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

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Wednesday
Nov052014

Bathroom Planning

I'm about to type a sentence that would probably have my twenty-year old student self staring at the screen in genuine confusion: we have seven bathrooms to plan and decorate.

Clearly this is a ridiculously extravagant number of bathrooms so I'm going to temper this by explaining that currently we have two bathrooms and an outside WC (which of course in itself represents a fairly healthy number of options for conducting ablutions). Once we have finished our renovations we will have added an ensuite in our bedroom and one in Eva's bedroom, converted the attic to a bedroom and added a third ensuite up there, installed a ground floor WC in what will be the new extension, and converted the outside WC to a full bathroom in the cellar. Phew. Which makes seven bathrooms, all of which we will be doing ourselves over the course of the next five-ten years (literally).

We're hoping to get cracking early next year with our main bathroom on the top floor, which currently looks like this (or rather it did until Andre cracked under the pressure of too much rag rolled turquoise and slightly randomly painted the walls dark blue instead).

I've been gathering images of gorgeous bathrooms on Pinterest for a while now - here's what we're planning and why. 

For our ensuite - dramatic marble, the super-veined kind like Arabescato or Statuario. I definitely want one marble bathroom and our ensuite is the only option because apparently a mere drop of water turns a marble floor into an ice rink which rules it out for kids and guests. It would also scratch easily so isn't a good idea for the ground floor where people are more likely to wear outdoor shoes with grit on them.

Marble bathroom in Notting Hill by Maddux Creative

For Eva's bathroom - fun and quirky with a giant map mural or decal on the wall. We're going to get the original cast iron Victorian clawfoot bath (pictured above in our turquoise bathroom) re-enamelled and use that in her ensuite. Lucky girl. 

Lonny Mag

For the cellar - dark and dramatic polished concrete (or tiles to give a similar effect). This room will mostly be used for washing muddy dogs and post-sport kids so a deep colour would work well here. 

Elle Decor (apparently this is the the lower Manhattan penthouse of star baseball player Mike Piazza and his wife, Alicia, who knew)

The ensuite in the attic - hopefully light and airy with a big velux or dormer, a large antique mirror, a chandelier and wood-effect tiles. We might as well have at least one bathroom that don't look like a bathroom. 

Source unknown

The ground floor WC - a crazy paper like this Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper. I like the idea of wallpaper in bathrooms but I also like very hot showers and the two don't seem particularly compatible so using it in a WC seems like a good plan.

Source unknown

The bathroom outside Natalia's room - a feature wall of some kind (some friends of ours have just installed a bathroom with an amazing dark slate mosaic type wall and it looks incredible) with black and white floor tiles. This bathroom will be used by guests so it needs to be practical for lots of use, and will be visible when going up stairs so it needs to co-ordinate with the hall and landing decor. The latter is likely to be neutral and possibly yellow (I'd love to use yellow Cow Parsley on the landings, I think it's gorgeous) and Natalia's room is turquoise so black and white would tie it all together.

Slate hexagon tile from TV show 'The Block' (note: Daily Mail link alert)

And finally, the top bathroom will be nice and neutral. I adore the picture below with all the different kinds of pale marble tiles. We'd need marble-effect, I think, to make it less slippery for the kids, but I think we can get away with something paler upstairs as any mud would have been tracked off in the rest of the house on the way up (lovely!) so it wouldn't need constant cleaning, and grey is far more forgiving than white in any case. 

Thoughts? Favourites?

Sunday
Oct262014

And Let There Be Warmth

Ah, October. Spiced warm apple cider, long autumnal walks through misty woods, warming pumpkin soup, snuggling on the sofa in cashmere socks and a blanket, and all the other stuff Instagram says I should be doing at this time of year. In actual fact what we're doing is replacing the last of our ancient old radiators because we decided that last autumn would be the last year we woke up to a 15 degree house that after having the heating cranked to the max still only managed to achieve a frosty 17 degrees six hours later. Brrrr.

Here's what our radiators looked like. The previous (lovely) owner waxed lyrical to me about how energy efficient they were, but the terrifyingly high gas bill we received that first winter told a different story (in fairness I wasn't really listening to him as I was too busy gawping at the original mouldings 12 feet above my head so I may have missed some fundamental detail about how to operate them in conjunction with the huge, rusty and leaking hot water tank skulking in the bathroom).

We've gradually been replacing them with nice new modern double radiators. Strictly speaking we should replace them with authetic or reproduction Victorian cast iron radiators (we have two small ones on the top floor) but there are some things I'm just not bothered about restoration-wise, stripping skirting boards being one and installing Victorian-style radiators being another, to which I say Meh on both counts. On the other hand, if all goes according to plan, then early 2015 will find me spending hours and hours Michelangelo-style carefully soaking 130 years of paint off the original decorative cornice in the living room, go figure.

Last year we replaced the radiators in the living room, playroom, dining room, our bedroom and Eva's bedroom. Natalia's room doesn't need heating as the hot water pipes running underneath her wooden flooring create natural underfloor heating, which is so toasty warm that when she rolled out of her new big girl bed at 1am a few weeks ago, she apparently found the floor so comfortable that she just kipped down there for the rest of the night. These crazy toddlers.

This winter we've tackled the hall and landing radiators. Pretty simple job, providing you can cope without hot water for the day, you have a magical oscillating multi-tool for cutting carefully through the floorboards you need to lift, and you don't make schoolboy errors like hanging the radiator before taking up the floorboards and realising you've positioned the joints over a joist. Cough *Andre* cough.

And here's one of the new radiators looking nice and sleek against the wall that we hadn't got round to painting when I took the photo (it's done now). We also need to repair the floorboards around the pipes.

But oh my goodness it is so warm. Luxuriously warm. Insanely warm. We left the heating on low while we went out for a couple of hours this afternoon and came back to a 23 degree house. I should probably share a tutorial of some kind explaining how to plumb in a new radiator but I have no idea how to plumb in a new radiator as I leave all that to Andre, god bless my handy husband.

Other things we have been doing recently - laying woodchip around the play area, measuring up for the fitted wardrobes, and perusing ceiling roses for the bedroom. And next post - bathroom plans!

Wednesday
Oct152014

Let There Be Light

We try and tackle at least one house-related task each week. Last weekend, in between attending three fantastic kids' birthday parties, we exchanged stern words with the rogue wisteria out the back.

When we first moved in, this was the view from the back door. 

Not so pretty; but in early summer when the wisteria comes into bloom? A different story.

A couple of years of neglect later, and we appear to have created a delightfully dank cave-like space with a hazardously sagging wooden pergola thingie that had to be propped up with the giant tube containing the 5m window cleaning device that Andre (fortuitously, as it turned out) insisted on buying recently. 

We intended just to give it a quick trim to relieve some of the pressure on the close-to-collapsing-but-not-so-close-that-we-can-be-bothered-to-fix-it frame, but even after taking off loads it wasn't enough, so we ended up chopping off the whole lot.

Wisteria grows like a virus so we're not unduly concerned about its prospects, and it's so much lighter out the back, even though our neighbour questioned mildly how long he would have to look at the newly-revealed shanty town-like structure. Not too long, we hope! The structural drawings are near completion, the schedule of works has been drafted, and we're just about ready to go out to tender for the building work that will hopefully be ready to start demolishing said shanty town-like structure, along with half the ground floor, early next year.

The next project? Stripping the front door. I've done the first coat of Homestrip and there only appear to be about three layers of paint which I assume means it's not the original door, unless some other poor sod had a crack at it before we moved in. We also have to shift about three cubic tonnes of newly delivered wood chip to the play area at the end of the garden, oh joy...