Category Archives: Uncategorized

Log Burner

We chose a Charnwood Island III, as we had a large space to heat.It certainly warms up the barn very quickly, and we feel very cosy on cold winter evenings. This is in fact a multi-fuel stove, which means you can use other fuels apart from wood, but we stick to logs as they are readily available locally; in fact we cut most from own woodland. The stove has double doors and takes quite big logs.

 The stove was installed before the floor. It is laid on a reclaimed slate slab, which I believe came from the bed of a snooker table. The stove’s feet are sunk slightly below floor level because the floor joists had to be raised due to the original concrete floor having a considerable slope from one end to the other. This turned out quite well because it means that ash and cinders that drop out of the stove are contained by the slate surround, which we constructed from reclaimed slate blocks . Also it means that heat from the stove is nearer to floor level. (Just make sure you allow sufficient clearance to open the doors when building your hearth!)

Behind the stove I would like to cover the wall with slate cladding. I have obtained samples of some that is commercially available,  but perhaps I could split the blocks of leftover reclaimed slate which I already have into thinner pieces and stick them on the wall, for a more rugged effect? There are videos on Youtube showing how to do this, so I plan to give it a try… what do you think?

My  heap of reclaimed slate

Slate cladding

The addition of a stove-top fan  helps to distribute heat across the room, and is very effective. It is powered by the heat from the stove. Everyone I know with a log burner has added a fan!





 The stove top and surface will get very hot. A fire guard is particularly important when young children are around. This one comes with a set of tools, with bars to hang them on. It tucks away behind the stove when not in use.

The large hessian bag for logs came from The Range.



Clearing out ash is made much easier and less messy by using a Pifco Hot Ash vacuum

Barn Wall Decor

Once most of the work was completed, we could start putting up the eclectic collection of signs, plaques, pictures and various other decorations which were waiting to see the light of day. Where possible I have included a note of where they came from, but in some  cases I simply can’t recall where I found them!



Farmers’ Market sign from Wayfair

IMG_2102 2

IMG_2844 2Lightbox, a Christmas present. Comes with a set of letters so you can change the wording. I think the owls came from Portugal.

IMG_3028 2Horns from Pembroke Antiques Centre

IMG_9326 2 Antlers, a present bought from an antiques fair.


IMG_3447 2

IMG_4679 2

From Wayfair

IMG_5972 2

From Wayfair 

IMG_7253 2IMG_7704 2Large coffee sign from Ebay


Bear Hug sign from  B&Q

hang hat

IMG_5934 2

The above 2 signs I made myself by transferring images onto wood.

IMG_7234Outside: Cartwheels (or owl’s eyes!)

owl plaque

Owl plaque from BM store.

Jen’s Cornucopia

Jen’s Cornucopia

Stuck for ideas for presents?

Find the perfect gift, one that will be treasured and that will remind the recipient of you every time they use it. I am so busy with jobs to do in the barn that there isn’t much time for shopping. I find it’s much easier and more convenient to shop online, and of course there’s a much wider choice. If you are struggling to get your gift buying done, here are some great ideas to start you off.  

At we aim to provide excellent value Toys, games and baby products delivered quickly to your door!

We cover everything, from the latest toy trends to figures, electronic toys and everything you may need for your newborn baby. We are based in the UK and deliver worldwide. By buying from customers can save £££ with us!


B&Q:  Find the ideal present for your partner, homemakers, DIY enthusiasts, newly weds, students, recently retired…no shortage of inspiration at B&Q!

   MIAH: For curtains, bedding, cushions and throws.

Our state-of-the-art distribution centre  is packed with over 10,000 of the very latest soft furnishing designs, trends and deals, giving cutting-edge style, fast free delivery and great prices.

 Wayfair – the online destination for all things home.

Wayfair strives to provide its customers easy online access to the world’s home goods in one place, offering a zillion things home. Our extensive selection and superior customer service coupled with the convenience of online shopping, make it easier than ever before to find exactly what you want for your home at a price you can afford.

We offer thousands of products across all major home categories, presenting shoppers and affiliates one of the largest selections of furniture and decor for every style and budget. Every day, we feature exclusive sales at up to 70% off and free shipping for products over £40. are not your average furniture retailer. We believe everyone should be able to fill their home with designer furniture without paying the extravagant high street mark-ups. How? Because we strip out the expensive middle steps and connect directly to the manufacturers to save our customers up to 70% off the high street prices.

  • With over 50,000 products – from headphones to barbeques, board games to cordless drills – there’s something for everyone.
  • Products that are current, popular and on trend.
  • There’s even a range of products for under £1! Get your Santa Hat for 69p!
  • Free delivery on orders over £20.
  • We are truly global serving over 196 countries.

And of course, Ebay is where you can find pretty much anything. Click below to find special bargains before they expire!

 Ebay Weekly Deals

Bizzy Balloons is a Balloon Gift delivery service that can deliver  single or bunches of inflated helium balloons as gifts for many occasions. Think of when you could send a bouquet of flowers and we have a balloon gift that will have more impact, last longer and actually say the message you want!

  Prices start from as little as £12.00 with FREE chocolates and  FREE delivery within the UK. Bizzy Balloons has positioned itself as one of the UK’s favourite balloon delivery services. We also have many extra gifts which can be added to balloon orders.


 Useful Tools from B&Q, Ebay, and

img_2392Here is a collection of my most-used power tools – handy for just about anything you might want to make or fix…






There are so many things you can do with B&Q: my “go – to” store for all my projects. I’ve built up a collection of power tools over the years.. img_1101img_1132

My most-used power tools: Cordless pruning saw, cordless screwdriver / drill, electric jigsaw, electric sander,  mitre saw, chainsaw, electric planer

Electric sander, much used as you can see:) fullsizeoutput_1022

Electric multi-purpose mitre saw, latest  addition to my tool collection- wish I had bought one before.





Black & Decker 12″ Electric chainsaw: essential for cutting logs for the stove this winter.






Having struggled for years trying to master the knack of using the hand planer that used to belong to my dad, without any success, I decided to buy an electric version as there were so many jobs that required the use of a plane, such as making the rustic bathroom door. I chose the Mac Allister 750W 2mm Planer as it was good value and had good reviews. It works very well and is quite powerful so it’s best to take off a little bit at a time. My only problem with it is that it is bigger and heavier than I imagined. I would have liked a smaller more manageable model, but all the different makes available were about the same size. The planer produces a lot of wood dust, so if working indoors it is advisable to fit the dust bag provided, and wear a mask.


Heavy Duty Shelving

To make room for all these tools, not to mention piles of timber, insulation, plywood etc that were filling the garage to the extent that I couldn’t get my car in (essential during the cold winter months) I have just installed heavy duty shelving from B&Q. I chose this as it has very good reviews, and having seen it in store, it was clearly stronger than other garage shelving. It was delivered very quickly, and has proved strong and sturdy enough to accommodate a tremendous amount. Secured to the wall for safety, it holds a great deal of weight. It is advisable to varnish the chipboard shelves to prevent moisture absorption. I used a coat of floor varnish.



Saw Horse

Here are photos of a saw-horse I bought through Ebay a few years ago. It is still in regular use. More expensive than some, but it has the advantages of safely holding logs securely whilst you are cutting them, without having to readjust the log for further cuts, which saves a lot of time. As you can see, it holds quite large logs.



B&Q isn’t just for tools, of course. All your gardening, building, decorating, lighting, kitchen, bathroom and home furnishing requirements can be found there too.

Whilst browsing on, you can now check the stock availability on products for up to three B&Q stores of your choice at any one time. If none of the stores you choose has stock, B&Q will tell you the nearest store that does.

Building a project-shopping list has never been easier. When researching on, simply select your chosen items to build your project-shopping list. When completed, you can print off and take into your local B&Q store to purchase.

In addition, do not forget, is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and you can still buy over 6,000 products online.

 Worldwide online shop stock a vast range of tools, home and leisure products, toys and more. Your order will be sent out the same day. Ideal for presents, as well as anything else you need for yourself.

Rustic Door using Corrugated Metal

Inspired by a changing room door at a Fatface shop, I wanted to make a rustic door for the bathroom. Here is the door that caught my imagination:


I started to make something similar, using corrugated zinc from a builders merchant and some rough wood. Oh and my new toys, an electric mitre saw, useful for cutting those triangular pieces, but also makes short work of slicing through 2″ x 4″ joists, and an electric plane. Also a glue gun, cordless drill/screwdriver, and a jigsaw. Not forgetting lots of screws of various sizes – it’s amazing how many you get through. The metal is sandwiched between 2 layers of wood, with a narrower piece between them next to the edge of the metal to fill the gap.

Tools used in this project: (All from B&Q)

Bosch Cordless Drill & Screwdriver (I have 2 of these so I don’t have to keep changing bits)

Bosch Electric Sander,

MacAllister 750W electric plane

Evolution multipurpose sliding mitre saw



Here is my version being brought to fruition (still some finishing touches to be completed)and also our Indian cupboard, which has been under wraps since we bought it 2 years ago, now in situ in the space we had reserved for it. By the time the door frame was made, there wasn’t quite enough room left, so we had to cut a piece of the door frame out, as you can see…

img_0208 img_1461

Finished result, with a few screw-in studs added for good measure 🙂



And yet…

Such a building cried out to be used for more than simply storing junk…

IMG_4748(Be assured, if you have any spare storage space there will be no shortage of people wanting to fill it!) The primary task to be carried out inside the barn was to de-clutter.
(Being a hoarder, this is something I find very difficult, so I rely on a helper  who is ruthless in sorting out what can be disposed of. This makes the job a lot easier.

Painting Outside

The “back of the barn” is very close to the wooded hillside. There is a narrow gap just about wide enough to fit a slender person! It doesn’t get much sun, and is a trap for fallen leaves. After clearing out a 2 foot deep accumulation of leaf mould, the wood was painted with Cromapol One Coat Instant Waterproofing, which contains acrylic fibres so that it also fills small holes whilst you paint. The front and sides of the barn were painted with “Osmo One coat” which protects the wood whilst allowing it to “breathe.” It comes in a host of attractive colours. You are meant to apply just one coat, to allow the grain of the wood to show through, so whilst it is quite expensive, one tin goes a long way. I have to thank my six year old grandson, who enjoyed helping with the painting!

Wall Insulation

To retain as much heat as possible, the mammoth task of insulating the walls commenced.
As with the roof, PIR insulation slabs were used to line the inside of the wooden walls. Their U value is good, they are easy to cut and they have high fire resistance, which is a crucial aspect. In the above photo you can see the wooden walls, and some of the Kingspan Insulation Boards which we used to insulate them, carefully cutting the board into pieces to fit between the joists so that the wooden framework is still visible, in order to retain the character of the building. image_03-03-2015_19-40-48_0042-copy

This was a time-consuming task. We found that a very sharp blade is the neatest and least messy way of cutting the insulation boards. The boards were secured with blobs of spray foam, leaving an air gap behind the boards. The most efficient means of using the foam is with a special foam gun designed for the purpose. After going through several guns which, despite buying gun cleaner and following procedures, still persisted in becoming blocked and unusable, I found a brilliant one made by Soudalsoudal

image_29-04-2015_15-21-08_1455The foil covering of the insulation was painted over with 3 coats of smooth masonry paint, giving a plastered effect. Although more easily dented, painting over insulation was less expensive than using plasterboard and plastering over it. It doesn’t produce a smooth finish, but as we were aiming for a rustic appearance, this didn’t matter. A quicker but more expensive alternative in terms of materials would be to use plasterboard with insulation already attached to it, but you would save on labour costs if you were employing someone to do the work. Be warned: Measuring, cutting, fitting and painting the insulation probably took up hundreds of hours!

After several trips to the local tip (or recycling centre as it is now called) later, and disposing of furniture through Freecycle, charity shops and Ebay, we had created a little more room to move about. Industrial storage shelves bought second-hand were filled with things I couldn’t bring myself to part with just yet…84e77cd0-0815-47c9-9340-ca5e8ef584c9

and I have just bought more shelving for the garage, on offer at B&Q.


cropped-IMG_2871.jpgMeanwhile, the disintegrating felt roof was tapco re-covered using Tapco slates, made of a lightweight composite material which looks just like real slate. Kingspan Insulation boards were fitted beneath the slates. Later, we added more insulation between the ceiling joists.


img_0005In addition to insulation under the slates, it was decided to also insulate the inside of the roof, again between the joists. Luckily we were able to buy seconds of insulation which were much cheaper and were the right width to fit between the joists. I found it easier to paint these before putting them on the ceiling. You could use other forms of insulation covered with wallboards, but we found this works well. Again, the insulation was stuck on with blobs of expanding foam, using a foam gun made by Soudall which doesn’t gunge up. This is much more manageable and less wasteful than using the canisters that squirt fan through a plastic tube. With the Soudall gun, if you don’t use the whole container at once you can just clean the dried foam off the nozzle and carry on the next day, or even days later.  Luckily through Ebay we were able to buy seconds of insulation which were much cheaper and were the right width to fit between the joists. I found it easier to paint these before putting them on the ceiling.

As the weather turned colder, our thoughts turned to installing a log burner.

To heat the building, a log burner was installed, as it would be expensive to use just electric heating in winter, and we have no gas supply. We chose a large Charnwood Island 3 log burner in order to warm up the space quickly. This stove has a large capacity, so we could use longer logs, up to 50cms, which saves on cutting. It’s a multi-fuel burner so we are not limited to burning just logs, although that’s what we use, being surrounded by trees which often need cutting back. Fifi the cat now has a cosy place to take a nap.


cropped-IMG_2870.jpgI climbed onto the roof and painted the silver stove pipe black. Apart from aesthetic reasons, I had read somewhere that the pipe will be warmer and draw more efficiently, as black absorbs heat – something like that, but I have tried and failed to find where I read that! Perhaps someone could provide more info on this?


Cement board was screwed to the wooden wall behind the log burner for fireproofing, and we built a slate hearth.

IMG_0006We had a lot of leftover slate. Any ideas?

I had ordered far too much (having initially been told that regulations stipulated brick or stone behind the log burner – (not so, cement board is fine) but it came in useful to build a breakfast bar and a step down into the kitchen. And to use decoratively outside, but first there is lots more to do inside, so read on… ‎

Hot Water (Adding a bathroom, bit by bit.)

When we first began, not only was there no water supply; there were no bathroom walls!


As we were already having some plumbing work done outside,  it made sense to install a mains water supply to the barn, together with sewage pipes connecting to an existing septic tank.

If this isn’t feasible for you, alternatives to a mains system could include, depending on practicality and preference, a rainwater collection system and a composting toilet – used with sawdust, or you can even get ones that flush. Off Grid Designs specialise in helping people to build and use simple compost toilets whether it’s for a boat, van, cabin, tiny-house or campsite. They also make high quality special toilets to ‘custom’ specifications, and their prices are very reasonable.



As we are fortunate enough to have good water pressure, being located next to a reservoir, we decided to install an unvented water cylinder. I initially had no idea what this was, but basically it means it doesn’t have a header tank, so is ideal for  single-storey buildings. Fed directly from the mains water supply, it heats water and stores it in an insulated cylinder. (By the way you don’t have to be next to a reservoir, just have reasonable water pressure. We have used these elsewhere with good results.)

Quotes for various unvented cylinders from our plumber were as follows:

Labour – £200.00

Pipework and materials – £110.00

Telford Tempest 200L Direct – £442.00 (Lifetime guarantee)

Sapphire 210L – £506.19

Santon Premier Plus 210L – £814.93

We opted for the Telford Tempest and it is working very well so far. (Whichever you choose, don’t forget the annual service.)

Here is the actual cylinder we had installed – we find it heats water quickly and the water is still hot the next day!cylinder

So now there’s plenty of hot water to run a bath and have a lovely soak ?


Bath, basin, W.C.

We selected a traditional style roll-top bath together with a pedestal wash basin and matching W.C. to fit in with the vintage theme. You can find much more expensive ones, but this one fitted our budget whilst still being good quality, using high grade 5mm acrylic, without being too heavy. Avoid the thin flimsy ones!

You can buy a new, vintage or reconditioned bath, washbasin, W.C. etc on Ebay. Here is what we chose:

VITALE ROLL TOP TWIN END BATH   waverley-basinwaverley-wc

up-in-the-raftersBathroom Wall

The wall behind the bath is a partition wall which we built using chipboard screwed to 4″ x 2″ uprights. The wall on the bathroom side, behind the bath, was covered using pieces left over from the waterproof, self-adhesive  Gerfloor flooring which we used for the kitchen and bathroom floor – more about that later! The problem with sticking Gerfloor flooring to chipboard was that the chipboard first needed to be sealed with a couple of coats of varnish, and the flooring, although very sticky, then needed to be secured with sealant/adhesive, because of the movement in the chipboard caused by temperature changes.

Shower cubicleShower

After much searching, I found a shower tray and doors to fit the available space. The tray is a slate colour to match the rustic decor. I was so pleased with the product and service, including very helpful online advice. The company is home Some bathroom companies which advertise extensively have a bad customer review record. However, I can personally vouch for this one!

Shower Wall Panels

Rather than tiling the shower wall, we used waterproof wall panels in a wood effect. I can’t find a link to the exact ones right now but here is something similar: wall panels


original_william-morris-wall-quote-sticker copy

Some furniture bought, made or donated for the barn…

img_2698 img_2349  unknown-2714702382_10210523240708289_3554877255373255865_n


Breakfast bar we built from reclaimed slate and old scaffold boards, sanded and sealed.





Comfy, height-adjustable bar stools




Antique campaign chair, re-covered img_1641

Rocking chair, from an auction img_0131

Second-hand pool table in new condition, from (I’ve just bought a mini-sized cue for little ones from Ebay ) pool-cue






and furniture sliders so we can easily move the heavy pool table out of the way when not in use… sliders


We were delighted to find this beautiful furniture, made from reclaimed wood – perfect for the barn!


 Vintage Indian cupboard waiting to be filled with crockery









   Moroccan Corner Shelves from Ebay

Building a simple, fitted wardrobe: follow our progress, watch for the next update…img_0097 img_0126img_2711

Where to find the perfect barn-style furniture and accessories?

Sofas and Stuff: find the best sofa for you. Also armchairs, stools, beds. Bespoke. British. sofasandstuffHandmade. sofa-inspiration-calwintonbeds this is where to find those special items that make all the difference to your room design.

lifestyle_dancing_price_00x250_01 jan_sale_banners_criteo_full_frame_rasterized_12

ebay Ebay: where you can find just about anything!

miah MIAH: for your cushions, curtains, throws and bedding.


PRICE DROP – Over 700 different cushions now less than £10. Here’s my favourite: antiquaire_45x45_natural

door-furniture All you need for well-dressed doors and windows


wayfair: a vast selection for your homeFurniture, accessories, and more for every style and budget



Pallet Wall

14469485_10210286844478531_7766673831805572874_nHave you thought about making a pallet wall as a feature? The look of reclaimed wood fits so well in a  rustic environment. In our barn, the chipboard dividing wall lent itself to screwing in the pallet strips quite easily, and made it possible to use any variety of lengths. If you have a plastered wall you would need to fix uprights to the wall, to nail or screw into. First the wall was painted black, so that the inevitable gaps between some of the strips wouldn’t be too obvious.



img_0028You can get quite creative staining your pallet strips to give them an aged look with various stains, paints and colours. One way is brushing them with a solution made from teabags, which increases the tannin content of the wood, then with vinegar in which wire wool – or any old iron such as rusty nails, has been immersed for a day or so. This reacts with the tannin, giving the wood a greyish hue. You can save used teabags, and when you have a few, pour boiling water over them and leave to brew. You can also use coffee, diluted paint – the possible tints are endless, but do mix up enough to finish the project as it is hard to replicate the exact results, and do test first on a scrap piece of wood. The vinegar solution may appear to have little effect at first, but wait a few minutes and you will be surprised! More information here:

Firstly however, before getting to the fun part, you need to collect your pallet strips. I used approximately 100 strips for a wall measuring approx 12 square metres. If you are dismantling pallets yourself,  there are usually around 7 strips to each side of a double-sided European pallet, so you can work out roughly how many you need.

You might be able to find a pallet supplier locally. Dismantling the pallets can be time-consuming. There are various methods to make the job easier, including a pallet breaker tool made for the purpose, but the easiest way is probably to use a reciprocating saw with a blade for cutting metal, to cut through the end nails, then lever the pallet apart. (These saws also come with blades for different materials and are great for pruning branches in your garden.)

Alternatively you might be able to source recycled pallet strips, or, as I did, buy strips from a pallet manufacturer, and then give them a vintage look by staining them. Either way, you will want to sand the wood using an electric sander, remembering to sand the edges and corners to make the strips look a bit worn and take off the newness.

If you find yourself in the Lancashire area, an excellent source of pallets, pallet strips, firewood and vast supplies of reclaimed wood of all shapes and sizes, at great prices whilst raising money for a good cause and helping people with disabilities, is The Woodhouse, Preston, PR2 2TB.  This is where I obtained scaffolding boards to make my kitchen worktops. Sanded and sealed, they look fantastic!


You can add interest to some of your pallet strips by adding vintage logos, using stencils or by using an inkjet printer to transfer images onto acetate sheets, freezer paper, wax paper, or other glossy paper, then onto the wood. Remember to flip the image horizontally before printing if you use this method. Click here for instructions.




Lighting is such a crucial element in any situation.

We finally took down the old 6 foot fluorescent tubes, and replaced them with a variety of light fittings with a vintage, rustic  or industrial vibe.

chandelier above the bath to add a bit of glamour  1147914e-9b81-40df-865b-b35c7fde53e3








pendant light – kitc92d8ebed-f049-4a7d-900c-ed100e645929-2hen  03a8afa6-51ab-4f2c-845f-e1acf94a209d








rope lights above breakfast bar  8d927751-dcd0-46f6-a342-e2dadfe87ca2-23b79b8cf-018c-4380-94ee-58d7db85633e



Various bulbs available to fit rope lights



pool table light (second hand from Preloved)img_0053

c7451ba0-2449-45c7-9e2a-dfdd1ab69290Pool table light with shades from Ebay

industrial wall lights (Ebay) I bought 6 from  mjknobsandknockers  wall-lights-for-barns-l1600-2

img_1957The lights do not come with any wiring. I tried using twisted fabric flex as I thought it would look vintage, but it kept fraying at the ends which made attaching the wires to the bulb holder rather difficult, so I gave up and used plastic coated flex instead, in a gold colour. It looks fine, and you only see a few inches of it, but for pendant lamps where quite a lot of the flex is visible, I have noticed recently that you can now buy twisted flex ready wired to a bulb holder, some with a removable plug at the end, in a variety of colours and even some with Bakelite ceiling fittings, (if you are old enough to remember) which would make wiring a lot easier  and really adds to the vintage look.


I have used one of these fittings for this lovely Moroccan lamp which I have just bought for the bedroom, from Ebay. Flex from Ebay. Chain from B&Q. This Moroccan style goes nicely with the bedside lights, and I have now added Moroccan corner shelves, which you can see on my furniture page, to add to the ethnic theme.

IMG_7835 IMG_0646 2


Bedside lamp, one of a pair.


 Moroccan lanterns, a present from my sister





Owl lampshade from The Range.

Lamp Base from B&Q

Outside Lighting

    img_6543 IMG_7234

Outside Lamp with inbuilt sensor from B&Q

IMG_6890Of course, you can’t beat Nature’s own lighting effects. We are blessed with fabulous sunsets…

A “supermoon” shining through the roof window on a rainy night.IMG_9429