Organising and Decluttering (New Year’s Resolution Update)

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more organised… I’ve been putting time aside each weekend since the beginning of January to organise and clear out my clutter. It’s a bit of a slow process admittedly – spending time doing this gets boring after a couple of hours (hence why I’m only doing it a couple of hours each weekend). So far I’ve:

  • Tidied and organised my clothes dresser
  • Cleared out 5 bags of old clothes and took to the charity shops
  • Tidied my living room bookcase
  • Tidied my wardrobe and organised my shoes and bags
  • Tidied my entrance hallway

Here are a couple of before and afters from my wardrobe and my living room bookcase.

Living Room bookcase - Before

I’m a bit funny about tidying things away – books are pretty, and I like showing them off.. But the mix of my DVD’s and books made my bookcase look messy (at least to my eyes)… So I went to IKEA and bought some DVD boxes (green of course, to go with my green colour scheme for the living room) and put all my DVDs in them.  Now all my books look tidier, and the bookcase looks more inviting.

Living Room bookcase - After

I especially like that the green is now more of a feature in the living room through the dvd boxes now on the bookcase, and they pick up the plant and green bottle on top of the bookcase as well. (You may be able to spot two copies of Game of Thrones in my bookcase – I bought the first book back in Easter last year, but the boxset of books 1 – 4 was on offer in the Black Friday sales in Amazon, so I ended up buying the set, as it was only £15, down from £39.99).

When it came to the bedroom wardrobe, I needed to sort through and declutter.  It was beginning to look very messy…

Top of the wardrobe - Before

I’d ended up putting all the bags that I didn’t use regularly (holdall, some tote bags, a rucksack) at the top of the wardrobe, out of easy reach (it’s a bit of a stretch up there for a girl of 5’4″!).  The bottom shelf of my wardrobe was even worse (how embarrassing!)… The majority of my shoes (over 30 pairs, yes I counted and was slightly horrified!) were in a higgledy piggledy heap at the bottom of the wardrobe, and I always had to root round a little to find a pair.  Something had to be done to sort this out, and make my wardrobe look neater and more welcoming every morning for me to open, so I got all my shoes out of the wardrobe, lined them up, and sorted them out.

I ended up boxing several of my shoes into the black IKEA boxes and put them up the top of the wardrobe:  I put canvas shoes and sandals in one box, and heels that I don’t wear very often in another box.  I then picked a couple of pairs that I wear regularly, and left them outside of boxes, so they’re easier to grab and put on in the mornings.

I then placed the bags in a large plastic box at the bottom of my wardrobe, within easy reach.

Top of the wardrobe - After

Bottom of the wardrobe - After

It may not look like much, but it took a while to sort out the mess that had accumulated in the top and bottom shelves of the wardrobe (the living room bookcase was a much easier remedy, taking only 10 mins).

So, after a couple of hours work over the weekend, I have managed to maintain my New Year’s resolution of being more organised and to tidy up a little round the place, so I’m quite pleased with myself!… Now if only I could find the willpower to organise my kitchen cupboards…

Magic Carpet

Apologies, I’ve been a bit lax writing posts recently… That’s not to say that I’ve not been a busy bee though!… I’ve got lots of yummy recipes that I’ll be posting in the next couple of weeks, and a couple of fun ideas for little decorations and things to make for Valentine’s Day.

–  –  –

I’ve been living in my flat for seven months now, and I’ve been looking for carpets for the living room since I moved in.  I’ve got a large living room area, and the teeny tiny rug that was in there (inherited from my student days) has been almost completely covered just by the coffee table.

Before

I’ve been postponing the purchase because the size of the rug needed meant that it would be – probably – a sizeable amount of cash that would be leaving my bank account to cover it.  I was also quite indecisive about the colour… I didn’t know whether to go for a neutral colour, or whether to go for a bold statement (dark green rug anyone?!), plain or patterned.

In the end, I decided – pretty spur of the moment whilst walking through IKEA (we were buying other things for my flat, and we just happened to walk through the rug section and notice some discount prices) – to go for a plain, neutral rug.  Boring I know.  BUT.. it’s an investment, and I know that whatever house I buy, I’m going to be painting those future living room walls some lovely bold colour, and the rug will look fabulous and neutral and balanced in comparison.  I made sure that the rug wasn’t too big either, as I have no idea what house I’ll end up in, in the next year or so, and so wanted a big enough rug to feel homey and cozy, but a small enough one that I’ll be able to fit in potentially a study or small living room down the line.

Here’s the before and after pictures to give you an idea of how the rug has made the living room feel more like a cozy spot to curl up in (the rug, although a shorter pile than ones I’d originally looked at, is gorgeously soft and I’m loving walking barefoot on it!).

After

When you compare the two photos, it’s a massive improvement on the living space, and is just one extra thing (along with the curtains and frame wall) that make this space feel like a lived in and cosy home now.

–  –  –

PS – you’ll notice that this was a few weeks ago, as you can see Sherlock on my TV screen… Wasn’t the finale something and a half?!… I nearly cried (but then I found out that there’s to be a third series, so I’m now not so upset by the ending, and more “so HOW did they do that???!” Can not wait till the next series airs… Hurry up 2013!)

–  –  –

 PPS – The rug is from IKEA, £49.99, down from £80.68.  Yay for waiting to buy the rug and getting £30 knocked off the price!

Counters, Cushions, and Bar Chairs

So in a quick break from all things sparkly, crafty and Christmassy… back to furniture and things for the flat (which is currently being pulled apart – or so it feels like – by electricians in a bid to fix the oven…).

My most recent acquisition for the flat was the final ‘necessary’ furniture items that I wanted:  kitchen chairs.  However, because the breakfast bar is counter-height, which is about 10cm – 15cm higher than the normal kitchen table, I couldn’t just buy normal kitchen chairs.  Nor could I buy your typical bar chairs, as they were too high… See my counter, although a lovely height, was a difficult in-betweeny height for buying chairs.  There are only a few places that sold chairs at the shorter height of 63cm to 68cm (from floor to seat height); IKEA being the main one.

So after making sure of the height needed – through a hilarious technique of me and J measuring the height of the seat, then attempting to hold a cushion in the air at that exact position whilst the other awkwardly tried to ‘sit’ at the table – I searched on Gumtree (which is where I managed to pick up one of my living room chairs, and my coffee table), and all stores that sold bar chairs (IKEA, Argos, and then the supermarket direct online catalogues).

Because it’s just that little too high for me to be able to place my feet on the ground once on the chair (I’m a short gal, see), I wanted to find chairs that had backs (so stools were out of the question), and that were solid, i.e. didn’t fold up.

However, as I’m only renting this flat until I buy a place of my own, which I’m still unsure of as to whether it will have a breakfast bar in it or not (although I am being converted by this one now…), I didn’t want to spend the rather pricey amount that IKEA were offering solid bar stools at (upwards of £56 here, and some reaching a whopping £95 here… for one chair… ouch!).

After complaining at length about the price of the IKEA ones, I came across what looked like a mistake on the Tesco Direct website (same place as I bought my bed).  There was a bar chair on sale for £8.63 (down from £34.50), due to it being mis-advertised as a higher seat height than it actually was… hellooooo mistake!….

After quickly checking the measurements and the comments left by other people purchasing them (bad comments overall, but after reading, it was due to the mistakenly marketed height and nothing more), I deliberated whether I should just go for it, and if so, how many to get.  My initial plan had been to get two chairs, but as they were so cheap, I thought it would be silly not to get another one, as three would fit round the counter easily.

So I quickly added them to my basket, and went through the checkout before I thought too much about it and changed my mind… I was able to pick them up at my local store, so that automatically meant that a £5 delivery charge wasn’t added on, and once I used some of my Tesco clubcard vouchers against the chairs, they worked out at just over £5 each. Unbelievable really.

They were easy to assemble out of the box, and are comfy to sit on.  Even J was pleasantly surprised when he sat on them one evening for dinner, as he hadn’t been a fan of the idea of bar chairs to begin with.  The good thing about them being so cheap is that I can either sell them on for cheap when I move house, or I can just try and chop off the legs a bit and see if they work that way…!  Either way, considering I paid a little over £15 for the three chairs, I don’t lose out that much (and the added bonus is that they look almost identical to the £95 IKEA ones, hurray!!).

What do you think of them?… Is a breakfast bar your kind of thing, or are you more of a traditional kitchen-table person?

The Big Reveal

The past few weekday evenings have been spent struggling to put the curtains up in the flat.  It’s been a long time coming, and has certainly been a necessary job to get done in the last couple of weeks due to the weather getting substantially colder in the evenings when I arrive back from work.  The combination of the increased rate in heating bills and my old single-glazed windows (the downside of a listed building) meant that unless I got thermal curtains up, I would be looking at a hefty gas bill for the Winter period (not that it’ll be cheap anyway, even with the curtains in place).    The curtains were also an aesthetic necessity.  I was tired of coming home and seeing office-like blinds at my windows, not dis-similar to those in my office.

So, after picking out the curtains, it was time to take a trip to B&Q for the essentials:  Curtain tracks and wire for the curtains, and a hacksaw to cut down the length of the tracks if needed.  It was difficult to settle on a curtain track that would be suitable for a bay window, as I wanted the curtains to go into the bay rather than cut it off from the rest of the room when the curtains were closed.  This meant I either needed a super bendy rail (which is what I decided on eventually), or a rail that had lots of joining bits to it (I quickly came to the conclusion that curtain rails are a confusing thing to me!).  Once we got the curtain rails home, it was time to get the old blinds down from the windows, which turned out to be nice and easy, as they were simply clipped to their metal fittings, then remove the metal fittings from the ceiling.  Luckily for me, the holes for the blinds were in the right place for the fittings for the curtain track fixings…

After we removed the blinds, we put up the curtain wire for the net curtains (I’m paranoid  about people seeing in my flat, and it makes my view a little nicer – hides the bus stop – and creates a softer light in the room).  Once those curtains were up, it was time to fix the curtain tracks onto the ceiling of the window alcove.

There then followed the rather long and boring process of affixing the blackout material to the curtains before putting the curtains up.  I won’t bore you with that, as it was boring enough for me…. so… once that was done (phew!), it was time to put up the curtains and see if they worked… As the curtains were pretty heavy with the additional blackout material, it was a two-person job (me feeding the curtains up to J who was hanging them whilst balancing on a ladder).

And once they were finished, well…. just look at them!…

And a close-up of the pattern:

They certainly have changed my living room atmosphere into one of cosy cosy warmth rather than the cold impersonal blinds that once hung at the windows!

You’ve Been Framed! (Frame Wall Part 2)

So it’s official!… I have 14 frames sitting on the wall above my sofa and looking absolutely gorgeous.

After having talked about it a long time (and having thought about it even longer), I finally got time this weekend – after J’s parents came and visited the flat on the Saturday afternoon – to get up the courage to knock some (small!) holes in the wall for the frames.  To make it easier for myself, I laid out the frames on the floor first to arrange them in the pattern I thought would be best, and then cut templates of each of the frames out of scrap paper (a tip that I picked up from Young House Love on their post about frame walls here).

For those who didn’t read Part 1 of the Frame Wall adventure, this picture below is kind of my inspiration – a nice jumble of different frames which match in colour, but are a mismatched style of new and old (I got three of the frames on the wall for a total of £5 in a charity shop in Monmouth all those months ago on my day trip… Others I picked up cheaply from eBay and IKEA).

The wall above the sofa has always looked incredibly bare, as it’s a very long wall, not broken up by any tall furniture, and stretches from the kitchen area to the window.  The frame was was designed to split the spaces up a little more and make the living room section of the large room feel more cosy (which the curtains – more about that later – have certainly helped with as well).

One reason why I’d been putting it off was the worry that I’d need to drill so many holes in one wall in my rented flat… However, when J’s dad looked at the wall, he pointed out we could use these nifty little picture hanging hooks (below), as they can hold quite a lot of weight, but don’t damage the wall quite so much as a big screw:

And so J and I thought we might as well give it a bash and see whether they worked… So far, so good…

The templates took a while to cut out, but the time spent on them definitely paid off when putting the picture hooks in the wall and  hanging the frames.  To make it easier when hanging the frames, I labelled the templates with the corresponding pictures in the frames, to make it a lot less confusing when hanging them all on the wall…

Once we attached the picture hooks on the wall, we replaced the paper on the hook, and until all the hooks were put into the wall (due to a liiiittle mishap that happened early on when we had hung one frame on the wall, which promptly fell off when we began hammering another picture hook in above it.. oops!).  Here’s the finished frames on the wall after all the hooks were in place.

(and yes, you can flip between the two pictures above and see a couple of different positions of frames between the two (specifically the bottom right where i switched the violin frame and the 4-square frame around, and bottom left corner where I flipped the A4 frame from portrait to landscape).  The chalkboard has a charming (!) picture of a cat on it, drawn by J, and the bottom left A4 frame is actually wrapping paper that J’s mum wrapped a housewarming present in.  The central frame is a pencil drawing that I bought in Venice… and the ‘Home Sweet Home’ picture is actually an advertising flyer that I was going to throw away in work, but thought it may look nice in a frame at home.. (how right I was!)

And so before the big reveal of the new improved wall, here’s a reminder of what the wall above the sofa used to look like:

Here’s what the wall looks like now…

What do you all think?…. Is this something that you’ve seen in magazines and want to replicate yourself?…

Let me know in the comments below!

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

So… Back to the flat and the furniture hunt (a few months back admittedly, but I never had a chance to post it at the time)…

I’d been looking for a nice solid wood bed for the new flat, and had come across several similar types, all with a variety of prices.  The first one I’d set my sights on was the Ikea version of this rustic bedframe, which was selling for £199, but having heard from several people about the odd sizings of IKEA beds and how they don’t quite fit conventional mattress sizes, I was a bit unsure.

Ikea Hemnes Double Bed

In comparison, Argos offered nearly the same style of bedstead for £119.99, but couldn’t promise delivery for 35 days… which would’ve meant camping out on my small chair-bed mattress for well over two weeks…

Argos Atlantis Double Bed

So, in the end, I went through the Tesco Direct website, which offered a simlar style of bed again, but with slightly larger gaps between the wooden posts (easier to dust, what with my dustmite allergy!), which came to £150.

Tesco Fairhaven Double Bed

After going through a cahsback site, and using a Tesco coupon for money off, and putting a couple of Tesco vouchers towards it that I’d been hoarding, it worked out as far less than even the Argos bedframe in the first place, AND I could specify delivery for the day I wanted (albeit somewhere in the wide margins of 7am – 7pm… They do promise a phone-call 2 hours before delivery though…)

Fairhaven Double Bed (Chocolate Brown) = £150
– £8.25 cashback through using a cashback site (
www.topcashback.com)
– £14 Tesco vouchers
– £10 (£10 voucher if order was over £100)
= £32.25 off the bed

= £117.75 TOTAL paid  (the £8.25 cashback should be confirmed, processed and paid to my account within 6 months).

In the end, I had a phone-call at 8.30am on Saturday morning, and it got delivered at about 9.10am.

The fact that the bed arrived so early on in the day meant that I was then able to go and buy a mattress in the afternoon.  I decided to go to Dreams, which is one of the big bed and mattress stores in Cardiff.  I had prepared myself to spend a sizable chunk of money – and chunk of time choosing – on a mattress, but I chose surprisingly fast, and ended up with a good deal too:  the mattress was originally £599, but was in the sale for £249!).  It was £35 delivery, but I didn’t mind too much with that much off the original price.  

So putting the amount spent on the bedframe and mattress together, I spent £401.75.. Instead of £784.  Verrry pleased.  

It took a while to put together, and there were some parts that were fiddly (if not downright awkward… like a couple of screws snapping off into a piece of wood – however, after a phonecall to Tesco Direct, they promised to replace said piece of wood and screws within the week).  

Here’s a shot of the wood – the stain shows the details of the wood so nicely:

And here’s another shot of it before it was all put together:

And here’s the finished product in my bedroom (doesn’t it look lovely?):

I absolutely adore my bed.  It’s easily my favourite piece of furniture in the flat (the sofa and oak coffee table come a close joint-second)… It’s lower than what I was used to, as I’ve had a divan bed for the last year, but I’m slowly getting used to that, and I love the fact that there’s loads of hidden storage space underneath it.  The mattress fits the bed frame perfectly, which means it doesn’t move around at all, and it’s definitely the most comfy bed I’ve slept in (yay for being able to choose the firmness of the mattress!).

Oh and if anyone else is thinking of buying something through Tesco Direct, here’s the link to the e-coupons that might come in handy: http://direct.tesco.com/content/specials/ecoupons.aspx