Goodbye, carpet! Restoring 19th century wooden floorboards

Hi all,

Hope you’re having a nice week. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the weekend!

When we moved into our flat, we knew we wanted to do a lot (if not all) of the repairs ourselves. First up in our DIY show and tell is the hallway transformation. This has been our biggest project so far and was a bit terrifying to start because…

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The before and after.

 

  1. We had no idea what was under the carpet. Original hardwood floors from 1890? Concrete? Botched jobs? Monsters?!
  2. We knew that once the carpet is torn up there is no going back. Our flat hallway would be a semi-construction zone for the next couple weeks!
  3. After doing some research, I realised that tracking down Victorian floorboards is easier said than done. A few were advertised on GumTree, but only a few bits here and there. Would we be able to find enough (if needed) and for how much?
  4. And by far the most nerveracking: this was the first time we’ve ever done something like this. The potential for error was definitely there.

Here’s how the whole thing played out (taking place over five weekends).

First… the moment of truth. We ripped up the carpet to find original hardwood floorboards in pretty good condition – minus a few quick fixes from way back when (seen below).

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Someone way back when opted for a quick fix instead of replacing the full plank of wood…

Overall we were relieved. There were only a few problem areas. The horizontal wooden slab and concrete filler needed to go. A few planks further down needed to be replaced.

To see what we were working with we cleaned up what we could. Pulled out approximately 300 (!!) staples that held in the carpet, as well as the borders that fasten it to the side (the thin red and tan wooden strips).

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Carpet staples. Taking way longer to pull out than I ever imagined…

Cue the repairs! We searched online for planks from around the same era and made of the same type of wood (pine). No luck. It wasn’t until we stumbled across a carpentry shop in south London that we found what we were looking for. It felt like Christmas!

Next steps:

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  1. Cut out and remove broken planks. In a few areas we had to remove part of the adjacent plank too in order to access the joist below the floor (the horizontal frame where wood is securely drilled into). You can see a bit of the joist to the left of the 1986 Tango can we found under the wood!
  2. Cut the new planks into the correct size. Use a drill to nail either end of the planks into the joist.
  3. Sand! 

In addition to our smaller manual sander, we hired a heavy duty one. I’m in no way a sanding professional (I wouldn’t know where to start with the correct, technical terms!), but we used a fine sanding setting to ensure we took off the bare minimum. We wanted a smooth surface – but whilst keeping the character and history.

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Sand, sand, sand

We used the small hand sander for the borders.

Next up – varnish. We wanted the hallway to match the wood floor in our living room – or be as close as possible. We thought we would have to use a stain. We thankfully tested one in a small corner behind a door. It was way too dark. I would strongly suggest applying a small test sample to confirm it’s the shade of your wood floor dreams.

Instead of the stain, we opted for a clear gloss. It was almost perfect. We applied two coats – each took 10 hours to dry.

Finally… five weeks later… taa daa!

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We couldn’t be happier! The wood continues to the steps in our hall. Beyond that, carpet begins (we know there’s concrete underneath so we left the carpet).

So what do we do? Fresh carpet? Or perhaps new wood that hopefully matches the original? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

The first project has been crossed off the list. So, what should be next?

McK

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A dose of Victorian home DIY in London

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Can you tell I like plants?

Wow, time really flies by when you’re having fun. I haven’t blogged since January 2018 – and a lot has happened since then.

I’ve given into the travel bug, exploring places far and wide – to Thailand, Santorini, Rome, Prague, Trier, Barcelona, Amsterdam, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota and around the UK. Attended my first Glastonbury (!!). Started a new role at work. Became a cat mom.

Last but not least… we became homeowners! Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would own a flat in London. I’ve always been one for interiors and DIY projects, but now the decor and furniture fanatic in me is jumping for joy.

We’ve moved into a 1890 ground-floor Victorian flat. With its beautiful character and history comes decades-old quirks that need some love. From restoring original floorboards, maximising storage and finding affordable antiques, there’s always a little (or big!) job to add to the list.

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Hello, home!

That’s what I want to share.

As a first-time buyer, this was my introduction into the big world of home improvement and the problem solving that goes with it. I’m not going to lie, it was a little intimidating to begin with.

My first thought was ‘oh my god, what if something goes wrong and I ruin beautiful original features that have been here for 130 years?!’. Well, there’s always that chance… but that’s where a little bit of research, advice and YouTube comes in.

We’ve done quite a bit so far – so stay tuned.

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Grab me the drill, give me the gardening gloves. Let’s turn this house into a home!

More to come.

McK

Welcome to the bachelorette party! Hen do ideas you need in your life

What’s better… Christmas season or wedding season?!

As we all know from Wedding Crashers, it’s clearly WEDDING SEASON!

I am a bridesmaid for my sister-from-another-mister Penny in just a few short weeks! The bride tribe and I had so much fun organising her hen do (or bachelorette party as us Americans say) – and thought I would pass on some ideas for your future festivities!

I was in charge of decorations because (1) I’m obsessed with glitter and confetti (2) Pinterest is my Bible and (3) I love a good crafty project!

Photo by McKenna

Amazon, Ebay and Paperchase were my go-to places for operation Pen’s Hen! You can find great decorations at inexpensive prices. I first picked out a colour scheme (white, pastel pink and mint) and went from there!

Paper pom poms, balloons, a ‘bride-to-be’ banner and confetti were at the top of my list – they would look perfect in the Oxfordshire cottage we rented for the bride-to be!

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

Although there are a few items you need to buy, there’s also so much you can do with objects you already have! I took a few of my picture frames and inserted printed personalised messages into each one including ‘Welcome to Pen’s Hen Party!’ and ‘Sip sip hooray!’ – ideal for a drinks table 🙂

Photo by McKenna

Photos are also a nice way to personalise the space – plus, a great way to reminisce and meet the rest of the bride’s friends!

Photo by McKenna

Since many of the girls were traveling from far and wide – some from outside of the country – I thought hen do ‘survival kits’ would be a nice little touch. Inside were the essentials to get any girl through a weekend away including:

  • A mini bottle of booze
  • Water
  • Mini body lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Chocolate
  • Photo props (funny glasses, moustaches, lips, etc) – perfect for selfies!
  • Mints

Plus, they looked super cute!

 

Hen do survival kits | Photo by McKenna

Other necessities on the list: a tiara and veil for our beautiful bride! We also dressed her up in a ‘joke’ wedding dress for the evening. She was definitely surprised!

What decorations have been a hit at your parties/hen dos? Happy hen do!

McK x

Aloe there! Succulents have become my go-to obsession

A little bit of greenery can make all the difference, am I right?

Perusing my local garden centre and nearby florists has become somewhat of my weekly routine.

Photo by McKenna

From cacti to succulents, ferns to flowers, I cannot have enough plants. They have truly changed the vibe in our flat for the better.

Photo by McKenna

I mean, how could a handmade pot with an aloe mohawk NOT make anyone happy? 🙂

Photo by McKenna

In addition to adopting lonely plants in need of a home, maintaining my herb garden has become somewhat of a hobby. There’s just something so satisfying about topping a caprese salad with home-grown basil. I also love making Spanish or Thai inspired dishes, so coriander is obligated to make a hefty appearance.

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

Home is where the heart is. Or in my case, home is where my plants thrive.

Which plants are a must in your home decor scheme?

McK xxx

Home sweet home: bookshelf styling and cosy throws

Good morning!

I don’t know about you, but I love starting the day in a clean, organised flat. It makes me feel like I’m setting the tone for the rest of the day – 100% necessary when you have a long, stressful to-do list.

I’ve recently moved into a new flat – on a dreamy cobblestone mews in London (how appropriate for the blog?!) – and home decor and styling has been on my mind. The other week I channeled that energy into my bookshelf.

Photo by McKenna

I love a mix between new and old, high street and vintage. Some of my items are decades old – from my wooden elephant from India, a present from my dad, to a handmade vase. I love finding gems in markets and charity shops, like my white Vogue prints and candle holder.

Little hints of gold are my weakness, from my Joy pineapple candle to my fab lantern, gifted from my dear friend Hayley! Flowers and greenery are also a must!

As you’ll see, I have a grand total of 12 books (didn’t bring my collection when I moved from the states!) so I’m completely open to recommendations!

I’ve been in my flat for six months now so I’ve been taking my time finding the perfect additions to our new home.

Photo by McKenna

I love all white everything, with hints of charcoal grey and pastels – mint and light pink are my favourite! I’m also all about FLUFF. The more throws and pillows the better – this tribal pillow was only £5 at Tigre. What a steal! The faux fur throw was a gift that I will be eternally grateful for!

Photo by McKenna
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Photo by McKenna

I’ve discovered that peacock feathers are a cheap and easy way to add a little something extra to any surface – only £2 on Amazon!

What are your favourite go-to home accessories on a budget?

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  

– William Morris 

Columbia Road Flower Market in London: the ultimate Sunday Funday

There’s something so dreamy about freshly cut flowers.

Columbia Road Flower Market in East London is a green fiend’s paradise. You’ll find an entire street boasting the stands of local farmers and florists, offering everything from impressive peonies and succulents to palms trees and cacti. They even have lemon trees… yes, I repeat… lemon trees!

Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, the market is on in full force – and it’s calling your name. After all, a Sunday well spent brings a week of content 🙂

Photo by McKenna

Now, I’m just going to warn you. You may get overwhelmed your first time at the flower market (or second or third visit to be honest). There are just SO MANY FLOWERS (obviously!). Can’t decide between hydrangeas or tulips? No problem! You’re getting both because the option to mix-and-match is always a good idea.

Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna
Photo by McKenna

Once you’re done perusing the flower stands, be sure to stop into one of Columbia Road’s quaint antique stores, cafes or pubs for a shopping browse and a cappuccino. Then, if you get lucky, you’ll stumble across one of the market’s street performers – last time there was an amazing accordion player. It made me feel like I was on vacation!

Bottom line: Columbia Road Flower Market is always the right move. Always be blooming!

McK x

Flower power

Happy Monday! Hope you had a relaxing weekend! Remember, a Sunday well spent brings a week of content 🙂

Now that spring is has finally arrived and summer is just around the corner I thought it was completely necessary to add some fresh, new greenery to my humble abode.

Cue these fab yellow tulips.

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How gorgeous are these?! Not only do they smell amazing, but they offer such clean, crisp lines that go perfectly with my room.

Remember… always be blooming!

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xxx

McK