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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Household DIY – How to strip woodchip wallpaper, the easy way!

Stripping wallpaper is a skill I’ve recently developed. Woodchip wallpaper in particular. It’s a difficult paper to shift and, unfortunately, it seems to be plastered all over ‘houses of a certain age’. I guess it was very fashionable at one point but nowadays it’s the number 1 thing that puts potential buyers off a house. And it’s bloomin’ hard to remove. Yes, I speak from experience here! Thankfully there are ways to make the process a little easier and here’s the steps I followed:1. Scoring the paper

Use the corner of a wallpaper scraper to score the wallpaper all over. Don’t press too hard, otherwise you’ll leave marks in the plaster. You can also use the flat edge of the wallpaper scraper to ‘skim’ over the woodchip surface. This knocks off some of the woodchip and allows more moisture to soak in.2. Soaking with wallpaper stripper

Sure you can use regular water to soak the surface of the wallpaper, but adding a splash of wallpaper stripper to your bucket ‘super-charges’ the water. I used a bottle of Everbuild wallpaper stripper and only needed 125ml in a gallon of water. That was plenty enough to soak all the walls of the living room. This means that I’ve got three quarters of the bottle left to do other rooms. Mix it into a bucket of water (following the instructions on the bottle) and use a large sponge to spread the foamy water over the wallpaper. Allow to soak in for 15 minutes – coincidentally the same length of time that it’ll take heat up your steamer.3. Steam the wallpaper

Fill the steamer with water and allow to heat up for 15 minutes. You don’t need an industrial or expensive steamer to do this job – the tool I’m using is the lowest priced steam I could find from FFX – the Earlex Steam Wallpaper Stripper. It gives me 70 minutes of steaming per fill, which is about the length of time it took to strip each wall. Hold the steamer to the wall and leave in place for about ten seconds. Move it onto the next section of the wall and hold in place while you scrap the first piece away.

4. Scrape away the woodchip layer

Use the flat edge of a stripping knife to scrape away the top layer of woodchip. You’ll get a speckled effect on the wallpaper as the bigger chunks of woodchip come off. This allows more steam to get into the wallpaper and make it easier to strip away from the wall. Give the wallpaper a second steaming before moving onto the stripping…

5. Strip off the woodchip

Push the wallpaper stripper tool beneath the wallpaper and lift it away from the wall. If you come across a stubborn piece of wallpaper, give it another blast with the steamer before scraping. I used a Stanley Hobby Stripping Knife to ease the woodchip off the wall.

From this (woodchip walls that look perfectly normal at a distance)

To this (a room that now looks like it should be on Homes Under The Hammer!)

And really, that’s all there is to it! Sort of the same as stripping normal wallpaper, but with a couple of important extra steps – the stripping solution and the scraping effect. I’ve made a quick video (shared below and on my new YouTube channel) to show you the whole process, step-by-step so that you can see exactly how we did it.

If you’ve found this helpful please ‘like’ my video or follow my new Cassiefairy channel on YouTube for more DIY projects and thrifty solutions.


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DIY shopping – for the first time in my life!

Plumbing, heating, bathrooms and kitchens. It’s amazing how different my internet browsing history is these days. No longer am I visiting of pet sites and shoe stores, oh no. I’ve got a whole different kind of shopping to be getting on with now that I’m planning to buy a house and it’s all very DIY-focussed. I figured it would be useful to make a list of the things I would need when we start work on our new home, and where better to do that than on my blog??

Heating

I’ve literally just discovered that there’s more than one type of boiler in the world, and now I’ve got to consider radiators and pipework too. Thank goodness for YouTube, otherwise I’d never know how the hot water flows around my bathroom! At the moment, my research is focussed on heated towel rails for the bathroom and I’ve been investigating super-stylish radiators. I’m completely fascinated with pinning photos of loft apartments with Victorian cast iron radiators – dream on, eh? Even so, I’d love to get have that kind of detail in my home in the future.

For the bathroom I specifially want a heater that can keep the bathroom cosy all the time, look really lovely and still be used to warm my towels. I love that cosy feeling when you’re wrapped in a warm towel straight out of the bath, can’t wait. Just give me a heating catalogue and I’ll be happy for hours!

Hot water

On the subject of bathrooms, I never knew that choosing plumbing supplies could be so much fun. Okay, the pipework itself might be a little bit confusing at the moment but at least I’m learning something new with all my household DIY research! The bathroom sale adverts that have been running on the TV throughout January have been luring me in and the Tile Trader website is a permanently open tab on my iPad. Yes, I’ve even found myself browsing the local branch of Wickes. That is SO not like me. But things like mixer taps and fixed shower heads are just so beautiful and sculptural that I just can’t help getting carried away. And who doesn’t want to have a rain effect shower head, eh??

Even the kitchen sink

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Plumbing problems + how to find the answers online

One of the things that worries me most about renovating a home is the plumbing. Even though we’ve fitted a DIY ‘beach hut’ style bathroom in the past, I’ve never before needed to move a bath or toilet into a new position. But with limited space in our bathroom and a very dodgy layout where the sink is halfway over the bath, it really does need rejigging!

Check out my last bathroom makeover with a coastal theme

Even though I know it’ll look great in the end, the plumbing side of things is really confusing to me. I can connect taps, seal wastes and clean out pipes, but when it comes to fitting showers and moving water supplies I have no clue! So when is it best to call in a professional? What jobs can I do myself? I don’t want to create a health and safety nightmare in my own bathroom! 

I gave my old sink a facelift with just some new taps

So I’ve been doing my research by reading blogs and watching plumbing videos on YouTube and it’s certainly been a good start to my journey from amateur to pro. Okay, I exaggerate, but at least what my research has done has cleared up what I can and can’t do myself! I read some research on DIY by Slater & Gordon Lawyers and it showed that only 5% of women would be prepared to take on plumbing projects compared with 25% of men. Now, I’m happy having a go at some plumbing but there’s no way I’m doing any soldering of copper pipes. I wouldn’t want to buy all the kit for a start, and I’m not sure I’d do it particularly well – I’m quite slapdash at the best of times! So any kind of heating or hot water work is definitely not my bag! But plumbing using plastic pipes seems to be straightforward enough and I can get an idea of how water systems run around a room. 

I’ve even replaced a bath before – with Cookie’s help, obviously!

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How to restore leather furniture + I’m in issue 38 of Reloved magazine!

I have some wonderful news to kick start the new year – I’m in Reloved magazine this month! My “How to restore a leather chair” project has been given a full four-page spread in the magazine AND it even made the front cover; look carefully and you can see it in the thumbnail images at the bottom of the cover! Not only that, but I’m also their Take 10 interview on the last page – wow!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1I said once before that ‘you know you’ve made it when…’ you’re in the same magazine as Max McMurdo and Annie Sloan but this is the second time it’s happened now, so I’m beginning to settle into my role of upcycler/writer. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting to find my work in a magazine on the shelves of our local newsagents! The eagle-eyed of you might have spotted an Instagram snap of me grinning from ear-to-ear holding a copy of Reloved in WH Smith. I’m super-cheesy, I know, but it was an incredibly proud moment for me nonetheless.reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The project I shared in Issue 38 of Reloved was how to repair crumbling cracked leather. My husband bought this chair from the carboot sale but it was in awful condition and needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to life. And that’s exactly what we did – by the end of the makeover the leather was supple and shining once more, the colour was richer than ever and the cracks and splits were gone. I’ve included the full project pages below so that you can read the step-by-step guide yourself, just in case you too have some beyond-help leather furniture that needs fixing up. reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-3As you can probably tell I’m REALLY chuffed to be featured in my favourite magazine and I’m over the moon that the editor wants me to come up with more projects for the publication in the future. In fact, I’ve already sent over another DIY project for Valentine’s Day and I spotted a photo of it in the preview of the next issue so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share another project with you again next month too!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4Below are my project pages from inside the magazine but be sure to pick up a copy of Reloved for yourself this month because it’s packed full of sewing, craft, diy and upcycling projects including some step-by-step guides by Max McMurdo, Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple, printer Joy Jolliffe, ‘salvage sister’ Charis Williams and author Kate Beavis.

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The 12th Night & a 1967 Sprite caravan decorated for Christmas

Ahh it’s nearly time to take down those festive decorations and get your home back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is! Apparently decorations should be taken down by the “12th night”, although there seems to be some confusion over when that is – it’s either the 5th or the 6th January. Either way, the time for sparkly decorations is up – although I say why not leave it til the weekend when you’ve got more time to do it anyway? Or leave up those fairy lights all year, haha!1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-61967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-31967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-7So before everyone packs away their Christmas decs, I wanted to share some photos that my friend Sophia sent me of her caravan decorated for the holidays. Is there anything more lovely than a caravan covered in fairy lights?? To be honest I keep my Christmas lights in my caravan all year round; they’re solar powered so are an excellent cost-free light source! Please admire these pics of Sophia’s 1967 Sprite caravan renovation project all dressed-up for Christmas:1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-1 We first started chatting when Sophia got in touch to ask where I got the window seals for my own Alpine Sprite caravan. She had just started work on her old 1967 Sprite in the USA and was planning a big revamp of the old camping vehicle. She’d seen my own carvan renovation project on my blog and knew that I’d have some tips to share about the fixtures and fittings for an old Sprite.1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-4 Continue reading “The 12th Night & a 1967 Sprite caravan decorated for Christmas” »


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Guest Post – 6 basic tips for designing your bathroom

Is it your first time designing a full-on renovation for your bathroom? It’s easy to get bewildered by the many design combinations that you can choose for your bathroom. Here are some professional design pointers that can serve as guidelines to help make your bathroom renovation project less overwhelming (and help you stick to a budget too!).DIY fitting new taps to makeover a bathroom sink-2using recycled wood from a skip to make a beach hut bathroom floor and storage-11

  1. Get an estimate on how much you’re willing to invest for revamping

Coming up with the overall theme and arrangement for your bathroom may seem difficult due with so many options to choose from, but this is actually the easiest part. Planning the budget is far more time-consuming and complicated, as it will determine which design options you can actually afford! This is why you must be honest to yourself on how much money you want to invest for the renovation. Monetary groundwork will also help you easily adjust on purchasing certain parts for the bathroom, for example – if you make savings on a shower unit by buying at a discount online, you can add this surplus money to your budget for the bath.

  1. Keep vintage finishes if possible

Old or ancestral houses have floor tiles made of coats and slabs of concrete that are very difficult to extract. If you really want to remove these tiles then you need to spend more cash. However, if the tiles are not badly damaged and still look great then you might consider not taking them out. You could just use the money and effort in improving the other parts of the bathroom. Continue reading “Guest Post – 6 basic tips for designing your bathroom” »


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Bathroom design mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Refitting or redesigning your bathroom can be quite an exciting process and is something that can add a great deal of value to your property. However, bathroom fitting and design mistakes can be costly – and tricky to rectify. I’ve researched a list of the most common bathroom design mistakes so I’ve had a look through this and have added my own ideas too. Hopefully this will help me to avoid making similar mistakes when I’m decorating my own home in the future, and will save us all money in the long run. Right, let’s get into that list now, shall we? black-and-white-bathroom-design-inspiration

Bathroom flooring inspiration on PinkPeppermintDesign.com

Mistake 1: Not sticking to a budget.

This is the first and most essential point to consider when arranging your fitted bathroom. Your budget should dictate everything else, so you don’t end up overspending or unable to finish the project. Make sure you spec out all of the costs, including:

  • Cost of design
  • All fixtures and fittings
  • The cost of installation
  • Any plumbing work, including water pressure, waterproofing and drainage

You should have enough budget to cover everything you need – and a little spare in case any unforeseen issues come to light.

Mistake 2: Failing to consider your lifestyle

Once you’ve got your budget, you really need to think about how you are planning to use the bathroom –  you don’t want something slick and modern if you’ve got to wash the dog every week! Ask yourself – and anyone else who lives there – how you want to use the space, including how much time you’ll spend in there and what you want to have access to. You also need to think about how you might use the space in the future. If you’re planning on having children, you may want to include features such as baths now to avoid additional work further down the line.bathroom-storage-home-decor-inspiration

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My favourite interior trends – Rustic wooden floors

Have you noticed just how popular wood flooring is again? Just browse interior design trends on Pinterest and you’ll find all the evidence you need. Despite the resurgence of lovely soft carpets, the popularity of hard-wearing sisal flooring and the design aesthetic of big chunky tiles, it seems like wood is beating all these flooring options hands down. Or should that be feet down? And I think I’ve worked out just why this is – here are my top 3 reasons why wooden floors are so popular:Lido Island I1. Open-plan homes

For years we’ve been knocking rooms together and opening up our living spaces to create brighter and more spacious homes. No longer are kitchens tucked away, they’re now part of our eating-cooking-living rooms. With this lean towards open-plan living, the desire to have a seamless run of flooring that runs from room to room had led to the increase in the use of wood. Tiles throughout a living space would be cold, whereas carpet in a kitchen just isn’t practical. But wood floors can be easily cleaned, are comfortable underfoot and make a room feel cosy.

Farmhouse Bedrooms2. We’re seeing more of it
If you wanted to decorate a home in the past, you’d probably buy some interiors magazines or design books for inspiration. If you weren’t planning a renovation, you probably didn’t see many homes at all. But nowadays you can’t open up Pinterest or browse through Instagram without seeing hundreds of photos of gorgeous interiors, each more covetable than the next. So with these social sites and popular decor websites such as Houzz, we are simply seeing more rooms than ever before. And our mind tends to pull out similarities as we browse, which is why it seems like wood floors are everywhere. It’s simply the case that we’re opening our eyes to more and more images and noticing the elements that we like the most. Brunstrom Residence3. Improvements in flooring

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Thrifty bedroom décor ideas

Sometimes decorating a home can seem like such a large project, and with a worryingly large budget required too! But there are so many ways you can add a personal touch and your style to a room without spending an arm and a leg. How you choose to design your home is purely down to personal taste, what works best for you and what you like most. So it need not cost a lot to put your own ‘stamp’ on a room, it just needs to reflect your personality and be filled with things you love, and not just ‘like’. Out of all of the rooms in the home, your bedroom is the one where you can really make it personal (because not many people actually see your bedroom!) so you can do pretty much anything you like with the décor, creating the perfect room for you to wind down and relax without having to worry about anything. Here are a few tips on how you can put your stamp on your bedroom without having to worry about cost:Dream a little dream bedroom makeover project - bedside lights from BHS-6

My DIY wallpaper using old books

When deciding on what you want to add to your bedroom to create a bold, thrifty and personal style, there are a few things you need to consider. You need to decide on what you need in your bedroom for practicality as well as comfort, for example, if you’re somebody who loves to read, you may want a small shelf dedicated fully to your classic book collection. Or if you’re more of a fashionista an old dress makers’ mannequin would look beautiful positioned in the corner of the room and would be a great place to drape your scarves or jewellery. Personal style is key in any bedroom design, as it is the one place you need to be able to feel comfortable, relaxed and content.winter interior design - cosy autumn bedroom styling idea inspiration festive-3

I created a cosy winter bedroom last year with lots of cushions

For adding extra character and personality to your bedroom, simple yet bold changes can really make a large impact. Headboards are a really good way of creating a bold statement without having to change much about your bedroom at all. You can find headboards in all kinds of colours, materials and sizes for really good prices too. Changing other elements of your bed – such as bedding design or cushion colours – is always a low cost-way of making a big impact, as it’s the main focus part in any bedroom. Your bed needs to look inviting and cosy for you to be able to snuggle up and relax, and there are a few fun ways in which you can create this kind of atmosphere. Statement cushions nicely arranged on your bed will always make it look inviting – the only trouble is that it might be SO cosy that you’ll want to spend more time in bed! Go for colours that suit your personality, and even beautiful patterns can work really well. Even if a headboard isn’t for you, cushions can make just as much of an impact and really make your room look stylish and chic.interior design - cosy autumn winter bedroom styling idea inspiration festive Continue reading “Thrifty bedroom décor ideas” »


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Thrifty tips to give your home ‘Kerb Appeal’

When renovating or updating our homes, many of us tend to focus mainly on the interiors. Interior design is very important, as your home needs to be welcoming, homely and suited to you. One aspect of the home that is often overlooked however, is the part that people see every single day, whether they’re invited to your home or not: the front entrance. The front of your home is the one part that any passers-by see, and it’s the one section of the home that will be admired, judged or simply looked at on a regular basis. It’s also a small area to update – in essence, I’m just talking about your door and path – so it needn’t cost a lot to spruce up this space. In fact, it’s probably one of the cheapest areas to makeover, and it adds the most instant value. I’d call that a win-win!front door garden kerb appeal ideas for low cost makeover

Make a great first impression with plants and door accessories

How you present your home should always start from the entrance and work its way inside, as people tend to start generating their own opinions about your home from the moment they step into your garden. This is called ‘kerb appeal’ – you’ve probably heard it said on Location, Location, Location many times before – and it’s a great start to any home renovation project to improve the kerb appeal (especially when it comes to valuing your home!). It creates an instant welcoming atmosphere and makes your house feel like a well-maintained and cared-for home.front door garden kerb appeal ideas for low cost makeover reclaimed house renovation

Adding period features can increase the value of a property

Add reclaimed period features

The way you style the front of your home needs to tie in with the rest of your house’s appearance. This will ensure that your house looks complete and inviting, so look around at what other similar houses nearby have at their front of their home and try to replicate those that look like they’re in-keeping with the period of the property. What type of door do they have? Do they have metal gates or picket fences? What’s in their gardens? Many people begin with the front door, as it is often the focal point in any front entrance. Dressing your front door with reclaimed metalwork, a personalised name plaque or shiny new number is really important for giving your home the ‘WOW’ factor and it sets the scene for the rest of your home.house decorating kerb appeal thrifty budget tips

Painting woodwork and polishing metalwork can make all the difference

DIY your front door

Simple updates such as re-painting your door can be a really low-cost project – well, you only need a small tin of paint to cover a door! – and will ensure that the door looks sturdy and new. Continue reading “Thrifty tips to give your home ‘Kerb Appeal’” »

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