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It's been a while since I properly updated the blog on some of our DIY and renovations - and that's because we've been working away from our home, in another home. Yep, we're doing bits and bobs for someone else's renovation; Grant's parents renovation. Actually, I'm not sure I can call it a renovation just yet, but as I mentioned a while back, we'll be tackling their kitchen later this year - and in order to do so, we needed to sort a few smaller areas of their home first. With the first job being the old boiler room.

Last year, we started prepping for this and organised for their boiler to be replaced and moved upstairs, which became an essential after their water tank collapsed; and we also organised their dodgy sliding door to be replaced at the same time. With those two expensive bits out the way, we took a bit of a break and have since been planning the rest of the work that needs doing. Now it's getting warmer again, we're back on the project, DIYing and turning a cupboard (the old boiler cupboard!) into a pantry.


This is the cupboard I'm talking about. It sits right behind a wall in the kitchen and is incredibly narrow at just 80cm wide and around 2m long. From the outside it's an 'extension' to the kitchen; although actually, the kitchen is the extension to it. We think it may have perhaps been an old coal storage room, or even an outside loo. We're not sure, but it's separate to the kitchen, has a lower independent roof and is shorter is length - it's not something that could have easily been knocked through into the kitchen and since budgets are slim, we're doing a more 'mend and make do' project rather than re-design and re-build. It's location in the kitchen makes it the perfect room to become a pantry!


{The Plan} So Grants parents didn't really a plan or design they wanted from the room, just 'something with character' was their input. I really wanted the room to feel more spacious, be practical, offer a ton of storage space but at the same time appear organised, look pretty and hopefully convince Grants parents to de-clutter a little (they have a lot of stuff!). My plan was to include painted panelling, a patterned floor and rustic shelves. Three simple materials that would hopefully add bags of style and character to this room.

{Repairing Brickwork}The room had been covered in some kind of old manky boarding, which was barely attached with just a helping of nails. The ceiling had begun to fall down, the floor was just muck, it was dark, gloomy and did not feel like a 'room' at all. We set about ripping everything out to see exactly what we were dealing with.


Turns out there were missing bricks (quite a few of them!), some seriously shoddy mortar work, roof beams on the wonk and a floor that looked almost burnt by the boiler that had once been on it. 


We started by filling in the brickwork with new bricks (luckily there was plenty hanging about in their garden) and we also heightened the brickwork on the end wall so that it covered across the multiple vents at the top. Why that wall was only half bricked up, I don't know - but those vents were creating a major breeze and were only there for the purpose of the boiler, which had now gone. We'll probably need to remove them eventually, but we can do that at a later date from the outside. Here's a before and after:


{Plasterboard & Plastering}As I mentioned, a part of my design involved use some mid-height panelling, so to save on plasterboard, we only plastered the top part of the wall and the ceiling. Grant fitted the boards and plastered it himself - I've written in detail about he learnt to DIY plastering before, so you can check that post out here if you want - It wasn't the most straightforward job as you can see we had some pipes to box around and quite a few angles to cut thanks to the sloping roof, but he did a really good job with it!


{Panelling}To affix the panelling, we attached batons across the wall horizontally, which would be the fixing point for us to nail the panelling into. For the most part we were able to reuse the timber we had originally ripped out of this room; so only had to buy a few extra lengths. As well as horizontal batons, we also attached a few vertical ones too. These were strategically placed so that when it comes to fitting the shelf brackets, we can screw right into them without the faff of wall plugs.


We made sure the batons were deep enough to recess the pipe into, so that it would be hidden underneath the panelling. The only exception is the kitchen wall, where the pipe just stuck out far too much. With a bit of paint though, we thought it would look fine and blend in unnoticed. We made sure to take measurements of where the gas pipe is located so that there wont be any drilling accidents in the future.


On the opposite side where the pipes from the old boiler were, we created a corner boxing. Annoyingly the pipes stuck out the wall quite a bit, so a triangular boxing seemed the best way to take up as little space as possible. It was much harder to do than a simple square boxing, but I think looks much better this way.


We then nailed the panelling into the batons, in the same way I had done previously in this post. This is actually the exact same panelling I used in our conservatory seating, just a taller version (1.8m). It's from B&Q (found here) and cost £12 per pack of 10. We needed 5 for this space, but I always recommend buying one pack extra because you do get a few imperfect planks per pack.


The nails were sunken into the panelling, poly-filled over, sanded and then I painted it in Valspar Premium v700 blend wood paint, colour-matched to Lamp Room Grey, which will also be the colour of the kitchen eventually. I really like Valspar paint, especially their wood paints (I actually prefer these to any other brand I've tried!) and it's perfect for a kitchen, because it's easy to wash and scrub down, which is pretty vital when food is involved - and it doesn't stain too! We added a top trim to finish it off, and left this raw. Oh and the walls are just plain trade paint white.


{Flooring}So, onto the flooring! I mentioned patterned tiles were going to be one of the main features in this room and you might have seen a glimpse of them already - they are some absolutely beautiful and simple Laura Ashley tiles. They're patterned, but not an in-your-face kind of pattern or a make-your-eyes-go-crazy kinda pattern. Just simple and pleasing on the eye. Being Laura Ashley though, they did come at a bit of a price-tag, but for such a small room I thought it was worth it (and not too drastic!).


DIY tiling is something I've now done many many times, and I still haven't written a full how-to post yet, can you believe? It's on the agenda though! I'm not going to do one here or this post will be about 100,000 words long. BUT I'll show you a little bit of how it's done.


So the guys at Vitrex did very kindly gift me a bunch of tiling tools for this project - some of which were new replacements for Vitrex tools we already owned and some were upgrades. Vitrex basically make everything you need when it comes to tiling; Ffom cutters, to sponges, to spacers, grout smoothers, the whole shebang. Because we're using ceramic tiles and this room is pretty square, a manual cutter is all we needed to cut the tiles (if you have particularly complex cuts or are using natural stone, you'll need a wet tile cutter!). I did a dry-fit first, which means cutting everything before you affix it down. I have to say, having a new decent manual tile cutter made this job SO much easier - and I can definitely recommend this one.


I spend the adhesive across the floor, setting the tiles on-top, making sure they're level (if you've used self-levelling first as we've done this should be fairly easily, otherwise you can use some levelling spacers to help) and you want to make sure the tile has full contact with the adhesive as well.


Once it had dried overnight I went on with the grout. We decided go for a light grey coloured grout to almost match the tiles - the one we actually used was Mapei in 'Ash Grey' which I picked after demanding to see every packet of grout in Screwfix so I could compare greys, ha! Luckily I'm a regular there, so my excessive DIY spending probably kept them sweet ;) I'm really glad with my pick though, I think it's the perfect colour!


{Rustic Shelving}
So in order to save money, we wanted to use reclaimed wood to make the shelves. Pine furniture board is seriously expensive and MDF is even more so. We live near(ish) to a farm that sells 2m pallet planks for 70p, so I managed to pick up 15 for under £11 and that was all I needed to shelf-up the whole room. Can you get more affordable than that?!

However, of course the downside of saving money on reclaimed wood is that you do in fact need to spend A LOT of time sanding it back (muddy was not the look I was going for) and de-nailing it. It took me about 3 hours in total to sand all 15 planks to 'rustic perfection'. I used my new random orbital sander, starting off with a coarse 50 grit and then finishing with a 120 grit. In the end, all the planks looked really good! Some are a little more rough and ready than others, but they all have their own invidividual character to them - and Grants parents did say they wanted character right?! ;)


As for the shelf brackets, Grant DIYed those himself from some simple planed timber, that cost £1.60 a length. We used 3 of those, so bagged 12 DIY-made brackets for just a little over £4! To buy these new would have cost us £24 at the cheapest place I could find. You can see why we DIY stuff when you look at those kind of savings!! It also allowed us to make them to our own bespoke size too, which was essential for this narrow room. I'm going to do a DIY bracket tutorial separately I think, or this will be one very long post. But here's a little sneaky peak, so you can get the gist of how they're made.


When it came to putting everything together - it was pretty simple. Thanks to the fact we'd carefully measured and planned the location of the brackets way back when we did the batons, we could simply screw everything straight through the panelling and into those. We'd left little markers on the panelling too - so we knew where..
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I haven't done a living room update in quite a while; truth be told, we've had to put it on hold a little bit, due to a few different reasons. BUT, I'm back sharing a small update today - a new fancy electronic window blind! Yep, it's a blind that works totally on its own, via the power of a remote control!

So this post is in collaboration with Order Electric Blinds who sell a whole range of made-to-measure electric blinds, from roller blinds to venetian blinds to roman blinds. I've been really interested about electric blinds for quite while and we've actually contemplated the idea for our out-of-reach roof windows. However with our living room being the room we're tackling at the moment, coupled with the fact we've had ZERO window coverings for the last few months and our dogs bark at every single person who walks past the window (help me!!), I thought this room would be the best place to feature one.


Since we already have quite a few features in this room, such as our gorgeous feature wallpaper (check it out here) and beautiful arched fireplace (see here), I didn't want to add any visually dominating fabrics to the mix. I think the period panelled casing around the window is actually stunning on its own, and to add a patterned or feature window covering, would in my opinion have taken away from that. So, instead I decided on a plain white roller blind. I think it looks sophisticated, simple and chic. It adds to the gorgeous period style window and doesn't take away from it.


It looks a little more grey in these photos, but I promise you - it is actually white! The blind is a full black-out blind which makes it absolutely perfect for this room (have you ever tried to watch TV with the sun beaming onto it? Yeah, not good). It feels really cosy in the evenings now and gives full privacy - which we've been lacking for SO LONG. And I haven't even mentioned the best feature about it yet, have I? It's electronic!


Yep. It means you don't ever need to get up and adjust the blind manually, a simple switch on a remote does the whole thing for you. It's absolutely brilliant. I mean, it makes me even more lazy than I already am, sure - But if you're snuggled up with sleeping kids (or in my case, dogs!) it means you don't have to disturb them to close the window. If you have furniture in front of the window, there's no more struggling to reach the pull chord. And you can take a step back and decide exactly how high you want the blind to be, without going back and forth for that perfect position. Here's a little boomerang of it in action ;)


The blind is powered by Somfy, who are world-leaders in motors and controls within the home. There's a 5 year guarantee on all their products and there's also a few different power sources to choose from. The easiest and most convenient for us was a simple battery operated blind. There's a small battery pack connected to the blind which can easily be tucked away behind the top roller part of the blind, so you literally wouldn't even know it was there. The lack of wires means you can't tell it's electric without knowing, there's no need for an electrician and it doesn't matter if your window isn't near a power supply either! It's simple, DIYable and it works. In terms of pricing, this blind (around 1mx2m) cost around £100 - but obviously this is determined on blind size, so I recommend checking out their side for an accurate quote of your own.


I always wondered if electronic blinds were a bit gimmicky, and in a way they might be. BUT I do think they're also really practical as well. You can buy a separate timer remote which allows you to programme when you'd like the blind to lift up and lift down each day. It's perfect for when you're away if you want to simulate the effect of someone being home, OR even just so you don't have to come home and close every single blind manually in the winter months.


And if you're really into your gadgets and smart-home kind of lifestyle, you can even connect the blind to a  separate TaHoma System, which can then be used with certain Smart Home Hubs like the Amazon Alexa. It's not something we personally have - but I know there is a huge growing market for these kind of things!

So here's a final look at the blind in its fully closed position. We still have a bit of work to do to in relation to the window frame (I don't know if you noticed a part of the sill that needs replacing?!) and we also discovered an original victorian window shutter which we hope to restore. But we love the idea of using both our new electric blind and original shutters together - and because our frame is so deep, it should also be possible! But you'll see all of that soon enough. I'm super pleased with this new electric blind and I have to say - I may even be thinking about some for future rooms too!


What are your thoughts on electric blinds? Are you intrigued by them or they a bit too much for you?


*The blind featured in this post was sent to me to review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
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This time last year, I did quite a full 'front of house makeover'. I painted the door and I got up on a very high ladder and painted around the windows too. The house went from hugely discoloured red to clean white with a punchy dark blue door. But one thing I failed to update was the house sign. And over the last few frosty months - it took a bit of beating and completely fell apart. We needed a new one ASAP.



See what I mean?! So when Village Green Signs got in touch and asked if I wanted one of their signs, not only was the timing perfect, but it was also exactly the kind of thing I had been imagining for the front of our house too. Their signs are traditional-styled and look just like the old cast iron ones; but made from a far more durable resin material. Each sign is bespoke made in a traditional handcrafted kinda way; from being hand cast to hand painted and hand finished. It means each one is unique and it's the traditional kind of craftsmanship I absolutely love. It's perfect for a period house and is a new-take on the old original. Not to mention, absolutely beautiful and hella detailed!


So this is the design I have chosen - an oval shaped sign with pink roses and a simple gold '27'. I felt the roses were quite fitting for our *way OTT* pink-roses-everywhere kinda garden. And it's also a little nod to the previous owner, who planted all those roses and lived here for 60 odd years. Not to mention of course, I thought pink would look FAB next to our dark door.


You can see just how much detail has gone into the making and painting of this sign; the leaves are made with several different greens and you can even spot some hints of yellow too. And the roses (which can't be an easy thing to paint!) are blended to perfection. It's really quite something special - and I highly recommend you take a look at some of their other designs with are even more detailed and intricate. We're talking detailed animal fur and even fabulous water scenes - some seriously stunning  and skilled designs!


Pretty right? I mean, I wouldn't mind standing out at a front door waiting for it to be answered whilst staring at this. It's the kind of sign that makes a real impact and I suppose in a way, also set the standard of expectations for the interior of the house. Something I'm not sure we're *quite* living up to just yet! But give it time ;)


I love this sign so much and really wanted to share some photos of the actual production of the signs too - which I personally find really fascinating (side note - I used to love watching those 'how it's made' TV shows! Anyone else remember those?!) and shows exactly how much work, time and care goes into each sign.

The first step is to make individual templates which will be used to make a mould. As each sign is bespoke, it means a new template must be made each time. The selected motif/design and lettering/numbers are positioned onto sign of choice, and its then sprayed to ensure they wont get stuck in the mould.


Individual moulds are made from HIPS material, which is starts out as a large sheet and is set around the template.


Once the individual bespoke moulds have been made, the resin can then be poured into them and this is left to set for a couple of hours.


Each sign is then sanded and sprayed for a perfect finish before painting can begin..


And finally each sign is hand painted by in-house artists before being sealed for weatherproofing and shipped out for delivery.


From start to finish, each stage is done by hand, tailor-made to each order. It's a true work of art, which Village Green Signs have perfected since 1989! And they now have over 800+ designs with several shapes and sizes of signs available for each one. Whether you're looking for animals, flowers, trees, cars, dragons or even bagpuss (yep, the cat!) - there's literally something for everyone and every house. And they also do special commissions too if you're looking for something really unique! I have to say - it took me quite a while to finally pick a design, since there really are so many incredible options to choose from and I very nearly almost went for one with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on, at one point! 

So, if you want to treat yourself, a friend or family member (or perhaps just give the house a good treat!) to one of these gorgeous house signs, then please do check out Village Green and their wondrous selection of designs. I promise, you will not be disappointed!!


*I was gifted a house plaque to feature in this post. Thanks for supporting the brands who support this blog!

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You guys know how much I love my wood burning stove in the dining room. It's aaaaaa-mazing. However, it was bloody darn expensive. We're talking four figures. There's the cost of the stove, the cost of the flue, the cost of all the little bits like a register plate and chimney cowel and then there's the cost of having it all fitted. Which is no easy DIY when it involves carrying a 9m length of steel flue all  the way up some ladders and onto your roof. Even for us, that was a stretch too far. The whole thing, was expensive.

However, there is a much much cheaper easier alternative - a bioethanol fire. Say what now, I hear you ask? Bioethanol. It's a kind of liquid that burns a smokeless fire. You don't need a chimney. You don't need a flue. You don't need a hearth. In fact, you don't to pay for any kind of installation. And yet, you still get the beauty of a real fire, heat and it even looks like a real wood burner, don't you think?!


What Is Bioethanol?
OK let's start at the beginning. Ethanol is a bi-product made from the fermentation of sugars from plants. It's considered a renewable fuel and is carbon neutral. It's much more environmentally friendly than its similar fuel alternatives, which makes it the greener choice and it also burns cleanly. Ethanol is essentially a fluid and it comes in a bottle.



How Does It Work?
It's ever-so-complicated (not) - you pour the liquid into the 'firebox' inside the wood style burner. You leave it to soak up for a couple of minutes, then light a match and voila, fire.


Initially it burns a very low blue flame and then after a couple of minutes it gets a little stronger and gives out a much more orange flame, like any other real fire. There is honestly no smoke, no soot or ash; just fire. It means you don't have to clean the glass, you don't have ash falling out the door and you don't need a chimney or flue. But it is a real fire.


You can adjust the output of the flame and heat by adjusting how open the firebox is. If you want to 'switch it off' so to speak, you just close it up. You don't need to wait for it to burn through and you don't need to constantly 'add fuel' (like you would with logs) which means you can leave the room and come back an hour later to it still being lit. It's fuss-free, doesn't require constant watching and it's completely safe and meets all European Standards for Fireplaces.

So, I was sent this stove from ImaginFires to try out and review for the blog, which I've been doing for the last few weeks. If you're interested in bioethanol fires - I highly recommend checking them out as they sell all kinds of bioethanol fires, from freestanding fire baskets, to victorian style fireplaces to even wood-burning stove ones, like the one I'm reviewing.


Main Benefits
Aside from being literally so easy to use (no kindling or faffing required!) - the main benefit in my eyes is the zero installation. Literally, you take it out the box, put it into position and can light it straight away. The fact that it can go absolutely anywhere is fab too. A corner in the kitchen, conservatory, bedroom - anywhere and on any floor type; you don't need a hearth, unlike an actual log burner. That means huge savings when compared to a real wood-burner, or even a gas or electric one. There's nothing more to spend, other than on the product itself - which by the way, at £399 for this particular model is rather affordable!

The fact you don't need a chimney also opens it up to being used in any house too, not just period ones. So if you have a new build without a chimney - no problem! And if you live in a smoke controlled area, that's also no problem - 'cos there ain't no smoke. It's much more environmentally friendly than typical wood-burning stoves too.


The fact that you get a real fire is amazing. It's not a simulation, it's completely real and has all the natural ambiance that we all love about fires. It's just as mesmerising to watch and feels just as romantic/cosy when lit. It's the real deal for a fraction of the price!

My only slight negative about it, is that burning bioethanol does a slightly more chemical-y kind of smell. It's not quite chemical, but you definitely don't get that wood roasting smell like you do with a real wood-burner and it's not quite odour-less. That being said, there are scented ethanol options which I'd like to try out. And there's also faux logs to can use to simulate the effect of logs burning - again, I'd be pretty keen to try that out as well!


How Much Heat Does It Produce?
In terms of heat output, this particular stove burns at 3KW, which is higher output than most electric radiators or heaters. In comparison to a real log-burner, a small one would typically have an output of 5KW - so it's really not too far away from that. Obviously how well it heats a room will depend on different factors (room size, insulation etc) but we've been trialling it around different rooms in the house over the last few weeks to see just how well it can heat up a room, without central heating (which we don't have!).

Our smallest bedroom was a great success and it literally made it nice and toasty within an hour of burning, even without central heating. Our giant kitchen-diner, not quite so much, although it's quite a sizeable room! And our medium-ish living room was a kind of middle-of-the-road meeting between the two. It definitely noticeably heated up the room, however due to our very draughty windows, I do think it had a bit of battle on some of the windier days. On non-windy days though, it was really fab! So my hope is once we've fixed the draught - it'll be almost as toasty as the spare bedroom all the time. Which would be amazing! Bioethanol fires definitely aren't designed to be a replacement for central heating - more of a top-up heat to a particular room.


What About Running Costs?
We've been using half a bottle of ethanol each time we've lit a fire and it's lasted around 3.5hours each time, burning with the firebox fully open. A bottle of ethanol costs £2.50 so for each burn we've used £1.25 of fuel. A half-opened firebox would obviously burn for longer but provide a lesser heat output.  I think for 3.5hours of decent heat and the luxury of a real flame - £1.25 is pretty good going!

You can also get scented ethanol as I mentioned, which costs a little more - but provides a bit more of an aroma whilst it burns. There's a 'forest' scented one which I'm pretty keen to try out!



Would I recommend?!
I honestly think it's fab - a really great affordable alternative to a real wood burner and one that honestly looks the part too. We'll be putting this into our chimney opening once we've patched it all back up. But the great thing? We've already been using it, just positioned in different corners of the room.

This stove is the Malvern Black and currently retails at £399 but there also cheaper/more expensive models available depending on what kind of style you're into (including fire baskets and full fireplaces too!). Bearing in mind, you don't need to pay for a hearth, or installation of a flue - you're saving yourself around £1500 buying a bioethanol fuel burner over a real wood burner. If that's not one of the most compelling reasons to choose this over a real wood-burner - I don't know what is.

I love it and I've already recommended it to people personally. What do you think to it? Would you consider a bioethanol stove?


*I received the stove featured in this post, in return for a review. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
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I've been busying myself over the last few weeks with our living room renovation - getting the walls prepped, the ceiling pepped, opening up the fireplace, sanding floorboards (post on that coming soon!) and finally - we're at the painting and decorating stage. I think this is probably the quickest makeover I've ever done - talk about girl on a mission!

So, this post is in collaboration with Little Greene, who have recently launched a new range of absolutely gorgeous wallpaper; Archive Trails II. I have been incredibly fortunate and as part of this collaboration, I was able to choose and feature one of those wallpapers in our living room. And I can't tell you how much I love Little Greene wallpapers, so I am thrilled to pieces to be working with them!

First things first though - here's a quick look at the living room pre-decorating. If you'd like to see a full room tour of the 'before' then please do check out this post. But it certainly looks a little different from how it did four weeks ago though, doesn't it?!


Decorating is my most favourite kind of DIY. I love painting - always have, always will. And it's this stage that totally transforms a room. Like totally. Paint is the best thing since sliced bread and can change the feel of a room in an instant. From giving a room a fun and young feel, to rich and regal - it can literally do it all. I gave this room a really quick white-wash a few weeks back, just to keep my sanity so I didn't have to stare at those horrible green patches for too long - But the actual paint I've decided to go for in this room, is a very light grey; a sophisticated, gentle grey. One that's warm in tone and feels really cosy in the room. It's the colour 'French Grey' by Little Greene in their Absolute Matt finish.


I've never used Little Greene's paint before, but I can now honestly say the coverage of it is exceptional. It's quite thick and a little really does go a long way. I only had a 2.5L tin to do three (large!) walls in this room, which I would usually have bought a 5L tub for. To say I was worried it wouldn't stretch is an understatement - but it did! After two walls, I still had just over half a tin left. And I think that's really good going!

I also really like the fact their paints are eco friendly. They're water based with almost no VOC content which makes them odourless and of course, they don't add to pollution in the atmosphere. They also have 40% more pigment than oridinary paints which provides a greater depth of colour, which you can pick up in different lights. And of course, lots of their paints (and wallpapers!) are based on historic colours and finds, which makes them perfect for period houses like ours.



I always do one full coat of paint and then patch up any imperfections in the wall. I know this might seem a little backwards but you can never really see every little minor imperfection on a wall until it's one flat colour - so the paint helps to show these up. I have however already repaired the majority of the bigger imperfections before painting (you can read about patching old walls here) but the imperfections the paint helps to show up are usually are little holes or little scuffs in the plaster. You might not be as fussy as I am, but I quite like to cover these up for a perfect finish.


When it came to the skirting and the cornicing, I decided to keep it simple and white. I used Zinsser BIN primer on both first and then used a white trade matt emulsion on the cornicing (the same as the ceiling). The skirting will have a white eggshell on it eventually, although I've currently left it primed for the time being.


To get a really crisp line between both the skirting and the cornicing, I've used Tesa Tape (which is a kind of masking tape) in their precision sensitive variety. I know lots of people have problems with masking tape pulling paint off the walls - but this one is very gentle and isn't very sticky (if you know what I mean!) and so far, I've had no problems with paint coming away from the wall. Would definitely recommend!


Once the walls had two coats of paint - I was then onto wallpapering. Luckily I've wallpapered a couple of times in the past, so I have a little bit of experience in doing it. It's definitely DIYable and with a little of patience, you can 100% get a professional finish for a fraction of the price.

The first thing to do when it comes to wallpapering - is to line the walls with lining paper. This is actually something I've never done before - probably because I've just been lazy and tried to cut down on the costings. However, lining paper is super cheap (literally its about £5 a roll) the adhesive is super cheap (we're talking £3 a bag) and there are so many benefits to use it, that you really should. Not only does it prep the walls so that all those imperfections wont show, but it also helps to prevent shrinkage when the wallpaper dries - which can quite often cause that split along the seam. The wallpaper I'm using is absolutely beautiful and I certainly didn't want to take any risks by not doing a proper job, so this time around I used lining paper for sure.


Lining paper comes in different grades - from 800 (the thinnest) to 2000 (much thicker!). Generally speaking, 1400 is the middle of the road and recommended for most walls. But if you have a new plaster, you could go for a thinner and if your walls are in bad condition a thicker one would be better. The lining paper I'm using if from Screwfix which you can find here.

Unlike wallpaper, lining paper is supposed to be hung vertically across the wall. However, this requires a lot more skill and despite my best efforts - I don't think it's something you can do single-handedly (Grant was at work!) especially if you're using just a ladder rather than a platform like me. Trying to hold up wallpaper, move a ladder, stop everything from creasing - lets just say it didn't work out. So after a bit of research, the internet told me vertical was OK as long as the finishing wallpaper on the top can overlap those joins. So that's what I did.


The process of wallpapering is really quite simple - the trickiest bit is achieving a perfect join and cutting the paper to perfection. I waited a couple of days to make sure the lining was fully dry and then began to hang the wallpaper I had chosen from Little Greene, which is called 'Wrest Trail' in the colour Lead. It's absolutely beautiful and I'm sure you'll agree.


The first thing to master is how to fold the wallpaper to allow the paste to soak in. You don't want to apply too much paste, but you also don't want to apply too little. Make sure it's even with good coverage and then use concertina fold method to fold the paper to allow it to soak. I recommend this video from B&Q for a good tutorial on doing this. But here's some photos to give you an idea of the method..


I left the paste to soak into the wallpaper for around 5 minutes, as the instructions recommended.  Each wallpaper will be different so make sure to check your own first! I then moved the wallpaper to the wall and gently lowered it into position. You want to try not to just drop the wallpaper suddenly as it could cause a tear (a helping hand is always advisable if it's your first time!). If it's the first length of wallpaper you're hanging - you'll want to draw a spirit level line onto the wall and match it to this. Otherwise, you'll want to match it up to the pattern of the wallpaper next to it.

Starting at the top, I used a wallpapering brush initially to press the wallpaper down and then a hard smoothing tool to push out any air bubbles. If the pattern isn't matching perfectly, lift the wallpaper off the back and back down into position.


Working down the wallpaper from the top, continue this method making sure the wallpaper continues to match side by side to the one next to it. There shouldn't be any overlap and there shouldn't be any gap. Try not to overwork the wallpaper by pushing it with your hands too much as you could stretch the wallpaper. You want to just lift off the wall and back down to reposition. If you find any edges don't have enough wallpaper paste on them, lift off and apply a little more paste with a brush behind it.


It's really important to keep the front of the wallpaper adhesive free - so you'll need clean water and a sponge on hand to wipe down the edges as you go. If you don't do this, the adhesive will dry - and you'll most definitely be able to see it. I also wipe down the decorating table after each use as well.


Once the wallpaper has been smoothed out and cleaned off, you can use a roller to press down along the seam. You shouldn't be able to see the join after this - unless you have an incredibly picky eye and get up close and personal with it. But it should be almost invisible.


To cut the paper at the skirting board and ceiling, you'll need a very sharp knife and I actually recommend using a snap-off knife (like these) where you snap off the blade to reveal a fresh one every so often. We've used a metal cutting guide as a straight edge to ensure we don't go off cutting at any funny angles accidentally. Cutting wet wallpaper does take a bit of practise and I can only recommend taking your time to get it right. I actually left this bit to Grant for the most part as I knew it was something he would be better at doing.


When it comes to the corners, I cut the wallpaper roughly to size before applying the wallpaper paste, just so I didn't have to tackle with as much paper excess putting it up onto the wall. I then pushed the wallpaper into the corners with my fingers first and then used the same tools as before to smooth it out.



To cut long-ways, I used the same guide and method as I did with the ceiling and skirting board. The trickiest part is very top corner and bottom corner where you'll need to cut a diagonal line into the corner to be able to push the paper right into it. In my opinion, this is the hardest bit as you don't want to cut too much and you also don't want to cut too little and accidentally cause a tear. It's a bit of trial and error and will require a fair bit of patience and time to get right.


And that's it! It took us about a half a day to do, although we..
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If you've been following our Conservatory Renovation, you'll have seen this room transform from an indoor shed (not literally) to a relaxing, warmer (non-leaky!) space. I've built some DIY seating, I've painted the floor in a jazzy geometric pattern but it's still looking a little empty shall we say. I have lots of plans for this room (and never enough time) which will essentially turn it into a full indoor garden room. I'm talking plants galore, vintage garden plant pots, gardening tools and basically it will become an indoor forest of awesomeness. So when WallBoss.co.uk got in touch to ask if I wanted to review one of their wall stickers, I knew exactly the one I wanted and I needed it in this room.


Wallboss.co.uk is a website that sells a whole bunch of different wall stickers, basically for every kind of room in the house. Wall stickers are a great way to add some fun to a wall in an affordable and easy to-do way. If you can't already tell from the top photo and title of this post - the one I've gone for is a chalkboard calendar wall sticker. I thought the jazzy quirky conservatory was the perfect place to have a 'family' calendar (admittedly it's just me and Grant, but y'know!) as well as a great way to plan gardening too - which is something I want to get more into, and of course this fits right into my garden-themed room. It's a win win.

I've never used a wall sticker before so I pretty excited to see how it would work and how easy it would be to use. The sticker came rolled up in a tube and with some super simple installation instructions which seemed pretty much DIY fool-proof.


I planned where I wanted the sticker to go using some Tesa Tape (a kind of masking tape) so I could prop it up into position and see how it would look before I went ahead and actually stuck it down. Our conservatory is still very much a working progress (the doors to the left will be replaced) so please ignore all those unfinished bits!


I then used a spirit level to make sure the calendar was straight (is there anything worse than wonky bodge job?!) and then use the same tape to put a length straight down the middle vertically, as the instructions asked.


There's 3 layers to the wall sticker - the front see-through paper, the actual sticker and the backing. I peeled back the backing along one side of the tape, cut it off using some scissors and then smoothed the sticker onto the wall using my hands.


Yep, it's really that simple. I then went and did the same thing to the other half of the sticker, finishing off with using a flat edge (a bit of card will do) to make sure it was all pressed down properly to the wall with no bubbles.


And the final step? Just remove the front sheet of paper slowly and carefully.


And literally, that's it. It probably took me less than five minutes to do and required no prep work and virtually no tools. Well I did say it was DIY fool proof, didn't I?! The only bit you have to be careful of - is removing the front paper slowly, otherwise you can lift off the sticker. However I will say, it seems the sticker can be removed without removing the paint - which is something I was slightly worried about if I were to ever change my mind on it. But nope - it doesn't appear to ruin the actual wall beneath.


You can use either real chalk or chalkboard pens on the sticker - which I really like, cause I'm not a huge fan of actual chalky chalk. Kinda gets everywhere and leaves you with feeling like you need to wash your hands after every use. Chalk pens are so much easier to clean off too and of course, I like the fact you can buy endless colours as well. I use Chalkola pens on mine and can definitely recommend them.


I think the sticker it fab - the only thing to bare in mind is that you do need to commit to it and its location once it's stuck down. There's quite a few different 'parts' to this particular wall sticker that would be make it pretty difficult to relocate later. However, I personally wont want to be doing that and I'm really pleased with it in here. Just something worth thinking about before you go sticking it anywhere.



So here's a quick little before and after of this spot in the conservatory. You can see how it's totally changed an empty wall into something fun, useable and practical too. It looks modern and I think, fits really well. I think it'd also be great for an office or even a kids room to get them involved with planning things to do too.


This particular wall sticker currently retails at £29.99 which you can find here. But Wallboss.co.uk have a whole range of different wall stickers - from birds and trees for nurseries to Banksy graffiti style ones to worded slogans and even custom design ones. There's basically something for every room, so if you're interested in a fuss-free way to add some character (or practicality!) to a wall, then do go check them out!

Have you used wall stickers before? What did you think to them?

*I received the wall sticker in this post to feature in a review. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
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One of the most hideous features of our living (aside from that floral carpet!) was the 70s style gas fireplace. It just kills the period features in the room. The cornicing, the panelling around the window; all those gorgeous original features, dominated by one giant ugly fireplace. Luckily, we had the gas to it disconnected back when we did some work in the kitchen a couple of years back (always thinking ahead!) and so now we're renovating the living room, it was finally time for this old thing to get gone. Finally! Thank the lord!


You'll remember we removed a similar old back boiler fireplace from the dining room a couple of years back, so we now have some experience when it comes to removing these things. By experience what I really mean is, forceful man power. Turns out these things aren't often held in by much and it took a mere 30 seconds to literally wrench the whole thing off the wall. Probably the quickest transformation you ever did see! It was there and then, it was gone.


(Word of caution when you open up old fireplaces - always be aware of the possibility of finding any asbestos board or insulation that could be hidden behind old fireplaces. I've written a whole post about asbestos, which you can read right here. But when it comes to uncovering anything pre 90s it's something you should always be aware of potentially coming across.)

Looking better already I'd say! But of course, we weren't stopping there. We planned on opening up the whole thing in the hope of *one day* (I'm talking years away here!) having a log burner in there. When it comes to opening up an old chimney - you never really know what to expect. There should be a supporting arch to hold the brickwork up above (fingers crossed!), but more often than not, these have usually been removed and replaced for concrete lintels. You may even find neither an arch or a lintel, which is also quite common (this is what we had in the dining room!) due to more lax building regulations in the past. You may find the chimney has been completely blocked off, or you may even find original features in there - like parts of an old fireplace. Basically - it's super exciting because you never know what you might find. The thing I was hoping for the most - was an arch.


A week or so later, we started chopping off the plaster to inspect the brickwork beneath and start opening it all back up. I say *we*, but actually Grant did all the work whilst I took a rest for the day and basically took all the photos ;) He used our trusty SDS drill with a chisel attachment which makes the job a thousand times quicker and easier..


We wanted to preserve as much of the original plaster as possible, so we only planned to go as high as we needed to - which would be as high as we could see either an arch, or a lintel. If you have an arch (in good condition) you don't need a lintel. If there's no arch, you'll need a lintel, even if there's one missing! You can check out our chimney opening in the dining room to see how we DIY fitted a concrete lintel there.

Grant chopped off the plaster fairly high and there was no arch or lintel in sight, so I convinced him to climb into the opening to have a look from the inside (after all, we didn't want to chop off all the plaster unnecessarily if there wasn't one). Thankfully, a couple of rows of bricks higher and there was one!


It was everything I had hope to find in the dining room a few years back, that had been destroyed. It was high and beautifully formed, in good condition and I was hella excited about it!

We then had to go about removing the bricks beneath the arch - which needs to be done really really carefully to ensure you don't go destroying the arch. We recommend doing it by hand rather than power tools and just take care to carefully chisel out the mortar, rather than go bashing your way in. The arch after all, is supporting all the bricks above so it needs to be solid and free from movement. So you don't want to be causing any movement with lots of heavy bashing. Take your time and just go about it with some care.


Slowly but surely, starting right underneath the arch we could see it all open up. And it is beaaaautiful!


When Grant got to the 'mini opening' (the bit that had the metal sheet over it) we discovered a rather unusual lintel.... A metal pipe. Yep, a pipe to support those bricks above it. Well I did tell you builders were more lax back in the day didn't I?!


And just like that, we now have one giant arched chimney opening in our living room. Isn't it glorious?! It's made the room feel so much bigger now there isn't a giant gas fireplace sticking out from it. It adds depth to the room, has given the chimney breast a focal point rather than just being a giant box in the room and the sooted up bricks show off the age and character of this building. Needless to say, I love it!


The plan is to keep the brickwork inside the chimney exposed although it will need to be cleaned up a little so the soot isn't constantly staining everything or falling off. But generally speaking, I like it rustic just as it is, imperfect mortar and all. We'll patch-plaster around the opening where we've chopped off too much plaster and we'll also fit a new hearth (plans for that will be revealed soon!) so that it will be log-burner ready for the much distant future.


So, from 1970s fireplace back to Victorian style in all in a matter of hours. I know which one I prefer! How about you?
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When it comes to renovating, sometimes there's this idea that everything needs to be ripped out and replaced with new; whether that's the plaster on the walls, the skirting boards or even the boiler. But renovating doesn't have mean replacing everything for new and you can in fact restore many areas of the home too. And if you're on a budget like us, you may find this a much more favourable route.

I'm a firm believer of keeping an old house as original as possible, if possible. That means celebrating it's original plastered walls, the lath and plaster ceilings, the chunky (if i a little damaged!) skirting boards. It's all truly original; hundreds of years old and something I believe should be repaired and restored where possible - not replaced for new. Of course, lots of old houses have plaster falling off the walls, ceiling literally ready to collapse and skirting boards so badly rotten that they disintegrate at the touch. That kind of stuff has to go, I totally agree. But walls that aren't perfectly straight, or ceilings that have a bit of a wobble in them - these imperfections can be beautiful and they can add character to the room too. 

So in the name of keeping our house as legit original as possible, I wanted to fix up our original plastered walls and not re-plaster over them. After all, 100+ year old walls in fairly good nick isn't something I wanted to go tearing down. That being said, they still needed a bit of work. From cracks, to badly repaired plaster spots, to lumps and bumps and a bazillion little holes. All things though, that can be repaired easily and once painted - you'd never know they had ever been there!

I had lots of questions on Instagram about this, so I thought a blog post was in order.

What To Use
When it comes to repairing old walls, the first thing you need is the right tools for the job. I've tried a few different methods of patch-repairing walls in the past, but the absolute best (in my opinion!) is using a pre-mixed plaster skim. Now don't let the words 'plaster' put you off - it's nothing quite like actual plaster, trust me. This stuff is more like a glorified polyfilla. It's white like polyfilla, it's completely sandable like polyfilla the only real difference to it not being polyfilla, is that its consistency is much better for working over large areas and it's stronger too. There's all kinds of different brands on the market and they're all very much the same and you can find these near to the bags of plaster in any DIY store.

The second thing you need is the right tool to apply the plaster skim with. Using a short little filling knife is absolutely NOT the way to go here. You'll end up making a right mess and causing more work than needs-be. A wide blade is absolutely vital here if you want a decent finish and I recommend using either a plastering trowel or a very large jointing/taping knife. We're most likely patching up large areas remember, not just filling small holes.



Application
So you may find your walls are imperfect in several different ways. You may have places where plaster has fallen off the walls, you may find your plaster has a lumpy/bumpy texture to it, or you may find the plaster has already been patched - but badly so and sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the wall. All three of these situations can be fixed by using this product. The really important thing to remember is that old walls have natural curves in them. They'll feel smooth to touch, but if you put a straight edge against the wall (a large spirit level or something), you'll see how the plaster isn't perfectly straight. If you feel over the wall with your hands, you'll probably be able to feel these curves. When you repair old walls you need to bare in mind that the finished result may not be a perfect straight bit of wall. You'll be adding to the curves and it wont be spirit level straight consistently across the wall - but if done right, it will feel smooth and you shouldn't noticeably be able to tell visually.

For existing bulges in the wall or raised cracks, you'll want to apply the plaster skim over the area in question and then the surrounding area to that too. Whatever area you're trying to fix - you need to go over more than you think. This is how it will be cleverly hidden into the wall. A slight curve in the wall over a large area wont be noticed - a slight curve over a small area, will be noticed. Like a gradual hill a guess. The less steep, the less noticeable. That kind of logic!


This section here for example, was a bulging mottled section of plaster. You can see the fine line in the middle which is the highest point of the bulge. I've then added a fair amount of plaster skim either side to cleverly even it out to be subtly hidden. Once painted, unless you feel the wall or plonk a straight edge against it - you wont visibly be able to tell.


You also want to make sure you smooth out the plaster skim as much as possible whilst it's wet. You don't want to overload the wall with the skim - just put on what you need, nothing more. You'll be able to sand it, yes - but you don't want to have to sand it all off, just a light sand to smoothen it up should be all it needs.


For lumpy bumps areas, instead of applying "more than the area in question" I actually remove *almost all* of the plaster skim, leaving behind just enough to fill in the recessed areas between the lumps and bumps. So essentially, I apply the plaster skim to the wall and then I take it back off and what's left behind is enough to fix up the wall, bringing the recessed areas to the same level as the lumps and bumps. If you have any flaky plaster, do make sure to scrape this down to remove it first though!


You can use this product to repair smaller areas where the plaster may have blown off the wall. And you can also use it to repair chips, scuffs and other smaller imperfections. I've also used it to repair cracks in plaster too, although I wouldn't use it if very large areas of plaster have blown. That's definitely a re-plastering job!


Before And After of a dodgy patch of plaster in the alcove...



You can also use this product on ceilings too - although repairs on ceilings are always more noticeable than walls due to the way they catch the light and generally just being more difficult to work on (upside down woes!) - so do expect to be able to see the curves a little more, especially if it's a bright room. But you can certainly save yourself a wad, if you're happy with the end result this way around. You could also try lining paper on the top (something I'm planning to do in other rooms!) to disguise any imperfections even more if your not happy with the finish. Also worth noting, old plaster may have lots of spiderweb hairline cracks - these become completely invisible after painting, so if you can't feel it - don't worry about it!



Once I've repaired the bulk of a wall, I then give it a flat coat of paint as this will help show up anything you've missed, or anything that will be visibly noticeable underneath the paint. I'm quite fussy about holes and little dips, so usually I end up filling any little detail. It takes a fine eye - but trust me, it's worth it in the end and gives a much much better finish.


I definitely wouldn't say this is an *easier* method than re-plastering walls - there is after all, lots of sanding involved and lots of dust, ugh! BUT it will save you a lot of money doing it yourself this way rather than employing a plasterer. It took me a couple of hours to fill/patch the living room, cost me very little to do and our walls now look 98% perfect! Because naturally, there's anyways bits you miss/more visible. But I'm OK with that ;)

If you have any other tips to add, please do leave them in the comments below!
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I wrote a post a while back about how to make your home smarter which included all the stuff we have within our home, as well as some stuff we don't have. Smart lighting was on there, something we didn't have and something I've never been *too* sure about. As much as I love the idea of it; it's pretty expensive to buy and is it really worth the money or is it just *another* gimmick? Well having now finally tried it out, I'm sharing my thoughts...

What Is Smart Lighting?
I'm fairly sure everyone knows what Smart Lighting is by now - but in case you don't (where have you been?!) - it's basically a special kind of light bulb that not only allows you to control it remotely but it also gives you more control over the type of light it emits. So there's no need for dimming switches or deciding between "cool" or "warm" light bulbs - you can have both and oh so much more, and you can also get bulbs that emit colours too. And of course if you have one of these fancy Home Hubs (Alexa or Google Home etc) you can usually control them through voice commend too.

Every Smart Light Bulb on the market is a little bit different - but the one I've been sent to review for the blog is a pair of bulbs from Wiz.World (you can find them on Amazon here) which I've been trying out over the last month. The thing that makes THESE bulbs unique is that you don't need an additional hub in order to connect them to your wireless network. It's all done in the light bulb itself.


I have to say these are THE most luxurious packaged lightbulbs I have ever seen. It felt like I was opening up a new iPad or something; it felt like a cool technological gadget. The kind of thing you put on a Christmas wish list (speaking of which - I reckon with a box like that, they'd be pretty gift-able too?!).


So the bulbs I'm trying out are B22 bulbs (the kind for bayonet fittings) but they do also sell screw-fitting bulbs and even spotlight bulbs as well amongst a few others. These are also the coloured versions of the bulbs and I have the two-pack set which very handily also comes with a little remote. This set retail for £69.95 at the time of writing this blog post.


You can see how they visibly look different to standard bulbs. They're a little chunkier and of course they have no filament, being LEDs.


How Do They Work?
Simple really; they just connect to your wireless network. So as long as you have a router or the like (doesn't everyone?!), you can have these smart light bulbs. Unlike other brands, you don't need an additional 'hub' in order for the lights to work which makes these a whole lot simpler to set up; it's all built-in right inside the bulbs. Genius! In fact, it even claims to have a 30-second installation set-up, which to be honest, I thought was going to be a tad exaggerated - but actually other than taking 15 seconds to type the Wi-Fi password into the app, there was literally nothing else to do other than turn the lights on and off five times. It's technophobe-fool-proof. Literally. 


I've been trialling these lights in both the dining room and the home office, because I wanted to get an idea of how they're meant to be used around different rooms in the house. When you download the app, you can add each light bulb to its own room and you can also identify each bulb within the room with a different icon that correlates to that light fitting. From hanging bulbs to pendants to table lamps, there's enough icons to clearly identify each light fitting. You can even identify one table lamp for another. For the sake of this blog post, I'm photographing the office light fitting only - purely because it's much prettier and shows off the effect of the bulb much better. And I'm sure you'll agree!


Yep it's a giant ball of fluff on my ceiling and I love it. For anyone interested, it's a Amazon bargain find of just £33 which you can find right here. Being white, it also means it's the perfect shade for showing off the light bulbs infinite range of colours. And speaking of which - there's 16 million of them to choose from! Maybe you want a light pink hue to fill the room..


Or even a darker hot pink..


OR a cool blue..


Or even a green?


OK, I'm sure you get the gist by now. Literally, I kid you not when I say the options are endless though. With 16 million colours available, it's doubtful you'll ever use them all. But, you could, in theory. Coloured lights may not necessarily be for everyone - but if you have young kids, it's a great way to add a bit of sensory stimulation to their rooms. And it's also a fun way for older kids to change the entire feel of their room at the drop of a hat. They can hit up FLAME RED as they pretend to be Fireman Sam (Or is he so 90s now?) or even COOL BLUE as they pretend to be at swimming in an ocean. You get my drift. I think it'd also be wicked for parties, adult ones as well as kid ones. Or it'd even be fab in a cool man-cave or cinema room. I also know lots of people who love the odd spot of colourful LED strip lighting throughout the home too - so I'm certain they'd love this in a table lamp!


Aside from having a bit of fun with the colours, it's also said that the colour of light can affect our moods. If you're feeling anxious, a calming mint green light is meant to be best. If you need cheering up, for yellow. For each colour you pick, you can also alter how dim/bright you want it to be too. It can be as gentle or as vibrant as you want.

But if colour isn't your thing, then perhaps 64,000 shades of white will make up for it instead? I know what you're thinking "HOW?!" I thought that too. Turns out there's orange white, yellow white,  blue light, bright white, dim white, barely there white, bright as the freaking sun white. More whites than I ever deemed possible!


As much as I love the coloured aspect of the bulbs, I think the different white lights excite me even more. You can even simulate 'daylight'; which, being a blogger and needing to take a lot of photographs - is blooming' amazing! No need to plan my photos around daylight hours, I can now get a good shot whatever the weather. I also work night-shifts as my *day job* so it's also a great way to simulate daylight hours during the nighttime, so not to mess with your internal body clock so to speak.

Even for normal day-workers and non-bloggers it's fab though. A brighter light in the morning gives you punch of waking up you need, a more relaxed calmer light in the evening is perfect to chill out under before bed. You can select the perfect working light for cooking in the kitchen, or the perfect 'calming' light for doing a spot of yoga. In a nutshell, you can literally always create the *perfect* lighting for a room depending on how you're using it that day. I think it'd be awesome for mood lighting during a dinner party!



Features Within The App
Along with the bulbs and remote, there's also a free downloadable app which has a few additional features which I thought was also worth a mention too.

Fade In, Fade Out - Need I say more? Love it!

Wake-Up/Bedtime Lights - This one is actually amazing! You can set the lights to slowly come on/off within a 30 minute period, depending on whether you're dozing off to sleep or waking up. It in effect, acts like a Lumie Bodyclock (or similar) without the extra cost. I love it!

Schedule Your Lights - Doesn't need me to say much more, does it? Perfect for holidays or arriving home in the dark and having to stumble your way across a shite-tip of a hall to find the light switch (if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know what I mean!).

Plant Growth - Once I saw this setting, I was pretty sure I'd seen it all. Yep there's a light to help your plants grow! It's insane. And it's brilliant. And perhaps I should have bought this much earlier and I could have saved a few plants!

Night Light - This one is basically like those plug-in night lights you can buy. It has a very gentle glow that means you don't have to stumble across a dark room to find the toilet, or subject your eyes to a hard blinding wake up call by turning the lights on. We've used this feature every single night in the dining room. So handy!

Themes - There's a whole range of different pre-set 'themes' depending on how/when you're using your lights. From the perfect light to watch TV with, to a 'Party' theme, a 'Romance' theme and even seasonal themes.

Adding 'Moments' - If you want to save a certain light setting and remember it as a particular event (say Valentines Day Meal) can save that 'moment' with a photo and re-create that exact light at a later date at the touch of a button. I think that's a really thoughtful addition which is great for special occasions.

Everything in the app is really easy to use and it's really well organised. I didn't have any problems with connectivity or any problems in general. It's simple and it works.


With the two-bulb set, you get the handy remote too, which allows you to pre-set your four favourite themes, instantly turn the bulb into a night light, as well as alter the brightness at the touch of a button. One remote can control every bulb separately - you just need to point it at the right one. Brilliant!


How Long Do They Last?
That depends on how often you use them. But these bulbs claim to have a lifespan of 25,000 hours which is equivalent to around 10 years if the bulbs are used for 6 hours every day. Which is better than any energy-saving light bulb I've ever used! And at £69.95 for the pair, I think that makes these a pretty decent investment!

So I think I've covered the main features and the only thing I haven't tried out myself is connecting it to a home hub, as we haven't got one of those. In the last month of testing these bulbs out, I haven't honestly used the colours that much. I think they're fab and whilst I'm quite partial to the hot-pink look in the office; most of the time we've used the bulbs in different white settings. I can totally imagine myself using colours for a party or special event, but for day-to-day use the colours aren't seeing much action from us. That being said, we did have a disco theme going whilst drinking prosecco a few weeks back. It's something that's nice to have from time to time, but not necessarily for everyday use. Unless you're totally into that!


For us, it's all about the white settings. Going from daylight to a working light to a dim evening light has really been amazing. I've found it easier to get to sleep after being underneath a dimmer relaxing light in the evening and I've also felt so much more awake in the mornings after using the daylight settings. I wish I had used this during the winter months as getting out of my bed in dark hours is something I quite often struggle with! We're currently renovating the lounge at the moment and planning our lighting for the room - and I will be definitely be purchasing a couple more white ones for table lamps in here.

So, would I recommend? Absolutely, yes! As long as having changeable lights is something you would use, then I think it's a serious worthwhile investment. It's certainly not necessarily for every single light fitting (I'm certain still a huge fan of the Edison bulbs!) but where it's useful - it's absolute brill. It's a bit of fun and at the same time, it's surprisingly useful in ways which you wouldn't expect, until you use one.

Do you have smart light bulbs? What do you think to them?

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*The Smart Lighting featured in this blog was sent to me to review. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog! :)


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If you didn't catch my last blog post - then the breaking news of the blog the week, is that we've finally started our living room renovation. Yep, almost four years in - and it's begun. Luckily this room is in fairly good shape so doesn't require too much work - it's just quite dated; as in, it hasn't been revamped since the 60s. Eurgh!

I've spent the last couple of weeks stripping wallpaper, repairing the old ceiling and patching up the wonky and damaged walls. We're already beginning to see a fair bit of progress in this room and if you're following me on Instagram, you'll have seen all of this already. I was asked a fair few questions about how I remove wallpaper and how I'd be repairing the old walls. I'll be explaining the later soon, but I thought I would write a post specifically about removing wallpaper first.

Removing wallpaper is such a simple straightforward process that I didn't really think it was something worth writing about. But that being said, if you've never done it before - then it's something you may not know much about. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. So I thought why the hell not write about it! I've removed wallpaper from around 10 different rooms throughout two houses and my techniques are ever-evolving to perfect the quickest and best way to remove wallpaper. If my knowledge can help anyone out there, then why not! So, these are just my personal tips for removing wallpaper the easiest way I know how. If you'd like to add any further advice you have to share, then please do leave them in the comments below!


Removing the Top Layer
There are so many different types of wallpaper out there - from textured ones to more vinyl-feeling ones and even the dreaded wood chip ones (I've never removed this though - so I have no tips on that front, sorry!) and all wallpapers are different in how they come off the wall. Some come off so easily, you can just pull them straight off, others take a bit more work. The type of wall or plaster they're attached to also makes a big difference and the more wallpaper you remove, the more you'll notice this.

Usually wallpaper has two layers to it - the top layer and an underneath layer (you may even find multiple layers different types of wallpaper - in which case, unlucky you!!). The top layer is usually much easier to remove and once you've got a corner unlifted, you can usually pull this off in large sizeable chunks with your fingers. The underneath layer is the bit that's glued onto the wall - the harder one to remove.


Using a Wallpaper Steamer
I didn't invest in a wallpaper steamer until about two years ago when I stripped the dining room and kitchen. Until then, I had used either a combination of hot water and a sponge, or a steam mop (yes really!). Both of which did work and you can most definitely remove wallpaper without the aid of a steamer; but a wallpaper steamer is THE quickest and easiest way to remove wallpaper. Our steamer cost just £25 from Screwfix (here) and I definitely wish I had purchased one sooner.

The way a wallpaper steamer works is to heat the glue behind the wallpaper enough so that it softens and can literally be wiped off the wall. The downside to steaming, is that it does cost a fair bit to run (think kettle constantly on the boil!!) and it can leave the room quite wet and with a lot of condensation. Having a window open is definitely recommended and taking a fair few breaks to let the steam disperse helps quite a lot as well. As I said, you can soak the wall with hot water instead, but I definitely find using a steamer much easier and much quicker - and it's definitely my personal recommendation for wallpaper removal.

I generally hold the steamer to the wall for around 15-20 seconds before stripping the wallpaper off. If the paper looks wet, then you know it's ready to go. It's important not to hold the steamer onto the wall for too long as it could cause damage to the plaster beneath. It's a bit of trial and error thing to know exactly how long to leave the steamer up for - as I say, all wallpapers are different - but once you get going, you'll know.


Buy A Quality Stripping Knife
Having a decent stripping knife will make your life SO much easier. Imagine trying to strip wallpaper with a spoon - you'd be there all day flaking off bit by bit. Having the right tool for the job, really does go a long way.

The first thing to look for in a wallpaper stripping knife, is that it's nice and wide. This will cover more area at once and cut your time in half! The second thing you want to look for, is one with replacement blades so that you can ensure your stripping knife can always stay sharp. A blunt knife will miss bits of wallpaper and take much more effort in pressing it to the wall to get underneath the paper. This is the one I have, and I definitely recommend it, although it's best when it's blunted just a little (otherwise you have to be careful not to scrape up the wall!). It has a long handle for harder to reach areas and it's also soft to grip, which stops you getting hand blisters. You'll know what I mean if you've spent days on end painting with a roller!! Ouch.


Master the Art of Using Two Hands
If you're on a mission to strip wallpaper in a speedy time - then you'll need to master the art of using both hands. I use my left hand to hold up the steamer until the wallpaper is wet enough to remove and then relocate the steamer to another position whilst removing that wallpaper with the stripper in my right hand. It keeps the process constantly going and your left hand will always be one step ahead ready for your right hand. Does that make any sense?

It means you never have to put your tools down and once you've got a good system going - you can just keep going until you need to re-fill the water tank of the steamer. It's the most efficient way to work as quickly as possible when it comes to stripping wallpaper. Or at least, it is in my opinion. ;)


Removing Residue
Once you've gone over the walls once and removed all the wallpaper, you'll inevitably find the wall will have a sticky feel to it (if it's still wet!) or it may otherwise have solid chunks dried to the wall. This is because in the steps above, we've been removing the wallpaper and not specifically the residue, which a lot of always ends up getting left behind. I've tried a few different techniques to remove the residue, but the quickest and best in my opinion is to use the steamer again.

I go back over the walls with the steamer, holding it this time against the bare plaster and then I use the stripping knife to scrape away that residue. You'll see it gather up in a really sloppy gooey slimy chunk (nice!) and you can lift it straight off the wall and wipe it onto a towel (or floor if you're lazy like me!). I do this over the whole wall and it removes the gunk in no time at all.

I have also tried scrubbing hot water and fairy liquid onto the wall, which also works but takes much longer. But if you don't have a steamer, this is definitely another option though!


Sanding the Walls Smooth
The very last thing I do is to quickly run some sandpaper over the whole wall. There's a good chance you may have missed the odd bit and there's still a slightly rough texture to the wall in areas. Having a smooth wall is especially important if you're plastering back over the wall and the last thing you want is anything being dragged through fresh plaster - your plasterer WILL NOT thank you for that. Likewise, you don't really want to be painting over chunks and having to scrape them off later either. A quick sand and feeling the walls with your hands will identify any bits that aren't perfectly smooth. It shouldn't take too long as you'll find it's really just the odd bit that needs attention.


And that's it! I hope that helps anyone who's new to wallpaper stripping, or if you're just looking for some new/different techniques to try. As always - I'm no professional, this is just the best way I've personally found to strip wallpaper. If you have any advice to share or alternative ideas, then please do! I'm always open to new techniques :) Here's a few shots of the living room under work and how it's looking now it's fully stripped of wallpaper. 

    Pretty right? I'll be sharing how we're patching the walls (and ceiling) in my next blog post, so stay tuned for that ;) Until then, happy wallpaper removing!
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