Wallpapering Wardrobes

It’s raining, in August as usual, and I am sitting looking through a window at a waterlogged garden.  So I have a quick moment of calm to post about the cupboards that I mentioned recently were being built.  They were fitted in a day, have a load of space inside and then it was my turn to get going on them.

GUEST BEDROOM

Here they are going into the alcoves, this is in the room that has one built in wardrobe:

The room also had a horrible and ugly boiler cupboard, and my carpenters very kindly made me a new door and frame for free, (probably as it was so offensive in the room compared to the new one above!).

Once they were in they just needed a lick of paint.  They are going to be very simple and white so I had a plan undercoat applied in the workshop.  I will post more pictures once I have finished them.

MAIN BEDROOM

The main bedroom was due two wardrobes, one in each alcove.  We went right up to the ceiling to maximise space and brought the cornice around the front of the doors. I had already asked for a specific configuration of shelves and rails in advance.

As you my have gathered, I LIKE DARK WALLS!  This room was painted in the inkiest dark blue called ‘Hague Blue’ by Little Greene – it changes from inky blue to almost black depending on the time of day.  I have left the ceiling, cornice and skirting white along with the window woodwork.  The flooring is very pale too, so light can bounce around as I didn’t want it like a dark tomb.  The cupboards were also going to get a coat of Hague Blue, so the undercoat was in a dark grey to help speed things up.

The woodwork paint was the same colour in their new range of dead matt eggshell which is water-based, and which is supposed to have a very low 10% sheen.  It is also supposed to be very workable.  However, to be honest I was not that impressed with it.  I used brushes for detail mouldings and  foam roller for the flat surfaces and it dried really patchy, even after 3 coats.  Next time I am sticking to normal eggshell.

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See the streaky finish in the panel area?

However, my master plan meant that the finish on the flat panels did not really matter.  I have been waiting forever to use some House of Hackney wallpaper, and planned to set it into the panels of the wardrobes.  I had even asked the carpenters to make them exactly the same width of the wallpaper so there was no wastage, how sad am I?!

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This is called Florika and it reminds me of Arts and Crafts wallpaper but in a large scale, and with a touch of the plant from Little Shop of Horrors!  It comes in a panel form, a 3 roll set of 45cm x 3m pieces.  That’s why I got the carpenters to make my panels 45cms wide, as much as I would love to do a whole room, it would have just cost too much.

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Usually I am very impatient, but due to the price of this paper, I was very slow and methodical for once.  I estimated that I could get 3 panels across 4 doors whilst keeping the repeat pattern if I was very careful.  I VERY SLOWLY measured, measured again and then re-checked, and started to cut it into panels.  To attach them I used Paste the Wall by Solvite, so there was no soaking of the paper needed, and simply smoothed them into place with a squeegee.  Any tiny bit of trimming needed was done with wallpaper scissors as scalpels can tear wallpaper if it is wet.  That part was really quick and simple.

This is the finished result, plus with new carpet fitted to cover the very poor floorboards that I inherited.

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On the other side of the room I have hung some botanical prints, which will be above the bed when it finally comes.

My husband walked in when it was done to have a look, he had not seen any of the progress at all since the room was bare and stripped.  He just said ‘Jesus!’ and walked out.  I am going to take that in a positive way as I know that once the curtains and furniture are in and I have dressed the room,  it will look FANTASTIC!  I can lie in bed and admire my fantasy wallpapered cupboards, and when I am finally bored of them I can start all over with something else.

What I did notice though when it was all done, is that my fireplace is not central in the wall, not because of the carpentry either side , but as in the room below there is another fireplace which is central, so this one must have been sited like this for a separate chimney stack.  But as the walls are so dark it sort of vanishes, and I painted the dado rail dark blue either side to ‘lose it’ as well.  However, this will be a challenge when it comes to hanging art and mirrors in the room on this wall area

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I’m thinking deeply of what to do with this wall, any suggestions gratefully accepted….

Been a bit busy… renovating a new house Part 1

So it seems forever since I last posted.  In fact it is 2 months, which seems shocking….  However, I have had good reason and am in the middle of doing up a new house, working as usual, decluttering, downsizing, my daughters are both in the middle of exams so need chivvying… and generally life is hectic!

The current house we live in was photographed for a magazine coming out towards Christmas, and it is only as I was having to check copy etc that I realised how behind I have become with blogging.  So I am now going to concentrate and lead you through the (stressful) world of renovating a house while living a good hour away and with all of the above going on at the same time.

I finally got the house I am renovating vacated by the tenants (who were model renters by the way and if they are reading this, thank you to them!).   So it is only this week that I could charge in with various helpers and trades and start the work.  I have a 6-8 week window, and this is the current list that needs doing in that time.  It might not seem long, but believe me organising the trades to sit seamlessly and in the right order is not always a smooth task…

  • Replace all Windows with new sash ones
  • Move all radiators and replace with nicer ones in better places
  • Run new cabling, replace the electrical consumer unit and install downlighters and extra plugs in several rooms
  • Strip off hideous lumpy embossed wallpapers
  • Strip off badly applied lining paper
  • Strip off the nightmare that is the dreaded wood chip, and is probably holding up 100 year old plasterwork that will blow the minute I remove it and mean that I probably have to re-plaster acres of walls.
  • Remove garden facing and replace.
  • Remove decrepit shed and replace with a new, dry, insulated one.
  • Clear garden.
  • Remove kitchen roof interior entirely, and replace with a new one with 2 roof lights to bring much needed light into the room.  Include new insulation and plaster.
  • Strip and plaster skim ceilings which have revolting swirly artex patterns
  • Redecorate entirely
  • Stain wooden floors, new carpets to bedroom, and new bathroom floor.

This list was planned to the last detail so that as floorboards went up, each trade could do their bit.  But things always go a bit pear-shaped, and an electrician blew me out at the last minute.  I had planned to get all of that work done when the floorboards were up for the radiator man’s work, killing two birds with one stone.  I even had an excel spreadsheet ready.  But that has all gone to pot a bit now…

Even sadder of me, I made up templates of all my furniture in newspaper, correct to the last millimetre!  This meant I could play with where things would/could fit.  This actually has been really useful, although I got strange looks from the family as I made up the templates. Continue reading

Sometimes, you just should say ‘no’ – The Before

Silence from me as of late, but for very valid reasons.  On top of general life, work, running a late night parental taxi service and so on, I have been preparing to sell my house (it sold in a week), and then I got myself in a total pickle with the local church.

I was chatting to a parishioner, who mentioned that they had been let down by decorators as the church was long overdue for a repaint.  He then told me the quote they had been give, which was shockingly huge.  And then, more fool me, the worlds shot out of my mouth ‘oh I can get it done for you for far less and immediately’.  As the words came out, his face lit up and I was pretty much hired on the spot.

Now this church is not small.  It has 13 meter ceilings, huge cross beams running throughout and needed to be used every weekend between painting.  It was also black with 10 years of soot from candles.  The photos below show how grimy it was.  Once upon a time this was pale pink.


Before I knew it, I had booked myself out of other work for 2 weeks, pulled in a fellow female whizz with the paintbrush, hired a cherry picker, had a moveable scaffolding erected and sorted out hardcore industrial insurance.

We attempted to wash the walls, but the soot just spread around.  So they were sealed first with a PVA bond, so that the paint would take, and then the HUGE task of painting started.


Look at the beast of a cherry picker!  Every time we needed to do a new area we had to move dust sheets, pews, sometimes the altar and so on.  Plus at weekends it had to be cleaned and shifted back into being a working church.  My muscles are aching, and I managed a spectacular topple off the cherry picker (while it was grounded) which resulted in a torn ligament in my knee and trip to the osteopath.  But as a plus I also got a huge, wide roller to speed things up, which is amazing.  I shall never moan when I have to paint a normal sized room again, or even a ceiling.

We are up to over 160 litres of paint so far.  The sacristy end of the church was so sooty that it needed 3 coats of paint to give a crisp and clean finish.  But we have done it all in 2 weeks as promised.

Here is my partner in crime Angelique on the cherry picker.  She is such a whizz that I have renamed her Davros after the Dalek leader as she shoots about on it.


So we have a day left before I can do the final reveal, just some woodwork left to finish and tweaking.  But it has been monumental, and I will now think before I speak next time.

Dining Room Makeover – Before & After

Colour Changes & Furniture Makeover

My dining room is a multi-tasking space and so it is also a crafting room, office, homework spot and sewing space.  So it has to work hard, yet be ready to switch back to a dining room in a second.  Here it is in its current incarnation:

It has very tall ceilings, 3 meters, so the curtains on the french windows are always a challenge.  The existing ones are goblet headed and were made to measure.  The main wall colours are a pale stone colour with paler toned woodwork and wooden floorboards.  The furniture is a mixture of antique woods and painted pieces.  That huge dresser has to stay as it is the only wall clear in the house for its monumental proportions. I have already updated the fireplace with a paint effect, changing it from brown pine to make it look like slate.

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Then after a while I got bored with the fireplace wall and painted it a deep olive which I liked as my convex mirrors looked lovely against it.

Anyhow, after a couple of years I have decided that I am bored with the same room.  Who else gets that?!  As I am in the room so much, I wanted to look up and see something else.  I also could not be bothered to redecorate the whole room, mainly as there is so much furniture and stuff to get out to clear the room that it becomes a major operation.

Chairs

As mentioned in my last post, I found some chairs that I thought I could do a good makeover on, and they would replace the incredibly formal Georgian chairs that I inherited from my grandparents.  In my mind they would go from dark wood to Jonathan Adler inspired pieces:

After washing them down with sugar soap, I started to paint them by hand and used a satin finish water based wood paint instead of the usual chalk paint.  Wow, nightmare!  I would have been painting them up until Christmas as they were very fiddly and they would have needed 4-5 coats by hand.  So I then hunted around for a paint spraying company, and found a couple within 50 miles, but that then meant hiring a van to get the chairs to them and back, plus extra costs.  There had to be another way…. and then I found this beauty…

This is the most wonderful thing, a Wagner paint sprayer.  I braved it, as I have never used one before, and purchased one.

It is really simple to use, you just dilute the paint, (about 10% water to my water-based satin wood paint), pop it in the white container and off you go.  I built a very basic spray booth in the garden, (stepladders with dust sheets one them), and sprayed 6 chairs in an afternoon.  It was a sunny but very windy day, so the paint dried in an hour between coats.  The wind meant I looked like I was covered in fine snow from paint blow-back, and even the cats looked a bit whiter at the end of the day.  I also learnt not to get too close on the first coat as sometimes drips appeared and ‘less is more’. But the result was amazing:

Any drip marks were sanded out after the first coat, and then the chairs sprayed again.  Job done.  This is a great machine, and no doubt many more things will get sprayed soon, including passing cats. Continue reading

Before & After: The house renovation is complete.

Finally, it is done….

For those who have noticed a somewhat silent blog recently, I do have a very valid reason as I have been slogging away 7 days a week over the last couple of months to get this house completed.  My life has been consumed by this project, but I now it is done I think I have enjoyed it…(?!)

I have learnt many new things; how to fit door architraves and skirting, mix plaster, fix windows, mitre corners properly and much more.  I think I have used about 125 litres of white emulsion, and got a sort of snow-blindness by the end of it.  My hands are like a workman’s, and I am exhausted and have spent hours in builders yards and sourcing things online to get the best prices  But it has been worth it, and I am on budget which is a miracle…

In the middle of the job my builders’ firm went bust, which could have been a total disaster and left me up the creek without a paddle so to speak, but we managed to muddle through and finish the renovation.  My builders honoured the contract and worked extra hours unpaid to finish the job, so someone up there was watching out for me I think!  It meant a 3 week delay on the build, and that I had to learn lots of new skills pronto, but circumstances meant that I just had to forge on.

Here come the before, mid-point and after pictures…..

The facade of the house…. from grubby magnolia to zingy blue… I got over vertigo on that scaffolding after a couple of days, and it was a lovely view…

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The garden…. from rubbish dump to a much more elegant space…

The once small and festering loo… now a wall has been moved to create a spacious shower room…

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A large curved shower

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Simple clean lines

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Continue reading

House Renovation Diary Part 3

The renovation continues.  We are more than half way now, with a final push this next month to get it all done. The garden is landscaped and fenced, the kitchen is being fitted, the shower room is half in and tiled, and the bathroom awaits its turn this week.  My hands look appalling, all nails broken, with sugar soap having seeped into my gloves so they have puckered alarmingly.  I am getting through mountains of hand cream to try and repair the damage.

Main receptions and bedrooms are now mainly painted on newly plastered walls and ceilings, I am waiting to do most woodwork like skirting and architraves until the builders are out as the dust is chaotic. New doors are primed, painted and hung.  The main stairwell which winds up through the house has been lined and painted.  We only have two more walls to be plastered in a hallway and a bathroom.  The final job will be laying the flooring throughout.  It has been a 7 day a week job for me, and I am shattered, but I can see the end now.

So, here are some things I have learnt over the past couple of weeks:

  • Plaster can take a long time to dry when you want it to.
  • Plasterers are the MESSIEST people, although the walls and ceilings they work on are smooth perfection, the rest of the room, (especially the floors), look like a plaster bomb has gone off.  I have spent many hours scraping dried hunks off floorboards, windows, skirting and doors.  After some chatting up, I persuaded the plasterers to clean up as they went, but only after we were 6 rooms into the project…
  • When re-plastering walls, you might as well replace all skirting and architrave as the plasterers are also vandals who yank the existing ones off, cracking them in the process.  I have extra hours to do now repairing the damage.
  • New plaster also drinks paint, even with mist coats.  My initial estimate of 30 litres for the whole building is now at 90.  Luckily I have discovered Leyland’s acrylic based emulsion which is a one coat wonder, or I could be into the hundreds in terms of litres.
  • Always make friends with the Builders Yard staff.  I have managed to snitch a couple of free deliveries already, and they are experts at getting me in more paint from the manufacturers pronto when I clear their stock!
  • Chose water based satinwood for spindles and architraves, and oil based satinwood for doors and skirting.  The latter take the hardest knocks so need the 16 hour dry time, whilst the former can take the 4 hour version and get re-coated faster.
  • Builders thrive on a lot of tea, Krispy Creme Donuts and praise.  Apart from one errant Electrician who has vanished on a stag week to Bulgaria, mine are all pretty much present and correct.  We did have a few days to wait on wet plaster, but otherwise they have been pretty good so far.  The electrician returns this week, hopefully not with shaking hands from too much partying as he finishes the 2nd fix.
  • Always make sure you lock your ladders, I have had a couple of spectacular tumbles so far.  The worst day however was when my mum appeared to help paint and slid to the floor as the steps buckled under her.  The guilt was unbelievable, but she was OK if not a bit shaken.
  • Following on from that, invest in a small platform.  Much more comfy than balancing on a step ladder.
  • Invest in a strong metal extending pole for rollers.  Some of the ceilings in this house are 12 foot and the stairwells up to 20 feet, and the pole makes painting a breeze.

Here are some more in progress pictures, remember the crappy garden full of brambles, mattresses and rubbish?

Before:

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And now:

 

We found a patio area and an old lined formal pond under the mess, as well as a lot of bicycle parts!  So we re-used the pond as a formal bed planted with box which will grow into a cute hedge with a Bay tree in the middle, and relaid new stones in the patio area surrounded with Cotswold chippings.  New lawn and a variety of ornamental grasses in the rear beds finished it off.  The garden was also fenced for privacy.  I will add lots of pots of flowering plants when the house is marketed, plus more seating in the front patio area.

Continue reading

House Renovation Diary Part 2

For the last few weeks I have not had a minute spare to post anything, and have been trying to juggle the renovation, still do another existing part-time job, carry out my school Governor role, look after my kids and still run the family home.  I kid you not, this is multi-tasking to another level.  Luckily, we women have brains that can compartmentalize and manage these feats, otherwise I should be a gibbering wreck being carted off to an institution for intense therapy!

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My view for the next few weeks

PROGRESS

So, since the last post the house renovations has been cracking onwards.  All of the walls have been stripped bare, discovering along the way that the original builders glued woodchip wallpaper straight onto bare plasterboard in some areas, which is impossible to remove without damage. At least 3 walls had this finish so we had to budget for more extensive works to them to get them sorted out.  Who invented that paper and why?

I had to source a building team pretty quickly, and was amazed at some of the outrageous quotes that came in from various trades.  Differences for wiring quotes, as an example, were from £2,800 to £10,000 for the house.  The phrase ‘are you having a laugh?’ came to mind (and more explicit ones that I will not share)..  However, perseverance and a lot of cash deals sorted out a great team.  I then contracted the builders to come in and do the following lengthy list:

Plasterboard where necessary all ceilings and aforementioned walls, re-plaster all rooms  in the house, re-wire and chase in all new electrics, re-plumb, move two walls, install new central heating and radiators, hang & fit all new doors,fit two bathrooms and one kitchen… the list goes on and on.  I also have a gardener stripping out the hideous junkyard that was the garden, with new lawn, planting and fencing coming next week.  My main job is decorating both internally and externally, chosing the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring.  I have been sourcing new joinery and hardware for all the doors in the house, and am become a wizard with my tape measure and minute measurements!  I am also on first name terms now with trade suppliers at the Builders yards in the city.

I asked my building team to start from the top down so I can at least prep the new plaster with mist coats whilst the messy work is being done.  We are at the stage of first fix electrics being finished, and 50% of the house is plastered.  Most floorboards are up and the debris is incredible.  It’s a dust bomb basically, it even gets in my teabags somehow.

Stripping a room, can someone explain the painting method on the door to me please?

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So here are some photos of the works so far.  A small loo has the wall smashed down in preparation for extending it into a shower room.

Continue reading

Master Bedroom gets a makeover

Farrow and Ball paint and things lurking under the stairs.

This week I was browsing a paint department, and happened upon a discounted 5L tin of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Brinjal’ matt emulsion.  This leaves me with 2 thoughts:

a) I need to get out more and stop loitering in paint departments when I have free time.

b) Loitering in paint departments can be seen as serendipity when bargains are to be had.

Anyhow, onto the paint… This is the most intense dark aubergine with red rather than blue tones, and I have always dreamt of doing a room in it.  Like an Olympian athlete I launched myself toward the paint pot it at high speed, and clutching my bargain I sped home.  I also managed to secure some bargains on some anthracite emulsion paint on sale, which have been stashed until I decide what to use them for, no doubt they will appear soon in a post….  (and if you don’t want to read through the procrastination and details, scroll down to the bottom of the post for the before and after photos.)

This is what the colour look likes… wow, it’s dark…

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Photo: Brinjal by F&B photo from Farrow and Ball Decorating with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw

The Existing Room

The Master bedroom is already shades of Khaki, (this paint is called Drab), with aubergine accents, but it has been like that for quite a while, so I thought I would use the paint to overhaul the room.  The ceilings are really tall, and the expanse of white from the picture rail upwards to the ceiling sort of annoys me, as the rest of the colours get lost in the room as the eye automatically goes up to the brightness and it is so WHITE.  I love aubergine, so decided to paint out the khaki walls with the new paint, but to leave the wardrobes as they are.  So I am sort of reversing the colour scheme.  I am happy with where the furniture is and accessories, so it is just a case of the walls and woodwork being changed. Continue reading

Amara – The LuxPad

Lucy over at LuxPad has compiled some rather beautiful wreath ideas for this Christmas from super stylish interiors bloggers, (including one of my paper wreaths so thank you Lucy!), have a look at the ideas here:

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Wreath by Suzanne Stanley @ http://www.create-enjoy.com/

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Great idea from Amy Watkins @ http://www.cozyreverie.com/

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How stunning is this one from Sian Astley at http://moregeous.com/