A little DIY goes a long way…

Ceiling pendant: £38, Ikea. Shutters: Californian Shutters. Sofa: £395, Habitat. Long cushion: Sluiz (bought in Ibiza). Blue and white cushion: £12, Ikea. Green marble side table: Madame Stolz at Out There Interiors. Brass lamp: £75, Cox & Cox. ‘Hay’ candle: £30, Field Apothecary. Pouffe: £80, Ikea. Basket bag: The White Company (old). Sandals: H&M (old). Rug: West Elm.

A few weekends ago, my parents descended on North London, toolbox in tow and helped us sort loads of odds and ends in the house which we’d been meaning to sort for a few months…

To say that Chris and I are DIY challenged would be an understatement. I only know how to paint things, anything that doesn’t move, and it usually ends with spillage. My husband shows willing, but sadly no capability. He’s handy with a floor sander and that’s about it. But at least we TRY.

It is my father who is the hands on type, who comes from that generation that ‘got things done’. His father before him built their extension, did the rewiring in their house and thought nothing of it. So we did the usual thing of saving up every little thing that needed doing when they came round…

We finally had the shutters delivered after waiting 3 months (via California Shutters), as recommended by my sister (see her gorgeous home here). They often do a 20% discount so it’s worth waiting, as they are rather pricey (as most shutters seem to be?!). We weren’t lucky enough to have original sash windows in this house and while we’re saving up to replace them, the shutters add a feeling of completion to this room (and at least hide the windows).


We had pine blinds here (which were here when we moved in) which we kept for a few months but they always let off an orangey glow into the room, and when we pulled them up in the day we were faced by passers-by looking us directly in the eye as we sat having our morning coffee in our dressing gowns! Or delivery men would think it appropriate to just knock on our window when they saw us in, rather than ringing the doorbell…

With a little help from my husband, the shutters took about 30 minutes to put up, got rid of about 7 boxes in our hallway and now the room feels airy and most of all, private. Money well spent.

Then my amazing dad got moving onto the fireplace…we bought the tiles ages ago (Minton Hollins from Topps Tiles for the side and Fired Earth tiles for the front hearth) but the surface area was tricky…the side panels were at an angle the front hearth was raised with a lip at the front. And it was almost too small an area for a tiler to do…

The fireplace when we first moved in

It took near enough a whole day but the tiles look better than we could have imagined. using grey grout, dad placed the tiles in a bit of a chevron style and used the grout as the corner of the front hearth (we thought it’d look too bathroom-y with a tile trim).


Black metal paint: Hammerite. Candle: Jo Malone.

We wanted something that blended into the dark floor at the bottom, but knew we wanted something quite traditional for the sides. We fell in love with this pattern and love that it had a link to William Morris (whose studio was based where we used to live). They were too small for the side, so my dad found bits of MDF that he cut and filled in the gaps, and I painted black. You would never know it wasn’t part of the original fireplace.

I would never have thought you could just find bit of wood to fill in and fashion a hearth together – and love that you can make up the rules as you go.

Gold tray: kikki K. Matches: Hay.

It’s funny, whilst this was all being done downstairs, my mum and I painted the spare room upstairs (more on that later) – and although we almost finished an entire room up there, it was the living room that felt more ‘wow’ from these small little jobs. Just shows that in a renovation project, every little job is worth doing.

And it definitely feels like home.


  1. It’s looking so gorgeous Alex! Your Dad is really talented – DIY is something I fail at in just about every category but luckily Mr OS is willing and more than able to try most things. Although not electrical stuff!
    Loving seeing how your home develops – it really is a labour of love isn’t it?
    A xxx

  2. Wow, Alex! This looks so great!
    We have been renovating ours for the past 3 years. We replaced our windows first but then couldn’t afford shutters so we just used John Lewis wooden venetian blinds which kind of look like shutters from the outside. I love the cafe-style shutters that you’ve gone for. They look amazing!
    My Dad is really handy too and has helped us out no end with our renovation and decorating. We are currently waiting on plannning permission to do a side-return kitchen extension so our house still doesn’t feel finished but I can’t wait to start putting the finishing touches to ours!
    You have a really good eye for interiors and I am forever inspired by your style. Enjoy your lovely new living room!

    1. Oh thanks Sarah, I know what you mean – we want to do building work on the kitchen but for now, a portable sink and plug in stove will have to do! As everyone says – it’ll be worth it in the end! xx

  3. Hi Alex, love this post! Fireplace looks amazing. Is there a reason the site does not allow you to save pins? Might just be my computer, thanks

  4. The first few paragraphs were basically describing my own life! Husband and I are terrible at DIY, my poor dad gets a list as long as his arm every time he comes. And mum does all our curtains! What happened to our generation?
    We are also keen to get shutters to hide our ugly windows but the cost has put me off so far- and we’ve had more urgent work to do. Did you find the ordering and fitting easy with California shutters? It’s not one I’d heard of but will need to have a look now!

    1. So I have to be honest we opened an interest free C/C on purchases and paying the minimum payment off it until we can afford to pay off chunks…! We’re not going crazy on it but it has helped with a few ‘bigger’ purchases like shutters and furniture bits….We found it so easy, we measured ourseleves, they give you a call and talk you through – and it took 3 months to arrive (which gives you time to pay yourselves back!) x

  5. Just before I read your post, I had text my dad to ask what I should and do before painting our new house. I figured he was probably a better source than google for these things. I’m totally in the generation lost on DIY!

    A bit of a random question, but where did you get your media/ tv console from? It’s one of those neccessary things but I’m struggling to find inspiration for something chic as it doesn’t seem to be ‘instagramable’, ha!

    1. Yes – my dad was pretty much our surveyor when we bought our house!! So good to be able to rely on help…and yes found the same problem with console tables….we actually stopped looking for ‘console’ tables and just something that would fit our space (in our last flat the cove was a really awkward size – 87cm) – this was actually a coffee table from Homebase (that weirdly had a draw and space at the bottom!) – we changed the handles on it x

  6. Hi Alex, I started to follow you earlier this year and I just love your blog and Instagram posts!! It’s been great seeing your house transformation. In fact, I loved your etsy painting above the fireplace so much that we bought one too! Your style is unique and is so refreshing. Thanks for sharing!

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