7 weeks in and a move in date!

We seem to have been cruising along with this house sale at a leisurely pace then bam! The deposit is paid, contracts are exchanged and it is now legally binding! At this point I feel much more comfortable telling people as the risk of it all falling through drops dramatically because this would cost a lot of money to the seller if he did this. This also means we can start planning the big move!

We have settled on a date (Friday 26th June), which is 13 days away! This isn’t a long time when we’ve got so much to do. Our immediate next steps are:

  • Finish my table and chairs
  • Pack both mine and Matt’s stuff
  • Get buildings insurance in place (this is a legal requirement)
  • Start looking at contents insurance/life insurance/broadband – all the fun stuff!
  • Make a plan for moving day


Our mixer has arrived and it is beautiful! I can’t wait to use it and make lots of cake 🙂 I’ll be reviewing it after we’ve moved in.

We searched high and low for a nice bread bin, without much luck! They are very expensive! However I stumbled across this lovely set from Argos:

Cute right? :)

Cute right? 🙂

I had a £10 voucher to use so it made this set £14.99 – bargain!

I have also decided on the wallpaper for the main and second bedroom, see below:

Laura Ashely Summer Palace Eau De Nil Floral Wallpaper

Laura Ashely Summer Palace Eau De Nil Floral Wallpaper

I can’t wait to get these and start decorating!

Next watercolour floral wallpaper

Next watercolour floral wallpaper

It’s just a short update for now 🙂 For the next two weeks we will be packing and preparing so I might be a little quiet. However, after that… there will be organising, decorating, reviewing to be done! So keep your eyes peeled.

Speak soon,

Lauren x


Top 10 tips for using Annie Sloan Paint

Whilst happily painting my dining table yesterday, I thought I’d offer my own personal instructions for using AS paint and wax. Everyone works differently and you may find something works better when done in a different way and that’s fine! The reason I love AS, is that it is so versatile and so are the people who use it 🙂

1. Preparation

Preparation you say?! ‘One of the main reasons I’m using AS paint is so I don’t have to prep!’ I hear you say. I’m not talking about prepping what you’re going to paint, as in primer or sanding. I’m talking about your materials! Make sure you have everything you need before you get started. There’s nothing worse than getting most of the way through a project and realising you’ve forgotten something. I’ll mention things throughout the post and there’ll be a full list at the end.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

2. Clean your piece

Okay, I lied a tiny bit… You do need to clean your piece before you begin or you’ll be painting with dirt! Ewww. A simply light wash with soapy water will do the trick with most pieces. For clean items, I usually just use a micro-fibre cloth to get all the dust off.

3. The fun bit – painting!
This is the best bit. However an important thing to consider is your brushes. These are something you should take time to consider and also invest in. I have one large AS brush and a small and medium ‘cheaper’ brushes I bought from Amazon (see link at the end). Now these cheaper brushes are all well and good but they seem to swallow the paint and leave quite a textured brush stroke. My AS brush is an absolute dream. It spreads the paint out well, giving good coverage and leaves a smoother brush stroke. I use my AS brush as my main one and use the other two for detailing which my big brush struggles to get into.

4. Paint trays and techniques
This may seem like a simple point but I learnt the hard way with this. Pour some your paint into a tub or cup to use when painting. Do not leave your can open whilst you’re painting! This causes it to become thick and you will have to do a little mixing with water to get it back to it’s former glory. This is work that doesn’t need to be done if you don’t need to do it. I find the plastic containers that takeaway food comes in are absolutely perfect for this 🙂

As for the technique for brushing… There is none! That is the beauty of AS paint. It covers anything, the colours are beautiful and it’s so versatile!

How good is the first coat?

How good is the first coat?

5. Sanding and second coat of paint
I recommend sanding lightly between layers of paint. This creates a smoother overall look to the piece. However this is totally down to the finish you want. Sometimes paint can collect in edges of details and sanding can get rid of this.

How many layers of paint is personal choice but for most pieces I do two coats. I have yet to try two coats of two different colours but it is on my to do list! Have you guys done this? Let me know!

6. Waxing – technique
Once you’re happy with the paintwork, it’s time to wax! I’d recommend waxing your piece if it will get any use because an un-waxed piece will be easily scratched. If it’s a lonely side table in the corner of the room, this may be okay. However, most of my pieces will receive some heavy use (my most recent project being a dining table and chairs!). I wax heavy-traffic pieces with 2-3 coats of wax.
My technique is to scoop out some of that lovely wax with a knife onto a paper plate. I then use my AS wax brush to work some of the wax in to the brush. Then with a mixture of horizontal/vertical and circular strokes, work the wax into the paint. Concentrate on a small patch at a time and use a micro fibre cloth to gently rub off the excess and work it into those little nooks and crannies. You’ll find the wax slightly darkens the colour but it adds depth and really does protect it.

Time to wax

Time to wax

7. Optional sanding and re-wax
If you want to distress your piece, do this after the first coat of wax. Using a softer sandpaper, distress the piece in places where it would naturally have if it was an old piece i.e. on the corners. Once you have your desired level of distressing, re wax the piece.

8. Dark wax
If you want to achieve a real aged look on a piece, use dark wax in place of the second coat and re-seal with clear wax afterwards. You don’t want to use dark wax on the entire piece, use lightly in areas to accentuate certain areas of the piece. This may sound a little vague so search Youtube and Pinterest for some really good tutorials on how to successfully use dark wax.

9. Clean your brushes
Once you have finished your painting/waxing, it is super important to take care of your brushes – even your cheap ones! I use baby oil to cut through the paint, then use washing up liquid to clean the paint off. By squirting the oil/washing up liquid into the palm of your hand, then working the product into the brush and rinse it out.

I then use the edge of the sink to dispel all of the water and then wrap the brush in a kitchen roll and putting them in a mug face down to preserve the brush shape. After a couple of hours, I remove the kitchen roll and leave the brush facing up to dry. Once they are dry (usually overnight) I rub a little bit of baby oil into the bristles to keep them soft. The natural bristles will split and dry out over time if they are not cared for properly. So protect your investment!

Squeaky clean!

Squeaky clean!

10. Admire your work!
Well done! Enjoy your little masterpiece 🙂

Here’s some I made earlier – https://lyatesblog.wordpress.com/category/the-summer-of-2012-projects/


  • Brushes in a number of sizes – I suggest AS brushes but here’s the link for the cheaper ones I buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/HQ50-50mm-5cm-quality-FURNITURE/dp/B00IOY2LME/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432971574&sr=8-1&keywords=wax+brush
  • Containers for paint
  • Paint
  • Wax
  • Wax brush
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Paper plates
  • Sandpaper
  • Cleaning materials – fairy liquid/baby oil

Thanks for reading and please comment and/or follow my blog for email updates.

Talk soon,

Lauren x

5.5 weeks in…

Another week has passed and unfortunately not much has moved forward! Apparently the property search service didn’t receive the application when it was originally entered so we’ve lost a week. Luckily, our Solicitors are on the ball and have resubmitted them as urgent. One week has passed since then and one search has come back – the Environmental search. This details anything within the immediate and up to 500m around the property, that may be of concern or interest. It lists lots of things (it’s a 60 page document!) and good news, we passed everything with no concerns. We have three search reports to come back; local, water and mining.

To keep ourselves we have been reviewing/researching all the kitchen stuff we need! How exciting – more for me, than Matt 🙂 I’m going for a cream and duck egg colour scheme in the kitchen. We will be having a new kitchen eventually but lucky for us, the current kitchen is in excellent condition. After living at University and seeing some of the delights there, it’s like a palace! I thought I’d give you an idea of some of the things we’ve been buying.


The kettle and toaster are super important in a kitchen. Not only do they need to be functional and hardwearing, they also need to be aesthetically pleasing. No one takes kindly to an ugly kettle! I decided on the Breville pick n mix traditional kettle and toaster – cute right?





They are affordable and get good reviews. I wanted cream but found all the others have a sort of yellowish tint to the cream colour. These are more of a whiter cream. Excuse the colour-OCD I have with things.

My Grandma has also offered to buy me something important and useful for my kitchen. So I chose a mixer and I’ve decided on this on in the most pretty blue colour. As with the kettle/toaster, good reviews, affordable and comes with fun attachments. What do you think?

Food mixer!

Food mixer!

Finally, we are also purchasing a Breville Blendactive. I’ve heard amazing things about this little gadget and can’t wait to whizz up some lovely smoothies in it! Matthew also has big ideas about frappicinos and other fancy coffee related drinks! At £29 from Amazon with free next day delivery on Prime, and with four bottles, it’s a good buy! Especially when I found out replacement bottles are £10! Yikes!




The best thing I bought this week was my Annie Sloan wax brush! I’ve been dreaming of one of these bad boys for ages and have finally decided to take the plunge and invest in one. At £29.95 they aren’t cheap but this bad boy should last me for years. I’m in luck because a local shop has begun to sell Annie Sloan stock so I don’t have to make a 1.5 hour round trip now.

Here’s a picture:

Wax brush!

Wax brush!

I chose the larger of the two for the handle. I held both in the shop and this one felt much more supported in my hand. I’m hoping the weather is better tomorrow so I can paint my table legs and wax my chairs. So I’ll let you know how I get on!

Overall, not much of an update but there you go 🙂


  • Get the other searches back
  • Get a date!
  • Decide on final colour schemes – post to follow

Until next time,

Lauren x

4.5 weeks into the house buying process – updates and promises!

I will first begin this blog post with an apology… 13 days without an update?! How did you guys manage? I solemnly swear to update every week from now on 🙂


We got our Homebuyers Report back and in short, all is well! I read some real horror stories online before hand and was very nervous about receiving the report but thankfully, the house isn’t falling down. The Bank organises the valuation with the survey for the Homebuyers Report and this occurred two weeks ago on a Thursday, come Saturday we had our report back! Speedy, eh?

The report outlines all aspects of the house and gives them a green, amber or red colour depending on the severity of the issue. We got mostly greens (yippee!), all the walls, windows, floors etc are in good condition and there is no presence of mould or damp. Some ambers included easily fixable things such as cleaning out the gutters, doors from the kitchen need to be safety glass. Our red ones also included up to date gas and electric safety certificates and removing insulation that covered down-lighters from the roof into the bathroom (Me and Matt are pulling straws over who should go up in to the loft and do this… we are both scared of spiders!)

So, all very fixable issues 🙂 the bank deemed the house worth the money they are borrowing us and they got in touch with our Solicitors to let them know that the money was ready to go when the time comes. Good stuff!


Since the last post, the searches has been requested on the property. These are requested by our Solicitors from the Local Authority. These include environmental changes, water drainage and other fun info like that. We also have to have a mining authority search due to being in a mining area. Once these are back and (hopefully) show no major issues – like they are going to build a road through our house – we can work towards a completion date! These can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come back. Our LA website states they aim to return within 10-15 working days so we shall see!


My table and chairs painting project has slowed down due to my lack of a waxing brush! I previously ‘made’ my own by trimming down an old brush to make a short, stubby bristled brush. It has worked on one of the chairs for two coats but is looking very worse for wear and is pulling the wax up into the bristles, rather than coating my wood! So come payday, I am making the leap and purchasing an Annie Sloan wax brush… I cannot wait! I’ll do a little review on it when I get my hands on one 🙂

The tabletop has been assembled and stained and let me tell you, it looks fab! Can’t wait to show you the finished project!


  • buy the wax brush!
  • finish painting the chairs and table – I have half term next week to do this!
  • patiently wait for the searches to come back
  • convince Matt we need big flowery wallpaper in our bedroom 🙂

Until next time,

Lauren x

2.5 weeks into the process – updates and projects!

Here we are! Two and a half weeks since our offer was accepted and it seems sooo much longer than that. Anyway, onto the good stuff.


Our Mortgage appointment went well. We have a fantastic Mortgage Advisor who since writing the last post, has found us an even better Mortgage product which means he has reduced our mortgage term! Good news for us! This means the length of our mortgage has been reduced and our planned payments have not increased.

Our valuation is going ahead tomorrow and after lots of discussion, me and Matt decided to have the Homebuyers survey on top of the Bank valuation survey (you have to have this for your mortgage) but the Homebuyers survey is an optional choice. This is for us, the buyers, and is a large document outlining the condition of all aspects of the house. This may bring to light some major issue that we have previously missed. This cost us an additional £250 on top of the £300 for the mandatory bank valuation and whilst this adds more onto our costs, it is a small amount in the long run to ensure the house isn’t falling down. We should get the report back on Monday so I’ll update you with the outcome of that when it arrives.

The Seller has returned his completed paperwork to our Solicitors and there is only one bit of paperwork missing. The Fensa certificate for the windows. This official document will complete the paperwork and means our Solicitors can request the necessary searches on the property and submit our registration of the property to the Land Registry. As the property hasn’t been sold since the law changed in 1990, we have to register the property with the Land Registry before it can be transferred into our names. Good news – it doesn’t stop us completing the sale and getting the keys. Bad news – it’s an extra £95 on our (ever-increasing) bill.


I have begun to paint the table and chairs that my Mum’s friend has given us and thanks to the fabulous Annie Sloan chalk paint, my chairs are coming along excellently. (Blog post to follow soon). I am also building my own rustic table top from up cycled wood. The pieces have been cut and sanded but after a practice-put-together, a little more needs to come off the length. Hopefully I can get that done this weekend. Here’s a sneak peek of the table top:

It's coming together nicely.

It’s coming together nicely!

I also attempted to update my rabbit lamp (see original restyle here: https://lyatesblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/the-re-vamped-rabbit-lamp/) and failed miserably! In short, I ended up purchasing a reasonably priced grey linen lampshade for £6.99 from the Range on Sunday. I’ll pop a picture on of the updated lamp soon. I am toying with the idea of painting the rabbit a pastel colour but we’ll see 🙂


  • Get the homebuyers report back and read through – hopefully the house isn’t going to fall down!
  • Chase the seller’s solicitors for the Fensa certificate for the windows so the searches can be requested
  • Trim and stain my table top
  • Finish painting and waxing the chairs


Thanks for reading,

Lauren x


PS – I realise my last post may have made Matt sound like he wasn’t excited by this buying a house malarky. Just to confirm, he very much is excited, he just has more concern for the financial side of things than I do. I, on the other hand, continue to expand my ‘Things I Want To Buy’ spreadsheet 🙂 We balance each other out well!

1 week in to the house buying process – a beginner’s experience!

To update those of you out of the loop, after 9 (nearly 10!) months of searching, 2 failed offers, a million house viewings and many sleepless nights… We have had an offer accepted! Yippeeee! Now the fun begins right? Not quite. As a first time buyer with little knowledge of purchasing a property, I thought it may be useful to put my experience out there into the world. There will be weekly updates plus my ‘keep busy’ projects along the way.

The all important offer

So let us begin! 1 week in from having our offer accepted on a house. Now I’m a fairly optimistic person but I didn’t think we would ever be in this position. But alas, here we are.

The house in question came on the market one unsuspecting Saturday afternoon and at this point I was refreshing Rightmove like a woman possessed so saw it pretty quickly. Oddly, I did not fall in love with it from the pictures and description as I have previously done. After consulting with the other half, we decided it was an interesting property (something we had not viewed in many months) and booked a viewing. For the next three days, my likeness increased – it was growing on me!

When the viewing came around, it was how everyone described it. You just know. I walked into that house and it hit me like a train. This was my house. Logic and sense were left at the door and dreams and emotions took hold. I wandered around in a semi-daze visualising all the colours/designs/furniture filling those rooms. I left with my heart attached to that 3 bedroom semi.

Amusingly, my indecisive boyfriend didn’t think the seller would accept our mid level offer with it being on the market so early. However, I had been watching Million Dollar Listings New York and worked my magic and tah dah! By Friday we had an offer accepted! Queue my excitement and boyf’s horror that I had actually gone and bought a house.

After researching the next stages of the process, my excitement wained ever so slightly at the timescales/costs/paperwork involved in buying a house. Me and my sidekick discussed this at length and mutually agreed that we loved the house and this was our next step in our lives.

The first steps



The first thing to do was to verify our details with the Estate Agent. This involves passports, proof of address and proof of a mortgage offer. Unbeknown to us, you also had to have a solicitor in place who would act as the conveyancer and complete the legal paperwork on your behalf. This caused mass panic as we had 24 hours to find one before our offer was cancelled/invalid/vanished. We kept a level head and chose a reputable Solicitors, which A) posts regular, helpful blogs and B) was trialling an online ‘Live Track’ program where you can login and view documents relating to your case. Very helpful for an impatient girl like me. The link to the blogs can be found here: http://fidler.co.uk/blogs/fidler/

So once Solicitors are in place, they make contact with the Estate Agent who gives them the Seller’s Solicitors details. Then everyone has a chat and paperwork starts flowing. The Seller has to fill in a large document detailing everything he knows about the property. Once this is received, things can start moving. Searches will be carried out on the property (future blog post to follow re this).

We have been to the Bank today to finalise details of the mortgage and all went well. We are ready to pay for the valuation from the Bank. This tells us, and the Bank, whether the house is worth the money and if it is, they will lend the money. I will update when this arrives/happens! We are also instructing a house survey of our own – I will blog about this later on when ours has taken place 🙂

Our next steps

  • Organise the bank valuation and survey
  • Wait for the seller’s paperwork to come back
  • View the house again on Wednesday
  • Look at wallpaper (Matt’s favourite bit – notttt)

Thanks for reading this blog post. It isn’t particularly funny or interesting but hopefully you found it informative and easier than me chewing your ear off.

Speak soon

Lauren x

A little bit of crocheting

I’ve always wanted to learn the art of crocheting and one Sunday afternoon I realised it was time to get cracking! I began with simple granny squares, with dreams of a lovely cosy blanket to wrap myself and swan around my house like some sort of Crochet Queen. The thing that I didn’t realise is that blankets are not created in day, or a week, or a month! It is something to build on over time until I am happy with it. The blanket is still a work in progress so I hope you look forward to that blog post!

This is the link I used for the granny squares is:

So to curb my crochet bug, I embarked on some smaller projects. I follow ‘Crochet Club’ on Facebook and they post free patterns every couple of days. The first pattern that caught my eye was a cute little owl design – perfect for my best friend’s upcoming birthday who has also recently embarked on the crocheting journey.

The little owl

The little crocheted owl.

Unfortunately I cannot post the actual pattern as is it copyrighted, but obviously I can show you the finished product!
How cute is he?

The pattern was easy enough to follow, however my beginners skill meant I managed to lose my stitch count and so made
the rest of the pattern up as I saw fit. Luckily for me it turned out pretty well! I left a small hole at the top of the owl to
stuff him with left over pillow stuffing and adding felt and buttons for his eyes. I used my craft glue at first but found it
didn’t glue as well as my fabric glue (little tip I will remember!). I used a little bit of yellow wool for his beak, sewed him
up and hey presto! I had my owl. Adding a bit of twine between his ears finished him off spectacularly.

The new baby hat

My second mini project was spurred on by the birth of my new baby cousin Evie 2 weeks ago. I decided to make her a little hat as she was nearly 6 weeks premature and it was vital she was kept warm when she was first born. I found a free pattern on the Crochet Club Facebook page and sat down enthusiastically to get cracking on my baby hat. However, the pattern was difficult to follow and understand for me. The abbreviations weren’t explained very well and there weren’t many pictures or narrative on the pattern. I therefore took to Youtube and found the perfect video!

Found here:

The stitch was easier and the video aid and the ability to pause/play the video when I needed to was a massive plus! Within the evening I had my hat! I used a second video to create a pastel pink flower to decorate the hat and to hide the joining stitches down the one side of the hat – clever eh!

Here’s the videos for the flower (it’s in 3 parts):

And here is the finished product! I’m rather proud of it and have received many compliments on it. It fits Evie now at the size she is so I think I’ll have to be creating another, larger one before long 🙂

Baby hat 3 Baby hat 2 Baby hat 1

I plan on making Evie many more things so I will keep you updated on my crocheting adventures!

Lauren x

Wooden hearts and an Etsy shop!

I’m back in business and it feels so good to finally be spending my time on doing something I enjoy. Although the past three weeks since I finished University I’ve been on holiday and been a full time babysitter of my one year old cousin, this week marks the beginning of hopefully something epic… My Etsy shop! This post is a double whammy, the online shop and a small piece about wooden hearts. Seeing as these are the first items to go up for sale in the shop, it seemed fitting to also write a post about them.

The three tier hanging hearts!

I think wooden hearts are one of the most understated home decorations out there. They can bear a personalised message, name or pattern to make them extra special for the person who it is intended for. The hearts I make are all cut from wood scavenged from no-longer-loved pieces of furniture, knowing they already have a history and up-cycling something that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill somewhere, makes me rather happy! Once they are cut out, they are sanded down by hand to round of the edges and a hole for the twine to go through is drilled into them. Then comes the best bit… the painting! As I said before, the options are endless! The medium hearts I make (8cm at their widest points), usually end up with polka dots on as I have a thing about polka dots! I recently did larger hearts which were perfect for using my vintage-style stamp set, see below for those beauties. Once they are painted, stamped, striped, dotted, the hearts are sealed with Annie Sloan clear wax because it really brings out the paint and the wood. After this step I use a very scientific method of superglue and scissors to insert the twine into the drilled hole. After this, they’re all done!

Hope you enjoyed this double blog post and are looking forward to future ones!

Lauren x

P.S. nearly forgot… my Etsy link! http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LoveOfShabbyChic

Medium blue polka dot heart

Medium blue polka dot heart

Various large wooden hearts

Various large wooden hearts

Medium heart with rose print

Medium heart with rose print

It’s been a while!

So I’ve been really bad and haven’t posted anything for a long loooong time (almost 2 months!) and its because I’ve returned for my final year of University and have been concentrating on getting a decent grade for my degree.

However, in 4/5 months time I will have finished and there are lots of ideas and projects I cannot wait to get started on! I’ve recently jumped on the Pintrest bandwagon and it has given me endless inspiration.

See you in the Spring!

Lauren x

The Re-vamped Rabbit Lamp

The Floral Rabbit Lamp!

The Floral Rabbit Lamp!

This little beauty started out as one of those projects that begins with good intentions, then sits under my bed in a box for months collecting dust. However this little Rabbit Lamp’s luck changed when I was shifting through some lovely fabrics at my local fabric shop and I saw the one. I knew when it when the pastel blue floral fabric caught my eye and decided that it was destined for my forgotten project.

On arrival home I spread my choice of weapons around me in the conservatory and set to work!

I laid down old newspaper so my Mum wouldn’t get all grumpy that I had gotten paint everywhere and began deconstructing the lamp. Once the lampshade had been removed, I used masking tape to protect the electrical wire and the lampshade stand. You will be happy to know I actually took step by step pictures for this project! Not as many as I should have though because I was too excited to get it finished.

I used my favourite paint (which you should all know by now is…) Annie Sloan’s ‘Old White’ and surprisingly, this only took one coat! Because the Rabbit was originally black, I was convinced I would need two coats. Which is a problem for someone as impatient as me! However, after one coat, the Rabbit had been transformed. Whilst this was drying I set to work on the lampshade. It was good quality and very sturdy so I found it easy to measure the size of fabric I needed. Although I did learn a hard lesson on this step… and it is to ALWAYS double check the size of your fabric before you cut it out. I did not do this and went straight ahead with cutting and found that when I went to wrap the fabric around the lampshade, it fell short by around 2cm!

However, I improvised and decided to cover the gap with a piece of white ribbon so all was not lost! Next came the issue of fixing the fabric to the shade and as I am fairly new to this whole thing, I did not have any fabric glue at my house. I quickly disregarded my usual tool (my Grandad’s epic stapler) and raided the garage in search of something I could use. I can only describe what I found as a spray can of glue, primarily designed for attaching wood and metal together. I decided this would do, even though the can looked older than I was!

The spray glue was horrendous and I managed to stick the fabric to my hands and also my dog, who got too close to the project! However, after some not-so-professional techniques of holding the shade between my knees so I could use both hands, I managed to fix all the fabric down!

Luckily for me the glue dried with no marks and it held fast. Next time I will curb my impatience and buy some fabric glue! After scrubbing my hands raw, trying to get the glue off, I waxed the Rabbit in Annie Sloan’s ‘Clear’ wax and let it dry.

It was dry within half an hour and I carefully re-constructed the whole thing. I hope you’ll agree that even though I cut a few corners, the project turned out well! It now sits proudly in my room and looks fab when it’s turned on.

Love, Lauren x

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