Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Light Fantastic

I like a pendant light, I like a lampshade and the cosy homely feeling that gives, but having bedrooms in the attic certainly creates its problems -with a lack of head height the pendant soon turns into a hazard dangling in front of your eyes and something else to bump your head on.

So when it came to picking a lighting solution in Teeny's room I was open to suggestions. John has always been more of a minimalist when it comes to home design and he had been talking about recessed lighting for some time. I was dubious, "Won't it look too 'atticy' or too modern for a bedroom?" but he won this battle - I have to say, I'm glad he did.

fitting recessed lights - Our Handmade Home

We went with LED recessed lighting, very affordable from IKEA. We installed 3 in a row, 2 would have been sufficient but 3 is, in fact, the magic number, and I always think it looks more balanced with 3. 

fitting recessed lights - Our Handmade Home

They are very simple and bright... a bit too bright for a bedroom, but they will be wired up to a dimmer switch so they will be just perfect - bright for playtime - dimmed for cuddle time.

led recessed light ikea

They do look really swish and make the room, which is very small and dull, feel big and bright and beautiful.

Ikea recessed lighting LED Our Handmade Home

The Nitty Gritty:

  • The lights are Haggum by IKEA
  • John is experienced when it comes to wiring - but if you are in any doubt get a certified electrician to do it.

We're nearing the end of this massive and drawn out project... I have been riddled with injuries (both physical and mental) Between looking after baby and home-educating we have hardly had any time for renovations, and for 18 months I had hardly any sleep. I can't believe we are nearly finished*... SQUEEEEEE!!!

To Do List:

  • Paint and fit skirting (base) boards and door surround.
  • Finish lime coating the chimney
  • Last coat of paint on everything
  • Little fittings (i.e. hooks, a dimmer switch and a door handle)
  • Move in THE TOYS!!!

*we are nearly finished this 1 room, there are 4 rooms in the house that we haven't even started on.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Sanding floors is never a pleasant job - it is very noisy, messy and difficult, and involves hiring heavy machinery. Of course for us, it also means getting little children out of the house.

Unsanded wooden floor - our handmade home

We're nearing the end in Teeny's room and the day came when the floor needed to be sanded - Our landing needed done too - which was not great, but there is never a good time to do a hallway floor, never..... no really..... NEVER.

We hired 2 Big Bad-Ass Floor Sanders from HSS. We tidied the house, put dust sheets over everything, sealed doorways and put some plastic sheeting around the stairway. Except bedrooms, our home is open-plan, so dust was going to get everywhere anyway, but it is always best to try.

Me and the kids packed up and went to stay with family for the weekend - between my injuries and a clingy toddler it was best that I went with the kids rather than stay and achem... 'help'

John got to work on the sanding - 2 backbreaking days of sanding - and he got it all done!!

Diamond Hard Floor Varnish - Our Handmade HomeOn my return we quickly dusted and hoovered everything in sight and covered the landing with clean dust sheets until we could find the time to do the varnishing. Don't be tempted to walk on a naked floor - except when you are varnishing it, then wear only clean socks, well, not ONLY socks obviously... I mean, if you want to, you can I guess, but don't tell me about it.... ewww.

Now usually, anything that involves a paintbrush lands on my 'to-do' list so over the next 2 weeks between nap times and home-schooling,  the 2 floors eventually got their 4 coats of varnish (3 coats, then sand, then final coat) and now they look flipping gorgeous.

And I have a lovely big lump on my head from when I whacked it off the coombed ceiling. OUCH! No really, I still have bruising....

When we first researched how to treat our floors I found it really hard to decide between varnish, wax or oil - gloss or satin?? I was rightly confused by the myriad of options. I asked a friend what they had used on their beautiful floors 'I don't know, cuprinol or something maybe?' was the answer I got... brilliant... So 5 years ago we basically took a gamble and used Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish - Clear Satin in our shower-room, kitchen, livingroom and Small's bedroom. Despite the first attempt turning out a bit crappy over time (due entirely to inadequate preparation and number of coats - practice makes perfect) Ultimately it all worked out for us. So this is what we have used throughout the house.

I'm so pleased with the results and getting really excited that the room is nearly done - Remember where we started? I know it is taking an age but the finish line is in sight!!!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Our floor is reclaimed junkers beech sports flooring from Mackay Flooring in Glasgow - Ours was not pretty enough to leave unsanded. It is the structural floor throughout the house. 
  • To hire both sanding machines from HSS over a weekend cost us under £75 and we were able to fit them in the back of our hatchback car. The staff at HSS Kingston Bridge were very friendly and helpful - we recommend them.
  • We used Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Varnish in clear satin from screwfix. It doesn't get the best reviews but I have found if you apply it correctly, and clean the floor gently (no steam mops) it looks beautiful for years.

I was listening to

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Repairing and Levelling a Concrete Hearth

So we've have cleaned up the chimney breast and inglenook in Teeny's room, now turning our efforts to the hearth. We might want to use the fireplace again in this room, not now though, for now we just have to make the area safe and draft free for our wee boy.

I would love a wood burner in here, and that was just the plan before Teeny joined the family. This room was destined to be a studio/office/work-room, but I know you'll agree a little squidgy, funny wee boy is a much, MUCH better use of the space - Typically wee people and wood burners don't mix well. Never the less, we want to leave our options open for the future.

The original hearth was cracked (just superficial damage) and it sat about a centimetre below the new level of the floor - we had all the floorboards and joists replaced.

Having done the research we found the best solution was levelling compound. It comes dry and bagged in a tub to mix it it.

Though messy, it is reasonably simple to work with -  you just need to follow the instructions on the tub.

Measure, stir, stir again, stir some more, and pour.

We were just bringing the hearth up to the floor level so we didn't need to build any kind of frame to hold in the mixture. Just filled any gaps with expanding foam filler to avoid leakage into the void under the floorboards. We left it overnight to set.

Nice, clean, level surface. We've still to finish white-washing the chimney breast and inglenook, then we'll be sanding the floor - We are nearly done!!! *Exciting*

The Nitty Gritty

  • The levelling compound is own brand from screwfix - One full 15kg tub was just enough to do this small hearth (roughly half a square metre, 1 cm thick)
  • We will be tiling the hearth and may install a small woodburner in the distant future - I'm not sure it would stand up to the heat of an open-fire

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