A red-haired white woman wearing goggles, a breathing mask and a paint-spattered grey denim shirt

Behold, the first selfie I took in 2023. (Yeah, body image issues.) But this was a fun one, taken over the long Easter weekend when we redecorated the dining room.

Can you call it redecorating if it's the same colour? Our house is a late Victorian two-up-two-down red brick terraced house, which had an extension put on the back at some point in the 1980s or 1990s, and as a result the dining room with its one little window, despite being south-facing, is very dark. It's also the room with the stairs in, in the centre of the house, so it's as much a corridor as a room. We've tried colours on the walls in there, but it just ends up looking too dingy, so we've settled for magnolia. That's not as dull as it sounds; we've taken inspiration from rooms in old buildings in Cuba and Spain, and the mix of dark wood, pale walls and shade works pretty well. I think it does, at any rate!

We repainted the walls magnolia, then took on the big task: sanding the floor and using proper floor oil on it. It's Polyx Oil, the same stuff we used on the living room floor in 2017. It's expensive, but works really, really well – hardwearing, and doesn't chip the way varnish does. And once it's on, if it needs redoing you don't need to re-sand the floors, you can just go over them again. We had to do the dining room in two halves, moving the furniture first to one side, then the other.

A room with cream walls and a brown wooden floor. In in stand a dark, glass-fronted sideboard, a cabinet with glazed doors, and a wooden dining table and chairs.

Moving the furniture meant emptying the furniture, and I was very good and actually sent a few things to charity shops. There were a number of vases I can only assume were free with bouquets in the past – at any rate, they were plain and modern and not our style, and I've got half-a-dozen I'd use before those, so out they went. There were also a few charity shop impulse buys that never got used enough, cut-glass bowls and cake stands and the like. Clearing those things out gave us room to rearrange things so hopefully we'll get more use out of what we kept. 

A cocktail cabinet. On the bottom shelf is an array of bottles. On the two above it are all sorts of glasses, including wine glasses, martini glasses, whisky glasses and some tiki mugs with grimacing faces. There is also a chrome cocktail shaker shaped like a space rocket.

Anyway, if you catch me looking at homewares in a charity shop, please stage an intervention! I can just fit it all in nicely now. Look at my cocktail cabinet. There's happiness for you. Not because it's alcohol, but because the glasses are so pretty, and it's fun deciding which ones best suit which drink, and then taking time to mix it.

Continuing the Hobbity lifestyle, we've been enjoying the garden as the weather's warmed up. I've had a really good tulip display this year, though the dwarf irises did virtually nothing. We got leaves, but only two flowers. Mum said hers were the same, so maybe the winter was wrong for them. The tulips have made up for it anyhow. 

A border full of tulips on a sunny day. It is wonderfully colourful. The border is edged with bricks, which a tabby cat is walking along.

Today I put my tomato plants outside, and stuck a few of the flowers I've grown from seed into the borders. (Mainly Bishop's Children dahlias and lime-green nicotiana. I expect the dahlias will get slugged, though I have been using nematodes to try to keep the blighters at bay.)

I'll finish off with a nicer selfie. It's all clothes you've seen before, but I took it mainly to prove to myself that the image I have of myself in my head is a bit distorted. And now I'm off for a read of everyone's blogs...

A red-headed white woman standing in front of a wooden fence. She is wearing brown tweed trousers and a navy kimono patterned with coral and turquoise peonies and chaffinches, over a plain navy top.


  1. You, the garden and the dining room are looking fabulous, Mim. Love your floral blazer.
    Your house sounds exactly like the house we owned before buying Stonecroft. Our middle room was so dark we ended up embracing it and papering it in mid-century wallpaper with a burgundy backing, the buyer loved it so much she's still got it, 18 years after we sold it! Yours looks wonderfully sunny and bright! x

    1. That's a kimono top I made - I'm addicted to them; I have some black burnout velvet to make one for the Cult gig I'm off to later in the summer. That floral one always gets compliments though.

      The dining room does have certain advantages - being mostly sealed-in, it tends to be reasonably warm in winter, and was bearable during last summer's heatwave as very little of the sunlight reached it.

    2. Your dining room looks fabulous and the special oil sounds just perfect. We really need to redo our floors and I'm dreading it but the oil makes it sound a but less stressful. Does it only need one coat?

      I'm in awe of your cocktail cabinet! I also love your floral top it looks lovely on you.

    3. The dining room looks beautiful. Loads of work, but the result is great. I've yet to meet anyone that sees themselves as they are-human nature I guess to focus on what we consider flaws. You look lovely to me, and it is always nice to see you.
      Our place is so, so dark. Beige walls, beige carpet can only do so much.

    4. gah, that was me in the last comment. Google doesn't know me anymore?

    5. Veronica, we did two coats, but it's really easy to apply - and if it wears thin in a high-traffic area in future, you just need to apply some more to the affected area, you don't have to re-sand and varnish the whole thing.

  2. Your terraced house sounding a bit like ours - although ours isn't Victorian, but 1930s - and we've got a dark dining room as well. Painting it magnolia sounds like the sensible thing to do. Ours is a light terracotta, which we'll probably do again if we ever get around to redecorating. Well done on decluttering by the way!
    Your garden is looking gorgeous, as does that kimono top! No need for any body issues! xxx

    1. We tried all sorts of colours - I do love colour - but everything we chose made the room feel like it was either under water or under the earth. That room's just going to have to be a pale contrast to the rest of the house.

  3. I've read in Home and Antiques magazine a couple of times the recommendation for using floor oil and just how good it is. Your dinning room looks gorgeous. Loving the tulips and now you mention it I think I only had 2 mini irises too!

    1. Well, in peak Rookie Error, it turned out we'd bought Dutch irises, which flower in late May/early June, not the reticulated ones that flower in February/March, so we got a very pleasant surprise when they all bloomed after all.

  4. Great job at the dining room, the floor is looking fab!. Not a huge fan of magnolia myself but it totally works for your dining room.
    Your cabinet is particularly Fabulous! (I also have to keep myself away from homeware section at charities!)
    Looking fab in your floral kimono-jacket, lovely colours!. I hear you on brain trying to sabotage any confidence!. You look Fab, indeed.

  5. So good to see you again, Mim! Sorry I haven't been by - just catching up!


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