Thursday, 5 July 2018

Ikea Hacks... Repainting Bathroom Cabinets & Bathroom Remodel On A Budget


Readers, I’ve got another DIY blog for you tonight. I’ve got a bit obessessed about painting wood. I did crates and blackboards for our wedding earlier this year, made a shoe rack recently – it got painted too – and now, I’ve just finished my biggest project yet.

3 years ago we moved into our tenement flat in Glasgow and whilst we’ve done some stuff like put in new windows, decorated from top to bottom, painted the beautiful old storm doors etc, that’s as far as it’s gone.  We always knew we’d never be here long enough to justify a Pinterest worthy kitchen or bathroom.  Our Ikea units have held up well (we think they are close to 10 years old now) and we chose our huge kitchen diner here over a tiny designer galley kitchen offering when we moved.  

The bathroom’s always been a bit of a sore point – even my non interior design mum called it “old fashioned"recently.  We’ve made the best of it – it’s got a toilet (essential), big double sink (actually quite nice) and a large, fairly powerful shower (for the win!) It’s just the décor around it, we’ve always found a bit, well, questionable.  There’s the “fossil” tiles, but less said about them the better.  Then the dingy, dark wooden cabinets, which just made the already narrow bathroom feel, well, like it was closing in on you.  The room gets so much natural light, so it was time to try and enhance it.
ikea hack painting bathroom cabinets before
Before - dark, dingy and a bit tired looking


After spending weeks pouring over Pinterest, reading folks blogs and learning about the joys of painting Ikea furniture, I ordered my bits and tackled it with gusto.  And the result? For less than £200, I’ve fallen back in love with our tired old bathroom.

Was it easy?  Fairly.  Time consuming?  Most definitely. A few set backs on the way? Of course.  Does it look good?  I’m SO PROUD OF MYSELF.

Anyway, I’ve knocked up a quick guide for any first timers looking to paint their Ikea furniture or re-model a room on the cheap… Happy DIY’in guys!

Preparation

I can’t stress this enough. USE A GOOD PRIMER.  Make sure it’s oil, not water based, or it won’t stick. I can’t recommend B.I.N. Shellac Primer enough.  Even with chalk paint (which apparently goes onto all surfaces) I used this. Touch dry in 20 mins, re-coatable in 45, it was a saving grace when the paint went on.
Don’t skip this step.  Also, this primer is non sand, so you’ll save a bit of time there!
what claire did ikea hack bathroom remodel during priming
First coat of primer goes on. Also - note the glass door and glass drawer that no longer exist


Choose a fresh colour

Our bathroom was just a bit beige and brown before.   With the help of a bit of a light colour on the wood, it’s transformed the space.  When the sun shines in the window, it’s beautiful and airy now.   For those wondering, I used Rustoleum Laurel Green on the cabinets and painted 2 coats on top of the primer.

what claire did ikea hack bathroom remodel painted cabinets during
First coat of paint goes on!
 
Pick funky handles

Get rid of those bog standard handles that come with your flat pack furniture and treat it to some nice, custom bought handles. Lots of places sell handles and knobs.  I picked up a pack of 6 lovely white marble style door knobs for £6 in TK Maxx, which really added to the finished look. 
 
finish ikea bathroom cabinet repaint what claire did
Check those funky door knobs... compare with original above!

Do it properly!

Make it a job done well!  If you’re serious about it, remove all doors, shelves etc from your units and paint them separately.  Honestly, it makes for such a better finished look.   You won’t miss any bits this way.

Also, don't be afraid to shake up a bit - the old freestanding cabinet had glass doors I hated.  So I painted them to make them look solid. I removed a drawer and left it as an open storage area for nicely rolled towels.  Now's your chance to change those bits you aren't sure of.  Plus, the open space means I have to keep it tidy... 
ikea cabinet ikea hack repaint what claire did finished
This door used to be glass.  Also, I accessorised with a new artificial plant 

Don’t skip the varnishing

It’s so important to finish your look. I used to chalk paint, which has a gorgeous matt finish, but marks so easily. Rather than waxing, I used a clear, matt varnish on the top, did 2 coats and it’s helped to seal my units.  It’s especially important in high traffic areas where things are likely to get bumped and knocked.
ikea hack painting bathroom cabinets finished look what claire did
The finished article - I'm so proud of what we've done with the space!


Invest in Other Updates Too 

Don't just do the painting and hope for the best - spend a bit of cash on some other accessories for the room. My purchases possibly cost more than the actual renovation (which came in at about £70 for two cabinets) however, I wanted to do a complete overhaul.  So I spent some money on the new Joseph Joseph bathroom bin and loo brush which are game changers, bought a new toothbrush holder and soap dispenser, bought a load of new towels for display and guests coming and then got some plants (a mix of real and artificial) to make it all a bit more homely.  We had some vouchers we got as wedding gifts, which we put towards some of this stuff, softening the blow a little. It's been well worth it though. 
succulent in bathroom what claire did
Investment in some gorgeous succulents for the window sill



I'd love to hear from you if you take on your own project. I promise it's not that scary... GOOD LUCK! 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

What Claire Did... Round Up Time!


 Readers, in my head recently I thought "I’ve got all these exciting things I’ve done recently, that I’ll have a ton of content and be able to write so many blog posts".  As it turns out, life generally gets in the way and it doesn’t quite go to plan. So rather than not posting at all, I thought I’d do an early summer round up for you all.  Here’s what I’ve been up to, over the last few weeks.

Mac and Cheese Themed Weddings

You might have seen over on Instagram, that my lovely pals Emma and Mark from Foodie Explorers, recently got married at our local pub and enjoyed a mac and cheese themed surprise wedding, at the end of the mac and cheese festival, that they organise each year.

foodie explorers mac and cheese wedding what claire did

I was sworn to secrecy, but had a blast creating their mac and cheese themed wedding cake – ft dessert mac and cheese (it’s amazing what can be achieved with yellow jelly beans, yellow chocolate and some desiccated coconut…)  I was tearing my hair out the night before, after a fondant disaster, but was so proud of the end result and the press seemed to love it too!


Daily Record Mac and Cheese Wedding What Claire Did

Smokehead Whisky Event

Just before my 30th and my trips away to The Lake District, the lovely PR team from Smokedhead Whisky, collaborated with Dram and Smoke on an amazing food and whisky event at SWG3 in Finnieston.  We enjoyed Smokehead cocktails, drams on the table and an amazing smoky 3 course dinner to boot.  Was it fun? Hell yes it was.   I shared some stories on the night and some other Instagram content which you’ll see here.

Smokehead Whisky What Claire Did

Florida

We headed off to see the big mouse again at Disneyland in Orlando for Mr WhatClaireDid’s 30th alongside his family.  We had an absolute blast – hosting a fancy dress bbq for his actual birthday, at our villa. Everyone else had a bit of a prehistoric theme, but I went as Snow White because the costume was cheap on Ebay… 
florida fancy dress what claire did

We had a few days at the parks – I still love The Magic Kingdom -  and I’m hoping to do a Florida Guide post as part of my travel blog content over the coming weekends.
magic kingdom what claire did

I won't say too much on Florida for now and will aim to get some more content up in the coming weeks. 

Vegas Baby!

You’ve probably seen my other post on our trip to Momofuku in Vegas – so you’ll know that we went to Vegas on our USA trip too.  It’s actually really easy to do from Orlando. We got cheap flights with Spirit (cheap = delays both ways, however I'm trying to block that from memory).It got us there. It’s a 5 hour flight from Orlando – so one to time right if you are going.  We stayed for 2 nights at New York New York again.  All in, our trip cost £170pp for the 2 nights and was worth it for a change of scenery for a couple of days.
bellagio and caesars palace las vegas what claire did


We also went to Carlos Bakery in Vegas (I’m a massive fan of the show) and completely got overwhelmed ordering rainbow cake… which I then ate in bed the next day after Vegas well and truly defeated me.
carlos bakery rainbow cake las vegas what claire did

The final highlight of our amazing Vegas trip was David Copperfield at the MGM Grand. Honesty, if you are ever in Vegas and get the chance… go.  He was nothing short of amazing.

Just a short post from me tonight readers… and I promise more coming soon!

Claire x



Sunday, 17 June 2018

Restaurant Review – Momofuku Las Vegas

Readers, hi! Hope everyone is well?  I’ve (surprise surprise) been off on my travels again this month – hitting up Florida and Las Vegas for Mr WhatClaireDid’s 30th birthday.   We’ve had lots of excitement recently, from our llama trip to the LakeDistrict which I wrote about here and then it was off to the USA a week later.

For fans of Ugly Delicious over on Netflix, I’m certain you’ll know about Momofuku – from Milk Bar, the bakery, then the first noodle bar which opened in 2004, Momofuku is on its way to international domination. There’s cookbooks for your own make at home version, their famous sauces can now be bought by the bottle and David Chang was called “one of the most influential people of the 21st century” by Esquire. 

All in, this company’s a powerhouse.

Our Vegas visit was very much a last minute decision to book a table and go to Momofuku – we’d fancied going somewhere nice for lunch, we’d done Lago on our previous trip and after 10 days of eating American food, I was craving a taste of Asia.  As luck would have it, we got a table for a late lunch at 2.30pm.
momofuku las vegas strip


The restaurant was fairly quiet by then – it was a Thursday – so we were able to enjoy our food in relative peace.  Service was quick and efficient. We’d decided we wanted to share a few dishes between us, so asked for a few recommendations.  The bao buns were a definite and at $7 each, didn’t break the bank.

bao at momofuku las vegas

We didn’t hit the raw bar (although I’ve heard great things) instead choosing the pear & burrata salad with truffle, hazelnut and sourdough croutons as our starter sharer.  It was delicious and the term “small plate” is definitely different to Europe.  We had more than enough to share.

The rest of our dishes came one by one from the kitchen when they were ready – chicken ginger scallion noodles (to be honest for $21 it would be more than enough to feed one person for lunch) – we just wanted to try as much as we could when we were there.

My absolute favourite, outstanding contribution to lunch, was the shrimp bun.  By far my favourite dish, although the pork belly one was tender, the meat falling apart, it just didn’t do it for me in the way the shrimp got me going! Honestly, if you’d lined up 10 of them in a row, I’d probably have eaten them all.

At $48 from the ssams menu, the five spice rotisserie duck was the most expensive dish we ordered – it came with lettuce wraps, ginger scallion rice and homemade kimchi.  Mr WhatClaireDid isn’t the biggest fan of duck, but I ate more than my halves worth to support him.
momofuku las vegas duck

The food all arrived hot, beautifully presented and my other top spot is reseved for the $10 crispy potatoes that were cooked in honey mustard and toasted garlic.   Definitely don’t forget to add these onto your order if you’re going!
momofuku las vegas strip

My only regret of the day was having so much food (and eating most of it) that I was way too full to enjoy a delicious piece of cake or a soft serve and cereal from Milk Bar that I’d heard so much about. However, never fear, I’ve confirmed there is a Toronto branch, so I’ll be able to have a trip there in October.  Yay!

Lunch at Momofuku was around $150 plus service – including a well crafted cocktail for me, beer for him and a selection of 5 dishes to share.    We’d recommend this as a great shout for couples who love Asian food, for those who are fans of Ugly Delicious and want to try and piece of the action for themselves and those who love a stylishly designed restaurant, away from the cheap, greasy American grub that can be found in some places on the Vegas strip.


Momofuku is located inside the modern Cosmopolitan Hotel on the strip.

vegas high roller what claire did


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Llamas, Lounging and The Lake District


Readers!

How are you? I’ve got a travel blogging piece coming up tonight.  We’ve just returned from a little weekend break to the Lake District.  It’s been ages since I spent time there for fun. My mum and dad took me on a family holiday when I was 16. There was no phone signal and I was a bored, grumpy teenager.   Fast forward 14 years, I’ve refined my tastes, enjoy escaping people now and had 4G coverage meaning I didn’t miss any royal wedding coverage unfolding on Twitter.  Bonus.

Big news, I turned 30 on Saturday.  As we’ve had our own version of a Royal Wedding this year already, we decided to keep the big birthday thing on the down low.  I decided I wanted a mini break for mine and we’re away for Mr What Claire Did’s birthday.  He’s 30 too.

So off we trotted to the north lakes this weekend.  From Glasgow, it’s about a 2 hour drive – or a little less on a good run.  The sun was shining, we had the tunes on and life was good!  Our first stop of the day was my birthday treat.  A trip to trek with a llama.  Setting off from the Llama Karma Kafe, just 10 minutes from Penrith, we arrived had a cake and coffee and then joined our small group walk.
llama karma kafe trek what claire did

Barney was our llama for the walk (I picked the biggest… typical) and we shared him between the two of us.  The trek was more of a gentle meander up to the castle, which meant it was suitable for a range of ages and abilities.  Barney was lovely, gentle, friendly and didn’t try to eat any grass on the trip.  The walk lasted round an hour and gave us plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. 

Next up, we headed off to The National Trust site of Aira Force, on the edge of Lake Ullswater.  Make sure to have change with you.  Its £5 for 2 hours parking if you aren’t a member of The National Trust, but it’s worth paying for to keep the area well maintained.  There’s lots of lovely walks around the falls and if it’s a great day (like we had on Saturday) there are plenty of picnic opportunities.  We were prepared and took a full picnic down the road with us. I’d also recommend B&Ms £4.99 picnic blanket with waterproof back – it was ideal for 2 of us to have a semi civilised picnic lunch!
aira falls by what claire did

The highlight of our mini break was a DBB overnight stay at Appleby Manor Hotel.  Tucked away, not far from the main road, it’s a lovely old manor house that’s been carefully extended, had an AA Rosette restaurant and a lovely garden spa that opened in 2015.  We ended up with a buy a gift voucher which we chose to use at the hotel, so really, the trip didn’t cost us more than a couple of drinks in the bar and a massage at the spa (thanks husband).  We had a classic room in the main hotel building which wasn’t the biggest, but was ample for our one night stay.
appleby manor photo by what claire did

The rooms are a little tired – you can see the hotel’s working through renovating its public areas.  The spa was lovely, my treatment at £35 for a half hour back, neck and shoulder massage was well priced and it’s Elemis products they use, so quality assured.
staircase appleby manor by what claire did

We had dinner at the 1871 Bistro – 3 courses and a glass of wine was included with our deal and both of us enjoyed the views to the hills beyond from the bistro’s conservatory.   Food was delicious, well cooked and filling, whilst the glass of wine was a nice touch. We also tried these fabulous gin and Appletiser cocktails… so good we had a few each!
conservatory at appleby manor

We absolutely lucked out with the weather, so managed some drinks on the terrace before dinner, then after, sat in the conservatory watching the sun go down. The hotel provides board games for guests to entertain themselves (get in quick though) and there’s also a room with a table tennis table and pool table if you so desire.
terrace at appleby manor

Breakfast the next morning was a lovely affair, served til 10am.  We had a choice of continental buffet and ordering from the menu – as ever, I went straight for panics with blueberry compote and syrup… can’t help myself.

All in, we had a lovely weekend break to the Lake District.  Only 2 hours from Glasgow, there are loads of activities on the doorstep to get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors!



Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Reader Offer - 25% Off at Gordon Street Coffee

Readers

I’m here to offer something lovely to you all. Gordon Street Coffee – located inside Central Station in Glasgow, has its own in house coffee roaster (he’s called John, you’ll find him upstairs in the café and he’s dead friendly).  There’s such demand for their coffee, that it’s available for delivery direct to your home, office, holiday home in Fife, Granny’s gaff down the road… you get the picture.

From the ever popular Glasgow Roast (my favourite) to the Charles Rennie Macintosh with its notes of red cherries and walnuts, to the current Eurovision Roast which will “keep you up all night”- there’s something to please everyone. 

AND until 31st May, I’m offering readers a whopping 25% off a coffee order direct from the Gordon Street Coffee website.  Just enter my coupon code WHATCLAIREDID at the checkout and you’ll get a quarter off the cost of your coffee, delivered to your door.

It’s limited to 20 coupons and for one order… so don’t hold back.

Valid on coffee only… Spend over £25 and your coffee will be delivered to your door free of charge.

P.S. There's also really cool re-usable cups in store and if you bring yours in when you get your morning coffee, you'll get a discount off each cup you buy. Saving money and saving the planet. Double win.
Gordon St Coffee Glasgow Roast