Home, Home and Garden

Our Hallway Renovation & My Understairs Office

It’s been AGES since I gave you an update on our house. And particularly our hallway renovation.

Over the last five years, we’ve slowly been working on home renovation projects. Our house had sat empty for a few years before we moved in, and hadn’t been maintained for an even longer period of time. This meant it had all sorts of issues that needed resolving. It has been a LONG process of saving up to do the work when we can afford it. However, we’re finally at the stage where there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Why Did We Renovate Our Hallway?

The hall in particular needed a huge overhaul. The existing stairs did not comply with Building Standards. This was mainly in terms of head height clearance, which there was no easy fix or workaround for.

There were many issues that we knew of when we bought the house, but replacing the stairs wasn’t one of them. I think I nearly cried when the Building Standards officer from the council told us that the whole staircase needed replacing. But it needed doing so we could get the necessary paperwork signed off, so needs must.

The Renovation

Here is the sorry sight before our hallway renovation:

hallway renovation project before photos

Whilst the stairs were being replaced, we decided it was a good opportunity to remodel under the stairs. Instead of one big cupboard that was really impractical – reaching anything at the back of the cupboard took about two hours – we opened up the space to create more living space. We live in a little terraced cottage, so any extra space we can create is welcome!

Here’s a photo from during the hallway renovation works. We all had to sleep downstairs for a few days!

hallway renovation in progress

And here it is now!

small home office under stairs

The Hallway Remodel

To retain some storage, as part of our hallway renovation we had doors installed as far back as we could under the stairs. This is for things that we need daily access to like the vacuum cleaner. We then got the joiner to make overhead cupboards for things that we don’t need so often, like our camping gear. We have really high ceilings, so putting overhead storage in doesn’t impinge on the headroom of the space. The joiner also revamped the existing built-in shelves, which you can see from the photos, were in a shoddy state.

Originally we were going to put our dining table in this space. The dining table lives in the living room, as we don’t have a separate dining room or space in our galley kitchen for it. However, it turns out we over-estimated the size of the space, and it isn’t big enough for a dining table and chairs!

home office under stairs

What it did give me room for was a small home office. Pre Covid-19 I had one child-free day a week to work on the blog . Therefore, it wasn’t supposed to be a full-time work station. But since March it’s been my full-time workspace whilst I work my day job from home, and it has worked pretty well.

The Furniture

Furniture wise, I couldn’t find a small enough desk to fit the space secondhand. So I got this beautiful console table made in the UK from reclaimed wood from MuJu Furniture on Etsy* (gifted) that I use as a desk. MuJu Furniture makes their furniture in a variety of sizes, and I went for the smallest size, which fits perfectly. I really love the desk. It’s such a beauty of a thing!

I do love Etsy for buying pieces for the home. Although the desk was gifted, I’ve personally bought lots of bits and pieces for my home over the years. I love being able to support independent sellers and shop products according to my values.

I bought the chair secondhand from Drum Farm Antiques on the outskirts of Edinburgh (currently closed due to Covid-19). This is a wonderfully eclectic place to while away a few hours wandering around the barns and storage units. However, I’ve found their pricing to be a bit erratic. I did find this chair for £10 though, which I was delighted with. The seat pad needs recovering, so I have an offcut of blue velvet to recover it with. I planned to use the tools in my local tool library to do it, but it has been closed since early March, so it needs to wait for now.

After losing the cupboard door that we used to hang our coats on, I got a coat rail for the wall opposite my desk. This came from Off The Grain Co* (gifted), a Yorkshire based husband and wife team who make beautiful handmade wooden furniture and decor and sell on Etsy. No, our rack doesn’t always look this tidy, but the internet doesn’t need to see our medley of coats! It’s almost too pretty to cover with coats!

hallway renovation completed

The Compromises

Like any renovation project, there are always compromises. We had wanted to sand and oil the original floorboards that were underneath the old laminate flooring. Whilst we were taking up the old laminate this looked like this might be possible. That was until the very last section that we removed, where the floorboards had been cut out at some point in the past and replaced with MDF. Angry was not the word!

I could not find any affordable reclaimed flooring. A local supplier quoted £54 per square metre for flooring that needed fitting, sanding, and sealing on top of the initial cost. Given the unexpected costs of replacing the stairs, this was way way out of our price range. Particularly as we need to floor the living room as well. So we had sadly to opt for cheaper laminate flooring instead. We did pick a classic oak style that I hope will age well.

under stair home office ideas

What’s Next?

We haven’t quite finished up our hallway renovation. Covid-19 came along before we could finish painting the stairs or carpeting them. The thing is, we need the kids out of the house when we do jobs like painting. They have been here since March, and will be until mid-August at the very earliest, so who knows when we will do it! I honestly don’t know how people have managed to do DIY in lockdown with kids around! We started the hallway project in December 2018 though, and have done different bits at different times as we can afford it, so we’re in no hurry!

We have one room left to do in our house now – the living room – which we are currently saving for, and then we are officially done! I’ve also painted my UPVC front door, which has made a surprisingly huge difference to our house.

Home, Home and Garden

How To Wash White Striped Clothes Without Ruining Them

how to wash a white striped top

For something a little different today, I wanted to talk about laundry and how to wash white striped clothes.

You see, laundry is something I have come to put more thought into in recent years.  And no, it’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment.  It’s just that since having kids I do so much more laundry.  So much more.  To the point that, whether I like it or not, laundry takes up more of my day and more of my brain than ever before.

Take white clothing for example.  Prior to having children I just bunged everything into the machine and hoped for the best.  I didn’t separate loads of washing by colour.  I hardly owned any white clothing, so I never felt that there was any point in doing separate loads.  So the odd rogue white item that managed to sneak its way into my wardrobe got washed with the coloured stuff.  What can I say?  I liked to live dangerously.

Since having kids it’s a completely different story.  They have so many white items of clothing, which I can never understand.  Kids are surely the muckiest creatures known to man.  Meanwhile white is like a magnet to all things dirt and food and poo related.  All of which kids are masters at.  Yet manufacturers insist on making kids’ clothes, and especially baby clothes, white.

With more white laundry to deal with than ever before, I realised my old dangerous ways wouldn’t cut it.  I wanted to prolong the lifespan of our clothes as long as possible because of a) money and b) the environment.  Which meant vowing to always wash whites with whites, and darks with darks.  This sounds simple enough, but, as with anything that sounds too simple, there are always sticking points that unexpectedly rear their heads.

Cracking the Laundry Conundrum

As a family of stripe lovers (and The White Stripe lovers), one of the earliest problems that cropped up was the conundrum of how to wash white striped clothes to keep them looking good for as long as possible.

The labels on white striped clothes always helpfully say “wash with similar colours“.  To which I always found myself shouting at the label “which similar sodding colour“?!  If it’s a black and white striped top, the top is 50% white and 50% black – so which should it be in with?  The white clothes or dark clothes?  Some assistance would be useful.

Sadly, no assistance was forthcoming, so I took matters into my own hands. And after some research and trial and error (and reading that those colour catcher sheets you can buy are pointless), here’s what I’ve found:

how to wash a white striped top

How to Wash Striped Clothes

Depending on the colour of the stripe, there are different laundry rules. Consider this the enigma code-cracker of the laundry world!

Dark or Black and White Striped Clothes

For white and dark striped clothes (such as black, navy or green) I’m rather free and easy when it comes to them.  I will wash these stripes in either a white, a dark, or a coloured load on a 30°C wash or cooler with a couple of caveats:

1) Dark loads are ok for washing stripes if you are washing clothes that have been washed a few times before.  However, I wouldn’t wash white striped clothing in a dark load that contains a new pair of indigo or black jeans, or a new item of dark clothing in it.  This is because dye tends to run from these items in the first few washes.  Trust me, it will ruin your striped clothes.

2) Coloured loads are also ok for washing stripes in. However, I wouldn’t wash stripes in a load that contains a new item of red clothing.  This is because red is the worst of all dyes.  It will run and ruin white striped clothes in the blink of an eye.

This leads me to:

Red and White Stripes

Aka, the worst of the striped clothes.  Washing white and red striped clothes is headache-inducing because the red dye is so temperamental.

As such, I would only ever wash white and red striped clothing with other coloured clothing.  Never with white clothing.  I would also run it on the coldest wash your washing machine will muster. Heat can make the red dye run like nothing else.

Trust me on this.  About 3 or 4 days after my first daughter was born, a mountain of white laundry had piled up for the first time ever.  Bleary-eyed, I washed a load of whites that contained a white baby-gro that had a tiny and completely innocuous-looking red trim on it.  I looked at the red trim as I bundled the washing into the machine, and thought, “ahh, what’s the worst that could happen“?  I then ran a 30°C cycle.  

Well, my friend, that tiny and innocuous-looking red trim ran over everything in the machine.  Even on a low-temperature wash.  At least if the red dye had run in a coloured wash it wouldn’t have had much effect, save for the white babygro.  But in a white wash?  Everything came out of the washing machine sporting a very pink tinge.  All I could do, save for crying, was be grateful that I had spawned a girl.

Cold water is definitely the way to go.  Trust me on this.  There are no amount of natural stain remover tips that can get red dye out!

White and Yellow or Grey Stripes

Yellow and grey stripes are thankfully much less headache-inducing. Wash white with yellow or grey stripes in with your whites, on a 30°C wash.  I’ve never had a problem with these colours before.  They are definitely my favourite of the stripes if you can have a favourite stripe colour!

So there we have it. I hope I have solved the how to wash white striped clothes puzzle!  And I hope this helps you to go forth and wash your white striped clothes with confidence!

Need More Laundry Advice?

If you need more laundry advice, then I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful. 

Firstly, here’s how to make your own fabric conditioner

Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – answering the question of how often should you wash your clothes

I also have handy guides on how to wash wool, and how to dry clean at home. 

Also, if you have a laundry question do ask! I am here for all your laundry-based queries!

how to wash white striped clothes

Want to save this for later?  Here’s a handy image that you can click to pin on Pinterest.

Striped clothes images c/o People Tree*.