Want to learn historic restoration? I may have a lot of posts and videos on this site to help you learn the skills you need to restore your old house, but sometimes you need a little bit more. Sometimes you need someone to hold your hand and walk you through it in person. With that in mind, I felt it would be immensely helpful to share some of the places around the country where you can get that hands on training in the dark arts of historic restoration.
These classes and workshops are usually not available at your local community college, though that may be the case. You will likely need to travel to find the classes that meet your needs, but there are a lot of great schools, instructors, and workshops to choose from depending on what you want to study. I have met most if not all of these teachers and personally recommend them. Their knowledge and curriculum is top notch!
In addition to learning some great skills, taking a class like these will hook you up with other folks in the restoration industry or other homeowners who have been where you are. Fast and long lasting friendships often result from these too!
Coming up March 9-11, 2018 in Greensboro, NC, you can come meet and learn from window restorers from all over the country. This conference is geared toward professional window restorers and there will classes on topics like lead safety, OSHA, running and growing a restoration business, and more. There is a also a Glaze-A-Palooza competition where you can show off your glazing skills for some great prizes!
This is not only a great way to meet and learn from other window pros, but it caps off with a charity project where you’ll get to work along side other pros from all over the country as we donate a full day’s worth of window restoration working on a historic building to help a local charity. Find out more here information here!
Coming up soon (Feb 23 – March 2, 2018) this workshop is near and dear to my heart since it is right here in my backyard in Tampa, FL and I’ve been involved with it for the last 5 years. Steve Quillian at Wood Window Makeover puts on a great weekend workshop and you’ll get a chance to learn a ton with lots of different classes on Saturday, and then work alongside window restoration pros on an amazing charity project restoring the windows on the historic May-Stringer House in Brooksville, FL.
Professional window restorers from all over the country show up for this event and they will teach those willing to learn. There is also a good focus for those interested in how to start their own window restoration business. Check out the website here to register before its too late!
In Hannibal, MO Bob Yapp runs a great school that has a variety of classes on historic preservation ranging from How to Make Wood Storm Windows to Masonry Restoration and everything in between. Bob is one of the most respected preservationists in the country and has worked tirelessly to not only restore our greatest landmarks like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, but to also teach the next generation his venerable skills.
The classes are small and intimate, which means you get great instruction. While Bob teaches most of the classes, he also brings in other extremely talented pros for specialty classes. Top it all off with a stay at the Belvedere Inn while there and you’ll get the royal treatment from his wife Pat who is quite the hostess. Check out their 2018 schedule here!
You can study where I did by heading up to Vermont’s Mad River Valley and studying at Yestermorrow Design/Build School! I loved my time at Yestermorrow and learned a ton from their huge group of talented teachers. You can take everything from a weekend class on plastering to a full semester in Sustainable Design/Build. The classes are plentiful and the schedule is pretty good with a lot of 3-day to 2-week workshops to help you learn the skills you need without having to quit your day job.
In addition the great classes, you can’t beat the scenery since it is located in an old ski resort on the side of a mountain. The meals are provided and the housing is a choice between dorm like accommodations or cabins and yurts built by formers classes of students. Check out Yestermorrow here!
PTN is a great place to meet others in the preservation world. Their annual conference brings together people who are versed in almost any discipline of historic preservation to show what they are working on. Attendees will learn new and innovative techniques for hands on preservation. Their annual workshop is usually in the fall, but check out their website for other events around the country that may be of interest as well.
If you didn't catch my last blog post - then the breaking news of the blog the week, is that we've finally started our living room renovation. Yep, almost four years in - and it's begun. Luckily this room is in fairly good shape so doesn't require too much work - it's just quite dated; as in, it hasn't been revamped since the 60s. Eurgh!
I've spent the last couple of weeks stripping wallpaper, repairing the old ceiling and patching up the wonky and damaged walls. We're already beginning to see a fair bit of progress in this room and if you're following me on Instagram, you'll have seen all of this already. I was asked a fair few questions about how I remove wallpaper and how I'd be repairing the old walls. I'll be explaining the later soon, but I thought I would write a post specifically about removing wallpaper first.
Removing wallpaper is such a simple straightforward process that I didn't really think it was something worth writing about. But that being said, if you've never done it before - then it's something you may not know much about. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. So I thought why the hell not write about it! I've removed wallpaper from around 10 different rooms throughout two houses and my techniques are ever-evolving to perfect the quickest and best way to remove wallpaper. If my knowledge can help anyone out there, then why not! So, these are just my personal tips for removing wallpaper the easiest way I know how. If you'd like to add any further advice you have to share, then please do leave them in the comments below!
Removing the Top Layer
There are so many different types of wallpaper out there - from textured ones to more vinyl-feeling ones and even the dreaded wood chip ones (I've never removed this though - so I have no tips on that front, sorry!) and all wallpapers are different in how they come off the wall. Some come off so easily, you can just pull them straight off, others take a bit more work. The type of wall or plaster they're attached to also makes a big difference and the more wallpaper you remove, the more you'll notice this.
Usually wallpaper has two layers to it - the top layer and an underneath layer (you may even find multiple layers different types of wallpaper - in which case, unlucky you!!). The top layer is usually much easier to remove and once you've got a corner unlifted, you can usually pull this off in large sizeable chunks with your fingers. The underneath layer is the bit that's glued onto the wall - the harder one to remove.
Using a Wallpaper Steamer
I didn't invest in a wallpaper steamer until about two years ago when I stripped the dining room and kitchen. Until then, I had used either a combination of hot water and a sponge, or a steam mop (yes really!). Both of which did work and you can most definitely remove wallpaper without the aid of a steamer; but a wallpaper steamer is THE quickest and easiest way to remove wallpaper. Our steamer cost just £25 from Screwfix (here) and I definitely wish I had purchased one sooner.
The way a wallpaper steamer works is to heat the glue behind the wallpaper enough so that it softens and can literally be wiped off the wall. The downside to steaming, is that it does cost a fair bit to run (think kettle constantly on the boil!!) and it can leave the room quite wet and with a lot of condensation. Having a window open is definitely recommended and taking a fair few breaks to let the steam disperse helps quite a lot as well. As I said, you can soak the wall with hot water instead, but I definitely find using a steamer much easier and much quicker - and it's definitely my personal recommendation for wallpaper removal.
I generally hold the steamer to the wall for around 15-20 seconds before stripping the wallpaper off. If the paper looks wet, then you know it's ready to go. It's important not to hold the steamer onto the wall for too long as it could cause damage to the plaster beneath. It's a bit of trial and error thing to know exactly how long to leave the steamer up for - as I say, all wallpapers are different - but once you get going, you'll know.
Buy A Quality Stripping Knife
Having a decent stripping knife will make your life SO much easier. Imagine trying to strip wallpaper with a spoon - you'd be there all day flaking off bit by bit. Having the right tool for the job, really does go a long way.
The first thing to look for in a wallpaper stripping knife, is that it's nice and wide. This will cover more area at once and cut your time in half! The second thing you want to look for, is one with replacement blades so that you can ensure your stripping knife can always stay sharp. A blunt knife will miss bits of wallpaper and take much more effort in pressing it to the wall to get underneath the paper. This is the one I have, and I definitely recommend it, although it's best when it's blunted just a little (otherwise you have to be careful not to scrape up the wall!). It has a long handle for harder to reach areas and it's also soft to grip, which stops you getting hand blisters. You'll know what I mean if you've spent days on end painting with a roller!! Ouch.
Master the Art of Using Two Hands
If you're on a mission to strip wallpaper in a speedy time - then you'll need to master the art of using both hands. I use my left hand to hold up the steamer until the wallpaper is wet enough to remove and then relocate the steamer to another position whilst removing that wallpaper with the stripper in my right hand. It keeps the process constantly going and your left hand will always be one step ahead ready for your right hand. Does that make any sense?
It means you never have to put your tools down and once you've got a good system going - you can just keep going until you need to re-fill the water tank of the steamer. It's the most efficient way to work as quickly as possible when it comes to stripping wallpaper. Or at least, it is in my opinion. ;)
Once you've gone over the walls once and removed all the wallpaper, you'll inevitably find the wall will have a sticky feel to it (if it's still wet!) or it may otherwise have solid chunks dried to the wall. This is because in the steps above, we've been removing the wallpaper and not specifically the residue, which a lot of always ends up getting left behind. I've tried a few different techniques to remove the residue, but the quickest and best in my opinion is to use the steamer again.
I go back over the walls with the steamer, holding it this time against the bare plaster and then I use the stripping knife to scrape away that residue. You'll see it gather up in a really sloppy gooey slimy chunk (nice!) and you can lift it straight off the wall and wipe it onto a towel (or floor if you're lazy like me!). I do this over the whole wall and it removes the gunk in no time at all.
I have also tried scrubbing hot water and fairy liquid onto the wall, which also works but takes much longer. But if you don't have a steamer, this is definitely another option though!
Sanding the Walls Smooth
The very last thing I do is to quickly run some sandpaper over the whole wall. There's a good chance you may have missed the odd bit and there's still a slightly rough texture to the wall in areas. Having a smooth wall is especially important if you're plastering back over the wall and the last thing you want is anything being dragged through fresh plaster - your plasterer WILL NOT thank you for that. Likewise, you don't really want to be painting over chunks and having to scrape them off later either. A quick sand and feeling the walls with your hands will identify any bits that aren't perfectly smooth. It shouldn't take too long as you'll find it's really just the odd bit that needs attention.
And that's it! I hope that helps anyone who's new to wallpaper stripping, or if you're just looking for some new/different techniques to try. As always - I'm no professional, this is just the best way I've personally found to strip wallpaper. If you have any advice to share or alternative ideas, then please do! I'm always open to new techniques :) Here's a few shots of the living room under work and how it's looking now it's fully stripped of wallpaper.
Pretty right? I'll be sharing how we're patching the walls (and ceiling) in my next blog post, so stay tuned for that ;) Until then, happy wallpaper removing!
New year, new room! Well, sorta. I mean technically speaking, we're already a month into 2018 so I'm not tooooo sure we can still this part of the "new year" timings... BUT, we are now finally starting a new room renovation for 2018! And at long last, it's the living room that we're tackling next.
Our living room has been an absolute mess since.. well, since we moved in. It started as a place to store all our moving boxes whilst we moved in, then somewhere to store DIY tools as we renovated the kitchen, then it became a dumping ground for all the stuff we needed to take to the skip and now finally, almost four years later - it's empty and ready to renovate!
The photo above is how the room looked the day we moved in (before we moved in, I should say!), so it's not really a true representation of how it's looked as we've used this space. And truth be told, we haven't really used this space. The gas fire proved to be handy during our first year in the house as it was the only source of heating, but since that first winter we've barely used this room and very rarely spent time here. What the room has actually looked like...
You see what I mean? Not exactly a practical room for chilling out in, is it? This room is also massively chilly thanks to its ill-fitted windows so even at its emptiest, it's just not somewhere anyone wants to be and generally speaking, I'd rather chill out in bed than in here.
BUT after a good old clear out earlier in January, we finally have a room that's empty - and all that hate for the room is soon about to change. So I wanted to share some 'before' shots of the room before we get started on the demolition work and also explain some of our plans for this room. So without further intro, here's what the room looks like pre-renovations...
As you can hopefully see - it's quite a large room. Or at least, large by my books. But the room has no substance; not much furniture, no life, no soul. It does however have quite a bit of character - from the panels around the window to the cornicing at the ceiling and these are the things I absolutely LOVE about this room and can't wait to celebrate in here. And then of course it also has a rather dated fireplace and half the floor is still covered in hideously red floral carpet (under the sofa!), which I can't wait to destroy. We have lots planned and work has actually already begun.
Light and Bright
We're keeping this room as light and as bright as possible. I can't stay away from grey, but I want plenty of lightness to this room. A light grey, white woodwork and pops of colour. Nothing dark (we have enough of that in the kitchen and dining room!) and as much as I love dark spaces - I want this room to feel as though it's filled with light and punches of colour.
One of the main things I want to do in this room, is to build alcove cabinets either side of the chimney breast. I love how sophisticated and 'formal' these make a room feel and they're a great way to make alcove space more usable too. It'll also double-up as a way to hide the electric fuse box and provide us with somewhere subtle to hide the TV and all those hideous on-show cables. We also plan on using it to store plenty of books and I'd also like to incorporate another (smaller!) log stack within this too. Basically - this is going to be the feature of the room!
You guys know how much I love the period features of this house and floorboards are included in that. So we'll be stripping them back and putting them back on show. It's a much cheaper option of flooring than carpet and probably much more practical with two dogs as well. We've restored the floorboards in every room we've tackled so far, so why should this one be any different?
I can't begin to count how many rooms I've said we'd be *eventually* buying window shutters for - and we still haven't. Let's face it - they're a bloody expensive investment! I would LOVE to have some shutters in this room, but if budgets don't allow (they definitely wont allow!) then I'm thinking of DIYing some full panel block-out shutters in here instead. Admittedly it wont quite be the same, but I'm determined to have something similar on the cheap.
We'll be opening the chimney breast back up so we can make use of the space in order to make some heat for this room! Initially we thought about adding a period fireplace to use an open fire with, but I'm now collaborating with a company to add something a bit different to this room. It's not a fireplace and it's not a log burner - but it does make heat. All will be revealed soon!
So we already have one sofa - a dark grey number we bought from Made.com when we first moved in, but this room is huge and we absolutely need another sofa in here. I quite like the idea of non-matching sofas so I'm after a secondhand colourful sofa instead. Something pink or purple-y ideally and similar in design to the Orson sofa. I'd also love a cushioned footstool to use as a coffee table, but I think that one might be a DIY - we'll see!
I haven't used ANY wallpaper in this house yet, so I'm thinking of incorporating a 'feature wall' opposite the alcove cabinets in here. I want to do something a bit different and something stand-out that doesn't involve using dark colours - and I think wallpaper might be the next go-to option. It'll be light in colour and fit in the 'light and bright' theme, but just provide a bit of extra interest to the room.
And that's about it! I'm keeping the room pretty classic and traditional with a sophisticated feel. If you want to see some of the inspiration behind my plans, then feel free to check out my boards on Pinterest. Here's a little sneak peak of one of them!
So there's not toooo much heavy renovation work required in here, although we do need to fix up the walls, fix up the ceiling, relocate electrics and chase wires into the wall. But there's nothing drastically structural that needs work (or at least nothing we've discovered yet!) so we're hoping this will be a fairly easy six-week renovation and will hopefully be nice and smoooooth. Famous last works eh? Anyway - watch this space! ...Literally.
Way back when I started planning the conservatory I decided we needed another pallet seating area in our life. Yep, you may remember the one I built in the garden way back in 2015 (jeez has it really been that long?!) well this time I'm building something a bit different, but at the same time, very similar (makes sense right?!) and this time, it's going in the conservatory.
Having learnt from my experience the first time around, I knew exactly what I wanted to do different and how I could improve on my initial design. This time around I wanted to make use of the space underneath the seating - that is to say, I wanted to include some storage space. And I also decided I wanted to tone down the full rustic look too. Instead of just using pallet wood and nothing else - this time, I wanted to use some panelling as well. This way it would be less rustic and a bit more refined and bespoke looking.
So if you're interested in making your own - than stick with me, because I'm going to do a full tutorial to show you just how easy this is going to be.
Things You Will Need:
Step 1 - Remove Slats from Pallets
In order to make the wood you have go further, you'll want to remove almost all the top slats of the pallet. Depending on how your pallet is built, you will probably find the two end ones (and maybe the middle one) are integral to the structure of the pallet and these can't easily be removed. The others however will pop right off. You can do this with a crow bar but if you're struggling I highly recommend getting yourself a lifting bar. It's basically a giant crowbar but it enables you to have a much greater leverage and it pops the slats right off without any of the hassle. Removing all these slats is also vital if you want your bench to include some storage space as well. We removed all the slats, apart from the two end ones.
Step 2 - Position Pallets And Screw Together
Now we're getting to the fun bit! So you want to position your pallets as you intend the seating to be. Once this is all built it's going to be pretty heavy, so it's easiest to build it in position rather than trying to move it at a later date. The idea is that it's going to appear as a "built in" piece of furniture anyway - so you really do need to think about its positioning before you begin because it may not even fit elsewhere later on. The layout I'm going for is an L-shape, however you can of course just have it as a single straight length of pallets instead, if you want. If you're going for built-in storage too, you need to leave a small gap between the back of the pallets and the wall. This is so that the lid wont hit the wall and prevent it from being fully opened. My gap is around 2cm. You may also find some pallets are a little lower in height than others - you can use a plastic or wooden wedge to prop up any pallets if needs be.
You may also want to chop some pallets in half to get the exact size you want. We actually have a vent between that needs to be kept clear (for the log burner) so I've cut a pallet in half to ensure it's not blocking it.
Once the pallets are all in position, you then want to take the time to ensure they're all flush with one another at the front and the side. Pallets are never perfectly matching to one another in how they're built, but generally speaking they're usually close enough. A giant spirit level or straight piece of wood helps well in achieving this. It's a little fiddly, but a super important step because this will affect how you attach the panelling later.
You may find that not all the wood matches up against one another perfectly and as I said, this is perfectly normal when it comes to pallets - they're not made exact. You can see below in this image the top slats on the pallet all line up and match well, but the bottom slats don't. That's totally OK. As long as none are sticking further out and at least half are flush and in line then you're winning.
After everything has been perfectly positioned, you can then screw the pallets together. To do this, you want to screw through the bottom slat of one pallet, into the top slat of the pallet into beneath it. You'll need to make sure you use screws that are long enough to go through the top wood and into the second, and you want to do this across every slat possible. In my case, that's 3 slats on each pallet. This is going to pinch the pallets together, essentially so they're all connected and become one giant stack of pallets.
Hopefully you're still with me and I'm still making sense. The next step is then to connect each stack of pallets to one another, side by side. In order to do this, you'll need some very large screws to go between the larger chocks of wood from one pallet to another. These bits.
I've had to go through the sides of these at an angle because my screws weren't quite long enough (major rookie error and I couldn't get out to buy more!) but ideally you'd just want to go in straight from the side. If you do have to go in at an angle, you can drill out a bit of a hole to get the screw in deeper, as I've done here.
Now you can see there's a gap between these chocks of wood (which yes, isn't ideal!) but even with the gap, it's most definitely enough to hold the pallets firmly together. If you can though, I would cut some pieces of wood to size to fit into the gap. This will just ensure the screws are pulling the blocks together nice and tight, which obviously isn't happening with a gap. I however didn't have enough wood for that and decided that since there was virtually no movement anyway, to just roll with it. You can also add some cable ties around these if you want to ensure it's even more extra secure, which I also did instead.
Step 3 - Attach Top Trim
Now that the bench is all built and connected together, you can begin to make it look pretty. So as I said before, I'm using panelling to make it look a little more refined and it's also really cheap too. But to make it look even more professional, I'm also adding both a top and bottom trim to just "finish it off" so to speak. As a quick guide, this is basically the look I'm going for..
The top trim is just using a very thin piece of timber, which is around the same thickness as the panelling (mine is slightly thicker - but that's OK). I've used a mitre saw to cut it to size, making sure to give the corners a 45degree angle for a more professional finish.
I've then used some loose head nails to nail it into place, lining it up to match in height to the top of the slats (the seating bit).
Step 4 - Attach Panelling
The next job is to attach the panelling. The one I'm using is this one from B&Q which is just £3.15 a pack (seriously, bargain!!) and they're tongue and groove made, so each one slots into the next one which makes it so easy to fit. I've cut the panelling to size using a mitre saw (always!) and since the panelling I've bought is 89cm in length, I've managed to get two bits from each plank. I absolutely love this stuff and we've also used it in our bathroom too. So cheap, so good!
It's important that the first bit of panelling you affix is spirit level straight (both horizontally and vertically), otherwise you'll end up going off at an angle and have a huge gap between it and the top trim. Once the first piece is perfect though, you can't really go wrong with the rest as long as you make sure the panelling is properly pushed together each time. I've used panel pins to affix the panelling and these are just nailed into the wood on the side of the pallets, which you'll remember we aligned to be flush at the beginning.
Starting to see how it'll look? My top tip for using super small panel pins is to hold them between your fingers like the photo beneath, rather than pinching them. It helps massively when nailing them into position! I've used four pins per each slat of panelling, which seemed to be enough.
When it comes to the corner bits, I personally leave these till last. You can measure up the cut you need and I've used a jigsaw to cut these to size. It doesn't matter if the cut isn't perfect because we're going to use some corner beading over it anyway. This is the last step, but you'll see what I mean in a bit!
Step 5 - Add Skirting and Corner Beads
Once the panelling is nailed into position you can then add some skirting. I've gone for a very basic 'D-finish' skirting (because from the side it looks like a 'D'), which is quite short in height, so it doesn't swamp the panelling. Again I've used a mitre saw to cut to size and affixed with yet more nails into the larger chocks of wood on the bottom pallet. Can you see how easy this DIY is?!
After the skirting is done, you can then add the corner beads, which will butt up onto the top of the skirting and beneath the top trip. These will hide any imperfect corner cuts and they'll just make the inner and outer corners look a bit more 'finished' and sleek. Since these are quite thin, I didn't want to chance nails splitting the wood, so I've simply glued them into place instead.
Step 6 - Recess all Nails
If you haven't already, you'll want to go back over each nail and recess them into the wood. This will enable the nails to be hidden so that you can fill over it before painting and they'll become completely invisible. To do this, you'll need a nail punch set. Simply line it up over the nail and hammer into it, until the nail is completely sunken into the wood. It's kinda therapeutic, I think!
Step 7 - Caulk & Fill
So you might find you have some little gaps here and there - which is no problem at all. Since we're painting this (or at least, I am!) you can just caulk any gaps up, because once it's painted you'll literally never know.
You'll also want to put some filler over all the nails (yep, there's going to be a lot of them!) and once it's dry, sand it back.
Step 8 - Paint!
Onto the good stuff - painting! I know some people hate painting, but personally it's my favourite bit. I'm using Valspar's wood paint in an eggshell finish, colour-matched to 'Downpipe'. I haven't bothered priming and I'm not even sure you even need to with this paint. I have however given it a quick sand between coats and with this Valspar paint, I only needed two coats to get a full coverage finish. I think the dark grey it looks awesome against the pink wall (also Valspar, read about that here) and it's made the seating look all the more quality-finished and expensive looking.
Step 9 - Make Hinged Lids
You might have noticed we haven't got any actual seats yet - well this is the very last major bit of DIY and we're almost done, I promise! If you removed all those slats at the beginning, now is when they'll be put back to use. If you're not having storage, you can simply put the slats into position and nail them on the top. But, if you're going for storage like us, then instead of nailing them on, we'll be attaching them together so that they're all connected together to open as one.
To do this, you'll want to cut a piece of timber to size that will cover all the required slats and then screw it into the slats. Kinda hard to explain, but like so...
I then used a combination of a belt sander and a hand sander (actually a multi-tool with sanding attachment!) to sand back all the slats so they looked a little less rustic. I do quite like a little bit of a rough rustic look though, so I haven't over-sanded mine.
I then used flush hinges to attach the lid to the seat. This was pretty difficult to do alone, considering you need about four hands to hold the lid into place whilst screwing the hinge into position, so you might want to find someone to help! You want to make sure you're using flush hinges if you don't want to have to chisel out any wood.
I then lined the inside storage area with some fabric, just to give it a bit more of a finished look. I have to admit, I'm not the best when it comes to fabric related DIYs (oh so fiddly!) so mine is a little rough and ready. But hopefully you get the idea and you can potentially improve on it, if you can. I've just used stapled to hold the fabric into place.
As for the handles, I've just used a little bit of a ribbon-type material folded in half and stapled to the end of the slats, to use as a kind of tab.
Step 10 - Sit back and Admire
Aaaaand you're done. Throw in some pillows, cushions and maybe a blanket for good measure. AND CHILL.
It took me a few days to build, although obviously being a blogger and taking photographs, I could only work during daylight hours aaaaand taking photos took up a huge part of my time. Yes, all these photos have been taken via tripod and timer which is quite a large faff to deal with on-top of the DIY.
This room is most definitely still a *working progress* and you'll know all about my plans if you follow me over on Instagram. But it's definitely now a useable space, rather than just four walls and my vision for the room is coming together more and more every week.
So I would love to know what you think, and I hope this inspires you guys to build something similar! And if you do, please do tag me in your pics - I would love to see!
Strip Wood £3
Corner Bead £8
All Nails, Screws etc were free from previous DIYs.
Paint kindly provided by Valspar
Watch the Video....
*Paint was kindly provided by Valspar for this project. As always, all words, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
It’s true that I have a problem with fake shutters. If you follow my instagram page you’ll see a healthy spattering of shutter fails. They give me a little bit of rage that no other architectural element does (I’ve written about the other design flaws that drive me nuts here). The purpose of this post isn’t just to vent (though it will be therapeutic for me!), but rather to explain why something as insignificant as a fake shutter flies in the face of almost every rule of design.
My hope is that more people will see the mistake that fake shutters are and it will prevent even just one more house from giving its windows a black eye and making me that much crazier. Beware that once you read this post, you will likely be cursed like me in noticing the world of fake shutters on buildings everywhere. It will be like when the lights come on at the bar at closing time and you realize exactly what that person you’ve been dancing with all night really looks like. Be frightened!
Why Fake Shutters?
Why do they exist? I guess because real shutters look so great that a lot of other people wanted to jump on the shutter band wagon but couldn’t afford real shutters. If your shutters don’t operate, you won’t realize just how bad they really are.
You see, real shutters…shut. It’s that simple. If your shutters don’t shut, they are fake. Shutters were designed to cover your window for a multitude of reasons. They protect against storms or other inclement weather. The provide relief from the hot summer sun and cold winter winds. They keep rain, hail, sleet and snow off your windows, and extend their life. They can provide privacy or help to darken a room for sleep. Shutters are immensely practical and useful.
But when you take a randomly sized piece of plastic and screw it to the siding next to your window and call it a shutter, you are fooling yourself and a few others, but no one who reads this blog anymore. In the title of this post I promised you the reasons why they get my goad, so I might as well dig into the details.
Reason #1 They Don’t Fit
This is the most obvious and makes it easy to spot for just about everyone. If your window is 6 feet wide and your shutter is only a foot wide, who do you think you are fooling? You may not think it’s a big deal, but proportions matter. Putting undersized fake shutters on your house is like driving a big rig with 18 donut spare tires. It’s awkward and ineffective.
Real shutters are designed to be exactly half of the window dimension so that when you close both sides they cover the window precisely. Too small and they leave the window unprotected, too large and they won’t close. If you are going to get fake shutters then at least make it hard enough that my kindergartener can’t tell.
Reason #2 The Slats Are Wrong
This one is a little harder to see when flying by in the car but walking the neighborhood it’s abundantly clear. Here’s the deal: the louvers on shutters are designed to shed water…when closed. When they are open the louvres would be angled so that they are channeling water back onto the siding instead of down and away from the building like on fake shutters.
I can only assume that the genius designers of fake shutters did this because fake shutters only have one position they can be in and that is open. You’d think that before they designed their fake shutter they would have looked at how real shutters were, but apparently that was too much to ask.
Reason #3 Wrong Design
Not every house style was intended to have shutters on it and certain house styles have shutter designs that are distinct to them. Shutters with pictures cut into a top panel were usually for Colonial and Colonial Revival houses. Board and batten shutters fit well on Mission and Spanish style homes, plantation shutters belong on southern plantation homes. When you take any random shutter design and put it on a house at random, you’re playing shutter roulette.
Just like kids need Garanimals to help them pick clothes that match, adults need a similar system for shutters on their houses. If you don’t know what style belongs on your house, then ask someone who does like.
Reason #4 Wrong Place
Not every window fits the same kind of shutter, and not every window was designed to accommodate a shutter. Just because you want a shutter on that window, doesn’t mean you should have one. Every shutter gets a window, but not every window gets a shutter. I should make that into a T-shirt.
Now that you know, start looking around your neighborhood. Are they too small? Too big? Are they permanently fixed to the building or worse yet, a part of the actual building themselves? Are they upside down, the wrong size, the wrong style? So many questions and so many fake shutters that it’s like a shutter-pocaplypse outside.
It may seem ugly out there, but now that you are aware of shutters you can truly appreciate a beautiful pair of historic shutters. A pair of real shutters added to the right window adds so much charm to a window it’s unreal. And I guess that beauty is what the fakers tried to duplicate. The truth is, nothing compares to the real deal, but you already knew that didn’t you?
And I went even further by making you guys a fun video! Check it out below for some great “advice” about vinyl shutters.
Your radiator carries a heavy load all winter keeping you warm and toasty, and it deserves a little love too to keep it looking its best. Painting an old radiator is not the same as slapping on some wall paint. It requires the right prep and a special kind of paint that will stand up to the high temps your radiator creates.
In this post, I’ll show you the right steps and materials to get an attractive and lasting paint job on your old cast iron radiator. My friend Natalie over at Earth+Flax was kind enough to help me out with some great pics of the process! Also, keep in mind that the mechanics of your radiator (while simple) need some upkeep as well. If it’s mechanical issues you are looking to resolve, then check out my post How To: Bleed a Radiator.
How to Paint an Old Radiator
There are two ways you can go when it comes time to paint an old radiator. If you feel up to removing your radiator and you are certain you won’t be needing it for a while, you can bring it to a sandblasting company to have a very thorough cleaning of the surface, but most times I find that is unnecessary. If you don’t want to go the full monty, be sure to read up on how to safely disconnect your radiator from your heating system first.
If you are painting in place follow the steps below:
Step #1 Protect the Area
Some of the chemicals and paints you’ll be using can be extremely difficult to clean up if they spill and can ruin your floors, so you want good protection down. I prefer to lay down some 6 mil plastic sheeting on the floors and walls in the area you are working and then put a canvas drop cloth over that. For the walls, you can also use cardboard since that is easier to stand up than a drop cloth.
Make sure your radiator will not be heating up during the painting process because it could cause burns to you or damage to the coating before they are cured.
Step #2 Cleaning & Remove Paint
You don’t need to remove all the paint from your radiator, only the loose and flaking paint that is failing. I find that the best way to do this is with a stiff bristle metal brush and a bucket of TSP cleaner. Scrub the surfaces until all the loose paint and dirt is off and then dry off the surface with some rags.
Use the large metal brush for the easy to access areas and try a furnace boiler brush for some of the hard to reach nooks and crannies. Depending on the design of your radiator you may have to improvise what kind of brush you use but a metal bristle works best to really get that old paint off compared to a much softer nylon brush which really will accomplish very little.
Step #3 Treat the Rust
If you don’t treat the rust it will ruin your paint job in short order so don’t skip this step. Once the radiator is dry pick up a bottle of OSPHO and brush it across the surface using a chip brush or other disposable brush. Wear gloves for this since OSPHO is phosphoric acid and can cause burns after extended exposure. Make sure you hit all areas of rust thoroughly. The rusty areas will bubble and turn black if you’ve done it right. Let it dry overnight and then you’ll be ready for priming in the morning.
Nerd Alert Information: When applied to rusted surfaces, OSPHO causes iron oxide (rust) to chemically change to iron phosphate – an inert, hard substance that turns the metal black. Where rust is exceedingly heavy, two coats of OSPHO may be necessary to thoroughly penetrate and blacken the surface to be painted. A dry, powdery, grayish-white surface usually develops; this is normal – brush off any loose powder before paint application.
Step #4 Apply Primer
There are a few different products on the market and for DIY projects like radiators. I lean toward Rust-Oleum since they are easy to use and readily available. You have two options: spraying or brushing and we’ll talk about them in a sec. Which ever primer you choose make sure it is 2 things: oil-based and made for high-heat. My preference for spray primer is Rust-Oleum Engine Primer.
If you can get proper ventilation and protection of the surrounding walls and floors, then spraying is a better option for getting a smooth even coat and makes getting into the hard to reach areas a lot easier. Brushing may take longer and be a little more difficult, but sometimes you don’t have the right setup for spraying and that’s when brushing is best. For getting into tight spots, I recommend testing a few creative application options before you start.
Step #5 Time to Paint
Your primer is dry and it’s time to finish the project. Pick another high-heat, oil-based paint like Rust-Oleum Engine Enamel and you’re ready to go following the same process as your primer. Make sure you don’t paint any of the valves, as they may stick and be difficult to open. Give it ample time to dry and good ventilation before turning the heat back on and you’re good to go!
An Alternate Type of Paint
There is another type of paint you may want to consider for your old radiator, and that is linseed oil paint made by Allback. It is an old school type of paint that doesn’t require a primer (so that’s a time saver!), but it must be applied with a brush. Linseed oil paint is heat treated during it’s manufacturing process so it has no problems being applied to a radiator.
Linseed oil paint is a more natural paint with less solvents and all around a healthier option to paint with that some people seem to enjoy. You can find out more about Allback and their paints here.
One thing our house is seriously lacking, is decoration. And by that I mean walls that aren't completely bare or rooms that aren't sparsely filled with oddly placed furniture. None of our rooms have that cosy homely decorated feel to them. Renovating is one thing, but then turning a room into comfortable well-furnished, well-decorated and well-designed space is another thing. And that's something we definitely haven't achieved yet within our home.
There's two simple reasons for this really. 1 - Decorating and furnishing is expensive and 2 - our funds are always needed elsewhere (ie more plasterboard) so we never have the money anyway. This year however, I decided that I needed to get a bit more inventive. So, I have a few ideas lined up already and I thought I'd share one of them today. A wall ladder art thingymahbob. OK I don't know what the hell to call it - a ladder that's on the wall, used kind of as a shelf. A kind of feature art. Making sense? (How I decide on a title for this post, I don't know....)
I'd seen this idea on pinterest quite some time ago although the ladders I had seen were filled with books in a more practical kind of idea than what I had in mind. I wanted my ladder to be a kind of decorative piece of art. A prop to display more art and random eclectic bits. A ladder to add to the vintage vibe I'm trying to achieve within our home. Quirky, fun, budget and cool.
Step 1 - Find Bargain Ladder
I've been eyeing up some secondhand ladders on eBay for quite a while, but I wanted to find one at the right price. The term "vintage" adds value to an item - however when things are vintage, but not listed as vintage - well then you're winning. eBay (and other online marketplaces) is very much just a waiting game, and finnnaaally after a few months of waiting, a PAIR of vintage, (but not described as vintage) ladders came onto eBay local to us at just £7.50. Nobody wants to use wooden ladders as actual ladders nowadays (let's face it they're not the safest, most stable or most durable) so they weren't likely to be very sought after. And since they weren't listed as vintage, they were even doubly less likely to be searched for and I won both ladders - hurrah!
Step 2 - Fit Said Ladder into Tiny Car
I was chuffed to bits to win these ladders - only small problem, at over 3m in length they were never going to fit in the car. Well I'm not the kind of girl to let that stop me. So of course I turned up at said random eBay mans house with a handsaw ready to chop the ladders in half. I say *I* what I actually mean is, I explained to the poor man what would be happening and made Grant do the dirty work. And it wasn't quite cut in half either - more, just took the tips off. Needless to say though, the poor guy was slightly baffled and perhaps somewhat disappointed that we literally chopped up his ladder right before his eyes. BUT, it was all in the name of Art. And when he asked me "Are you artists?" Well obviously I said yes. Yes we are. Artists of the renovation game and how to get the most out of your tiny car.
Back home with two ladders and I instantly put one to use in a kind of practical way with our giant log stack. You might have seen this one already - but if not, here's where you can find out what I did with that one. And as for the other ladder...
Step 3 - Find Appropriate Brackets
I had grand plans that involved hanging the other ladder horizontally on the wall as a kind of decorative feature art/shelf. I just needed to find the right brackets first. *Normal* ladder brackets were too ugly, anything else for an actual shelf was too wide, but eventually however I stumbled on Bob. (Find Bob here: Bobs Brackets). He makes handmade metals brackets, ones specifically for ladders, to any size. Thank you Bob! At just £5 per bracket and an additional £5 postage, these were just as affordable as all the other brackets I had looked at, but these were about 1000x more stylish AND they're handmade too. I love supporting small businesses and this guy's stuff is right up my street. He does scaffold brackets too, so I highly recommend checking his site out!
Step 4 - Attach!
With such a large beastly ladder to hang, I roped Grant in to help. We positioned the ladder centrally on the wall and lined the brackets to be attached next to the second rung on either end of the ladder. We actually attached one bracket first and we were then able to check the ladder was spirit level straight before marking up the second bracket. To save our freshly painted walls from getting stained from brick dust as well, we also attached an envelope beneath the drill to collect the dust.
Step 5 - Decorate and Admire
Et voila! Once it was up, all that was left to do was to decorate. Well here's where I haven't *yet* finished, but so far we have a few bits in place. Which is mainly collected art prints from our travels, but there's also a tile we bought from Portugal, the giant antique keys I picked up at an antiques-fair years back, a random light-up star, vases and even a F&B colour card. I want it to be filled with an eclectic mix of random stuff, but stuff that also fits together. You'll notice there's something a little bit missing.... But as I say, it's certainly not finished. But I wanted to share it on here all the same - after all, if I wait until everything's perfect, well then I'll be posting this blog post about 10 months late. You'll get the idea anyway...
Things Left to Do:
So I'd love to know what you think. Would you re-create this in your own home?! And do you have any suggestions for items to display?
Single ladder - £3.75
Brackets - £15 incl. P&P
I thought it might be fun to take a break from all the DIYing and tutorials about how to do this or how to restore that and talk for one week about why we do all this work in the first place. Why does it even matter to restore something?
A lot of us might restore because we like working with our hands or appreciate the history these old buildings contain. These are both good reasons and I can relate to both. There are others of us that really dig the inevitable before and after satisfaction that comes from restoring something of worth.
What I’d like to do in the post is first tell you why I restore, why it matters to me, and then I really want to hear from you in the comments below why YOU restore. I think we can learn a lot of from each other and like Proverbs says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We can all be sharpened in our fight to preserve and restore. Sound good? I’ll go first!
Why I Restore
There are a lot of reasons that I could give depending on the project as to why I choose to restore rather than replace, but as I have thought about it there is only one guiding principle that forms the foundation of why I choose to restore.
Don’t ever forget that it is a choice. In my business, every day I am faced with the choice to restore or replace something. Sometimes it’s as simple as a piece of trim and other times it’s a large window, but the choice has to constantly be made and it sometimes seems like the path of least resistance always is to replace.
I want to restore, but then there is a little voice inside my head that tells me it would be easier to replace. Sometimes that voice wins, and sometimes it deserves to win, but I feel that its wins should be few and far between in my line of work.
So, why do I restore? I restore because when I find something of worth, I feel a responsibility to save it. Not everything is worth restoring. I wouldn’t restore a vinyl window or piece of cement board, but you bet I’ll restore a forged bronze sash lock. You better believe I’ll restore a hand-crafted wood window made from old-growth wood and hand-blown wavy glass!
If it’s something a craftsman put their blood, sweat, and tears into creating, it is worth restoring. If it was made with quality materials, it is worth restoring. And if it is both of the above statements, then it is definitely worth restoring.
What Don’t You Restore?
People keep asking me if my business will restore newer and newer buildings every year as time marches forward, and the answer is simple- it depends. Was that 1968 house handmade using quality materials? Maybe, and if it was, then in my mind it likely deserves to be restored. But what if it was a simple tract house made with cheap materials and disposable windows? Then no, I wouldn’t restore it.
Think of it in these simple terms: Why do you throw away a paper cup after one drink yet keep and reuse the glasses at your house? Technically by washing and reusing that glass, you are “restoring” it because it has some intrinsic value. It was made from a high-quality material compared to the paper cup and so you naturally restore it no matter how dirty it gets after each use.
If that glass hit the ground and broke you’d likely sweep the pieces and throw it away without much thought, but what if that glass was made of Swarovski crystal and it was handed down to you by your great-grandmother? You’d be more apt to try to put the pieces back together wouldn’t you? That glass has more value than the regular glass, and infinitely more value than the paper cup. That’s why I restore!
As something of worth gets older, its value only increases. It is more rare now because time has lost many of its contemporaries and it stands alone as a reminder of another time. A time when things were well-made as a rule rather than the exception.
That’s why I restore. That’s the foundation for my company and career. Now, it’s your turn. Why do YOU restore?
Just before Christmas I shared the reveal of our new dining room - it still had some finishing and styling left to do, but by the most part it was done. I shared the unveiling of our gorgeous victorian cupboard doors which had been locked away behind a giant white glossy board (oh so stylish!), but if you noticed - the inside was horrendously hideous. Half of it filled to the brim with rubbish, it dusty and bleh. I wanted to do something a bit fun to the inside of the cupboard, I wanted to add a good splash of colour. Something that popped against the grey. I wanted it to go full-blown YELLOW.
Here's the cupboard as it was after it had been cleared out. Well, the top half at least! The inside of the doors still needed a second coat of paint and the whole thing just looked tired and lifeless. Bit of a stupid thing to say about a cupboard - but you know what I mean, right?!
After a good clear out and clean up, it was ready for paint. The shelves in here are 100% retro with this original (presumably) vintage wallpaper, surprisingly in really good condition. It's not my usual kind of design however I really like the idea of keeping a part of the previous owner in the house, and especially a previous owner that lived here for almost sixty years!! Edna clearly loved this house, it had been well looked after (in every way, including this wallpaper!) and so I felt like it would be a true shame to go ripping it out. I did however ask Instagram how they felt about this design and it 60/40 on the Hate V Love. So I'm definitely going against the opinion on Instagram for this one. (Possibly a first?!)
So as I say, those are staying! As for the walls, my initial intention was to buy some yellow paint and gradually add some white paint to it, to create different shades between each section/shelf. I think this would have looked awesome and I totally plan on doing this idea elsewhere in the house some other time, but I actually realised a more cost-effective idea was to use up some sample paints I had leftover. We have quite a lot of them now and I was pretty sure one tester would be more than enough to do each section.
So whilst I say "use up" I actually only had two of these testers and then I bought an additional two to have a full set of four different yellows. One for each section. From left to right there's Citron, Yellow Ground, Barbouche and Sudbury Yellow (my personal fave!).
I sampled each one on a bit of paper to decide how exactly I should order them. And to be honest, some of the shades are reeaaaally similar, so it was pretty tricky.
You see what I mean?! I still wanted to go dark to light, but with shades so similar it wasn't quite what I had imagined. After a first coat in the top couple of sections I was somewhat worried my yellow idea was in fact, a bad shout. Let's just say, it was looking a little weak and definitely not the dark to light gradient idea I had in mind...
However I perserveed with the idea (no going back really, is there?!) and after two coats it was all beginning to come together. That 'pop' I wanted was totally there! It looked jazzy, fun and fresh. It looked awesome.
Is it calling to you yet? Well if not, here's the finished cupboard in all its yellow-y goodness. I absolutely love love love (one more time... love!) it and the retro wallpaper with the yellow totally works as well. The design of it isn't my usual cup of tea at all but somehow I really think it goes. It doesn't look dated or retro, it just adds to the fun and looks right at home.
Colour from Top to Bottom: Sudbury Yellow, Barbouche, Citron, Yellow Ground. (All Farrow and Ball)
The pink flowers are definitely making me feel like the cupboard needs a splash of pink in there too. Oh and if you're wondering 'what about the bottom bit of cupboard' well, all I can say is - it's still filled with stuff and it's more than likely going to stay that way for quite a while. It's all DIY-related stuff in there that we're going to be needing fairly soon, so until then - no yellow down there I'm afraid!
The plan for the top yellow-y bit is to use the top two shelves for paper storage (they're way too high to reach anyway!) which will be neatly stored in vintage stackable suitcases. We'll then add a plug socket to the cupboard, store the printer, our laptops and all the home hub type stuff too, like the router and the home telephone etc. So right now I'm on the search for some vintage suitcases, some wire baskets and other quirky ways of storing a whole load of boring important documents. I'll have to keep you updated on all that later, as eBay is very much just a waiting game. But for now, I've already begun organising and here's how it's looking so far...
And to give you a bit more perspective - here's how it looks with the whole room. The plan isn't to keep the cupboard open 24/7 but it's one of those things that ends up getting left open, so when that happens - now it'll add something to the room, rather than taking away from it and just look *cluttered*.
I'd love to know what you think? Does the pop of yellow work for you? Or is it a little too bold?
It's January. The month where we're all paying off those credit cards from Christmas and wishing we hadn't spent so much on food when half of it ended up as waste. Bank accounts are empty and for one reason or another, money is always tight in January.
When renovating you can't exactly commit to "no spend" months, and cutting down on spending in general is easier said than done. If you need plasterboard, you need plasterboard. A renovation will cost money and there's no getting around that. You basically need to always be in supply of cash. But, there are still ways you can save and even make money on a home renovation project. So I thought I would share some of the ways you can make your money go further.
REUSE, REPURPOSE, UPCYCLE
This is probably the most obvious trick in the book, but I couldn't not mention it, could I? Making a few updates and changes to old items can really bring a new lease of life to them. In a renovation, people often have a tendency to remove and get rid of absolutely everything. From old built-ins to floorboards and even bigger stuff like entire bathrooms. Whilst this stuff may not be to your taste, you can in fact reuse and repurpose items from your renovation, turning them into something else. Floorboards for example are great for shelving or they could even be turned into a bespoke top for a dining table. You can also transform existing fixtures and fittings too. If you have ugly built-in wardrobes lacking a bit of 'something'; instead of completely ripping them out, consider adding some new mouldings, handles and a lick of paint. You'd be surprised what a few alterations can actually achieve! Check out our DIY painted floor as an example - who knew concrete could look so good?
Upcycling and repurposing can even become a business venture, just take a browse on Etsy and you'll find all kinds of upcycled ingenuities. Buying handmade items is back in fashion and the web is literally full of amazing inspiration for how to reuse and repurpose. Bathtub as a planter, anyone?! Before you chuck stuff away or think it's time to "get rid" I recommend a quick google of alternative ideas and you may well soon change your mind.
BUILDERS BAY - RENOVATE FOR LESS
DIY and renovation waste is massive in the UK. As I already mentioned, so many people literally throw away everything whilst renovating. Skirting boards, old kitchens or even bathtubs - it all goes into a skip. And what about those leftover sheets of plasterboard, extra roll of underlay or pack of tiles? Yep, usually not worth keeping and gets chucked right into a skip. It makes us, as renovators massively wasteful and causing a heck lot of waste head to landfill. But that doesn't have to be the case. Builders Bay is an online marketplace specifically designed for the buying and selling of DIY materials in order to tackle this massive DIY/Renovation waste problem. The idea is that instead of chucking away perfectly decent re-usable DIY waste, it can be listed online and reused instead. That means not only can you sell leftover or unwanted materials and make money(!!) but you can find materials at great prices too.
Builders Bay has a whole catalogue of items which you can search through and organise to see what's nearest to you. All these items however, are specific for DIY and Renovations. Things like windows (often just made to the wrong size), to ex-display kitchens and bathrooms, unused tiles, secondhand doors, fences, tools and more. It even has a 'salvage' section (my personal fave!) for vintage/reclamation lovers as well. Basically anything and everything you might use within a home renovation project for a lot less than the cost of buying it brand new from a retailer.
But it's not just the 'finishing items' for sale. As I say, you can sell and buy leftover materials like cement, skirting and plasterboard too. You might be thinking "no one wants to buy this kind of stuff" but you'd be really really surprised. People love buying scrap wood to turn into kindling, small sheets of plasterboard, (perfect for a small shed renovation!) and even just odd bags of concrete or paving slabs to build a log shed on-top of. Everything can be reused and even if you think it's waste, someone out there may not. It helps to reduce waste, help the environment and of course you get a bit of extra cash at the same time. If something can be reused, it should be!
BORROW BEFORE YOU BUY!
Borrowing tools is a brilliant way to save money. Buying (or even hiring!) tools can be so freaking expensive and you'd be surprised how many people, even non-DIYers(!) have random tools stashed away in a shed or garage. If you're in need of a specific tool, just ask friends, colleagues or neighbours if they have one first. After all - if you don't ask, you don't get! We've borrowed wet tile cutters, circular saws and angle grinders saving us heaps on hire and buying costs. And we've also leant a few tools out too :) Sharing is caring, after all.
But borrowing tools now goes further than that. With sites like Rent My Items you can find normal local folk lending out their tools for considerably less than tool hire companies. It's a great way to hire out tools cheaply and of course you can lend your own tools out too. Yep you read that right - you can hire out your own tools and make money! I mean if 'Borrow My Doggy' is an actual thing, then why wouldn't there be one for tools too? In fact, I'm kind of wondering why I didn't think of this business venture myself!!
TAKE DIY COURSES
Do you need a full re-plaster job throughout your home? Or how about you're updating the bathroom and the pipes are now in all the wrong locations? Or perhaps you're even looking to re-tile the hall? The cost of a tradesman does not come cheap and you can often pay to learn new skills yourself for less than it costs to employ an already skilled trades-guy. Yes, seriously.
Learning to DIY can really save you so much money, especially if your home needs a lot of work in that particular skill. Of course, you need to be prepared to practise lots and accept that your skills may not quite match up to those of a professional. You may have to add a bit of filler to your plastered wall and it may well take double the time to do. But, for the money you'll save, I personally think it's so worth it. And of course, the more you do it - the better you'll get. And who knows, you could discover your true calling in life and your skills may well be a complete match for that of a skilled tradesperson.
You'll also be surprised how many friends and family will be after your services as well, and even potentially offering up a bit of cash (or even just a good pint of beer!) as reward for your hard work. It's a great way to make a bit of money on the side and you could even begin to sell your services as a part-time job. We personally invested on taking a DIY plastering course, which has already been very useful and saved us a massive wad!
DO NON-SKILLED WORK YOURSELF
So maybe the serious DIY stuff isn't for you - that's totally okay and you can still save money in other ways with doing the non-skilled DIY stuff too. What am I talking about? Well you can still save money by just paying for half a job and doing the other half yourself. Jobs like pulling up carpets, removing skirting boards or taking down ceilings are a good example of this. There's absolutely no skill in these kind of jobs and whilst some of them may not save you a fortune (removing carpets!) others will actually save you quite a lot. Pulling a ceiling down for example is quite a time-consuming mucky job and will easily save you a whole day of labour cost.
The same goes for stripping wallpaper, removing plaster, pulling old tiles off the walls and basically doing any kind of demolition work yourself. Obviously it'll be dirty and horrible work - but no pain, no gain right? You may even find it strangely therapeutic. I mean, Kirsty Allsopp doesn't love the Sledgehammer just for opening up room space, does she?! ;)
AVOID DELIVERIES (LIKE THE PLAGUE!)
Some delivery costs are just ridiculous. Wickes will charge you a small fortune for ordering even just a few bags of mortar, or just one single length of plasterboard. Other companies only offer free delivery with orders over 3-digit figures and if you're not careful you can end up spending those 3-figures on just a few deliveries. That's money that could go back into your renovation and pay for some serious stuff. Extortionate delivery costs are usually the main thing that puts me off buying from a certain shop/retailer, but luckily there is still a way around it.
If you can, I highly recommend hiring out a van and going to collect the materials yourself. This only really pays off if you're buying from multiple stores at once and it's not too long distance. But better still - another alternative it to try and squish it into your own car. There's very little we haven't been able to fit into our car during our renovation (and our car is actually tiny) and you'll find most things are sold different sizes. Whilst typically you see plasterboard as giant size pieces of board they do come in smaller sizes too. And if you don't want to destroy your nice new car, consider purchasing a super cheap 'DIY car'. Ours cost just £350 and we have none of the guilt from ruining the interior. It's saved us an actual fortune in the long run and it's been so so useful - and surprisingly rather reliable too!
DITCH THE SKIP
Skips are so expensive. Another 3-digit figure you can totally live without. Ditch the skip and move your renovation waste yourself! It's the only way we personally handle our waste and obviously that DIY car is very useful here too! If you commit to do a bit every night, it'll soon be gone and you could maybe even rope in a few friends to help. Dealing with your own waste not only saves you a heck of money but it also makes you seriously consider what you're chucking away. Could it be resold on Builders Bay? Or even potentially listed to be given away for free?
We've personally used this approach to get rid of hundreds of bricks. No skip required, no trips to the recycling yard - We just listed them as freebies and soon enough people were rolling up to bag themselves a few. One man's rubbish, is another man's treasure as they say! Sadly rubble isn't so easy to get rid of, even as a freebie - but you can buy giant buckets to fill up and take to the recycling yard this way. Again, this is something we've always done and is saving us an absolute fortune. When it's so free to do, why wouldn't you?!
Do bare in mind that recycling centres aren't really meant to take trade waste, so if you do have a builder on site, strictly speaking you do need a skip (and I'm pretty sure he wont want to be working under a foot of rubbish!) but if you can do it this way, then I thoroughly recommend you do!
Community RePaint is a brilliant way to save money and get yourself free paint. Sadly not every county operates one of these schemes and all counties have different rules, but for us in Nottinghamshire it works pretty simply. Basically, people dispose of their half-used paint at the recycling centre and instead of the recycling centre disposing of all this paint, its re-distributed back out into the community. Most of it goes to schools, public groups and charities, and then every few months "public paint days" are held, so you can also get your hands on free paint too.
It's ingenious! It's so much better for the environment and it promotes the environmentally friendly idea of reusing and recycling. You might be envisioning tins of dried up manky paint that's potentially separated into four different shades, but you'd be SO surprised at what people chuck away. Even unopened paint ends up there! OK so you might get a few bad eggs but by the majority, most of it is just fine! In the past we've used fence paint, decking paint and standard white paint from the Community Repaint scheme. And it's all free! An absolutely great way to save money. I've written more about this scheme in detail which you can read here - but I absolutely recommend it to everyone.
Continuing on the freebie wagon - look out for them, they're everywhere! From freebies being offered up on facebook to signs up outside houses, or even potentially fishing out freebies from local skips (always ask permission first!!). You can find all kinds of amazing stuff all over the place. Last year I saved FOUR Victorian fireplaces from entering a skip, just by total chance of being in the right place at the right time. I was really lucky, but this kind of stuff is sadly chucked away all the time. If you look out for it, you'll find it.
If you don't consider yourself to be lucky enough to simply stumble across a few freebies, then I totally recommend checking out Freecycle to find stuff near you. People who don't want the hassle of selling or disposing of stuff will often give away items for free. Our old neighbour who decided to move and downside gave away a whole load of stuff via our local group. From old dishwashers to tables, books and a whole lot more. Definitely a place to keep a regular check up on!
CLAIM CASHBACK AND SAVE £££
I never really understood how these cashback sites worked a few years back, but ever since I've gotten into it, I'm addicted. Renovating a home means we're constantly buying stuff. By the hundreds! Cashback is just incredible. For every penny you spend, you get a certain amount back. It's a brilliant way to save and make money. I personally use Quidco which works with Wickes, Screwfix, B&Q and a few other DIY/Trade places too. But of course it also works with stuff like supermarkets, high street clothing, interior shops and even electrical places too. The way it works is simple. Instead of heading to google to find the shop you're after - head to Quidco. By clicking on the link through the Quidco website (as opposed to Google) you'll automatically gain cash back. If you commit to entering websites via the cashback platform religiously, you can really save a heck load of money. I've been using it for about a year and I've already gained £150 worth of money that can be paid straight back into my bank account. If you're a tad forgetful (yes that's me too!) well don't worry because you can install an add-on to your PC/Laptop which will notify you every time you're on a website that allows you to gain Cashback. It'll prompt you to head over to Quidco and re-enter the website, allowing you to gain that cash back. The more you buy, the more you save - and we all know renovations is all about spending money somewhere or other!
I'd love to know any tips you have to share? We're constantly learning new ways to save and make money with our renovation and I'd love to hear if you have any other tips for us!