When we first moved into our house seven years ago, it was a chintz palace. Everything was bright yellow and blue; there were frills everywhere; and the shell-shaped bathroom sink was very special indeed. Slowly, we modernised, but on a shoestring budget, which meant the faux-beamed artexed kitchen ceiling had to stay. I painted the beams black, and replaced the cast-iron chandelier with a row of spots, but frankly, it was still…

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