Saturday, 22 July 2017

How to cut costs in your bathroom revamp.

James is brilliant at most things. He can sing, act, played sport to a high level at school and university, is a brilliant business man- basically Mr All Star. However, he has the DIY skills of a baboon and thinks a U-bend is a type of driving maneuver. So, when it came to the bathroom and en suite refurbishments, I was swiftly labelled 'Project Manager'- how very Grand Designs; give me my high viz jacket, hard hat and Kevin McCloud.

Help me, Kev.

How to save money in the process? Do it ALL yourself. I'm kidding. But if you can, that's the answer and you can stop reading now. If not and you need the help of the professionals, here's what I learnt and how I saved money whilst doing ours, as you will probably part with more money than anticipated 99% of the time due to hidden obstacles that love to rear their ugly heads.

Hidden costs: not long after this, the ceiling started peeling off due to badly glued on coving.

Go online
Tony, who did our bathroom, advised us to go local. I tried, I really did, as I like supporting small businesses and it always feels more personable. If you're on a budget like us, this was quickly becoming problematic due to the prices of even the basic stuff. By going to online stores like Soak and Victoria Plum for your sanitaryware, you are literally saving thousands and the quality is good. If you catch the sites at the right time, you will find they're often doing 10% flash sales too. Tons of Tiles came up trumps and have a brilliant range of tiles to choose from, all at great value.

At 94p a tile, these matt black hexagons from Tons of Tiles
were a bargain and make the bathroom look really chic.

You're already saving over 50% on this Soak black slate effect tray.

Re-use your hardware
Do you really need new taps, shower system and shower screen? I thought I did but realised they were perfectly fine and all they needed was a clean. I soaked my shower head, hose and taps in strong de-scaler, and they came out like new. The shower screen for the bath just needed a clean and it's good to go again. As our plumbing is quite old, there was also a chance that newer shower units and taps wouldn't have had the same pressure and it would have been costly to adjust this, so it's always best to go by the old saying 'if it ain't broke..' you know the rest.

You've heard me talk about this before, but it's always worth considering this avenue, even if buying something new. We wanted a grey sink unit, but our dreams were shattered when Tony told us due to the industrial sized waste pipe that ran through, having a unit with drawers was pointless, as he would have needed to hack the insides to pieces to accommodate it. I'm a firm believer that bottomless options should start and finish in Nandos, so only a unit with doors would do. We had to go back to the drawing board. So, I bought a good quality basic white sink unit and using one and a half sample sized pots of Farrow and Ball Plummet, had a grey sink unit like the one I was lusting after, saving nearly £150.

The hardware needed some personality injected into it, painting the sink unit helped massively...

One and a half sample size pots of Farrow and Ball Plumett later and it looks soooo much better. To add even more drama, I used Kalk Litir's lime paint in Nero.

My biggest upcycling triumph during this process was my old towel heater in the main bathroom. It appeared bland and knackered, but it worked well, was giving me all kinds of industrial vibes and I loved the curved edges. Like any stereotypical 'nerd to hottie' American movie; it just needed a makeover. I used Hammerite metal spray in Black Satin and Tony said was fine for my towel heater, but it's always worth double checking, as you don't want black stripes running across your finest Egyptian Cotton...

Goodbye to Sandra-dee.

Tell me about it, stud... This fab 'Completely Devoted print from Soouk, that I bought from BHS compliments my upcycled rad perfectly.

As we were having our decking done by my lovely cousin's equally lovely hubby, I found a piece in the garden that I sanded down and with the addition of some leather strap that was hanging around (for decorative purposes only, there'll be no Christian Grey antics here, thankyouvellymuch), I had a shelf ready to use (with the expert execution of Tony, there was no way I was going to drill into the tiles myself). The grooves in the decking are fab for ensuring picture frames don't slip down and clobber you on the head while you're washing your money maker.

There's now a gap in my decking. Joking. Obvs.

So there you have it and I hope it's been more useful than a chocolate fireguard. Have a look below at the before and afters of our main bathroom and en suite!

Main bathroom before...

...and after! Note the reused shower screen and taps!

En suite before...

...and after. So much better.


Friday, 7 July 2017

How to give your kitchen some va va voom for less than £150

Since doing up my kitchen units, I've received so many messages about how I did it, so thought I'd better get my behind in gear and write a blog about it. So, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll most likely know that I've been undergoing bathroom, garden and kitchen works simultaneously, meaning that I've been doing a lot of throwback pics and photographing corners of my home where there isn't any evidence of men at work. As soon as my kitchen was tiled, I got stuck into updating the units and extractor fan (I knew that if I left it any longer, I would keep putting it off; poor Sienna gets blamed for a lot of these incidences). Here's what I did and my tips and tricks that I learned along the way...

Before. Perfectly fine, just not for me.

TALK TO THE EXPERTS: There was no way I was going to attempt to do this without seeking advice from my lovely followers, some of whom came up trumps with recommending primers, rollers, paint etc. I also asked (read interrogated) the lovely people in my local paint shop, who pointed me in the right direction of the Zinsser 1-2-3, which is perfect for laminate units as it's water based and there's no need to sand your surfaces prior to application; a great time saver if, like me, you'd rather spend your time Instastalking. Apply using a foam roller for smooth application and synthetic brushes in those hard to reach areas.

Metalwork sprayed and ready for priming. I used exactly the same process as the units to do the extractor hood.

DO WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN: I cannot stress this enough, but then again, I leave it at least one hour between coats of nail varnish. Zinsser says leave it a week before applying paint. Obey. You will live to regret it and you'll be buying a new kitchen before you know it, which defeats the object totally. I didn't lay the primer on thick, you just need enough to cover the units and it's OK if you can still see some of the colour underneath. If you run your hand over the primed surface, you shouldn't be able to feel any of the laminate underneath.

IT'S WHAT'S ON THE OUTSIDE THAT COUNTS: No, I'm not giving duff relationship advice and I know there'll be those that really disagree with me on this. I would've disagreed with me before I'd done it, but I'm so glad that I didn't try and paint the insides of the cupboards, as it took me a whopping FOUR coats of Farrow and Ball's Railings in Eggshell finish on the framework and both sides of the doors. I've since found out that if you can find a good dark water based primer, I probably could've done it in two. You live and learn, even if there are less tedious ways to do so. I painted the inside and outside of the doors- make sure you take them off to get even coverage around all edges. The classy bird that I am, I used cans of Carling that we can't seem to shift at family BBQs to hoist the doors off the floor, to make for quick and easy painting around the edges, which avoids excess paint gathering and that awful 'stickiness' you get when paint isn't spread thinly and evenly. I also painted the backs of the doors first, in case my Carling cans damaged them in anyway, it would be out of sight.

One coat of Farrow & Ball Railings. The moment I realised it wasn't going to happen in two coats as previously assumed. Ignore the Coco Pops.

UPCYCLE, UPCYCLE, UPCYCLE: You might hate your kitchen units, but if you look at them, are they in good nick? Are the knobs or handles OK too? If so, upcycle! I really wanted new handles, but couldn't justify the cost of getting them right now, so I simply sprayed my existing ones copper, and they surpassed my expectations!

My, what gorgeous knobs you have!

Total cost of upcycling units:
Zinsser 1-2-3 primer 1 litre - £21.10
2 X Farrow & Ball Railings in Eggshell 2.5 litre - £100
Rust-O-Leum Copper Spray - £7.98
Rollers - £9.54
Synthetic paintbrushes - £9.95
Total - £148.57
AKA- Much cheaper than a new kitchen.

Have a butcher's to see the results!

New units featuring the very gorgeous reclaimed leather rug from Elvis and Kresse you can save 12% on anything on their website with the code NESTTWENTYEIGHT12

So. Much. Better.

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