Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not working or taking care of our three adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

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Living Room Renovation Featuring Hannah Nunn Wallpaper

Holy moly, we did it. In just over a month we completely renovated our living room. It now looks like this:

Hannah Nunn Paper Meadow Teal by Simply The Nest, a UK renovation blog

When only last month it looked like this:

We have three kids, three dogs and full-time jobs, so renovation is something that usually has to be done after hours once the girls have all gone to sleep. We both worked from 8pm to midnight nearly every night for a month, and I also cleared out with the kids for 8 hours on a couple of Saturdays while Andre cracked on with sanding the floors (which took ages courtesy of the usual black sticky stuff that those blasted Victorians loved to coat the exposed parts of their floorboards in). Normally a room renovation in our house takes us months of working on it on and off, so getting it done so quickly was fantastic, albeit completely exhausting!

Hannah Nunn Paper Meadow Teal by Simply The Nest, a UK renovation blog

We had installed insulation from the cellar room before a couple of winters previously, so at least that job was taken care of. So all we had to do was rip the wallpaper off and replaster the dodgy patches, demo the old 80s fireplace out to reveal the soot-blackened original Victorian opening, replaster around the curve of the fireplace, rip the carpet up and repair, sand and oil the floor, rip the 80s curtains down, prime and paint 20m of skirting, 20m of picture rail, a massive bay window and a multi-panelled stained glass side window, paint the cornice and ceiling, and finally wallpaper the entire room from floor to ceiling. Phew.

We used the incredibly gorgeous Paper Meadow wallpaper from UK designer Hannah Nunn that I have been dreaming of ever since I picked up a sample from Hannah at a design show in Manchester over three years ago. I knew that using a paper this lovely for a feature wall only would be doing it an injustice. No, the entire room had to be papered on all four walls, above and below the picture rail, in order to truly experience the sensation of lying in a meadow on a warm summer's day surrounded by waving cow parsley and grasses.  

A couple more after (and before) pictures:

Some tips on wallpapering. I am no expert in wallpaper so these well may only apply to Hannah's paper, which is of a particularly thick and luxurious quality.

Don't worry about getting paste on the front of the paper - it wipes off without a trace with a damp cloth.

If you are papering a wonky Victorian room, don't rely on a tape measure to take a measurement and then transfer it to the paper. Our picture rail and skirting are all uneven, meaning a piece of wallpaper sometimes had to be 2cm longer on the left than the right. We found that the easiest way to avoid mistakes was to physically hold the roll in place against the wall, match the pattern, press the end against the picture rail or whatever we were cutting against, mark with a pencil, lay the roll on the floor, and then rule a line in pencil about 1cm above the mark.

We initially tried to make all our pencil marks on the reverse of the paper so the front didn't get damaged, but quickly realised this was leading to errors and that the pencil rubbed off with an eraser very easily, so we switched to marking up on the front.

I initially tried making paper templates from a roll of brown paper for the fireplace, window, power sockets and so on. Having got the template right, we then transferred it to the wallpaper. This didn't work - because we had a long drop of paper the top would be right but the bottom wouldn't. So we just used the actual roll of wallpaper, pressed it against the opening, marked it up with pencil, cut to roughly the right size, pressed it against the opening again, cut it to 1cm, and then pasted.

Hannah Nunn Paper Meadow Teal by Simply The Nest, a UK renovation blog

To accommodate corners like the top of window frames or the side of a windowsill, I used a pair of fine nail scissors and made lots of tiny cuts into the wallpaper that feathered round the corner or angle. These were then very easy to press into place and any overlaps were so small they couldn't be seen.

We left about 1cm of overhang at the top and bottom of the walls. Any more and we found the paper didn't stick properly at the top. I then waited until we'd papered the entire room and the paste had dried, and then went round with a stanley knife and a steel ruler cutting a precise line above the skirting and below the picture rail and cornice. I've tried cutting wallpaper before when it is still damp and it tends to tear - waiting until it's completely dry seems to work better.

By our standards, this room is now 'done'. Yes we still need to add the last couple of bits of skirting, tile the hearth, make and hang curtains, install a new fire surround or beam, buy sofas, side tables, cabinets and cushions, hang pictures and mirrors... and so on. But those things are all details that can come later - the room is definitely 'finished' enough to live with for a good while.

I was not sorry to see the back of the fireplace, let me tell you.

Hannah Nunn Paper Meadow Teal by Simply The Nest, a UK renovation blog

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Theme for 2017 - Organise

I'm writing this post sitting in a (new to us) love seat that my husband's friend donated to us on New Year's Eve, as you do, in our newly wallpapered living room, with our Christmas tree lights twinkling away because it's not Twelfth Night yet so I'm stubbornly clinging onto it, dropping pine needles and all. I'm also slurping on a prosecco cos my husband just passed it to me; there goes my vague plan to do dry January. Oh and I have a four month old puppy on my knee, three daughters sleeping away upstairs, and the Instagram Rug of Dreams on the floor in front of me. So all is good.

Our giant tree beast plus rug on Christmas Eve.

I like to pick a theme for the coming year. Last year's theme was 'Expand'. More on that later. Andre voted for this year's theme to be 'Relaaaaax'. Sorry to manage your expectations, darling, but there isn't going to be much relaxation going on round here, at least not until we install the kitchen and I no longer have to run down to the cellar every time we need an extra prosecco glass, which happens a lot cos we drink a lot of prosecco (dry January was never realistically going to be a thing, was it).

So, this year's theme will be 'Organise'.

We've expanded the family and now need to juggle three daughters and three dogs. And after living in our house for nearly five years we've finally built our long-anticipated extension and can now put in place some permanent solutions to deal with the chaos of busy family life with two full-time working parents.

I think it's important to understand what each of us needs to feel a sense of inner peace. Apart from the obvious things, for me it's having an alphabetised spice rack (or possibly by cooking genre? Decisions, decisions), a clear dining table with no random crap littered all over it, and not having to run upstairs at the last minute to grab a cardigan/pair of socks/dog when you're trying to head out the door for the event that you're inevitably late for. I'm sure there are some people who are happy with a mountain of shoes at the front door but I am not one of those people.

So, the plan is to implement systems (betraying my day job here) that allow our family life to run smoothly with the minimum of fuss. No lost book bags, no texting the parent hosting the party that the kids are due to attend that afternoon to ask where the venue is cos we've lost the invite, no having to sacrifice my 30 minute daily exercise slot cos I haven't found the time, no piles of junk lying around cos we don't have anywhere to store that massive stash of Ikea paper napkins and tea lights.

No, in our house the teaspoons and the sugar will be stored next to the kettle and the coffee machine in the new kitchen that we'll install for the purpose. We won't run out of dog food and have to feed them pasta (apparently this is normal for Italian dogs?!) cos we will have an Amazon repeat order set up for it. We won't have to spend a romantic evening a deux wading around in the cellar baling out a foot of swamp water cos we'll have a calendar alert set up to check the drains every month. We will never again have to go upstairs to get a pair of socks for Natalia after heading out the front door to leave for school at 08:53 and realising she is barefoot because WE WILL FREAKING WELL STORE SPARE SOCKS IN THE NEW BOOT ROOM (because obviously this is some kind of revelatory solution). Note - I originally typed this as Space Socks which would be even awesome than Natalia's Paw Patrol and Spiderman numbers.  

Anyway, quick recap of Expand 2016.

From this:

To this:

Gibson Architects and Tipi Construction South Manchester - by Simply the Nest, a UK renovation blog

The house was gorgeous before but we like it even better now. it's not just the blending of modern and Victorian that we like so much, but the internal remodelling that has given us a Party House.

From two daughters to three:

From two dogs to three:

And in terms of expanding my own abilities? I can now say that I am A Runner. Coming from someone who hadn't run so much as 50m since I was forced to jog round a much-hated cross-country course at school, this feels like a huge deal for me. The first time I ran in April 2016, I managed about 1.5km before I had to stop and have a lie down. I now run 10-15k a week - a 5k during the week, and 5-10k on weekends. I'm not always very fast, but I absolutely love it, and as Andre will gladly confirm, get pretty cranky without it. Running releases endorphins and is scientifically proven to clear your head. As this article says: "it's hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time".  

Oh and I also developed superhero skills. Want to see a picture of me in a Spiderman costume? Well, if you insist...

Back to organisation - first on the list is finishing the Boot Room to store all our coats, shoes, umbrellas, scooters, summer gear, wet weather gear, FREAKING SPARE PAIRS OF SOCKS and so on. Then we're tackling the big kitchen renovation. The floor tiles are being delivered in a few weeks and then we will be on it like a car bonnet. I've managed to get my New Year theme post up on the first of January for a change so we're off to a flying start.

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Skirting Board, Architrave and Paint in the Reading Room and Playroom

After months of dust and disruption, which while kept to a minimum by our lovely builders was still fairly annoying to live with on a day to day basis, it felt amazing to get some lovely clean paint on the walls.

We began with the kids' part of the house, as they currently had all their stuff in the living room, and we needed to evict them from the living room so that we could get it renovated in time for Christmas.

Here's the view of the old kitchen revealed through a new opening created from the new extension.

And a closer look at the same room - currently being used as an extension of the new playroom next door but ultimately destined to be a reading room with floor to ceiling bookshelves:

Valspar Sooty Lashes by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

After being inspired by the many gorgeous dark interiors I see on Instagram under the #styleitdark tag I decided to give it a go. We painted the reading room in Sooty Lashes by Valspar, which is a really lovely deep grey that reads dark blue in our south-facing room (we have the same paint in the boot room and it looks grey, not blue). Hence why it's important to try paint in the actual room you plan to use it in! I like to paint large sheets of paper and pin them up on various walls to see how the paint looks in different lights. I love the new dark colour in our cosy reading room but having dabbled with the dark side I definitely wouldn't want to use it in a main living space. What can I say, I'm a summer girl at heart and prefer lovely light-filled spaces. Good to experiment, though, and I think my book collection will look great against the dark paint.

We painted the playroom in Liberty Blue 6 by Dulux - I'd say that Valspar have the best deep colours but Dulux still nail it with their pale blue range. I also painted two grey areas on the playroom walls (we created our own colour by mixing spare Valspar text pots together, including Bottlenose Dolphin and Urbane) that I plan to use as a gallery wall for the kids to display their masterpieces. Watch this space...

Originally this:

Then this:

And now this:

Dulux Liberty Blue 6 by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

As well as painting, we installed some lovely Ogee skirting and architrave kindly provided by The Skirting Board Shop. It's amazing what a difference skirting makes to a room, instantly taking it from 'mid-renovation' to 'finished'. Or rather 'nearly finished' as we still need to nail it permanently onto the wall but haven't done so yet as we need to take care of some electrical work to add extra plugs first. Even having skirting propped against the wall looks dramatically better, though.

The Skirting Board Shop has an excellent range of styles and sizes, and I was able to find exactly the right sizes to match our existing woodwork. We didn't have original skirting in the reading room and playroom so during the build we turfed what was in there and have replaced with new that matches the original skirting elsewhere in the house.

Ogee Skirting from The Skirting Board Shop by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

We chose a primed white finish, which after recently spending hours and hours and hours priming all the woodwork in the living room, I was very glad for. I was initially sent the wrong sized skirting so I asked for it to go back on the van and swapped - and we had the correct skirting re-delivered the same day without my even having to call customer services (as the driver took care of it), which is fantastic. There are lots of companies out there who make skirting products, but excellent customer service can't be beaten in my opinion, so I'm happy to recommend The Skirting Board Shop and we will be using them again when it comes to installing the kitchen.

A shot of the hallway showing the new architrave around the entrance to the new bootroom. After the partition came down:

And with the architrave (loosely) in place. We used architrave sets that came in three pre-mitred pieces, which saved us a lot of time.

Ogee architrave from The Skirting Board Shop by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

Another set of before, during, and semi-afters - this time showing the knock through from the old kitchen through to the new extension from the other side.




Valspar Sooty Lashes by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

We're currently spending all our time in the living room due to my last-minute decision to renovate the living room with the words "those 80s curtains are not ruining our Christmas photos for another year". So the curtains came down, the wallpaper came off, we sanded and oiled the floor, demo'd out the fireplace, and primed and painted 20 metres of skirting, 20m of picture rail, 20m of cornice, one massive six panelled bay window and a slightly smaller 14 panelled stained glass side window. Now we're wallpapering the entire room with the Hannah Nunn paper that I chose about 3 years ago, and it looks AMAZING.

Sneak peek...

Hannah Nunn Paper Meadow Teal by Simply The Nest, a UK DIY and renovation blog

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Disclosure: I received the skirting board and architrave from The Skirting Board Shop for free. All words and images my own.