Plans – a summary

This post will act as an index of sorts – showing the adventures we’ve had and the ones we’ve got planned. I’ll bold the ones that are done, then link to more detail as I write things up.


  • Move boiler out
  • Replace cupboards
  • Get dishwasher
  • Replace washing machine
  • Replace fridge and plumb in
  • New sink
  • New oven and hob
  • Replace high cupboards
  • Shelves for books, coffee, speakers
  • Window sills
  • Backsplash
  • Worktops
  • Extractor hood
  • Floor



  • Strip wallpaper
  • Paint – with mural
  • Replace carpet
  • Windowsill
  • Furniture
  • Door frame and skirting board


  • Boiler cupboard shelves
  • Boiler cupboard wall
  • Pictures on wall
  • Shoe storage
  • Mirror – downstairs
  • Mirror – upstairs
  • Lights
  • Change locks


  • Guttering
  • Garage roof
  • Conifer tree
  • Pot plants
  • Herb planter
  • BBQ

Downstairs toilet

  • Replace taps
  • Reseal sink silicone
  • Windowsill

The Nursery

Updates have taken a back seat for a while due to the arrival of our Yorkshire baby.  We thought it would be nice to update with the making of the nursery to stick with our new baby life.


The nursery is in our box room.  Originally it had purple wall paper, textured paper on the ceiling and an old brown carpet.  We didn’t know the sex of the baby so had to try and think of something neutral.  Luckily Chris’s brother is a graphic designer and has a steady hand!  He designed us a castle mural for the wall with the idea being it could be changed to suit a boy or girl.  He put forward the idea of a sky theme for the rest of the walls/ceiling in an ombré style of different blues.


Preparing the room/Walls

We used a Black and Decker wallpaper stripper to get rid of the purple paper and ceiling paper.  It is well worth the money for the time saved.  Nic was heavily pregnant at the time and found it made light work of the walls and ceilings.  We were left with a patchy coating of distemper on the walls which the paper had been covering.  We used a variety of products to try and get rid of the distemper and prep the walls properly with varying results.

Unfortunately due to miscommunication and a bit of “ah it’ll be alright” we ended up having to scrape and re paint one of the walls due to the paint bubbling and peeling.  I will cover this in a heading below with what worked for us.

To get rid of the distemper and prep the walls

Sander-  We used a plate sander to get rid of some of the distemper, this worked well in some patches but in other places we just ended up with a sanded layer of green.

Scraper- We had the best results with a 3.5 inch scraper.  This took a while to do in some places but we found it worked the best.

Sugar soap wipes-  We bought in to the idea that these would be easy to use and save us loads of time.  Not worth it!  It was probably down to the amount of prep needed and amount of distemper on the wall but we found them useless.

Sugar soap diluted in water-  This took a while and added drying time but this seemed to do the trick and got us the best results of clean smooth walls.

Filler- Originally we had thought about getting the walls re plastered/skimmed but decided to try a cheaper option first.  Some areas had holes from old TV stand and shelves being screwed in to the walls.  There were a few areas of damaged plaster around the window.  We just used a simple filler on these parts and once dry sanded the patch to make it blend in to the wall


The paint

We opted for the B&Q Colours brand of paint in 4 different shades of blue, we found other brands didn’t have as much choice of different shades.  The darkest blue was put on the ceiling and the lightest around the bottom of the room with the other two in between blended to make the walls look like sky.  We didn’t stick to the true ombré method but it turned out pretty good.  We started by putting the lightest colour around the bottom quarter of the room.  Leaving a small gap between the colours, we painted a strip a shade darker above.  We then got another brush and blended the two colours in to the gap, we added a bit of extra paint of both shades to get better coverage.  We used brushes for all of the painting, this helped us to blend the colours better and added to the sky effect.IMG_0252

The castle

Chris’s brother designed a picture of a castle on his laptop in sections, using the Disney Cinderella castle for inspiration.  We had an old electronic projector which we were able to hook up to the laptop.  We used this to draw in pencil on the wall following the outline from the projected image. We also put masking tape over the drawn on picture to avoid spill over from the blue paint on to the castle and to ensure the ombré effect on all of the wall .  The castle was painted white with turquoise and gold towers/roofing.  We have since used sharpie pens to draw around the castle to make it stand out more and to add details.  The castle is still a work in progress with a plan to add more detail and some patterns around it e.g. fire works.


The mistake 

Once IMG_0254the paint had dried, half of the wall pictured here had bubbled and peeled away in places.  We left it a while to see if anymore would bubble or come away and to think how we could fix it.  More paint did not work and we weren’t quite sure why.  The only thing for it was to peel off a section of the paint and see what was wrong with the wall underneath.  Here is where the miss communication comes in.  Before painting, the walls hadn’t been prepared properly as we all thought each other had finished that section off.  There were patches of distemper left.  People suggested using PVA glue and water IMG_0307to seal the wall once we had taken the paint off, we were going to go with that idea but decided to scrape off the bottom third of the paint and scrape off the remaining distemper and sand and sugar soap the wall again.  This took forever and taught us a valuable lesson in doing it right the first time! (which was the main advice we found online.)


Once all the paint was dry we sanded the skirting boards and window ledge and gave them a new lick of white paint.  We had a new carpet put in and baby furniture from Mamas and papas.  Call it a case of baby brain but we didn’t account for the door opening in to the room when we chose the furniture so there is now a chest of draws in our room.  We got an ikea lamp shade which looks like a cloud to go with the sky theme and installed a black out blind.   It is a small room but looks very cute





Bathroom – the bath and the toilet.

Following on from our first bathroom post – Bathroom – The scheme, the start, the shower and the sink!

The next step was the bath – we needed the space the toilet would be in to work in.

We began by building a wooden frame on the bath, and a matching one on the wall. The bath would then be screwed into place using angle brackets. The new bath is therefore positioning slightly higher than the old bath, as it is above the tile line, rather than tiling up to it. We put the feet on the bath as per the instructions, and also put the feet from the old bath on it as well (the more the merrier we figured!)

After much back and forth between me and my Dad I decided to fit the taps at the back, whilst it would clearly be a bit fiddly to do, it would be nicer to use, as you wouldn’t have to climb over them.

To do this, my Dad built a nifty pair of swivelling pipes on the back wall using pushfit fittings and wall brackets.

I then drilled the holes in the bath with a holesaw (a terrifying job!) and fitted the taps – a really cool 5 way set with a pull out shower hose. The bath was then pushed into place, and was actually pretty solid just sitting there, but obviously we used the brackets anyway!

It was a fair amount of work, with lots of drilling to get a solid set of support beams in place, but the bath is solid, watertight, and enormous! It’s a great bath.


The toilet was pretty simple to fit, involving drilling holes through the tiles to fit the screws, a flexi pushfit tap connector to connect it to the water supply, and a flexi waste pipe. Fortunately the waste pipe is at 90 degrees to the toilet, as you can see in the picture, which makes moving the toilet along a foot really easy, in most bathrooms the waste exits straight out the back, so moving sideways would involve two 90 degree bends and therefore the toilet sticking further from the wall.

The hardest part of the toilet was getting the seal between the pan and cistern watertight, but it was nothing a bit of swearing couldn’t fix…. I’m glad I followed my Dad’s advice of doing this and testing it in the middle of the room, before it was connected up to the waste.

The bathroom is now so much better, and we love the new bath and shower! We’ve added a mirror cabinet from IKEA above the sink, as well as a funky blue mirror.


Bathroom – The scheme, the start, the shower and the sink!

So the bathroom was pretty high on our list of priorities, but low on budget and put off by the pushy salesman in bathroom shops we decided to do it ourselves.

  • The electric shower was naff, with low water pressure, and it was right in the corner, so you couldn’t stand under it.
  • The bath was tiny, and too narrow to comfortably sit in!
  • The sink was massive, but the taps just dribbled water down the back of the sink!

So, a plan was formed, we would just change the units, leaving the tiles in place, as whilst they wouldn’t be our choice, they are fine and in decent condition. This would get us a much nicer, more usable bathroom, without a huge spend.

  • Move the sink into the alcove (caused by the chimney breast), rather than it being dead space,
  • Move the toilet along the wall,
  • Giving room for a wider and longer bath
  • Run the shower from the hot water, after getting the combi boiler installed, with pipes running down the outside of the wall, so move the bath to the other end of the room (away from the toilet a bit!).

First step was to get the boiler installer to run the pipes, which he did an awesome job of, using chrome pipes and standoffs. I did it to save alot of time/mess, but actually really like the look of it now. I then installed the shower, combining a cheap shower set, with a nicer (but still really cheap) riser and big head. The riser and head were only £30! Getting these joints watertight was fiddly and took a few goes – I’m not a fan of compression plumbing, but I got there eventually!


Next step was some demolition! The tiled boxing hiding pipework, the toilet, sink and the bath all came out – into the front garden, where they waited for the sink (the missus didn’t like the idea of filling them with plants….).

You can see me cracking the tiles off, and how little purpose the alcove served before – just a small storage unit.

Then we built the cupboard and sink into the alcove. Whilst less “important” than the toilet or the bath, doing it first gave us the most room to work on it – without the toilet in the way. Fortunately we have another toilet in the house, so that lessened the time pressure on the work.

We built the cupboard, then screwed it to the wall, cut the worktop to size (using a cardboard template we made, and then fitted the sink. I bought the worktop the size up, so we could cut it to shape, giving a nice custom built-in look. The unit is this Lillangen (£40), the sink is this Tornviken (£65), and the tap is a Dannskar (£40). I can’t find the worktop or feet on the website, but they’re both the cheapest they do!

You can see the original plumbing in the first picture, this was cut down and then extended using John Guest Pushfit joints and piping – I wouldn’t recommend anything else – so easy! The waste that comes with the Ikea sink is awesome, and nicely adjusts right to the back of the cupboard out the way, and had a flexi output which makes positioning less critical. The tails of the tap are compression fitting – which is a bit fiddly, but in this case I could do it outside the cupboard to ensure a good joint, then screw into the tap from below, screw to the shelf with a bracket, then pushfit to the supply.

Changing the locks

This was pretty much the first job I did, as you never know who has a key, and lots of people told me if an old key was used to break in you wouldn’t be insured (I didn’t actually check this, but it makes sense).

It’s actually a really easy job, all you need is a tape measure and a screwdriver.

You need to open the door, remove the screw from the edge (just below the bolt), then push the lock out. You then need to measure the overall length of the lock, and the distance from each end to the middle of the bolt. A 45-45 lock is 90mm long overall, with the bolt in the middle, a 40-50 lock is the same length, but the bolt is slightly nearer one end. Put the locks back, and then go shopping.

I found locks in B&Q and Screwfix, but found that my local locksmith supplier had a wider range, and better prices. These locks are called “eurocylinders”.

When I got home it was a simple job to unscrew the locks, slide out and replace with the new ones.

Advise I received is:

  • For security try to get the front of the lock as near to flush as you can, as it sticking out or in gives would-be thieves more to work with when trying to cut or break the lock.
  • Go for an anti-snap lock, this means that the lock can’t be broken in half with a crowbar to gain access.
  • Do all your locks to the same quality – there is no point putting a really secure lock on your front door and then cheaping out on the patio door lock – the weakest point of security is your security.
  • Take a photo of you holding the lock up to a tape measure with you so the staff can double-check you measurements if you’re unsure.


Planning with Trello

Trello is a fantastic tool for planning tasks.

I’ve previously used it to plan projects at university and in various jobs, but now I’m using it to plan doing the house up, and it’s working well.


This is how I’ve currently got it setup – with short, medium and long term lists. The idea is that short term are things I just need to get up and do, medium need a bit more time and planning (or I’m waiting on other people), and long term is things we’re not actively working on, but give us an idea to aim for.

I’ve started adding useful information to it, such as with the “pictures on hall” item – which has the size of the frames I’ve got, and the “hallway – hexagon shelves” item – which has a link to a few I’ve found. The dimensions mean that when I’m out and about I always have dimensions and things to hand – meaning purchases are less likely to wrong. The links are a handy way to store things, and because the Trello is shared with my wife she can access them too.

Give it a try

Bathroom Lock

With a baby due soon, and therefore lots of visitors I decided to finally replace the bathroom door handle with one that locks, as the existing lock missed the door frame by about an inch, and we wanted one that could be opened from the outside for if when the little one locks themselves in the bathroom in a few years time!

I went for this one, as the existing handle was round, so I figured it’d be an easier replacement. Turns out I figured wrong and would need to do a bit of drilling, but oh well, bit committed at this point.

I marked up the door, and then got to work drilling the hole out. I did this by drilling small holes with a wood drill bit, then connecting them all by sanding with a Dremel, as it offered loads of control. The Dremel was also great for widening the hole drilled edge on, as the new lock is slightly thicker.

All in all a pretty easy job, and well worth doing.

The next step is to give the door a bit of a sand all over, as it’s clearly got some wear and staining on it. That’s well down the list though….