Our New Front Door: Before and After

I can honestly say it’s the best £1000 we’ve ever spent.  We’ve never had a huge budget for doing up this house, but to spend 1/6 of that on getting rid of the old UPVC door and transforming our homes curb appeal was definitely the best decision we ever made.  I absolutely hated our old door, and I hate to admit I’m this shallow, but it genuinely made me feel embarrassed about the house.  We’d worked so hard on transforming the interiors, but 95% of people only ever saw that horrible plastic white thing more akin to a static caravan home than a Victorian cottage in the beautiful South Downs National Park.  I remember our first Christmas in the village, taking Darcey for a little walk in the pram to get some fresh air and coming home to Matt exclaiming ‘I swear we have the only UPVC door in the WHOLE village, everyone has beautiful Christmas wreaths on their beautiful Farrow and Ball doors and ours is just BLEURGH!!!’  (You may come to realise I’m never one to understate my feelings…)

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Our Girls’ Shared Bedroom Makeover

It was definitely at the point where we had to strip the wall in the girls room right back to the original wood when I thought we were never going to achieve our three week deadline.  It was also the moment where I sent an urgent plea out to good friends requesting help with the decorating.  Quick!!! Darcey has to sleep in this room in 8 days!!!  PLEASE help.  Emotive? Guilty.  Using a baby to get you free labour? Guilty.  Desperate?  Hell to the YES.

Due to previous damage and decay we had to strip this wall right back and our plasterers boarded it up for us and re-plastered.  It was an unexpected and unwelcome job but it had to be done and at least it gave us a bag full of wood perfect for kinder on the fire?! (Essential to clasp onto any positives you can whilst going through a renovation I think!)

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The best way to get smarter storage in your small house

Before we bought ‘The Otto House’ we rented a large, detached three-bedroom house with an enormous studio in the garden.  Like many here in the South of England we had to downsize to get on the property ladder so storage has always been a bit of an ongoing challenge.  I am a curtain-maker by trade and not only used the old garden studio for making curtains but also for hoarding HEAPS of fabric, wallpaper, paint, magazines, books and anything else remotely crafty.  It was like a creative paradise to me and something which I am sure I will never have again, but I am so very grateful for the two glorious years I spent stitching away in there whilst the sun streamed through the double doors.  (And the winters spent in a coat, hat and gloves bent shivering over my sewing machine, but, you know, that sounded less poetic!)

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How we Exposed a Brick Wall, so YOU can too!

How to do an exposed brick wall

Two of the things that get the most comments over on my Instagram @theottohouse are our bathroom tiles and this exposed brick wall.  It really was so very simple to do and at next-to-nothing cost, is a great way to add character to a room on a low budget, but despite that we still felt pretty intimidated by the job and almost didn’t go for it.  Do you have similar apprehensions? Read on to see how we did it and how we feel about living with exposed brick, one year on.

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A Family Bathroom Transformation that is Practical, Stylish and Budget Friendly

When we picked up the keys for our first home ‘The Otto House’, we had three weeks to get it ready for our little family. At the time Darcey had just turned one, and although a walk in shower with large white plastic handrails and a fold down seat may be welcoming for a weary mama after a long sleepness night, it certainly didn’t please me aesthetically or suit our needs as a family bathroom.  Thankfully a builder friend of ours was on hand to help us with the tiling and plumbing so we could crack on and get it finished in the couple of weeks before move in day.

We started by ripping out the shower and the awful faux marble plastic surround that had been literally glued onto the tiles beneath it.  Having spent ages trying to take the tiles off the wall around the fireplace downstairs, the thought of more tiles that needed removing (especially ones not factored into our tight time frame) was as unwelcome as a James Blunt song on the radio.  I needn’t have worried however as the tiles only required a few forceful taps, a bit of leverage with the chisel and they all fell down, bringing the wall with it!

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