Permission to paint

As Barry is away, I’ve finally got permission to pick up a paintbrush!  I’ve been left with instructions to paint a little bit of wood by the front door with wood stain, and paint the bits of skirting board and doorframes that I can reach in the living room.

While I’m proud of my progress, there’s not much point me putting up a photo of me painting something that was slightly off-white, white.

So, in the meantime, you can see a pretty picture of the kettle Barry bought last week.  It’s glass and lights up.  What more do you want from a kettle?  Oh, it boils water too.

Photo wall

While all the kitchen malarky’s been going on, I’ve also been thinking about our photo wall for the living room.  I’ve mocked up the photos on Illustrator, and it’s been really helpful to visualise how it will look.

This has made me realise that we need to whittle down the photos more, and scale down some of the ones we were going to have printed A4, so it has been a useful exercise.  Definitely need to look at it again before buying anything!

It’s hard to know where to start with this, because I’ve never done this before, but this has been a cheaper way of discovering I’ve gone a bit overboard than buying all the photos and frames, and then realising it!

Saturday: progress made

I was banished from the kitchen yesterday so Barry could do some work with his earphones in and I wouldn’t get in the way.  I felt like a bit of a spare part, but I sneaked in every now and again to take some photos and then run away.

The oven is steadily making its way to the middle of the space.  Barry’s also put it up on blocks so that it’ll be the same height as the work surface will be when that goes on.

We’re hoping to affix the plinth in some way along the bottom of the oven – we don’t want to be able to see this!

In other news, Barry’s swapped the broken radiator for the new one,

which hopefully won’t leak, and gone over the black paint that was already on that wall, as well as painting behind the radiator.

Hopefully, today we’ll get some more handles on the bottom units, although I’ve woken up early and it’s a lovely day, so we might actually need to go and get some Vitamin D.

The joiner also comes today, so we should finally have a date and proper price for sorting the worktop out.  Sink, ahoy!

A brief history of abodes

Today marks our fifth wedding anniversary – happy anniversary, honey!

We’ve actually been together more than ten years, since university, when our only source of decoration in the halls was books (his, sciences, mine, languages), posters (his, the tennis player with her bum out, mine, more embarrassingly, the Backstreet Boys) and interesting rugs (his, ratty strips of woven cloth, mine, a fluffy pink heart made of a wandering fibre that ended up on everything I owned).

We then moved to a shared house, where we had the whole top floor which had recently been renovated. Again, we had no power over what it looked like and function and utility reigned over beauty. The only painting Barry did was the bathroom ceiling, in a paint that just wouldn’t stick and turned out to have sand in it for some reason. It all peeled off.

In our third year, he worked in Peterborough while I lived in Spain and France. Spain was your typical apartment with tiled floors and airless rooms (pictured). My entire flat in France was smaller than our current bedroom. In the fourth year, we returned to (fancier) halls, in which I don’t think we even had posters or rugs.


At the end of that year, finally, we rented a house together just outside of the city which had a bit of character. The living room was on the third floor – very topsy turvy! The kitchen worktop had to be oiled regularly – I think Barry’s looking forward to doing that again. The bathroom was a horrendous aquamarine when we moved in, but we asked if we could paint it white and we were allowed.

The first house we bought was another magnolia kingdom. The couple we bought it from had lived in it for a few years and never done anything with it. Ha! we thought. Lazy buggers! We ended up painting this strip in the lounge a purply-chocolate colour, one wall in our bedroom green, a wall in our spare bedroom red, and the bathroom pink. Thus endeth our decorating of the first house.

Our current house is our second, and we nagged Barratt’s to death to get a cheaper price for it. It can be done! All of a sudden, the market will crash, and they won’t be able to give you it fast enough. That’s what happened to us, anyway. We ended up getting it for £25k less than next door, whose house is a mirror image of ours.

We fell in love immediately with the top floor when we saw the show home. It consists of our bedroom, a dressing room/nursery and ensuite. Light streams from opposite sides of the house and it feels huge and airy. The whole of the show home was very black and silver, but it did give us some excellent ideas, even if it’s taking until now to implement them (like black walls up the stairs).

As I’ve mentioned before, we’d love to have built in wardrobes, but they cost an arm and a leg. In fact, I’m not sure my arm and leg would cover the cost.

I was talking to Jules about house blindness (after the carpet discussion), and we’ve decided that once you’ve been in for a while, you just don’t see “it” any more. “It” can be the bland walls you see past, the nail pops you choose to ignore, the hideous (sorry, vintage) carpet you no longer look at. We’d been “planning” to decorate for some time before we actually started this January, but it took a shock this Christmas to actually make us get up and do something, because we needed a project to keep our minds off things.

As my friend Michelle says (and no, I’m not talking about myself in the third person), you always need a project.

Bane of my life

I don’t know what I’d do without lists – they add order to a project and allow me to better organise my actions and finances, but God, they are annoying. Sometimes, do you think it’s better to just not know everything you have to do and pay for?

Take the oven, for example. I know I’m being awkward. Barry, quite clearly, also knows I’m being awkward. It sounds simple, but I just want it in the middle of the space that’s left. I’ve included a photo, but you can’t really see, but at the moment, there’s a 9cm gap on one side, and a 5cm gap on the other. My symmetrical brain finds this aesthetically unacceptable. Because of this, Barry is going to have to replace the gas pipe (about £50 of copper piping), move the electricity switch, and all because I need it to look right. When I was about to cave, Barry refused, and said he didn’t want to hear about it for the next 20 years. The man’s right, I have the memory of an elephant.

This then has the knock-on effect of delaying when we can call the joiner to cut the worktop. We’re reaching a critical point, and I feel like I might actually scream if I go to our kitchen sink one more time before remembering that we have to wash up in the bath. Barry also needs to build the unit on the other side, sort all of the end panels and fill the (equal) gaps by the oven before we give the joiner a ring, and we expect it will be around £100-£150 for him to make the cuts and fit the worktop.

I’m sure we did have a life before the kitchen, but I can’t quite remember what we did with our time.