The kitchen round up!


Back when I got the keys in July 2015:

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2015-07-19 09.42.35  2015-07-19 09.42.16


Several months of posts later:

Tiles gone Wild!

Kitchen Wrecking, Reckoning and Rewiring

The Kitchen Worktop Question

The Door Detour

Kitchen plastering, painting and plants

And the kitchen sink

Painting the cabinets Garish Green

Christmas eve cutting, boxing day building

Finishin’ the Kitchen 


My kitchen, as of January 2016

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The original bottom cupboards have been kept and repainted, everything else is newly installed and either Ikea or DIY built.

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It’s first and foremost a working kitchen, so I chose an easy to clean electric cooker, cupboards that you can easily see into, oak worktop that could take a beating and an implements rack to have everything close to hand.

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(Try to ignore the bottle of white spirits on the window ledge, it’s practically a permanent fixture now)

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My first ever dishwasher! Also recycling bins under the sink in full view because I like having instant access.

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Close up of the tiles and the plant I haven’t killed yet.

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The lights are simple green metal pendants. The doors to under the stairs and my (soon to be) workroom have the original green paint I found under the board covering them on the panels and I just painted up the edges.

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Here’s the sorry state of my tool cupboard. This is something I don’t expect to change much for the next forever.


And one last quick comparison side by side. Such a difference!

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…Now to get to work on this room.


Finishin’ the Kitchen

The kitchen is officially finished! This post is about the building of the fridge cupboard, the splashback tiles, the floor tiles and the last few finishing touches

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I added some trim to the top of the cupboard that I built with my mother over christmas

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Then everything got painted white, all white! I felt a bit like this guy:

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This weird nub is the reason why I couldn’t just buy a normal cupboard and install it in there.

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Now it was time to get some doors on this baby.

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I discovered on my last painting mission that it’s much easier to give all the doors little table legs out of screws and that way I can do a coat of all the sides at once.

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The BIN comes out again to give it a decent base layer.

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Then onward with the green!

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(I eventually took my christmas decorations down)


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I also use this time to touch up all the bits of cupboard that had been bashed or missed during the first painting.

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When the doors were all dry I popped the fridge doors on, only to find that the top fridge door scraped on the bottom green door.

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I contemplated moving the hinges up and faffing about but it was solved very quickly by shoving a shim underneath the fridge foot and leaving it at that.

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There was a gap running down the one side of the cupboard so I bought a piece of pine strip wood, screwed it to the cupboard and then closed the door to see where I needed to cut it down.

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Then I cut it to size with a circular saw.

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Then I trimmed some of the old cupboard wood down ready for the kickstand to be installed.

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Last job on the fridge was cutting these strips from the blinds to use as a catch and slider.

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Then much building of ikea thingies!

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(Screwing drawer rollers into cupboards smaller than you are wide is difficult, okay?)

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Yay drawers!

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(Unfortunately there were some casualties in installation so I had to repaint the bottom drawer)

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Painting and repainting, that’s mah job!

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I got these handles from the inbuilt wardrobes that were around the house, then made a jig so I wouldn’t put them on wonky.

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This is how you use a drill, right?


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I then spent several hours of my life making these the right width for a basket to sit in.

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(Totally worth it to give my potatoes a house)

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Fridge cupboard finished- it was time to move on to exciting tiling!


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I had first thought I’d use these random batik tiles in the bathroom, but after getting a better feel for the kitchen I decided I wanted a light coloured spashback and bought a box each of grey, black, cream and green.

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I then spent a rather long time figuring out what pattern I wanted to use. In the end I went with diagonals of the same colour while attempting to have no tile touching it’s pattern on an adjacent side. Making something look random is hard!

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The mixing bucket and tools come out and I get tiling!

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I bought a diamond tile cutter for £30 when I did my bathroom- totally worth the money, there’s no point hiring one when they’re so cheap.

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Eventually I learnt how to just tile the pattern as I went, but at first I would lay it all out and double check before going ahead.

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The cooker sits a bit lower than the worktop so this is how I filled the gap while the adhesive set. PROFESSIONAL.

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One side- DONE.

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Aw yisss, exactly fitting 3 tiles on this wall. These are the things dreams are made of.

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Working my way along.

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I gave up attempting to fit adhesive under the window sill and just splodged it on the tiles. At this point is was getting towards 9 at night so I sent my neighbours an apology text for all the noise the cutter was making. Turns out she couldn’t hear a thing which was grand for me as I didn’t want to start again in the morning and have to mix up a new batch of adhesive.

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Last tile goes in! Ahhhhh.

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A couple days later I do the whole grouting thing.

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Yay tiles! As a finishing touch I ran a bead of clear silicone all down the edge and along the sink.2016-01-08 13.40.19

Urrrg, clean sides, dirty sink, story of my life.

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Now for some little paint jobs before the floor went in. The radiator got tarted up a bit with some white spray.

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And I once again delved deep behind the random door panelling, and discovered this underneath:

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Check it out! This paint was a really nice colour so I decided to just leave it and paint the edges, leaving a bit of the history behind.


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The other door was the same colour underneath so they even match!

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With the messiest of the kitchen work out the way I ripped out the old lino and began to lay the new lino. I hate how cold ceramic floor tiles are so while lino looks cheaper I wouldn’t pick a different option.

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I had the leftovers of the underlay from the bathroom so I just used the rest of that in the kitchen.

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These are 5mm vinyl floor tiles from the Kimpton Floor company. I decided to go with a green stone colour effect to make up for not having stone worktops and lay them in a diagonal pattern because, well, I thought it would look cooler.

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It did however make edges a lot more difficult.

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I started out scoring with a knife and snapping the tiles but eventually had to give up and just use a jigsaw.

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Finishing off all the edges…

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Securing the tiles to the steps under the stairs so they’re not a trip hazard…

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(The iron dutch oven came in handy for weighing down corners)

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After waiting for the floor to dry (and removing all the debris) it was time to add the kickstand. I saved most of the original kickstand from the previous kitchen so I just trimmed those boards to fit and made the rest from scrap chipboard.

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Most of the kickstand was 14cm high so I used the circular saw to run off several lengths.

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Some glue and a screw or two later and I had a lovely continuous kickstand to go with my new floor.

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Then the pièce de résistance, the pot and pan rack made with wardrobe hangers and the old copper pipe we cut from under the bath.

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I’m going to hang so much stuff on there, oooooh yeah.

Now I just have to wait until it’s sunny, take some pictures of the finished kitchen, and I’ll post a round up with before and afters! Until then 😀


Fireplace the Second…

Hey, do you remember these?

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Back when I got the keys in July (arrrg, it’s been so long since then D:) these wonderful tributes to the not so distant past stood boldly in the sitting room and dining room. Fire surrounds with square tiles were popular in the 50s with the thin vertical ones making their way in the 60s,  so these weird hybrids I can only guess at.

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Back in august Karen helped me rip the front sitting room fireplace out, and we found some pretty special original tiles inside:

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I’ve got a build date of approximately 1899, making this house barely victorian. You can see the beginnings of art nouveau influence in these which is about all over the house.

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I had a spare evening to myself, so it was time to take out the second fireplace, and see what treasures lurked within..

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First find was this pencil. Makeshift shim or lost relic? WE SHALL NEVER KNOW.

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The last fire was easy to crow away from the wall, but this one was firmly fixed in place. As I was on my own (and the last one was too heavy for two people to lift, let alone one small ginger person) this fireplace was going to come out in pieces.

My hard hat has a visor which was important to prevent the shards of tiles hitting me in the face.

DIYBDBAI- Do it yourself but don’t be an idiot.

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Timber! Good thing my neighbours are still on holiday…

There were a couple of iron ties holding it into place which I attempted to saw off but soon realised it was quicker to just hit it all with a hammer until the concrete holding it broke away. I then smashed up the fire and pulled it away, eager to get to the fire underneath.

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THE GRATES OF HELL. I mean woah, better use my camera flash for this one.

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That’s better.

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Some more smashing and I got the bottom section broken up enough to move. It was made of some kind of concrete with metal strips running through it which makes me wonder whether it was premade and dragged in by very strong people, or if they assembled it onsite.

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The old grate had some kind of lever system inside and on further inspection this old ash bucket. It also had some water in there under a layer of soot which was creepy as hell to poke and watch wobble.

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Unfortunately there were no magical tiles under this one, just the remains of a big slate. This leads me to believe that this was originally the kitchen fire- something practical for cooking while the other room was the fancy one for visitors. I shall rack my brain thinking of how to make this one fancy, possibly something using the old broken tiles we found in the other fireplace:

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It’s like a museum exhibit! 😀

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Righto, time to clean up all this soot,  get rid of this lot of rubble, then it’s on to stripping the wallpaper.

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And one day the underneath of my nails will be clean again, but today is not this day.

Tiny Bathroom, Huge Tiles and Small Victories

Only a crazy person would redo their bathroom and kitchen at the same time, but I’m that kind of crazy. So much of house renovations is juggling what you can do all at once, giving yourself drying time or waiting for things to arrive, so it’s not often a day will go by when I’m not doing at least something.

To give you an idea the start of this post began in november, so here is 2 months worth of bathroom.


Here we go!

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This post once again features the mighty Karen, a very tall woman who is very helpful when it comes to stripping wallpaper off high ceilings and pulling weird pipes out of walls.

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A relic of the elderly couple that owned the house before me.

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Textured wallpaper in a bathroom. Just don’t. This is the filth that was behind the mirror when I took it down.

Just a reminder, you can read about the making of the cabinet sink here and the plumbing of the new bath here. 

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Goodbye old wallpaper!

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How do you stop a stepladder from scratching your new bath? Just give it shoes of course!

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Some historical wallpaper finds. So much tasteful history, yeah?  2015-11-26 08.08.02

Here’s the bare, sad walls that were underneath. Sometimes I see tutorials on pintrest on making faux exposed brick walls for ‘that rustic charm’ and I just laugh and laugh to stop the crying.

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During the bathroom overhaul all of my toiletries lived in this box and would dutifully be packed away and taken outside for work, then returned once the room was swept out and the tub scrubbed. I learnt from getting the extractor fan drilled that dust covered toilet roll is particularly unpleasant.

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This is the old attic hatch which watched me bathe for several days while waiting for the plasterers.

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Fortunately for me none of this wobbly looking ceiling came crashing down on my head. I spent a week having super quick showers because I didn’t want to linger just in case.


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One of the jobs before the plasterers arrived was to remove all the weird tubes coming out the wall that once led to the water tank.

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(Do you ever try to take a picture on your phone and it’s accidentally in selfie mode?)

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Whoooo expanding foam! Helping my house have 50% less holes since 2015.


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Once it was set I trimmed that down, ready for the plastering to begin!

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My ceilings are all old lathe ones, which you can get re-skimmed but it’s just cheaper, easier and safer to get some nice professionals to board them over with plasterboard.


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I nabbed some photos while they were having a tea break- a job like this only takes two tradesmen a single day if they know what they’re doing. I managed to get this done for £320, which would have been £330 but I think the guy felt sorry for me.

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Whoooo ghost bathroom! I was worried about plaster going EVERYWHERE over my new shiny taps and sink, but I picked these guys because the reviews said they were very clean and tidy on (which is a smashing tool for anyone looking to get work done).

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And done! The tiles I left because I’ll be boxing all the pipework in, but these walls haven’t been this flat in several decades, if ever.

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My new de-humidifier gets to work drying the room out and the lamp of shame returns while I wait for the plaster to dry out enough to put the overhead light back in.


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You know what’s awkward to paint? Tall ceilings over a bath.

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I used a roller for most of it, but this ingenious life hack will blow your mind.

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(It’s easier to scrub paint off this type of light than it is to mask it. Probably)

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Even the radiator got tarted up a bit! This stuff is great by the way, one can does about 3 medium radiators.

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Now it was time to focus on the awesome secret door that was masquerading as one of my bathroom walls.

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Some of the paint was very bubbly so I used stripped to get off what I could.

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Then the wallpaper stripper to get off the random bits of wallpaper that was on there.

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Mmm, festive.

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Time to make a statement piece out of it!

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Awww yisssss

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Next job was tiling the damn thing.

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Tiles and tile adhesive is heavy yo. I got most of it as far as the kitchen and then gave up, only moving it upstairs when I needed it.


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I bought a cheap diamond cutter because I knew I had some weird cuts to make, and began my journey into tiling for the first time.

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I bought slow set adhesive which was a very smart decision.


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Here we go!

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Here’s where things started to get…interesting. I levelled out the bath as best as I could and used it as the initial straight line. However every time I stepped in and out of the bath the corner moved and eventually I just kinda jammed tools along the bottom edge to keep things level. Turns out when tile adhesive says ‘good initial grab’ it doesn’t mean ‘will stay where you put it’, but more ‘won’t fall off but will move about as much as it damn well likes’. It didn’t help that I was using ginormous 60x30cm tiles.


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Everyone on the internet is using subway tiles right now, but I’ve always loved large vertical tiles for a more clean look, and well, less effort. However I did want something a little victorian to help the house tie together, so I got some of these victorian border tiles to go along under the window. This one line of border costs me more than all the large black tiles put together- tiles are expensive yo!

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I found the best way to cut the border tiles was to turn it upside down and go through the back. Cutting tiles was surprisingly easy, if you ignore how messy, noisy and scary it is to work with a whirring blade chucking water at you at high speed.

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At this point I *tried* to continue tiling above the border, but the weight of the large tiles squashed the delicate smaller ones, so I had to yank them all off, scrape the wall down and start again the next day. Good thing I bought two bags of adhesive!


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The next day the border tiles were set enough to continue, so onward!

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Even after being replastered the bathroom walls were wonky as hell. My advice to anyone tiling an old house is to use smaller tiles than I did- I had a lot of trouble with corners poking up where the tiles went over large bumps.

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The last tile cut! Here you can truly see the wonky nature of my house.

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In it goes! First ever tiling attempt DONE. I don’t know how clean real tilers can do things, but my tiles looked like I had a fight with a mud man.

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Here’s what my workspace looked like. I started out with the cutter on top of the toilet but the sheer size of my tiles made it impossible to balance on there properly. So much adhesive and gunk everywhere…

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(Did I mention I was tiling the bathroom the same week as the wall knock through? In for a penny, in for a pound, might as well make the entire house a dust filled hole all at the same time)

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(This was the pink kettle the builders brought on site. I was not ready for the 10am discussion on gender masculinity norms, but just goes to show that people surprise you!)



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Then the fun bit- scrubbing the adhesive off before it set!

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I was so happy with the results- while it is a big wall of black it’s actually very cosy and not to mention very striking.

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I waited the standard 24 hours for the adhesive to dry, then it was time to learn about grouting. I found it was easiest to use a trowel and a float to get the grout in the seams, then use the float to spread it all over.

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Almost as soon as the grout was all finished I began washing it down. My mum has had a lot of trouble with grout film on tiles in the past, so I knew that you had to get that stuff off QUICK if you didn’t want to spend the rest of your life scraping at it.

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I gave the tiles 3 wash downs with water before using an old scrappy towel to dry it and get the last of the residue off.

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When the tiles were all dry a couple of days later I siliconed the edges of the bath and down the corner of the wall, using the classic trick of filling up the bath with water to make sure it was weighed down properly. The next night I had the best bath of my life while staring up at my beautiful tiles, attempting to sooth the aches that 3 days of tiling had wrought on my body.

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Now it was time to think about flooring. I’m a big fan of industrial vinyl tiles which unlike the horrible thin ones you get in B&Q, are 2-3mm thick and come in all kinds of colours. I got mine from Kimpton Flooring which is nothing to do with me commercially, despite sharing my name! They’re a company in Wales that is the kind of place you call up with an order, so I did the awkward ‘haha my name’s Kimpton too’ on the phone.

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I briefly check a layout for the tiles before any underlay or glue gets involved. I decided to rotate my tiles every other one because it looked weird with all the pattern going the same way.

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Good bye gross floor!

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I used the ikea floor underlay because I just happened to be buying other stuff in ikea. It was nuisance to deal with though and whoever decided to make it bright green was a horrible person as it showed up slightly through the tiles.

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It begins!

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I’ve used tiles like this in my last house so we’re old friends. You can just cut into the back with a blade and snap them or even use scissors if you have strong enough hands.

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Perfect fit!

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For more tricky sections I used scrap paper to take a template and transferred it over.

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Especially around radiator parts.

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The tiles then get an assortment of tools laid over the corners to hold them down, and I have a new beautiful floor!

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Next step is the dreaded bath panel. There’s a history in my family of bath panels being the trickiest part of a bathroom to figure out, you merely need to mention one near my mother to have her scoff and grumble. But with christmas fast approaching I wanted the bath sorted, and there’s just something particularly scummy and depressing about an exposed bath with pipework.

As well as adding clips to the underneath of the bath I drilled two blocks of wood into the walls in the corner to give it extra support.

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Getting this into the corner was a nightmare, there was barely enough room for me to squeeze in.

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Then some corner cutting for the pipework. You have to cut panels like this with a jigsaw which is hilarious to manoeuvre in such a tiny bathroom.

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A couple of back and forths as I had to make the corner cut larger, but suddenly the bath panel just slotted into place and the family curse of difficult panels was finally broken!

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(However my next job was fitting this custom mirror into the bathroom cabinet and that took me HOURS to get right. I ended up giving up and using triangles of floor tiles to hold it in. Just goes to show that it’s always the random weird stuff that takes the most time, not the things you expect.)

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For the cabinet I did a couple of google searches about wall mounting heavy things and came across this great idea where you use two pieces of wood with a mitred 45 degree edge to create a hook/rail support on the back.

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The other bit gets mounted properly into the wall with plugs and huge screws, and I added a bottom piece to make it stand away from the wall.

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And lo, a cabinet goes on the wall with absolutely no fuss! I then used some more screws to secure the cabinet inside to the wood rail, but that sucker isn’t coming off any time soon.

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Siiiigh, brick dust though. My eternal nemesis.

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The last job was putting up a shower rail, in my case a brass curtain rail because I like things fancy, and a brass shower holder that I got off ebay. Then I took my FIRST EVER PROPER SHOWER in the fantabulous house. No more awkwardly sitting in the tub holding the hose above my head, no sirreee.

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Then a towel rail and some hooks from Home Sense (the home version of TK max) and it was starting to look like an actual bathroom.

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The last thing to do in here is to box in around the tiles and pipes, but beyond that I’m basically done!

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Until then I can appreciate my new, beautifully white ceiling with 100% less holes.

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And for the first time since moving into this house, a lock on the bathroom door. Truly, this is living the life.

Until next time!

Christmas Eve Cutting, Boxing Day Building

Hope you all had a lovely holidays! Here at the fantabulous house the I only really took the day off on the 25th as my mother was visiting The North, so I put her hands to good work on a couple of fiddly jobs that I couldn’t do alone.  Well, I probably could, but not without things falling on my head.


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This desolate square is my small kitchen window. I bought some blinds because I was tired of awkwardly not making eye contact with my next door neighbour as we both washed up.

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Before I’d always just bought blinds too small for the window and just dealt with the gaps, but now I had THE TOOLS, so I decided to buy them bigger and cut them to fit.

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You can use a hacksaw on these, but two cuts with a chop saw was so much cooler.

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Sanding the edges, making it all nice.

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Look at all the shims I have! I’ll never have wonky furniture again! 😀

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There was a lot of drilling with the SDS drill and faffing about but soon it was airborne!

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My mother demonstrating her high flying skills.

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And because I’m that kind of guy we also removed the bottom slats to adjust it to the right length of the window. These came in handy much later for the fridge door, very glad I did it!

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Here’s the other side up and looking lovely.

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What wasn’t lovely was the contents of my washing up bowl and all the damn plants on the sill. CLEAR YOUR WORKSPACE before starting a job. Don’t be Tab and Harriet.

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(The reason there was so much washing up was because these little jobs were being done while waiting for each layer of the Trifle Gay Christmas Pudding to set. Red raspberry cream, orange jelly and segments, yellow custard, green lime jelly, blue raspberry panecotta, purple black currant jelly with blueberries and pink raspberry cream if you’re curious.)

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Next job was constructing a door to go over the boiler cupboard. The problem with cupboard hinges is that they need that little circle cut into the door to work properly, and I was using two doors slung up on their side. The solution was to use the two fake drawers that were meant to go under sink cupboard as supports and go at it with a drill and a jig saw until a relatively circular hole emerged.

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These were then screwed onto the back of the two doors, making a giant H for Harriet.

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Then amazingly it just lined up, no fuss. Whooooo onward to Christmas!

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(This is my mum enjoying the remains of the brandy, I mean triffle on christmas evening.)

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This year we had a visit from one of Santa’s leak making elves. While watching Inside Out, my tears streaming down my face like the rain outside, some of the rain decided to get into the house and share my joy. It announced it’s presence with a tremendous crash downstairs, which was not someone trying to steal my totally awesome tree.

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(Seriously this was the best tree)


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This had to have a bucket under it until the new year when roofers finally opened again after the holidays and I could get it fixed.

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Boxing day dawned bright and early with the building of an ikea cupboard base.

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This is where the fridge will eventually go, but it needs a nice custom built cupboard for it. I did look vaguely into ikea built ins, but ikea doesn’t like non- ikea fridges so we were going to have to do it ourselves.

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Fortunately I’ve saved all the good chipboard from all the wardrobes I’ve torn down around the house, but this thing took an entire day to figure out.

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It didn’t help that the walls were wonky as a playdoh mansion. Here’s mum chipping off some plaster because it was easier to do that than to cut the ikea unit down…

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Slowly a cupboard emerges!

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We managed to get a combination of ikea and the recycled old doors to make the right height for the fridge.

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Ikea hinges hate going on anything that isn’t ikea chipboard. These did NOT want to go on, so we MADE them.

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Making shelves out of the scrap chipboard. From this angle the cupboard looks square, I can tell you this is a terrible trapezium-shaped lie.

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(Here are some of the measurements so you can see exactly how wonky we’re talking. A whole inch in places!)

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After much struggling we get the fridge in with the help of my sack truck. Now the fridge can never leave! The doors all came off at this point because they needed to go away and be made pretty.

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Here’s all the doors laid out so you can see how they *nearly* all matched perfectly. Not bad for something that came from two completely different companies!

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I’d started to run out of the door handles from the original kitchen (recycling, it starts at home! Also, FREE) but luckily for me all the wardrobes I tore out had some pretty swanky handles.  Can’t wait to get these doors painted up and thrown up there! 😀

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As a thank you to my mum for all her help I then took her to the Whitworth Art Gallery in manchester which had a super cool exhibit on textile artwork- check it out if you’re nearby.

Happy New Year from Tab and Harriet at the Fantabulous house!