Our Home in St. Leonards on Sea

I don't know about you, but I love a good snoop around other people's homes! I love to see how other people live, and how they choose to decorate their homes. My love of interior design and house renovation come from my mum and dad, who throughout my childhood renovated and decorated all the houses we lived in (and actually built the most recent one themselves!). My mum was always on the look for antique bargains, and my dad is Mr DIY. My mum has a great sense of design, and quite a unique style aesthetic. Everything I know about painting walls and furniture I learnt from her. 

So now, after many years of travelling, renting and sharing, I find that I finally I have my very own house to renovate and decorate. My husband, Wojtek, and I moved down to St Leonards from London in December 2013 (yes, we are the dreaded DFLs!). Initially we had the mad idea of relocating to Cornwall (having had a couple of blissful holidays there), but after a few trips house hunting, viewing several tiny little cottages, catching a flat tire and getting stuck down a ravine in the rain in failing daylight, we decided to move a little closer to London! We decided Cornwall was really to rural and isolated for us in the end. We didn't want to be that far from all our friends, and I realised I liked Victorian houses with big windows and high ceilings a lot more than cosy little cottages in the middle of nowhere. We had friends living in St Leonards already that we'd visited several times, and so had already begun to get to know the area. We started our search in Hastings, but soon fell in love with its younger sister St Leonards. It has quieter cafes, galleries, lovely beaches, a friendly, casual, artistic vibe, fascinating architecture, beautiful (and cheaper!) Victorian houses, wonderful junk & antique shops - and, of course, the sea!

My Studio. It is at the front of the house in the basement. I know, I should be in the attic, but our attic is a little too dark and I'm not a fan of a sloped ceiling. When we moved in, the basement was totally uninhabitable. In fact, the door to this room was locked with a huge padlock, and we bought the house without ever seeing inside - not even the surveyor or estate agent had, either! The room - and the whole basement - had no electricity, no water, no floors and no plastered walls. We had to refurbish the entire space. All the original floorboards were in a huge dusty pile, mildewing and rotting away. We found the most incredible floor-sanding and renovation company, Victorian Wood Flooring, who salvaged as much of the original boards as they could, and relaid them. It was hugely satisfying to put back the floor as close to original as possible. For the rest of the project, we luckily managed to find the best father and son building team, Russell and Martin from Browns Carpentry and Construction. They did, and do, amazing work, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. As far as original pieces go, I get the most comments about my antique bank of drawers. I bought it a few years ago from A G Hendy and Co in Hastings Old Town. It is one of my favourite pieces of furniture.

My Studio. It is at the front of the house in the basement. I know, I should be in the attic, but our attic is a little too dark and I'm not a fan of a sloped ceiling. When we moved in, the basement was totally uninhabitable. In fact, the door to this room was locked with a huge padlock, and we bought the house without ever seeing inside - not even the surveyor or estate agent had, either! The room - and the whole basement - had no electricity, no water, no floors and no plastered walls. We had to refurbish the entire space. All the original floorboards were in a huge dusty pile, mildewing and rotting away. We found the most incredible floor-sanding and renovation company, Victorian Wood Flooring, who salvaged as much of the original boards as they could, and relaid them. It was hugely satisfying to put back the floor as close to original as possible. For the rest of the project, we luckily managed to find the best father and son building team, Russell and Martin from Browns Carpentry and Construction. They did, and do, amazing work, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. As far as original pieces go, I get the most comments about my antique bank of drawers. I bought it a few years ago from A G Hendy and Co in Hastings Old Town. It is one of my favourite pieces of furniture.

My Studio. 

My Studio. 

Laundry Room. My mum and Aunt Jackie helped me to paint this floor to make it look like individual tiles. It was a massive amount of work, and we still need to finish the rest of the squares. I'm hoping they will come help me finish it this summer. You can see the entire tutorial here. The Traditional Kitchen Maid® Pulley Clothes Airer is amazing and is very handy when it comes to bed linen. This room is still very much a work in progress. One of the most recent things we had done was in this room, when we had a sink, cupboards, worktops and towel radiator installed. It now feels like more of a proper laundry room, rather than a bare utility space.

Laundry Room. My mum and Aunt Jackie helped me to paint this floor to make it look like individual tiles. It was a massive amount of work, and we still need to finish the rest of the squares. I'm hoping they will come help me finish it this summer. You can see the entire tutorial here. The Traditional Kitchen Maid® Pulley Clothes Airer is amazing and is very handy when it comes to bed linen. This room is still very much a work in progress. One of the most recent things we had done was in this room, when we had a sink, cupboards, worktops and towel radiator installed. It now feels like more of a proper laundry room, rather than a bare utility space.

The Kitchen. Where do I begin? Maybe for a future blog post I'll do a 'before' of all the rooms. The kitchen is what I loved the most when we first viewed the house. It's a cliche, because it's true, that the kitchen is the heart of the house. Both Wojtek and I love cooking and entertaining and this was the perfect kitchen for us. The kitchen in every house we viewed was definitely a deal-breaker for us. It was essential that we could fit a big old kitchen table in the middle of it. The old kitchen units were horrible! They were big, bulky and blue, with glass tops that housed urban-looking graffiti art. The previous owners took the art with them and left us with two holes in the work tops. One glass top was smashed so we couldn't use half the counter. It was a very happy day when we finally had the kitchen done in 2015. (A week after Penelope was born!) Now we can say that the only thing left in the whole room from when we bought it is the cooker - which is very temperamental and will probably need replacing soon anyway!

The Kitchen. Where do I begin? Maybe for a future blog post I'll do a 'before' of all the rooms. The kitchen is what I loved the most when we first viewed the house. It's a cliche, because it's true, that the kitchen is the heart of the house. Both Wojtek and I love cooking and entertaining and this was the perfect kitchen for us. The kitchen in every house we viewed was definitely a deal-breaker for us. It was essential that we could fit a big old kitchen table in the middle of it. The old kitchen units were horrible! They were big, bulky and blue, with glass tops that housed urban-looking graffiti art. The previous owners took the art with them and left us with two holes in the work tops. One glass top was smashed so we couldn't use half the counter. It was a very happy day when we finally had the kitchen done in 2015. (A week after Penelope was born!) Now we can say that the only thing left in the whole room from when we bought it is the cooker - which is very temperamental and will probably need replacing soon anyway!

The Kitchen. We bought this dresser top at Shop on Norman Road in St Leonards. It was in a bit of a state, but all it needed was some sanding and a few coats of paint and...ta-da! 

The Kitchen. We bought this dresser top at Shop on Norman Road in St Leonards. It was in a bit of a state, but all it needed was some sanding and a few coats of paint and...ta-da! 

The Living Room. I remember moving into a very bare, cold house in the depths of a dark winter, in the midst of some of the worst storms to ever hit the UK. We got the keys on Friday 13th December, and I was determined to get the floors of the living room sanded before Christmas, so that at least we could have one room to unpack and live in for Christmas. It was a tall order, but we managed it! I will never forget moving in day, when this living room was stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and furniture at wonky angles and masses of things piled in precarious towers. And somewhere in amongst it all I found a seat and had a glass of red wine. Now the room is a touch more spacious, airy and graceful. We like trying to combine pieces from all eras, such as the Chesterfield, the tall bookcase, the gold, grand antique mirror over the original fireplace, and a chandelier. I am still collecting the right pictures to put up on the wall behind the sofa; it will always be an on-going process. We removed a modern wooden ceiling rose, and replaced it with a more fitting, period-style plaster one. The massive double doors are quite unique and an amazing feature linking the two rooms. The yellow sofa was an impulse buy from made.com

The Living Room. I remember moving into a very bare, cold house in the depths of a dark winter, in the midst of some of the worst storms to ever hit the UK. We got the keys on Friday 13th December, and I was determined to get the floors of the living room sanded before Christmas, so that at least we could have one room to unpack and live in for Christmas. It was a tall order, but we managed it! I will never forget moving in day, when this living room was stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and furniture at wonky angles and masses of things piled in precarious towers. And somewhere in amongst it all I found a seat and had a glass of red wine. Now the room is a touch more spacious, airy and graceful. We like trying to combine pieces from all eras, such as the Chesterfield, the tall bookcase, the gold, grand antique mirror over the original fireplace, and a chandelier. I am still collecting the right pictures to put up on the wall behind the sofa; it will always be an on-going process. We removed a modern wooden ceiling rose, and replaced it with a more fitting, period-style plaster one. The massive double doors are quite unique and an amazing feature linking the two rooms. The yellow sofa was an impulse buy from made.com

The Family Bathroom. I love this space, but hate everything in it. I'm looking forward to replacing the bath with a cast iron roll top bath, and a sink and shower that is more in keeping with the house. Now just to get some more money! 

The Family Bathroom. I love this space, but hate everything in it. I'm looking forward to replacing the bath with a cast iron roll top bath, and a sink and shower that is more in keeping with the house. Now just to get some more money! 

The Nursery. I absolutely loved decorating this room. Way before we even decided to have a baby I was already decorating and planning with this in mind. I like being prepared and organised, as most of my friends know, so for me to have a room ready before actually being pregnant was totally normal.  Photo by Rebecca Family Photography.

The Nursery. I absolutely loved decorating this room. Way before we even decided to have a baby I was already decorating and planning with this in mind. I like being prepared and organised, as most of my friends know, so for me to have a room ready before actually being pregnant was totally normal.  Photo by Rebecca Family Photography.

This Alice in Wonderland wallpaper should have an entire blogpost dedicated to it! I discovered the designs of Charles Voysey online and found the company in the USA that produces the patterns both by the hand silk screening process and the new digital technology, Trustworth Wallpaper. I didn't have to think twice about buying it! It was very expensive and the import tax was something I didn't plan for. The day came that my mum and my Aunt Jackie were going to put it up. They were scared! The wallpaper was exactly enough for this one wall, so there was no room for error! It was super stressful, but thanks to amazing skills and a good amount of luck and a little help from me, they did it beautifully. 

This Alice in Wonderland wallpaper should have an entire blogpost dedicated to it! I discovered the designs of Charles Voysey online and found the company in the USA that produces the patterns both by the hand silk screening process and the new digital technology, Trustworth Wallpaper. I didn't have to think twice about buying it! It was very expensive and the import tax was something I didn't plan for. The day came that my mum and my Aunt Jackie were going to put it up. They were scared! The wallpaper was exactly enough for this one wall, so there was no room for error! It was super stressful, but thanks to amazing skills and a good amount of luck and a little help from me, they did it beautifully. 

The Master Bedroom. We had a big challenge removing the ugliest bird wallpaper I've ever seen that was stuck directly onto the plastered walls. I realised that I actually love the colour of plaster. Luckily  Farrow & Ball have a colour called Setting Plaster. The beautiful French armoire was bought in Hastings Old Town from a wonderful shop called Browsers.

The Master Bedroom. We had a big challenge removing the ugliest bird wallpaper I've ever seen that was stuck directly onto the plastered walls. I realised that I actually love the colour of plaster. Luckily  Farrow & Ball have a colour called Setting Plaster. The beautiful French armoire was bought in Hastings Old Town from a wonderful shop called Browsers.

The Master Bedroom. 

The Master Bedroom. 

The Green Bedroom. Wojtek's Polish grandfather made the beautiful pressed flowers on the wall. This room is painted in Cooking Apple Green from Farrow & Ball, and the bed is from Feather & Black. The chest of drawers is a Victorian antique bought from The Old Cinema in Chiswick, where we used to live.

The Green Bedroom. Wojtek's Polish grandfather made the beautiful pressed flowers on the wall. This room is painted in Cooking Apple Green from Farrow & Ball, and the bed is from Feather & Black. The chest of drawers is a Victorian antique bought from The Old Cinema in Chiswick, where we used to live.

The Blue Bedroom. This room definitely has the best view in the house. Our friends love staying over in this room - it has a great seaside holiday feel. It overlooks the sea and Marine Court (a 1930's building made to look like a ship). The bed is from Feather & Black and the walls are painted Parma Gray from Farrow & Ball. 

The Blue Bedroom. This room definitely has the best view in the house. Our friends love staying over in this room - it has a great seaside holiday feel. It overlooks the sea and Marine Court (a 1930's building made to look like a ship). The bed is from Feather & Black and the walls are painted Parma Gray from Farrow & Ball. 

The Blue Bedroom.

The Blue Bedroom.

Ouma Christa's Pickled Cucumbers

Ouma Christa is my German grandmother on my father's side. I basically grew up in her kitchen, more or less. Helping peel carrots, mixing cookie dough (but mostly eating it!), playing in the kitchen cupboards, planting vegetables and eating lots of amazing hearty German food are just a few of my memories from that time. My love of food obviously comes from Ouma Christa. I have so many amazing memories of days spent with her. I feel so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. To this day, I don't think she realises what a big influence she's been in my life... I love you Oumie! 

Ingredients

3 English cucumbers peeled, deseeded and cut into half moons. You can also use the short fat cucumbers, just peel them, don't cut them.

1 cup white wine vinegar

2 cups water

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 onion

2 bay leaves 

A few peppercorns

Method

Pour one tablespoon of salt over cucumbers and leave overnight

Rinse the cucumbers

Put all the remaining ingredients in a pot and boil for half an hour

Sterilise a Mason jar (I stick mine in the dishwasher)

Place cucumbers in the jar, pour over the warm vinegar mixture and seal

Wait a couple of days and enjoy!

cucumberpickles

Here is a link to download and print your own recipe card: Pickled Cucumbers