Sunday, 22 January 2012


Over Christmas I was lucky enough to acquire a broad range of new pictures. When I say new I mean old, (more mothball than antique), when I say acquire I mean given by relatives who were planning on chucking them out.

Such has been the nature of 80% of the items in this house, art, sofa's, dining room chairs, curtains, beds, crockery... you name it.. if someone else don't want it I end up with it. My motivation was initially financial - with all money plowing into building walls, there was little left for cushions - but essentially I have a deeply ingrained waste not want not attitude to life and really do support the 'one man's trash' philosophy.

Of course there are the occasional mistakes (80's crudites dish with pictorial representations is yet to leave the cupboard) and yes, I have, occasionally, entirely without reason in my eyes, once or twice, on a bad day, been referred to as a hoarder. But for the most part I honestly believe this re-using a rejected item in a new, different setting injects it with a new lease of life and gives a depth and soul to a home that is almost palpable. As I look around my home and consider the history of each and every item some take me back to childhood, Aunts or Grandparents past, some have origins not known to me, so I can make up their history (as well as a name!). What is for sure is that very little has come straight from a factory floor - what could be colder than that!?

People who come to my house, often comment on it's warmth and homely feeling (they sure as hell don't mean temperature), it feels like a house that is loved. This does not come from the colour of the walls or the carpet on the floor (definitely not that in our case). Would it feel the same if we had all the finery's that John Lewis had to offer? I don't think so. Personally I think this random hotch potch of belongings bring with them the lives and loves of their owners past, they have stories to tell and they are happy to live to see another day. They might not match but somehow they feel like they belong.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Stairway To Hell

I have dust in my hair, eyes, ears and over every item of clothing. A small layer adorns the entire house, I have back ache from bending in odd positions and I am so bored I'm angry. What am I doing to create such misery I hear you ask....? Sanding the god damn banisters of course. Again? I know, I KNOW.

It is the most misery inducing, relentless and un-rewarding of tasks ever known to home decorating. Fact. The kind of job that sucks you of energy but offers no rewards, no-one will ever notice that you lost actual days of your life at this callous inducing work, but everyone would notice if you didn't do it.

I realise this is more rant than post, I have no photos, I have nothing positive to say, I am in a sanding induced fury.

That's all!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from project squat!

It is with bleary eyes that I greet you on day 3 of the New Year's hangover, slowly emerging from the Christmas relaxation bubble which I happily spent with my good friends red wine and Stilton. I hope you all had a wonderful festive period and have avoided the onset of gout (maybe it's not just a hangover...!).

In keeping with this glorious time of reflection and resolutions for positive thinking I thought this the perfect opportunity to look back at the achievements of 2011, to focus on what has been done rather than what is still to do. So, folks, here are my top 10 highlights from the dust bowl (in no particular order).

1. The Live-able Living Room: Re-energised from a lovely holiday a week was devoted to getting the living room ship shape. Books shelved (colour coded of course), cushions retrieved, pictures hung. Let's casually over-look the 25 year old sofas, which are still yet to be replaced. The result was a welcoming, elegant room finally worth relaxing in.

2. The Arrival Of The Prodigal Lights: Yes it was a foolish idea in the first place, yes I was an idiot to give my credit card details to a random teenager with an American accent over Skype, yes it was a lot of hassle fighting to get them out of customs. But, when love strikes....After months of no communication from the seller, weeks in customs, days in a delivery depot and finally my local post office the arrival of the infamous Etsy lights was well worth the pain (even if they came with non usable American bulbs!)

3. Project Garden: An achievement for which I can take little/ no credit except for a quick, non thought through sweep round a garden centre. The transformation of the wasteland of a garden was a sight to behold. From barren home of barbed wire to urban paradise it has proceeded to bring much joy to BBQ lovers and smokers throughout the year.

4. There's Only One Down-Pipe: By hook or by crook down-pipe was going to get a mention. It continued to delight me with its restorative powers on two occasions. The near disaster that was 'black gloss gate' on the fireplace and the re-decoration of the slightly unloved spare room. Both episodes proved once again that this is the king of paints.

5. Loo loo Skip To My Loo: The downstairs loo had always been something of a let down, the un-even walls highlighted by the wishy washy grey and mistake of a window. A room to be avoided at all costs. UNTIL intervention came in the beautiful form of House Of Hackney wall-paper and matching dark blue wood panelling. A stroke, if I may say so myself, of genius!

6. Wine, Women (and men) And Song: Of course a house isn't a home unless you can share it with your friends. Many of ours braved it in the tough times and it has been a real pleasure to invite them back for many less dusty occasions. Despite my continual screams of 'don't touch the walls', the only damage has been inflicted by myself and an unfortunate incident involving red wine and a white wall.

7. Money, Money, Money: Enough sentimental rubbish, let's face it, what we really care about is the cash. Would we make some? well the confirmation was so gratifying I had it valued 5 times, crassness aside it was re-assuring to know it had been worth the effort.

8. Street Smart: Oh happy day it was when the curiously painted red brick 'accessories' that adorned our upstairs windows were painted over. Re-modelled wall and painting of rendering soon had the dust bowl looking like the smartest house in the street.

9. Shabby Chic: After something of a - buying, collecting, stripping, waiting a month for their return, scrubbing, sealing, lifting, floor destroying - toil we finally replaced the final two radiators. We are now happily Victorian stylee shabby throughout.

10. Heart Home: Of course one highlight shines brighter than the rest. Our appearance in Heart Home was an honour and a joy. Much fun and inspiration on the shoot and so much satisfaction seeing the results, it is from there that I take these photos. To check it out in full visit

That's all folks (for now). Here's to 2012 and all the carpet it may bring.