In the spirit of yesterday’s blog post, I like to look on the bright side. I’m a glass-half-full type of person, providing the glass is full of chocolate milk and not urine. Occasionally I get a bit ‘Woe is me, I’m so unemployed and fat and divorced and past it and skint and single and Brexit’s around the corner and I’m turning 40 next year!’ Then I have to remind myself that I have a wonderful daughter and great friends and a book deal – and also a lovely newly-renovated house.
I’d love to be an interior designer. Home design is my absolute favourite hobby – I could happily walk around Dwell, Habitat and Heals for hours, and always go to Grand Designs Live and the Ideal Home Show – though I think that in terms of a career, interior design is probably up there with writing when it comes to job insecurity. So I’ve had to make do with doing up my own home to the best of my abilities.
I live in a three-bedroom house on the Essex border, which I bought after selling my tiny flat in North London. I don’t think I’ll ever sell it, even though I’m currently living on less than £500 a month, as we’re so happy here. Plus Lily’s dad has had his home on the market for a year and it hasn’t sold – apparently this is common thanks to Brexit.
My house was horrible when I bought it. It was dark and dirty with a hideous 1980s kitchen, and zero effort had been put into any of the rooms. I went into debt doing it up, but it was worth it because I absolutely love it now.
Here’s the old kitchen. The dangling bare light bulb is testament to how little care has been put into the house. You can buy a £3 lampshade from eBay! See also: the mismatched and badly hung wall units and brackets. Just so ugly.
This is the old kitchen at its best, furnished and tidied up for the estate agent photos.
Et voila! The kitchen now, with engineered oak flooring, white gloss units, oak worktops, three pendant lights over the glass John Lewis dining table and six matching gel chairs, also from John Lewis. I replaced the floral crimson blinds with lime green blinds and the ancient tiles with white Metro brick tiles (I did the tiling myself!)
Here’s the old bathroom, complete with fetching ‘shell’ basin, dolphin picture on the bath tiles and mould around the basin pedestal:
And here’s the new bathroom! It’s millennial pink and rose gold. I asked my ex-husband to spray the counter top and bamboo bath mat rose gold, and also bought a rose gold shower caddy and accessories, including cotton wool holders and a toilet brush. The white Metro brick tiles make a reappearance here.
I can’t show you the previous downstairs shower room, as it didn’t exist! Here’s the estate agent photo of what the room used to look like:
I halved this space to make a shower room, and gave it the same millennial pink and rose gold colour scheme as the upstairs bathroom.
I turned the other half into a little office for myself. It’s wonderfully light and airy, though I may have gone slightly overboard with the rose gold theme!
Here’s the old reception room, which I separated into two rooms with a wall.
And here’s the new living room, which used half the reception room’s space.
Here’s my old bedroom when I moved in:
Here’s the estate agent photo of it before the renovation.
Here’s the new bedroom. I had it replastered and painted (in Dulux Jasmine White, my favourite shade, which I’ve used all over the house) and had recessed halogen spotlights replace the pendant lights. I experimented with pops of bright and pastel colours, and I think it worked out well.
Here’s the estate agent photo of the old back bedroom.
I did this bedroom up in a more neutral and conventional style, as I was renting it out until recently.
My favourite touch is a 3 x 3 grid of push-door modern white gloss wall cupboards. They provide storage while blending perfectly into the decor.
When I was earning a lot in my last role, I also renovated the garden. Here’s the old estate agent photo.
And here’s the garden now.
My favourite design challenge recently though has been my daughter’s little room. She wanted her My Little Pony bedroom (which she decorated herself) replaced with a Harry Potter theme. I pretended I wasn’t going to do it, and then designed the transformation and had it done while my daughter was at her dad’s for Christmas. Her face was a picture!
Here’s her dark and unappealing little room when we first moved into the house.
Here’s the rather more glossy furnished estate agent photo.
Here’s the pink and girly My Little Pony room which Lily loved at the time.
And here’s her new Harry Potter bedroom, in a black, white and gold colour palette!
It’s just so much more grown up and stylish, and she loves it.
THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!
Me: 12st 5.4lbs (total loss in 42 days: 8.8lbs)
Trust me, this yo-yoing is as frustrating for me as it is for you.
John: 14st 5.75lbs (total loss in 42 days: 1.75lbs)
John is the consummate self-promoter.
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