Hallway renovation – before and after

The hall, stairs and landing have been the last part of the house that we’ve renovated.

For quite a few months, they’ve been the only areas to still show signs of the dodgy décor we were surrounded by when we moved in three years ago, much of it seeming to have been untouched since the house was built in the 1970s.

I wasn’t exactly sad to see the back of the what-were-they-thinking half-and-half pink and blue combo :) … but I did kind of like it being there as a reminder to us and visitors of the big changes we’ve brought about throughout.

Hallway renovation - before photo | Angel In The North Hallway renovation - before photo | Angel In The North

As with every other room, the walls of the hall, stairs and landing needed a fair amount of stripping back and rebuilding before they could be re-plastered and we could then decorate. Overall, we (as usual, him mostly) have been working on this area for a few months, and it’s still not quite finished. In between, he’s also been working on the outdoor decking – taking advantage of the good weather – and, you know, we had a baby too!

But the new carpet for the stairs and landing is on order and we’ve reached the point in the project where it feels good to actually open the front door. (I still despise the front door itself, however).

The hallway is such an insignificant space in terms of the time you actually spend there but perhaps the most important in the way it can set your mood as you enter and leave the house.

Things that seem like quite small improvements – like having somewhere to hang your coat, store your shoes and a shelf for your keys – make a big difference to how relaxed and organised I feel at home, especially now we have a little person who comes with a lot of stuff.

Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North Hallway renovation | Angel In The North

Hallway details

  • Floor | we used the same solid oak wood floor as we put down in the bedroom and kitchen
  • Walls | I don’t know if the paint colour has come out particularly well in the photos but it’s a lovely grey-green shade that we had mixed at one of the Valspar counters in B&Q. We had a sample we liked and took it in; they can match your paint to any colour you give them.
  • Corner bench and wall shelf with hooks | these are more things made by my fab dad! The poor guy has had them cluttering his garage for three years as I requested them when we moved in, not realising the hall would be the very last room we would tackle.
  • Accessories | light shade (£18), hexagon shelf (£10), ‘Hello Sunshine’ canvas (£4), ‘Dream Big’ glass frame (£5) and green and blue stripe jute doormat (£12), all from B&Q.

I was given a little help in completing this project by Saga, who are running a campaign about how equity release is a popular way of generating money to fund home improvements.

It kind of feels like the end of an era to be sharing a post about the renovation of the last inside space left to do. You can catch up on all our room renovations in my house tour section. Still plenty to be done outside though!

I’d love to know what you think to the changes we’ve made to the hallway.

Our kitchen in a magazine!

It was funny walking into W H Smith and seeing my face smiling back at me from the cover of a magazine.

It was funny seeing the same thing in my local supermarket a few days later, when I’d sort of forgotten and wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t know whether to speed away from the magazine section or hang around to see if anyone noticed and wanted an autograph :)

So my kitchen and I are on the front cover of the May 2016 issue of Your Home magazine. There’s a feature inside explaining how we moved walls to create a modern kitchen diner from the cramped, brown, 1970s room we had before. Of course, you read the full story first, here.

The article came about after I was contacted by a freelance writer and photographer couple, Annabelle and Colin of Photoword. Colin came and took the photos in January.

I didn’t expect to make the cover and am really pleased with how the piece came out and how our house looks. What do you think?

Our kitchen featured in Your Home magazine Our kitchen featured in Your Home magazine Our kitchen featured in Your Home magazine Our kitchen featured in Your Home magazine Our kitchen featured in Your Home magazine Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen featured in Your Home magazine. Photos by Photoword Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen featured in Your Home magazine. Photos by Photoword Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen featured in Your Home magazine. Photos by Photoword Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen featured in Your Home magazine. Photos by Photoword

// Room photos courtesy of Photoword. Contact them if you would like to see your home featured in a magazine! //

Our baby boy has arrived

The day we’d been waiting for for about nine months arrived a week early.

It started in the early hours, as I lay in bed wondering if that was the sensation of my waters breaking.

For the next 16 hours, nothing much happened. Four hours after that, I was bringing our son into the world.

People talk about this instant, overwhelming love you feel for your child and I wondered if I would I get that straight away. People say they love their child before they’ve even met them, and when I was pregnant I wasn’t sure I could say that I did.

But I was sure I loved him when he was placed on my chest, brand new, wriggling and crying. He was covered in blood and goo, but he was so beautiful. We called him Samuel.

My labour really wasn’t as bad as I’d been expecting. That said, my friends with their horror birth stories ensured I was “prepared” for it to be pretty terrible. I realise I was lucky it was quick. At the time, I felt quite out of control and now I look back I’m in awe of what my body and I achieved in those few hours as a Wednesday became a Thursday, the last day of March.

To millions of people in the world, an unremarkable night. To us, life-changing.

New baby boy

Time with him is flying already and it’s hard to imagine life when we were not three.

I missed him as soon as he was born and I was whisked off for surgery, even though we’d only had him in our lives for a matter of minutes.

I miss him when he sleeps (even though I’m grateful for being able to eat, nap or take on tasks using two hands).

I miss watching all the funny faces he pulls. I miss watching his eyes, now more alert and interested, track around the room. I miss wondering what he’s thinking. I miss stroking his tiny arms and hands and feeling his miniature fingers tighten around mine. I miss staring at this incredible being we have created and wondering about all the things he might do and see.

Of course, I miss having a solid seven or eight hours’ sleep a night too, but it’s a small price to pay ;)

Ikea Live Lagom project update

Being about half way through Ikea’s Live Lagom project, I thought I’d post a quick update on my progress.

Have a look at my previous posts, which explain what the project is all about – basically, ways of living more sustainably – and the Ikea products I have chosen to help me do that.

My aims for the project are to:

  • cut food waste by storing it better, cooking in batches and growing my own vegetables
  • using more energy efficient lighting
  • making the house cosier without turning up the heating – by, for example, covering a bare wood floor with a high pile rug and using a block-out blind
  • storing things more efficiently, so we don’t end up buying things we don’t need

Now with baby coming and no garden to speak of, we haven’t yet been able to make progress in all of these areas. Throw into the mix that our boiler was condemned in January (happy new year!), after which we were reliant on electric heaters for two weeks, so we haven’t been able to track any saving on our energy bills.

However, I do think I’ve made progress on batch cooking and storing food better, and that this has reduced the amount of food (usually fruit and vegetables) that we throw away. Continue reading “Ikea Live Lagom project update”

Countdown to baby

We’re now counting down to baby’s arrival in days, rather than weeks. Single figure days, in fact.

It’s incredible how quickly due date has approached as we’ve neared the end.

My maternity leave, which began a few days ago, kicked off with a bit of a fright. My consultant and midwife began raising concerns that baby’s growth is tailing off, which could be because the placenta was not functioning properly.

You know, the placenta that provides oxygen and nutrients and basically keeps baby alive?

I was referred for a scan to check the blood flow along the umbilical cord a week later. Cue seven days of worry and little sleep, thinking the worst things, constantly checking baby was still moving well. They’d said if they found a problem, I’d be induced (it would be two weeks early) – so there was a fair bit of frantic bag packing, washing, buying of last-minute things, and more washing.

Thankfully, everything was shown to be working perfectly, so now it’s as you were. Waiting for ‘things’ to happen and not really knowing when that could be or what it will feel like. Continue reading “Countdown to baby”

Weekend at Oulton Hall

My husband has never had any type of spa experience.

He was even very uncomfortable having a massage from a physiotherapist after a back injury. When, in the past, I’ve said I thought he’d enjoy a spa day if he tried it his look told me I had a lot of persuading to do.

But when I received an invitation to spend a night at Oulton Hall in West Yorkshire I basically gave him little choice. We needed a break and I wanted some time just the two of us, especially just a month before baby’s scheduled arrival. (Being a cunning wife I played on that aspect, rather than the spa treatment which would be included).

His novice spa-goer status was exposed on the morning of our visit. Talking about the treatments we might have, he said: “Can I just have a sauna?” It was all set to be an interesting day. Continue reading “Weekend at Oulton Hall”

Our 2016 travel plans

The days are getting longer and lighter, and I’m starting to remember what it’s like to feel the sun on my back. Instinctively, my brain turns its attention to travel plans for 2016.

I think – as I do most years – of road trips and campsites and the sea, of long, carefree days and watching the sunset.

Then a little someone kicks me in my ribcage and I’m reminded that this year could be very different.

Travel-wise, the year has a lot of potential. I, of course, am spending much of it on maternity leave with no particular place to go most of the time. My husband has qualified for a sabbatical from work so, as well as his regular holidays, he gets a nice, eight-week chunk of leave that will start in late summer.

But before we feel able to leave the house, we’re going to have to get used to bringing up baby. Even once we feel comfortable with the basics, we might find we have a little one who doesn’t like being in a car, or who makes so much noise at night it will make camping a no-no.

Nonetheless, I’m tentatively making plans in the hope that some trips will be manageable – and even fun! Continue reading “Our 2016 travel plans”

About gratitude…

It struck me as interesting that in our Valentine’s Day cards this year, my husband and I both said the same thing to each other.

“Thank you.”

I think we’re kind, caring and openly appreciative of each other most of the time. But this was the first time we’d both felt moved to put those words down on paper, at the same time.

And on the day that is supposed to be all about love, and passion.

I wondered if it was something I should be worried about. Was it the right thing to say, on Valentine’s Day? I quickly came to my senses.

I mean, on Valentine’s Day 14 years ago I might have bought him a karma sutra calendar. But we’ve been living in each other’s pockets for more than a decade now. Things change. Habits change. Priorities change. Love has changed (and got stronger).

We have so much to thank each other for, this year more than ever – so there should be no shame in saying it. Continue reading “About gratitude…”

Three years on: our transplant journey

Today I’m handing over the blog to one of my best friends Emma, who has written here before about her seriously ill three-year-old son, Freddie. A few months ago he underwent a liver transplant and today – three years after being diagnosed with a rare condition – is having further surgery.

“If you read my other two blog posts you will know I get some comfort documenting and sharing the emotional rollercoaster we’ve experienced since Freddie was born.

It’s good for me to reflect on what’s happened and there have been some significant changes.

My last post – two years since Freddie’s diagnosis – talked about how living with childhood liver disease had become more bearable, and how I felt as a family we were coping pretty well and could see some light at the end of the tunnel.

That changed abruptly. Continue reading “Three years on: our transplant journey”

10 reasons to visit Fodder, Harrogate

Have you heard of Fodder? I was recently introduced to this Yorkshire farm shop and café, and it went straight on my ‘visit soon’ list.

Having read what they’re all about and had a browse of their website I vowed to pay a visit the next time I’m in the area.

Fodder can be found at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Fodder farm shop and cafe, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Fodder farm shop and cafe, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Fodder farm shop and cafe, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Fodder farm shop and cafe, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Fodder farm shop and cafe, Harrogate, North YorkshireHere are my top 10 reasons to experience Fodder.

  1. 85% of its stock is local produce. Food so fresh is better for your body and the environment.
  2. They work with over 300 Yorkshire farmers and small producers. That’s a lot of local businesses and families they’re supporting. They buy direct from the farm, paying farmers a good price, but sell at a price that’s affordable to ordinary people.
  3. They’ve won dozens of awards for their sustainable building (it’s one of the greenest in the UK) and the quality of their food.
  4. Anything that is good enough to eat but not good enough to sell goes to the Harrogate Homeless Project. All profits go to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, a registered charity.
  5. From the shop and café, you can enjoy views of Yorkshire’s lovely Crimple Valley. If you don’t have much time to spare, you can grab a meal or drink from Fodder on the Hoof, a converted 1960s Airstream that sits in the car park.
  6. As well as food, there are local crafts and gifts, and cards. And if you can’t make a trip you can buy hampers and vouchers online.
  7. The Fodder Loyalty Card gives you points for every £1 you spend.
  8. The website has a host of recipes using ingredients that be bought from the shop – perfect for amateur and stuck-in-a-rut cooks like me!
  9. They have regular events like tasting sessions where you can go along and try new foods from Yorkshire suppliers.
  10. The shop and café have gluten-free options.

So, shall I see you there?

*written in collaboration with Fodder, but content and opinions my own

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