I'm sure you will all remember the painting of the barn - we got one side done before bike damage and bad weather scuppered the plans. As a result, we haven't been out there for over a fortnight, despite having invested in 'Blossom', my super-cheap, pretty in pink, pedal bike.
Instead of fieldwork, I have spent some time trying to organise the long-standing chaos that is my kitchen.
Kitchen makeover - Giving a room a simple makeover needn't cost the earth. In this case, it has cost me £50.23 plus the time it took to rummage for make-do-and-mend bits and pieces and put everything together. I haven't used everything bought, so the budget is actually under £50, but I'll work out the exact costs later.
Painting the walls - Anything goes and most of us can find some magnolia paint about the house at most times. If not, why not? It is my second default colour, after white, and can be used pretty much anywhere in the house without looking out of place. So, my kitchen is the default white ceiling and magnolia walls, spare paint is one of those 'always kept in stock' items in the same way as flour or sugar.
Work space - No fancy fitted kitchen here, just a few base units bought in an Argos sale a couple of years ago plus a salvaged unit and some old work top. In order to make the most of it all, I need to be able to see it and use it without it being covered in clutter. Herein lies the reason for my love of hooks! I've found that the best way of screwing them into the wall is to add a strap of wood, so the weight is spread across the framework behind the plasterboard, so that's what I did. The strips of wood are all from scrap.
Kitchen roll dispenser - A pair of hooks saved from an old over door hanger have been turned upside down and used to suspend a smooth branch from a tree, which is now supporting the kitchen roll. Works just fine and it can be easily replaced when the time comes to do so.
Window dressings - Who needs curtains or blinds when you are looking out onto your own back garden? This is some hemmed fabric that a friend gave me several years ago; it used to hang along the front of my kitchen units at the last house we were in, hiding the state of the old units there. Now, I have simply looped it over the extending rail in the window and tied it up using ribbons that I had among my crafting supplies. I believe they arrived as a gift during the love bomb dropped on me by Frugal Queen during our participation in a previous money challenge. The jars on the windowsill contain herb cuttings and my celery stalk that is now growing me more celery.
Interior design - The most expensive purchase for this makeover was the wallpaper border, as I needed three rolls of it to go all the way around the kitchen and the adjoining (soon to be) cloakroom. The wooden wall hangings are homemade, shaped from off-cuts of board and painted by resident artist. The corner kitchen stand is of unknown age or origin, as it was purchased several years ago from a charity shop.
Culinary delights - Like most frugal cooks, I do like my favourite pans, herbs and spices kept to hand, so here is what I did with mine. Yes, it's a piece of wood with even more hooks! Most of the wood used has been reclaimed from an old wooden bed frame we dismantled. It seemed too good to use as fuel in the fire, so I'm glad we kept it. The little spice racks were bought for £1 each several years ago in, you guessed it, a pound shop. The chalk board, just visible on the top left, was homemade around 2008 and has served us well through three addresses, to date.
Designer décor - Can anyone remember this? I bought it around 2004 and it has travelled with us during our past 3 house moves. It holds about a gallon of water and we used to keep tiny tropical fish in it. I'm not sure what will go in here next, as tropical fish keeping is a bit of an expense, what with heating, lighting, filtration and the cost of the fish, especially if there's a lengthy power cut, so it may end up with nothing more than some tiny shrimps or a couple of small cold water fish. Whatever, it has now been scrubbed and set up in what I am calling my 'cosy corner café.
Cosy corner - When I say cost, I really do mean it. With no heater of any description in the kitchen, I decided to hang the 250w infra red heater from the ceiling. (Costs under 4p per hour to run.) It is one I have had for several years, meant for brooding chicks after they come out the incubator. I haven't needed it for that purpose since moving here because I haven't been breeding many hens. I have to say, the cat greatly appreciates this corner and has claimed the seat directly beneath the heat lamp! No doubt she will be even more delighted to have fish to watch swimming around, once we get some!
Food preparation areas - Few people even notice that I don't have an actual cooker. I have a twin hot plate that fits nicely into a shelf on the corner kitchen stand for storage. Along with this, I have a microwave, slow cooker, steamer, toaster, bread-maker and the mini oven rescued from a charity fair back in 2008. I am no cordon bleu chef, so this lot does me just fine. The old work top has the stainless steel worktop saver bought via eBay on top, providing an excellent cutting and food prep surface that is easy to keep hygienically clean.
Cloakroom - Adjoining the kitchen is a small hallway, so this has now been painted and decorated to match the kitchen. The freezer has been moved in there and I am currently hanging shelves and coat hooks to make this into a walk through storage cloakroom. It isn't quite finished yet, but it should be soon. I've now found a suitable length of wood to attach to the wall for adding a load more hooks.
Here endeth my wet weather interior design exploits - for now!
Eco Arts - Meanwhile, out in the studio, resident artist completed the commissioned driftwood heron and it has now been delivered to its delighted new owner, with visiting rights agreed.
October Challenge Round-up - This has been a rather spendy month, even although our challenge was to have an austere October, buying only what we really needed and charting every single penny spent. Results for these challenges can all be found in www.frugalforums.co.uk, where you can also follow the November challenges. Hopefully, I may be able to entice a few more of you to start posting there and taking part, as we have some fabulous plans for future projects and, as always, these are all free to join.
NYK, Frugal Blog