I’m a big fan of cold winters. The colder it gets outside, the warmer and cosier it feels to be inside.
During this winter I’ve noticed another great benefit of having a small home; the house heats up instantly! Hardly any waiting required. Whilst our last flat had all sorts of modern amenities including floor heating, which is supposed to be an energy efficient and high tech way to heat a house, I honestly can’t say I ever really found it convenient. Whenever I adjusted the temperature on the main switch panel, it took ages to feel results. And although I think it’s a frowned-upon-practice, I enjoy drying the occasional hand washed item on the radiator. And there’s no feeling like reaching for that radiator-heated towel straight out the shower. Long story short: I actually like a good old radiator. I don’t find radiators ugly, I think they’re charming. And with so many designs to choose from nowadays, a radiator does no longer have to be a distracting factor in your interior.
Back to the subject of winter: as much as I love the cold, there’s one inconvenience it causes… the laundry drying conundrum so to speak. We don’t own a dryer and so I usually dry all our washing outside. This winter (and autumn at that) just happened to be one of Holland’s wettest ever. Which meant that we frequently had an annoying housemate in the form of a bulky laundry drying rack. It was everywhere, in the office, in the middle of the living room, strutting its wonky limbs, being an annoying trip hazard. Most annoyingly, it took up valuable sparse floor space. Nonetheless, I’m still in love with our small house and so I keep trying to find new ways to make the most of the space we have. A few days ago, I threw the drying rack out and decided to start a new project that would allow us to keep doing laundry regularly without the drying process being a pain in the ass.
I proudly present to you my latest project: the hoistable drying rack!
I had been looking into diy projects of pulley laundry drying systems and found that most of them had a flaw for the space I wanted to make it in as they only used one pulley hoist point per side and thus wouldn’t be able to hoist as close to the ceiling as I wanted it to. Plus, I would have to even out the weight of the laundry or it would wobble a lot from side to side. It seemed too risky to me.
The drying rack, as seen from downstairs
So I decided I wanted to make a drying rack with four pulleys or rings on each corner. To make it lighter to hoist up, I decided to go with a double pulley system, which means the string is attached to the ceiling, then goes down to the first pulley which is attached to the rack and fro that pulley it goes up again, to the second pulley, attached to the ceiling as well. Doing it this way, the total weight is halved, as each pulley counts for a 25% force reduction. I found a lovely Dutch online shop called www.staalkabelstunter.nl where I managed to find all the hardware I needed. Besides pulleys, ring bolts, nuts and perhaps some washers I needed keychain rings, 4 lengths of wood, a number of thin wooden rods, and string.
To make the frame I decided to use simple 4cm by 4cms and although I initially planned to use string to make the drying surface, James convinced me to use wooden rods. He said it would look nicer and you wouldn’t get the sagginess. I have to say, it does look nice, but I’m still sure some string would’ve done just fine. By the way, using string would make this project easier, since you wouldn’t have to be so accurate in your hole drilling.
I decided to make it to fit the space above our stairs, as is the perfect place to dry laundry, for three reasons:
-it’s a pretty high ceiling so, when hoisted up, laundry won’t bother us at all
-it’s an unused space
-all the hot air in the house rises up the stairs
The string and pulley, both attached to the ceiling
I used metal angle brackets in all four corners to give the construction a bit of extra strength.
I painted the rack white so when tucked away, it would blend nicely into the colour of the ceiling.
I drilled a hole through the angle bracket and wood, put a ringed bolt and nut through and used a keychain ring to attach the pulley
An unexpected extra: when I lower the rack, I can use it to fold the laundry! Another space saving solution as I don’t have to use my desk to do it.
a close-up of the relatively simple construction, four lengths of wood and a number of long rods. The angle brackets were just me being a bit sloppy with my lengths, haha. I had to add them to make sure my lengths would actually join.
The other day, I realised I hadn’t yet shared the final result of what our tiny bedroom looks like now. It’s been such a hectic time with the CELTA course, studying, keeping up with things, STILL diy-ing in the house and obviously the whole wedding planning shenanigans.
So here we go, a visual impression of our bedroom. Keywords: white, grey, scandi, airy, light, geometrical shapes and of course lots of handmade wooden accessories!
this is what the bed originally looked like. Dark wood wasn’t an option for this tiny room. I primed it, painted it off white and I used wall paper on the headboard.
bedroom make over before. A lohot of wall filling and sanding was required.
Bedroom wall colour testing. Eventually we went for a very light, matte, powdery grey.
This wall was a complete pain in the ass. I kept filling, sanding, plastering, again and again. In the end I chose to wallpaper the wall and it was the best decision I made for this room by far. Honestly, the wall was still crumbling down as I was smothering it with glue, but you can’t even tell now.
As you will all know by now (since I won’t shut up about it!), we recently moved house. From a very spacious modern 4 bedroom flat we moved to a cute but oh so small one bedroom terrace house. A house with a front garden, a back garden and lots of character. Did I mention the house dates from 1911? Bizarre to even really imagine what the world must have looked like at the time for those workmen who constructed this house all those years ago. The wars this house has lived through, all those to whom it provided a roof, the change in cars it has watched passing by through the years…I’m drifting off subject though.
I want to tell you about something very specific today; how I managed to completely customise a second hand IKEA sofa without spending a fortune;
by dyeing its cover!
When news of our impending move to a one bedroom house hit us, both James and me were completely on the same page about one thing: space should NOT be a reason NOT to have guests over. Lots of guests. Big guests. Small guests. Foreign guests, national guests, hell, even guests from outer space should they wish to have a sleep-over. Besides making guest sleeping arrangements a priority, we were also picky about the type of bed we would get. We didn’t want to resort to shopping channel inflatable beds or flimsy mattresses, we wanted a proper decent double guest bed with a mattress supported by bed slats. Without the space for a guest bed it would have to be a good quality sofa bed. And so the hunt for the perfect sofa bed commenced…
My research lead me to a specific IKEA sofa bed that had excellent reviews; considered to be the holy grail amongst sofa beds by some: I present to you… the IKEA KIVIK sofa bed.
The arm rests double as extra storage for duvets and pillows, the cover comes off to wash. (being able to wash the sofa cover is such a plus, since we’re often covered in diy dust and we’ve got bunny Parker hopping on and off the sofa)
The KIVIK sofa bed is supposed to be as comfortable to sleep in as a normal bed without diminishing its sofa-esque functions and vice versa. You don’t want the sofa cushions to slide away from underneath your bum every time you sit down just because of the sofa bed’s design. Sliding bum cushions during Netflix marathons… no thank you. So the KIVIK it was then. Only one problem: IKEA stopped producing KIVIK sofa beds in 2015.
Excuse me, say what?
Yes. Our “space-saving- allowing-our-multinational-family-and-friends-to-comfortably-stay-over-in-our-tiny-house-solution” was DISCONTINUED.
Thank god for second hand shopping! I scoured Marktplaats (that’s the dutch version of gumtree / Craigs list) and only a few days in I happened upon a snow white version not too far a drive from our house. After some messaging forth and back we agreed on a price and upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised by its mint condition. The lady who owned it had only used it as an extra sofa in her guest room, plus she was super clean and didn’t own any pets. She threw in a free extra hocker, which turned our supersofa into an even super-er corner sofa. Success!!!
supersofa all safely wrapped up amidst the chaos
Supersofa as we lovingly called her, was our first big purchase for the new house. Because of bad timing and the fact she was incredibly heavy to lift, supersofa ended up spending the next four weeks in the middle of our new living room. Wrapped in layers of plastic and placed on little castors she patiently stood there and witnessed all our weeks of demolishing, cleaning, wall plastering sessions, our painting sessions, and our laying the floors.
Eventually she was ready to be unwrapped. As we gently moved her over our newly layed floor and placed her against our freshly painted wall James and me both squintingly looked at each other and said; god, that sofa’s white! ‘Do you remember it being so white?’ ‘I don’t remember it being so white’. ‘That’s colour will not stay white in our household! Not even for a day!’.
And so we faced challenge # 10632 of the ‘new-small-house-project’:
how to change our sofa from eye blinding white to a more appropriate grey/ blue. We thought grey was a safe choice, not too dark because of the small house and not too light because of the stain proneness.
Since the KIVIK sofa bed was discontinued, I couldn’t count on IKEA to buy a new sofa cover. I looked into online companies who offer slipcovers for IKEA sofa’s in any fabric but I was so disappointed with their prices. I think it’s ridiculous how much some companies charge for a standard slipcover, I mean, it’s not even a custom design, they have the standard sizes on file so how much time could it really cost to make a cover if you have the proper machinery? We decided we needed to hold off buying a new cover until we had saved enough and so I started looking into a temporary solution:
dyeing the sofa cover.
I started researching methods of dyeing a big fabric item such as a sofa cover and came across this incredibly useful blogpost, written by Lizzie. I heard about washing machine dyes before, I think I’d even given that method a go sometime when I was in high school. I remembered it to be a bit of a pain in the ass to get any type of material dyed evenly, even when trying to dye small items of clothing. That’s why I was so thrilled to read about Lizzie’s excellent results with bath tub reactive dye. I was so excited to try this myself. I looked up the dye company Lizzie recommended and E-mailed them for some advice. I weighed all my fabric, converted the kilograms into lbs and ordered the dye. I have to say I was completely blown away by their delivery time. I received the parcel TWO DAYS after I ordered it. All the way from America to the Netherlands in two days and that was the normal delivery method. So far so good.
But the next challenge awaited.
Challenge # 10033 We don’t have a bath. You need a bath in order to dye a big piece of fabric in one go.
I don’t know anyone in my town well enough yet to ask them if I could borrow their bath for a night. And their bath wouldn’t be the only thing I’d need: the sofa cover would have to dry somewhere too.
I did however still have a ridiculously spacious and empty flat to my use for another few days… A big flat with a big shower room. Braincells gurgling and humming…. here’s what I came up with.
Yep! I bought a kiddie pool! And no, I wasn’t gonna inflate the thing by mouth so I bought one of those electrical pumps with it too. I have to admit I somewhat misjudged the size of the pool and so in the end I had to fold the ‘bath’ in half as it didn’t actually fit in my bathroom:-) Achherm..
The dye preparation. What I needed according to the Dharma trading website:
Any of the ingredients that were listed as optional, I did not get. I didn’t know where to get them locally and getting them sent from abroad wasn’t really an option, given the weight of my fabric. One of the most difficult things of it all I found to be the maths part. I’m not very good with numbers as it is, having never heard about American quantities before sure added to my incompetence. I never knew there were different types of pounds and a gallon to me sounded like a character straight out of a Tolkien book. I know that sounds ridiculous but that’s how bad I am with numbers. However… I managed to get there in the end.
I needed a lo-hot more salt than I expected (did the salt calculations very last minute) and therefore had to run to the supermarket to get some just before closing time. The only suitable non-iodised salt I could find in my supermarket was the salt that you’re supposed to put in dish washers. I knew you couldn’t just use normal table salt , it has something to do with the water PH value. Dishwasher salt would surely do for that exact reason I figured, the only problem was: the dishwasher salt came in very coarse crystals. I tried several ways but didn’t manage to dissolve the salt, I tried to help the dissolving process by adding boiling water, grinding it with metal spoons, both methods failed. In the end I just used the salt crystals in their full coarse glory. Besides hanging out on the bottom of the pool and tickling my feet the rocks didn’t interfere with the outcome of the dyeing process.
Challenge # 15242637289: Soda ash, anyone?
I read about soda ash in Lizzie’s tutorial and the manual that came with the dye mentioned it too. I couldn’t find a Dutch supplier of the stuff and since I didn’t want to pay a fortune for having it delivered from abroad I needed to find a solution. This youtube video was the answer to my soda ash prayers. Basically, there is a way to make your own soda ash in the oven. All you need is baking soda, which is affordable and widely available. It saved me a ton of money and effort; baking soda is so cheap and turning the oven on is hardly rocket science.
One tip: when you try to turn baking soda into soda ash in the oven and you’re not sure how long to put it in for: take the baking tray out and hold it up to the light. When your baking soda starts to lose its shimmer and has turned completely matte (stir it once in a while) then you’re good to go.
The instructions that came with the Dharma reactive dye were pretty straight forward. To dissolve the dye it said: Paste up the Fiber Reactive Dye with some warm water, smashing it with a spoon, like making gravy. Next, add about a cup of warm water (more if you are dissolving lots of dye, like with black) to the dye paste to make a well dissolved slurry. Finally, add to the tub or bucket and stir to mix evenly.
So that’s what I did. Also: don’t forget to wash your fabric before you start the dyeing process. Make sure it’s still wet. Apparently even greasy fingerprints can make for blotchy stains after the dyeing process.
Time to add the paste to my folded in half inflatable pool with carefully measured water…
With the help of two broomsticks and my muscles I sent the next hour stirring, swishing, swooshing and moving around. I read about the fabric having to be in motion at all times to get an even result.
After a while the fabric (and my feet and hands) started to change colour…
Then I used the shower to rinse everything.
Yes, I used a shopping trolley to help me get the job done. The fabric was so heavy and there was so much of it, I thought it would be a good solution. I know you’re not supposed to take supermarket trolleys home but I did give the trolley a free wash in return which cleared my conscience.After a night’s dry in a bathroom with the radiators on full blast, this was the result…
A nice hue of grey/blueish but still a bit too wet
In the meantime, our stripped down little sofa was waiting patiently at our new house. And now for THE BIG REVEAL… drumroll please… some close-ups:
some blotchiness around where I folded it to dry but nothing too bad. I have to say I quite like the 90’s faded jeans look.
And an overview.
-if you don’t have the money but you do have the time, elbow grease and perseverance, I can definitely RECOMMEND dying your sofa cover. Especially if, like us, you have a bright white version, since that will be the easiest version to dye and get the desired results.
-you need space to do this. A lot of space. Not only because you’ll want to dye all of your fabric at once to avoid colour differences, you will also need space to dry the cover afterwards. In hindsight I think I underestimated the size of this project, I was lucky to have such a massive space to use.
-Buy enough salt. So you don’t have to run to the supermarket to get dishwasher salts. They could have really messed up the dyeing process.
-Do your maths. Gallons, pounds, you don’t want to get them wrong.
-If you own an oven, make your own soda ash. It saves so much money and it’s too easy not to do.
-You don’t necessarily need Urea or Calsolene oil. My sofa is proof.
-Ask a friend for help, it’s a pretty tiring process to keep the fabric in the water stirred at all times, it was a relief being able to take turns at stirring. And the whole process being more fun when you’re together is an added bonus.
I am thrilled with the results. I’d love to hear about other people’s sofa dyeing attempts, please leave your comments below!
Both my partner and me are both fans of ‘the imperfect’; we like reclaimed wood, scuffed edges, furniture pieces with a bit a history and character. The strange thing about doing up a wonky, dirty house I guess is the fact that once you finally get to the stage where everything is clean, straight and white, you want to KEEP it clean, straight and white! It’s safe to say this whole process has really influenced our interior design preferences.
Therefore, with the amazing geo patterned Eyffinger wall paper we chose for the bedroom (the grey version) an angular, calculated trend in the room was set.
copyright karwei.nl / eijffinger wallpaper
About a year ago we made a road trip to Scandinavia and, not that I wasn’t aware of it before, but I REALLY REALLY like Scandinavian design. One brand I have liked for a while now is Bloomingville. Their products have mid range prices, making them only affordable (to me at least) when they’re on sale. I have been drooling over their wall features for a while now, they have several geometrically shaped wooden displays in their collection.
I wasn’t willing to pay the asking price for them though and decided to try and make one myself. A little bit cheeky, I decided to order a Bloomingville hexagonal shelf from an online shop with a generous return period intending to have a better look upclose before returning it. Copy cat? Ehm, let’s call it ‘making a replica’.
When the shelf arrived, it complimented the wallpaper very nicely, as I expected. But I was surprised by the quality of the wood. It weighed nearly nothing and it was very soft, making it very prone to any kind of damage. It was so not worth the asking price of 150 Euro!
What I also didn’t like was the extra bit of wood that you had to use to attach it to the wall. Such a shame to mess up the simplicity of the honeycomb shape like that. I was sure I could do it better!
The process really was dead simple.
I measured the Bloomingville shelf, as I liked its size, and cut six pieces of 18mm plywood to the same length. Bear in mind, these days, lots of DIY shops offer (often free) woodcutting service. So if you’re not too tool-savvy yourself, try and go to your local DIY shop to ask for help.
I cut the pieces off at a 30 degree angle (180 divided by 6, because 6 shelves, is 30)
I used PVA glue to glue the pieces together. This PVA had a drying time of about 20 minutes, which gave me plenty of time to check that the diagonals of the hexagon all measured the same length, because that’s the way to check if a hexagon is even. Clamping a hexagon is nearly impossible, so I used masking tape to tightly bond the edges together, like this: I then gave it some extra pull by taping it all the way across, which, to be honest, was probably completely useless.
After the project was dry, I started fiddling around with the metal hanging slots I had lying around, I usually use them for the wooden lights I sell on Etsy. There are two different types of hanging slots. Obviously it’s nice to attach a keyhole plate completely flush or countersunk into the wood, but I always find it a lot of hassle to drill or router into the wood. PLUS… the plywood is too thin to drill a hole the size of a screw-head into, it would probably tear the wood. So I chose to use the lazy keyhole slot plate (see image below) and the fact that there’s about a millimetre of space between the wall and the shelf is hardly noticeable.
Obviously because of the shape of the wall shelf, placing the slots vertically isn’t an option. I therefore chose to attach them on opposite sides of the hexagon and attaching them making a clockwise rotary movement. Make sure to use the proper drill bits in the wall, good wall plugs and check that the heads of your screws are compatible with the keyhole slots.
I was indecisive about how and what height I wanted to add shelves, so I added the slot plates and took a break to admire the shelfless version…
The last step of the process: adding a shelf/ shelves. I decided to go for one shelf which I placed at around two thirds of the height. I didn’t do any accurate measuring, I guessed the length, cut off another bit of plywood and cut the ends at a 30 degree angle again.
And here’s the result…
I’m very happy about the result! It’s a nice little feature on our bedroom wall; not too invasive, stylish, scandi-style and customisable. Just how I like it.
I thought I’d start my series of new house stories off by showing some photos of how the property looked the day we got the keys. Brace yourself.
Here’s the kitchen:
First I cleaned everything thoroughly and then I started on that back wall. It was in an awful state, stuff came crumbling down all the time, I think I plastered about three thin layers before I managed to see a difference in the surface.
Tackling the first wall and testing some colours
Although the house is nowhere near finished, I thought it’d be cool to do some current before and after comparisons. Here we go.
Downstairs living room
The stairs The landing, side of the stairs
The landing, which we, after much deliberation, decided to turn into an office with room for storage on the right hand wall. We considered using this cosy nook as our bedroom, because of its lofty feel. But James wisely convinced me of the fact that doing so would probably lead to the other room being in a perpetual state of mess and dumping ground, since it’s the only room with a door. In hindsight I am so happy we opted for this! The slim storage, woolly rug and beanbag, whilst trying to keep everything airy and transparent which is why we went for a double ply wall mounted desk with a single white hairpin leg.