Thursday, 25 August 2011

Back to the sitting room

The last post was done in  almost real time so I'm taking you back a step or two to play catch up. Once we had knocked all the plaster off the sitting room walls and cleared all the debris we were able to put the insulation up. Because the room is a reasonable size we weren't worried about losing a few centimetres so we decided on 60 mm thick Celotex. Celotex is  a thick sheet of insulation foam backed with silver foil. Just by putting your hand on it you can feel the warmth.

Defunct chimney breast

External wall
Into the bay window
The Celotex was put on all three external walls, the fiddly bits were round the windows, particularly the bay. Once it was all in place then the battening for the plasterboard was fixed. This took some time as Andrew had to work out the spacing for the plasterboard sheets and also where we may be placing shelves or hanging artworks. He also had to be careful when putting in the special fixings not to create thermal bridges to avoid creating cold spots. We decided to dryline the internal wall with plasterboard and then the whole room could be skimmed to give a nice smooth finish.


Blocked up internal window
Like all things the bulk of the plasterboard went up really quickly and then a couple of areas, windows and arch, took ages to get right.

We're starting to look habitable

Squared off arch
So finally, with the plasterers coming in next week, I can seriously start thinking about the room design. The concept board was done a while ago but I'm still sourcing of a few of the elements. But as a preview here's the board.

Sitting room concept board
In case you're wondering the three words for the board were suggested by Andrew and are 'Cosy Relaxed Mmmm....' :)

Until next time


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Scenes of utter devastation.....

This week I had intended to post about the area we live in, and show what's happening in the orchards now that harvest time is close.

Ready for picking

Or show you artistic photographs.

Giant hogweed

However by Friday evening the house was in such chaos that any thoughts of a creative post went out the window.

We knew that the house would need a lot of re-wiring but Andrew felt that he could do a lot of this and get an electrician in just to move the consumer unit, currently stuck high up on a kitchen wall and sign off the new wiring.

Old consumer unit

Anyway to progress the sitting room the electric circuits needed to be put in. Floorboards were removed and horrors were found - old rubber cables from the 1960's with the sheathing perished so in danger of shorting. Where circuits had been added the old wires had just been cut off and left exposed & live. Underneath the hot water cylinder, cable joins had been made by using connector blocks and no sealing, if there had been any leak at all.......

Old bedroom cable

In the master bedroom we had decided to keep the existing carpet until the room was properly decorated as the floorboards weren't in good enough condition to wax. However as we pulled the carpet up the backing disintegrated leaving a fine covering of black 'soot' everywhere.

Bedroom carpet

Somehow the floorboards didn't seem quite so bad.

At this point we decided enough was enough and called in Nick the Spark who had been recommended to us by our roofer. To keep the costs down Andrew did all the chanelling for the cables. I was out on Monday and by the time I got home the house was covered with a layer of gritty brick dust. Andrew had done his best to cover things up with dust sheets but it just permeated everywhere. Some of the plaster was blown so it was impossible to cut just a neat hole and in a lot of places the existing switch positions were so wrong that we had to create more mess.

Results of soft plaster

Better switch position

Bathroom cabling

Nick came in on Tuesday and, bless him, tried to work alongside the existing cabling to keep us with power. But by the evening we decided that this was futile and so everything went. For three days we had one socket downstairs and no lights (coinciding with a week of dull, grey weather) and upstairs no sockets but two lights, floorboards up and grit & dust everywhere. But the worse thing was no broadband and so no escapism. It was probably the lowest point of the renovation so far.

The pile just kept growing

More and more cables were linked to the consumer unit. Even Mortimer looked bemused by it all.

First cable set

And more

Bemused Mortimer

And more

But slowly order came back. The old fashioned chunky sockets stuck on skirting boards were replaced by new recessed ones. Fortunately for me as it is not a new build we didn't have to comply with the regulation that says sockets have to be at a height of 450mm - way to obvious for my liking. Nick made lots of sensible suggestions:

A light in the loft
A security light in the understairs cupboard where the new fusebox  (sorry consumer unit) is, which comes on in the event of a power cut or tripped fuse
Cabling for an alarm system
Cabling for an audio system so we can put ceiling speakers in the kitchen
Additional outside lights
Using cheap white switch plates & sockets while all the work on the house is being done to prevent damaging my nice metal ones

New consumer unit

Eventually by Friday evening we were finished - well nearly. We had lights and power everywhere and the broadband connected. The only slight set back was in the kitchen (which had arrived at 6.30 a.m on Friday - so helpful). We had hoped to remain on the existing circuit for just this room until we finish fitting the new kitchen  but because of the problems with the old circuit we were left with just the oven socket. So Andrew mounted a large multiblock on the wall and everything runs from there.

Saturday we both spent cleaning and doing the laundry, even our bed had grit in it. By the evening all the traumas of the week were fading and we felt like this.

Harmony restored

Next time I promise something more uplifting.

Until next time


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Meanwhile upstairs......

In between hacking off old plaster and destroying ceilings I was also trying to improve the master bedroom. This was only going to be a temporary thing as adding an ensuite will disrupt the room along with  the insulation. Even so I need a calm scheme in the bedroom and the Neopolitan ice cream style was just not doing it for me.


Neither were the light fittings.

Inherited lampshade

I much prefer to do a job properly but with so much going on I decided that a quick paint job was needed. I did sugar soap all the walls and the ceilingas well as rub down the paintwork, but I didn't remove the wallpaper and knowing that the picture going on the chimney breast would cover this I left it.

Wallpaper tear

I'd decided to use a stone and dark blue colour scheme with white gloss woodwork, which also meant I could use the existing curtains. Although not completely our style they have a certain vintage charm and work well with the wall colour - Egyptian Cotton by Dulux. This is my default neutral - it's a great colour.

In progress

Bright paint & glossy woodwork

The main reason for moving into this room was to get our big bed back, at 6 feet wide it takes up a lot of space, and this is the only room it will fit. We have had it for nearly 20 years (we've ordered a new mattress) but have moved on from modern pine so I decided to paint it. Andrew said he was fine with  that as long as it wasn't white - he said he would feel like a virgin sacrifice - so tempting.......

Original pine bed

I had a Dulux blue called Atlantic Surf mixed but when I painted the bed it was just too blue.

Nursery blue

Looking through their new colour charts I found Breton Blue which Dulux do as an emulsion, so I had it mixed as a satinwood and it was the perfect colour.

Much better

Finally I could dress the room. An oil painting that we bought for £5.00 at a boot fair picked up the colours perfectly, £2.00 paper lantern shades from Ikea were bright and fresh and an alpaca blanket that I was given as a Christmas present completed the picture. There are a couple more things to add but for the moment it'll stay like this.

A calm retreat

Until next time