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!


2 years of home ownership

January marked our second year of owning our own home.  Our first year was all about major change, whereas Year 2 was more about tweaking. Here are the highlights:

  • Had the back yard completely redone, including new fence and new deck
  • Grimbil took up wood working as a hobby and turned the old boiler closet into a linen closet. Result!
  • He also framed out the garage, so that he can build the wood shop of his dreams.
  • Kicked off the process of replacing the ratty old furniture by buying a snazzy new couch
  • Finally installed our pendant lights in the kitchen. That means the kitchen is done!

Year 3 will be another big year for change: we are finalizing plans to completely redo the upstairs. More to come!

Decisions decisions: curtains

Happy new year! I know, I know, we owe you several posts about the holidays but right now I’m fixated on curtains.

Our naked doors

For about a year we’ve been meaning to get curtains for our bifold doors, for privacy, warmth, and to “soften” the space. I’ve also noticed that our 4-month-old couch has started to fade, which has us worried for the paintings and rugs. Who says there is no sun in England?

The first thing to figure out was color/ pattern. We have a gray couch and floor, so I thought some subtle color on the curtains would be good. Perhaps a shade of blue to go with the carpet? But the wrong blue would blend too much with the gray. Maybe a red? But that might be too much. And should the pattern be large since its a lot of wall to cover, or would that be overbearing?

I love the quatrefoil pattern on these curtains, but I’m not sure I’d love 10+ feet of it

Recognising that I was talking myself out of every idea, I decided to see what the members of thought. If you are ever looking for interior design ideas Houzz is a great place to go. They also have a Design Dilemmas section for people who are floundering like me.

I posted the top picture (above) of our living room and asked for advice on curtain colors and styles. Initially I got more advice on how mismatched our living room is and how we should remove everything but the couch, floor, and bifold doors. * sigh* But after I clarified which pieces of furniture are leaving (coffee table and end table), showed them the big picture view of the open plan, and explained that we are trying to blend our art/ Persian carpets/ antique furniture/ ethnic knickknacks/ modern furniture, I finally started getting helpful advice. There is nothing like wading through a bunch of advice that is wrong for you to help identify the advice that is right for you.

So what was the advice? That since we have a small space, plain curtains are best. But more
importantly, our art/rugs etc should be the focal point of each room. Who notices curtains when there are beautiful paintings and interesting artefacts scattered around? Plain curtains it is!

regenerative nest contemporary bedroom
Nice plain curtains would blend in to the background while still adding privacy and “softness” to the space 

I’ve always known that we have the makings of an awesomely decorated house, but I’ve let myself get sidetracked with making sure the colors relate to each other, and other rules of design, that I’ve forgotten the most important rules of design: your space should reflect your taste and personality, and the best way to see what works is to have fun trying out new combinations. So hello gallery wall over the sofa and around the tv. And I think it’s time to unpack that box of photos and knickknacks that has been languishing in the attic. Its definitely time for our house to start feeling like us.

Anthropologie inspired loft eclectic bedroom

Here’s an example of a gallery wall (ie, a bunch of things hung together)

Our new couch

Out with the old…

…in with the new!

Our new couch arrived yesterday! We love it. It’s comfortable and stylish, and low enough to the ground that Otto doesn’t need stairs. Let’s face it, it’s hard to incorporate pet stairs into your decor.

Our old couch, which came with the house when we bought it, is being eBayed, so if you know any0ne in London looking for a Beetlejuis-esque sofa, have them check out auction 170700654996.

Of course, the lovely new couch is now making the rest of the furniture that came with the house look even shabbier than it already did. Case in point, the coffee table in the foreground of the second pic.  So looks like we have some more decorating to do!

Decisions decisions: sofas, take 2

This past weekend we paid a visit to Camerich, the home of the sofa I posted about earlier. Turns out that sofa wasn’t in stock, but since we were there we decided to see if another sofa caught our eye. After all, the wood on the original sofa was much darker than the rest of the wood in our house. So we sat/laid down on a bunch of sofas, trying to find one that was comfy for us, low for Otto, and would fit in our 258 cm space while allowing us to have a chaise lounge / L-shape option. And looked cool and modern.

We have a winner: the Casa sofa.

I know, that fabric is neither cool nor modern, but the shape of the sofa is awesome

Imagine that sofa minus the floral thing. And in a completely different fabric. We love the low slung design and the big square arms (practically another chair!). We also like that we are actually buying 3 separate sofa pieces so we can change the configuration. I guess technically it’s a sectional sofa. Anyway, the chaise part of the L will be next to our bifold doors, and if we have the doors open all the way it would be nice to have the option to move the chaise to another part of the room. Instant love seat!

We’ve decided to go with “graphite” as our fabric, a nice gray that hopefully won’t show every little thing we spill on it nor every piece of hair that Otto sheds. It goes well with the gray tile floor and (I hope) picks up some of the gray-blue from the carpet in the living room.

Now we just need to save some dough….

Decisions decisions: sofas

When we moved into our house, we were lucky that the previous owners left their furniture. Between us we owned: 1 barcelona chair, 1 mattress (but no box spring or bed frame), a coffee table, 3 antique occasional tables, and a funky but not very functional (according to Grimbil) antique chair from India.  And lots of paintings and carpets. We’re all about the accessories.

In a way, we are also lucky that the previous owners didn’t have very good taste. It certainly encourages us to upgrade sooner rather than later.

Our classy hand-me-down furniture. Yep, that's a lawn chair in the corner.

We’ve been debating what’s next for our house and our money. The two big contenders are bathroom remodel vs new sofa. I think we’ve pretty much decided that for now, sofa wins. I for one am not eager to start another renovation project.

So, what do we want in a sofa? I want something that works well for Otto (not too high and hides his hair well). Grimbil wants something with a chaise lounge attachment, so that all three of us can comfortably lay down while watching TV. It would also give us some extra seating in our not-big  living room. Both of us like a modern style. 

If we were back in the states, we’d know exactly which stores to look at, but here we’re still finding our way. Fortunately we have the internet to help us, and Grimbil found this guy who looks like a winner:

We’d probably go for a charcoal grey or a chocolate brown, but still, we really like the style. Time to start saving up the cash!

Fine tuning

We were pretty proud of how quickly we unpacked and set up the house. Part of that speed was thanks to the many pairs of hands that helped us, but
part of that speed was also due to us just sticking things anywhere.

We are starting to fine tune and organize. It’s like one of those puzzles where you have to slide the pieces around in order to see the whole picture: arranging one part of the house helps us arrange other areas.

The arrival of our washer and dryer and the departure of the builders* and their tools allowed Grimbil to tackle the foyer.

We are still figuring out the final iteration. We plan to install some shelves above the wooden worktop and get rid of the shelves next to the washer. We need a system for storing coats and I’d like some way to store hats. After all, we are much more likely to wear our hats if we walk by them on the way out. And it being London, we need something for brollies and wellies. Suddenly our foyer is looking rather small….

By organizing the foyer Grimbil also got rid of the random junk that was accumulating next to the fridge, allowing us to move Otto’s pen there. I’m
hoping we don’t come to regret his improved view of the back yard and the comings and goings of our animal neighbors.

Now that Otto is no longer under the stairs (very Harry Potter), we can start shopping for a desk to put there instead. The desk will store our analog files and hold the computer which is the centerpiece of our overly complex AV system. We might move the bookcase next to the desk but that’s still up for debate.

Future home of a desk and maybe a bookcase

I re-worked the kitchen, so now all my baking ingredients are together on one shelf, Otto has a shelf for his health and beauty aids, and the pull-out larder has a loose system of organization.  I also improved our clothing storage.  It will get even better when the hanging sweater rack I ordered arrives and the stuff taking up space on the closet shelf is moved to the attic.

The pullout larder is heavenly

Ah the attic….Right now it’s far too filthy, needs more insulation, and needs some sort of flooring system, but it is the key to our organizational strategy. My goal is for everything to have a designated place, and it seems like a lot of things will find their “place” in the attic. Hopefully we won’t turn into pack rats.

*The only things left for the builders to install are the outdoor lights (which we need to buy), the rain sensors for the skylights (which may or may not be manufactured yet), and a ladder to the attic. And no, we haven’t made our final payment yet.

Living room pic

Sorry for the lack of posting, but we still don’t have internet at home.  However, we do have a pretty nice living room:

This is not the final iteration; most of the furniture will eventually be replaced (excepting the Barcelona chair) and we’ll add some area rugs (the tile is a bit cold and hard for Otto).  Still, looks good!

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?