The Door Detour- Brand New Back and a Fantastic Facelift for the Front

This is a post about doors- this is something that’s been going on while EVERYTHING else was happening, but I thought it deserved it’s own little post.


The Back Door

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Mmm, check out that fine mildew finish. Or the lovely way it just lets spiders crawl under the bottom. Or the way I could probably kick it in quite easily.

For security and damp sake I needed to get a new back door, I just needed to find a place that would custom make a door to the right size. Doors you can buy and fit yourself but if anything goes wrong during installation then you’re left with a door shaped hole in your house while you desperately try to fix it, so I decided to pay some nice men to come and do it for me.

The problem was finding a company that could also do the other door…

The front door

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This is probably the original door, or at least a very old one. It’s a bit rickety and would be easy to kick in, but it fits the door jam perfectly and there’s a second security door in the porch so I didn’t want to get it replaced with a new composite door.

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At some point the original glass probably got broken and replaced with this security glass, which is good for security, less for aesthetics. After shopping around a bit I gave up on the idea of finding a reclaimed stained glass piece to replace it because it’s a very large window and stained glass like that is very hard to come by, and is normally riddled with holes.

To get a proper new one made you pay a poor person £1000+ to hand cut individual pieces of glass and assemble it perfectly in a frame, or you learn to do it yourself. I actually considered this option for a good week or so, until I got my priorities in order and stopped looking up how to solder lead strip.

A more sensible option involves applying film or paint and lead strip to a plain piece of glass. This is something I also considered doing myself, but I worried about the durability of the lead in a home DIY kit, and the hardest bit of the job would be installing the damn window itself.

(R@emember what I said about if anything goes wrong you just get a massive hole in your house? Yep, not willing to risk that on a main street.)

After a couple weeks of searching and getting quotes I finally found a company near me called Faroncrown (beware the website, it talks to you) who do custom stained glass films and had a showroom/workroom I could turn up at to poke at display pieces. The sales team also didn’t make me shudder and I could talk to the design guy directly. Now that’s a sparkling review if I ever did write one 😛

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They leant me a book with all the window film options to take home and compare to my own window.

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The upper window is original glass, so I decided to just take that design and rotate it for the main window.


They volunteered to design the window for me, but I was like ‘naw guys, it’s cool, I got this.’ and just slapped something together. Benefits of drawing comics for a living, I can use my skills for house stuff!





Red= SF109 Dark red grained
Blue= SF073 Sapphire plain
Green= SF074 Green pepper plain

Here’s the rough design I sent to them with the colours picked out with matching codes from the sample book.

Then I had to sit and wait for them to quote me on the design and fitting for that and the back door. I was ready to pay up to £1000 to get the front door glass back to it’s former glory, so when they sheepishly called me up like ‘Well it will take the guy at least 2 days to make it and it includes fitting and it’s really a bespoke item and that will be £250′ I was just like

A good rule of thumb for how much to pay tradesmen is expect at least £100 a day, more if it’s electrics or plumbing. That plus the back door set me back by £900, which is cheaper than the original predicted cost of just the front window, so brilliant!

3 weeks and some phone calls checking and double checking later, the window and door was done and two guys turned up at my house and chucked it in.

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In and out in the space of a morning!

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This was a job that made the house feel SO MUCH better, the kitchen SO MUCH warmer and I don’t feel so bad now that I’m going to have to wait until spring (when the rain stops) to be able to paint the front door.

Hope you enjoyed the little door detour! 😀


The Kitchen Worktop Question

Here’s a question that I’ve been plaguing my friends with for the past few weeks:

(well, more like months)

Oak worktop or stone?

I think this is the most middle class problem I’ve ever had, after gems from my friends such as ‘There’s just too much Champagne in the fridge’ and ‘The Michelin Star restaurant was very good, but there were just far too many borlotti beans‘.

I’m pretty lucky to even have to make this choice, but I rank kitchen counters as one of the more important (and well used) features in my my house. I’m working on a budget of about 20-30 grand to do up this house, and I’m willing to drop one tenth of that on kitchen worktop if it will make the fantasy kitchen of my dreams come true.

(Though at this point a kitchen that isn’t filled with plaster dust is looking pretty spectacular right now.)


Here’s a diagram of the worktop I have in my kitchen. I’m keeping most of the original lower units and keeping the gallery style design. It’s just over 5 metres of worktop that I need to acquire. Most kitchens I’ve had in my life have had 3 maximum, so my budget took a bit of a shock when I realised I need to double what I expect kitchens to cost.

Anyway, before we get into what worktop I DID choose, let’s talk about what I DIDN’T


I’ve had laminate worktop most of my life, and beaten the hell out of it. I’m not a tidy cook, I dream of something I can just chuck a pan down over. Laminate, while cheap also couldn’t be cut and shaped for my weird corners easily, so it was out from the start.


As much as I love glitter, the idea of a kitchen attempting to look that clean and modern personally offends me. Lived in or GO HOME. Someone else’s home. Not mine.

Recycled glass


Okay, so there’s a company over in Leeds who make recycled glass worktop which is neat as hell. The green ones are made from old gin bottles! Unfortunately for me it’s pricey (between 2-3 k to do my area) and unfortunately they couldn’t do sheets large enough for the lengths I needed.

Recycled Paper


There’s this new stuff called Richlite and it’s hella cool.  It’s made from recycled paper and apparently feels like leather. I got super excited over the stuff, contacted lots of companies and finally found someone who could do a install near me, but they wanted 2.5k for it. I was hoping for something closer to 1.5k max, and I baulked at the idea of paying more for old paper than I would for sheets of stone. Which brings us on to the Stone Section


Let me be honest with you, when I was dreaming of worktop and ideal kitchens, all I ever wanted in my head was some gorgeous black marble so I could roll delicious pastry on it and touch it’s smooth, ancient surface and absorb some of it’s mystical powers. So I started researching Stone Masons and during that research, turns out that marble is…kinda crap for kitchens.

Via~Remodelista, the intel on Black Marble

This is what lemon juice and acids does to black marble. With white and lighter stones you can get away with it, but I didn’t want to be crying out ‘SAVE MY STONES FROM THE FRUIT’ every time I felt like I wanted to get citrusy in the kitchen. The above article talks about soapstone as an alternative, but I’ve hunted and it’s pretty much impossible to get over here, mostly because everyone here just loves….


My problem with granite is that I’ve grown up with fake granite laminate all my life. And turns out, that stuff is a pretty decent copy! But that means that real granite, which costs more than I spend on groceries in an entire year, to me just looks a bit like that stuff you can buy off the shelf in B&Q.

So, I went on a quest to find a granite, that doesn’t look like granite.

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This was the first stone masons I visited, about half an hour away from my house in south Manchester. These places are friendly as they can be, but they’re workshops more than anything, which means a lot of the time you’re wandering about like ‘helllooooo anyone there?’ while trying to sneak about and hunt for the perfect stone while not being shot for trespassing.

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This one has red dots in it! There was a lot of seriously cool stuff, but mainly in the lighter tones and I wanted black.

Black like my attempts at flambé.

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This is where I found a stone called Cosmic Black, which looks kinda awesome. I got a quote for just under 2k from the first shop, then drove another half an hour to the next place.

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Who had exactly the same 10 types of stone, including cosmic black, and quoted an install for just under 2.5k.

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We then took a trip into inner manchester, to yet another super scary factory. We wandered through many dangerous places until a harangued office staff member found us and gave us some high vis jackets to go look at the pretty stone.

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Here’s my mum helping me with my poor life choices as we look at yet another sheet of Cosmic black. They wanted just over 3k for the same installation.

So, the first place was looking the best… but there was one problem. I didn’t actually like Cosmic Black that much. I’m sure it would look lovely in someone else’s house, but it just didn’t make me go ‘ooooh.’

(I’m getting to the point in the renovations where I’m finding it harder and harder to make decisions. I’m basically throwing aside good taste and just following the ‘ooooh’ instinct, which is probably why I’m looking at flamingo wallpaper right now like it’s a valid life choice. )

I like to live life by the ‘Hell YEAH, or No.‘ principal, or the ruder F**K YES or No, which is good for work, dating and apparently house design decisions too.

So I limped home and then it was back to searching for a mason that had a black marble effect granite that wasn’t Cosmic Black, and was within a 50 mile radius.


Several weeks of hunting later I found one up in Bradford, with a stone called BLACK STORM. It looked AMAZING in pictures and they could do my install for 1.5k. I drove to bradford the next day, right before I was due to go down to London MCM comic con to go look at the stuff with baited breath-

-and in person it was just a bit of a crap brown colour.


Not wanting to waste the trip I had a look at the other slabs they had in stock, with an awkward salesman who thought he had a guaranteed sale out of me, but then just awkwardly made my way out of there and awkwardly drove off and awkwardly ignored the following emails and the one awkward phone call that felt like breaking up with someone.

“It’s not the stone, it’s just me, okay?”

I spent most of Comic Con telling my friends about my woes, and bless them they managed to not look too bored while I went through the 5 stages of grief over worktop.

Eventually I messaged one of my friends like ‘I think I know deep down that a stone worktop won’t make me happy’, so it should be no surprise that she made this and sent it back to me:


I’m going to print this out and hang it in my kitchen, because through a process of elimination, I finally came to the worktop suitable for my kitchen.

Solid Wood

My mum has solid wood. I’ve never been that much of a fan, but turns out she’s got a solid softwood, and right now Ikea does a very nice solid oak:


I’m a bit leery about the idea of smushing pastry into the wood grain, but turns out wood has a lot of natural antibacterial properties. It’s warm (and anything helps with my ice box house), it’s easy to cut (for my weird corners), you can buff out most scratches with sandpaper and there’s something just nice about saying ‘oh, it’s oak’ that makes you want to touch it. It’s not as ancient as marble, but it was a living, breathing thing which will be at home in a living, breathing kitchen.

And at £350, the money I save can buy me a fancy tap and a marble chopping board. Heck I could even buy one of those fancy Kenwoods they use on Bake Off, and still have £500 left to spend on Champagne and Borlotti beans.

So I toddled off to Ikea, added 3 lengths of worktop to the cabinets and sink I was buying from there, and clicked order.

kitchen order.jpg

Today I’m staring at the first piece of kitchen worktop fully installed, and I think I already love it, but before I show you that, I’m going to have to show you the horror it took to get there.

Until next time!


Completing Coving, Finishing the floor and Filling up the Fantabulous House

There’s been tonnes going on chez moi, but most of it is semi finished right now, and I prefer to give you lot a nice narrative arc with a sense of fufillment instead of ‘everything is half done right now, it’s a metaphor for the never ending struggle of life’.

…so without further ado, here is the steps to finishing off the Riddiculously Red Room! 

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I decided to paint first then install coving later, which was a mistake. LEARN FROM ME.

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Coving is theoretically simple, you do some math, cut some corners, glue it up and everything is perfect right?

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Oh dear.

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This was our sad first attempt. Turns out specialist ‘coving adhesive’ is just a bottle of lies and broken promises. An emergency trip to B&Q later (the 3rd in the space of a month!) and we were back with No More Nails and some panel pins to hammer the damn things up if the glue didn’t work.

You have to be careful with glues and coving because some glues melt polystyrene.


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Oh dear.

In my head the coving would go up pristine white and create a beautiful edge against the red. In reality it was messy as hell with black finger marks and adhesive leaking everywhere. I was going to have to fill and paint all of it, especially in that wonky as hell corner.

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Realising we’d planned poorly I then headed to the INTERNET. First step was printing off some protractors to actually measure the corners. I’d made the silly assumption that my house had 90 degree angles.

My chop saw wasn’t tall enough for the coving to fit under it at the right angle. All the cuts had to be from the back, and the math for that is just…urrrg. A lot of internet digging later and I found a coving angle calculator, which was invaluable for this project.

coving calculator

The spring angle is the angle the coving makes with the ceiling, in this case 45. You then insert your corner angle and it tells you how to set up your mitre saw to do the cut while the coving is flat on it’s back. Clever!

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Not to say that then made the project much easier, just that it helped XD

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The ‘I done mucked up’ graveyard.

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Slowly but surely we made our way around the room. Even the straight joins were difficult!

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A wild mother in shot! I take her the best places.

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I left a gap for the air vent because I thought it was pretty.

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Then spent a good half an hour figuring out what shape needed to go in there.

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Sweet tessellating success!

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With the coving drying mum had just enough time to help me put the radiator back on the wall before going off home back down south.

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It was super scary drilling into the brand new, beautiful plaster.

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(Which looked like this a couple weeks ago)

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But up the radiator went, level more by luck than judgement!

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Then it was time to repaint the trim and tidy up. Turns out paint drips, and thus began my back and forth painting and repainting of the room.

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I attempted to use fancy masking tape to help me make the white trim neater.

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But it was woefully ineffective. I ended up neatening it up again by hand with the red.

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Moving day was fast approaching, and I needed to put these shelves up fast ready to take all my stuff. Turns out the shelves weren’t in on my plans.

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I spent a good 2 days making what seemed like a couple of hours worth of work. Turns out drilling into brick is difficult, who would have known?

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They’re very simple construction, just a baton screwed into the wall on each side. Unfortunately for Tab, one of the places I *needed* to put a baton was also where a metal strike plate happened to be in the wall. My solution was to hammer many, many panel pins one inch deep into the wall and pray it holds. I will keep you updated.

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After I was happy with each shelf fitting I screwed it down then panel pinned some trim on the front to make it fancy. I am all about the fancy.

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I later realised that it was really difficult to drill high on a wall with all these lower shelves in the way. Learn from my mistakes kids, batons all up the wall first, THEN cut the shelves to size.

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5 shelves, many hours and a slightly twisted wrist later! While putting these up I also scuffed the wall, so back to the red tin of paint I went to touch up once more.

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Then it was time to clean up for the EXCITING floor painting time!

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I couldn’t decide on a paint colour so I brought two and mixed them together.

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Delicious! I mixed it up until I got a nice pale cream with no streaks. This big roller tub is the best thing I ever bought, don’t even bother with piddly trays, this is where all the cool kids are at.

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Before painting I vacuumed (a lot) and went over the floor with a rag and white spirit to make sure it was properly clean. Then I went all around the edge with a paint brush, being as neat as I could while soaking up the delicious  fumes.

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The rest of the floor got rollered on a big stick. Gosh I love the colours in this room!

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Goodbye mug- I’ll see you again in a few hours!

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I then used the roller on a stick to finish off the last section, then poured the paint back into one of the tins and cling filmed my roller and brush off for a second coat the next day.

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Then while the floor dried it was off to southampton to pick up my stuff to fill it! Here’s a photo of the Dissapointingly Small Van I hired- I wanted bigger but that’s all they had so I resigned myself over to not getting more than my large pieces of furniture into it. 2015-10-29 22.01.38

Here’s how I’d left things at my mum’s.


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Most of it is costume making supplies, old costumes and tools.

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And the Item I’d hired the van to shift.. my £35 sofa set.

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I got these red velvet dreams for pittance at the dump several years ago and I love them more than anything that cost me hundreds of pounds. They’re the biggest item of furniture I own, so the goal of this trip was to get at least the sofa’s up north.

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Solemnly I began tidying and packing- I’d already moved into my mum’s 6 months ago so the structure was there, and it all came together quicker than I expected.

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It was made more fun by the arrival of Clem, who helped my back up my TV in the classy ‘duvet wrapped with cardboard and cling film’ method.

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4 hours of packing and a bit of help from my mum later and we were basically done!

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I even had time to put together a prop for halloween.

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It’s made from the neck and shoulders for my big sister costume

I found the head for mixed in with other random stuff. It had definitly seen better days and I knew I was never going to fix it, so costume recycling!

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Shiny and Chrome!

Enough Mad Max, it was time for my to load the cargo into my war rig- first off being the sofa to check to see if it fitted, otherwise that would have been an awkward trip back to enterprise.

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It fitted! With plenty of room! Yessss

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We slowly loaded all the stuff into the van over the course of 4 hours. And to our amazement (especially my own), it all… fitted.

I mean I have 3 boxes, a table and a lamp left over to collect some other time, but considering the size of the Dissapointing Van, I am AMAZED.

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Though we did have to pack a chair and a suit case in the front with us.

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But that’s okay, he just kept us company on the journey!

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His name is Red-chan and he was our suit-able companion.

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Moma Tab coming up to help with unloading!

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Red-chan gets a set of hands to wave at passers by!

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At the services I was like ‘which one is ours again- oh wait, I see it.’

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6 hours later we arrived in manchester! The reverse up the back lane was… distressing to say the least, but we got through unscathed, even though we had to let the engine cool down afterwards.

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Most of the unloading was done by myself and my mum, priorities being the sofas as I was having a house warming that evening!

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A very tired mum and some lovely friends who all bought treats to break in the new living room.

The next day mum and I finished unloading the last of the van. She’s really gone above and beyond for this move, I couldn’t have forced the sofas up the stairs without her.

A big thank you to Sam, Anna, Clem and Renata who helped load up the van in southampton and to Tom, Amy and Amanda for a lovely evening manchester side.

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And cheers to you Dissapointingly Small Van, turns out you weren’t Disspointingly Small after all.