How I Revamped My Living Room On A Budget
When I made the decision to redecorate my living/bar room (aka party room), I knew that it was going to be a huge job, mostly because the walls were dark grey and I wanted to paint it white. Unfortunately, being the totally obsessive redecorator that I am, I couldn't do it slowly and carefully over a period of time. Once I'd decided on the plan, it had to be done immediately. And really quickly. Like, right now. Time was of the essence and I knew that once I started, I couldn't stop. Plus, my budget was virtually non existent so I needed to be clever and work with what I had.
We'd planned to have friends over for a BBQ on the Bank Holiday weekend so that date became my confirmed deadline. You'll have seen from my Instagram and blogs that the living area and the bar are at opposite ends of the room and lead out through patio doors on to an open courtyard. This has steps to a raised decking area which is where the BBQ lives. Sounds great, but it's a wide open area and is really exposed to the elements. In addition, we live North of Watford where the wind is 20 times colder than any wind that ever blows in the South and as a result, unless we are having a freak heatwave you are likely to get windburn.
The last BBQ we had was for Joe's birthday in November and it was a disaster waiting to happen right from the offset. Number one, we had never BBQ'd at night before when it was dark and were totally and, yes, stupidly unaware that we didn't actually have any outside lights in that area. Secondly, it was pouring with rain and therefore no one wanted to stand outside in the pitch black with Joe and his golf brolly whilst he cooked. And thirdly, unbeknown to me, my friend Sarah had given him a bottle of Extra Strength Tanqueray for his birthday which he took outside and proceeded to drink his way through in solitude. The first we knew about it was when he came in looking like a sodden Rab C Nesbitt holding aloft a tray of burnt sausages.
It took the children about four months to forgive him for embarrassing them in front of their friends so when I planned this BBQ, I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. And that included the party room, so I composed a plan of action and set to work. This is what I did.
Did All The Hard Work Myself
If you have read my previous White Side blog, you will know that I couldn't wait to get the walls painted in a lighter colour. So I used Valspar Blanc De Blanc on two walls, a vaguely off white with grey tones that was perfect. I didn't repaint the skirting, coving or the ceiling as they didn't look as though they needed it which was great news as it meant less work for me. Woodwork isn't my strong point, tbh, and I am far too slapdash with the masking tape to do a good job.
Farrow & Ball were my go to for the wallpaper which I had spotted ages ago and had absolutely fallen in love with. I chose Bamboo in black colour way and it was the perfect paper for around the bar and across the patio doors. I put it up myself (see previous Wallpaper blog post) and was super pleased with the result. It's a classic design that won't date and it gives the area a really retro feel without being too trend orientated. It's also beautiful quality and really thick which makes a massive difference when you are decorating yourself. Farrow & Ball also produce this paper in green and neutral, both of which are also timeless.
Made The Bar A Little Bit Cooler
So I wanted to totally transform the bar and create a space that felt lighter and more glam than before. I used Rustoleum black satin paint at £7.99 for wood and metal which was really easy to use and only needed two coats. It immediately looked way cooler and much more of a stand out feature than it did before. The black iron frames of the bar stools matched brilliantly and set against the Bamboo wallpaper it was perfect. I painted the tiled surface of the bar to match the wood.
Created My Best Gallery Wall Ever
So I'd seen a few Instagram accounts who had filled their walls with pictures and prints from edge to edge (check out Tamara Lee who does this to perfection). I decided this would be perfect for above the sideboard and came up with what I thought was a clever way of doing it. I'm so happy with this idea that I've told my friends the story at least six times and they are bored out of their heads with it, but I'll tell you again. I pulled all my prints and pictures together that I wanted to go on the wall and used my Berber rug as a template. I placed them all on the rug, moving them all around so that they fitted perfectly side to side. I admit, this took some time. Then I used Command Strips to put them all up, starting on the top right hand corner of the wall and working down.
Unfortunately, I learnt the hard way that the weight advice that they give on the packet should actually be read and considered after coming down the next morning to find that Brigitte Bardot had fallen off the wall and made a huge hole in the three IKEA Besta units that make up the sideboard. I quickly moved the APPLAUSE light over to cover the hole so that Joe couldn't see it. As a result of this incident, I put the heavier ones up with brass nails. It all came together brilliantly and I was super happy with it. PS: If you're considering buying Command Strips, a multipack is £5 in Asda which is almost half the price of elsewhere.
The picture ledges above the sofa remained and so I filled these with prints - including J H Lynch Tina, essential for a mid century glam vibe - old record albums, favourite books and plants. I love the contrast with the neon Tiny Dancer print and the vintage cocktail party record cover. Picture ledges are the way forward, so flexible and so practical. I'm obsessed.
Light Up My Life
To the right of the gallery wall on the Bamboo wall, I put up an orange LOUNGE light which I found at online homewares emporium Violet & Thistle. It's solid neon tubing and it gives off a really bright light, plus it's mains operated which I always like as I don't need to buy any batteries. It means that there is less chance of me going to turn it on and finding out that the kids have whipped the batteries for Playstation controllers. The black of the wallpaper hides the wiring completely although actually I quite like the look of the lead hanging down, it makes it look a bit industrial.
My friend Karen had given me a marble and brass vintage lamp stand which was the perfect fit for the neon pink Love Frankie lampshade that I already had. This contrasted brilliantly with the black Bamboo. This fab lampshade has a green tropical print inside which illuminates when turned on. Johanna can do these shades custom as well as ready made and her shop is well worth checking out if you are looking for something cool and unique for your room.
I wanted a small lamp in the corner of the bar to give that low lighting look. I used a pink Danish vintage lamp base that I had picked up on Gumtree and added a wicker lampshade from B&Q to give it an edge, a bargain at £17. B&Q isn't generally somewhere you would consider for lighting I don't think but they actually have a brilliant range and I've picked up a couple from there for far cheaper than I would find elsewhere.
I've collected vintage mirrors for years and I moved five of them across next to the bar area where they fitted perfectly. Individually they are a bit knackered looking but in a group, they look brilliant. And let's face it, we all look a bit knackered after a while. On the downside, they provide an excellent visual aid to seeing how drunk you are getting once the bar is open and for checking that you don't have crisps stuck to your face.
Made Like Charlie Dimmock
I am slightly stunned at my constantly burgeoning plant collection. Seeing as this time last year I didn't even own a real cactus, it's a major green step forward for me. I'm still totally shit at watering them and it's probably just a matter of time before they all head off to the horticultural graveyard but at the moment they are looking amazeballs. I visited my local garden centre, Deans in Stockton On The Forest. They've got a whole massive house plant area with everything ranging from banana plants to cactus to the common ivy and every time I go I want to buy it all. Unfortunately, my bank account won't allow it so I normally come away with yet another ivy which is the only thing that generally meets my budget.
As always, I headed straight to the reduced price corner (once a bargain hunter, always a bargain hunter) and saw a huge palm that was literally calling out my name. Reduced from £175 to £45 due to the fact it was ex display from the coffee shop. I pushed the boat out, brought it home and put it in a belly basket from Aubeterre Blue. It looked bloody amazing. I waited with apprehension for Joe's reaction. It says a lot about my husband that to this day, he has still not noticed the fact that an 8ft palm is now situated behind the sofa.
Reused What I Already Had
So as you know, I don't like to buy any new furniture at all unless it's absolutely essential and even then it's always second hand. So I repurposed furniture from around my house. Aside from the red leather sofa, I added a thrifted bamboo chair which I covered with charity shop scored folk blankets and dragged the old bamboo coffee table that I had picked up for a fiver out of the garage and cleaned it up. It looked perfect with the wallpaper. I moved some rugs and cushions around, and voila. It looked spacious and bright.
Created My Very Own Gin Bar
Pretty happy with this one. I bought some more of the IKEA Mosslanda picture ledges - two long ones and a short one - for a total cost of £20. I put them up behind the bar and one above the door, adjoining. The perfect drinks ledge. Now, obviously bottles are heavy so I had to be careful that I didn't overload them but seeing as gin in our house usually gets drunk quite quickly, most of the bottles were half full. Lined up you could almost have thought you were in a cool London bar. Almost. Yorkshire bars are much cooler anyway.
A Chinese lacquered tray that came from Homesense last year made a perfect space on which to place a charity shop glass bowl filled with limes. The blue apple vintage ice bucket remained and I put a blue Stella Vine print of Amy Winehouse on the shelf to pull it all together.
And then I was finished. Just in time for the BBQ on Sunday. And you will be pleased to know that a) it didn't rain, b) Joe didn't stand outside alone and c) he wasn't channelling Oliver Reed on a night out. Although the gin bar took a beating and Wham and Frankie Goes To Hollywood were slamming it out on the dance floor. But the party room served its new purpose and looked bloody great in the process. My job here is done.
This post is in collaboration with Farrow & Ball.
Click here to check out the Bamboo wallpaper.