the four of us brushing our teeth over each others’ heads every morning, or to be fishing damp haired barbies out of the bath before I take my shower. Fortunately we had the space to steal a bit from the master bedroom & from the guest room on the other side. By removing the chimney breast in between the two there was enough room to add a double shower, toilet & basin.





The ‘niche’ has proven to be a great place to store the toiletries inside the shower cubicle. I have come across tilers who advise against it due to water penetration but if these are done properly (i.e. made water tight) there is no reason why it shouldn’t work, any more than a seal around a bath or regular shower. All areas should be water tight or ideally tanked.

One thing I’ve learnt through renovation is to not let yourself be bullied into compromise unless it is a compromise that makes logical sense to you. It’s so easy to just go along with what you’re being told by tradespeople and to not push for what you really want. We were lucky to have had a builder and electrician we really trusted, however we weren’t so lucky with all of the project and I’ve had a similar debate a few times. This niche area was installed at the opposite end to the water flow so wasn’t subject to a huge volume of water, and after 18 months we’ve had no trouble from it. The led light strip added an extra highlight once I’d put in our toiletries. Wood plank effect tile from Stratford Tile.


To save space this toilet has a smaller cistern than most. I found the vanity unit (including basin) on Wayfair and the drawer unit at B&M. The fern print is from, & the frame from the range.
Mirror with shelf from IKEA.

I tried to wall mount as many accessories as possible in order to save space (I managed to drill the tiles myself, a suitable drill bit is essential-look for a diamond tip if possible to avoid hours of frustration!)

I can’t tell you what a difference having created this room has made. Life is so much easier having our own shower room in the morning and when getting ready for bed. Our guests also feel that they have the other bathroom pretty much to themselves. It may be the smallest room in the house but it’s possibly my favourite, and well worth the effort.