Diary of a Renovation: Cupboards and Coffee Tables


Well after a flurry of features kept me super-busy in late Jan/early Feb over at Stylist HQ, finally I find myself with a spare five minutes for a quick blog update. Exciting plans are afoot round these parts – I’m about to do a little backstage blog-tinkering but there’s also a redesign on the cards, a couple of very exciting collaborations and generally a little more structure due to come in over the next few months. And a big stylish hello to any readers who have pootled over from Furnish today for a look-see, thanks to lovely Alex Thomas making me their blog of the week! Welcome, one and all.


But before we get cracking, I thought it high time I gave a little update on Le House Renovations. Nothing major to report, mainly due to the fact that stripping the bathroom woodwork has taken about 900 hours, so I’ve mainly been busy keeping out the winter chills by regularly attacking it with my hot air gun. As is the way with painting, after the months of prep, we actually managed to paint the entire room in about two hours at the weekend and I am loving this greeney-bluey-grey on the walls, picking up the tones of my fabulous floor tiles. I’m also loving the effect of painting the ceiling the same colour too – something I’ve wanted to try for ages as it really helps unite a space and make it feel cosy (and is in no way down to laziness of not wanting to paint neat edges up top…) Next is repainting the woodwork (which I should have done first, but frankly I got too excited about the wall paint), which is currently being delayed as I try to prize off some rancid, curly-edged old window film that appears to have been stuck to the windows with a mixture of treacle and wood glue. Above is a sneak peek at the colour, but I’ll do proper shots once I’m finished.


Over Christmas, through desperation and cabin fever, I rushed out to Ikea to rustle up a solution to my dumping-ground-dining-room. I really wanted another cabinet of sorts to fill the right-hand alcove, but due to having a tiny car, purchasing anything big is a no-go without the addition of a £60 van-hire bill on top. In the circumstances, something flatpack, with separate top and bottom, seemed to be the best bet, so in the end I ‘hacked’ this together using a Faktum base cupboard with Applad doors, Besta shelf unit and getting a sheet of 12mm MDF cut to fit the top when I realised that (d’oh) as it was a base unit, it didn’t actually have a top. I’ve just balanced the bookshelf on it for now, as ultimately I plan to relegate the bookcase elsewhere and fit shelving into the alcoves a la my living room, but as this requires parental DIY intervention and there are other jobs on that to-do list, it may have to wait quite some time. Probably until I have also tried out my new obsession, which is to strip off the plaster on the fireplace and reveal the fireplace hole, like this:


So when all that happens I’ll do some further styling jiggery-pokery to the cabinet base bit to make it look somewhat more fitted – I’m thinking a nice wooden top and shunting it over to the left of the alcove, then building in a very slim ‘hole’ in the gap to hold trays on the right. It’s all on about page 45 of the to-do list, sigh…


Other exciting Ikea additions to the dining room include this amazing Lappljung rug. Having had my eye on it since I first saw it in a press release last year, it was literally the perfect rug to fit the space and has made a HUGE difference to the feel of the room (which is still littered with stuff waiting to move into the loft, which is still inaccessible – that’s p37 on the to-do list). So despite the tidal wave of clutter all around it (and the reason for the rather tight shot) it’s really helped “finish”(ish) the room and, most importantly, is stopping my eBay-scored table and chairs scratching at my beloved wooden floors, and means I am no longer that person cringing in the corner when dinner guests scrape their chairs across the hallowed beams.


In-keeping with the ruggy theme, I also scored this obscenely lovely Lace rug from Scion at WovenGround over Christmas. I was after something reasonably neutral yet with a subtle pattern and this design seemed to work perfectly with the other elements in the room. It is finished off by my new favourite-ever thing – my hot-off-of-eBay Ercol (esque) coffee table. For a rather bargain-tastic (I thought) £54, it’s big enough to provide a useful surface, with an all-important magazine shelf underneath to help keep things tidy. Its rounded corners stop it feeling ‘harsh’, and its rather elegant legs ensure the rug isn’t too obscured, helping give the illusion of space. Now I just need to get an armchair for the wall opposite the window and to make-over my windowseat box, and this room can be ticked off the list! Right, back to my window-scrubbing – I leave you with a gratuitous shot of some lovely Kenyan roses I was kindly given at an M&S press show last week, to brighten up this most gloomy of winter’s days…


{Images} All copyright Joanna Thornhill. In case you’re wondering, the doormat is from Hunkydory Home.


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About Joanna Thornhill

Freelance Interior Stylist, Author, Writer and Crafter working for a range of magazine titles and commercial clients. Author of Home for Now (CICO Books 2014)

10 responses to “Diary of a Renovation: Cupboards and Coffee Tables”

  1. Amy Cawson says :

    Lovely ideas. The colour of your bathroom is beautiful. It looks a little like the grey paint we mixed ourselves for our nursery. Can’t wait to see the pictures when the bathroom is complete 🙂

  2. interiorthinking says :

    I absolutely love both those rugs- and your bathroom, floor! Such nice use of geometric prints 🙂

  3. secretgardenhome says :

    Hi Joanna, someone has been busy:)) I love your new bathroom colour and the idea of stripping the fireplace. i went to Ikea recently and spotted the same rug. Gorgeous! Good luck with the rest. Monika

  4. littlehouseontheswale says :

    We loved the idea of stripping all the plaster off our chimney too…trouble is that you’re then either left with dusty bare brick, or you have to prime the brick which turns it a rather less exotic mud colour. So we endeded up going for the painted-bare-brick look, which involved painting the chimney about 5 times, including with coats of stain block that goes on like particularly thick PVA glue…and that’s after nearly losing half my fingers during the plaster removal process. Full horror story photos on my blog.

    Love the bathroom colour though – what is it?

    • Stylist's Own (by Joanna Thornhill) says :

      @littlehouseontheswale Oh gosh – I might shunt it further down the to-do list then, sounds awful! How bad was the actual messy plaster-stripping process – was it a weekend’s work then just days of endless painting coats afterwards? I am fully aware of the can of worms I’m attempting to open (though having said that I’m sure I’ll look back over this post in months to come and manically laugh/weep at my ignorance). Looks lovely though, your place seems to be coming along well!

      The bathroom paint is Dulux Highland Falls 3 (link within the post) – I love it, it’s right on the cusp of blue/grey whilst actually being green!

      • littlehouseontheswale says :

        ah, sorry, I hadn’t spotted the link. Thanks.

        The plaster stripping took a couple of weekends but that’s mostly because it’s really tiring. You need quite heavy tools to do it (I don’t know the technical names I’m afraid, my dad just gave us tools and showed us how to do it – god bless dads!) and so I could only do about an hour at a go. And I bashed my hands quite a few times, and had large chunks of plaster land on my feet. Our plaster is georgian horsehair and lime (with proper tufts of horsehair in, made me feel a bit queasy) so that came off very easily but there were areas where they had repaired it at a later date with a harder modern plaster and that was a nightmare to remove.

        That said, it’s a very small room and the chimney looks a lot less imposing for being bare brick. But at the same time, when we ‘uncovered’ the dining room chimney (I can’t even bring myself to write that blog post yet) we called the plasterers in…

  5. iheartinteriors says :

    Hi there, lovely blog! Just wondering if you can tell me how your Scion Lace rug is wearing? I’m thinking of purchasing the exact same one and unfortunately can’t view it in person before buying. Does the rug shed a lot? And is it soft? Thanks for your time!

    • Stylist's Own (by Joanna Thornhill) says :

      Hi, sorry for the delayed reply – it’s wearing pretty well, had it for almost a year now. The section directly in front of the sofa (where our feet go) has discoloured slightly but that’s probably due to us not being militant enough with the no-shoes rule and not shampooing it. Always hard to keep that bit looking new I think on any rug though. Doesn’t shed at all, and yes it’s nice and soft – it’s a decent quality rug so no cheap fibres! I’m still really pleased with it as I wanted something that had a pattern, without being overpowering. You going to get it?!

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