Our Flat

The Allotment Garden: June 2018

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

Okay, so many changes here! I’m so excited about our garden this year, and all the things we are hoping to harvest! I took these photos about mid June, and already so much has changed! I can’t wait to see where we end up in August. Or even September!

I recapped our allotment in this post a couple weeks back, and used the following illustration to show the layout of our first plot.

Allotment plans for 2017 | Hello Victoria

To show all the changes that we’ve made this year so far, and our plans for all the plants, I created a new illustration for 2018. You can see it below.

Allotment Plans 2018 | Hello Victoria

So first big changes up from last year, are the greenhouse and a second plot! Richard is so incredibly proud of the greenhouse. It took a while to build, but mostly because we were doing it in winter and there’s only so much time you want to spend freezing your butt-off outside painting pallets. The frame was built out of pallets that Richard got from his work, and for so long it looked like we were building a pen for animals. 🙂 Then he added some curved plastic pipe for the roof supports, a shelf made of pallet scraps for starting seeds at the back, and everything got covered in plastic! The thing that took the longest was painting it all with the same stain as the shed (Tudor Black Oak) as pallets have so many nooks and crannies.

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

We’ve used it to start all our seeds this year, and made use of both the shelf as well as the bare ground to keep large bins full of seed trays. It was great to not have our windowsills full of little trays, like last year. 🙂 Now that everything has been planted out, it’ll mostly be used to grow all our tomatoes, chili peppers, and cucamelons.

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

Outside of the greenhouse I opted to plant some lupins and salvia because I wanted to fill the space a bit, and make it look prettier. On the other side I moved some forget-me-nots that kept showing up on our plot to make it look nicer. Our allotment neighbour has them, and they keep seeding little plants all over our plot. Since I like free flowers I decided to simply move them, rather than get rid of them.

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

Beside the greenhouse we have our shipping-boxes-turned-raised-beds from last year. We’ve moved them to a slightly different spot because of the greenhouse, but they’re in the same part of the plot. Instead of lettuce greens (which we always forgot to pick) we’re growing all of our herbs in two of the boxes, while keeping the third for carrots and radishes like before. Hopefully the nasturtiums, which are planted around the two herb boxes, will really fill out and spill into the middle… so pretty!

Allotment updates June 2018 | Hello Victoria

Over by the greenhouse is our shed! I gave it a couple of fresh coats of stain, as it was looking a bit worn after the winter. And of course, we gave it a much larger patio! If you follow along on Instagram, you will have seen the progress on stories. It’s soooo nice to have enough room now to sit with a few friends for a bbq, which would have been too cramped before. And I can’t stop loving the herringbone brick! We scoured Gumtree to find free bricks in our area, and then cleaned the old mortar off them to add to the existing patio. (more…)

The Allotment Garden: 2017

Allotment garden 2017 | Hello Victoria

Alright, if you’re not into gardens, then you may want to skip this post! And many of the ones after, ha! I’m becoming a bit obsessed with this allotment, and making it perfect…

So last year we took on our first plot at the allotment (coummunity garden) nearby. It had been left to get a bit overgrown as the previous owner couldn’t take care of it anymore. I talked about what our dreams for the plot were in this first post, as well as what we had done so far in this one. However, that is where my posts stopped! I kept wanting to take photos and post updates, but would think “I need to weed first” becuase I wanted super pretty ‘Instagram-worthy’ pictures. Well, that never seemed to happen, and then our tomatoes all got blight and I just gave up. I just never thought it looked good enough to document.

Buuut… it’s hard to really show how far we’ve come without first posting some photos from last year. They’re mostly just iPhone photos that I took to send to Richard while he was away, so he could see the progress. I apologize for their lack of quality.

So first up, we need to just remember where we started…

Allotment garden before | Hello Victoria

That was how the plot looked when we first signed up for it. It had rows of raspberry canes covering one half of the plot, a few giant woody lavender, a couple of rose bushes, and some fruit trees. Other than that, it was all just grass and weeds – completely overgrown.

Allotment garden 2017 | Hello Victoria

We pulled up all the old landscape fabric, and rotovated the two halves of the plot. Unfortunately, as we learned the hard way, certain weeds etc. just get worse if you rotovate. Richard had broken up and turned the soil on one half by himself, but then while he was doing the second half, the allotment site manager came over and offered to rotovate instead. Turns out they get broken up and churned into the soil – only to pop up later 100 times worse. You can see evidence of that in later photos…

Now, to make things less confusing let’s refer to some diagrams and images – shall we? Last year just after we cleared the site, we drew up some plans of what we wanted to do (this plan was in my post about what we had done so far).

Allotment plans last year | Hello Victoria

And of course, our plans changed as we went, and by the end of the summer, the actual plot looked like this. Oh, and my diagrams got better 🙂

Allotment plans for 2017 | Hello Victoria

Now, our plot essentially has two sides, broken up by the trees and grass in the middle (as shown in the diagram above). Let’s start by talking about everything that we did on Side A.

Allotment garden 2017 | Hello Victoria

the plastic shed base, laid on top of the white weed covering fabric

So one of the first things that we managed to do was create the patio area and shed. We ended up getting our shed assembled, because Richard was away at the time, and I can’t build it by myself (hard to lift and screw things together, simultaneously). The company delivered it and put it together in about 20 minutes! All I had to do was clear the area, level the ground, and install a base. To that end, I put down one of those plastic shed bases. It was super easy to put together, and came with landscape fabric to prevent weeds growing underneath. We could have gone with a wood base, or concrete, but the wood ones are super expensive, and the concrete wasn’t going to work on an allotment. (more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)