Painted Mailbox makeover

Is it a postbox if it isn’t red?

DIY Postbox renovation

I have no idea. I got to a crucial point in my painted mailbox makeover last week and I had to ask my Instagram followers what wording I should use. I am deeply in love with the result.

After I updated our front door earlier this month, I knew I needed to do something similar with the post box. It came with the house- I presume made by the last owner- as we have no letter box in the front door. Ours is a rectangular box with sloping lid covered with roofing felt.

postbox revamp craft

I left DH to refurb the felt, whilst I filled all the cracks, gaps and dents and sanded that baby to within an inch of it’s life. Following that it was a good coat of undercoat followed by three coats of Farrow and Ball Railings- to match the front door. Once dry I sat looking at it for a couple of days without inspiration.

Then I recalled that the old box had a laminated paper on the front asking No Bills Please and it was what I needed to get started. I grabbed some Farrow and Ball Off White that we have been using for the woodwork in the house, I grabbed a couple of artist paintbrushes and I got to work.

transferring a template using paint and pin

I used a dinner plate as a template, drawing round it to give me a guide for the laurels, which I hand painted. I gave it two coats. I also freehanded the phrase *no bills please along the bottom, which also took two coats. But the wording in the middle was still a conundrum until the very clever Little Wood Life suggested on Instagram suggested “snail mail” and I got to work.

Snail Mail Mailbox Makeover

Rather than freehand the lettering, I printed off the phrase MAIL and trimmed the printed page down to size then secured it in the right place with masking tape. Then I used a pin to prick holes around each letter before covering the whole area with a layer of paint. This transferred through the holes thus transferring the font to the front of the postbox and allowing me to paint within the pin-hole-guided edging. I gave it three coats before I was happy with the result. Then I added a small snail silhouette- again freehanded.

DIY mailbox makeover

And that is it. The postman loves it. As does DH and The Girls.

Bissell Vac and Steam All in One Cleaner Review

It’s rare that a product really impresses me.

It’s twice as rare when a product impresses DH.

The Bissell Vac and Steam All in One Cleaner did both.

 

Bissell All In One Review

 

The Bissell site claims:

The Vac & Steam combines a powerful cyclonic vacuum and a steam mop in one. This innovative product is easy to use as a vacuum on its own, a steam mop on its own, or together for one simple clean action by separating dry debris from wet messes. The steam mop uses 100% chemical free steam to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria* to ensure your floors are left hygienically clean and sparkling, and the ‘steam on demand’ feature means you will always have control of the amount of steam used on sticky messes or delicate surfaces.

I was dubious that a machine this small and light could vacuum and steam clean at the same time and do either thing well. I have another brand of hand-held steam mop- owing to our excess of wooden floors- and the Bissell was so much easier to assemble. I just slotted the foot into the body and added a mop pad and it was ready to go.

Bissell Vac and Steam

 

Add water to the tank using the jug provided. You can even add a fragrance disc (two are included) into an integral pocket on the underside of the mop pad. The machine is ready to use within seconds- far faster than my current steam cleaner- and is light and easy to use. The vacuum was powerful enough to reach into corners and against the kickboards in our kitchen.

We tried it out on laminate, tile and wood- there are mop pads with different textures for different surfaces, as well as a Hi and Lo setting- and each was as easy to clean as the next. Sticky messes were no problem, nor was the usual family bathroom grime (dried on toothpaste? How lovely.) The fact that you don’t have to vacuum before you mop is a real time saver. The vacuum dust catcher is simple to empty, and because it’s clear, you can see when it needs emptying.

Bissell All In One

A retractable handle means the All in One is easier to store, without compromising on the robustness of the product, and the cable can be wrapped neatly onto the rear of the machine.

When I saw that Ravi Dalchard, Senior Brand Manager at BISSELL Canada,  demonstrated his faith in the revolutionary BISSELL Vac&Steam (called ‘Symphony’ in the US and Canada) by cleaning a section of subway floor with the machine then eating his lunch from it, I assumed it was nothing more than a publicity stunt but, having tried the Bissell All in One, I can see why he has such faith. It’s the future of cleaning in our house, that’s for sure.

Bissell steam cleaner

Observations:

DH suggested that the tank took two jugs to fill. Why not a jug twice as large?

It would be helpful to know where to buy replacement scented discs.

We look forward to a cordless model!

 

The Bissell All in One currently retails for £129.99 on the Bissell site, and you get a free Steam Shot worth £49.99.

Disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purposes of writing this review. All opinions, photographs and errors are our own.

Planning a bathroom that will grow with my family #WhyIneedaNewBath

My thoughts on Planning a bathroom that will grow with my family.

When we moved into the house we knew that we would need to do work to the bathroom, for a number of reasons:

Firstly, because there is only one- something that the surveyor was at pains to point out in the pre-purchase stages.

Secondly because there is no shower.

And thirdly because the survey said there were ‘issues’ with the bathroom in it’s current state.

Planning a bathroom that will grow with my family

I have been mourning the loss of our two large lovely bathrooms, both with shower and perfectly finished to my specifications, which annoying had to stay with the old house. I have been missing the 3 minutes of peace that the sound of rushing water pounding on your head gave me each morning before the school run in our former home.

And yet, the tub that takes 20 minutes to fill- water pressure- has grown on me this last year. I am not a bath person. Or rather I was not. As there is no alternative, I have become accustomed to wallowing in water, particularly during the winter months when it warms the very soul. I have learned to embrace the charms of a tub, to get over the loss of a book to the frothy-bubbled waves, to contemplate the ceiling whilst the children sleep.

I can only imagine the bliss that a whirlpool bath offers. I fear I would never get out, much like our children in the hot tub at our holiday house this summer. All those bubbles soothing your joints, your aches, your school-run-battered soul. I’d stay in until the water developed a layer of ice, until the dawn broke, until the children woke. I could imagine myself away to a less hurried world, the sound of rushing water, the wtarefalls, the tropical rainforests…..

Where was I?

The Year of No Shower, in addition to allowing me to fall in love with the tub, has also afforded me the time to daydream and plan what our new bathroom will look like when finished.

It needs to be a room that can grow with our growing girls, both of whom are now at school: it needs to be robust enough to take the knocks of small children, and it needs to encourage them to want to be in there, bathing, cleaning their faces and brushing their teeth. It needs to suit the teenage them as well as it suits the primary school them: to store all their toiletries, to fit them both in front of the mirror, to allow them to relax too.

It needs a scheme that can adapt: they won’t want pink tiles when they are 15. Will they? It needs to have lots of storage, be bright and light, be welcoming to visitors. But it also needs a bit of us. It needs whimsy and fun and colour.

whyIneedanewbath

Some of the accessories and essentials my new bathroom will need.

It needs a tropical rainforest theme. It needs flamingos and bamboo, rainforest palm leaves and azure blue accessories, bamboo bath bridges and door hooks, and a large pink fish that came from the last bathroom we had. He’s called Bill, and he always makes people smile. He’d brighten up any room. He’s a bathroom essential.

It needs brightly-coloured towels in every colour of the rainbow and vibrant plush bathmats to keep our feet warm and the carpet dry. It needs a heated towel rail to warm the afore-mentioned zany towels. It may even need a bright pink loo seat. It needs a madly-patterned blind that can be closed at night to keep in warmth.

And it needs all of this on a neutral base, a way of ensuring that the bathroom grows with our family: a smart white bathtub that is good quality and will stand the test of time: double-ended so that there are no arguments over which child I am “forcing” to sit next to the tap. It needs a co-ordinated loo and sink which can replace our existing built-in ones without needing to remove units. It needs traditional-style taps, that are in keeping with the general decor and hardware already in place in our home.

It needs a solid glass shower screen that will stop water getting all over the floor but still allow light in from the narrow window. It needs white tiles, a wall of iridescent white that shimmer in any light and give the effect of a waterfall. It needs a large mirror so that two teenage girls can use it simultaneously as they ready themselves for school. It needs a few more spot lights than we have. It needs far more ideas than I could fit on one Polyvore Collection so I hope you get the idea from the picture above and the description.

Then when we are “so over” the rainforest fun, we can replace the accessories and give our bathroom the inexpensive makeover it will need, allowing us to use the money leftover to shell out for our daughters’ social lives. I am thinking that this future bathroom will be seeing a lot of life over the next few years!

This is my entry for Love Chic Living and  BathandShower.com Why I  Need a New Bath Competition. I do need a new bathroom and these are most of my plans. I have yet to break the news to DH about the colour scheme.

Fabulous Fairtrade Shabby Chic Braided Rug

Our Shabby Chic Summerhouse makeover has been getting some fabulous feedback, both from The Girls who use it almost daily, and online. I still have several tweaks I want to make, things I want to add and top of my hit-list was a rug. So I was delighted when Culture Vulture Direct got in touch to offer one. Funnily enough I had received my copy of their catalogue in the mail only that morning and had been petitioning DH for the Providence Rag Rug to go in front of the Aga.

Fairtrade Shabby Chic Braided Rug

 

No joy on the rag rug but utter delight when the Multi-Braided Fairtrade rug arrived a couple of days later. It fits beautifully in the space, the bright colours breaking up the relentless pink carpet. It is comfortable, thick, and well-stitched, so the girls enjoy sitting on it playing cards, or using it as a table for their tea parties. It’s remarkably tactile: I keep stroking the thick braids and stitching. And it represents good value at under £40: a great gift for Christmas or a house-warming. I couldn’t be happier.

And whilst I continue to hunt for things to bring out the most of our Shabby Chic Summerhouse, why not take a look at this instructional video which tells you how to make any piece of furniture Chic-yet-Shabby in a few easy steps.

 

 

*Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Culture Vulture Direct. All opinions are our own.*

How to paint your front door

Growing up I moved around the world with my parents, I went to boarding school, then I got a job that involved travelling. So with our first house, it was so important to me that I declared my ownership. In my case (and the then-boyfriend, of course) it was with a smart new front door, painted black and decorated with frosted numbers on the glass panel above, just like I’d seen in the Grand Designs magazine. Once that was done, it really felt like the house was mine!

It was the same when we moved with our teeny new baby: within weeks of moving in, I ceremoniously took down the old number and got DH to hang a new one in it’s place. Within a year or so I had hired our next door neighbour- handily, he was a painter and decorator- to bring new life to the front door. It went from green to red, and made it much easier for people to find our home!

How to paint your front door

Now here we are, a year on from our move to the country and I knew it was time. So with the weather on my side I stocked up on equipment at the DIY store and set to work. Here’s how to paint your front door:

You will need:

  • cleaning products and cloths
  • masking tape, brown paper
  • sandpaper- I used P120 for between-coats
  • woodfiller suitable for exterior wood
  • primer or undercoat
  • exterior woodwork paint- Farrow and Ball Railings in this case.
  • 4 inch radiator roller with foam roller and tray- line your tray with foil for easy cleaning, especially if using the same tray for more than one colour.
  • 2 inch paint brushbrush

1.First I conscripted the smalls to wash the door well with sugar soap, and rinse off. I filled some of the holes and dents. I was selective about this as we have a very old worn door and I wanted to keep some of the charm.

2. Once dry, I sanded the whole door then used a slightly damp cloth to wipe off the residue. I then covered the door knocker, and other door furniture I could not remove, with masking tape, brown paper and- in the case of the knocker- foil.

3. I then added a thin coat of primer- parts of the door have worn down to bare wood over time so I went with primer to help protect and prepare the wood. I worked top to bottom, using the roller for most of the door- serendipitously it just fitted between the struts on the door, making my job significantly easier. The other parts were painted with a brush.

tips for painting the front door

4. Once dry I sanded this gently where needed- a couple of paint blobs, and wiped, then added my first coat of paint, after mixing the paint well. I used Farrow and Ball Railings in Exterior Eggshell. I applied quite a thin coat, taking time on the pass with the brush to scoop up drips and smooth out thick areas.

5. I repeated step 4- two more times- so I had three good coats.

6. Strip the masking tape, foil and paper off carefully. Touch up if needed. I actually used an artist brush for this- it was fine enough to get into the small spaces around the edges of the door furniture.

That’s it, really. I also gave the door jamb- which was similarly worn, the same treatment only this time I did 6-8 coats (I lost count). And I had enough left over to paint the post box too. That post coming your way soon.

how to paint your door before and after

Hope this helps.

 Don’t forget that you can vote for Domestic Goddesque to win Best DIY Blog at the Amara Blogger Awards. Just click the image below, or in the sidebar! Thank you in advance.

blogbadge-voteforme!

Review: Tesco Finest Flowers

It’s incredibly hard to review a bunch of flowers that you neither chose nor received, but I shall do my best.

Ahead of Mother’s Day  Tesco contacted me to ask if there was someone special I would like to send flowers to for Mother’s Day. The moment I saw the email I knew exactly who I wanted to receive some surprise flowers:

“Liz is the kind of person who always puts herself last. She is loving and supportive and constantly thinking of others. The kind of person who calls you even though she is crazy busy, because she knows you are finding life hard at the moment. She’s the kind of person you’d want your children to have living nearby when they go to University at the opposite end of the country to you. She’s the kind of mum you’d want as a Mother in Law for your married offspring. She’s the kind of mum you’d want to be sitting opposite you in a coffee shop, putting the world to rights, every day of the week, if she didn’t live so far away from you.”

I emailed a message to go with the flowers and tried very hard not to tell my friend about her surprise. I literally did not talk to her. For weeks. I couldn’t write about the campaign, or tweet about it in advance without spoiling the surprise. 

Then, two days ahead of Mother’s Day itself, I got a call from my friend Liz.

Tesco *Finest Flowers review

“Did you send me flowers?” she said, clearly hedging her bets.

“I did.” I confirmed.

“Oh that’s good: I was a bit confused because the packaging said Tesco, the label said Asda and the card with them had your name on.” she replied.

And so I had to explain to my friend that the surprise flowers were part of a campaign, which sort of took the joy out of the surprise, for me at least, particularly as the price tag had been left on.

I was disappointed: for myself, for her, for Tesco. I have never bought Tesco *Finest flowers –   bouquets are available in-store all year round- before and find it hard to recommend based on this experience.

I did email Tesco immediately to let them know about the mix up in case it happened to anyone else and received this reply:  “I can’t understand why the card made any reference to Asda as both the card itself and the flowers are both Tesco products.”

I have to hope for me, for my friend, and for the #MumOfTheYear campaign that this was a blip. The flowers look beautiful.

tesco finest flowers

I ask Liz what she thought of the flowers themselves, how long they lasted, the service, value for money etc, and she says:

 

I was confused by what happened. And embarrassed. The flowers had an Asda label, and I felt awful letting you know that it wasn’t quite right at my end. It was all a surreal experience.

We all know that these things happen, but still….

 

Disclosure: flowers were sent on my behalf to a friend by Tesco so that we could write this review. All opinions are honest.

Our Shabby Chic Summerhouse Makeover

 

Shabby Chic Girls Clubhouse Makeover

When we moved house last summer we left behind in our former garden a beautiful hand-painted playhouse, bought as an over-indulgent gift to our first child on her first birthday. It had daily use from a multitude of children and we all mourned it’s loss. I even mourned the handpainted sign saying 25 1/2 that I had made for it.

But the children got over their loss with the promise of their first trampoline, and we had plans for the existing summerhouse in our new home. Sadly for us though it had suffered neglect, and that combined with our very wet winter meant the cost of repairs were well beyond our budget. One sad day a few months ago DH took it down with sledgehammer and axe and made a bonfire of the bits that weren’t salvageable- the beautiful cedar shingles, the rotten floorboards, the lead flashing (which did not go on the fire.) He built a beautiful hen house from the windows and doors that survived.

summerhouse replacement

And I found a company online that produced a summerhouse we could afford, pre-painted and, best of all, delivered and installed for free if under 200 miles away. And one Saturday afternoon my girls set up camp in the middle of the garden and watched as two very nice men erected a new summerhouse that exactly fit the space the old one took up. And there is has sat, storing our camping things, until I took The Girls to France last week and DH- never one to have idle hands- did a makeover like no other: a Shabby Chic Makeover which has created the perfect little girl’s clubhouse.

Isn’t it beautiful? I confess when he said he was using leftover paint: pale grey walls and a blue ceiling, all three of us looked a little worried, but it really lifts the interior. Not only that but he has added pink carpet and custom-fitted the summerhouse with a wonderful desktop which folds up to create more space, and a large shelf for storage- all painted to match. There is also an old Ikea storage box that got a new coat of paint. I found a pair of Ikea voiles that I never got around to hanging in the last house and they fit the windows and oor perfectly, so screen your eyes from the late afternoon sun which comes streaming in.

shabby chic summerhouse makeover

We won a little 60’s sofa on eBay for £40, whose retro colours have been neutralised with a quilt I used to have on our spare bed. I brought a couple of cushions and side-table that were surplus to requirements from the main house, and Granny gifted us the pair of straw-covered pouffes. DH hung a mirror that we haven’t found a home for and a picture from his old office, he picked up a couple of pink hurricane lamps as he knew they would love them, and found a folding bistro table and chairs which can be used inside or out, depending on the weather.

They are overjoyed with the transformation: we have created the perfect clubhouse that will grow with them over time. They have moved their art pots and paper across so we no longer have a cute little kids table in the kitchen. We just bought them a doormat- to put on the newly decked front of the summerhouse- to help keep out pine needles and LBG keeps asking me to get her a “little bed, just in case.” I think we may find she moves out there permanently soon.

Well done, my Darling Husband: you did an awesome job and we love you very very much indeed.