Buying and Selling a House

We recently came to the end of our three-year mortgage agreement and have been going through the arduous process of renegotiating. Obviously, it was on our radar for a while, cue lots of discussions about what we should do. Sell up and buy another house, maybe upgrading or going for a fixer upper this time? Should we move to another part of Bristol? Should we think about whether somewhere totally new is where we’re meant to be?

I’m sure we’ll continue to have these discussions (we never seem to completely settle) but for now, having a new baby is enough without the stress of moving or even of renovations this close to the due date (I’m 35 weeks now). So we’re staying in this house and thinking about what we can change over time. To be honest, even a thorough decluttering will be enough of a change!

With buying and selling on my mind, it’s been interesting to look through Carpetright’s Property Guide and Survey. They’ve put together tips on buying and selling a property as well as a survey that you can complete to enter with a chance to win £500 in vouchers and a hamper.

The house we’re in now is our first property. When we were looking to move out of renting we looked at maybe twenty houses or even upwards of that. It honestly got to the point where it felt like it didn’t really matter which we bought, though obviously it did. We’d set our eyes on moving to South Bristol, a bit more centrally but were put off by the fact that we wouldn’t be able to afford anywhere with a decent garden.

Meanwhile, closer to where we were currently living, the houses are much bigger, the gardens excitingly spacious – vital as we’ve got so much into gardening – and it feels like we’re in the countryside in some bits, even though it’s a quick drive or bus journey into the city centre. All of this was going for far lower prices. Granted, property in our area has shot up since but it probably still compares favourably. Anyway, we decided to stay put and it’s absolutely been the right decision for us so far.

The first point in Carpetright’s buying guide is to work out what you can afford and this was key for us. We already knew that we were going to be home educating as well as having more children (Talitha was a toddler at the time) so we wanted to get a mortgage Laurence could pay on his own. Although I do work, I earn very sporadically and not enough for us to rely on. The pressure of a mortgage based on a double income would have dictated our lifestyle in ways we weren’t comfortable with.

Looking at their selling guide is a bit daunting. I can’t imagine our house ever being clean enough or toned down enough for a sale, though I’m sure we’ll manage when we eventually do, especially as our area is becoming so desirable. The cats might have to live outdoors for a while!

Are you thinking of buying or selling? Do take a look at Carpetright’s guides and don’t forget to enter the survey to win.

This post is sponsored by Carpetright

Make a matchbox trinket box

While I love getting my teeth stuck into bigger craft projects – I have a few on the go at the moment – there’s something surprisingly satisfying about quick projects that yield great effect with little effort.

Make a matchbox trinket box

So when Harveys Furniture sent me a few swatches from their sofas range with the challenge to use the fabric to craft a home accessory. I’m a sucker for little boxes so decided to quickly decorate a matchbox fit to hold the odd trinket. They have a fun quiz at the moment to find your “shape” with Sofas by You. I unsurprisingly got “comfort”!

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You’ll need:
A matchbox
A pair of pinking shears
Glue gun with glue stick

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Make a matchbox trinket box-4

Stick the fabric to each side of the matchbox. Do the same on the other side.

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Make a matchbox trinket box-6

Cut off any excess with pinking shears and repeat on the uncovered side. Le voila! A cute, handy little box for storing pins, jewellery or any other little bits you want to give a sweet home to live.

Matchbox trinket box

Brought to you by Harveys Furniture.

Spring Shelfie: Getting set for Spring

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in the middle of giving the house an overhaul – for my sanity as much as anything else. We switched the girls’ room with the guest room and that’s made a huge difference to the amount of storage they have and freed up some much needed space in our own room.

Now I’m on a mission to massively declutter as I realise owning too much is affecting so many areas of our lives from money we waste to my daily stress levels. We’re literally suffering under a tyranny of “things”. So I’m being ruthless a room at a time and already it’s hugely changing the way I feel about our home.

The next job is to get through the mounting list of items that need to be repaired or upcycled. I’ve organised this in order of whatever is annoying me the most on a daily basis (handles that have fallen off, chipping paint, that kind of thing).

I’m also in the middle of re-organising shelves and walls while having a bit of fun styling them. I’ve been inspired by Oyster & Pearl to have a go at colour co-ordinating books and trying different layouts. I also love the way Owl and Accordion brings nature indoors with effortless style.

So it’s quite fitting to get in on Wayfair‘s Spring Shelfie challenge to crack on with waking up our home from a rather dreary winter. My “shelfie” above features a scatter frame set, this owl lamp and this pale blue ceramic jug from their collection.

I’ve also thrown in washed up coral I’ve collected from beaches and little pieces we’ve collected over the years. The lilies were a just because gift from Laurence, a real treat because we have a long-running joke about him never buying me flowers.

I can’t tell you it’s cheered me to rearrange a few shelves. A few more shelves, a few more things off the spring cleaning list and it just might feel Spring really is on its way.

Wayfair spring shelfie-2

Items featured provided by Wayfair for the purpose of this post

Buy things you won’t throw away

I didn’t really go in for New Year’s resolutions this year. With a third baby on the way and continuing our home education journey, survival felt a reasonable enough goal.

However, I do have a few things I vaguely want to give a bit more attention this year. One is to “make” more. My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I’m looking forward to learning to use it. Picking up crochet again last year was a bit of a revelation.The other is to majorly declutter because the tyranny of stuff in our house (too much we don’t even use!) is doing my head in. And the last is where this post comes in. I want to buy things I won’t end up throwing away.

After trying everything we could last year to rehome a sofa that had become an eyesore, and failing, I finally accepted that we had to get the council to take it and that it would most likely end up in landfill. I was gutted about it but I’d tried dyeing it, it was too expensive and awkward to reupholster, I didn’t feel up to the job myself and no one, absolutely no one wanted it.

We’ve since been given another sofa (a sofa bed in fact) that will see us through the next few years and this time I’m trying to keep it in good enough nick to pass on to someone but eventually (read: when the kids are older), we probably will go looking at new sofas.

When we do, the principles I plan to apply relate to just about any big purchase you want to ensure won’t end up in landfill. Obviously they may not reasonably apply to everything.  However, there are a lot of things that we probably could spare throwing away with a little more thought from the outset. Before clicking through to PayPal or whacking out my debit card, here’s what I’ll be thinking about:

  • Is it built to last? What is it made of and how well is it made? How well are the materials and structure likely to last – bearing in mind we have kids and cats in the house?
  • Is it timeless? Am I likely to change my mind about it in years to come? How well will it accommodate changing needs?
  • How well does it clean? Is cleaning straightforward or will I need specialist products or services to do it?
  • Can I fix or upcycle it? Is it structured in such a way that it can be repaired if not by me then by a local craftsperson?
  • Does it come with a guarantee?
  • Can I pass it on? What would I need to do to make sure I can sell, donate or give it away? Is this realistic?

Over to you. What do you think about when making a big purchase? Do you have any other ideas for keeping big items out of landfill?

This is a collaborative post. See my disclosure for more details.
Photo from

Building a pantry

This is an old project but one I’ve been wanting to share for a while.

One of the things I got excited about when we were buying our house was that there was a downstairs loo. I’ve lost track of how many people have assumed that that was because of toilet training.

Actually, I often feel a bit lazy about going all the way upstairs to the loo, if I’m honest! And when we have people staying with us for an extended period of time, a second toilet would be handy. Time to think about building that compost loo in the garden maybe?!

Anyhoo, said downstairs loo made a funny noise whenever we flushed it. Scary for any toddlers present (and maybe for me…). It progressively got worse.

Finally, we had a friend who’s a plumber around and found out that it actually wasn’t plumbed normally into the system but was a macerator toilet. Take a look at this Mumsnet thread if you want to know why that was a big deal (and read some stuff than cannot be unread).

The space sans loo

The space sans loo

Bye bye, loo. Our friend removed it for us and it henceforth became the place where we threw all the stuff. As in, you’d open it and risk an avalanche as well as lose sanity and years trying to find the simplest of things “stored” in there. After much frustration, a brilliant idea was born: we should turn the space into a pantry.

I was all for getting someone else to do it, eventually, but Laurence fancied the challenge. So he got pinning and purchasing. The girls and I went to his parents’ house for a day to leave him to it without distraction. And we came back to be so impressed by it all. A little paint on the floor but other than that, it’s pretty pro.

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I guess that gives us something in common with 70 per cent of UK homeowners who responded to the Wren Kitchens Home Wrenovation Survey saying that they or their partners would get involved in DIY. Although, perhaps I’m aging ahead of Laurence because, apparently, the older you get the more likely you are to hire someone to do the job! It’s a genuinely interesting read, by the way, especially if you own a house or are considering buying.

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We’ve a way to go in terms of actually organising the shelves of this pantry, but we’re already enjoying being able to find things again. It’s making baking and cooking that bit less stressful and more pleasurable. It’s especially satisfying for storing any bulk purchases now that we’ve set up an organic food buying group.

In collaboration with Wren Kitchens

A look around our playroom

Our house has a large reception room. It’s a living room that’s with an extension, essentially. The previous owners used the extension as their TV/sitting room and the rest of the space didn’t seem to have much of a focus. We decided to turn the extension into a playroom for the children. Over time, it’s taken a life of its own. I’m sure we’ll do much more with it yet but this is where I’ve done with it so far.

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A look around our playroom-5

The IKEA Kallax is a brilliant storage solution, particularly because of the brightly coloured Drona boxes that fit it. I’ve found that I really have to separate and categorise toys or Talitha just doesn’t play with them. Perhaps she feels as overwhelmed as I do, glancing a box full of goodness-knows-what.

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A look around our playroom-4

Witty Doodle sent us this Octopus canvas print to review and it’s so lovely. The shapes and colours are specifically meant to inspire babies, encouraging brain and vision development but both children seem quite taken with it.

It’s 40x40cm and clearly of high quality – a cheerful addition to this room. I may move it up to the girls’ bedroom at some point but, at the moment, we’re enjoying it here.

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A look around our playroom-8

A look around our playroom-7

I’ve had an ongoing question of how to arrange the books so Talitha and Ophelia would be inspired to look at them independently. Not that Talitha needs much encouragement but lots of books were being ignored just stacked on a shelf.

Using a couple of the Drona boxes on the floor turned out to be a much more accessible solution, particularly with the floor cushions next to them. It feels like a little library.

A look around our playroom-11

A look around our playroom-10

We’ve been doing a themed corner for a few weeks now. First we had Chinese New Year, then dinosaurs and now Easter. Talitha wants to replace it with fish next.

A room for two sisters

Ophelia is going to be one-year-old in a week and a half. I know. I can scarcely believe it either. Talitha has been desperate for her to move into her room like we said she would. Well, their room. Maybe she just wanted to put up the sweet name plaques my mother got them for their door.

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Ophelia has spent most of her evenings in arms but we recently started putting her in a travel cot in our room for some of that portion of the night before we all get into our bed. She’s easily disturbed now and a bit of a lump so it’s felt like time to get her to bed rather than just asleep at bedtime.

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Sisters bedroom-10

We converted Talitha’s bed into a half bunk and moved her mattress onto the floor for Ophelia. Talitha has a new mattress Dormeo sent us to review, which she’s been thrilled with. It’s Memory Fresh single – memory foam and unbelievably comfortable.

Our bedtime routine often involves getting into bed with her, which used to be a real pain because the mattress she had before really wasn’t up to supporting an adult’s weight. Now we have even more of a problem than we already did of falling asleep while putting her to bed!

The only downside is that the single runs a bit smaller than expected. It doesn’t fit the bed perfectly, which isn’t a problem for us but it’s worth double-checking the measurements before you order, just in case. We’re happy with it otherwise.

Sisters bedroom-11

So far it’s working really well having Ophelia in a floor bed. It means that I can feed her to sleep and slip away without worrying she’ll crawl off the bed. When she wakes up she usually just stays sitting there, crying until I come to get her (Talitha’s a heavy and motivated sleeper now so this isn’t a problem).

If she does have a wander, it’s straight to the stair gate to make her complaint known. But we have an ear out so it’s not a problem anyway.

Sisters bedroom

At first I thought we’d have to put another set of drawers in this room to store both girls’ clothes but then I realised they just had too many clothes so we had a major cull. The cloth nappies live in the study, though.

This room is far from finished. We still haven’t worked out the perfect book storage solution and two of the walls are waiting for ideas. We’re having fun with it. Talitha loves taking her friends up there even though there aren’t really any toys here other than teddies!