Category Archives: Our Flat

Posts about where we live – our current home and the two before that. Proper house tour coming soon!

Starched lace window treatment follow up

Hello! I’ve been blown over by the response to my post about our lace window treatment made with cornflour. Thanks everyone!

 

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I thought I’d pop in with the answers to come of the common questions from the comments section.

Q: Just how opaque is it? I am curious how much privacy this actually allows. 

A: I’d say it totally depends on your fabric. If you’d be happy with getting changed behind the fabric as curtains then the fabric will be opaque enough for this window treatment too. I actually have lace curtains in this same fabric, and in both instances I feel happy getting changed behind them if it’s light outside, but I wouldn’t hang out without my clothes on with the light on if it was dark outside. So if privacy is really important, just pick a lace that is more opaque than sheer.

It also depends how directly other people can look into your window! Our bedroom window isn’t super overlooked, although there’s lots of windows out the back, most of the angles are indirect and/or the other window is frosted.

Here’s some pictures (I had to stick my had out of the window to demonstrate as we couldn’t take a pic from outside!) to give you a better idea (remember, a thicker lace would give you more coverage).

 

This spooky picture is my hand pressed right up against the glass…

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And this one is my slightly stubby arm reach out as far as it can, you can just make out my fingers.

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Ok! Other questions…

Q: I’m interested in knowing a little more about the mixture. So it’s however much corn starch I want and match it with equal water and then boil the mix

A: You make a paste with equal parts cornstarch/cornflour and hot water and then add extra boiling water. In my case it was two tablespoons cornflour and two tablespoons water to start with and then I mixed in a cup and a half of boiled water from the kettle.

Q:  What about mod podge? Would that work as well?

A: We don’t really have modge podge here so I don’t know! It would be a bit more permanent I imagine. If it’s anything like PVA glue (I think it is) then I wouldn’t want to use it on wooden painted windows like we have, but it could work great on more modern windows. It would also be much more expensive. (The “glue” made out of cornstarch is essentially free!)

Q: If I used colored lace would the cornstarch show?

A: No, it dries totally clear (but goes on gloopy and white-ish, don’t panic!) It will probably go clear overnight.

Q: Can I see a picture from the outside.

A: Sadly this isn’t possibly in our flat, but Michal did this window treatment in her gorgeous over the door window and put up some pictures on her blog. It looks amazing!

Picture from sweetwoodfuffs.blogspot.com

It’s well worth popping by her blog to see how pretty this looks from the inside, too.

If anyone else has any other questions, please feel free to ask away! (Either here or in the original blog post.)

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Lace window treatment with cornflour

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Oh my goodness, this was the quickest, easiest, cheapest project ever but I’m 100 per cent in love with the results. You know those little upgrades that just make your life both better and prettier? This is one of those for our bedroom.

So, privacy. This bedroom has delectable shutters, which I adore, but it makes window treatments kind of hard. You either have to hang curtains in front of the whole alcove (we can tell by the holes in the trim that this is what our predecessors did) or not at all. For the last year and a bit, we’ve opted for the latter option, except for a tension rod light blocking curtain above the shutters.

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The shutters are great at blocking all natural light, which is great for lie-ins. But, this room gets crazy beautiful morning light and it always seemed a shame to be getting dressed in artificial light just for privacy.

Anyway, the other day I was browsing the Manhatten Nest blog (looking for something else entirely), when I stumbled on this post of yore about using liquid starch and fabric for privacy in glass windows. Boom!

Obviously, my mind went straight to lace (because my mind always goes straight to lace) and I thought ooh, I gots to try that out one day!

Serendipitously, we headed to Ikea earlier in the week to scope out tea-light lanterns for the wedding. Even more serendipitously, Ikea has JUST started selling lovely scallop edge lace fabric for a mere £1.50 per metre. Boom boom.

Anyway, I got home from work one day and mixed up the starch jelly. I ended up mixing 2 tablespoons cornflour (that’s cornstarch across the pond) with about an equal amount of cold water, then mixing that in about a cup and a half of boiling water from the kettle. I mixed it in a lunch box and the resulting jelly is both spooky and somewhat non-newtonian.

(Random interlude – my first lady boss once told me that some men – ie. our coworker at the time – are like custard powder mix – the more you stir them the more they resist, so keep a light touch. It’s been remarkably useful advice and obviously applies to lots of women too!)

Unlike Daniel, I didn’t soak my fabric in the mix. It just felt like a messy and icky idea so instead I painted a thick layer of gloop on to the window pane.

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Then I cut out a rectangle of lace using a template I’d made earlier. I didn’t iron it first but the one piece I had where there was a crease was the hardest to apply so do iron your fabric if it’s creased at all.

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Then I applied another thick layer on top, being sure to get it right into all the corners. I tried working top to bottom, centre to corners and a few different ways, but there wasn’t a noticeable difference in ease or result. I did notice that there were sometimes brush marks if I did it too regimented so I ended up going for random patterns of brush strokes.

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The best thing about using lace (with holes in) is that there are automatically not air pockets so you don’t have to both squeegeeing them out, which is good because I’m really bad at that sort of thing. The other good thing about lace is it’s very forgiving. On one pane, I ended up with a gap in one place, I just cut a small strip and starch-glued it over the top. I can’t even tell where it was now!

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Et voilà! Done. This took less than an hour from start to finish.

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Except I’m going to go back and add a row of scallops in the panes just above it. But I figured if I waited to post about it until I’d done that then I’d probably never post about it.

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The best thing about this is that to remove it, you just wash it off with warm water, so it’s perfect for renters. My other favourite thing, that doesn’t really show up in pictures, is that it keep the texture of the lace, so it doesn’t look like fake lace contact paper.

I noticed Dan got a lot of comments wondering if this could be done in a hot, humid room like a shower. To that, I’d say it wouldn’t work somewhere that gets directly wet. As for humidity, it probably depends just how humid, but this is so cheap (£1.50 of fabric, probably less than a penny worth of cornflour) and easy to install and uninstall that you should just give it a go and let the internet know how it works out!

I would say it’s probably not great for a window that would get dirty a lot (like above a sink) because you probably can’t wipe it down. If this window gets dingy, I’d probably remove all the sheets and run them through the machine in a lingerie bag. It’s that easy to apply.

Hopefully I’ll get the scallops up soon and will post back about those!

PS. To see the stunning view this is blocking, click here.

UPDATE! I added a few more details and answers to common questions on a new blog post. Read all about it here

PPS. Click here to see an update for how I removed it after six or so months.

The bedroom

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When you walk into our flat, the doorway to our bedroom is the view that greets you on the right. It’s also what you see from the sofa if you turn your head to the right down the hall.

Our bedroom is teeny. Our bed has to be pushed up against the wall. There’s a tiny cupboard (seems to me like an average American hall linen cupboard) and no room for a wardrobe. But, it’s filled with light and has a huge lovely window.

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That green curtain at the top is green ikea fabric plus a closet rod.
Mr V had to risk his life to put it up (it’s a 11 foot high and he got
it up by climbing the window frame), but it’s worth it to not get
woken up by the light as soon as it’s up.

I’ve decided it’s time to love it exactly as it is. We’re nearly-newlyweds, living in a teeny flat is par for the course! My future-mother-in-law was telling me that their newlywed flat had huge gaps between the floorboards that let in freezing cold air and they’d get ice on the inside of the windows. It’s okay! We’re still just starting out our lives together.

The whole flat looks nicer with the bedroom door open (because then light is coming in from both directions), so our bedroom is a lot more “public” than it would be in some other flats. This makes me pleased that we’ve been able to sort out the hot mess that the bedroom used to be.

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Before > After (I’d hope that was obvious!)

Ah, that’s better! I’ve written before about adding the rast dresser, but the garnityr hanging clothes cover has really helped hide even more clothing clutter from view.

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But the real reason I wanted it was that our clothes were getting crazy dusty. I don’t know if it’s the high ceilings or the fact we’re living in the city centre (beside a pretty busy road) but this flat has more dust than anywhere I’ve ever lived. You can dust, turn your back and it’s covered in thick dust again.

bedroom 3Drats, everything moved slightly in a recent shuffle and I forgot to recentre this poster!

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That bluey thing you can see down the side is an Ikea hanging storage thing that I can’t find on their website,  where I keep my tights, belts and slips. Mr V’s work shirts don’t get dust protection because they get worn and washed weekly, which is just enough to keep them clean out in the open!nook

 

Oh weird nook, you are weird. I would love to make a feature of you but I need you for storing underwear, art we don’t have room for anywhere else, Mr V’s grandma’s handbag, a knitted rat muskateer and the homemade chewbacca I sewed for Mr V. Those hooks I added under the overhang are handy for worn-but-not-dirty clothes and the lint roller. I painted that mini chest of drawers in those two colours as swatches for something else, but ended up liking the way it looked just like that!

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Favourite map and curtain bought for €1 a few years ago are both from French brocantes (long before we moved to this flat). Globe lamp shade from a local toy shop! Badly made bed courtesy of the fact it’s up against a wall and our duvet has lost all its poofiness.

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See? No poof. Sad duvet. This picture also shows our incredibly handy tall and narrow tables (one is tucked under the other). I bought both of these for £4 when we were first moving in together and they’ve been endlessly useful as we live in these tiny flats. I may give them a lick of paint one day (the tops are all kinds of cruddy) but they do an okay job of hiding their flaws (and I like that they’re already ruined so it doesn’t matter if I spill water or coffee on them). bedside tbaleIkea lamp, bunny night light (the best for late night toilet trips), five year diary, pens, Anthopologie catch-all bowl. This picture illustrates how tight a fit our bed is in this room! Also, check out that lovely molding. I still need to show you the original (1745!) molding in the front room, it is ridonkulous (about three times the size of this!).

And that brings us to the end of this little room tour. I hope you liked it. The room is too small and has been too cold all winter, but I do love it. The light is incredible and those silly-high ceilings keeps it from feeling pokey or claustrophobic. Plus, we’re only young. There’s plenty of time for bigger bedrooms!

For now we love where we live enough to deal with the compromises. (Enormous living room means all the other rooms are tiny. Location makes us so, so happy. The rent is really, really affordable.) I’ve been idly looking for our next place (one where we could get a dog) and none of them have anywhere near as good a balance of size, location and cost that our flat has, despite the many downsides of this place.

I guess it’s like anything else, it doesn’t have to perfect to be perfect for you in the here and now.

Instant French bistro

Hello blog friends! Here’s a quick and silly post for a Monday morning. I hope you had a lovely weekend.

My mum and step dad came over for Sunday lunch yesterday (Mr V roasted a chicken, yum). I wanted to lay the table with a table cloth, but we didn’t have one that fit our table, as in our old flat we had a smaller, square one.

But! I did have three metres of Ikea’s Berta Ruta fabric in my stash. So… I draped it over the table, cut it off (neatly along the line of checks….

et voilà! Instant French bistro dining for four. All it needed was a jug of red flowers to complete the scene.

I liked it so much that I intend to sew it up properly for future use. (I think I’ll round the corners and edge it with bias binding, but more of that when it’s done).

Rast saves the day

We’ve lived in our flat for over six months now, but I still haven’t properly shown you our bedroom! Sure, it’s popped up here and there, but never really properly. That’s partially because it looks like a slobby teenager’s room most of the time.

Man, I wish I’d staged that photo to look extra messy, but no. That’s an honest to goodness before picture.

Anyway, space in this room is pretty tight thanks to our extra long king size bed. There’s no closet and no room for a wardrobe. so we keep our clothes in the small built-in cupboard and on the clothes rail.

When that wasn’t enough, we moved in those metal Ikea shelves that we already owned, but it never really worked or looked good. Those shelves are great for some things (we used them in our last kitchen) but they really didn’t work here – they’re just not meant for storing clothes.

I wanted concealed clothing storage like a chest of drawers, but, as I said, the space is really tight. I was pondering this late one night (thanks, insomnia) when I remembered Ikea’s Rast chest of drawers. It’s super shallow, which we need for this space, and the fact that its only £20 and real wood sealed the deal. (But first I emailed the only person I ‘know’ who as this bit of furniture to ask if they’d work for storing clothes – thanks Ainhoa!)

Luckily my friend was going to Ikea just a few days after making this decision, so she picked me up a set of drawers and I assembled them yesterday.

Anyway, enough talking, let’s get to some pictures.

 

So… I like it but I don’t love it. That’s ok, I knew this would be the case – it’s a solution to a problem and it’s much better than it was. I feel like the room now looks like a college apartment bedroom, which is a step up from a slobby teenager’s! Even so, I’m wondering whether a lick of paint would help.

I figure I could either paint it white or a pale grey in the hopes of helping it visually disappear as much as possible. I could paint it duck egg blur, or Mizzle like the living room cabinet, because it’s a nice colour, it could work in here, and it would help tie the two rooms together a little. Or, I could paint it a bold emerald colour to go with a few other green things in the room. For emerald, I really like arsenic by Farrow and Ball (I also considered Green Parrot No 2 by Dulux, but, uh, you’ll see why I ditched that idea). I used Pixlr, picmonkey and a colour picker to knock up some extremely rough mock ups.

What do you think? Mizzle came up looking grey and nothing like it looks in real life. It’s such an odd colour… It’s more similar to the pale duck egg in the bottom row, but with a hint of green. I love it in the living room, so I might just give it a go… Arsenic looks great but I don’t know if it would draw too much attention to a pretty dull bit of furniture. White is the safe bet – but could I get it to match the white on the walls enough? So maybe grey? Or just leave it as it is?

Help! What do you think?

Hip hip hooray!

House of Vita is officially back online!

Living_room

In celebration I thought I’d show you a janked up panorama photo of our living room, taken with the iphone 4s and the autostitch app (love that thing). Everything is skewed and weird, but I hope you get a sense of the amazing scale and light of this room. The white shelves in the top right are temporary – that’s where my secretary desk is headed. I didn’t tidy for this photo, so excuse the clothes hanger on the table and all the other junk. We still have a lot to do but this space is already feeling like home.

Things we love about this room:

Fantastic windows! 11 foot high ceilings! Massive kivik sofa. Red ikea locker cabinet. Hand me down table and chairs. The shutters. Our one lace curtain. Old anglepoise lamp. Art on the walls. Charity shop granny square blanket. How our bookcase happens to fit perfectly in the window nook.

Things we want to change about this room:

More art on the walls. Hang the clock somewhere . More pillows on the sofas. Have more than one lace curtain up! Put my secretary desk in that nook. Finish up my little filing cabinet properly. Put away the boxes behind the sofa. Add one piece of storage for kitchen overflow items.

Although we now have the real internet, my real camera is still at my friends house. Never fear, the iphone is pretty good when the light is pretty so I’ll get some more detail shots of some nice things in this room (and things you can’t see from this angle) and blog about them this week.

 

 

These are a few of my favourite things

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Top shelf: Mr V’s Buddhas; the carriage clock his parents gave us when we got engaged (did you know this was a tradition? I didn’t); a teeny vintage suitcase my mum bought me in a French brocante; a little wooden box we bought on our first camping trip. Bottom shelf: my engagement sewing box (I wonder how many people have one of them? It still has the note and ring box in it); a serving bowl I bought in a charity shop.

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A sunny spot in the new flat; an old angelpoise lamp; my grandmother’s kitchen table; some old school chairs mum bought in Holland in the sixties; lilies and daffodils; some stunning china mr v gave me recently (more on this soon!); my framed canvas tote; our oversized date and time clock; a cork board full of pictures. 

Everything is still in flux (uh, the clock isnt staying on the radiator! I’m not too fond of the stack of boxes bottom right) but these are some things making me happy right here and now.

Happy weekend blog friends!