Renovating a House – Part 2

Long time since the last post, but I have been working so hard that I just did not have time to write anything.  My hands look like a 90 year olds – all wrinkled and chapped from grafting, but the house is moving along now.

WEEKS 3-6

Since the last post lots has happened at the house.  The electricians have finished their main bulk of work.  They lifted pretty much every floor board in the house, chased cables into walls, drilled through external walls and upgraded the system.  I now have lots of down-lighters, plus where I needed them, extraction for the bathroom and so on.  A new consumer unit comes this week, to generally pump up the power in the house and make it compliant with regulations.

Following their main fix, the plasterer has been back to make good the walls and ceilings where the electricians had been hacking away.  Finally I could get on with decorating, I was hovering about waiting for them all to finish a lot and just made a lot of cups of tea.  We also had a heatwave in the middle of the work, so it got quite steamy especially when hanging off ladders using wallpaper strippers.  At one point it was 29 degrees and I was staring into a steam machine, it was like my very own mini swedish sauna.

Here is the kitchen roof before and after – from wrinkled, uninsulated dark ceiling to new insulation, plaster, roof lights, down-lighters, (oh and the hidden beams which cost a bomb!).

THE KITCHEN

I had a dream, just like Martin Luther King, but mine was more geared towards a shaker bespoke handmade kitchen with industrial leanings.  The kitchen roof saga has delayed this dream, mainly due to my very expensive new beams hidden beneath the plasterboard and the extra time and labour needed.  So the new kitchen can wait, but this was what was left and it offends my design sensibilities!

It is VERY orange.  So I got out my trusty paint pots and started to amend the offending pine with black, grey and white.  Farrow and Ball Lamp Black for the doors, new ironmongery and some industrial steel stainless shelving are creating a transformation that I can live with until we replace it totally next year.  Phew…

The walls are all dark grey, it is called ‘Grey Shingle’ by Valspar.  I removed the cheesy glass doors on two wall units and lined the back of the cupboard in trompe l’oeil wallpaper of metro tiles, then painted any orange wood bits left with white satinwood.  The shelves will be lined in trompe l’oeil marbled paper.

Considering that I am faffing about in the kitchen instead of getting on with more wallpaper stripping and painting of woodwork around the house, I do have good reason.  My handmade wardrobes have appeared and are being fitted, so I was staying out of the carpenters’ way….pictures to follow soon of the final makeover.

THE WARDROBES

Browns Woodworking have made wardrobes for me before, and their work is excellent.  In this house, they are making a pair of alcove wardrobes for one bedroom, and a single alcove and cunning boiler cupboard disguise in another.

I have started to paint the bedroom which is getting two wardrobes in the alcoves, it is in Hague Blue by Little Greene which I love.  It is the inkiest dark blue.

I went to their workshop to see them being built and fine tune the design, and this is when we design the interiors which are as important as the exteriors; shelves, rails, door style and so on.

But they are well worth the wait and cost.  The trouble with freestanding wardrobes is a) they waste space around them when sited in alcoves and b) I have a monster collection of clothes I need to store.  Plus the top cupboards go right up to the ceiling and can store linens, out of season stuff and so on.  This is not a large house, so good storage is key.

The first day is when the inners are assembled on site.

Then the second day all of the nice twiddly bits are done.  I will post more as they are completed.

THE DINING ROOM

This room has been taking ages; first skimming the ceiling, then stripping the walls of twee lumpy wallpaper to discover it is really in bad condition, and then waiting for the electricians to do their stuff.

I found an incredibly brilliant wallpaper at B&Q to line the walls, it is way thicker than 1700 grade lining paper, extra wide and disguises a multitude of sins, and it is also paste the wall which saves on time.  But it also like blotting paper and sucks up paint at an alarming rate, so it had to be painted with two coats first of basic standard emulsion first before using the main paint.

IMG_5726

Once I had started decorating using the main colour, (Dulux – a taupe called Crispy Crumble) , I also discovered that I had purchased some dodgy decorators caulk.  It kept staining through the paint.  If anyone remembers Adrian Mole and his blighted Noddy Bells that kept showing through his painted wallpaper, then this was a similar situation.  Finally I used Zinser block and it was resolved, but it added extra days to the task.  The chimney breast wall is in Railings by Farrow and Ball.  I was going to do my usual and paint the whole room in a dramatic dark colour, but I have already done two rooms in inky shades so I held back a bit in this room.  The main colours when it is done will be taupe, crisp white, dark grey and pops of orange.

More updates to follow as the work progresses… Next up will be the finished wardrobes and kitchen, plus the first floor flooring comes next week so it all has to be ready and done in 4 days… Gulp…

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