Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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3 Tips for living with wooden floors

As you can probably tell from my past few DIY blog posts, flooring at been at the forefront of my mind. Firstly, I picked out the perfect white-washed colour for my bedroom floor, and last week I shared a step-by-step guide to installing laminate flooring. The next step is finding some hard-wearing flooring for the kitchen of my 50s house, tiles for the bathroom and carpets for the bedrooms – so there’ll be more blog posts to follow, I’m sure! 

The question I’m answering today is: how do you maintain and protect your new flooring from general mishaps/wear and tear? Whilst hardwood flooring is a fantastic upgrade and can add value to your home it does require regular maintenance, so I’ve made a handy list to make sure all scenarios are covered!1. On a day to day basis:

It’s inevitable that your floor will take some stick, after all, that’s what it’s there for, but it IS possible to protect it from avoidable scratches and scuffs. For example, if you have installed wooden flooring in your kitchen/dining area then why not consider using felt protectors under the legs of tables and chairs? This simple but effective method can prevent minor scratches from occurring, or a rug beneath the table can also work in the same way. It also pays to remove your shoes, especially spiky-heeled ones, before walking over the floor. This can stop any scratches from occurring and prevents dirt from being dragged onto the surface.

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Household DIY: How to fix cracked concrete on a budget

When it comes to the aesthetic appearance of your home often the smallest chip or crack can look unsightly and stand out a mile if the rest of your home is in a good state of repair. The trouble is that repairing concrete can be a difficult and problematic process. But it is possible to DIY it yourself.Of course, the restoration of historic buildings, commercial buildings or any major work on your home should be left to expert contractors of concrete repairs to get the job done – and avoid causing any irreparable damage. But, that being said, if you find a small amount of cracked concrete in your back garden patio or in an exterior wall – and you’re comfortable with DIY – then it IS possible to fix cracked concrete yourself. To top it all off, it can be done on a budget!

What you will need:

  • Cleaning equipment
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Injection ports
  • Crack sealer
  • Putty knife
  • LCR cartridge
  • Caulk gun

It’s easier than you might think to do this repair yourself and, with a little time spent planning, the results you can achieve are every bit as good as if had paid a professional – but at a fraction of the cost. Continue reading “Household DIY: How to fix cracked concrete on a budget” »


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2 essentials for a workspace that sparks creativity

I’m just about to start planning my office (did you catch my blog post on the ergonomics of working from home?) so I’ve been doing my research into what makes a good workspace. Earlier this week I shared some photos of the offices of my favourite bloggers and now I’m taking inspiration from creative professionals in order to identify what I need (and don’t need!) to make my home studio a productive space to work.

A 2014 report commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers found that our physical surroundings can have a huge impact on how much work we get done. And this was the same in all four countries assessed (Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway if you were curious). Consequently, it is fair to say that our working environment can have a dramatic effect on our mood. In order to ensure that your own office area sparks your creativity, here are the two things you need for a beautiful workspace.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s home office

1. Natural light and plants

Whether you’re looking to create the grandeur of a Victorian study or to relax in a sleek, modern home office, studies suggest that a workspace should always have natural light and plants. Plants increase the level of oxygen in a workspace whilst natural light is instrumental in allowing people to think with a clear head. An example of a workspace that makes excellent use of natural light comes from the creator of cult show Mad Men (above).

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Why I didn’t buy my dream home

You know when you have an idea of your perfect home in your mind – go on, picture yours now… You’d hope to one day be able to buy that house and move in with a perfect blush pink sofa and two fluffy cats, right? Or maybe that’s just me. But anyway, you know what style you like, the type of building you’d choose and the location you’d love. So why, when I was searching for a property to buy, didn’t I buy my dream house?

The dream cottage from House and Garden

It’s not as simple as ‘I couldn’t afford dolls-house-esque Georgian mansion I wanted”. I found plenty of beautiful homes within my budget (though I wanted to get a good deal, naturally – I’m a thrifty gal after all) but none of them quite came up to scratch. I wasn’t being picky – they we’re all homes that only two years ago I could never have dreamed of owning – but for a whole year, every house I viewed or came close to buying ended up not being ‘the one’. Here’s why:

It was too small. I quickly found out that the trouble with picturesque cottages is that they’re too small. I’ve stayed in SO many lovely holiday homes that are small but perfect-formed, so I thought that this was the style of house I wanted to buy. But when I started looking at them with the reality of actually living there, I realised it would be a struggle. The rooms in cottages are so cosy, but tiny. Even the windows were too small, meaning that most rooms were dark even in the midday sun – no good for a full-time blogger, eh?! I can’t even remember how many times my husband banged his head on the low beams! Sorry quaint holiday cottage, you’re not the house for me.

Beautiful home and garden by photographer Rachel Warne

The road was too close. A couple of the perfect cottages we looked at were just too close to the road. Some were main ‘A’ roads, while others were tiny village roads. Either way, the proximity of the road always seemed to cause a problem. It could be that there was no nearby parking, it was sometimes a noisy truck-route and in other places it was difficult to even get out of the driveway onto the main road. Sorry ‘excellent road links’ house, I won’t be parking in front of you.

It was listed. And even though this means the building is packed full of beautiful original features, gorgeous inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings, I didn’t want to take on this responsibility. As you know, I like to do a lot of DIY work myself and I couldn’t imagine being restricted by the listing requirements. The listings often covered things like the colour of the front door (that’s conservation areas for ya!), the style of windows (cold non-double glazed, for a start) and the roof tiles. Considering that I love to learn new skills and DIY as I go, it seemed unlikely that I’d want to stick to the listing restrictions and keep things exactly as they are. Sorry ancient house, you’re no home of mine.

The dream garden from Sequin Gardens

There was no garden. Okay, not true – they all had gardens. But the trouble was the tiny size of the garden. Or the overlooked nature of the garden. Or the neighbour who was sitting in their garden, which backed onto our kitchen window. Odd configurations of the plot was a big factor in the decision not to buy most of the houses we saw. Considering that we like to work in our garden and host gatherings around a BBQ it was important that we had a usable outdoor space. And even the most perfect ‘how does your garden grow’ plots were too small to put up a shed. Having space to build a workshop was one of our ‘essentials’ so that my artist husband and I can work together, so if there was no room for a sizable shed, we walked away. Sorry cottage garden, I won’t be mowing your lawn.

The good news is that, in the end, I actually DID buy my dream home. I just didn’t know that this house was what I was looking for when I started my property search. It’s about twice the size of any other houses we saw and has a garden that we can grow into. We can park easily and the no-through road rarely sees any traffic. Other houses in the area have been altered and updated without any problems with planning and I love that I can DIY everything myself. Hi happy home, I think I’d like to move in.

The moral of my story is to keep an open mind when house-hunting. After countless viewings, I said to my husband “let’s just look at ANYTHING within our budget” even if it doesn’t seem right. The very next day a square 1950s house came onto the market and I booked a viewing with this new ethos in mind. I very nearly cancelled that appointment a few times because I was sure this house wasn’t the right one for us. But when we arrived at the quiet location and walked up the long garden into a house with more rooms than we knew what to do with, I was so pleased that we’d given it a chance.

Good luck with your house hunting guys!


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How to work fewer hours & have more time for fun

How many hours are you working each week? Whatever your answer is I’m going to say that’s too many hours. When the sun is shining and you’re overlooking people playing in the park it’s tempting to quit your office job there and then. But you really don’t need to do that in order to start working less and enjoying life a little more. It’s just a matter of careful planning and negotiating; if you play your cards right you could be spending less hours in that stuffy office while still doing the job you love. Here’s how:

Emilie’s home office from Stella + the Stars

Work from home

Alter your current work routine. Convince your boss that you should start working remotely. Plenty of guides exist on the best ways to persuade an employer. More and more of us are spending part of our working weeks doing our job from home. That’s because a business often benefits from the increased productivity of a remote worker. Forbes estimates that 91 percent of these employees feel they get more done when they’re working in their home office. There’s no distractions for a start! And you can set your own hours – so if you work best in the morning, get up early and do it all while you’re feeling energetic. Then the afternoon is free for strolls in the park or reading in your garden. Since you’re more productive when you work remotely (and you’re saving hours on the daily commute!) you’ll have extra time to spend with your family. 

Here’s Victoria’s home office from Apartment Number 4 as featured in Style at Home magazine 

Learn to delegate

Delegating tasks will make sure that things continue to run smoothly, even if you’re working from home. Think about your daily and weekly workload and see what you don’t need to be doing. Delegation of duties helps the company as much as you; rather than take on too much work on your own, you could train those who report to you so that they can handle these responsibilities in your absence. You want to set them up to succeed, offering advice when they struggle. You also need to wean yourself away from the habit of doing everything yourself. Delegation is the first step to getting more time to yourself. Once you master delegation, you’no longer need to spend excessive hours at the office!

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A cosy & authentic 1957 Alpine Sprite caravan restoration project

Today I want to share some lovely photos of my friend Lisa’s caravan with you. It’s a 1957 Sprite, very similar to my little vintage caravan, but even older! Here are plenty of before and after photos of the project for you to enjoy.Lisa and I first got chatting when she asked me about where I bought the trims for my caravan windows, and plenty of geeky trailer-chat ensued as we discussed our projects.Lisa has already put months of work into renovating her Sprite caravan, stripping it back to the bare metal before rebuilding the interior.The dark wood cupboards have been freshened up with a coat of bright white paint and new mosaic tiles have been fitted to create a practical kitchen area. Continue reading “A cosy & authentic 1957 Alpine Sprite caravan restoration project” »


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4 ways with windows to create a bright & airy home

One of the things that I’m trying to achieve in my home is a feeling of brightness and airiness. I’ve been painting dark walls in fresh white paint, and have positioned mirrors at suitable points around the house to reflect the light. But I’m sure that there’s more I can do to achieve a home filled with bright natural daylight. And I’m sure I’m not the only person to want this kind of effect in my home. Today I’m sharing my ideas for increasing light levels in the home, without resorting to daylight bulbs..!

image source

1. Goodbye Curtains

Firstly, let’s look at the ways to maximise the amount of light coming in through your existing windows. If you’ve got heavy curtains hanging at your windows, lets take them down. Either replace them with floaty-light voiles or consider whether you can go without curtains altogether. If the window isn’t overlooked, or is already frosted, maybe those curtains aren’t necessary. This will ensure that the maximum amount of light possible enters through these windows.

image source

2. Hello blinds

If you do need to cover the windows for privacy or at night, a practical option is to install blinds inside the window recess. Go for blinds that fold or roll right away, such as venetian blinds or roller blinds. I chose vertical blinds for my living room and they open from the centre so can be pulled back to expose the entire window. Any of these types of blinds will allow loads of light into the room but still allow you to maintain your privacy at night. And you’re able to control the amount of light coming in through the window by angling the slats to direct the daylight away from your laptop screen.

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Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom + Win a copy!

I’ve been reading about gardening this month, and it’s all down to the newly released book The Thoughtful Gardener. If you too have an empty garden (or an overgrown one, for that matter) this book is the perfect starting point to get you into the garden this spring. It’s packed full of inspirational ideas and plenty of photos of gardens in bloom that’ll get you wanting to plant up your patch. Read on to find out more about the book and author, and to enter my giveaway to WIN a copy of this beautiful new release, worth £35!Award-winning designer, and gardening columnist for The Times, Jinny Blom has carefully curated this gorgeous book to bring together design ideas from gardens all around the country. The Thoughtful Gardener not only provides plenty of inspiration with stunning photos, it also offers practical advice on how to make your own perfectly-designed garden at home.

Image by Andrew Montgomery / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

But that doesn’t mean a manicured lawn with topiary trees, a well-designed garden can be full of over-grown shrubs, blousey blooms and messy edges. That’s the lovely thing about this book; it makes gardening accessible to those of us who don’t have the time to trim the edges of our grass with scissors! Some of the gardens in this book have been growing wildly for years, but Jinny shows us how the original design allows for the plants to grow freely while still providing a surprisingly neat and calming space.

Image by Charlie Hopkinson / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

Read more and enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Thoughtful Gardener below..!

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How to reinvent a second-hand kitchen

Buying a kitchen second-hand may seem unheard of, but it can be a great way to update your home on a budget. So many people think that their only option is a basic store-bought kitchen, but there are alternatives out there – purchasing a designer kitchen second-hand is the future. You can get great quality at a fraction of the original custom-made price. However, when a kitchen has been designed for a different home, how do you personalise it to suit yours? Here are some tips:Paint is Your Best Friend

When you buy a second-hand kitchen, paint becomes your best friend. You can use it to transform the entire room, from the cabinets to the walls. You will be surprised how much painting your cabinets can lift the entire room, making it brighter and much more pleasant.

Change Up the Cabinets

With cabinets making up such an important part of the kitchen, changing them can have a big impact on the design. You could paint them, as we mentioned above, or replace the doors with glass. If you’re feeling brave (and you keep your cupboards tidy!) you could take the doors off completely. Is that too much commitment? Just replace the handles – chrome handles instantly update a kitchen, or you could find quirky vintage ones.Replace the Worktops

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Interior design trends – soft minimalism

I love the idea of a minimalist lifestyle. I guess that’s because I’ve got so much clutter in my life! Dreaming of open spaces and white walls provides a complete contrast to my life at the moment. With boxes half-unpacked and not knowing where anything is, I could really do with implementing a few minimalist ideas in order to sort my life out right now! Even though I couldn’t really survive in a white box home (I’m a tea-spiller, after all) I can definitely get behind the ‘soft minimalism’ interiors trend that is everywhere at the moment.Maybe it’s because Pinterest offers ‘picked for you’ pins that I’m seeing so many minimalist interiors on my Pinterest feed. And the more I pin, the more similar images Pinterest serves up. Soon my whole profile will be overrun with soft minimalist inspiration and, to tell you the truth, I’d be happy with that. Soft minimalism is definitely the way I’d like my home to be in the future. We’ve made a start with white walls and laminate floors, but what else is needed to achieve this look? Here’s some key soft minimalist decor ideas that I definitely want to use in my own home…

Soft minimalism inspiration from LionsHome.co.uk – image source: Bloomingville

1. Sleek storage

All the pieces of furniture from the soft minimalism trend seem to be scandi-inspired furniture designs. The lines are straight, the storage is neat and the handles are unfussy. It’s simple, thoughtfully designed and well made. It’s all about practical storage that looks gorgeous too; well, if you want a minimalist home, you’re going to have to hidethe clutter somewhere! And that’s the whole point of soft minimalism: it’s not necessarily about getting rid of your things, just storing them away neatly. Furniture for this trend is usually white, black or natural wood.

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