My ‘Door to Nowhere’..

As mentioned in the last post, the final item left to complete was my door to nowhere.  This the odd doorway/architrave mid way up the top stairs.  A nice, but quite bizarre period feature in the house (?!).  You know that song ‘We’re on the road to nowhere’ by Talking Heads, it has now morphed into ‘There is my door to nowhere’, and I have been so obsessed with getting this area sorted that I just can’t stop singing it in my head….

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The wallpaper I put in it a few years ago had faux books, and I was quite bored.  I ordered some samples of wallpaper to see what I could replace it with.  They were all extremely expensive, and actually when they appeared I didn’t like them.  So I turned to my iPad and starting hunting with the hashtags #quirky.  And this amazing paper appeared via the excellent site Iwantwallpaper…  it is a great site and they have a really good collection of papers.

It’s called Mad Dogs by Holden Décor and there is a monochrome or coloured version.  I decided to go monochrome, as I can always add colour later if I want to with my trusty pencils.  It arrived really quickly, was very reasonably priced (£15.99!  Saved me a bomb!) and took literally a few minutes to hang.  It does not stretch or sag like a lot of papers do when they are left to soak, so lining up was really easy to do.

So there are dogs & flamingoes in hats, boxing kangaroos, drunk toads and a giraffe smoking a pipe amongst other things.  I love it!

Here it is in situ, and I think it suits the grey walls much better than the previous books paper.  Due to the width of the Door to Nowhere I couldn’t help but have to cut into the frames on the vertical run, but I still love it….

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What do you think?  It could be a Marmite situation for this paper for most people – love or hate!

Final Makeover Post – Townhouse

GAH!  So I totally, totally forgot to do a final post about all the work I did in the summer and autumn renovating a city townhouse.  So here is a brief rundown of everything that was done.  New heating, plumbing, electrics, lighting, garden fencing, plastering, decoration, windows, plus a new kitchen roof with skylights and new unforeseen beams (long story that one..).  On top of that it was totally decorated, had bespoke wardrobes made and fitted, a kitchen makeover, new flooring, refurbished original flooring and probably some other things I have forgotten.  It also had plans drawn up for a huge loft conversion to make another bedroom and bathroom.

I was going to move into it once it was finished, and once we had sold our current home we live in.  But priorities changed, as they always do, and we ended up having to get rid of the city house… so it was put on the market and snapped up straight away.

DINING ROOM:

Here is the dining room before, during and after.  It had to have electrics chased, new lighting installed, new plaster, lining paper, decoration, floor renovation and new central heating.

Walls were done in Cookie Crumble, with the Chimney Breast in Railings.

Loved the way it turned out… and it’s a big room with lots of space and light,

SITTING ROOM:

Continue reading “Final Makeover Post – Townhouse”

A Quick Kitchen Makeover on a weeny budget

This was a very old kitchen.  It is orange wood, is really tired and the expense of the recent roof-light saga has put a replacement total replacement kitchen on hold.  So I had to do something to make it less hideous for a minimal cost and which was less brutal on the eye.

 

It is amazing what a lick of paint can do to jazz up something in the meantime.  Cue two pots of very dark grey paint – one eggshell version for the cupboards, and another tough kitchen wall paint.  Add some new handles, and nearly done.  New Stainless steel wrapped shelves and hanging rails from Ikea add an industrial vibe to the wall by the sink area.  Total time 2 days, and that was because I was waiting for paint to dry mainly and trying to hand the shelves straight.

But those leaded effect glass doors had to go as they looked so dated – so I took off the doors , (that’s down to my friend Rita who told me to do it – Ta Rita!).  I then painted the interiors of the open units white as they were also lined in garish orange effect wood.  I used a trompe l’oeil metro tile wallpaper on the backs, and marble sticky-backed plastic paper to wrap the shelves.  It looks a TRILLION times better now, and I can relax.  Plus the sticky-backed plastic reminded me of Blue Peter and making things when I was small so I got a nice bit of nostalgia thrown in.

Before…

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After…

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Lamp Black eggshell by Farrow & Ball on the Cabinets

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After…

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Asphalt by Valspar paint on the walls

Before…

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After…

 

Total Budget for paint, paper and shelves came in at less than £270.  The handles came from my favourite ironmongery shop Nu-Line in Notting Hill and can be re-used when I get the kitchen of my dreams one day in another house.

Ta Dah!  I am so pleased with the results.  Hope you agree….

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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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Continue reading “Wallpapering Wardrobes”

Cleaning Up After Renovations

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Too much mess after renovation? Easy six tricks to clean

House renovation is always a good thing. After everything is done you can’t wait to enjoy the new look of your home. However, the builders dust is something a lot of people struggle with for at least a few weeks after the remodeling of their homes. If you want to take the matter in your own hands, you might want to follow these six easy tricks to clean after a renovation.  These pointers came from Zowie at Charlton Cleaners, and actually will make life much easier, especially washing walls down which people forget to do and then they paint straight onto dirt which can mix into the paint (oops, guilty…)

Cover or Move Away Items

This step is very important to make the cleaning much easier and faster. Before the renovation itself move away as many furniture and items as you can. If there are things you cannot move, cover them well. Putting plastic covers on the floor can also help to decrease the levels of dust spreading around your home.

Clean the Walls First

The first thing you should clean are the walls, this way all the dirt and dust will fall on the floor and you can take care of it later. Starting from the ceiling and walls is the most logical and easy way to make the cleaning as fast as possible. To get rid of the dust on the walls you can use a clean cloth, dampened with water and wipe them carefully with it. If your walls are freshly painted you need to be very careful with this step.

Continue reading “Cleaning Up After Renovations”

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 “Been a bit busy… renovating a new house Part 1”

Selling the house, it’s all happening fast…

We have decided to move back to the big city, and although I have loved living in our little country town I am quite excited about future events.

I am sharing some beautiful pictures of the house that the agents’ photographer took.  Those wide angled lenses certainly make it look lovely, and I cleaned and dusted for ages so it all looks very sparkly and unnaturally tidy.


We already have a house in the city which we are moving back to, which was rented out for ages, and it is bijou compared to this current one.  So I have to seriously get rid of a lot of stuff, pick what to take and discard brutally a lot.  We will be extending into the loft in the city house to make it sizeable enough for us for now, but with one daughter off to Uni this year and the other following in two years I don’t want to be rattling around in a big house anymore on my own, it’s easier for work, and I get some culture on my doorstep!

This is the size of the one we are off too…it has lots of lovely old Victorian fireplaces, floorboards and sash windows still in situ.  But as you can see I need to gather some more room as that box bedroom is teeny…. We will be adding a new bedroom and bathroom out of attic space, adding a downstairs loo under the stairs, and making a dressing room/study/something out of the box bedroom.  I am already dreaming about a new kitchen, how I will be decorating and the horror of shrinking my wardrobe.
Now to go and start on the clothes situation….Have a good weekend!

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 “Dining Room Makeover – Before & After”

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 “Before & After: The house renovation is complete.”

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 3”