Creating space, and building the Little Pink dining room
Over the years, I have written a lot.
Too much, some might say.
I share recipes and I overshare insecurities and I have filled you in on every detail of Mr P and I’s kitchen renovation and this is probably what makes me so very happy to show off our new dining room to you.
A dining room of which I am stupidly proud.
Because it was my very own idea to knock these rooms together, to create this amazing space, and we have actually done it.
We have used a builder for heavy lintel fitting, we have a gasman, we paid someone to fit the granite in the kitchen and got somebody to pour the screed over the underfloor heating so we are working with a perfectly level surface.
Everything else has been us.
Building walls and fitting insulation and hauling doors into place.
Painting everything in sight and upholstery and plumbing and electrics.
All of this, and so much more to create this dining room.
A dining room of which I am stupidly proud.
We turned an old window into a door and opened up an old door fitting to create another set of patio doors (yes, of course we sodding fitted them ourselves).
We fitted one hell of a lot of insulation.
I actually got some weird infection from this and lost my voice for a solid week.
Eventually the plasterer arrived.
So we laid a beautiful, yet practical floor.
I found Soferia, an online supplier who could make snazzy new covers for an old Ikea sofa.
And painted everything in sight.
I taught myself how to upholster.
We created a bookshelf which runs the whole length of the room and houses my quite sizeable collection of cookbooks.
WE BUILT A SODDING TABLE.
I mean, I had done some research and thought it might be possible, so we went to E&A reclamation in Ballymena and got some beautiful old floorboards (shout out to Cliodna and Charlie for being lovely and encouraging my harebrained ideas). and actually turned them into a FREAKING TABLE (another shout out to Ana White, without her plans this simply would not have happened).
I managed to get the Philippe Starck Ghost chairs I have been dreaming of FOR FIFTEEN YEARS shout out to the girls at Maven).
We managed to turn my Grandfather's worklamp form Shorts into a reading light.
I found some beautiful leather cabinet handles.
And here we have it.
The most beautiful dining room, and one of which I am very, very, VERY proud.
Look at it.
And I wish I could leave this there.
If I left this there, I might be able to diversify into ‘lifestyle blogging’ and get invites to farrow and ball events or something.
All I would need to do is namecheck the designers and the offers would come rolling in, I am sure.
Except I can’t.
Last year, when we attacked the kitchen renovation with gusto, I had just left my full time job. I spent the first full month of self employment actually building the physical Little Pink Kitchen.
And that was tough.
I worked, and worked, and then, when Mr P got home from the office, we worked some more.
I taught myself how to fit kitchens and build walls and tile awkward shapes and plumb in dishwashers and level units and SO MUCH more.
It was so hard, but ultimately extremely rewarding and worth the slog and when we got the chance to show it all off, it was MAGNIFICENT.
After we finished the kitchen, we, understandably, stopped with the whole DIY for a while. We had used up our enthusiasm and money, so we hug a plastic sheet between the kitchen and what was to be the dining room and got on with our lives.
I established a food business that was to go on to win an award.
We got on with our lives, and went to the pub and saw our mates and went for long walks with the dog and read books.
After a while, it became clear that we really needed to sort out the second part of this Little Pink Kitchen, and so we knocked through to create an opening two giant french doors, and spent a very sweary weekend fitting them.
We filled the space in the new dining room with dust and ladders and insulation.
We filled the living room with boxes of packaging, and catering flasks, and the table for the breakfast club.
We filled the study with yet more packaging, and the giant saucepans, and all of our paperwork.
We filled the room we were using as a living room with the camping stuff, and legs for our new table, and boxes of art that needed some space.
There was none left anywhere for people.
We had a sofa, but on one end of it was some sample of skirting board.
We had a bed, but it shared a room with the box of crap you need when you have a dog, like leads and poo bags and old pig’s ears.
There was wasn’t even anywhere to sit and drink a cup of tea.
We had none.
And over time, this started to really start to affect me.
Every lunch order that descended involved rearranging the chaos to find boxes.
Every breakfast club that happened involved rearranging the living room to look presentable.
Every day of filming, or picture for a magazine, or meeting about a job, involved rearranging everything, just to give the illusion of being vaguely in control.
After I had done my deliveries I would have to rearrange the office to find a space for my laptop to try and do some work, but there was never enough.
And so, as I started to lose space, I started to lose my spark.
I struggled to think of ideas for menus and had to feign enthusiasm for work.
Personally, I struggled to see the point in making any kind of effort with anything, and wore the same scruffy clothes for weeks on end.
I started to struggle to respond to even basic queries, and as a result, probably lost work that I will never gain back.
I even stopped responding to my friends, and there are probably a few who still think I hate them.
In the afternoons, there was wasn’t even anywhere to sit and drink a cup of tea.
I had none.
Mr P had none either.
And this took its toll on our relationship.
My anchor and rock and reason to be was, well, rocky.
The bickering, the spats, the arguments that went round and round in circles to the point where we both wondered if any of this was worth any of that.
It was horrible.
One night, I had a vivid fantasy about taking to the van and driving off into the distance to a place where there was no stuff and only wide, open space and cursed Mr P for helping me build this life where I had to spend my time surrounded by stuff and with no space.
And there wasn’t even anywhere where we could sit, and talk things over properly, and drink a cup of tea.
You get the idea.
We had none.
And through all of this work, that had been the hardest thing for me.
I haven't slept much for the last few weeks of finishing, I have contracted a throat infection while fitting insulation (I mean, I wasn’t able to speak for a week), I have fitted a fancy floor, I have taught myself how to BUILD A SODDING TABLE, none of which is easy.
But this lack of space, to live and work, and drink my tea, has been the hardest of all.
And that makes me me all the more delighted to show it off to you.
Because we now have space.
We have managed to create space for awesome breakfast clubs…
For sitting down with a cup of tea...
And celebrating the fact that together, we have made this with our own hands and swear words and not sleeping for more than four hours a night for the last month.
We have made some space.
And, if you are ever struggling a bit, you can totally come round.
We have space now.