Home and garden plans for 2018

We have almost been in our house for almost 3 years now. We knew it would be a long term renovation project when we moved in. However, to be honest, we totally underestimated just how long it would take. At first glance it doesn’t look like we have done much. In fact we have spent this time replacing windows, removing unsafe chimneys and other essential structural work. Now that the important donkey work is finally complete we can continue renovating, safe in the knowledge that the building isn’t going to crash around our heads. So what are our home and garden plans for 2018? They fall broadly into 2 categories. Fantasy and reality!

Home and garden plans for 2018

Home and garden plans for 2018


Loft conversion plans

In an idea world we would do a loft conversion. We had the plans drawn up with a view to doing the work last year. Then disaster struck and although the resulting bathroom is my pride and joy the work was budget busting and I don’t know when we will be able to start the project.

Now that the children are older we always seem to have a house full of their friends. It seems like I blink and an extra child has appeared out of the woodwork. We need extra space so they can spread out (and get from under my feet). The plan is to add 2 rooms in the front loft. 1 will be an extra bedroom and the other will be a study/den for the children. With gcses looming a study space is going to be vital so we need to find a creative alternative in the meantime.


In the absence of a lottery win we have to be realistic. We have a couple of projects on the go that I want to get completely finished before we move on. Does anyone find that they have a house full of 80% done projects and none are complete? Just before Christmas we split our lounge into 2 rooms. The lounge is almost finished. However, the hallway is like something out of a horror film.

The entrance where a new doorway has been cutEek! The doorway for the new lounge

Hallway hallway through renovation

Since this photo was taken we have fitted a door and architrave but not a lot else. On the bright side we have found the original tiling under the laminate so we hope to excavate them. The plan is to add panelling to the walls. This means we only have to plaster half of the walls. As an added bonus it will also stop the blasted cat from scratching the wallpaper off!

A much easier project will be our bedroom. Since we renovated it the wood for the architrave and picture rails has moved slightly and needs a little bit of attention. We expected this as new wood will naturally shrink and swell with changes in room temperature and can take a few years to settle. While we are recaulking etc I’m going to give the room a lick of paint.

Previous bedroom makeoverThe bedroom needs a little bit of tlc now

In the garden I need to finally get to grips with our vegetable patch. Vegetable patch is overstating it at the moment. It is really a fenced off area with a few blackberries and strawberries amongst the weeds. Late last year we saw the addition of an apple tree and tayberries (my absolute favourite). I was also recently given a poly tunnel so I now have no excuse to get going on my little plot. I hope to get the children involved and will probably pay them to do the digging until my hip problems ease.

Other plans (if we should ever find the time)

This is of course only half of what we plan. We have 2 of the children’s bedrooms ‘almost’ finished and another waiting to be started. Our giraffe bathroom (don’t ask) needs a complete overhaul and we still haven’t painted the new plaster from last year in the kitchen/diner.

For those of you planning a renovation project take heed from this post. It never finishes! But if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat you will have the time of your life doing it!!

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Reflections on 2017 and planning ahead

Happy new year sign surrounded by fir branchesPhoto by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hello and a belated happy new year! I had been all set to start the new year with a bang. However, in my post Christmas haze I totally lost track of the days and really struggled to get back into a routine. My start to the year has definitely been more of a slow fizzle than an explosion of activity! Now that I’ve finally got a grip on what day it is I think it would be a good idea to share my reflections on 2017 and what we plan for 2018.

Reflections on 2017

2017 written in firework sparklersPhoto by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

The children achieved so much this year but are growing up way too fast! Hormones abound. I need a self-filling fridge to keep up with their appetites and a larger dining table is now a priority to accommodate the random friends who appear at all hours.

My hip problems continue and I have been passed from pillar to post looking for answers. It has taken over 2 years to be referred to a specialist, who I saw this week. The proposed surgery I need is risky and could potentially make me worse so I have big decisions ahead. This year I was also hospitalised twice with post hysterectomy complications and underwent genetic testing for the BRCA1 gene. It has not been a great year health wise.

A large portion of the year was spent unexpectedly removing a dangerous chimney breast and renovating our bathroom. The end result is stunning but it really wasn’t the project we wanted to be doing; plans to convert the loft had to be delayed due to this work. We also finished a few smaller projects. Renovations seems never ending!

Despite everything we did get out and about a lot this year, making good use of out NT membership. It has been lovely to visit new places and explore different surroundings. The highlights for us were Apple Day and visiting Powis Castle

Plans for 2018

2018 written in firework sparklersPhoto by NordWood Themes

To a certain extent it will be more of the same. More days out, more home renovations, more time spent exploring our hobbies. If it isn’t broke why fix it?

Middle age spread had sadly become a concern for me. I am unable to do much exercise so I need to change my diet instead. It’s so unfair that you have to eat less to simply stay the same weight as you age. I am also still struggling to find a personal style, or even indeed any style. With that in mind I hope to make more of my own clothes this year, at least then I can guarantee a good fit!

I want to spend more time as a whole on my hobbies. My book case is brimming with novels waiting to be opened. My sewing to-do list is ever expanding and my vegetable patch is standing barren, waiting for me to get into gear. I think sharing a monthly update on my craft projects and my gardening endeavors will help to make me accountable for my time and give me something positive to focus on.

I am aware I need to spend time on my mental health this year. Last year I struggled so much with my lack of mobility and ever increasing pain levels. Whilst not depressed, I was very low for a good portion of the time. I felt flat and had very little to say. I feel that the fog is lifting now but it is something I have to work on rather than waiting for things to change on their own.

The big event for the year will be my Mom’s wedding in early March. She is still battling ovarian cancer so this is a much needed chink of sunshine for us to look forward to. Hopefully the great British weather will either give us a wonderful snow filled day or one brimming with sunshine. Nothing in between will be acceptable!

Bring it on 2018!

So there it is. A few reflections on 2017 and a snippet of what we plan for 2018. I am sure that with a little positive thought and a lot of hard work we can make 2018 a wonderful year!

What are your plans for 2018?


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Word of the Week – The Reading Residence

PoCoLo – Life at139a/Morgan’s Milieu


Traditional fitted wardrobe Ikea hack

When we first first moved into our house we knew we wanted to embrace its period features. However we soon realised that traditional styling doesn’t always compliment modern living. When we tackled our bedroom we found  freestanding period wardrobes were too bulky and lacking the storage solutions we have come to expect. On the flip side really modern styles jarred with the period features we had worked so hard to restore. We needed a traditional style with the modern convenience of the Ikea Pax system. There was only one thing for it. A traditional fitted wardrobe Ikea hack!

Getting started

Your first job is to decide what size and height wardrobe to purchase. Measure your skirting board and ceiling height to ensure you have enough room to create a false top and bottom. Our skirting is 7 inches deep and the ceiling is 9 foot so we chose 2 extra tall double wardrobes. Make a frame work that is roughly an inch shorter than your skirting board and the same size as your wardrobes footing. Make sure to add an inch on any sides where doors will be opening next to a wall.

Framework for false bottom for our traditional wardrobe Ikea hackWe used a laser level to make sure the base was completely level before fixing it to the floor

Slight overhang so the door can open 90 degrees

The extra inch overhang will allow the door to open at 90 degrees. If you are planning on using large door handles consider a larger overhang. This will stop the handles chipping your walls when you open the doors. With hindsight we should’ve made a larger gap because we have since put a large mirror on the adjacent wall. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?


Construct your Pax outer shell and place on your wooden framework. Insert extra wooden slats inside that sit level with the chipboard support at the back of your Pax frame. This extra packing will provide additional support for the bottom of the wardrobe. Screw your wardrobe to your wooden framework.

Packing to support the removable base and support the weight of your traditional wardbrobe Ikea hack

Now you can finishing construct your wardrobe as normal. Don’t forget to secure it to the walls! On top of the wardrobe fix a framework so that it reaches the ceiling. Pack the space where you left an overhang with wood so that you have no spaces visible.

Raised base for the skirting to wrap aroundWrap your skirting board around the bottom framework to give the appearance of a traditional fitted wardrobe. The skirting will hide where the raised base and wardrobe meet. Caulk is now your best friend. Use it to hide and seal all the joints to give a truly built in appearance.

Now, we didn’t want to make life easy for ourselves so I decided to add something extra!

Hidden storage

I didn’t want the space inside the raised base to be wasted so decided to use it for extra storage. Mr M used a coping saw to cut out a finger space. This allows you to raise the base of the wardrobe and will not catch on the door hinges.

Finger space to access the lower storage

You then have a handy hidden space to store Xmas gifts/shoes/the kids confiscated electronics etc

Hidden storage underneath

Now add any internal fittings and the doors. Note that if you have included drawers you couldn’t access a hidden storage space so please take that into consideration.

The inside of the wardrobe


The completed traditional fitted wardrobe Ikea Hack

After painting your woodwork to match the frame you will be left with a stunning faux fitted wardrobe that not only compliments your period property but also has the added convenience of practical and adaptable storage and hanging solutions.

Coving provides the finishing effectCoving adds an authentic period touch

Completed traditional fitted wardrobe Ikea Hack

We are thrilled with the finished result. We have the beauty of a fitted wardrobe but have the option to change the interior as our needs change. You would never know that it hasn’t always been there.

What do you think? Have you done your own Ikea hack?

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Traditional fitted wardrobe Ikea hack


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Home Etc

Busy doing nothing

The children seem to be under the impression that as a SAHM I drink tea and watch tv all day. When they get home they ask chirpily if I’ve had a good day but never fail to qualify it with “What have you been doing?” The question sometimes seems like an accusation. I’m not sure if that is due to me being over sensitive or because they really believe that I’m busy doing nothing all day.

This week I have been knocked for six by my continuing cold. Some days I have not even been able to get out of bed. I have been alternatively sweating, shivering and sleeping. At some stages I have been quite delirious and not been able to hold a coherent conversation (no change there, some might say). Strangely though, my complete inactivity this week has lead to a sudden appreciation of what I actually do throughout the day. It would seem that they only notice what you do around the house when you don’t actually do it!

Frustrated by houseworkPhoto by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Busy doing nothing

Now that I have actually spent a week busy doing nothing the kids can actually see what my normal ‘nothing’ consists of:

  • hoovering, dusting and cleaning. Every darn day.
  • cooking healthy meals (often with alternatives for differing diets and work schedules)
  • picking up random socks, tablets, chargers, clothing, pens that are scattered around the house (while muttering curses under my breath)
  • replacing toilet rolls. Why are the incapable of putting empty loo rolls in the bin?
  • Washing and ironing. Any thing less than 2 loads a day is a light day in this house
  • Putting the clothes away. It would seem that it’s only when I mess up and put things in the wrong drawer that they realise that their clean clothes don’t magically appear by themselves
  • Arranging calendars, appointments and filling in forms. I am essentially a P.A
  • Ensuring stuff is ready for school. Homework is done, letters signed and returned, pe kits ready etc
  • Project managing the ongoing renovations


Of course this list isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t mean that I think that working out of the home moms don’t do the same things. However, it is soul destroying that you spend so long each day doing things for others and they never notice. We made the choice that I would stay at home for many reasons and I don’t regret it. However, I still get frustrated by the total lack of awareness of how much I do. Today I spent an hour washing and cleaning a whole army of Happyland toys. No one will ever know it happened.

If you take anything from this post it would be to go on strike for a week if you are feeling underappreciated. So many things happen around the house that nobody notices, until you don’t do it. Rest assured they will soon notice the lack of clean clothes, clean dishes and freshly cooked meals as soon as they don’t happen!

My Word of the week is Underappreciated


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Word of the Week – The Reading Residence
PoCoLo – Life at 139a / Morgan’s Milieu

Our Victorian style bathroom reveal!

It’s been a few weeks since I shared the progress on our bathroom renovation. We’ve been very busy behind the scenes and are now ready to share the finished transformation! We have gone for a traditional Victorian style bathroom as much as possible as a nod towards the age of our lovely old house.

Before I share the finished result, here is a quick reminder of what we had to contend with.

Before the Victorian style bathroom renovation

We  weren’t planning on doing the bathroom this year but a structural issue meant we had to remove the chimney that runs through the middle of the house. When I last updated we were in the throes of the project, we only had half a floor and ceiling and no where to bathe or shower. It really does get worse before it get better but after a long hard slog we are finally there!

Our Victorian style bathroom renovation

Victorian bathroom renovation. Roll top bath Https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Moving the doorway meant that we could have a full length roll top bath. The suite (excluding the shower) is from Better Bathrooms. The flooring is lino since it worked out a fraction of the price of tiles.

Traditional Victorian shower head to accompany a roll top bath https://insideoutblog.co.uk

I decided on tongue and groove rather than tiles. Mr M fitted all the woodwork himself and I think he did a cracking job. I knew I wanted a sage green shade for the woodwork and a warm grey below the picture rail. After a few tester pots that just weren’t right I found Farrow and Ball’s shade Calke Green. It worked out pretty expensive so we go B&Q to mix a dupe and it is exactly what I wanted.

Metro tiles in the shower cubicle https://insideoutblog.co.uk

The shower is wonderful and you can use either the traditional shower head or the waterfall shower (or both together). The metro tiles look great but are ridiculously hard to cut in a straight line due to the beveled edges.

Waterfall shower head https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Mr M also fitted the picture rail and coving. He added an extra run of trim on the ceiling (because I’m making him do it in every room we decorate and I want a cohesive look).

Victorian style basin https://insideoutblog.co.uk

I chose a basin with integral splashback because weren’t using tiles.

Built in cupboard to house the boiler https://insideoutblog.co.uk

We hid the ugly boiler with a kitchen larder unit from Ikea. Because it has shelves it doubles up as storage which is an added bonus.

Traditional style towel radiator https://insideoutblog.co.uk

We removed the old radiator (that’s where we put the new doorway) and put a heated towel radiator under the window. It’s fantastic but don’t leave it on for too long or you will melt!

Victorian style bathroom renovation https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Thoughts on the project

The job took a whole lot longer than I’d anticipated. The only bonus to being hospitalised halfway through was that I could actually have a shower! Now it’s complete I absolutely adore our new bathroom. If I could change one thing I would have tiles rather than lino because it marks quite easily. Other than that everything is just perfect. When a plumber came to quote the job he said he didn’t really fit traditional bathrooms because noone wants them and it made me doubt myself for a while. However, I think, as long as we like it that’s all that matters.

And we don’t just like it. We love it!


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Victorian style bathroom reveal https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Summer days in the garden

Finally the summer has arrived and it is glorious! On the whole I am not a sun worshiper. My skin tone does not tolerate the heat and I burn really easily. Today though, with a good dose of factor 50 and the shade of our magnolia tree I spent a wonderful day in the garden with the children.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust off my camera and really practice capturing motion. However it is so much easier to take a picture of a flower than an excitable child! Not only were the children excited, the arrival of the sprinkler sent the dogs into a frenzy too. There is a reason, I think, why they say never work with children or dogs!

There were so many wonderful photo opportunities but would they stand still for a second? Would they heck! Still, it was a fantastic chance to crank up the shutter speed! Here are a few of the things I captured on this wonderful summers day in the garden…

Fun in the sun

Hopscotch with the sprinkler on a wonderful sunny day https://insideoutblog.co.ukSpeeding through the hopscotch game, connected to the hose pipe

Splashing in the sunshine https://insideoutblog.co.ukSplash!

Joyful games in the garden on a sunny summers day https://insideoutblog.co.ukThe look of joy on her face is what childhood is all about

Garden fun on a sunny day. Trying to get a mouthful of water from the sprinkler! https://insideoutblog.co.ukShe just couldn’t help herself!

Cooling down on a hot day https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Not wanting to be left out,Ted joined in. I cannot imagine how hot dogs must get on days like these. Still, I imagine the sprays of water came as a welcome relief. I was actually hoping to get him entirely in focus but I like how the shot has turned out nonetheless.

A big shake, like only a dog can do https://insideoutblog.co.ukAnd what’s the point of getting wet if you can’t have a good shake?

Our first homegrown strawberry of the year https://insideoutblog.co.ukTo top off the fun we found our first ripe strawberry of the year! Result! Hopefully this year the dogs won’t eat them all and we will get a look in.

The day has been a resounding success although our plans for a roast dinner, to round off the day, were cancelled in favour of pizza. A much more sensible alternative when it is so hot, I think. I am happy to report that we are all sunburn free and I hope that the exertions mean that the children will sleep well tonight. I certainly know that I will.

Ripping out the old bathroom

Since we discovered the issue with the chimney breast we have been busy planning and implementing the big changes that have been somewhat forced upon us. Thankfully Mr M was a carpenter in a previous life. He will be able to undertake a portion of the work to keep the overall costs down. We have split the job into stages. After carefully planning the new layout the next stage was the very messy rip out.

Planning a new layout

The bathroom is a great size, at just short of 9 foot square but the old layout was not ideal. There was a separate shower but the position of the door meant that a corner bath had been installed rather than a full length one. Since we were having to gut the room I really wanted to squeeze a roll top bath in there and to really embrace the period feel of the house.

We had a few companies come and draw up plans but we just weren’t on the same page. Mr M is 6’4″ so a mini 4″ plunge bath was never going to work. After trying every which way to get a full length bath in we realised that moving the door and radiator would give us the much needed square footage.

The other issue we had was that the central heating boiler is in the bathroom. We inquired about moving it but the cost was eye watering. Instead I decided to adapt a tall kitchen larder unit to house the boiler and provide storage into the bargain.

The door will be moved to where the radiator is to make room for a full length roll top bathMoving the door will allow us to achieve our dream bathroom

A before shot of the chimney breast we had to removeThe offending chimney breast and awkwardly positioned boiler

Gutting the room

Once we knew what our layout was going to be we set to work in gutting the room. The builders knocked out the chimney quite quickly.

Partially removed chimney breast

We then proceeded to remove the tiles and discovered the old lathe and plaster work underneath

Partially removed chimney breastJunior was horrified to discover that there was horse hair in the plaster!

There’s a hole in my floor!

For the first 2 weeks of the renovation we kept the corner bath in situ. We needed somewhere to wash off the dust! This was not without problems since we had been left with a big hole in the bathroom floor/ dining room ceiling. This couldn’t be sorted until the downstairs chimney was fully removed and the new steel inserted to support the weight of the rooms above.

You can see straight down into the dining roomOn the bright side you could talk to whoever was in the kitchen while you were in the bath!

A big hole in the roof and wallOur temporary ‘open plan’ kitchen/bathroom

This stage of the renovations took about a week . I won’t lie, it was very messy and frustrating. I have never seen so much dust in my life! We have moved on from this stage now and things are finally coming together. I am so excited to finish the job and to share it with you. I am even more excited to have a bath and wash my hair.