7 Lessons learned while making our new house a home

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The last few months have been a total whirlwind filled with surprises, blessings but also new challenges. Not too long ago, we moved house again (!) and settled into a lovely new built property not too far from where we used to live. Things happened quite fast but if you know me well, you’ll know I’m always up for this type of challenge. We prayed for things to go smoothly, and I’m grateful they did. Not just the transition into the new house, but also the decorating process. 

With every house move comes a new interior design project. I love the fact that the house was pretty much a blank canvas, even the flooring had to be done from scratch in some of the bedrooms.

This was the perfect occasion for me to add real personal touches to the final design of the house, and the real challenge was to do it on a budget! You’ll probably recognize a lot of my old furniture and decor, because I didn’t buy that many new things. I upcylcled, re-purposed and re-used most of the things I already owned. That’s what I always do. But as much as I’d like to think I’m done decorating this house, the truth is I’ll still be adding new elements to it, and changing things as time goes by. The flooring in the main living areas is grey laminated flooring which I’ve fallen completely in love with, and have no intention of changing.

What I really want to do in this post, however, is share a few lessons I’ve learned while making our house a home. Some are very simple but stylish home decor lessons I’ve been able to take away. Others are lessons in patience, i.e. not rushing work that should be done slowly and patiently… You may actually learn a thing or two.

1. Creating an entryway when there isn’t one.

If, like us, you live in a house that doesn’t have an entryway when you come in – nowhere that determines a clear path of entry, leading you to the main part of the house, then you may want to think about creating one.

For me, the entryway/hallway is the area of the house that lets people know they’re entering the palace. This is the area that needs to feel both welcoming and practical – somewhere to place your keys as you get home from work; somewhere to hang your coat. A place to store shoes etc.

After spending hours on Pinterest and looking for the perfect hallway setting, I concluded that none of the ideas I had found would work for my space; i.e. sideboards that didn’t fit the dimensions or look I was looking for, furniture that couldn’t be placed against curtains…

So I had to come up with a unique way to make a statement, so I chose to use this IKEA MALM chest of drawers, which I’ve had for many years (gifted many years ago), as a main piece. I used over-door hooks as a solution to hang our coats, on the doors to our storage – where our shoes are currently stored. A couple of plants to bring a bit of life to the area, some cherished family photos, a rug and some baskets for convenience – and voila. A fully functioning and pretty-looking entryway. Oh, and in the corner, you’ll also find an ottoman-style box – it’s my daughter’s toy box!2019-07-21 10.43.57 1.jpg

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2. Take your time (and no shortcuts!) when embarking on DIY projects

Ah my stairs runner. My beautiful stairs runner. Well, “beautiful” when looking at it from the top of the stairs…. But it’s a different story when looking at it from the bottom. Read on to find out why…

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I really struggled to install this runner. That’s because I took shortcut after shortcut. I’ll put my hands up and say this part of the house isn’t my favourite. The main lesson here is patience. Unfortunately I couldn’t spend too long shopping around  to find the perfect runner, because as parents of young children, including a 1 year old, we needed a safe, quick solution for these steep, wooden stairs of ours. They came void of any flooring so I needed some sort of padding/carpet on them. And I needed it quick. So I headed to B&Q, bought what I thought would be the perfect runner (if I just, erm… tailored it to my stairs). I initially bought two, thinking it would be more than enough if I just placed them right below each other, to create a continuous runner.

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I was wrong. I ended up having to fiddle with it, stretch it and maneuver it and doing all sorts of things to try and make it work… And you guessed it, I didn’t have enough rug for the entire staircase… absolute nightmare! I had to buy a third one. Lesson here: Buy a proper stairs runner – one that is continuous and measured to perfection, for your staircase. Don’t take any shortcuts.

As I said, beautiful end product if looking at it from the top of the stairs. But when looking from the bottom landing, it’s a bit of a disaster. Nothing that can’t be fixed or replaced, but it will have to be done to perfection the second time round. Oh, and I had to paint the stairs white first. See pictures below:

 

3. Let the sunshine in

When I first grasped the amount of glass doors and windows this house was adorned with, and what this would meant in terms of decorating… I must admit I panicked. In fact I even messaged one of my close friends who has a great eye for these types of things, and asked her for her opinion on what I should do with these glass doors.

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My friend suggested the IKEA VIDGA railing system, which would allow for either curtains or stylish blind panels to be installed based on our needs and required dimensions. A fantastic idea, I thought. But then I spent a bit more time on Pinterest and fell in love with the trend that consists of a thick exposed black curtain rod, with white curtains. So I did exactly that, in the whole of the downstairs area.

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I’ve always preferred sheer/daylight curtains over solid blinds or black out curtains. I just love letting the sunshine into my home, so I always go for something that allows privacy whilst also letting in daylight. These curtains are IKEA HILJA curtains.

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Coffee Table: Click here to buy.

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Floor lamp is from Dunelm (old collection)

Table: Click here to buy

Chairs: Click here to buy

Place mats:  Click here to buy.

4. Avoid painting furniture outside, and paint meticulously

When I decided I would paint these two bookshelves, I pretty much got on with it, dragged them out to the garden, bought the paint and didn’t waste any time. The move was scheduled for the next few days so I figured I’d take advantage of the mini heatwave to do this quick paint job. Well… I really should have planned this better! nobody told me that painting furniture in my garden would consist of 5% painting, 95% fighting off insects and leaves flying around before landing and getting stuck to the dripping paint… Speaking of which, make sure you use non-drip paint, and stick with it for all coatings. I started withe a non-primer-necessary, non-drip paint, and finished with a lower budget unbranded paint for the second coat. And that was a huge mistake. Stick with high-end quality paint throughout. It’s your furniture after all, you want it to have the perfect finish.

Overall, I’d say the paint job wasn’t up to standard. So these shelves definitely weren’t going to get centre stage in the living room. I hid them upstairs instead and created a little reading corner for the kids. Still works, but for a different purpose. Please don’t ask me where these shelves are from – I have no idea, they were a gift from an old neighbour many years ago and I didn’t think to ask him where he had gotten them from.

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5. Dare to do your own flooring – it’s not that difficult!

There’s a reason why DIY stores like B&Q sell vinyl planks like these :

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They’re the ones I bought for the flooring in all the bedrooms upstairs. They’re very easy to install, literally just peel ans stick. The hardest part is taking measurements in the more awkward corners/places. But you get used to it after doing it once or twice.

I spent a few days (before we actually moved into the house) doing the floor all by myself, learning from Youtube tutorials, and trial and error! The result is in the picture above (landing with bookshelves). And the kids’ rooms.

Tips:

  • Buy a lot more planks than you think you’ll need.
  • Use heavy duty scissors rather than a traditional cutter. Much easier.
  • Take lots of measurements, don’t rush the work!
  • Make sure your surface is 100% clean and flat. No nails sticking out.
  • Use straight lines already present on your floor for reference.
  • Do the sides last, focus on the inner/middle areas first.

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6. Find inspiration, create your own vision, nail the execution.

I spend hours on Pinterest absorbing inspo and ideas similar to what I want to create. I do this prior to getting started, then leave the app and try to focus on my project. Once I have a clear vision of what I want to create in my space, it’s game on. The next step is to put all my efforts into the execution. And as you’ve seen in previous paragraphs, I may not always get it right the first time. But my ultimate goal is to create something that’s aesthetically pleasing, suits my style and meets the needs of my family life.

My daughter’s bedroom is a good example of that. I knew exactly what I wanted to create, I had the colour scheme all planned out, I re-used a lot of her old stuff (in fact, I only bought the curtains – IKEA HILJA in pink) and I’m in love with how simple but also how cute it all turned out to be.

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Hanging hearts: CLICK HERE TO BUY

Rocking chair: CLICK HERE TO BUY

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Wall prints – Desenio

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Cot bed – Tesco Direct

Pink rug – CLICK HERE TO BUY

7. Turn your storage space into rooms

When I first saw how big this ‘storage space’ was in this part of the living room, I knew I’d be able to turn it into something other than just storage.

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I initially thought of creating a pantry in there. But then our furniture arrived and I realised I had no space to place our desk. And there was no way we could go without our little home office. So you guessed it, I utilised the storage area and turned it into a fully functioning, practical and rather cute office space.

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Desks: IKEA LINNMON / ADILS: Click here to buy

Chairs: Click here to buy

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Decorating and making this house a home has been quite a journey. I feel really blessed that it’s ll come together nicely. There are still a few bits and pieces I want to get. A large new rug for the living room, beautiful art pieces for some of our walls, etc. However I’m learning to pace myself – it’s important to understand that not everything needs to be done straight away. It takes time to build the space you want and need for your lifestyle, and to adapt to a new home.

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