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Our Hallway Renovation

Contains affiliate links and gifted items

It’s been AGES since I gave you an update on our house.

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, so 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, but we’re finally at the stage where there is light at the end of the tunnel!

The hall in particular needed a huge overhaul. The existing stairs did not comply with Building Standards – 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.

Here is the hallway before:

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 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

To retain some storage we had doors installed as far back as we could under the stairs for things that we need daily access to like the vacuum cleaner, and 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 childfree day a week to work on the blog so 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.

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

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, 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, as we need to floor the living room as well, so we had to opt for laminate flooring instead. We did pick a classic oak style that I hope will age well.

under stair home office ideas

We haven’t quite finished up – Covid-19 came along before we could finish painting the stairs or carpeting them. We need the kids out of the house when we do jobs like painting, and 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!

Home and Garden, Life & Style

Buying Non-Food Essentials During a Global Pandemic

This post contains affiliate links

Today I’m sharing a little Etsy love. In case you’ve not heard of Etsy, it’s an online marketplace for independent sellers. Right now times are tough for their independent sellers, many of whom are one-woman businesses, and I want to support them and their #StandWithSmall campaign in this time of crisis. Etsy extended a huge amount of love and support to me last year when I went through some bad times, and devoting some space to them at this time feels like the very least I can do to show my gratitude for that.

Also, shopping for what we need right now is tough. Reports of online shopping companies are circulating where staff may not be adequately protected from risk – see exhibit A, exhibit B, and exhibit C.

When we can afford it, buying the non-food essentials we need that we can’t get locally from smaller sellers, such as independent Etsy sellers, feels like a safer option. These independent sellers may be more able to practice social distancing, and by the very nature of their business, are more likely to be one-person operations. And more than ever, independent sellers need our support.

It goes without saying, the term ‘essentials’ will vary from person to person – there’s no one size fits all approach. What might not be essential to you may be essential to someone else, so I have taken a broad approach.

Face Mask

Face mask from Etsy

At present, face masks aren’t compulsory in the UK, but it could well go that way.

Owing to PPE shortages, medical-grade face masks should be reserved for NHS staff and care workers only. Other professional types of face masks are in short supply, so for the general public, a fabric face mask is the best option. I have heard that pocket type masks, where you can either insert a charcoal filter, or failing that, an additional fabric layer into the pocket can provide an additional layer of safety, so this double pocket washable face mask from Etsy may help, provided you follow instructions on how to use a mask safely.

It’s important to bear in mind that just because you’re wearing a mask, it doesn’t grant you immunity or will protect you completely. From what I understand, the masks are more to help asymptomatic people spreading COVID-19 before they are aware they are carriers of the disease, rather than to stop people contracting the disease. There are also a lot of other measures to stop the transmission of COVID-19 beyond wearing a mask, such as frequent hand washing, staying at home, social distancing, and self-isolating if you or anyone in your household develops symptoms that are just as important to follow too.

Washable Sanitary Towels

Washable sanitary towels from Etsy

We’re all trying to head to the shops as little as possible, and that, my friend, is the beauty of reusable sanitary products. No need to pop to the shop when you run out of towels because you can just pop on the washing machine instead. My favourites are these ones, from LilahPads.

If you’ve been worried about trying reusable period products due to leakage, then lockdown could be a great time to try them out.

Make-Up Remover Pads

Make-up Remover Pads from Etsy

Rather than using disposable make-up wipes, again, now is a great time to try out washable make-up pads. These ones from Artichaut Creations come in fun patterns, and can be used time and time again.

Reusable Kitchen Roll

Reusable kitchen roll from Etsy

Back in March, you couldn’t get hold of kitchen roll in the supermarkets for love nor money. I don’t use kitchen roll, so I wasn’t affected by this, so if you want to be shielded from future shortages then reusable is definitely the way to go. This reusable set, again from Artichaut Creations looks lovely.

Soap

Soap from Etsy

I covered soap just the other week, but if there was ever an essential right now then it’s soap. Soap Daze sells some lovely vegan and palm-oil free and cruelty-free soaps, like the cedarwood and grapefruit bar pictured above, that I really rate.

Shampoo

Shampoo bar from Etsy

Looking to ditch the shampoo and conditioner bottles clogging up your shower? You could try switching to this 2 in 1 solid shampoo bar. This one has no transition phase and doesn’t need an acid rinse after shampooing, as some bars do.

The Multi-Tasker

Argan Oil from Etsy

Looking for something to condition your hair, remove your make-up, moisturise your face and moisturise your hands? Argan Oil, like this one from Conscious Skincare, can do all of these things brilliantly.

Conscious Skincare’s products have been fully approved by the Vegetarian Society, PETA, carry the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free logo, and their products are vegan-friendly too.

In terms of keeping sellers safe, if you’re not in a rush for items, you can pop a note to the seller when you check out on Etsy, telling them to only post the item to you when it is safe to do so, or that you are happy to wait if they are only doing a weekly trip to the post office.