Sorry I haven’t blogged for ages. So long in fact that the interface on wordpress has totally changed since the last time I blogged.

I received an email this week from a friend who has just moved into a new house, well it’s an old house, that needs quite a bit of work. “Please come over, and give us the White renovation pep talk,” he suggested. “Reassure us that it will all be OK one day.”

Which got me thinking of the days when our French house was hideous. And I would cry and wonder why the hell we had done this. Check out these pics for example.

Or for those who can’t be bothered to click on the link.. this was once my dining room!

So I gave him my five point plan for renovation motivation or moreover things I say but don’t always do or feel but they sound like sage advice!

1) Make one room nice straight away. Then you have somewhere to sit in the evening and watch TV or drink wine, or both. In the case of France this was our kitchen as it was the only room with a working fire. In UK renovations I’d go for the sitting room as I am assuming you have heating and/or running water. If not then I salute you.

The fire we huddled around for the first six months

The fire we huddled around for the first six months

2) Sort out a shower. Showers are on that Maslow’s Triangle of needs. Well if they aren’t they should be. Maybe Maslow was more of a bath man? If you have a working shower with nice tiles and some Aveda shampoo you can face anything. So get thee to or for affordable bathroom fittings and do it asap. You can always upgrade to fancy Duravit stuff in a few years time.


My bathroom in London – done in haste but enjoyed every day!

3) Remember that the reason you bought a house that needed work is because you couldn’t afford the same size house all done up or because you knew that buying a wreck can mean potential money making opportunities. And then think about how cramped you’d all be living in a high spec penthouse with all mod cons. You see – you feel better already!

4) Only invite people around in the early days who appreciate the joys of a project. People like Peter and I in fact. We will swoon over your peeling paint and original features. We will talk about potential. We will be jealous of the fact you are at the beginning of a renovation project and not nearing the end of it. (I still have wallpapers, tiles etc that I have nowhere to put now in France and entire pinterest boards devoted to rooms that don’t even exist!)

5) In the case of my male friend who was asking my advice on the above I pointed out that the best thing he can do is to accept at all times that whenever his wife has had a bad day, or is fed up with bare floorboards when all her friends have Fired Earth tiles, it is HIS FAULT. ALL OF IT! That way everyone is happy. See – I’ve cracked this renovation malarky….

Downstairs Bathroom ‘Get the Look’

Bathing beauty

Bathing beauty

The last time I did a ‘get the look’ post I got a lot of love for it. Like I said before, I AM a journalist so research is in my DNA. Its one of the things I love about renovating (and oddly one of the things that other people cite as the reason they don’t do it – “who has the time to look for tiles blah blah”)

Its where other blogs are invaluable too as blogging is a way for those of us who love searching down bargains and unique ways to decorate to share our wisdom. And I often wonder what would I choose for my homes if I could choose anything. Where would I start if money were no object. For me the starting point of any room is usually based around some money saving necessity and I take it from there usually via Ebay!

In the case of my downstairs bathroom the bath was the thing that had to stay. It was in the room when we moved in but had slime and quite possibly an ecosystem living in it. There were vines and creepers growing through the window of this room and it had a concrete floor and falling down walls.

A hot water tank. Which means - HOT water!

A hot water tank. Which means – HOT water!

This picture above was how it looked AFTER we’d cleaned it up a lot. But thanks to a lack of funds, Peter decided that the bath had to stay. And I rather liked its little metal feet so I said OK. And as you can see – the floor had been accessorised with a rather nice piece of cardboard that we had to step on so floor tiles were needed asap. So we visited B&Q near our house in London and found some slate tiles a bit like this that were on sale. So for only about £100 we had enough to cover our floor and do a skirting board in them too.

Colours Excellence Pack of 5 Black Slate Wall & Floor Tiles (L)300 x (W)300mm

B&Q slate floor tile

Most places do slate tiles like this. And I love the look. I could have spent more and got these ones from Topps Tiles

Or really blown the budget and gone to Fired Earth who do these brilliant rectangular tiles which I think give a lovely country feel. In fact am now wishing I’d pushed the budget a bit. Maybe when its time to re-renovate and I’ve turned this blog into a moneyspinning enterprise with my own TV show I can make Fired Earth rather than B&Q my home.

And on our walls we went for Cornforth White by Farrow and Ball – I can’t even remember how or why we got to this colour but it may have involved my friend and colleague Oonagh who knows every F&B colour by heart. I suspect some nights she dreams of Farrow and Ball. Her alltime fave BTW is Light Blue which isn’t really blue at all but grey. But maybe she suggested Cornforth to go with the slate – either way it works and I am really happy with it.

Cornforth White

Farrow and Ball Cornforth White

The bathroom suite itself (and I use the word suite loosely as the dodgy old iron bath was staying, all I needed was a loo and a sink) came from a local bathroom centre in Greenwich. Well, Charlton technically. Lets go for West Charlton. Its called Gem Discount Bathrooms and sells pretty much any type of bathroom you would want but the ones you can get for really knock down prices are the ‘traditional’ look ranges. Everyone does them and they are always on sale because no one likes them anymore. Or at least they don’t like them in their wipe clean, modern, limestone tiled London bathrooms. (And I don’t really either though I did just do up my bathroom at home and went for something in between)


My new London bathroom!


More London en suite bathroom


Savoy toilet from

Anyway I digress…. Victorian style bathrooms feature on most people’s sites and are often on sale. Ones I love include this old school cistern at the top loo.

It is part of their Savoy range which looks like this. Perfect for French Country homes. Or English Country Homes I suppose. But maybe not in downtown Dalston!


Winchester Suite from Victoria Plumb

bathstoresavoyOr Victoria Plumb often have things on sale. This bathroom suite is currently only £168 for the loo and sink!

And after that I just added things found at Vide Greniers. A lovely vintage picture which remains one of my fave ever finds. A storage cupboard from a local brocante (which Peter had to tie to top of car and drive home).


Moustache mat from Primark

But my favourite recent addition is my moustache bathmat from Primark (who FYI do some great bits and pieces of homeware!) Ta da! And only £6 I think. Bargain.