Garden Plans for Spring 2019

Me and Jay have been slowly renovating our house for over a year, but here are our garden plans.

When me and Jay bought our house, we couldn’t afford to do everything all at once. And even the work we did, we had to be careful with our money. We bought our kitchen on eBay, and did most of the work ourselves. It took us six months to renovate the bathroom, kitchen, dining room and living room.

Once these renovations were done, we were able to move in. But every time I look outside, I hate it. I hate our drive, I hate the look of our house from the outside and I particularly hate our back garden.

 

What It Looked Like a Year Ago

Whilst we were renovating, there were some jobs I couldn’t do. Or some jobs that couldn’t be done, because something else needed to be done by Jay first. One day, I’d turned up at the house ready to get stuck into something (I can’t remember what), only it couldn’t be done because Jay wasn’t ready for me. It might have been painting or something.

ANYWAY, it was a lovely sunny weekend day, so I thought I’d tackle the garden. It was pretty overgrown when we first moved in:

 

Overgrown garden with garage - garden plans are in place to transform it.

 

The carport makes the kitchen extremely dark, and those bushes on the left had grown about 3 feet into the patio space.

So after just one day it transformed from this:

Full view of garden from front to back, all overgrown and weeds.

Overgrown bush cutting into patio space

 

What It Looks Like Now

…to this!

 

Severely cut back tree to show patio underneath

 

Much better, but still no where near how we want it.

 

So what are our garden plans for the future?

First, we want to add wooden slats to the brick walls. This will make the wall look like a fence, and I think it’ll soften the whole garden. At the minute, the walls look crumbly, and they need painting, so this would fix that issue.

We also want to take the carport down as part of our garden plans. It’s been so useful. You can put anything under it and it won’t get wet.

Our postmen often leave parcels at the back of the house, and I know they’ll be safe under there. But it sucks light out of our kitchen diner. So the carport will be coming down.

We want to render the outside of the garage to soften it. It’s a big part of why we bought the house. Jay uses it as a workshop for spare cars, or projects we have going on. He loves it. We’ve considered knocking it down and rebuilding a single garage instead, but it’ll cost too much money.

So the plan is to keep it as it is, but render the outside of it. We’ll also replace the double garage door with a single one. Then a separate side door will be added for people to get in and out of.

We’ve had a quote off a company to come in and flatten all the raised borders. They’re all crumbling and falling down, so need to be replaced. This company will level all of the ground so we’ll be starting from scratch. Then we will keep everything paved so there’s no grass to mow, and plants will be in pots. We’re basically trying to make the garden look as big as it possibly can look.

Finally, the top of the garden will be a great place for a seating area. We want to invest in some rattan furniture from somewhere like Fishpools and get a chiminea or fire pit so we can sit out on summer nights.

We’re saving money so in spring 2019 we can do the front and back together. It’ll cost between £6-8k, but so worth it, and will add SO much curb appeal to the house when we come to sell it. I hate our garden at the moment, and couldn’t imagine spending any time out there which is such a shame. Fingers crossed by next summer we’ll be able to sit out there again!

 

 

 

Garage Organisation Tips and Advice

This post comes to you today as a bit of a story about mine and Jay’s garage, and why we need some garage organisation in our lives!

The garage was a selling point when we bought our house. It’s a double garage that sits in the back garden, and is perfect for all of Jay’s projects. When we started our house search, we didn’t really know what we were looking for, only that it needed some kind of workshop space and needed to be a doer-upper.

We ticked off both of those things when we bought our house. It was definitely a doer-upper (hello green carpet and 70s kitchen). The garage was a great size.

It was only when we moved in, we realised how much of a problem the garage was.

  • We found a rats’ nest
  • It leaks like a sieve
  • It has an asbestos roof
  • It’s basically built straight onto the ground with no foundations

So just a few problems.

It still leaks, and so we’re trying desperately to get everything off the floor and onto racking or shelving. Garage organisation is so important. I hate going in there because it’s a mess (and I do have to go in there because our washing machine is in there). You can never find anything, and who knows what might be living in our old kitchen cabinets.

So how can you complete your garage organisation and make it a fairly nice place to go into?

 

Labels

Labels are your friend. How else are you supposed to know what is in each box? Everything should be boxed by ‘type’, e.g. car cleaning, tools, paint, etc. This means when you go into the garage, you can see straight away what box you need. And it’s a case of just lifting it off and opening it.

 

Wall hooks

Hanging items on the wall gets everything off the floor and absolutely tops off garage organisation. It saves space, and makes everything neat and tidy so you can just lift your item off. A company like GearHooks will sort your garage out easily. No matter what your hobby, fishing, skiing, BMXing, GearHooks has a hook for you.

 

Racking

This is a necessity. It means you can stack things up high rather than letting them take up floor space. We’ve recently bought wall-to-wall racking which is yet to be put together. However, when it is, it’ll be a massive help.

 

Keep an eye out for my post in a couple of weeks on how our garage looks after it’s been organised and storage has been introduced!

Choosing a Rug That Perfectly Matches Your Flooring

Thinking of choosing a rug but don’t know where to start looking?

There are a fair few things to think about before you can start choosing a rug. You need to figure out where it’s going to go, what size you’ll need and what colour you want. But you should also think about your current flooring situation before deciding.

The type of flooring will determine what features you should be looking for in a rug. Different styles, colours and fibres will work better on different floors. This might determine the thickness of rug you choose. You might also want to think about how busy the space is. You should consider a different material rug for a busy path than you would for a space that isn’t often walked through.

This applies to all types of flooring, including stone, carpet, tiles, laminate, and hardwood. Unsure on what to look for? What rug should you get if you have a tiled floor compared to a laminate one?!

Don’t panic. To make life easier, Land of Rugs put together this helpful infographic. It outlines what features to look for in a rug depending on the floor type, covering all the most popular floors found in households. Simply check out these tips for your current flooring and you’ll find that matching rug in no time!

 

Infographic from Land of Rugs on choosing a rug that perfectly matches your flooring

 

*Collaborative post. Been wanting to find the perfect rug? Get 10% off Land of Rugs by using my special code, blogger01. 

Home Essentials for First-Time Buyers

Maybe you’ve just bought your first home. Or maybe you’re moving away to university. These are some home essentials for first-time buyers that will save your life.

We definitely take things for granted when we live with parents. They have all the fancy gadgets you’d ever need. Automated tin-openers so you don’t risk breaking a nail. An entire drawer of pans so you can cook that banquet meal you’ve been meaning to do. It’s only when we don’t have these things, we realise how much we need them.

The first 6 months I lived in my house, I didn’t have a garlic press. I was finely chopping garlic by hand all that time. I still don’t have a colander, or tongs for turning sausages or whatever you do with them.

So, I’ve compiled a handy list of home essentials for first-time buyers of things you need (not want).

 

A Mattress

Mattresses can be very pricey. It’s also the sort of item that you don’t want to hand over £600 for. It doesn’t look nice, it isn’t exactly a home statement. Not like buying a nice dining table would be. However, a good mattress is an absolute home necessity. Please note the word ‘good’, too.

Mine and Jay’s mattress was in the Dreams’ sale, so we managed to get £200 off. A fairly good saving, until we bought the memory foam, extra luxurious pillows at £80 each. BUT, my point is you can get some great mattresses if you shop around.

First work out what you do and don’t like: hard or soft, feather, memory foam, gel, sprung, etc. Second, work out your budget so you don’t overspend. Once you’ve figured these things out, find the best mattress deals on Groupon or a similar site to get a great mattress at a great price.

 

Furniture Basics

Furniture can be expensive, so saving money here is ideal. Me and Jay bought most of our furniture basics on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. We only bought solid wood items so we knew they were good quality and would last.

In the picture below, the only things we bought brand new were the armchair and sofa. Everything else is second-hand, even the dining table which we got free!

 

living room with sofa and lighting

 

This is how our house looked a week after we moved in. It looks empty, there’s nothing on the walls, and we’ve since got a new TV. This is what I mean about essentials. We knew we needed a sofa, coffee table, a TV stand and a dining table, so we sorted all of those. The shelving, lighting (please ignore the bare bulb hanging out of the ceiling), and soft furnishings come last.

Since, I’ve added a rug under the dining table, a mirror on the dining room wall, a light in the living room, coffee table books and other decor, an oak beam mantelpiece, etc. None of these are home essentials for first-time buyers, but a sofa absolutely is! You’ll have to forget about home accessories for the time being. They look nice, but they’re not necessities.

Don’t forget, if you’re worried about cost, you can spread things out as a monthly cost. Our carpets and sofas are still being paid for monthly, as they can be expensive items.

 

Gadgets

Gadgets are another thing that can be pricey. I wouldn’t advise buying second-hand either, unless you plan on replacing the item within a couple of months. Gadgets includes a hoover, an iron and ironing board, a washer/dryer, a dishwasher if you need one, even a TV and a computer or monitor. These things can cost. Maybe not so much an iron, but other white goods are expensive if you want to get trustworthy brands which will last.

A hoover is definitely something you should spend your money on. A good hoover will make a whole lot of difference when you’re living by yourself. There’s nothing worse than having one that doesn’t pick anything up, or even worse throws it all back onto the carpet. Me and Jay have a Miele, a brand that I love and a great hoover. Anything to make the housework easier so you can get it done quickly!

 

I hope this list of home essentials for first-time buyers can help you when it comes to knowing what to buy. Prioritise what you really need, and can afford, and go from there!

 

*In collaboration with Groupon. 

Guest Post: Building your own Home

Building your own home is not an easy task. At first it sounds amazing, like a dream, until the windows arrive in the wrong size, you’re up all night doing finance calculations, and you have to borrow more money from the bank.

Me and Jay want to build our next home. It’s a huge task, which is why I’ve brought this guest post to you from Elle at Ridge and Furrow. I first noticed Elle on Instagram, and her amazing barn conversion which her and her husband built up from scratch. I was intrigued about how they’d achieved the home they have now, so invited her to share her story with me:

 

Firstly, where’s your home and when did you buy it?

Location: we’re in Gloucestershire along the Cotswolds’ ridge.  We bought the barn in 2012 when I was 7 months pregnant with our first child. We were living in a nearby town and wanted to move to the country but stay in the area.

 

What made you consider building your own home?

I’d always dreamed of building my own home. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid but didn’t care for the technical side of it. When I met my husband we got talking about building on our first date. He shared my zeal and promised he’d build me a house one day.

 

How did you choose the land/building/location?

We searched for years for a home in the countryside that we could afford and wasn’t too much of a compromise. We also searched for land in NZ (where my husband is from) thinking that if we were going to build it would have to be over there as land for building in this country is really difficult to come by, usually exceedingly expensive and or compromised by location/size. Then there’s planning restrictions to contend with.

We weren’t looking for a barn but we stumbled upon it advertised in the window of the estate agent just across the road from us in town. We’d put in a sealed bid which is a nerve wracking process but we got lucky. We weren’t the highest bidder but our proposal pleased the owner.

The barn already had planning permission to become a 2-bed house. We didn’t like the plans though as they covered over all the internal structure of the barn and didn’t make use of the height of the space. So we drew up our own plans. We did this by ourselves without an architect, though we did consult a structural engineer to make sure everything load bearing would hold up.

 

Was there any work you did yourself? Or did you mostly hire tradesmen?

My husband did all the work himself including the trades – plumbing and electrics but got in professionals to check and sign off these. The only things that were here when we bought the place were the brick and stone walls and the roof. My husband made everything else including the fireplace and chimney, all the wooden frames that make the upper floors, stairs, and wooden division walls. We did get a professional carpenter to make the doors and windows.

 

How long did it take you to finish it?

We’ve been living here for 2 years. We moved in with a temporary kitchen which is only now being finished. It’ll never really be finished but it feels less like a building site now.

 

Top Tip:

Hold your nerve and remember what you wanted to achieve in the first place.

 

Did building your own home take longer than you thought? If yes, what setbacks did you have?

No real set backs but we weren’t realistic to start with. We wanted to be in before our first child began walking, but he was 3 before we moved in and he had a baby brother who was just starting to walk.

 

Where did you live during the renovation?

We stayed on in our house in town with the kids as long as we could afford, then rented a house on the other side of the village for a year. I visited with the kids most days and we played/worked in the garden whilst husband worked on the house. Husband is self-employed and just took on fewer jobs for a couple of years.

 

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Only initial paint choices which we’re now altering. We listened to the advice of others rather than going with our own instincts but it’s easily altered.

We’ve not lost the zeal for building and we’re still contemplating what the next project will be 🤔

 

You can find Elle on Instagram to see more of her incredible build.

 

barn door on pigsty barn before renovation

 

Inside of barn

 

Building your own home - putting scaffolding up.

 

Barn from the outside with flowers

 

Inside finished bathroom, bare brick wall with mirror and sink

 

Barn with small library, ladder and armchair

 

Living room with bare brick wall, beams and modern grey sofa