Finding joy in the little things

So it’s been a few months since my last post and there have been a few DIY projects going on in the house which I am sure I’ll get around to writing about at some point. But with one thing and another, I have been trying to do the little things which make me happy and to get some jobs finished off.

You may have read my introduction post about being on maternity leave, well technically I started back to work last month. Realistically, I have been furloughed along with about a quarter of the UK work force, so trying to do any major projects with a (now) 1 year old and (attempting to) homeschool a very active 4 year old is nigh on impossible.

I wanted to share with you a few little things that I have managed to achieve, albeit the actual projects realistically started over a year ago. As our house had previously been flats there were a few layout changes which had been made. This particular one was where the entrance to two bedrooms on the first floor had been adjusted. As this wasn’t a priority when we first moved in (power and water to the upper floors was!), we made the changes before our daughter made an appearance last year.

The stud walls were removed and the original door ways opened up and reinstated. We managed to source some reclaimed doors from our local reclamation yard and they were stripped and prepared. We also managed to source some new door knobs locally which were being given away for free on a local Facebook page. We made new stud work and did some prep with some plasterboard we had left over from another project.

From left: Secret tunnel, bedroom 3 door reinstated and wall blocked up, view from landing of bedrooms 2 and 3

How do we block up the tunnel?

After it was all boarded and skimmed by the plasterer, the next big question was how do we block it up again?! This was so the children could have privacy, to block out sound and light but to make it easy for them to crawl through the space. We looked at several options including a door, but whilst at soft play one day (who knew this could be an inspirational place?) I saw some children putting foam blocks into a wall and voila, the foam block idea was born.

Now imagine you have a newborn and need to get something done quickly! I managed to pick up some thick foam padding at my local Dunelm store (although I imagine it would have been cheaper online but I needed to get it done, I was on a mission), along with some basic thickish fabric. I cut the foam to size using a bread knife – not a particularly sharp one, the cut wasn’t the neatest but I wasn’t being patient. I did have a google and saw a few options but this was the most convenient at the time. And I managed to figure out a pattern to cover the block. Pretty much like how you go about making a cube out of card or paper. It was a bit of a pain to sew but I managed to get it the right size. And for a while this was used to block up the hole and child no. 1 was happy.

I wanted to do something else with it, and I needed to make the fabric cover secure, the ends were still flappy as I didn’t have a zip or the inclination to do any more work with the block for now. I had ran out of ideas. I took it to the sewing group which I had joined at my son’s school. They suggested I sew on some velcro to secure the flaps (why hadn’t I thought of this?) and maybe sew a monogram for each child. Great idea! Thanks ladies.

Fast forward a few months, it was about a fortnight before lockdown and I thought that I’d better get the bits I needed to do some things to keep me occupied. I visited the haberdashery of a local department store and along with a few other bits for some other sewing projects I wanted to start/finish. A list of the bits I bought are below just incase you fancy giving it a go. I had already ordered various fabric samples online, these two were the only ones big enough to make large letters.

  • Bondaweb (half a metre and the instructions)
  • Embroidery threads (various colours)

I found a font that I liked the look of (Superclarendon), made it as big as possible on an A4 sheet of paper ready to print out. Cut out each letter, then pinned it onto the fabric and cut that out too. Now in hindsight I did the next section not per the bondaweb instructions, but it does reduce the amount of waste… I did the same with the bondaweb and cut out the letters. This did make it fiddly when lining everything up. I followed the instructions on how to apply using an iron. It was a bit tricky getting everything centred onto the foam block cover as I needed to remove it from the foam. I managed to easily centre the G due to the way that I constructed the cover but I guessed the positioning of the S (it’s not quite in the centre but I don’t think anyone else in the house is that bothered except me). The whilst watching TV I used blanket stitch to cover the edges, not only does this stop (or at least reduce) the fabric from fraying, it frames the letters nicely. I found the sewing quite relaxing, especially after homeschooling and looking after the baby all day. I did have to refer to Youtube to see how to do it (thanks to Red Ted Art and Rokolee DIY).

Finished blocks in place

I did have to paint the frame on both sides, and am still in the middle of redecorating child no. 2’s bedroom. The yellow is Wilko Durable Bumble Bee Matt Emulsion Paint, and the teal is Crown Teal Easy Clean Matt Emulsion. Handy as you are able to paint wood with both of these. Hopefully I will finish the current iteration of child no. 2’s bedroom soon. We decorated child no. 1’s bedroom almost 3 years ago, so am planning on writing about that soon. I also have a short blog about more sewing/embroidery which I’d like to share too.

Thanks for reading, keep safe.

Published by Kirsty Gordon

A technical and creative interior designer blogging about my home renovation

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