AlpacaSuitcase's Profile

Display Name: AlpacaSuitcase
Member Since: 5/8/13

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My mum is a hoarder. One thing I have realised since moving out and buying my own place is this: You do not need to keep everything 'just in case', especially not rubbish or wrappers or broken things. Reusing things is good, making good use of old items is great, recycling is a good cause and really helps the environment but you do not need to keep everything 'just in case' you need it at a later date. If you cannot use something, get rid of it. If you think you might use it again but you're not sure, chances are you should get rid of it.

Possessions are nice but they're not as important as living your life and enjoying it - a house that you can actually use that isn't so cluttered and full of junk that it makes you depressed is worth much more than a bunch of things.


8 Life Lessons to Learn to Make Adulthood Easier
6/15/14 08:34 AM

Really feeling this post!

My OH bought me the materials to build a faux fireplace for valentines this year. We finally got around to tackling the project about a month ago and whilst I appreciate the thought and effort and love that went into building it.. my god it is terrible! It's falling apart, it is far too tall and too deep, it doesn't look anything like what we'd planned.. the list goes on! The next step was to plaster over it and then tile it but I couldn't bring myself to plaster it to the wall, making it a permanent addition.. I think this post has been the kick up the bum I needed to admit that it just isn't working and we need to start again from scratch!


How to Bounce Back Quickly From Design and DIY Project Failures
6/15/14 08:21 AM

We recently laid faux wood lino planks in our bathroom (About 3.5sqm). It was super cheap compared to other options like stone/tile or laminate and we were able to do it ourselves without much trouble which saved us loads of money.

The cost of the lino itself was just shy of £80 from Homebase (brand was Flexxfloors). It took us an evening to install with two of us to do the work but I'm sure expert DIYers would be able to do it much quicker. We cut the lino with a sharp scalpel and laid the lino in a staggered pattern to make it a bit more interesting. Super easy to do and it made such a difference to the look of our bathroom!


How Much Did It Cost To Buy & Install Your Linoleum Flooring? Reader Intelligence Request
5/7/14 03:25 PM

It's a beautiful kitchen but I really don't know how you spent that much money on Ikea cabinets when you don't have that many of them! Even converted into pounds, that's more than my entire budget for my kitchen renovation and I've been quoted roughly £700 at most for my kitchen cabinets.

Does the $5000 include anything else e.g. the fitting or is that just for the cabinets? Can you give us any insight into why they cost that much?


Jennifer's Kitchen Renovation: What It Really Cost - A Budget Breakdown Renovation Diary
5/2/14 03:39 PM

I think the reason none of these kitchens have upper cabinets is because they're so huge they don't actually need them!

Although not as large as the featured kitchens, my partner and I have decided to go with no upper cabinets in our very small kitchen. I am woefully short (5ft) so they just don't work for me - I can only reach the first shelf so it is absolutely bulging with stuff and then the back of the cupboards and the upper shelves just fill up with rubbish. It isn't a great use of space, so we've decided to nix the uppers and instead go with a slimline pull out pantry or all our food products and then two long shelves for our glasses and plates. A pull out pantry makes better use of our limited space and the plates and glasses get used frequently enough that they won't get greasy on the open shelving. We're also replacing all our lower cabinets with drawers so we can get to things more easily.

I think there's a place for open shelving but it only really works if you're not into frying or you don't have a lot of stuff to store.


Renovation Inspiration: 10 Beautiful Kitchens with No Upper Cabinets
5/1/14 05:20 PM

My partner and I ended up with a small space because we didn't want to rent anymore. We were previously living in a 3 bedroom terrace with a private garden, we now live in a 2 bedroom flat without a private garden.

One of the biggest compromises was definitely our office space. In our rented house we each had a separate room to work in, but now we share one room and have it as a joint office/guest room. It has probably been the most difficult compromise for me, because I find it harder to work in and the space gets messy quickly. Plus with the futon for guests, it is really cramped right now. Eventually we plan to reconfigure the space with a wall length desk and built in storage but we need to save up for that first.

We also gave up a private garden, which has been a bit of a pain because we have a dog. The plus side is that our dog gets out more (5 times a day) but the downside is that you have to be willing to walk in all weathers and we live in the UK so the weather isn't always pleasant!

Another downside is the kitchen, which has a lot less worktop space. We cook daily so our kitchen gets really messy. That said, we're currently planning a reno in July to add more worktop space and better storage so once that's done, hopefully the kitchen will be even better than the one in our rental.

Despite the compromises, I do prefer living in a small space. It is much warmer and costs much less to heat, we don't keep stuff we don't need because we don't have the space to, and it definitely feels more cosy. However, the biggest upsides to downsizing have been the amount of time and money we save - it is so much quicker and easier to maintain than our house and we have roughly £300 extra per month which means we have the time and money to actually do stuff together instead of maintaining a space that we didn't really need.

Configuring a small space is definitely more difficult because you have less to work with but I think in the end, once you manage to get the space to your liking, it works just as well as a bigger space and you realise that you didn't really need that extra space anyway.


What Have Been Your Small Space Sacrifices?
4/27/14 03:27 PM

I am in agreement with German Girl and I do find it a bit annoying to see homes listed as 'tiny' when they are anything but. If you can fit an island slap bang in the middle of your kitchen then you cannot possibly call your space tiny!

I wouldn't mind so much but these spaces are listed as 'inspiring tiny homes' - most are not inspiring to me, as a tiny home owner, because I can't make use of a lot of the design choices they've made because my home isn't big enough. Why not just call a spade a spade and list these homes as '15 inspiring Austin Homes' instead of trying to suggest they're tiny when more than half of them aren't in the slightest?


Small Space Style: 15 Inspiring Tiny Austin Homes
4/25/14 05:56 AM

I'm so excited to see how this kitchen turns out! It's already looking bigger without the shelves blocking the window (:


Jennifer's Kitchen: Some Unexpected Issues Renovation Diary
4/16/14 03:41 PM

Ikea is often easier than vintage as they will deliver, while most items being sold online or at car boot sales are collect only. If I wanted a vintage item off preloved or gumtree (British equivalents to Craigslist) I would have to arrange for a man with a van to pick it up for me, and they charge extra to deliver to a flat. Most Ikea stuff also comes flat packed, which is really useful if you live in a flat and have tight staircases!

Plus sometimes Ikea stuff is really nice and they offer a lot of options that make their products fit into many different spaces for a relatively low price point e.g. most people probably can't afford a custom built wardrobe but Ikea offer something kind of close to that in the form of Pax, for a smaller amount.
If you're low on money and you like a Scandinavian Modern or MCM aesthetic, Ikea will get you the look for a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

Plus some of their stuff (especially the pine pieces) really aren't that bad when it comes to quality (:


IKEA Hacks: 10 DIY Ways to Make Cheap Wardrobes Look More Expensive
4/16/14 03:34 PM

I really love this, it's so daring! I would have gone for a lighter paint on all or one of the walls because this feels a bit claustrophobic but different strokes for different folks!
The whole aesthetic of the room is super impressive, it all links together so well and it's so striking.


Before & After: Funky Kitchen Gets a New, Fearless Design
4/8/14 04:59 PM

Definitely one of the most valuable things to learn early on in your DIY career. My partner and I bought our first place just over 6 months ago and have been doing a lot of DIY due to budget restraints. I recently persuaded him that we (Or rather, that he) could totally replace a set of bath taps and our bath panel without the need for a professional. Turns out, not such an easy task after all & we only discovered that after we'd removed the old taps.. There was a lot of hanger involved and we ended up without the use of our shower and only able to use the bath for a month until his stepdad came over and fixed it for us!
It was a worthwhile lesson to have learned but I wish I'd just been sensible and hired a plumber in the first place!


When to DIY and When to Go Pro
3/31/14 06:13 PM

Wow, your hallway is beautiful! That stencil job is flawless!


How Can I Make Tiny Entryway More Inviting? Good Questions
3/26/14 02:12 PM

Agree about the daylight bulbs! I would also try and cover the terracotta tiles in some way, to try and make the hallway less orange-y - maybe a wide, flatwoven rug in bright, neutral colours?

I'd also change the wall colour to something a bit darker either all the way up the stairs or just up to the dado rail - something darker but still soft like a cool grey or a more dramatic, richer colour like an emerald green to kinda match the colour on the walls outside your apartment? (: I think currently the white walls just reflect the orange-y, yellow-y tones, whereas a darker colour - even just slightly darker like the grey, shouldn't reflect that as much. Depending on how brave you feel and what suits your style, you could really make a statement with your hallway!


How Can I Make Tiny Entryway More Inviting? Good Questions
3/26/14 02:05 PM

My mum is a hoarder so I grew up with the idea that guests must give due notice of their arrival (at least a week!) and you had to absolutely scrub the house from top to bottom before people could possibly step foot in the place. Then I moved in with my boyfriend, who is from an extremely open household where the door is always open and no fuss is made about guests coming over. So I totally freaked out when he started inviting his friends home from work without letting me know and when his friends started popping round unannounced! It made me so stressed out but eventually, I started to realise that they were coming over to see my boyfriend and I, not our house and that they didn't care how messy our kitchen was.

I think the only time I've ever been embarrassed about my home was the time my boyfriend's mum cleaned our house for us while I was out at work! I had to text her and apologise profusely for the state our flat was in (It was pretty gross but she was very nice about it, I think I'm so lucky to have such a great future mum-in-law!)


Embracing an Open Door Policy: Your Guests Aren't Judging You Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
3/21/14 01:40 PM

Or maybe we could just stop encouraging the ridiculous housing bubble that is happening in London and start trying to fix the problem instead of ignoring it altogether and forcing people to pay unaffordable prices to live in ugly little prefabs that don't even meet the minimum size requirements? The UK already has the smallest new build properties in Europe with the smallest sized windows, we don't need to funnel people into even smaller properties and encourage them to live in even worse conditions just so that some rich twats (namely our idiot MPs) and their buddies can keep expanding their property portfolio. It's absolutely atrocious.


YMCA to Build Affordable Prefab Houses for Those Priced Out of Cities Design News
3/12/14 07:48 PM

So do you guys plan on covering any UK properties that aren't in London? I've seen maybe two or three tours of UK homes outside of London. Considering the cost of living in London and that AT is heavily based on budget design, it'd be great to see a wider amount of the UK being covered in house tours. For the majority of us, London is a completely unrealistic place to purchase or even rent property - especially a house of this magnitude, so it's pretty disproportionate to focus just on that one small area of the UK.

Seriously, why not look for some tours in Bristol or Cornwall or Birmingham or York? Anywhere but London! I promise, interior design doesn't stop outside the London boroughs!


Kirstie's Colorful English Townhouse House Call
2/16/14 06:55 PM

It's all very well and good saying that decor can be changed but it's much harder said than done if you're on your own, or you're working full time or you have little disposable income, let alone if you have kids or any other sort of time consuming commitment. The joy of a house that you can just move into and renovate as you can manage is not to be sniffed at - especially if you're the sort of person who will become miserable if you're in a not-so-great environment for months or sometimes years on end.

A fixer upper isn't suitable for everyone and it shouldn't be seen as some sort of sign of vanity or a personality flaw if someone can't or doesn't want to see past the ugly decor of a house. At the end of the day, if sellers want to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds for their property, they should be doing their part and sorting out any bad paint jobs etc. in preparation for selling. It shouldn't just be the responsibility of the buyer to look past bad work and accept that that's just how things are.


5 Things Not To Worry About While House Hunting (and One Unexpected Thing You Probably Should)
11/20/13 04:56 PM

I really love this, it's such a transformation of a boring space! Open shelving isn't practical for me but it really does open the space up and make it interesting to look at. Plus it's so useful if you're short and normal cabinets are a pain to reach! I can imagine that if you use the shelved items a lot and tend to bake rather than fry, open shelving might not be so impractical.

Open shelving or not, the renovation is really impressive and imaginative. Especially the sink which is just fantastic!


Before & After: Reclaimed & Recycled Kitchen Redo
8/28/13 08:35 AM

Sometimes carpet can be a worthwhile addition, though. We live in a flat, with a dog, in England. It gets super cold in the winter and carpet helps to keep the heat in & keeps our feet warm without pushing up our heating bills. It also helps to insulate against noise so we don't hear our neighbours and they don't hear us (Some UK flats actually have rules in the lease that you can't have over a certain amount of wooden/laminate floor for this reason). Wood flooring can also do real damage to dogs and their knees/hips, so it can actually be quite dangerous if you have a dog.

Our previous house had beautiful wood floors throughout but I have never been so cold in all my life! Even with slippers, socks, rugs in every room and the heating on, my feet were like little blocks of ice. Carpets aren't everyone's cup of tea but they do have certain practicalities that wood floors just don't and to write them off entirely is daft. I really appreciate this article because I love my carpets and I love being able to keep them looking lovely!


Smart & Simple Homekeeping: Tips for Keeping Carpets Clean
8/28/13 08:25 AM

I was in a similar situation to you a few years ago. I'd just met my partner and we were living 2 hours apart. I'd just got my first 'proper' job and desperately wanted to buy a house by my new workplace! I decided to wait because I thought I was rushing into things a bit - and I'm so glad I did! Now only 2 years later I'm no longer in that job, I'm living in a different part of the country and my boyfriend and I were able to buy a house together instead.

You've only just started your first 'proper' job, you've only just met this guy, it really isn't the time to rush into buying a house! Give yourself another year, keep saving and see where you are then. Not only will you have a bigger deposit & can afford a better house but you'll have a better idea of what your immediate future holds (e.g. whether you want to move somewhere new, try for a new job etc.).


Buying vs. Waiting (At Parents' House)? Good Questions
8/26/13 10:13 AM