Home, Home and Garden

Our Hallway Renovation

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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!

Fashion, Life & Style

7 Black-Owned Ethical Fashion and Accessory Brands

Today I wanted to share 7 Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands with you today.

I know I’m speaking to the converted here when I say that fast fashion is built on an exploitative and racist business model.

Fast fashion brands exploit people of colour using a workforce of predominantly female garment workers in low-wage economies like Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, and Vietnam. Many of these workers labour in terrible working conditions, far below the living wage, and are denied paid sick leave and other basic rights, just to make clothes that, according to Traid, are worn only ten times before being disposed of.

Whilst ethical fashion is a better choice, even in the ethical fashion sphere in 2020 there is still a striking lack of representation of Black and minority brands, and brands using Black models. In terms of diversity, the sector has a long way to go.

To help celebrate diversity within the ethical fashion sphere, I’ve rounded up seven Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands in the UK. While I’m here, I’ve also updated my ethical clothing brands directory for 2020.

Black-Owned Ethical Fashion & Accessory Brands

AAKS

AAKS was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, a Ghanaian native who graduated from Kingston University London.

Akosua’s goal is to introduce the world to her favourite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. 

Handcrafted in Ghana, AAKS beautiful woven bags are made using ecologically harvested raffia from family farmers in Ghana. They utilise as much of every raffia as possible and reserve scraps for smaller bags.

Find their shop here and Instagram here.

BMUSE Vintage

BMUSE Vintage launched on Earth Day 2020, during Fashion Revolution Week, BMUSE sell a beautifully curated selection of stylish vintage clothing.

They say “by honouring vintage as preloved fashion that already exists, we are not causing any further harm to people and the environment.”

Find their website here and their Instagram here.

Kemi Telford

black ethical clothing brands uk

Kemi Telford design and sell beautifully bold Nigerian influenced clothing, with a western twist.

Sustainability is at the heart of the brand. Kemi Telford says “This brand was created to empower women, this means that our employees – and those of our manufacturers – are always treated with care and respect. The people who create the items sold here must feel worthy and acknowledged.”

Conscious of waste, remnants from the clothing are made into colourful hair bows or gift bags.

Find the shop here and their Instagram here.

Kitty Ferreira

Kitty Ferreira makes stylish sustainable clothes perfect for work or special occasions, all of which are made in London.  Clothes are dyed using natural dyes, the silk they use is organic and cruelty-free, and where possible they use British made upcycled fabrics.  And in a very welcome move, the clothes go up to a size 26 – which is good news for customers looking for plus size ethical clothing.

Find their website here and Instagram here.

Maison Archives

black owned ethical fashion brands

Maison Archives sell chic sustainable fashion accessories sourced from fairtrade co-ops. From hair clips to head bands, and bags to hats, Maison Archives is a great go-to when you’re after something special to sustainably jazz up an existing outfit.

Find their website here and their Instagram here.

OlaOla

black-owned ethical fashion bags uk

OlaOla is a Textile design studio, by Ola Olayinka, which creates bold & unique patterned accessories such as bags, hair accessories and jewellery.

Each product is printed and hand-made in small batches in the UK. Making product to order allows for less fabric waste, and OlaOla use all smaller off-cuts to up-cycled into products such as earrings. 

Find their shop here, and Instagram here.

Yala Jewellery

black-owned ethical fashion and accessories uk

Yala is a female-founded and black-owned modern jewellery brand that embodies intricate design, sustainable materials, ethics and transparency.

Yala is built on social values, to improve the lives of others by creating financial opportunities for skilled Kenyan artisans, who make a beautiful range of earring, bracelets, necklaces and rings. Kenyan models, photographers and stylists are also used for all publicity shots to embody their rich culture.

What’s more, Yala is proud to be the first jewellery brand in the UK to be a Certified B Corporation®.

Find their website here and Instagram here.

Come across any more black-owned ethical fashion or accessory brands? Do let me know and I will add them to this directory – I would like to see it grow.