ostrich nest

a blog about houses and beautiful things

we’re in!

Twenty months after embarking on one mother of a DIY kitchen project and we’re in. It’s been well worth the hard work and dust. One wall came down, another was bricked up; we rewired, replumbed and dry-lined the walls, put in a new ceiling and floor, laid parquet, added cast iron radiators…

It’s taken me nearly as long to write this post (2015: must do better). So, without further ado, here it is before and after…

knocking the wall down:






dry-lining the walls, fixing new ceiling and floor

father-in-law John hard at work:

the boy laid a beautiful reclaimed parquet floor and installed two old-school radiators

ta-da! although not quite finished here and I could at least have moved the toy bucket. The lights are 1950s hospital lamps that I found on eBay. The boy spray-painted them matt black and I love how they’ve turned out, they’re one of my favourite things. The worktop is made up from pieces of reclaimed science lab top, again from eBay. I love how the timber blends in with the mahogany floor.

I will eventually get round to doing some nice magazine-style shots with the ubiquitous diptyque dotted about here and there (and no toy bucket). But in the meantime, what do you think, folks?
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kitchen floor

So the walls have been plastered, the kitchen cabinets are being delivered in three weeks’ time and the boy has almost finished laying this beautiful reclaimed mahogany parquet:

Kitchen_floor_1 Kitchen_floor_2

We are hurtling towards the finish line. By the end of August, exactly a year on, we might actually have a kitchen! And the camping stove can go back to the shed where it belongs…

baby steps

It’s been just over a year since my last blog post and I am sitting here now with my beautiful baby boy. Work continues on the dusty old heap we call home and we’ve nearly finished decorating baby bear’s new bedroom. We’ve gone for white walls (a departure from my beloved grey) and splashes of bright colour on the woodwork and radiator. I’d been dying to try out Farrow and Ball’s Yellowcake and this was the perfect opportunity. Turns out it’s more acid green than mellow yellow but I love it. I’ll post pics when it’s done but first comes the fun part: filling it with stuff… Here’s what I’ve got my eye on:







big smoke

Last weekend saw me and the mother off on a BOT* jaunt to the big smoke. We went shopping in Liberty’s, had afternoon tea (sadly not with the Queen) and took the Living Etc North London house tour. I’ve come home buzzing with ideas and a shopping list a mile long. Our favourite house was home to designer Paula Gowar. Pale lilacs and greys throughout, some humdinger chandeliers and lots of lovely stuff. Best of all, they’d done a lot of the work themselves, from reupholstering ebay sofas, making wall panelling, painstakingly stripping back all the ornate cornicing (I suffered serious cornice envy). See more of her house here

Paula Gowar

Credit: Paula Gowar http://balancedesign.co.uk

I do love the ones who get stuck in. My least favourite houses, although still amazing, were those whose owners had obviously just gone shopping one day and bought everything in sight. I like interiors best when you’ve slaved over the contents, lovingly built up a collection of crap from car-boot sales, junk shops, flea-bay… I love nothing better than buying a bit of old tat for a tenner and scoffing loudly when I see something identical in some fancy pants antique shop for a few hundred quid. Smug but satisfying.

*BOT – Bumpkins On Tour

living room: update

Oh dear. Whatever happened to choosing paint? Turns out rising damp isn’t that straightforward… now we’re floorless and seeing as we’ve got ourselves into this, we may as well go the whole hog and knock the wall down. We’ve got a structural engineer coming round in two weeks to survey it properly and say yay or nay.


If I squint hard enough, I can pretend that one day it might look like this:

or this…

kitchen relics


I have a bit of an obsession with Retrouvius, a London-based architectural salvage and design firm and I highly recommend the book Reclaiming Style, which showcases some of their design projects – my copy is well pawed. I love that these kitchens don’t look too ‘kitcheny’: the drawer fronts shown in pic 1 are made from fluted oak pillasters, reclaimed from the altar apse of a 1920s church in Marylebone; the others feature teak worktops reclaimed from school science labs. We’re a long way off choosing worktops but I’m starting to get some ideas together for my dream kitchen: parquet, marble, brass taps and maybe a knackered old museum cabinet or two?

January blues

Yesterday we celebrated the boy’s birthday up at Goodison Park, in honour of Poppa Bear, to see Everton play. You’ll be pleased to know the boys in blue won 2-1.

So it got me thinking about blues in the Nest: I’ve been day dreaming about delicious shades of teal and turquoise. I love the mix of blue wools and velvets here:

Daubed on the walls, it looks darkly dramatic – especially with black accents as shown here. I’m not sure these walls aren’t green, mind you, but they look amazing all the same.

source unknown

source unknown

p.s. this chandelier is a bit gorgeous. We’ve had a light binge on ebay recently, more of that in another post.


Oooh it’s been an exciting few weeks. Hen weekend pottery painting and flamenco tapas followed by an amazing 50s stylee rock n roll wedding with dweebs and pigs and to top it all off the Salty Morrises welcomed the beautiful Artemis Ida to the world.

Here’s what I painted at Carly’s pottery painting hen-do. I got told off by the pot lady for not covering it in garish flowers but I ain’t no artist: play to your strengths, I say. The Victorian taxidermy dome was purchased in two stages from the carboot for the princely total of £10.

fifty shades of grey

No, I haven’t read it yet, although I am intrigued after seeing all the dire reviews. Still dithering over colours for the drawing room, as it’s now called. The boy took up the skirting boards (thanks to rising damp – hurrah) and found they all had ‘drawing room’ written on the back. Once the walls have dried out a bit I will probably paint them grey. A bit of drawing room glamour from two gorgeously grey New York abodes:

Pic 1: http://www.ditteisager.dk/?p=408

Pic 2: http://pursuitist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/0135823-3.jpg

living room


Hurrah, we’re back on the DIY. After a mini hiatus that involved a wedding anniversary, a wet week in Devon and the boy starting a new job, we are planning to finish the living room. This is the original Victorian paint, revealed under about three layers of wallpaper. Having lived with the distressed look for a while, we’ve decided to paint over it. What colour to choose?