Thursday, 5 December 2013

"New" doors

Things are getting very, very busy in our household leading up to Christmas and The Move (which, if everything goes as planned, should happen early in the New Year). In addition to organising for the move, there are Christmas presents to buy (mostly done, actually) and wrap, little crafts for my son's nursery Christmas fair and preparing to visit family over the festive period. I will be posting about some of the above items although it might be sporadically until we have moved and are somewhat settled. As much as I'm excited about everything that's happening, I'm finding it hard to juggle it all with life with the two little bees. I can't wait for it all to be done, and us moved in (fingers crossed!) and everything (and everyone) back into normality. I'm definitely a sucker for routine! Ironically, I find it easier to be spontaneous and cope with "new" events in life, when I have some sort of routine. Anyway, I digress...

Today's post is about a little project I mentioned on this post and tackled not too long ago - painting doors and installing new door furniture. I'm not a fan of natural (or stained) wooden doors, preferring the white "clean" look to them. So I always planned to have all the doors in the house painted white at some point. In particular downstairs as the doors were of different colours, styles and sizes:




P.S. The photos above were the only ones I found - taken before we moved into this house! - so the quality and detail are not great, but should give you an idea of what it was like before.

I wanted the doors to look as uniform as possible and also I wanted to change the door furniture (and light fixtures and anything of the colour gold) to silver instead - generally, I'm not a fan of gold either.

So, I took a week of work and planned to get these done. I removed the old handles, locks and hinges, filled holes, sanded, painted (3 to 4 coats each) and fitted new handles, locks and hinges to all 4 doors. I even "freshened" up the door frames and radiators - everything seemed slightly yellow against the now very white doors! It was a long process, but definitely worth it!



Oh, just one job I had to do afterwards that I didn't enjoy very much: cleaning the paint of the glass panes on two of the doors! I thought I'd save time, by not putting masking tape on the glass panes and that it would be easy to remove the excess paint once dry. But, it was not! Even with the help of my steam cleaner - which I found was the best method to remove the paint - it took me A.Very.Long.Time!

I was much happier with the results though - here are the before and afters:


On the photos above is one of the living room doors...


... and these ones are the doors to the downstairs cloakroom, utility room and other living room door (from left to right). If you are wondering about the "mouse" hole on the utility room door, no, there isn't a giant mouse in our house. We used to keep our cat littler tray in there before it became officially the utility room and although she no longer needs a litter tray, she still likes to hide in there (mainly from the kids!) occasionally, so we left it there for her.

In the time we have lived here we also installed new doors (3 of them) and door furniture upstairs, just never got around to painting them. Maybe the new owners will want to take that on as a project...



Thursday, 21 November 2013

Organising for The Move Part I

I have started to sort our loft, in preparation for The Move (whenever that may be). I wanted to have an idea of how much there was to sort through and though it would take us weeks to go through everything we have up there. Turns out it wasn't that bad... It helped that we had cleared out a lot of junk from there before the kiddies came along.

So, one Saturday morning I got hubby to look after the little bees, while I tackled it. We were going to have lunch with friends that day, so I knew I had about an hour up there, which was fine as it was only meant to be assessing how much there was to do. As I got up there, I saw The Massive Pile of Empty Boxes (for things that were under guarantee initially then were forgotten). And, looking around at the rest of the loft I realised I needed some space to start separating things. So before I even attempted to sort through our things I decided I needed to clear out some boxes and other rubbish first. I kept the bigger boxes for the move, but took all the plastic bags, inserts, etc from those boxes, which were put in the middle of the loft.


By the end of that hour I had piles of rubbish and recycling to take to the recycling centre (which I did straight away - wouldn't have been able to relax knowing there was all that rubbish sitting somewhere waiting to be taken away!), but had an empty corner of floor space to get started.

It felt great to get this done, but it was also a bit daunting to think how much time it would take to sort through everything, if it'd taken me over an hour to just sort through the boxes! Well, at least I had started it...

Then the next day, hubby took our son out for a couple of hours and our girl fell asleep, so I thought I'd spend a little time up in the loft again. Before, I knew it it'd been 1h30 and bubba was just waking up (she doesn't normally sleep for this long during the day - I'm lucky if I get 30 minutes!) and I had pretty much finished separating all items into different sections:

- Stuff to stay (paints, tiles and other decorating materials related to this house):


 - Stuff to take with us:




 - Stuff to go (to sell, donate or throw away):


Great! So it wasn't that bad after all!

I thought of hosting a moving sale (of the To-Go pile) in the garden, as I thought it would save me a few trips to the recycling centre and charity shops. Then I changed my mind for various reasons: a) it doesn't seem to be a "normal" thing to do in this part of the world (car boot sales are, but with the kids it wouldn't be practical for us); b) it would be difficult to plan around the Great British Weather; c) actually, fitting the trips to recycling centre and charity shops, and the time to sell bits online around our lives would work better and we wouldn't have to spend a whole day in the garden, at the risk of not selling very much and having to donate/sell/throw away anyway.

So, the next thing to do is to sort the To-Go pile... I've started by donating all the unwanted baby equipment to the local Children's Centre and have the bits for the recycling centre ready to go, when I have the time. Then, it'll be the charity shop run with some furniture, etc and finally the things to sell.

In the meantime, I have cleared out some space in a little cupboard under the stairs to store the first few packed boxes. These contain photo frames and other decorative items like candles, etc.


I'm also continuing to sort through cupboards, drawers and shelves around the house whenever I get a few minutes, applying the same donate/sell/throw away system.

Right, I think this is probably enough for one post, but there will certainly be more posts on this subject as we continue to make progress. We're slowly, but surely, getting there!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tray cupboard

It's been a very busy couple of weeks at home and with paperwork, phonecalls, etc related to the house move, which means I'm still working on that very long Loft post.

But, here's a quick kitchen cupboard organisation post...


You know the little cupboard under the oven that you forget exists until you need a tray... then you have to dive in there and take everything out because the tray you want is right at the bottom of the pile? That's been my life in the last 7 years! Ok, turning down the "drama factor", it' was not a very practical cupboard... So, with the help of this pot lid organiser and a bit of reorganising, it's a lot better. I can easily pick a tray when I need one and the round oven dishes are in the pots cupboard where there was a bit of space meaning I can pick these up easily too.


Another long-term solution would have been to get a couple of shelves in there and have the trays separated on to those shelves, but at this point I wanted a solution I could take with me when I move.

Another cupboard sorted!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mini utility room

While we wait to hear more news about the house move (other than "it's progressing") and because the loft organising post is still under construction, I thought I'd do a quick(ish) post about my mini utility room.

This has probably been the room in the house that suffered the most changes and it's today a very simple little room, yet a very functional and practical space.

This is how it looked when we first moved in...


... a dark and unloved room, full of junk too!

As we only had a washing machine at the time and there was room for it in the kitchen, we didn't really do much to it initially, other than remove all the rubbish and store (read hide) a lot of random things (hoover, DIY supplies, etc).

My husband had been trying to convince me for years that we should get a dishwasher and I've always refused because as it was just the two of us, it seemed unnecessary to me. Then we had children (these events seem to be a changing point for lots of things in our lives... so that's what people meant when they said "Once you have children your lives will be very different"!). And I was fed up with washing all the little bowls and plates and cups and pureeing equipment, while I had a baby screaming/tugging at my legs/generally in the way. Then we remembered that there was plumbing in the pantry for a washing machine and we only needed to install a power plug, which turned out to be straight forward and relatively inexpensive. Doing this would free up the space in the kitchen for the dishwasher. So, we ordered the dishwasher and prepared the pantry to accommodate the washing machine.

We didn't want to spend a lot of money and time in this room, but we wanted it to be practical and a bit easier on the eye. So we, removed the plastic shelving we had put in there, smoothed the walls using Ronseal Perfect Smooth and Repair and painted them white. Then put up a few Ikea's Antonius shelves and moved the washing machine in there, which wasn't so straight forward... the door and door frame for the room are smaller than the standard, as this room is effectively a cupboard under the stairs. So we had to remove the door and part of the frame to get it in there! But, boy, was it worth the trouble!

The noisy washing machine was nicely tucked away in the utility room and we had a dishwasher in the kitchen! How I had lived all those years without one, I don't know! Dishwashers are great! Aside from the obvious (that they wash dishes), we can hide away the dirty dishes, instead of having them piled up in the sink so our kitchen always look tidy. Why did I resist the idea of having one?

This realisation only led to me re-evaluating other chores I did and asking myself if I really needed to do them or if there was a better way of doing things... That's when I decided I was going to stop ironing. Well, not completely, because there are things that really need ironing... but, did I really need to iron jeans? And towels? And sheets? And... well, most of our clothes? And this was a chore that ate up hours every week and caused a great deal of stress, in particular, when the pile of clothes waiting to be ironed got waist high! That was it! No more ironing except for work shirts and the like.As long as I took the clothes out of the machine as soon as it finished washing and shook them before hanging, then folded them properly once dry, they where in a perfectly acceptable state and hardly notice the difference, especially with the kids clothes. What a relief! And all those hours I had every week - to do other chores...

Then I took it a step further by considering having a tumble drier too! It would save me even more time (that handing the clothes to dry would take) and meant the clothes would be even less wrinkled. Yay! I know it's not very environment-friendly (to offset this fact, we got the greenest and most energy-efficient we could afford) , but it's a time- and sanity-saver! Now, where would we put it? Then I remembered seeing somewhere that you could maybe stack it on top of the washing machine... so, I did some research and found out that yes, we could, by using a universal stacking kit. So, we bought this and the drier.

As with getting the washing machine in the utility room, we had to remove the door and part of the frame (which we can easily put back as we managed to remove it in such way that the nails remained on the part that was removed and fit it back in such way you couldn't tell it had been taken out). My husband almost did his back doing this (if you want to stack these machines, make sure you have help and enough room to do it!), but we got it in there! And, it became by second best friend (after the dishwasher!).

However, because the utility room is such a small space, we had to remove the shelving system we had in there and get a free-standing shelf unit that didn't take up a lot of floor space (as I had to have enough room to load and unload the machines), but that was tall enough and flexible enough to fulfill our storage needs (as that room is where we need to store the hoover, the steam cleaner, and other bits and pieces. So, I thought I'd get an Ivar shelving unit from Ikea that was thin, but tall.

So, we ended up with this:


And this is how I organised the shelving unit:


I also added a basket for storage to the inside of the door (which I painted white as I did all the doors downstairs - more on this on another post), which is where we keep our picnic blanket and some plastic bags :


So, now it's a proper utility room (only small) which is practical and easy to keep tidy. Here are the Before & After snaps:


How such a little room can make such a difference in day-to-day life!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

New nest?

We are very excited! We have accepted an offer on our house and found another we like very much and made an offer on it too, which has been accepted!

We shouldn't really get too excited, as with buying/selling property nothing is guaranteed until you have that set of keys in your hand,  but we can't help it!

The "new" house has close to double the internal space we currently have and has potential for even more rooms. The exterior space is smaller and more low maintenance compared to our current garden, which is great. It is in a good location in terms of schools, public transport and access to amenities. It's just right for us. Oh, and it has lots of storage spaces for me to get organising!

I won't say more now and until we know for sure we're moving there. Let's hope the whole process goes smoothly, so I can start planning properly! All fingers and toes crossed!!!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Child room

I was sorting our (digital) photos the other day and found some of our house as we made it our own. So, I thought, I would share some of those changes, starting with our son's room.

I had mentioned the changes we made to our spare room on my previous blog, in preparation for our son's arrival. Because he was going to be in our room initially and I knew we would have family visiting after he was born, we left it as a guest room, but decorated it ready to move his cot in there when we were ready. When the time came, we removed the double bed and the bedside tables and put in the cot and a futon, which meant we re-arranged the layout of the furniture.

Then, when I was pregnant with my daughter, we bought a toddler bed and a slim chest of drawers to replace the cot and wardrobe. We found we didn't really use the wardrobe other than to store bed linen and towels, and because the toddler bed took up more space than the cot we thought a slim line chest of drawers (as well as the existing chest of drawers and some extra under bed storage) would be enough.

Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of when we had the cot in there, but it's similar to what it looks like now, only it had a white cot and wardrobe along the wall with the sticker.


Here's the view from other angles:



All the furniture is from Ikea (I love that shop!) and so is the fabric used for the curtains, cushion covers, drawer lining, tissue box cover and lamp cover (this last one is Work In Progress!). The plan was to make a pillow case and duvet cover using the same fabric as the curtains too, but I just never got around to it and instead we're using what would have been the extra set (animal print, from Amazon). The tree sticker is from Decowall.

So, here's how it changed (please excuse the quality of the first 2 photos - the quality of the cameras improved with the changes in the room!)





I like that is light, airy, neutral and simple. It's easy to keep tidy and clean. The only thing I would do differently is have a darker carpet. I love the current colour, but it's probably not the best choice for a child's room as any dirt/stain is immediately obvious. We keep some toys and books in his room (in the black bucket), but he spends most of his time downstairs, so that's where we keep most of his toys.

This room was also where our daughter was going to move into (futon replaced by cot and maybe a chair - for feeding and cuddling) and share with her brother for a while, hence the neutral design. Now, hopefully they won't have to share at all, if we move house soon!

I already have draft posts for other bits and pieces we did around the house which I will be finishing soon. I look forward to continue to walk down memory lane...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Organising clothes

I had already started to sort our clothes when I was pregnant with baby number two, simply because we needed the space for her cute newborn clothes. I went through all off my son's clothes (I mean ALL - even the ones that had been thrown into that big black whole a.k.a. The Loft!) and separated the boy's things from the neutral things (we didn't know what we were having during the first pregnancy - not by choice, he was shy!). Then I gave all of the boys things (second time around we knew we were having a girl) to friends who had younger boys.

I was given some girl's clothes, so I sorted those and the neutral things by age, then washed, dried and stored all the up to 6 months in her chest of drawers. The rest I put back in the loft. As she grows, the clothes that no longer fit go back up to the loft, into a separate bag to give to friends/charity shops at some point and the next size ones will come down.

My son's clothes receive similar treatment, in that I only keep the clothes that fit currently and anything else is stored away for later or to donate (or thrown away).

Of course, I also take into account the changing seasons, so anything that doesn't apply to the current season is put away.





Actually, the seasonal change, as well as wanting to declutter, is what prompted me to sort through my clothes recently. That and the fact that I realised I spend an awful amount of time in the morning trying to decide what to wear, only to end up wearing the same few outfits. So, I've decided to be ruthless! Anything I hadn't worn in a while and that I'm not likely to wear again was to go! From what was left, anything that needed washing got washed. Any jumpers and other items that needed freshening were ventilated with the appropriate cycle in the tumble dryer.
Then all the items that required hanging were hung on individual hangers for better visibility.


Everything else got folded, separated into piles that made more sense (vests, short sleeves, long sleeves, lighter jumpers, heavier jumpers, leggings and tights) and put away in the drawers.





I quickly sorted through my footwear too (also got rid of a few pairs - I now have only the 4 pairs of shoes/boots for winter you see in the photo above!) and since I had streamlined my underwear, socks and accessories before, this whole process didn't take very long. It also helped to turn my wardrobe into a more efficient capsule wardrobe, with less random things and more mix-and-match pieces (whether these were unearthed from somewhere at the back of my wardrobe or bought to complete a few outfits).

I could have "pretty-fied" a bit more (nice matching hangers, drawer/shelf  liners/dividers, etc), but the objective at this point was to clear out and simplify day to day life. I think I'll save all the fun bits for the new home!

As I love Before and After photos, here they are:

  

My now decluttered wadrobe (and drawers) definitely makes life a lot easier. And I actually look forward to choosing what to wear in the morning, since I have fewer things to choose from and it's all easily accessible. Yay!

Note: the clothes above the rail which holds mine on the photos above are my husband's which will soon be sorted too.

Note 2: the shoes are not all mine either!

Note 3: I've only gone through the Autumn/Winter clothes and footwear. When the time comes to bring out all Spring/Summer things, I'll do the same (unless we move house first, that is - I do not wish to take anything we will not use to the new house, if I can avoid it!)


Monday, 7 October 2013

In search of a new nest

Almost 7 years ago my (now) husband and I took the plunge and decided to buy our first home together. This was not long after finishing university and getting "real" jobs, so we could only afford a modest 1 reception and 2 bedroom home, which was more than enough for a young couple. Since then, we have adopted a cat, got married and had 2 children. We knew we'd eventually need a bigger home, but because the current one had been adequate even when we had our first, we thought it would be alright for the first few years with a second. How wrong we were! The house feels so much smaller now! I forgot how much space baby's things take, not to mention the space a very energetic toddler requires! We definitely need more space. So we're hoping to move to a house with at least 2 reception rooms and 3 bedrooms. It probably won't be the "forever" home, of the ideal size, in the ideal location yet, but hopefully in a better location (in terms of easier access to transport links and main routes for commuting and taking into account the sorrounding schools too) and with more space than we currently have.

So, our house is now on the market and we're hoping we'll soon sell and find somewhere too call home again. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we'll be organising our current home in an attempt to simplify our busy lives, as well as, slowly preparing for the move - decluttering galore ahead!

As I have the two little ones, I'll have to go through this process in small "bursts" - tasks that I can do in short periods of time, so that I can finish them and not have to abandon them half way through, when I'm needed elsewhere. So, I'll split the bigger areas to sort (like the loft - yikes!) into smaller sections/tasks, to avoid stress and make it less daunting.

I think I'll start with sorting out our clothes (actually already started!), so will be posting about that soon!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Welcome to my nest!

Welcome to my (new) blog!

I say "new" because I had used to write a blog, but stopped for a few reasons:

  - It didn't have a clear direction - started off being about my experience of wearing orthodontic braces as an adult, floated through all things about my life and even had posts about my first pregnancy as well as crafts/organising/home life.

- I had my first child and became a bit overwhelmed with everything that comes with having a baby, trying to keep up with everything I did before I had my son (I'm now on my second child and, believe me, I'm more realistic about what can be achieved with minimal stress when you have little ones) and not having the time for it all.

- I didn't really have the motivation to keep going for the two reasons above

I've always had a fascination for all things organising and making better use of space and time. I love reading other blogs about these sorts of things as well as about decorating and DIYing. Then, I got the itch to write my own blog again, this time more centered around these subjects, in particular as we are hoping to move to a new nest at some point in the near future (more about this on another post).

So, here we are! I'm very excited about this blog and all the changes ahead. I already have so many ideas for posts and I can't wait to write the next one!

P.S. Please bare with me while I update and "prettify" Busy B's Nest - can't quite decide what it should look like...