After: the curtains

A year ago or so,  I posted our dilemma of what to do about curtains for the living room.  Then we got sidetracked with the upstairs renovations.  Then in August I mentioned that we were trying to figure out the curtains in the guest bedroom.  Well, I’m happy to report that our curtain cliffhangers are both now resolved.

We finally went for some cream curtains in the living room. I like that they have a very subtle stripe for a bit of texture.

The room feels softer, warmer, and more finished, but the curtains don’t compete for attention versus the art and antiques in the room.  We’re really pleased with how well they turned out.


In the bedroom we ended up going with the Meander pattern for the roman blind. The brighter green colors pick up the green in the artwork, and the brown picks up the brown stripe in the bedspread.

This also means the guest bedroom is almost finished — hopefully I’ll be able to post an After for that room in the next month or so!


3 years of home ownership

Grimbil as a new home owner, 3 years ago

January marks our 3-year anniversary of owning Old Glory. We’ve come a long way. We’ve knocked down every wall except the external walls, and even some of those went under the hammer. So let’s look at our original plan when we bought the house versus what we’ve actually done:

  • Extension out the back (off the living room)  Done!
  • Knock down all the internal walls on the ground floor to make an open plan kitchen / dining room/ living room Done!
  • New kitchen Done!
  • New bathroom, including knocking down the wall between the water closet and the bath Done!
  • Knock down the wall between the two tiny bedrooms to make one nice bedroom Done!
  • Facelift for the closets Done!
  • Makeover the foyer, getting rid of the ugly glass between it and the living room, and converting the outside storage area to a closet for the foyer.  Done!
  • Move all the meters outside — we were able to move the gas meter outside but not the electric
  • Move the boiler to the kitchen — it’s in the foyer, but it works well there
  • New floors (with underfloor heating!) Done!
  • New paint in all the rooms, maybe exposed brick on the wall with the stairs.  — no exposed brick, but the new paint is Done!
  • Facelift for the incredibly cheap looking staircase Done!
  • Facelift for the facade — we got rid of the plastic below the kitchen windows, but we still want to render and paint the brick
  • New fences in the back garden (both for cosmetic and dog-proofing reasons) Done!
  • Replacing the crazy paving in the back garden with grass Done!
  • Landscape the front garden — that’s  the last big project for 2013
  • Move the loft/attic access to somewhere safer than the top of the stairs (wtf were they thinking?) — We didn’t move it far but do have a much safer hatch and ladder that are easy to access
  • Rewire the electrics Done!
  • Cat5 cable everywhere! And a networking closet somewhere Done! And with even better Cat 6 cable
  • Do something about the water quality in the bathroom (green stains in the sink? ew) — Not neccessary
  • Additional insulation in the loft and the walls — we still plan to add insulation in the loft, but not in the walls
  • Solar power — maybe after the insulation
  • Convert the loft to either a master suite or a man-cave (this one isn’t a definite yet) — this one is definitely not happening. We need the loft for storage more than we need more bedrooms.

Not bad!


In progress: The master bedroom

The building work is finished, but now the hard part remains: decorating the master bedroom.

So far we have warm-toned wood floors, a couple of warm-toned persian rugs, wedgewood blue walls, and a new bed that flips open to store lots of stuff below. I’m very happy with how well the painting over the bed goes with the color of the walls:


So what’s left? White shutters on the windows, new bedside tables and lamps, new dresser, full length mirror, some sort of dressing table and chair, and new bedding.

The grey of the current bedding doesn’t quite work; it’s just different enough from the color of the walls to look like a mistake. I’m thinking something more brown to go with the chocolate of the headboard and the warm tones of the floor / rugs. And perhaps a dark wood for the tables and dresser, like this:

And maybe bubble table lamps like this:

Once we have the dresser etc set up at this end of the room, we’ll be able to hang more artwork too. I think our Thai silk screens would go nicely.


In the meantime I’ll have to content myself with how awesome our closet is.


In progress: The guest bedroom


The renovations to the guest bedroom were pretty minor: we made it a bit bigger, painted it sage green (though you can’t really see the color in these photos), and replaced the ugly carpet with wood floors. But it feels like there is a lot to do as far as interior design. I’d like the look to be clean and modern but more colorful than the rest of the house. Since it’s a guest bedroom we won’t be spending much time there, so it’s also a chance to play with pattern more than we normally would.

I’m struggling to figure out which curtains would look best. Right now the contenders are this vine-y pattern called Meander:

versus this more floral pattern called Wisteria (I’d go for the purple):

I prefer the pattern in Meander but the colors are not as good. The background is actually beige-ish and the green is a lot more yellow whereas the green of our walls has more blue/gray undertones. Wisteria’s colors are more in line with what I’m looking for and I like that it brings in touches of purple, but I’m worried that pattern is too old lady, or too big for our window.

And then there’s the conundrum of what the heck to do for the bed. I don’t want more floral patterns so I’m trying to find something geometric instead. I’d love to incorporate quatrefoil, but I haven’t found a duvet cover in this pattern that has the right colors and gets good reviews. The one below is only available in blue and the fabric is evidently so thin it’s see-through.

This would be perfect, if only West Elm still sold it:

Or maybe a damask pattern, either oversized or in a block pattern. Again, the colors below are wrong for the guest bedroom.


So the search continues….




First week of renovations

Our builders threw a lot of people at the demolition portion of our build, so by the end of the first week they were able to rip out everything upstairs and frame the new walls.  We stopped by to see how things looked and shot another iPhone video.

I promise, the next post will have some after photos. We’re just finishing up last bits and pieces like bannisters and medicine cabinets…

Before: the upstairs

If you troll through our archives there are pictures of bedrooms 1, 2 and 3,  and the bathroom and water closet,  but it’s hard to get a sense of how small and poorly planned out they are. So after a long day of packing up and moving all the furniture out of the upstairs, Grimbil kindly shot a video of what it looked like before the renovations. It was shot on an iPhone, so please forgive the low quality. And for our non-Anglicized readers, “manky” = gross.

Phase 2: the upstairs

As I mentioned earlier, we are getting ready to embark on the next major phase of renovations: the upstairs. Here is the current layout:

Yep, that’s three bedrooms and a bathroom in about 400 square feet of space. There are garages in Texas that are bigger than our upstairs.  For those that are confused by why our upstairs is labelled “First Floor” on the map, it’s a European thing. The downstairs is considered the ground floor.

Here is our future layout:

Basically we want to knock down all the interior walls and start from scratch to create two bedrooms that are actually a liveable size (and with a niiice big closet in one), and combine the toilet and bathrooms into one room that you can actually turn around in. The other big change is the staircase. By having the top three stairs wind, we get more space for the bathroom. So far the only deviation from the plan is that we want to switch the toilet and the sink.

We’re still finalizing the budget with our builder, but hopefully the build will be finished by my birthday. So now our free time is spent looking at tiles and toilets. The curtains are on hold til after the build; the last thing we want is to hang the curtains and then have to pack them up again.


Home sweet home

We spent the weekend unpacking, and thanks to the hard work of our various house guests (Nikki, Allen, and Steve, we owe you guys!), we now have a functioning kitchen, master bedroom, and living room.

We are really pleased with how the kitchen turned out:

As you can see there are still some boxes to unpack, but don’t the countertops  and island look great?

Before: Bedrooms 2 & 3


Bedroom 2: view from the door

Bedroom 2: view from the bed

When we first looked at the house, we were amused by these tiny rooms. I mean, how do you change the sheets when the beds are crammed against the walls like that? When we showed our friends the house, they all disagreed, saying these rooms are “a nice size”. Uh huh…

Bedroom 3: view from the door

Bedroom 3: view from the bed

For now these will be our guest bedrooms, and a place for me to do my hair and makeup in the morning without waking up Grimbil, but come Phase 2 of our Master Plan…

The plan:

Knock down the wall between them, making one VERY nice sized room, which will become our room. Improve the closet space (I know, I should be thankful for any closet space).  Redecorate.

Before: Bedroom 1

This room is actually in good shape. It’s a nice size, it has a closet (!!), and even the bedroom furniture is decent quality.  We’ll be using it as a master bedroom until we fix up the other bedrooms.  The  wall to the right of the wardrobe is where the bathtub is.


The plan:

Redecorate (what is it with wallpaper in this country?). Maybe re-claim the bathtub space for this room. Maybe reconfigure the closets to improve the closet space for the other bedroom.  Use this room as our sanctuary while all is around is renovation chaos.