Work In Progress: floors, staircase

The boards in the hallway are all fine – probably because half of them are already replacements.

The staircase is fine, just needs sanding back and bannister added – that’s on the list of jobs for this week 👍

By the kitchen door is our only real problem. There is a joist that used to be held in the wall but got sawn down, and we don’t like the look of the upright holding it up. For starters, it’s sat on the soil under the house, no waterproofing whatsoever. Who does that?? Pretty much all our uprights under the joists seem to be on concrete platforms, so looks like this one was a late addition and a bodge job. We’re going to go down there (eek, it’s cobweb central, as you’d expect) and put two or three new uprights in, on concrete platforms. We’ll probably do brick ones with slate and membrane as a barrier to the joists.

In the foreground: sanding patch test. Looks like once it’s all sanded, the old boards should be a similar colour to the new ones, which is really helpful. Means we can get a really consistent colour by using stain on everything and just applying a little more to lighter sections. 

Hopefully next Saturday will have lots of further-in-progress pictures 😊 I might crack out the SLR for those… this post has been phone snaps!


DIY: Dye It Yourself

Do you ever see a garment you love in a shop, and maybe it’s available in six colours, but you can’t see any of them making that object a valuable addition to your wardrobe? Maybe they’re all pastel cardigans that sit perfectly round your shoulders, but you were hoping for a punchy cerise, or something.

Well, I draw your attention to the range of home-dye options available. I personally have had best results with Dylon products, but my experience is limited. I tried Rit from powder but I think the garments I was working with were suboptimal and that I probably didn’t mix the colour up well enough before immersing the cloth in the bucket of dye. I will say that it gives you a MUCH wider spectrum of colours to choose from, since they give a chart of “recipes” for reference.

Take the plunge!

Gingerbread House Cookie Cutters

Gingerbread houses are awesome. Fact.

Each Christmas, pre-made houses and pre-baked pieces to assemble get sold in department stores (and plenty of other shops), and that’s fine. But I bought THIS set of cutters at Lakeland (my favourite shop) and for anyone who plans to make a gingerbread house more than once, I recommend you make a similar investment.

– cut out the dough to bake, then slightly before it’s done cooking, “re-cut” it to trim off the edges that have spread out, to get neat edges
– use royal icing as your “glue”, if you can use egg. It sets really firmly
– you can buy those cake boards (eg HERE) for not-silly money and they make sturdy, easy-to-use bases; you can do a confectionery garden directly on the board: super-cute

Turning up to someone’s house with an edible gift that is a “creation” always goes down well 😊

Ikea Hackers: get inspired

When I think of DIY, it’s usually a fun, self-starter, “out there” project done in protest against poor quality and/or high prices, or to achieve something that nobody’s offering right now.

The reality is that the majority of the time I spend Doing It Myself is assembling stuff we’ve bought from Ikea.

If that’s you too, then you may already know about Ikea Hackers. The site provides the opportunity to share customisations or re-workings of Ikea products, often using other items in their product range to add on to or replace an element of the original design, and see other people’s projects to inspire your own.

Posts have tags, so there is a certain degree of sercheability; if you’re planning on furnishing your house with (eg) a kitchen kart, you can use these keywords to see what other people have done, to help you understand how you can “stretch” the offering from Ikea themselves.

As a community-created site, I must warn that you’ll see a volume of posts that you don’t like, or think are bad ideas. Stick with it, and bookmark pages you do like. There are diamonds a-plenty in that rough.

Gardening – the cheap as chips version

I shouldn’t complain, because I inherited an array of (knackered) gardening tools when I moved into my current house. Rusty lawn edger? Check. Spade with wobbly handle? Triple check. Ossified Flymo? But of course. So I’ve saved a bit on the initial investment, since we can make do with this tat in the short term, replacing items that fall apart or give us blisters as we go along. And yet still, I raise this complaint: launching as a gardener (even a low-volume, amateur gardener) can be pricey. Once you’re up & running you’ll probably be supplying your own compost & sharing seedlings with neighbours or whatever, but all this requires a basic level of kit that might put you off getting started.

I’ve trialled 80% of the following items & found them to be acceptable makeshift options:
Continue reading “Gardening – the cheap as chips version”

Tear down before you build up

My father-in-law lives by the principle “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”, and at least a quarter of the home improvement I’ve ever done has been under his guidance  – either in person, or on the other end of the phone. I couldn’t help but think of him when planning my first DIY post.

Continue reading “Tear down before you build up”