Moving In Update #2

Its been just over two weeks since we got the keys and spent the first weekend in our house, and although Matthew went up the following week while I stayed down south, this weekend we spent our second weekend in the house together.

Being totally honest, I’ve found it really difficult being away from the house, and having another 4 weeks until I finish work and we can move up properly means that the few weekends we can go up between now and then are packed with us doing as much as we can to make it ready so we don’t have to do too much once we’re in for real.

Our main focus this weekend was our bedroom, as Matthew spent the previous weekend painting the wall behind our bed, which meant we could set to work in building the furniture, and by that I mean the wardrobe. The wardrobe was a real test of our relationship and our patience, not so much with the building but trying to put up the sliding doors on it.. But we did it, and it looks good now and we’ll never have to do it again.

The bed went up (even though we don’t have any bedding for it), my dressing table went into place and we hung the mirror and put the lights on the wall, and although there’s still quite a finishing touches to put in the room, its actually a proper bedroom now.

In the last week our sofa also arrived, so we finally have something other than a beanbag to sit on, yay! The living room still needs to be painted, and we’re waiting for a rug to arrive, but we did buy some really nice little plant pots from Ikea to go across the sideboard once we’ve put the TV on the wall. Unfortunately, however, in the last week half the grass in the garden has started to die, so we did the adult thing of buying a hosepipe and a sprinkler and spent Sunday trying to revive it!

The offices haven’t seen much action, although my little pink armchair arrived which I’m super happy about! The ratio of stuff in the garage seems to be tipping more towards having more cardboard and rubbish than boxes of our stuff, which means we might actually be making some progress, and definitely means that a tip trip is in order, but we’ll save that for another weekend.

I won’t be in the house for the next two weekends now at least which makes me sad, but I’m so happy with how its looking already!

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Our New Build Experience

I can’t actually remember at exactly what point Matthew and I started looking at houses, but I’m pretty sure we’ve always been set on a new build.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d never really thought about new builds before, probably because there aren’t so many new builds around where I’ve always lived, but Matthew was pretty set on wanting one, and as soon as we started looking, even just at photos online, I was pretty easily swayed.

We were very lucky in that moving up north gave us a much better range of houses within our budget – we could have never afforded a place in Bournemouth – and we quickly settled on one particular developer that we loved almost every single type of house they built: Bellway. We did look around some other homes from other developers, but we just found that Bellway had the nicest houses, but also the most relaxed and friendly sales staff.

We also very quickly found the house that we wanted – the Oakwood – and it was really just a case of finding an Oakwood in an area that we liked, although we cared more about getting the house than we cared about exactly where it was, so long as it was within the wider area which Matthew’s job needs him to be living in, and that was when we found our house.

One of the draws of a new build for most people is having the ability to choose many of the features of your house, such as the kitchen cabinets, bathroom tiles, carpets and flooring etc. Well, we didn’t quite manage that. Most of the big decisions about the house have to be made before a certain stage of the build, and as our house was already mainly built when when we put down our reservation fee, we didn’t get to choose the kitchen design or any of the bathroom tiles, but the only thing that really bothered me about that was that I don’t like the kitchen worktop, but the rest is absolutely fine. We did get to choose our carpets and flooring as those are pretty much the last things to be fitted in the house, and while we’ll probably replace the vinyl in the kitchen and bathrooms eventually, we really like the choices that we made and they suit the rest of the house really well.

The good thing about the build being started before we bought it was that there were a lot of incentives thrown in. When developers are on a tight timeframe for completing a development, they really want to sell off the houses that are already built before they start on the next batch, and that was basically exactly what happened with ours. Before we’d even seen the house, they’d already upgraded the kitchen to include some appliances that normally aren’t included as standard, such as a fridge-freezer and dishwasher, and when we were looking at putting down the reservation fee, they agreed to also throw in turf and fences for the garden, as well as paying our stamp duty, which saved us a bunch! We did choose to pay for a few additional extras – downlights in the kitchen, and a shaver socket in the bathroom – but that was it for us as they had to be paid for up front.

Annoyingly, due to work being done every time we went up, we didn’t get to actually go inside our house until our official home demo – where the site manager shows us around and explains how to open the windows, where the fuse box in etc – but actually it was nice to just see it all finished.

Really, we had a pretty smooth experience. It was less than 3 months from seeing the house for the first time to completing, and that was a blessing really as buying somewhere so far from where we live right now could have been a nightmare.

There’s going to be so much more house content coming soon, so stay tuned!

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DIY Geometric Feature Wall

So after sharing pictures of the wall we painted in our guest bedroom on Twitter I had an influx of people asking about how we did it, so here it is!

The fabulous thing about this geometric paint style is that it looks so cool but its actually surprisingly quick and simple to do, its just a case of knowing what you need, and what you need to do, and hopefully I’ll cover all that in this post.

So the things you’ll need:

  • Frog Tape – this is an absolute must, and this is the only thing where I feel really strongly about not cheaping out on. Regular masking tape will not give you completely clean lines as often paint will creep underneath the edges of the tape, but Frog Tape is treated with something that stops this from happening – I swear this post is not sponsored so please take my advice on this. You need the green tape (it also comes in yellow and orange, but its the green that you need for this), and for our wall we used the widest of the three sizes that B&Q keep in stock.
  • Your paint choices – we opted for 3 colours and got 1L of each, but obviously you can have as many or few colours as you like – I’ve seen similar things on Pinterest where people just paint one colour and have the lines as the statement!
  • Rollers/paint brushes, trays, dust sheets etc – y’know, the usual painting kit

Because our house is a new build, it already had a lovely fresh white wall for us to paint over, but if you’re not in the same position then make sure you paint your wall and let it dry properly before getting started on the pattern. Also don’t feel as though you have to have a white backdrop, you could do this with any colour, but if you’re going to use a darker background, you’ll want to do a coat of primer over your pattern before you start on the colours to make sure your background doesn’t show through.

So we started off by taping around the whole edge of the wall to create an outside border. This is totally optional but it gives it a nice edge and saves painful hours of cutting in so I do recommend it. Be sure to also tape around any sockets or switches.

Now the actual pattern we completely improvised. If you want to plan it before you start taping then that’s fine, but we actually were happier making it up as we went along, and the beauty of tape meant that if we did change our mind on a certain line, you just rip it back off and do it again. With a triangle pattern, the one thing I would say to keep an eye out for is that no three triangles have the same border line if you’re using three colours as we did, otherwise you’d end up with two triangles of the same colour touching, so just watch out.

Once we were happy with the pattern, we took a little bit of tape and wrote the colours on them so we could mark out which triangle was going to be which colour, again just to be sure that we didn’t end up with the same colour touching, and also just to make sure we had a good balance of the colours. Before you start to paint just double check that all of the tape is well stuck to the wall by smoothing over it all again.

Working one colour at a time, its just a case of filling in the gaps! When you’re only painting a few little shapes its amazing how much quicker it seems to take compared to painting a whole wall one single colour. Don’t worry about going over the edge of the tape a little bit with the paint, in fact you’re better off doing that to make sure you’ve filled right up to the edge of the shape.

Wait until you’ve painted in all of the colours, but be sure to peel the tape off before the paint has completely dried as this will prevent you pulling up any paint by accident with your tape. Start by peeling the pattern, and leave the outside border to last to peel, and most importantly take your time with the peeling. You don’t want to rush and end up flicking paint into the wrong section or getting tape stuck on wet paint.

Once you’ve peeled everything back off, you’re pretty much set, just allow plenty of time for the paint to dry fully before you do anything else to the wall!

 

So just to recap on the key points that I think are crucial to making this as perfect and painfree as possible:

  • Frog Tape is a must, do not risk using regular masking tape
  • You don’t have to overplan the pattern, in fact improvising can be easier
  • Peel the tape off before the paint dries completely
  • Having a border around the edge of the design saves a lot of time

For anyone wondering, we used Valspar paint in You’re Blushing, Angel’s Sigh and Petite Pirouette, as shown below:

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Mahabis Slippers – The Best Thing Ever?

From the first time I saw the advert on the tv, I knew I needed these slippers, and when I got my annual bonus back in March, I treated myself to a pair of Mahabis.

To the untrained eye, these might just seem like a regular pair of slippers, but the beauty of Mahabis is that each pair comes with a pair of rubber soles that clip onto the bottom of your slippers in a few quick seconds, meaning you can wear them outside without ruining the base of your slippers. The soles fit on with the help of a little popper at the back of each slipper, which you just attach through the little hole in the back of the sole, simple!

Now given that I love a good pair of slippers, and would happily wear them as my only footwear, the ability to wear slippers outside was super exciting to me. Now strictly speaking they’re only designed for light outdoor use, such as running out to get something from the car, taking the bins out etc, but the bases are pretty tough and I reckon they’d stand up to good wear – I actually wore mine on the drive home from Manchester last weekend and walked around Keele services in them no problem!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the comfort, lets just say I could happily wear these all day! As you can see in the photos, they’re a bit more than a pump style, I’d describe them as being the slipper equivalent of a pair of Toms, with a lambswool lining that’s backed onto a synthetic base rather than sheepskin, and they’ve got a nice stretchy heel piece which is a little bit grippy also so there’s no risk of your feet coming out.

They’re a premium pair of slippers, but I honestly love them and am so glad that I treated myself to them. They also have some variations including a lighter design of ‘summer slipper’ and also a hardier pair of ‘outdoor slippers’, not to mention the fact that you can make your slippers fit your style with a range of colours of additional soles, including gold and pearl pink!

Are you a slipper person?

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Our First Weekend In Our New House and What We Got Done

So even though it feels like we’ve waited forever, in reality its only been 2 1/2 months since we saw our house for the first time, and on Thursday we officially completed and its now ours! We picked up the keys on Friday and the weekend has been the first phase of our moving process – I don’t actually leave my job until July 6th, so until then we’ll only be able to visit on weekends, but that hopefully means by the time we’re up there permanently, it will be mostly finished in terms of unpacking and decorating! (This is a bit of an unedited photo dump so apologies that some pictures are a bit dark)

We went up with my parents in a one car, one van convoy, both packed to bursting with the stuff we already have, and then once we’d unloaded that all into the garage, it was on to Ikea for the big furniture shop. I won’t bore you with the details, but 5 trolleys and one delivery coming on Tuesday, and we’re actually still not completely done as we realised we’ve picked up a few things in the wrong sizes and forgot a few little but key things like hinges and legs for cupboards.. As that was a fairly manual labour filled day, we didn’t build anything that night, and Matthew and I had what I believe is a traditional ‘first night in new house’ evening of takeaway pizza on the floor because we don’t have a dining table/chairs or even a sofa, and slept on our mattress on the floor because its our bed being delivered on Tuesday..

Our current living room set up

Saturday morning my parents brought round some food for breakfast; we got to use our toaster and kettle for the first time with toast for Dad and a cup of tea for my mum. Matthew and I then headed off to do a bit more shopping with Mum while we left my dad to start building some of the Ikea stuff. We hit Costco (for mainly cleaning supplies at this point), B&Q for paint and decorating bits and then went to DFS to order our sofa, which was a pretty easy job as we’ve had it picked our for ages! On our way back to the house we decided to try out our first local chippy to see how it was (a solid 7/10) and then after we’d eaten, again on the kitchen floor, Matthew and I set to work painting the feature wall in our guest bedroom. (I’ll be doing a full post on how we did this later on this week!)

Once the wall was painted, we could then build the bed in there and position all the furniture, and then my parents headed home. Matthew and I drove into Crewe for another B&Q trip, this time for paint for my office, plus some screws and wall plugs and a few other bits and bobs, and I spent the evening painting the feature wall in my office.

Sunday morning was another coat of paint in my office, then we headed back into Crewe and hit Home Bargains and Dunelm for some things for the bathroom, grabbed lunch in Nandos and headed back to the house where the Sky man had just arrived to set up our Sky box. I built all the bathroom bits, then while Matthew screwed them into the walls, I built the desk for my office and got that all set up.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing some finishing touches in the guest bedroom, which is now pretty much finished apart from a mirror needing to be put on a wall and a few other little decor additions, then tidied up all the mess into the garage.

So one weekend in, we have pretty much finished the guest bedroom and the bathroom, bar a few little details, and made a start to pretty much every other room. We still haven’t decided how we want to decorate our bedroom or the living room, but as neither have that much furniture in them right now we’ve got plenty of time to decide! If you want to see how some of these rooms looked before, check out the first look at our home here.

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A First Look at Our First Home

So after what feels like forever and also no time at all simultaneously, yesterday, for the first time ever, Matthew and I got to step foot into our first house.

Its been just over 2 months since we fell in love with this plot and put down our reservation fee, and ever since then its been a whirlwind of mortgage applications, legal documents and everything else that comes with house-buying, but its all coming together in time for us to get the keys next week.

Us being in Bournemouth (my home town) and the house being in Winsford has been an obvious logistical nightmare, so while most buyers would be able to check up on their new build as and when, we’ve only been up to see it a handful of times, all of which up til now have been while work was being carried out, so we’ve never been able to see the inside of the place that we’ll be making our home.

Well its safe to say I’m in love. I fell in love with the house from the first time we visited a showhome, but this one just seems so much shinier and more beautiful because its ours. Because we bought so late in the build of the house, we didn’t get to make many choices – the kitchen and the bathroom tiles had already been picked – but we did get to pick the carpet and the flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms, and while it was pretty hard when you’re just looking at samples, we managed to nail it and everything goes perfectly!


I can’t wait to get in next week and start the slow process of transforming this empty (but beautiful) shell of our house into our home, and I’m planning on doing before/after posts for each room as and when we finish them, plus everything else along the way, so be prepared for a whole bunch of house posts in the coming months!

Oh, and on top of having a beautiful house, we have the most amazing back garden! I’m feeling really super blessed that we managed to get this house, and even though I’ll probably never have savings again, it seems absolutely worth it.

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4 Shops for First Time Buyers – That Aren’t IKEA

Whether you’re buying your first home, or just moving/re-decorating, its no secret that it ain’t cheap. I mean, its a big enough purchase as it is, but all of a sudden you’ve gone from buying one thing to having a shopping list longer than your arm and a bank account that’s crying just a little bit.

For this, the world has learned to love the wonder that is IKEA. Its the answer to a whole bunch of your home needs and is pretty friendly to any budget, but despite my love for the big blue stores, there are a couple of things that you either can’t get, or I wouldn’t get there, and now I’m actually in the process of becoming a home-owner, I’ve suddenly realised that there’s a world of other stores out there that can also save me a pretty penny.

Home Sense

Sure, it can be hit and miss, but Home Sense is an absolute gem if you’re prepared to do a bit of digging. Stock is completely random, but its big brands for low prices, and you can grab yourself a real bargain – Matthew and I really wanted the pastel blue Smeg toaster and kettle for our kitchen, and would you believe that we randomly came across one tucked on a bottom shelf in our local store for £40 off the RRP! You can also find a lot of brands that are known to be a little pricey, such as Joseph Joseph and Le Crueset, for crazy good prices and there’s always a good range of Pyrex and Tefal. We’ve also picked up some amazing throw blankets and cushions for prices you won’t find in the likes of John Lewis or Next.

TK Maxx

TK Maxx actually own Home Sense, so a lot of the stock can be found in the home section of your local TK Maxx if you don’t have a Home Sense nearby, and unlike Home Sense, TK Maxx have an online store, so you can shop the deals without even leaving the house!

Supermarkets

Do not underestimate the home section of your local supermarket. Both George by Asda and Sainsbury’s home have some really nice ranges of kitchenware, bedding and soft furnishings, and even if their styles don’t take your fancy, they’re also a great place to pick up your basics – white plates, drinking glasses etc – for a good price.

Home Bargains

So the actual home decor stuff can vary from super tacky to actually pretty good – we’ve just bought some decent nest tables for £20 – but even if the home stuff doesn’t take your fancy, Home Bargains is an amazing place to buy a bunch of the things that you probably buy from the supermarket all the time for even cheaper than your rolled-back, price-matched prices; cereal, biscuits, chocolate, ketchup, all branded stuff for lower than your own brand equivalents, so its a great place to do your shopping once you’ve spent all your money on furniture!

Do you have any favourite places to nab a good deal?

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