Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sitting room ceiling

The ceiling had an artex finish and we had hoped to put a skim over it but no such luck. We discovered that the fireplace end of the room had hardboard as a ceiling. Our decision to take this down was made for us when we watched a Sarah Beeney nightmare house programme and saw just how inflammable this stuff was. And of course if we did one end we had to do the other.  Taking the old stuff down was relatively easy, even if we did create our own version of the Ai Weiwei seed art installation.

Our tribute to Ai Weiwei

Once the ceiling was down and there were no nails showing through the lathes we were able to move on to the plasterboard. Amazingly there was no swearing :)  On these projects I act as unskilled labour but even for me holding full size plasterboards above my head was a challenge. Andrew did make up a dead man's lift ( a giant wooden t-shape that wedges the board up while you fix it to the ceiling) but even so it was hard work.

Bay window ceiling

The sitting room has a bay window which is single storey and with a slate roof. Once the original plaster had come off we noticed a gale blowing down so we stuffed it full of insulation. Next on the list is the insulation.

Bay after plasterboard

Until next time


Sunday, 24 July 2011

30 minute makeover

When you move into a new house there is usually so much to do that you accept what the previous owners did or had until something brings you up short and makes you question it. A recent example was the siting of the dustbins. We have two, one for general garbage and the other for recycling, and they are not attractive. When we moved in they were sited either side of the back door.


Now this is a convenient position as they are a stone's throw from the kitchen and so we carried on until we had to move the kitchen table. The table had to move into the orangery as the sofas had to come out of the sitting room so we could take the plaster off the walls. So the kitchen now looks like this.

6 weeks on it's still like this

Suddenly my view from the dining table was the top of two dustbins, not something that complements a fine dining experience. So they were moved past the kitchen window to a blank wall, still easy to get to but hidden from the house. A quick trip to the garden centre netted two trays of bright pink geraniums, existing shrubs were ousted from the pots and instantly a much cheerier area. Every time I see the plants they make me smile.  Then this arrived and completed the scene. All I need now is a new mat. I would like to paint all the woodwork white but as it connects to the log shed, garage and shed.....


Until next time


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Sitting Room so far

The first job was to hack off all the plaster as we were going to use foam board as insulation with plaster board on top. Some of the plaster came off easily, all we needed to do was run a scraper behind it and off it fell. Other areas were much harder and progress was oh so slow. I became best friends with my ear muffs, goggles, mask & thick gloves. What was amazing was the amount of rubble it produced, we lost count of the amount of sacks we filled and number of trips to the dump.

Just some of the rubble bags

We needed to investigate the fireplace as well. We knew that there had been a log burner there before but it had been replace with an electric fire. So first the plaster and render came off.

Fireplace reveal

Although the original brick arch support was intact we're a bit of a 'belt & braces' couple so decided to install a concrete lintel as well. One advantage of this was to square off the opening to give the fireplace a more contemporary feel.

Lintel in place

Clearing out the old brickwork

The fireplace had been altered several times in the past so Andrew decided to clear out all the old and badly put in bricks and rebuild it internally before it gets rendered.

Waiting for the rendering

Until next time.


P.S. There should have been some exclamation marks in this but Andrew cleaned my keyboard and this punctuation mark has gone AWOL.  As did the W but that's back so I'm keeping my fingers crossed :)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Project List

For the next few posts we will be playing catch up on work to date as we have now been here since the end of April. The overall renovation plan is 18-24 months but there are some priorities.
  • Damp proofing done before we moved in - and the main reason for the lack of carpets & skirting boards downstairs
  • Insulating & decorating sitting room
  • New kitchen
  • Repointing & releading leaking chimney
The three remaining above have to be done before the weather gets colder. The house is single skin and so we can't use cavity wall insulation (and so lose out on the government grants). We also want to bump up the radiators and install a multi-fuel burner as the central heating runs on oil.  There is mains gas at the end of the lane and we asked British Gas for a quote to bring it to us. £18000. I don't think so.

I'm desperate for a proper kitchen, it's getting boring changing the freezer blocks in the ice box. But I do give thanks to Andrew's sister everyday as she bought him this halogen oven for his birthday.

The brilliant halogen oven

Now we were sceptics at first but it is brilliant, releasing us from the monotony of microwave cooking and allowing us to grill and roast.  We also discovered that we can make cakes in the breadmaker and rustled up this apple & ginger cake.

It might look boring but it tasted good

We could press on with the kitchen but the sitting room leads off from it and we will be producing a lot of dust and rubble which I don't really want on a newly decorated room.

In addition there's some decorating of bedrooms as mentioned before and a huge amount of designing and sourcing.

Next year the projects will include transforming the lobby to the orangery, which will become the main dining area, and dealing with the outside buildings. We are lucky to have a secure garage, log store and a huge workshop (which is invaluable at the moment for storage). But it is really too big and cuts the garden in half. It is also ugly and none of the roof materials match.  If you look out of one window of the master bedroom you get this:

The prolific walnut tree

And out the other one you get this:

Ugly, mismatched roofs

The grey felt is the orangery roof, the green is the garage, the bit linking is the log store and the big one is the workshop. It's not pretty. We're hoping to pitch the orangery roof and put roof lights/velux in and somehow link it through to the garage.

Until next time.


Sunday, 10 July 2011


Upstairs hall

So now to take you upstairs.

One of the things that attracted us to the house was the light. We first visited late on a Saturday afternoon in January and the setting sun flooded through the arched window. Notice the skirting boards here completely different to the sitting room.

Master bedroom
Master bedroom - other end

At the moment we are in the guest room as a temporary decoration of the master bedroom is high on my list. I'm hoping to get rid of the carpet and sand the floorboards and a quick paint. Most rooms in the house are two tone and it's like an explosion in an ice cream factory! This room is strawberry pink and banana sundae with ginger carpet. The office is pistachio & coffee and the sitting room peach & vanilla.

Guest room 1

Guest room 2 - more ice cream

And finally - the star of the show -'Lemon Sorbet Bathroom'!

Basin -& no evidence there was a mirror

Loo & non-matching plastic seat

I can't remember when I last saw a carpeted bath

Saving grace - an electric shower

The good points are that it is quite a good size, it does have hot & cold water and a large window. I would like to change it immediately but sadly most of the plumbing that needs to be done in the rest of the house will involve this room and underfloor space so it will have to wait. But at least I might be able to find a mirror and some towel hooks!

So there you are, Nelson House in a nut shell.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

About the house

The house is a bit like an ageing super model - the bones are good but it doesn't do to look to closely! The previous owners had lived here for 28 years and although left it immaculate and newly decorated there's a lot of work to be done. The house was originally  four room square, two rooms at the front & two at the back. A hall & staircase in the middle with a small bathroom between the two back bedrooms. Alterations have been made in the past which include a front & a back reception room being knocked into one with a very 70's arch. Upstairs the bathroom has been moved into one of the bedrooms and the original knocked into a bedroom. Sadly not a full en-suite just a lonely basin at one end of the room.

 So today I'll take you through the downstairs.

Now when we bought the house the hall, sitting room and dining room ( now the office) were carpeted. We'd owned the house for 36 hours when these all came up so that the new damp proof course could be injected. And because we didn't want to get too cosy they didn't go back down except in the office.

Original tiles & missing border

Under the hall carpet was the original tiled floor but it's all a little strange. The pattern includes a border but not all the way round, it disappears into the under stairs cupboard, but we can't see any evidence that the stairs have been moved. At the bottom of the stairs there is a very unattractive internal window which was once the doorway to the front parlour. This will have to go. The front door is fairly new, double glazed and nice & secure. Unfortunately it opens the wrong way, if you want to open it and let someone in, you have to reverse up the stairs!

Internal window as seen from sitting room

We have wall lights to match!

Didn't take us long - day 2

So wrong! Artex ceiling & mean skirting boards
 The sitting room floor is solid concrete and so we sealed it to stop the dust and installed some furniture to have somewhere to sit. The house is single brick so one of our first jobs is to add insulation to the walls. There are only two radiators in this space, which is approximately 7.5m x 4m, and an electric fire. So plans are to increase & improve the radiators and put in a wood burning stove.

The office will also need insulation, something doing with the open fire and updating the radiator. The problem with this room is that we both have to work here and so there will be huge disruption when work starts.

Office fireplace

Next, at the back of the house is the kitchen diner. Originally there was a pantry here but this was removed to give more space. It's a reasonable size and currently has fitted cupboards. But. Big but. The cupboards are dark and falling apart, the new work surface (put on to help the sale no doubt) is a wood effect laminate which doesn't look good at all &  the floor is dark. I have no oven, no hob, no fridge but a freezer and a very nasty smell from under the sink! So we went out and bought a cheap microwave but I think the next few weeks are going to be hard for a couple who love to cook.


Missing oven

Shiny new microwave

Now the last 'room' we have great plans for! This is the lobby that links the kitchen with the original outhouse, now a loo and a small utility space. Henceforth this is to be known as 'The Orangery', not at all pretentious!

Loo & utility

The Orangery!

Hate that brown paint!
I can dream! Source: Art et Deco

Next time I'll show you upstairs.