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25 May 2020

Lockdown: At Home - Sarah

What’s your name and what do you do?

I’m Sarah, and I own the Little Pink Kitchen, a small catering company in based in Belfast.

Who lives in your home?

Sid the beagle, and his household staff, my husband Keith and I.

How would you describe your home?

Ours.

We bought this house 5 years ago, and have stripped it back to the envelope on our own, then teaching ourselves how to put it all back together. Plumbing, electrics, tiling, joinery, brickwork, underfloor heating fitting, we really have done it all. 

Doing all the work ourselves means the place could not belong to anybody else; my beloved pink smeg fridge sits front and centre of a Moroccan tiled kitchen, a switch on the wall straight to 6 music coming through the speakers that Mr P has been collecting since his school days. There is a shelf built in beside the Japanese soaking tub that perfectly fits a glass of wine and a book, the garage fits at least two cars and all you could ever need or want to tinker on them. It definitely is the house that Team P built, and I love that.

What have you enjoyed about your home during the lockdown?

Bizarrely, the fact that it is clean and everything has a place. Neither of us are neat freaks by any stretch of the imagination, and Sid produces way more hair than you would ever think possible, but a vaguely clean and tidy house has made me feel slightly less like the world is falling apart. 

Aside from that, the location is fab. We are right beside the Comber greenway for my attempts at Couch to 5k, we are getting to know the neighbours really well, and we are able to get loads of stuff delivered from some really amazing local businesses.

Is there a DIY job you've got round to that you're proud of?

We unfortunately had to cancel a plasterer because of covid-19, which would have finished off the final few rooms of this massive DIY project and, if we had managed to squeeze it in before lockdown, given us a very different experience of the last few weeks. Saying that, it has actually been lovely to have a bit of time off from that all-consuming DIY and spend some time on some projects that are a bit more fun; I have attacked the garden with gusto, Mr P has built a very impressive app that means most of the heating, lighting and audio is automated. It is very, very cool and means that future kitchen discos round ours are going to be amazing.

If you could change anything about your home, what would it be?

It really surprises me to say this, but very, very little, if anything, and I think this comes from the fact we have done it all ourselves.

There are of course small snags, simply due to our inexperience; having to make our own door saddle because we left a larger than standard gap between rooms, those skirting boards that still need a bead of sealant. Then, there are the sockets on the kitchen peninsula at what we thought was the perfect height. Which they were, until the worktop was fitted and you couldn't actually plug anything in, which isn’t ideal. Still, all fairly easily remedied and there would probably have been all these issues and more had we had anybody else do the work.

Despite wishing all the DIY could end, the fact we have done all the work ourselves has given us enormous freedom to make the right decisions for us & our lifestyle. We can and do tweak and adjust our designs at any time, which means that we have finished every project so far knowing that the whole house works for us. 

Because of this, we have made the stuff that really matters to us fit into this space; gorgeous tiles, a really amazing sound system, bright colours and interesting trinkets we have picked up over time. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I still would love that budget alone stopped (Wooden windows! An aga! A Pierre Guariche Lamp!) but I really am delighted with what we do have instead, and really would not change a thing. 

What’s the most recent thing you’ve bought for your home?

A slab of reclaimed winery oak wood from E&A Reclamation, Ballymena. I got the call to say it was ready for pickup just before lockdown and haven’t been able to collect it yet! The wood is for a desk in my soon-to-be home office, and I’m really excited about getting my teeth into that project as soon as I can. I went straight to E&A because they are one of the very, very few suppliers I have visited over the years who haven’t raised their eyebrows at this pink-haired girl in utility trousers. Their confidence in me meant I managed to build my own dining table and lay my own parquet, and for that I am very thankful. 

As soon as lockdown ends, I am looking forward to buying some new wine glasses. For some reason, we have managed to smash all but two over the last few weeks, and it gives me an excuse to replace those supermarket cheapies we bought when we first moved in together.

What’s been your go-to meal in the last few weeks?

Anything and everything, but with a very healthy dose of garlic, which I am loving. I have also spent many meals trying to crack the perfect recipe for salt & chilli prawns, my Chinese restaurant favourite. While business is on hold, one advantage has been the lack of pressure to create; some days I spend hours in the kitchen, some I gladly put some fish fingers in the oven. Liberating indeed.

Is there anything you’ve started to do during lockdown that you’d like to continue as ‘normality’resumes?

Early on in lockdown, I volunteered with the Framewerk Soup Kitchen project, and have been delivering soup to Belfast Homeless Services. They are such a fab team, and do such amazing work, I would love to be able to volunteer with them on a more permanent basis.

 

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