Our Flat

Plaster vs. Plastic: Installing a Polystyrene Ceiling Medallion

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

A long way back, I wrote about how we installed a plaster ceiling medallion (‘ceiling rose’ here in the UK) in our living room. It was far more difficult than we originally thought, due to the weight of the large plaster ceiling medallion (we used this one from B&Q). So when it came time to finally add another ceiling medallion to our bedroom, we decided to try a polystyrenee one instead!

See, we were lazy, and didn’t want to spend all that time and money on installing a plaster ceiling medallion. That, and the fact that the selection was incredibly limited at local DIY stores – we couldn’t find one in the right size that wasn’t insanely expensive. So, after our success in installing plastic coving in our kitchen, we decided to go the same route with our ceiling medallion. Plus, it takes like 5 minutes to put up!

We ordered this ceiling medallion from Amazon, as the middle circle was large enough to accomodate our IKEA pendant light. Many medallions had detailing too close to the middle, or were too pricy. This one had detail right in the center, but the smooth expanse around it was wide enough for our needs. We simply cut away the middle detail, as our light would cover it anyways.

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

When we received it, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t smooth and ready to paint, like our coving had been, but resembled polystyrene packaging. It had that rough nubbly surface. So, I thought I would try a trick I read about on Daniel Kanter’s blog Manhatten Nest. He painted his plastic medallions with watered down plaster/filler to help make them look older. I mixed up some, but I think I made it too wet… when my first coat of primer dried, huge cracks formed all over the surface!

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

I was sooooo bummed, as sanding a detailed medallion is ridiculous. I tried to remove the larger cracks with sanding, and then hoped that a few coats of primer would fill in the rest. Well, it took like 6 coats before they started to look okay, but even then had more texture than I would like. After primer, I used our ceiling paint to do a couple more coats. (more…)

Kitchen Progress: Built In Cabinets + Paint

Making IKEA cabinets look built in | Hello Victoria

Okay, just a simple update on the kitchen here (with a stupidly long post). I’m just trying to finish up a couple little projects, and possibly find a rug to fit the space, and then I’m calling it done! One thing that we finally have finished, is making all our cabinets match and look built in.

As I mentioned in the first kitchen saga post, our kitchen came with IKEA cabinets that were no longer available, and we had to replace the upper cabinets in order to add more storage. Now, we could have kept the lowers wood, as I’m a fan of a two tone kitchen, but all the white appliances sort of messed that up. My original plan with the kitchen had been to do a tuxedo kitchen with deep navy or green lower cabinets, and a white top. But, as our appliances were all white, you’d be left with half white, half colour. Not exactly the look I was going for. So, in an effort to make the kitchen feel brighter and larger, we went all white. Does that make any sense to anyone besides me? No? Okaaay…

Tuxedo kitchen inspiration via Apartment Therapy | Hello Victoria

beautiful navy + white tuxedo kitchen via Apartment Therapy

So, that meant painting our lower cabinets white, but what about the upper ones? I could have colour matched IKEA’s SÄVEDAL doors, and then painted everything in our kitchen the same, but decided against it. See, every ceiling, door, and trim in our flat is painted All White by Farrow + Ball. If I wanted to use the IKEA white colour, then it would have meant repainting our doors and trim in the kitchen to this different white, and I didn’t want it to look different from the other rooms in the flat. (Richard wishes I had told him about the colour matching option…)

Am I crazy? Yes. But I also justify it because the finish on the doors was so smooth and machine-made looking, that all the built in trim with brushstrokes would have looked different. We would have had to paint the doors to make them all look the same, no matter which white we used.

Aaaaanyways. So in addition to painting all the wood doors and trim below, we had to paint all the new upper cabinets doors as well. That meant removing all the hinges and handles, cleaning everything of grease etc. and giving it all a light sanding. For the wood cabinets and trim, we used 3 coats of this primer, and then 2-3 coats of our Valspar paint in All White. For the upper cabinets, it took 2 coats primer, and then 2 coats paint. After the doors were up, I did a bit more sanding, and some touch up paint, as we had been painting on low surfaces and little bits of fluff kept getting caught in the paint.

Now came the fun part – making all the IKEA cabinets look built in. See, I’ve always been a huge fan of inset cabinetry, and wanted to try and give our bank of cabinets a similar look. This meant filling in the gaps all the way around the cabinets with wood, and trimming it all out.

Inset cabinetry inspiration | Hello Victoria

inset cabinetry inspiration via Curated Interior

To get the look I wanted, it meant lining up the trim with the cabinet doors, as opposed to the frames. So we added a piece of 21x21mm stripwood all around the cabinets, flush with the face of their frames. To install it, we simply screwed into the piece from inside the cabinets with a couple of wood screws. Not only did this give us a piece we could then attach the trim to, but allowed us to offset our next piece by a few milimeters in order to create a gap between the doors and our trim.

Making IKEA cabinets look built in | Hello Victoria

Making IKEA cabinets look built in | Hello Victoria

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IKEA Hack: DIY Wood Inlay Side Table

IKEA hack: NORDLI side table | Hello Victoria

When we first moved in to the flat, we were short a few items of furniture. The previous owner had left a bed frame behind, but nothing else for the bedroom. To be fair, it was a small room, with plenty of storage in the closet. The only things it was really lacking, were side tables.

We lived with some little stools that Richard brought back from Nepal for a while, but I wanted storage. I wanted a place to keep little things tucked out of sight, like charging cables! However, our space on either side was limited, so we needed to find something small.

IKEA hack: NORDLI side table | Hello Victoria

That’s when I turned to IKEA. They have plenty of options for side tables, but none of them really fit my design aesthetic. So what’s a cash strapped girl to do? IKEA Hack, that’s what! We ended up going with the NORDLI side table, as it had some pretty cool design features. It has hollow back legs that you can run cables down, as well as a little shelf inside purpose built for chargers and the like. The only thing not perfect about it was the bland white exterior.

NORDLI bedside table | Hello Victoria

That’s when I began searching for inspiration. I have always loved West Elm for style, and had fallen hard for their bone inlay bedside tables. However, I just couldn’t see how this design would be applied to the tables we bought. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt like our room needed more “warmth”. That meant wood, right? And if I can’t do bone inlay, why not wood inlay? So I searched around for a few styles of wood patterns, and found these. That got me thinking of ways to implement them.

Wood inlay furniture inspiration from Swoon Editions | Hello Victoria

Ida cabinet from Swoon Editions

Wood inlay furniture inspiration from West Elm | Hello Victoria

Rosanna media cabinet from West Elm

Wood inlay furniture inspiration from Swoon Editions | Hello Victoria

Karlsson sideboard from Swoon Editions

I keep seeing people posting projects using Stickwood, and thought, why not that? It’s super thin, so maybe it would be easy to cut into strips! Not only that, but it’s often made using reclaimed wood, which I like. However, they really intend it to be used for larger projects, and don’t sell it in small amounts. As I wasn’t keen on having so much extra wood with no other projects in mind, I had to start looking for something else. (more…)

Inspiration: Rugs in the Kitchen

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

bright vintage rug in all white kitchen via jacquelenclark

While the kitchen progress is ticking along slowly, I can’t help but look ahead and think about accessories. All the white cabinets and pale walls have me craving warmth and texture. I’m thinking a funky wood clock, patterned faux roman blind, and a vintage rug!

Okay, so the rug may not actually happen. See, Richard isn’t a fan of having a rug in our kitchen. He sees it as a place for crumbs and germs to live, while I see it as much needed warmth, texture, and style in our all-white kitchen. I have been eyeing this rug on Etsy, but am worried it might be a bit too small for our space.

I’ve debated spraying a rug with some sort of repellant fabric spray, but am not sure if that would help (or convince Richard). For now, I would be content to vacuum it regularly. See, I have always lived with some sort of rug/mat under our kitchen sink areas, while Richard has not. My mom always had flat weave mats to stand on, and I loved the feel underfoot. All soft and cushy…

But enough about how they feel, look at them! Doesn’t a rug just add so much colour and interest to these kitchens?

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

bright pink kilim in a tuxedo kitchen via laurengrant

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

dark kilim in a pale sage kitchen via glitterinc

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

colourful rug in a dark green kitchen via wtf

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

red persian rug in a white kitchen via homedeco

So where do you stand? Rugs in the kitchen – yay or nay? Gross and crumby, or stylish and awesome?

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Kitchen Progress: Subway Tiles with Contrast Grout

Subway tiles with contrast grout | Hello Victoria

And so, we continue the kitchen saga! After we got the cabinets up, and the paint on the walls, work stalled. Richard went away to Kenya for a few weeks, and then I joined him for a little 10 day trip (photos coming soon, I promise!). After that, we sort of just got used to the walls the way that they were – all bare plaster and drywall. But, we had plans for them! Richard and I are both big fans of subway tiles, and thought that they would suit our 1920s flat. Modern and historic at the same time, no?

However, I didn’t want just white on white, since our cabinets are already going to be white. I wanted to do a contrast grout for a bit of drama in our little space. I looked around at inspiration and settled on a medium grey tone for the grout. I didn’t want to go too dark as I didn’t want it looking busy, but dark enough that you could actually see the grout.

White subway tiles with grey grout inspiration | Hello Victoria

white subway tiles with contrast grout from Patchwork Harmony

Once we had our plan in place, we started shopping around for tiles. We decided to go with Tons of Tiles as they had the best selection of smaller sized subway tiles and fair prices – plus they did sample tiles! We ordered their beveled mini metro white gloss, mini metro white flat, and rustico white gloss. Richard was really into the beveled tiles, as they most closely resemble the authentic metro tiles here in the underground. My only concern was that the uneven edges when they’re cut would make the corners and edges of our walls look wonky. I like the idea of using beveled tiles, but only on a single wall.

Subway tiles with contrast grout | Hello Victoria (more…)

Kitchen Progress: Cabinet Frames + Paint

Okay, it’s been a quite a while since I updated you guys on the progress here in the kitchen. So long that I have actually been asked if it’s done yet (nope!). And as for where we”re at? Well, after Richard left for a month away due to work, kitchen progress sort of stalled. I ordered a bunch of stuff, but haven’t really made any progress.

As for what we have done since I last blogged about it? Well, we finally have a functioning kitchen again!

Increasing storage with IKEA cabinets | Hello Victoria

After we patched all the holes in the walls, and cleaned up from demolition, it was time to paint! We had chosen Barest Hush by Valspar to be the colour for our walls. We tested a couple of swatches, but Richard was worried they would be too dark, so we settled on this option. My goal was to have a grey tinted green that didn’t read too strong either way. As our living room is grey, I didn’t want the whole place to feel the same. But of course, I also didn’t want too bright of a colour, as I tend to prefer more muted walls. Let the colour come from the furnishings, in my humble opinion.

Valspar Barest Hush | Hello Victoria

Valspar’s Barest Hush

For the cabinets and trim, we are sticking with our tried and true All White by Farrow & Ball, colour matched to Valspar paint. This time around we went with their premium paint, as it was the most scrubbable option. It also comes with a built in primer, so win-win! However, due to time we didn’t get around to painting the cabinets, just yet. That’s a job for another day. Or month… year… sigh. Procrastination is real folks.

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Kitchen Progress: Demolition + Repairs

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

welcome to demolition!

Okay, so I’ve given you an overview of our plans for this kitchen, and what we’re hoping to accomplish. We thought it would be a relatively straightforward couple of days, but boy… were we wrong! Once we started demolition, we realized we had created quite the mess for ourselves.

Let me try and break down where we went awry.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

oh look! It’s Richard’s hand!

So on our first day of demolition, we removed all of the upper cabinets, which also meant moving everything in those cupboards to our living room. Let me tell you, living in a kitchen/living room for about a week isn’t fun. Bleh. We also had to remove the range hood, IKEA GRUNDTAL pot racks off the wall, as well as anything living on the counter tops. We kept stuff in the lower cabinets, and didn’t bother removing the fridge etc., as none of that was changing besides paint.

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

range hood and stainless panels removed

Demolishing our tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

Once everything was out of the room, we contemplated the tiling. Before we could paint or start putting up our new METOD cabinets, we would have to remove all the existing tiles. This was precisely the moment that things went wrong… (more…)

Increasing Storage in Our Tiny Kitchen

Okay, I promised a proper kitchen post with before photos and all… so here goes! If you’re following me on Instagram (and check the stories) then you will see we have already begun work on this space.

Increasing storage in a tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

welcome to our tiny kitchen!

When we had just moved in, we discussed how we could make the kitchen space work best for us. First up, would be to add some hanging storage on the wall, for all of our pots and pans. I don’t have any photos of the kitchen before we put them up, but you can see below how we’re currently using it. We installed two rows of IKEA’s GRUNDTAL rail system, using the top row for pots and pans, and the bottom for pantry goods. One basket contains bread, another potatoes and onions, and the third is a fruit basket.

Those three baskets took me ages to find (it’s hard to find an open weave basket that’s fairly flat) and are actually beach bags that IKEA was selling in their limited HEMTRAKT collection (I just cut off the handles). And yes, we bought waaay more hooks than we need, but we still have to buy more pots.

Increasing storage in a tiny kitchen | Hello Victoria

After adding some hanging storage, we needed to address the cupboard situation. The ceilings are high enough to accommodate another row of cabinetry, so we thought – why not double our storage? (more…)

The Allotment Garden: Before

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

Well, it’s mostly before. To be exact, by the point I started taking pictures we had already ripped out almost all of the weed strewn landscape fabric barrier, old overgrown lavender, blackberry brambles, and 2-3 rows of raspberry bushes. So it doesn’t do justice to what our little plot was like when we took it over, but it’s sort of the clean slate we created.

Last weekend, Richard and I both had Saturday off, so we spent the morning on the allotment. First up, we went to our local garden center, Ruxley Manor, for some seeds, hand tools, and rhubarb plants. We had hoped to get our shed delivered this weekend, but it won’t come until mid April. Instead, we decided to try and get the rest of the clearing and pruning done in preparation. As a lot of the plants are going around the shed, we decided to only buy the rhubarb that day. The little rhubarb patch is in the other half of the plot, so we don’t have to worry about moving anything.

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

apparently this is two plum trees planted together – one purple, and the other green!

Our allotment plot was in rough shape when we got it. None of the trees had ever been properly pruned, nothing was cut back or well trained, and most of the soil was covered with landscape fabric to prevent weeds (which just grew through it). It meant a few days of back breaking work for Richard (I kept having to work weekends) and lots of pruning and tidying up for me. However, it already has three apple trees, 2.5 plum trees (one tree is apparently two growing together, different kinds), and enough raspberry plants to salvage a row.

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

our solitary row of raspberry canes – also, how immaculate is our neighbor’s plot?

But this last weekend, I decided to start documenting our progress! I’m not sure if this is interesting to anyone but me, but I want to be able to see how far we’ve come when it’s done. Side note – Richard has to go away for work for 6 weeks in May, and I asked him if he wanted me to send him weekly allotment update photos. He thinks he wants to be surprised by how much it has all grown when he gets back… which I used to love seeing after summer holidays when I was a kid.

Allotment plan | Hello Victoria

this is our current plan for the allotment – although it changes every time we are down there (in fact, it has already changed from what it shown here!)

So first up, we have the front half of the allotment. We keep calling it the ‘raspberry section’, as it used to contain mostly rows of overgrown raspberries, but we need to come up with better names. Perhaps one half is Canada, and the other Northern Ireland? That way I can say things like, “let’s put the beans in the Northwest of Canada!”.

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

Here we are stalling the most due to the shed, as it’ll go in the bottom corner of the plot. Richard spent a day ripping up all the landscape fabric (rolled into piles) and random bricks. Now we just need to properly turn the soil and we can begin planting! Hopefully we’ll plant beans, peas, carrots, cucamelons, chillis, tomatoes, herbs and some flowers here. We’re going to try and plant some pretty/fragrant things around the shed as we’re building a mini patio out of reclaimed brick. A nice little place to sit and have a cup of tea while we’re at the allotment.

We’ve already changed our plans from what my plan shows above, as we’re now thinking about moving the carrots and lettuce greens to this section, and putting them in raised beds. We may even include the cucamelons in with this plan, and create an archway between the two beds!

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

In between the two growing sections, we have two trees. One is our weird mixed plum tree-and-a-half, and the other is an apple tree. There were three rose bushes placed around these, but they were getting in the way in terms of picking and pruning, so they had to go. We are giving them to a friend of Richard’s, so at least they will be planted somewhere. Just not somewhere that involves me constantly getting pricked by thorns when trying to get at the fruit in the trees.

As I do like flowers, I am replacing the thorny roses with a bank of edible flowers. My goal is to cover the ground between the trees with flowers, that can then be added to salads. You can see my little tray of violas ready for planting, and there were already tons of primrose around. We’ll also plant marigolds, cornflower, and violets. I just need to get them sprouting first. Maybe in a year or two we’ll have lots of pretty, yet edible, flowers?

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

The second half of the allotment, is larger than the first. It’s where most of our rows of vegetables will go, along with a few randoms. As there was already a rhubarb plant here, we decided to keep it where it was, and create a patch. We’re introducing a couple varieties that we bought, so we’ll hopefully get rhubarb at different times of the year.

There was also a thornless blackberry variety, to the right of where Richard is majestically posing. Again, we’re keeping it as is, but will try to train it better. We’re creating a little brick border, and will mulch on top of the existing landscape fabric, as it was too difficult to remove in this area, and will help with weeds. You won’t even notice it once we’re through with it.

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

And seeing as how there it a bit of room in this little section, we’re going to add a tayberry plant! I have never tried one before, but it seemed like a good fit beside the blackberry, as they both need similar support and training. Oh, and there is another smaller plum tree in this section, but it doesn’t divide the space up like the other trees, as it’s on the edge of our plot.

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

apparently this is a purple plum… which makes me a bit sad as yellow plums are my absolute favorite!

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

the little rhubarb plant we inherited

At the far end of our little plot are three trees – one cherry, and two apples flanking it. I’ve already pruned them back, so now we just have to devise a plan for protecting our cherries from birds! We’ve heard from our neighbors not to expect any cherries, as the birds get them all. Not this year birds! Although, to be fair, I’m not sure what to do yet to prevent that.

As with the previous tree section, we’re going to plant a bunch of flowers under the trees. In this case, however, Richard wants to plant tons of spring bulbs! Not going to do much for us this year, but come next spring, there will be a huge boom in daffodils, crocus, and snow drops under these trees!

Before photos of the allotment | Hello Victoria

And that’s that! It’s kind of a boring post, not going to lie, but I wanted to let you all see the blank slate we started with. That way, when I start posting amazing photos once it’s all established, you will be even more impressed! Now if you need me, you will find me sitting on the grass, trying to mentally encourage my plants to grow…

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Loving Lately: Black Kitchen Accents

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

black marble sink via Savvy Home Blog

With the Easter holidays approaching (we’re both getting some time off together – yay!) we’ve started thinking about updating the kitchen. It’s been a project we have long discussed, but haven’t had the time to accomplish. I’ll write a full post soon, with before photos and plans, I promise!

But for now, I want to explore some of the things I am being inspired by for the kitchen. One of the things I know for sure, is that the cupboards will be white, and the tile too! It’ll mean that a good portion of the kitchen will be light and bright, and for that I think it needs some contrast!

I’m loving all things black lately, especially in contrast to white. It’s classic looking, and yet can also be quite modern. So for this kitchen, I am hoping to add lots of black accents for a little punch of style.

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

black window trim via Boston Globe

My jumping off point were these black cabinet handles that were used on an episode of Fixer Upper (man, I miss that show – I can’t get it in the UK on any channel). I have tried really hard to find something just like it, but so far have been coming up empty or wildly expensive. The closest I have come- in style are these handles from Etsy. They aren’t quite as sleek as the ones Joanna Gaines used, but are less traditional than many on the market. I think they will probably be the ones I end up with.

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

the Fixer Upper cabinet handles via HGTV

To go with them (on the drawers we are hoping to add), I am thinking of using cabinet edge pulls. Something really simple like these! I don’t think it would look good to use the same handles horizontally, as it would be too busy, so I want something visually lighter. So far these ones are the only I have found, but I’m still on the hunt.

Now, in my dream kitchen I would add a black faucet to go with all this… wouldn’t that look sharp? But at the moment, replacing the faucet or sink, is probably out of the budget. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t my forever home, so let’s not get too crazy with the unnecessary improvements.

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

black faucet via Becki Owens on Instagram

Okay, but enough of these tentative plans, I will save the proper ones for later, in their own post. For now, enjoy all these photos of kitchens that are looking sharp with all that white and black contrast.

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

cool toned kitchen with black accents via Remodelista

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

black accents in a laundry room via Instagram

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

iron shelf brackets via Jen Loves Ken

Inspiration: black kitchen accents | Hello Victoria

black sconces via Remodelista

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