Our Flat

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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Black Tile Bathroom Floor

Planning on painting our bathroom tile | Hello Victoria

While discussing painting the tile in our bathroom, I mentioned to Richard that I thought it would look great to paint the floor black. I have seen black tile lots of times, and always think it looks dramatic, and yet somehow classic. Seeing as how our flat is Victorian, and they were fans of black and white floor tiles, I feel like it’s sort of character appropriate. Not really, but it’s close enough to make me feel good about my decision. So there.

However, Richard isn’t too keen on the idea. He likes the concept, but doesn’t think it will work in our tiny windowless bathroom. His argument is that the bathroom is too small and it’ll be too dark. My counter argument is that the walls and ceiling will all be either white, or slightly-blue off-white. Everything else will be so bright that the room can handle the dark floor. Not only that, but the floor tile paint options out there aren’t exactly vast, but they do make black!

Here are a few more arguments in my favor, in the form of photos of pretty bathrooms with black/charcoal floor tiles. One of them is even a basement bathroom, which shows you can do this in a room with no windows!

Black floor tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

black hexagon floor tiles via Crate and Barrel

Black floor tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

large scale hexagon floor tiles via Instagram

Black floor tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

windowless bathroom via Deuce Cities Henhouse

Black floor tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

small bathroom via Houzz

Dark floor tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

charcoal grey tiles via Contemporist

So what do you think? Are you on Richard’s side of the discussion, and think the black floor will be too dark? Or are you with me, and think that those black tile floors will really make this room pop? I’m curious to know what you guys think as it’s a big step to make in such a small place.

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Updating the Bathroom

Plans to update the bathroom | Hello Victoria

One of the rooms that has bothered me the most, is the bathroom. It’s a room where clearly someone tried to update it for resale, but only succeeded in wasting money on finishes that are harder to deal with than what (I assume) their predecessors were.

Plans to update the bathroom | Hello Victoria

Poorly installed, cheap tiles, are not a good investment, and only make me angry. (Richard doesn’t seem to understand what the tiles and tub surround “have done to offend” me, but they do.)

Mosaic tile inspiration | Hello Victoria

wouldn’t one of these floor tiles be amazing? (left // centre // right)

But what to do? I mean, this isn’t our forever home, so replacing the tiles aren’t an option. (As much as I would love to have some marble mosaic floors and white subway tiles.)

(more…)

Modern Rosewood Media Cabinet (and Other Living Room Updates)

Modern rosewood media cabinet from Swoon Editions | Hello Victoria

We finally got some new furniture for our flat! Isn’t she beautiful?

Before moving to England, I googled some alternatives to IKEA for finding affordable furniture. As much as I love IKEA, it tends to have a “look” to it, don’t you think? Maybe that’s just me (because I know their products so well), but I didn’t want an entire place that said “IKEA”.

Modern rosewood media cabinet from Swoon Editions | Hello Victoria

fern, and wood planter from Flower & Glory // cement planter from the Red Mud Hut

I’ll definitely shop there (and already have for the flat), but I want to have furniture from all types of places and styles, so that our flat feels like a true representation of our eclectic tastes.
One of the shops that came up in my search was Swoon Editions. It’s an online store with a cool concept – ditch the store front, middle men, and everything else that jacks up the price of furniture, and just connect directly with the people who make it. All of their items are online only, which poses a bit of a problem – you might end up waiting months to receive a product you have never even seen in person! (more…)

Allotment Dreams

Allotment garden inspiration | Hello Victoria

allotment inspiration via

A few months ago, Richard and I became the proud owners of an allotment! We had been trying to grow some things at his brother’s place, but found that we rarely had the time to make the drive out there in order to tend to it.

After talking to a neighbor in our little building, he mentioned that he was part of an allotment garden just a 10 minute walk down the road, and that he thought there might be spots available! Turns out the space right beside his was available, and so we put in our request. Unfortunately, by the time we did so, it had been claimed by another person. However, we found out that three more plots were becoming available by the end of the year, and we could come take a look if we wanted.

Allotment garden inspiration | Hello Victoria

allotment inspiration via

In this instance, not getting the plot we asked for turned out to be a blessing in disguise! One of the three plots was even better than the first! Our new little garden has not just one, but four fruit trees already established! (It also has one tree that we have no idea what it is. It could be fruiting, or ornamental, but we won’t know until spring/summer.) (more…)

Hague Blue Bedroom

Bye bye bright and airy bedroom…

Painting the bedroom | Hello Victoria

Helloooooo drama!!

Hague Blue bedroom | Hello Victoria

While Richard was away for work, I decided to tackle painting the bedroom. As discussed in earlier posts about dark bedrooms, and my plans for this room, we had chosen to paint it Farrow + Ball’s Hague Blue (using Valspar paint) a few months before, and I am so glad about that decision. The paint has such a lovely teal-y green undertone to it, that makes it feel warmer (in my humble opinion) despite how dark it is.

Now painting without Richard meant lots of time spent on a ladder, with no one to see if I fell… but the worst part of doing it alone, was not having a vehicle! Unfortunately Richard took it with him when he left… not that it really mattered as I still haven’t learned to drive on the left side of the road! (more…)

Plans for the Bedroom

View of the bedroom from the hallway

There are a few rooms in our flat where I know exactly what I want to do – the two most solidified in my mind are the hallway, and the bedroom. The hallway is easy to figure out because it’s such a small space. Add a single piece of furniture, some artwork, a mirror, a few accessories…. and bam! Done!
The bedroom is similar in that it is dominated by one piece of furniture – the bed. It takes up so much of the room that it becomes simple to determine the items required to finish the space. In here, I’m thinking lots of texture, and a sort of nomadic world-traveler sort of vibe. (Is that a vibe?!)

Plans for a cozy and inviting bedroom | Hello Victoria

The room has two large windows with great moldings, but they let in a lot of early morning light

Plans for a cozy and inviting bedroom | Hello Victoria

Here is the bedroom just after we moved in. The bed frame was left behind by the previous owner, and the little tables beside the bed are stools that Richard brought home from Nepal. They’re just temporary, but they were a great solution to our lack of… well.. anything(more…)