When extensions don’t go to plan…

It’s a good job we have a sense of humour. It’s fair to say that since we started the extension we’ve been plagued by bad luck and some odd turns of events. We’re used to big projects that take time and patience, but just two weeks in and we feel like we’re being tested.

My pink wellies

Here’s a little run down of some of the things that’ve gone wrong. Cue the Benny Hill soundtrack….

– The digger crew were due to turn up at 8am – one day (due to a hangover) they rolled up at 2pm.

– One day’s digging the footings turned into 4 days and 2 evenings.

– When we dug the soakaway we hit the water table within the first 10 mins.

– We kept hitting water, so brought in a water pump. The pump wasn’t long enough, so we pumped it from the garden room footings into the main footings, and from there into the drain.

– Our drain then got blocked.

– Then the water pump blew up.

– During this time it rained for about 4 days straight and the garden and front of the house turned into a quagmire of mud and clay. It was so sticky it pulled my wellies off and stopped the wheelbarrow wheels from turning. Walking over the boards we’d laid was like bambi on ice.

– One of the guys dropped a single key in the mud. We spent a few mucky hours looking for it.

– The day the guys turned up on time it snowed.

– We budgeted for one grab lorry. We’ve had 4 and counting.

– When we’d been pumping water for 3 hours and still couldn’t get rid of it, our neighbour told us that before the houses were built a river was diverted and the tributary ran under our garden.

– All the quotes we had said we’d need 6 cubic metres of concrete for the two sets of footings. We had 12. In one of the footings.

– We poured the concrete and had the hardest frost we’ve had in 8 weeks.

You’ve got to laugh! Hopefully we’ve turned a corner now and things should be plain sailing. It looks like we’ll have to pile the garden room before we can start on that part of the project – which will cost a lot more than we were planning. We’re waiting for some quotes to come back before we can book it in. In the meatime we’re full steam ahead with the main extension. And secretly hoping that the stream under the garden room can be bottled and sold as expensive spring water.

A few of my favourite pins 5

Phew – we made it! After a busy week in London I’m so happy for a few days off. I hope you’re enjoying the Easter break.

At Casa Jones we were hoping to be putting the roof on the extension this weekend but – the weather has been against us. We don’t have walls let alone a roof! But, fingers crossed we may have walls this weekend. The bricklayers have arrived, they’re drinking tea like it’s going out of fashion and the sun seems to be peeking out of the clouds.

Here’s this weeks pick of the pins.

A few of my favourite pins 5

1. Retro travels In true Miranda style – such fun! This shot makes me happy. I adore their style – so casual. And Fiat 500’s are my favourite.

2. Kindness and mischief What a combo. And one that I intend to be always! 🙂

3. Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg I’m really hoping I wake up to one of these on Sunday morning. How does it work? Is it like Christmas when you have to be good? Yum!

4. Bright flowers and graphic table linen Swoon! Where can I get this table linen from? It makes the colours of the flowers pop so much more.

5. Neutral decor I just love this room. It’s so sophisticated. I’d maybe add a colourful cushion to the sofa – and then sit back and relax.

6. Cupcake fondue Simply genius. Mini cakes, melted chocolate and toppings – why have I not done this before?!

Happy Easter!

Nicky xoxo

Easter decor

I know I sound old when I say this, but this year is flying by! I can’t believe that Easter is just over a week away. I feel like I just took the Christmas decorations down.

Given the current muddy/messy/chaotic state of the house at the moment, we don’t have any grand plans. We want to use the four-day weekend to get as much done on the house and extension as possible. And as the Mom-in-Chief will be in sunny Florida over Easter, hosting the family lunch falls to us in-between the mucky extension stuff.

In an ideal world I’d plan the menu and decor, and then spend a few leisurely weekends gathering the items I need to make it wonderful and stylish. In reality I’ll be juggling bricklayers, deliveries, bacon sarnies and an underground stream! So I can only think about easy options and reusing what I have already. I also want to keep it as cheap as possible as the extension is draining my bank account quickly.

Here’s some of my inspiration….

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1. This is so simple and chic. Just need to grab a few egg cups and some cuttings from the garden.

2. I don’t really like hot cross buns and fruit cake, so cupcakes are how we roll at Casa Jones. The decoration is do-able but looks great.

3. A mismatched table is bright and cheery. I think I could pull this look together with what I already have, and finish it off with some floral bunting.

4. Just wicker basket and a mix of different eggs – topped off with some herbs. Gorgeous styling. I’d never have thought of this – thank you Pinterest!

5. Colourful tulips – even if there is no other decor in our house, I will have a big bunch of spring flowers.

6. Fancy Wedgewood china – a special lunch requires special dinnerware.

7. A little Lindt bunny has to be part of our long weekend – sat in a cupcake wrapper with some filling.

8. A lovely calm, simple setting with a natural linen runner and glasses. Very elegant.

9. Everyday eggs prettied up with a white paint pen. No messy paint jobs here.

As the surroundings at Casa Jones are so very grey at the moment (mud, chalk, bricks and more mud) I’d like to inject some colour and fun Easter elements to brighten things up. I’ll definitely use a few of these as a starting point – I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What are your plans for Easter? Have you got a DIY list you’re going to tick off or is it a family filled fiesta? I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

A few of my favourite pins 4

I really don’t want to be a weather bore. But, what is up with this weather?! This time last year, 21 degrees and sunny. Now? Blustery with the promise of proper snow! Hmmmpff. It’s not helping with our extension let me tell you! I hope that wherever you’re reading this from it’s warm and toasty.

On a more positive note, we’re hurtling towards Easter and the lovely prospect of a long weekend. Just a wild weather-filled weekend and a few more days at work to get through first. Pop back tomorrow when I’ll share with you my Easter interior plans and some inspiration.

Here are my pick of the pins this week….

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1. The Bahamas *Swoon* I bet they don’t have snow do they?!

2. Sunny Rannuculus I love these flowers, but have real trouble finding them. I can’t seem to buy them anywhere and my attempts at growing them last year failed. Any ideas?

3. Slouchy jumper and scarf Standard wear this weekend methinks. If we have to still wear scarves, let them be leopard print – my favourite type!

4. Button biscuits Yum. How cute do these look? A cold weekend definitely calls for some baking. I’m going to channel my inner Delia and give them a go.

5. Iris Apfel How cool is Iris? I’d love to be in her gang. She has style in bucketloads.

6. Stella McCartney floor  Parquet-style floor. Pinks, creams, blacks. Stella McCartney store. What a combo. I think the floor looks amazing and adds loads texture and colour.

If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here.

Happy Friday!

xoxo

Animal magic

With flamingos in hats, owls that sprout flowers and racoons wearing pussy bow blouses a little animal addition to your interiors is a super cute trend. Us Brits love animals and add to that a dash of our infamous eccentricity, some animal inspired pieces in your home is guaranteed to make you smile. Selecting these has been great fun.

Here’s my pick of animal inspired interiors.

Animal magic

Cloudberryhill stag cushion / M&S Bunny ornament / Katie and the Wolf moth lampshade
Joules Badger mug / Thornback and Peel lobster tea towel / John Lewis Picasso dog printFlitty bird dragonfly votives / Pedlars animal napkin set / H&M racoon plate

What do you think? Real pets who need a lot of looking after, or a cheeky lobster tea towel who will be well behaved?

Style series: Monochrome

Mad about monochrome!

Yep, here’s another trend that’s leapt from the catwalk to our home styling. I’m always really drawn to black and white – whether it be in my wardrobe or interiors, it’s a look that I love. It’s so easy but super chic!

Our recent spare bedroom update had more than a touch of the monochrome about it, but with a few touches of biscuit and gold added in to warm it up.

Here’s my monochrome confession – I’m totally in love with the Stokholm Rand rug from Ikea at the moment. Can you be in love with a rug? I don’t know yet if I could or would use it in the extension, but it’s staying on my love list anyway.

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Here are a few other looks that have really caught my eye…

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via Housetohome

Black and white living room

via Pinterest

Black and white entryway

via Pinterest

I think if you’re bold it’s a look that you can easily adopt. I’m thinking black paint, some simple accessories like picture frames or a strong piece of furniture. On the other hand black and white can work even in colourful rooms – throw in a few accessories to tone down all of the different shades.

If you don’t want to go the whole hog, here are a few of my picks that you can incorporate into your existing schemes.

Black and White shopping picks

Graham and Brown wallpaper / Rockett St George wall stickers / H&M cushion cover / Julien McDonald vases from Debenhams

Jasper Conran for Wedgewood / Notonthehighstreet Hattie chair / John Lewis fabric / Ikea Stockholm cushion

So, any black and white additions that you’d like to add to your interiors? I’d love to know what you think!

Simple pleasures – a happy Hyacinth

Oh, what a grey Sunday. It’s switched between dull drizzle and dramatic downpours all day. Luckily I had no outdoor plans that would have had to be cancelled.

I did nip out this morning (before the rain became utterly torrential) and picked up this gorgeous Hyacinth. Sitting on it’s lonesome in Waitrose, I felt it was my duty to rescue it! Reduced from ÂŁ4 to ÂŁ1.09, it’d be rude not to.

Happy Hyacinth

I really love it. The pot with the moss is gorgeous, and I’m looking forward to it blooming fully. I even like the fact that it’s a bit wonky!

I’ve never had Hyacinths inside so don’t know how much love they need. Any tips?

The extension – we have lift off

We are a go-go!

So, just 12 weeks after we had sausages and wedges for dinner and decided to extend our lovely house we have started. Now, I’m no expert but I think that is pretty good going. Include in that the madness of Christmas and New Year, 3 or 4 bouts of snow, getting sign off from the council and a weekend away in Paris and that’s not that bad.

As we decided to project manage it ourselves we’re calling in favours left, right and centre. This is great for our budget – nice and cheap and no ‘extras’, but it does mean we’re at the mercy of people’s goodwill.

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Our first job was digging the footings. Some of them are more than 2 metres deep due to the type of soil we have and the trees that surround us. 2 metres is deep, so we needed to get in a digger or a very tall person. We went for the digger option.

Day 1 and we had Mr J, my dad, Mr J’s apprentice, digger-man operating the digger and two other helpers. I was of course CEO of Operations and Head of Catering. Bacon sarnie anyone?

What a day. It was a good day as we finally got started. But not good in that by the time we finished after about 9 hours we were nowhere near finishing! We’re on a pretty tight timeline with the different people we’ve got in doing all the different trades and to not finish on day 1 is a total pain in the bum. We’re on the back foot straight away.

In the spirit of knowledge is power, here’s what we learned…

Lesson one – there’s always trouble underfoot.
By all accounts the digger would get it all done, easily. Within the first hour it became clear that this wouldn’t happen. We apparently have the most solid soil in all of England! Why?! Why us!

Lesson two – always overestimate.
“Footings will be done in a day”. No they won’t. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will our footings.

Lesson three – just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you can escape.
Full on digging, wheelbarrowing and generally getting dirty and mucking in. As well as doing the catering.

Lesson four – you will run out of bacon.
Twice. And milk. Make no mistake – building sites up and down the country run on tea! Don’t ask – just keep it brewing.

Lesson five – a 8am start actually means 2pm to some people.
Digger mans hangover was to blame. Apparently it was a pukker night out though!

We have to get back on track quickly if we want to keep all of our workers and not lose them to other jobs. So with some schedule juggling we now think our ‘1 day’ footings will be ‘4 day’ footings with a couple of evenings thrown in! And the one grab lorry that was estimated? That’ll be three so far then.

So there’s no going back now. And it does mean I’m one step closer to doing the really fun stuff (like decorating!)

A few of my favourite pins 3

Well this week has flown by. With a gaggle of builders, deliveries, concrete, snow and an unexpected river – the extension is well and truly underway. I will post about it soon, there’s lots to tell!

I didn’t think I’d pinned much this week, but I’ve got plenty to choose from. Here are some favourites…

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1. Chilli and soup bar How fun would this be for a party? I always panic about complicated menus when we entertain, but the simpler the better. So informal and yummy.

2. Striped swimsuit I’ve just paid the balance on our summer holiday – so all thoughts turn to swimwear. This retro bather is gorgeous.

3. Nothing great is suddenly created Repeat to self. I really need to remember this with the extension – it will be great and it won’t be created suddenly.

4. Flower print These bright colours work so well together. Wouldn’t this make a great trim on plain curtains?

5. Learning calligraphy I’m going to make this a resolution this year to learn – such a great skill to have.

6. Beautiful cake I’m a self-confessed cake addict, but I don’t think I could ruin this. A total piece of art/piece of cake!

Enjoy the weekend all,

Nicky

xoxo

Trinkets and treasures – H&M graphic table cloth

I’ve changed. I used to lust over shoes and bags. Now I’m getting my kicks from table linen! What?!

Graphic. Clashing patterns. A touch of pink. This will look fabulous on our kitchen table.

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And click – it’s ordered! The wonder of internet shopping. (While I’m at it how lovely is the copper pendant, the pink chair, the chunky white door….. Can you buy the lot?)

Available online at H&M for ÂŁ12.99 – I think only the bigger stores carry the homeware line.

What do you think?

Nicky xoxo

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