a place for dinner

a place for dinner

Although we are lucky enough to have a few options regarding where we can eat, sometimes we just want to eat in the living room, where the big woodburner is and where we can watch TV. When we’ve done this in the past, it’s had to be on the sofa, eating dinner on our laps – or if I want something less slouchy, I’ll eat at my desk, which is in the living room. Sofa/desk dining just does my head in. Not only is it pretty uncomfortable, it bugs me that we are not using what we we have. We went to the trouble of having a big concrete table made in the Well Room, but this has been so under-used. If the truth be told, I’ve never really liked it since we had resin applied, which changed its look and colour – but that’s another renovation story, as we’re currently tackling it and giving it a big make-over. We also have a breakfast bar in the kitchen which comfortably sits two, and we do use this at meal times, but again, it’s not as ideal as a table, especially if there are a few dishes and you want to spend a leisurely hour or so, eating and drinking and chatting. And then, suddenly, right in front of me, I saw the answer. My desk.

Because it’s not really like a desk. It’s a very simple table, quite mid-century in style, with beautiful tapered legs and a bevelled edge, with a dinky little drawer. from IKEA. Made of ash, it has a beautiful grain pattern, and as it ages the color deepens moderately towards a deep straw color, with the tapered legs in solid birch giving a warm, natural feeling. And the perfect size for two. It was moved to where we thought it might work as a dining table and tried for size – and the decision was made there and then, that this was an ideal solution. Although we now have hot foot it back off to IKEA to buy the same again, so that I still have a desk.

We didn’t want to have to bring chairs in from the Well Room whenever we wanted to eat, but had to have something that would enable us to use the desk as a dining table. Something that would be unobtrusive and able to be packed away. Something just like these little rattan beauties we found in Jysk.

Of course, one change always leads to many more, so as well as having to get an additional Lisabo table to use as my desk, we’ve decided that the navy curtains are going. They’ll be used in The Snug, to hide away the freezer and the condenser dryer and storage shelving under the stairs, so will have a new home. In their place, as we’re going to IKEA anyway, we’ll be buying up a few pairs of the sheer curtains, so that we can still have a bit of a backdrop in the living room, but not as blocky. The curtains are long and light and will be perfect for those spring days when we can have windows open and they billow in the breeze.

Our home is gradually becoming a beautiful neutral palette of whites and sandy colours. The kind of home that might just appeal to someone wanting to buy a property in the sun, to spend their summers in…










winter teal

winter teal

The main bedroom in our house is large. Certainly bigger than any bedroom we’ve ever had before – and keeping it warm and cosy in the winter, is something I work on every year. It’s great in the summer – light, spacious and airy. With the windows wide open and a couple of lovely retro fans at the bedside, we are kept cool. But come a drop in temperature, we do have to work at keeping it warm. Sometimes, in the depths of winter, we’ve given in and moved across the landing to one of the smaller bedrooms, closing up the main room. But I don’t like doing this, because it feels we’re shutting up a large part of the house, and I don’t like that feeling of creeping coldness that you get in rooms you don’t use. So, this year, we are staying put, but are ensuring that this potentially cold room, is the cosiest yet. How are we doing this doing?

Well, new curtains have already had a big impact.

We’ve always had the muslin drapes at the windows – even though we don’t actually need any coverage at all, as we’re not overlooked at all – but they soften the window wall, which is the original stone. Then we added long, cream curtains, which are great over the summer but don’t give that feeling of warmth over the winter. Over the weekend, we stayed in a hotel in Treviso, and our room had long, floor length chocolate brown, velvet curtains – and this got me thinking, so a quick trip to IKEA was done. And there were the perfect drapes…

All of our bedroom furniture is painted duck egg blue, and we have a big standing lamp in the same colour, so when teal velvet was spotted, I knew these would work. And with a drop of 3m, the exact length needed.

These curtains are from the Birtna range and each pack contains a pair. We paid €69.99 per pack and needed two, so not cheap – BUT we figured that if they kept the room warm and cosy, we’d be cutting down on using heaters. They are also black-out curtains and worked well this morning – even in the winter, the sun does shine brightly into this bedroom, but they did the trick. So, not the cheapest – but also, not the most expensive – and definitely worth it for what we wanted…





grey & white, with a woodland vibe…

grey & white, with a woodland vibe…

We’ve never had so much space and shape to play with before, in any of the houses or flats we’ve lived in, and our stone house has proven itself to be a complete source of surprises. Each time we think we’ve finished somewhere, we see something else that could be done. A room in point is the largest bedroom, which has gone through quite a few changes. The initial transformation was very simple – we just painted all of the walls and ceiling white, and woodwork the same soft, very pale blue which runs through the rest of the house. Furniture was bought quickly, out of necessity – although we weren’t unhappy with what we’d bought, we weren’t ecstatic with the choices.

Pretty soon after everything was painted white, we felt that the room still needed something else. The pine floor boards had never been treated and so these were sanded and stained. It turns out that “Walnut”, the colour we were trying to achieve, is not actually walnut here – the first attempt was more of a honey colour and we really disliked it, so bit the bullet and went for “Ebony”, a colour much closer to what we had envisioned.

The wooden bedframe was also stained, giving us a room that was beginning to get *there*. However, the beams were still in their naked state, and because of the size of the room and the height of the ceiling, it still didn’t feel right. At least we were able to add these funky shades from IKEA – I’ve always liked these, because of the shadows they throw out, but have never had a space large enough to accommodate them. Two of them now hang between the beams – and work really well because of the space around them.

The treating and painting of the beams was definitely one of those jobs we put off, because of the height of them and the fact that once again the room would be in chaos. With hindsight, we really should have tackled them at the beginning, but there was just so much to do, that we decided to revisit them at a later date. They have now – thankfully – been treated for woodworm, caulked, undercoated, primed and topcoated. And, will never be touched by us again – so it’s just as well we love them in their new state.

Because of the ongoing renovation around the house, we’ve regularly found that the bedroom – purely because it has the space – becomes the “overspill” room, where pieces of furniture from elsewhere are moved. This has happened over the winter with our SKARPÖ outdoor armchairs (from IKEA) – although we made the best of disguising them with faux sheepskins and cushions. And, did actually use them. Artwork and plants and rugs soft accessories were also introduced to soften the room.

Then I got into my head that what was missing in the bedroom, was a feature wall. The white was just, well, too white. And scrolling through Pinterest I found I was becoming attracted to dark greens. It did take a little persuasion, but off we headed to Pula to our local B&Q style store (no mean feat as it’s a good three-four round trip) to get the paint mixed. I did really, really. really like the green but there was just something that wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t work out if it was the shade of green we’d chosen. Or whether it didn’t work against the ebony floor and grey beams. But there was something. I did try to surpress it because I knew I wouldn’t be at all popular even hinting at a colour change, so we went with it for a good few months.

But, it was finally broached, and it was agreed that although we did love the green, it wasn’t working in the bedroom. We had to have a colour that would sit well against the dark floor and the grey beams – and so of course, what better than another shade of grey? All of a sudden, the room was starting to work for us, and after three years, we were finally starting to create a room where we could feel completely relaxed.

Over Christmas, back in the UK, we decided that we might as well go for it in terms of finishing the bedroom, once and for all, and purchase the things we needed, which we couldn’t easily get out here. We decided that it was time to change the look of the bedroom furniture, which we’d bought in haste a couple of years earlier, and so chalk paint (in Vintage Duck Egg Blue) and finishing wax was purchased. First job, on our return after Christmas, was the painting of the bedframe, wardrobe and cabinet – and wow, what a transformation.

And of course, now that everything was tying in colour-wise, that floor couldn’t stay ebony! Luckily, we always have lots of deep, deep navy blue floor paint and this was the next piece of the make-over jigsaw.

All of the upstairs doors in the house are fairly basic wooden panelled doors – the intention has always been to replace these, but so far we’ve not got around to it. I’d recently decoupaged the inside of the downstairs bathroom door, with maps from our travels and decide to spruce up the bedroom door, internally, using the same method. I liked the idea of the pages of a novel – as our copy of “Ulysses” by James Joyce was never going to be read, it was decided that this would be the novel which would be used. And with so many pages, not only was the back of the door done, but also the floating shelf above the bed. Which was then accessorised with faux sprigs of eucalyptus, which were left over from Christmas wrapping. We also had a small woodburner which had never been installed – in cream and black. It had never found a home and we didn’t really like the colours, so a quick spray of grey paint, and it had a new look. And a new home.

Again, because of the height of the room, we knew that the beams could look even better – and so lengths of faux foliage were brought back from England after Christmas. These particular ones were from The Range and are definitely the best ones I’ve seen – they are very realistic garlands with curling tendrils, so do look very realistic. If you do like them and live in the north west of England, please don’t buy them all, as I’m intending to restock on our next visit!

The recess in the bedroom has always had these squares of ivy (from IKEA), again to break up the white. And to help create a little more of a magical feel. A kind of woodland vibe. The beautiful mirror was a gift at Christmas – it was originally black and would have looked fab in this colour in the living room or well room, but I knew that this recess was the perfect place for it. The black however, wasn’t quite right, as it couldn’t really be seen. The gold spray paint was already out, as I’d done the handles on the wardrobe and cabinet, and I knew the mirror would look stunning in this colour. And, it does – a proper sunburst, nestled in the ivy wall. I also couldn’t resist the three green glittery, sequined pigeons, with the long feather tails and golden beaks, spotted in the post Christmas decoration sale in John Lewis. I had no idea where they’d go, but just loved how playful they were – but they look quite beautiful now, perched on the vintage birdcages which have been attached to the side of the wardrobe.

Mustard rugs (Dunelm Stores) and side lamps (Sainsburys) and a trio of gold mirrors (Dunelm Stores) were also brought over from England, and a white bedding set was dyed yellow, to sit against the Eve mattress. One of the best mattresses, ever, btw. The boxes at the bottom of the bed are used to store bedding, but are strong enough to sit enough on – the perfect height for painting your toe nails 🙂

Opposite the bed, we’ve created a lovely space, which is so beautiful in the evenings, when the light is just fading. A perfect corner to while away a little bit of time, in a room which now, *finally* think we are very, very happy with…






the gold room…

the gold room…

I’ve thought long & hard about adding blogs to the website, in the current climate. It seems too frivolous to be posting about renovations and life-style things and recipes. But, and it is a big but, we’ve worked hard for so long to get to the point where are currently, that I have decided to carry on, adding blogs. My way of continuing to record our journey, as we, like so many other people, embark on self-isolation for the next few weeks.

Our second bedroom has gone through some changes since we became the custodians of our stone house in Istria. Before we started work on it, this bedroom was an undecorated space, with two sets of bunk beds, left from the previous owners, shoe-horned into a room which was just not working. Beams, although potentially beautiful, were untreated and clearly hadn’t been touched in a long time and very basic pine floorboards were bare. The window, which again we knew, could be a real feature, was partially undercoated and the ill-fitting door unable to close because of one of the most ugly door handle/locks we’ve ever seen. All in all, a pretty dismal excuse for a bedroom. However, we had to have at least one room where we could escape the madness of full-on renovation – and so three years ago, Bedroom Two, was for a while Bedroom One.

From what we inherited above, we were delighted with the first incarnation with the room. Walls were painted white, a new bed was ordered and delivered, industrial wall lights fitted, new bedding on the bed and we were in. Utter luxury! I cannot tell you how amazing it was, in the early days, to close the door at the end of the night and sink into that bed. If you’ve renovated a property, you’ll know where we’re coming from.

But, we’ve come a long way since the room looked as it does above. The wooden beams are original – very old and very beautiful, but we did have a problem with woodworm, which we had to resolve very quickly, as this room became a guest bedroom. We called in a specialist company who treated all of the beams in the house, and we then got to work on them, ourselves. Just to be extra sure that the pesky woodworm had gone, we further treated them, wrapping them in clingfilm for a couple of weeks – just to be on the safe side. These measures seem to have worked, and we think the woodworm are no more. Although the beams were beautiful in their natural state, our style for in the interior is contemporary and they just felt as bit too country-cottagey. So we got to work on transforming them – and after undercoating and painting in a very soft gey satinwood, they are, we think, even more beautiful…

To contrast with the white walls and soft grey beams, the woodwork – window frames and surrounds and door and frame – have all been painted in a very soft baby blue satinwood, which contrasts well with the colours around.

Although the room isn’t the largest, it can comfortably fit a double bed and two wardrobes from IKEA – these are from the STUVA range. More for a child’s bedroom, but perfectly adequate, with plenty of hanging and storage space, for a smaller bedroom. And, much nicer on the budget too. However, as they are actually full of our stuff, they weren’t serving much of a purpose in a guest bedroom and so the decision was made a few weeks ago, to have a big change around and create bedrooms which worked much better as spaces. We’ve completed the dirty, dusty, disruptive renovation work, and so can now have a bit more fun, being creative and accessorising.

The wardrobes went to their new home, in the room next door and once we’d created a bit more space, we started on the new look. First up was the cerise pink table in the hallway. Once an old work table, it was covered in paint splats and oil stains, but a few cans of spray paint gave it a new lease of life and it’s been a proper pop of colour, for a couple of years on the upstairs landing. However, we wanted something that visitors could use – a table where they could dry hair, put on make-up, maybe catch up on a few emails on a lap top, but we didn’t want to go out and buy something else. Our house has rapidly become full of *stuff*, despite a massive clear-out before we moved, so we’re trying to recycle and upcycle where we can. The pink table was a perfect starting point…

Spray paint is now our go-to product for quick make-overs and within an hour, the pink was gone and replaced with shimmering gold. Accessorised with a beautiful opaque, glass vase, in a very unusual shade of green and tall faux blooms, scented candles in pinky coloured glass jars and a tortoise shell mirror, it now looks completely different. A round globe lamp sits behind the green vase, so at night, a really beautiful glow is cast around the room. The large pine mirror looked out of place, against the table, so this too has been sprayed gold and now looks a million dollars. For the cost of a can of spray paint. I didn’t want a bulky chair at the table and so found this rather lovely stool – gold frame and pale pink velvet seat. Perfect! The Moroccan style off-white & navy blue geometric patterned rug adds warmth and sits well on top of the newly painted navy floorboards. No more pine!

Yes, I did spray the bin, too 🙂 Rather than searching around to find something which was more suitable, the black, metal, flip top IKEA bin was given the bling treatment, too. And, why not?

To the left hand side of the window is the internal chimney, which comes up from The Snug and the living room below. Gorgeous in the winter, as it means we don’t need any additional source of heating in this room, but it does make the way we can lay out the room, a bit more problematic, because it is bulky. The bed can’t be located anywhere else, but space to the side is limited because of the chimney, meaning that we were also limited to what we could have each side of the bed. We wanted something that people could use for mobile phones, ipads, drinks etc and did a fair bit of head scratching as everything was always just a tiny bit too wide. Then, hurrah again for IKEA – we spotted these mustard coloured boxy wall units, which are just perfect. Attached off the floor, but not too high, they don’t take up too much room and mean that phones be charged, and there’s space for water, a book or two etc.

I think we might now be happy with this room. Although who knows? After a few weeks of self isolation, we may have sprayed the whole room gold…

bedroom two reno : update 1

bedroom two reno : update 1

This room, above, when we viewed for the first time in July 2016, was something of a mess. Two sets of bunk beds, random shelving, dishevelled bedding, bare plaster walls, bare floor boards – all in all, pretty dismal. BUT, with a beautiful soaring ceiling, original beams which could be made beautiful and a view out over what could be the front garden, and beyond to fields and woods, we figured this could be a pretty special room. Eventually. But definitely not when we viewed.

Fast forward to March 2017 and we’d gone with our guts, bought the house and had moved in. All of our belongings arrived on a huge lorry at the start of March, but we still needed furniture for the two guest bedrooms. And, as we’d decided to initially carve out Bedroom Two as a cosy and comfortable hideaway, whilst we were renovating, we had get furniture and furnishings sorted quickly. A trip over to IKEA in Zagreb did the trick – at time. we didn’t know how close we were to Trieste where there’s an IKEA and we were months away from discovering great stores like Jysk, so Zagreb it was. It was all a bit weird to be honest, as, like you’ve expect, the layout was just so familiar and so we could have been in the Ashton-under-Lyne, or Warrington store. But, no, we were in the Croatian capital, trying to furnish a room.

Anyway, we did it and a week later, everything was delivered from IKEA. IT was flat pack chaos, as obviously nothing could be unpacked and built, before we had painted the room. So, this was where we started, whilst living around boxes in the living room.

The decision had been taken early on that all walls in the house would initially be painted white, so that we had a real blank canvas and could get a feel for the house, when it felt light, bright and clean. So, armed with rollers and paint, we set about tackling those awful walls in Bedroom Two…We had plans for the woodwork, but that was going to have to be left to another day, as we just needed to create a room we could escape to.

The internal decor of the house was very traditional and not to our taste at all. Every light fitting was removed and replaced. Rather than overhead lights, most rooms had wall lights, with the most horrendous opaque glass horrendous. These were immediately skipped when we sourced some amazing shades which had been rescued from a Communist era office block in Zagreb. Very cool! The bed we had bought was large – comfort and size were top priorities – so we didn’t want bedside tables cluttering up the room, but we still wanted good lighting. These industrial style wall lights, from IKEA, were just perfect. A beautiful anthracite colour, with that gorgeous retro cabling. All ready to be wall mounted on either side of the bed – when it was built.

We pushed the boat out a little with the bed. A kingsize divan, which was just so comfy when we tested it in store. It definitely wasn’t the cheapest, but we knew that we had a good few months ahead of us of discomfort, so wanted to be sure that at the end of the day, we could just sink into a bed and fall asleep. It was put together fairly quickly and we were delighted with how sturdy it looked.

I can remember taking the photo below and feeling such a sense of achievement. Within days of us arriving in our new home, in a different country, we’d navigated purchasing everything we needed in a new capital city and were on track to having our first completed room. And, just look at those walls – brilliant white and so, so clean. Beautiful.

Next up was manoeuvering the very thick, substantial and therefore heavy, mattress, up the wooden stairs. After a lot of heaving and getting it around corners and through doorways, it was eventually in Bedroom Two, on the new bed and ready to be dressed. A big day!

The whole bed was wrapped in a grey fabric cover, so when new bedding was purchased (including a soft, new duvet – bliss) grey was the obvious choice. We also managed to locate some artwork from the hundreds of boxes, piled up around the house, so that the room started to have a little bit of personality.

This may not seem to much of an achievement to anyone else, but I think we really did smash the creation of a gorgeous new bedroom, within two weeks of arriving in Istria. And although things will certainly develop as we