Tagged: Renovations

Happy New Year!

What a difference a year makes! The renovation of the study and bathroom are finished.  It all came together just before Christmas but various things – like dropping the computer and full on festivities has put life on hold for a bit. No bad thing.

This is the best before photo – taken a little late, when the room has already been partially cleared, but it gives a sense of the layout.  On the left, slightly blocking the photo is a big, black glass fronted bookcase that held an enormous amount of precious crap.  The idea was to open up the room by moving it to the right hand corner by the desk, allowing in more light.  This meant that both the shelves had to move and we finally had to sort out the pipes and tiles left by the ghost of a sink: When we first bought the house, this room was our kitchen.  It’s next incarnation was nursery and finally study.  The sink was from the days of nappy changing and bloody useful it was too.  The carpet was the first we ever laid in the house – just a week before Bella was born to celebrate it’s transition to nursery.  Unfortunately when I went into labour and disappeared to hospital, Molly the dog had the raging squits all over it and it never quite recovered…in truth it was a joy to rip it up and take the room back to bare floorboards.  The fireplace surround, leaning against the wall was going to go where the bookcase was, with a mirror on top to bounce light..important as this room was going DARK!

The other problem in the room was this cupboard – the only original cupboard left from when we bought the house nearly 15 years ago.  Originally part of the kitchen (although you can still see the wardrobe rail from it’s days as part of a nursery)  We now use it as a present cupboard, to store printer inks, paper and the printer.  Except the the space is terrible for storage and printer didn’t fit so the door was permanently open…

First step of the renovation: pulling up carpet and fixing the new fireplace surround, bought for a very pocket pleasing 99p on Ebay.

To solve the problem of the cupboard we cut down the two main doors and filled the internal space with shelves.  To update them we had beading fitted on all the doors and drawers. Very simple, very effective.

The inspiration for the room was Victoriana meets Spitalfields, and whats more Victoriana than an ornate ceiling rose?

Over the other side of the room, the shelving was re-imagined.

And now for colour…shit brown with a hint of green! Interestingly it comes out more green in the photos.  I will confess it was scary painting it on for the first time, particularly with memories of this paint in mind – and it’s the first time I’ve painted a ceiling dark…terrifying…I really didn’t want to have to paint that white again!

More beading was added to the fireplace and above the pathetic skirting we had to create the optical illusion of more…this whole room is an optical illusion of more..

We also took the beading up to the ceiling, creating a rectangle around the lights and rose.

Then everything – and I mean everything, was painted.  Recognise the inlay on the fireplace? Came from the tiles on the wall from the ghost sink…all cunningly recycled.

Floors varnished and furniture moved back in.  Even the chair was given a new seat cover made from a bit of kilim.  The light was recycled from Bella’s room where she didn’t appreciate it’s vintage charm – she now has the boring Ikea one that was in here.  Looping it so it hangs over the desk makes a great visual statement.  The rug has made it back – there was thoughts of dying it but it’s just the wrong type of material and it compliments the room well.  Maybe when there’s some more dosh in the pot it will change to a battered kilim. The colour has been a revelation – it creates such a calm, centred environment that pulls you in – it’s an oasis of peace in a busy house.

The mirror was our Christmas present, bought on Ebay for a bit of a bargain and I love it.  The handles on the cupboards are just cheapy wooden ones painted to match.  Now I can sit in my chair and imagine I’m silk merchant from the eighteenth century.  The printer now sits happily and the storage in the cupboard works.

On the other side of the room, the shelving is much better positioned and the sofa bed is back in:  The blue sits very happily with the shit brown.  Not only is it a great place to read a book, it gives the room a double function if we ever have extra guests coming to stay.

And this one has been properly organised.

A great success was the window treatment.  Originally we had a striped roman blind that covered a portion of the window.  We’ve replaced it with a roller blind (approx £40 made to size) that’s been hidden in this specially made window box.  The wooden decoration was originally intended to go over a door as a pediment, but had never been fitted.  It now has a new life! Now the window is a true statement and is the first thing you see when you walk into the room.

When the blind is up, it’s invisible, when it is down, it’s a simple, tasteful white.


All in all, it couldn’t have been more successful!

Laters, Kate x

Update x

Interesting fact: Six different tiles have been used in the making. It adds a certain charm. The marble tiles were from Topps tiles and were cursed for being of different thicknesses – it’s taken longer to get them up and they are darker than they look on the website, but as they actually match well with the wallpaper it’s been a win. And the price point – £49.93 precisely a sqm made them the obvious choice: A compromise on pushing the budget on a smaller area where the hit is less but the effect is more.  Now work is starting on the floor.

The study has moved from this……

To this: The beading is nearly up in the study and is fab – These cupboards are actually the only thing that remains of the house from the time that we bought it 14 years ago when this study was originally a kitchen. During it’s following incarnation the room was a nursery for Bella then Charlie and this cupboard became their wardrobe. Now the wardrobe rail has finally gone, the space filled with shelving and the doors have now been trimmed down to accommodate our printer which was too big for the doors to close –   I think the cupboard deserves and is loving its makeover.

The 99p fireplace from Ebay is being given a bit of love: a box of beading is going to be added to the middle section to balance out the proportions, also Victorian style tiles recycled from the bathroom are going to line the inside: waste not want not.

As the room is going to be painted darker, the window is having a subtle treatment – the blind is going upstairs to replace the one in Bella’s room and being replaced with a cream rollerblind (approx £46) which will be hidden in a pelmet box above the window, freeing up all the glass to maximum light. It means we will still be able to use the room as an extra spare room as and when, but the emphasis will be on the window and light rather than fussy dressings.

Work has also started on the floorboards in the upstairs hall: I love our original floorboards, but they did have big gaps and a few dodgy bits.  No longer. new life is being breathed into them.


It’s happening.

Laters, Kate x

The details..

Sometimes it’s the big things that lift a room from the regular: glowing parquet floor, high ceilings, large windows and stunning plasterwork. The oversized mirror ticks the boxes too.

But sometimes it’s the little things like subtle panelling that just catch the eye and jog the memory that can also be tasty.

It’s this train of thought that has influenced plans to elevate the study-renovations-on-a budget: Adding a layer of trim above the skirting boards to suggest height and grandeur, a rectangle of trim on the ceiling to imply cornicing and plasterwork where there is none, simple beading on cupboard doors to give them a sense of age and a box of trim on the wall above my 99p fireplace from Ebay (I jest not) to infer wealth and affluence.


(All pics Pinterest)

Because until you can’t make it. Fake it.

Laters, Kate x

Progress x

It’s all happening at Chez Bentley.

The bathroom suite is still in our bedroom!

But the carpet in the study is gone!

But I’ve managed to eek out a workspace…

For now.


Laters, Kate x

The builders are here..

We’re in a little bit of chaos.  Our lovely builders who did our kitchen texted on Monday to say ‘we have a slot free starting tomorrow, so would you like us to do all those other little jobs you’ve made a list of?’ Which is great in one way, because we were just about to decorate the study (although we were in that phwoo phwee stage of ‘should we do this just before a Christmas that we’re hosting? It’s going to be tight and I’m not sure if we should lose the present cupboard just yet’)…Except they will help make the study really special by fitting the fireplace, making new shelves and giving us the kick up the backside to get started.  It was panic stations yesterday.

It’s all cleared now.  And the spare room looks like a reclamation yard again.  Which is a shame…

Because that’s where we’ll be sleeping for a while as the family bathroom suite is now in our bedroom…another one of those ‘little’ jobs on the list is to replace the bathroom floor.  We converted the bathroom from a bedroom eleven years ago and whilst most of it has stood the test of time – I still love the Cole & Son wallpaper –  the floor hasn’t.  It looks tired and because the house is old, tiles have cracked so it’s farewell horrible floor, you’ll not be missed.  And hello wooden floor when you come! Yup, as a huge fan of my wooden floor in the kitchen – best decision EVER. We’ve made the potentially impractical decision of having similar herringbone parquet but on a smaller scale in the bathroom.  Except the kids are now older and to be honest…and boats are made of wood…..and the joy of wood is a) it doesn’t show the dirt and b) it’s flexible. Win bloody win.

We also made the mistake of scrimping on the taps and shower and ordering from Bathstore. Never again.  They need to be replaced as well. Sigh. Most of the tiles will remain, although the ones around the bath will go.

I’m hoping to keep the Victorian style tiles to the left of the bath, whilst the rest will be replaced with white/grey marble.

The final job on the list is to plaster and skim the backdoors into place that were retrofitted on the ground floor.


There’s not a space untouched..



Laters, Kate x

Light it up x

Planning out the study has become my default setting with the spotlight of attention now focused on lighting, which at present is an issue in the room:  Unlike the other ceilings in the house which are Victorian high, the ceiling in the study, mainly because of its position on a mezzanine level in the back overlooking the garden, is lower. So sadly a large, feature light is out of the head-hitting-question.

Which is a shame, because oversized standout lights are rather delicious.

But then the symmetrical scales fell away from my eyes: Who says a main light has to be in the middle of a room? And why, like we do in kitchens over tables, can’t a light be strategically placed over a desk? And even if the central symmetry does add something (love a bit of symmetry), why can’t a cunning hook in the ceiling direct a beautiful fabric cable to just over the desired spot? Allelujah!

(A sort of reverse of this really (Note the carefully positioned photo to disguise his bruising on the left side from continual light bashing))

And so the magical world of lighting has opened up again…

(All pics Pinterest)

(Except if I’m totally honest, whilst I love this mental breakthrough enough to share it, the desk is going to be opposite the central  window…and it riases the question, would a light block out the light? Would it actually be an oxymoron in physical form?)


I fear More thought is needed..


Laters, Kate x

One, two, three, floor..

The study is need of a serious makeover and has been for some time – it’s been a kitchen, a nursery and now a dumping room, though not in the Australian sense. But there’s only a limited budget in the pot, which challenges the learnt mantra of do it once, do it well.

But it’s an interesting dilemma – does cheap cheapen? Or does it actually require greater planning, imagination and inventiveness? I would plump for the latter everytime.

Except the carpet in the room desperately needs replacing. Natural sissal would my covering of choice, topped with a vintage rug like in the first picture.  Sigh.  Just not possible.

So it has to be painted floorboards – black? white? or maybe like this – painted the same colour as the walls..

(All pics Pinterest)

As for the rug…the one at present is a rather sad generic black and white number from Ikea.  But what if one could dye it? Now that could be fun…watch this space…


Laters, Kate x

Smallest Room Part 2

The wallpaper we made over the holidays? 

Despite just using the basics: Lining paper, leftover emulsion paint and cut up sponges – has worked a treat.

(Even though it meant embracing chaos)

This was the before state of the downstairs toilet. A mini dumping ground of DIY and general clutter.

First step was a deep clean of the tiles.  Vinegar, though powerful on the nostrils did the job.  A little bit of re-grouting was needed – and then I was going to dye the grout a dark grey, but I was concerned the new grout was of a different consistency –  less chalky, more rubbery so would they dye the same colour? It was an easier decision to not risk it. Besides the new pristine white of the tiles was impressive. Finally, paint – white on the ceiling and the Little Greene Paint Company’s French Grey Dark on the woodwork which is a soft, pinky grey that seems to blend with any thing.  A continual stream of Radio 4 plays on the ipad helped the process along..

The wallpaper went up easily: The lining paper was one of the thickest available and was aided by both pasting the wall and paper, and leaving the paper for a few minutes to fully soak up the wallpaper paste.

The randomness of the print meant there was no problem on the join – second piece went up where it went up.  Bliss.

The finished job.

Except there’s always one thing left to do…a fitted mirror over the sink. Sigh.

Better get ordering.

Laters, Kate x

Front door x

After 14 years of council-style reinforced glass the front door finally got it’s makeover on Friday.

The before picture! Complete with piece of paper stuck on with door number scribbled on it.  Attractive.

The finished design by Nikki  (click for her details) was beautifully based on the doors we have between the kitchen/diner and the sitting room.


The result is a delight, especially when the sun pours through and creates rainbows on the walls.

Above we’ve gone for simplicity of plain glass and the number to let in as much light as possible.

The added bonus was that Keith-the-amazing-stained-glass-man turned up in his pre-war Singer car! How supper cool?

A charming success in every way!

Laters, Kate x

Home Truths x


I suspect there’s a scientific correlation between the life cycle of say, the lower house mouse and renovation works.  A year after the kitchen was finished thoughts have turned to the family bathroom and an office pod in the garden.  But bathrooms first.


Unlike this pic, our main problem is the floor which is tiled.  The tiles haven’t stood the test of time – after 10 years they’re cracked and ragged.  It could be that they were badly laid, or it might be that tiles are never great in old houses that move on wooden joists.


So the plan now is to replace the tiles with wood.  We’ve got wood in both our laundry room and kitchen, and they’ve been the best floors ever – warm, characterful and flexible.  I’m not sure why we didn’t use it as a first choice in the bathroom – I suspect it’s a gremlin in our minds that whispers wood plus water equals problems.  Now stop…and think of boats…


This is the inspiration for the floor: Dark, herringbone parquet. Just the right side of decadent.

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(All pics Pinterest)

It’s going to be fun…

Laters, Kate x