How to install your own shutters

california shutters

We have been living with no window treatments downstairs for over 18 months. So long, I’d almost forgotten that everyone could see right into our front room from the relatively busy path outside. I’ve never been someone who is overly private, and would always prefer good light during the day over a window covering, but even I began to feel like having people casually snooping on us from outside on the regular was a step too far!

Easier said than done, however, when you have a bay window, with a radiator and sofa to contend with. Curtains would be too fussy and not draw properly. Whilst a roller, roman, or venetian blinds would obstruct the pretty stained glass windows that, original or not, are a lovely nod to the era this house was built.

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Ikea Play Kitchen Makeover

ikea duktig play kitchen hack

Our Ikea Duktig kitchen is definitely our most played with toy. With two girls under five, it has been well loved for over four years and was beginning to show a few signs of looking tired. I’ve always wanted to upcycle it, and over the years have had various designs in mind, but renovating two houses and a house move took priority over less essential (but way more fun) projects like this one.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know we have given our real kitchen a temporary update, whilst we save for an extension. This project, therefore, gave me a chance to put my plywood and ribbed wood dreams into real life, albeit on a smaller scale!! It has also meant I had a chance to change two of the only things I found impractical about the play kitchen – the fact that all the toys fell down the back, and the plastic hooks which the kids constantly pulled off and scattered around the house.

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Why you need art in your home (and shouldn’t be scared of choosing it)

front foor in lilac with yellow chest of drawers and ls lowry art

AD – This blog post has been kindly paid for by King and McGaw but all opinions and words are, as always, my own.

Art on the walls really does make a house a home. It’s the finishing touch so to speak, and leaving all your walls empty can make your home feel stark and unfriendly.

You don’t need to install gallery walls on every inch of your home, but a few collections of art here and there will really bring your rooms to life and give them a beautiful and unique personality (which you can change up relatively easily as and when the mood takes you).

Displaying art on the walls is also a fabulous way of bringing rented accommodation to life or for injecting colour into a neutral scheme. It can be a great conversation starter when you have friends round, it can make you chuckle, marvel, daydream, think, become pensive, nostalgic or even inspired. Art is a multi-faceted accessory in your home and shouldn’t just be an after-thought.

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My top picks from Cotswold Company

Want to win a £400 voucher for the Cotswold Company? Read on to find out how…

Whilst we are all spending a lot of time in our homes lately, I am sure many of you are noticing new areas that aren’t working so well, or wanting to finish corners that have been ignored for too long. As we all live, work and play in one space, the walls can feel like they are creeping in on us and extra work items or home schooling resources are highlighting a need for more storage and better organisation.

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How to use tile stickers

Naff. That was the first thought in my mind when I came across tile stickers.

But then we moved to this house with a lime green kitchen and my opinion began to change. I knew we needed to come up with a quick and cheap solution so we could transform it (or at the very least, make it ‘liveable’) before all the major building works began.

You can find tile stickers on eBay and Amazon, but after heaps of searching, we personally struck gold with It’s an unassuming website, with limited and rather uninspiring social media activity but, my oh my, some of the tile stickers on there are gorgeous! (This is NOT an ad by the way!) There are also multiple size options available for every design making it compatible with the tiles you already have.

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A quick budget kitchen makeover

After a long drawn out moving process, which had many setbacks along the way, we were absolutely itching to crack on with the renovation as soon as the keys were in our hands. We plan to extend the kitchen and utility room one day, so whilst we’ve invested in replastering and new electrics in the rest of the house, this temporary makeover was always going to be about being simple, quick and super cheap. We just needed to make it liveable for 3 years or so.

The only proplem there is…

There was lime green EVERYWHERE.

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Limepaint – what went wrong and why I won’t be using it again

Limepaint or limewash is a natural eco-friendly paint which, when applied with a brush, creates a beautiful textured finish and thanks to modern companies like Bauwerk Colour and Kalkliter, comes in a wide range of stunning colours. So why did it all go so wrong?

I have loved the look for awhile, whether it be in Moroccan décor or in more contemporary settings and I felt this paint might just be the ‘piece de resistance’ needed in our bedroom. I like the calming nature of an all-white bedroom but felt by injecting some texture it would help give it depth and interest.

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Our small family home: A full house tour

Our New Front Door: Before And After

The time has finally come to say goodbye to our first home, our beautiful little Victorian mid-terrace house with the yellow door. We have had so many wonderful memories here, including bringing our youngest daughter home at just 6 hours old, hosting parties, working together on DIY projects, watching both our children learn to walk and talk, and, of course, I am very grateful to have been able to call it ours. However, it is almost two years to the day that we decided to move on so, honestly? My heart has not been here for a while. It has been with the other three houses we’ve tried to buy along the way, it has been dreaming of driveways and downstairs toilets and space for dishwashers. We were completely content with our situation, but as soon as our head was turned by something different, I’m ashamed to say our patience for the little niggles mentioned above started to wear thin. Family life grew and two active children (potentially more one day?) require more than a couple with a baby who doesn’t move.

And so, to sign off our adventure in this home on the blog, I have curated a mammoth house tour for you full of all the juiciest before and after shots! We have learnt so much from the renovation – we made a lot of mistakes and compromised more than we would have liked to due to budget (we spent approx. £6500 in total for the whole house) but overall we have both really enjoyed the process. I hope you like it!

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Moving house as part of a big chain – the saga continues

Moving house as part of a big chain - the saga continues

I am writing this in utter disbelief, with tears rolling down my cheeks, splashing the keys on my laptop and moistening my angrily tapping fingertips.

Six months ago, I shared with you all how our house move had fallen through at the last moment. Whilst heartbroken and raw, I read it back now with shock at how positive I was, even then, in what felt like a very dark moment. Of course I could write then with the hope that this sort of thing never happens twice? Surely that is unheard of? Surely the next house we find will be THE one? Turns out I was wrong. I know I’ve lost all perspective, but honestly, right now I feel like moving house is impossible.

This time around we were in a chain of six, but we’d got even closer. A few weeks ago everyone was talking about moving this very Friday (22nd June). We had a date! We had started arranging childcare, received quotes for removal men, cleared out the loft, the kitchen and the under stairs cupboard. My word, I’d even cleaned the oven in preparation!

However, today we found out that #3 in the chain (our buyer’s buyer) has pulled out. Our buyers are no longer proceedable. Therefore we have to put ours on the market again, which for one reason or another, will be the fifth time in 22 months. We have spent close to £2000 on trying to move and we are back to square one. Except now we lack the innocent, giddy hope we began the process with – we just feel cynical, jaded and powerless.

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#ourkidslivehere: A new family and interiors Instagram hashtag challenge

Interior and Family Hashtag Challenge

Do you love stylish interiors but also have kids? Do you know they can actually be compatible together?!

Sometimes it’s just a case of seeing how others do it, to inspire you to do the same. What hacks do they use? How do they make the shared room for the kids work both practically and aesthetically? Where the heck do they put all the ugly toys?!

That’s why Coral Atkinson (@coral.atkinson, founder and creator behind the beautiful Velveteen Babies) and I (@theottohouse), have decided to start a new hashtag challenge which we hope will encourage people to share, and be inspired by, stylish and creatively decorated homes which have our family lives at the centre. Our homes may not always look straight out of a magazine but they do have life to the fullest enjoying every inch of them. You will be able to find all this inspiration under the hashtag #ourkidslivehere and you can add your own pictures to the feed too by popping the hashtag in the caption underneath your picture. We would love you to feel free to include your kids in these pictures if you like, but without them is totally fine too (we don’t want anyone ‘styling’ their kids into a shot just for Instagram!) We will share our favourites on our Instagram stories and, at the end of each month, our favourite picture will win an amazing prize from an incredible independent interiors based brand! So, be sure to follow both our accounts so you don’t miss out on the news including which fabulous prizes we have coming up!

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