DIY week…

Some good progress on the renovation of the utility room (which was the ground floor bathroom at the back of the house) and the hallway, stairs and landing (HSL) area.

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The wall paper has been stripped from most of the walls in the HSL and any holes filled in. Some of the hallway plaster had blown, mostly around where a long radiator used to be – the plaster had dried out too much. So, handy Matt knocked out a few places and filled it back in, mostly in a way approaching smooth and flat!

New skirting was also fitted on both sides and there were a few tricky padding out operations to be done. I made sure the skirting was raised off the tiled floor by about 15mm, to allow for new carpet which will go in the hallway once all the decorating has been done. We’re thinking something like sea grass matting or similar, which will be hard wearing right by the front door area.

The coving on the landing ceiling took a whole day in the end, due mainly to the really awkward angle on the new bathroom wall. Because of the 45 degree angle, the angle of the coving had to be 22.5 degrees, which was a total pain in the arse.

Claire was working on the utility and has painted everything, tiled and grouted and just a bit of boarding and skirting below the tiles to do, but a huge improvement. Tiling is very straight and it’s provided a much better area – final photos on the blog once it’s done.

We’re at the painting stage in the HSL so there will be some big visual improvements soon(ish) : )


Protected: Hallway wall writing…

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Rainbow Warrior lll…

An amazing article about the latest Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior vessel. It’ll be one of the most sustainable and technologically advanced ships on earth when it’s completed.

Full article in pdf: Return of the Rainbow Warrior | Environment | The Observer

The quote inspired me to follow Claire’s lead and create a message for the hallway!

‘On one level Rainbow Warrior III is the inspired result of some of the latest thinking in sailboat technology from world-leading – mainly Dutch – computer modellers and wind-tunnel obsessives. On another it is the latest fulfilment of an old Native American prophecy:

“There will come a time when the earth grows sick, and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it… they will be known as the ‘Warriors of the Rainbow’.”

There are various sources for that prophecy, which spread among early environmentalists when it was published in a book of Hopi Indian and Cree legends in California in 1962. But 15 years later, when Greenpeace activists in the UK came up with the idea of taking a ship to bear witness to some of the more blatant acts of ecological destruction – from whaling and oil exploration to nuclear testing and industrial fishing – that were occurring in the remote oceans, there was only one name that could do it justice. The Aberdeen-built trawler the Sir William Hardy” was almost ready for scrap when it was bought by Greenpeace for £40,000. After a refit and hand-painting of the famous logo on its bow, it first sailed out along the Thames on 15 May 1978.’


Hallway message…

An inspired hallway message by Claire!

Written backwards and able to be read in the mirror which I just fixed up last week, which is on the opposite wall by the front door.


Pink hallway…!

Ok, yes, it is as crazy as it sounds!

Claire has been wanting to paint the hallway and kitchen more exciting colours for a while and we’ve sort of decided to go for it. We bought a strong red paint for the kitchen a year ago but haven’t got around to painting it yet, but will once the render work is done and the last few bits are finished in the bathroom.

So, she came back the other day saying she wants a bright blue in the hallway, to which I said, ‘anything but blue – it’s soooo cold!’. I even suggested pink would be better! Well, I should really keep my mouth shut.

We’ve looked through the Dulux and Crown hard finish paints and the colours are generally more muted and dull than other paint ranges. There are only a few which stand out, Red Mid and Shocking Pink (both Crown Ultimate) being 2 of them! The current favourite is Cheeky Wink (Easyclean). This sounds crazy but it might just work.

We also want to stamp a bit more of our creative spirits onto the house, now that we’ve gone a long way to getting the structural/building things done (insulated render, solar panels, bathroom moved upstairs, landing area plastered, living room insulated – storage areas made – doors blocked up – walls plastered – shelves put up – stove installed etc etc). We’ve painted the rooms but have only just put some pictures up in the living room and want to do more.

So, a couple of ideas to go with the vivid hallway area colour is to create some large scale art/mural type decoration, maybe in the form of a twisting tree which will start at the ground floor hallway and spread over the walls and up the stairs to the top landing area. The ‘tree’ could be made up of letters and words, maybe from songs or stories we like. Black and white letters would both contrast well and stand out against the pink background.

A black swirling pattern could also be added behind the main word tree. This would create a nice range of strong forms in complimentary and contrasting colours: black, white & pink.


House progress…?

Ok, so there’s been very little tangible progress on the house since the solar panels went in and things have been quite delayed. The panels should have been installed after the insulated render, given the render is more of a priority! But, with the coldest December on record and one of the coldest winters for a generation, the work on the render has been put back. This is mainly due to the fact that for the render to set, the temperature has to be minimum 3 degrees Celcius, over a 3 day period. Obviously this hasn’t been possible for a while, so there is now a back-log of work which the contractor has to get done.

It’s a bit of a shame given how cold it’s been – we could have really done with modern-level insulation for our leaky Victorian house! Anyway, the panels are on the roof and are generating a small amount of leccy and work on the render will start within the next 2 weeks.

The really key thing i’m looking forward to is the work to brick up the very leaky loft window and the new loft hatch. Cold air gets right through into the house now and we’re constantly fighting against the cold coming in. The hallway area is also being plastered, meaning we can basically finish up there and get some fitted carpets in, also for the stairs.

I’ve also fitted some new shelves to the side of our main fireplace, which has made a big difference to how crowded the main bookshelf looks. Just have to paint those. We’ve also had a sort out of toys and furniture in the living room. We’ve culled lots of old toys and brought down a wooden ottoman chest from the loft, to store our mass of wooden train track. Next job is to tackle the under-stairs cupboard and to fit a series of floor-to-ceiling shelves.

So, things are moving on but we’ve been seriously slowed down by illness, the cold weather and Christmas! New year and new motivation – it’s going to be a good year!


Loft conversion…

Ok, nice guy from the loft conversion company came around this morning. Good news is that it’s defo possible to get a bedroom up there. Bad news is that i’m going to have to rob another bank to fund it!

We went through loads of options, all of which Claire and I had already considered. I showed him my design for the access with the spiral stairs. To be blunt, he hated it! CRASH AND BURN! He said in 40 years, he’s never once installed a spiral! He’s only put in space-saver types or ‘normal’ stairs.

To be fair on our design though, at one point, he actually thought it was a good idea, as the doorway and wall would be on the 1st floor landing, and not inside the loft (and therefore taking up valuable space).

Spirals can look nice but to be honest, they aren’t the most practical inventions. Getting things up or down them isn’t the best idea but there is enough space on the landing for it.

He’s going to come up with a design and get us some costings, then we’ll have some serious thinking to do. The main idea which he’ll work up is the optimum space option, which will mean not using either a spiral or space-saver, but going for a normal stair which follows the line of the existing stairs.

This would involve a large rear dormer which essentially means we would have usable floorspace right to the back wall. It would give us a large double bedroom (to make it back to 3 bedrooms) which would be larger than our existing front bedroom. This would mean space for guests and other things, such as sewing machine and my decks!

When I asked about planning permission, he said ‘there are no rules anymore – anything goes!’. I didn’t mention we work in the planning department at the Council! hehe. The Permitted Development regs have changed recently and this type of large dormer wouldn’t have been possible before, but We’ll have to look into this ourselves!