Water and beds

The shower in the basement flat is almost there. Tiles on, sink in, loo in and shower working. All that’s needed now is for the boiler to be linked up and it’s all sorted.

Everything is from somewhere different. I actually can’t remember where the loo is from – just somewhere online. The shower is from bathstore.

There will be folding doors to separate this room from the bedroom.

The sink is from Ikea, that I do remember since it was a late night purchase in Croydon – ah the glamour! It took a while to find one that didn’t come out too far from the wall as the room is thin and therefore every centimeter counts.

These windows still need some thought to privacy (for the shy).

The bedroom itself is now basically ready to be decorated. The walls have all had extensive treatment for damp which was pretty bad in this and the front room (being a basement and an unused one for some time). Although there is still some damp on the chimney breast. The thinking is some water still needs to dry out, or that water is coming in down the chimney. To stop this we’ve capped the chimneys temporarily – photos to follow.

Hopefully that will fix it.

I’ve even bought a new bed, from Ebay. Doesn’t look much here but I am hoping it will look good in this room. It’s a bit elaborate so its meant a change of plan in terms of decoration, much simpler than I had previously imagined or it will all be too much.

The garden is also starting to come together. More and more plants are slowly added and on a sunny day there are some patches that I am starting to really like.

I have even planted some herbs in an old sink and a terracotta trough, I think they’ll look nice on the steps coming up from the flat bedroom.

A new shower and new flowers

Progress continues in the basement flat.

The flagstones have been relaid in the hall area and in the shower room.

And the radiator has been installed in the bedroom. It’s under the window but low enough so you can step over and access the garden (as is being demonstrated here).

Thanks Heidi. Very helpful.

In the bathroom the tiles we bought from B&Q which I think are from their basics range have gone in. We chose a dark grout, it’s very forgiving if you’re a bit slapdash with the cleaning plus I actually prefer this look. I think it feels more contemporary.

Originally we were going to go for metro tiles and these are like over-sized versions.

The wooden frame is where the shower will be fitted.

The towel rail is also a B&Q special.

The other project that has moved forward is the garden. Originally this was all lawn and a massive patio. We’ve made a start at changing this roughly in line with the original plan that you can see in an earlier post here.

Some of the paving has been lifted to make flowerbeds and some others beds  have been marked out at the sides and towards the back of the garden.

Spot the space hopper.

The area at the back by my studio was going to be a vegetable patch, but for now we are going to have wild flowers. A path has been mowed in to the studio.

Filling this with plants is a bit epic as we need so many. And I’d kind of like the planting to look like this, a photo taken in my local park (but without the bandstand of course).

Most of the plants bought so far are from East Street Market in Walworth. On Sundays there is a small plant market in a side road. It does seem to focus on the kind of plants you see on roundabouts but those are the kind of hardy specimens we need.

Here’s a local trader who presumably is taking a well earned rest after selling out of his Burberry stock.

Transporting our purchases home.

Planning things out.

And the other matching border.

We’ve tested things out with a game of croquet = lawn just about big enough.

But there’s still an incredibly long way to go and a lot more plants even if they are spaced out with room to grow.

Still it’s lovely to have the garden, particularly in London. Here’s me enjoying a bit of sun with a blanket I knitted and a cushion made from some fabric I bought in Ikea.


Basement gets water and light (well nearly)

Work continues on the basement. It’s all pipes down there.

This is the hall area where the flat joins with the main part of the house. It’s so luxurious it even has a radiator.  Ooh.

This is the view into the bathroom.

The barrier at the top of these steps is to stop the dog going down, jumping the last step and then getting trapped down there. She doesn’t seem to be learning from this mistake. We are still missing a bottom step hence the problem.

This radiator is to go in the bedroom under the french doors / long window. It’s only from B&Q and seems to be the perfect size.

The front room / open plan kitchen still needs some work. Although we do have a boiler now.

Is it more depressing to have a wheelbarrow in your lounge…

…or a cement mixer in your bedroom?

What does look great is the office, set up as a music studio for Klaus. The half-door I think is a great idea of his.

The pigeon holes/ shelves in here are from Graham and Green.

The next steps are to tile the bathroom and put in the toilet etc which we have already bought. Hopefully this next stage should see some swift improvements.

Downstairs on the up

The basement is starting to take shape at last. The idea is that this will be a flat, that you can either access from the main house or separately via its own front door. That way the house is flexible and the flat could be rented out or vice versa.

There are two main rooms, the one you enter via the front door which is the largest and will be a kitchen/diner and a second at the back which will be a bedroom.

The basement had some pretty bad damp and so we’ve had a comprehensive bit of damp proofing done.

This had also affected the stairs down from the main house, and the bottom ones were rotten and collapsed.

We are going to put a loo in the space under these stairs that can be accessed from the main house.

So here’s how the front room is looking now.

These tiles were uncovered in the fireplace which we will try to keep. We’re planning on putting in a wood burning stove here.

This room has quite a nice window which looks out onto the steps you reach the front door by. It’s got horrible bars on at the moment, but it will ultimately look great.

The panels under the window are a stable style door that is going on the new office, which was an outside loo. That’s just all been replastered too. It’s a very small room just enough room for a desk and a computer but here’s a glimpse, we added that little window. The office opens onto the patio area so a half-door seemed like a nice idea particularly for the summer.

The back room which will be a bedroom has fresh plaster and a damp course too.

This room also has a lovely big window which we had replaced, it’s large enough to step out of into the garden. This one, the two in the bathroom I am about to come on to and the funny shaped one in the office we had to have specially made as they are such unusual sizes.  They look great, but it’s expensive getting this kind of bespoke work done.

The bathroom for the flat (well shower room, it will be too small for a bath) is off this room and was actually a bathroom before but was unused and in a terrible state. You can see it on the outside in the photo above.

Here it is now.

There’s clearly still a lot to do, but we’ve got the next stage lined up and have bought the shower loo and sink for this room. So it should be liveable relatively soon.

Kitchen repairs, choosing colours and more work on the basement

There’s been a problem in the kitchen.  Some initial work was done some time ago in this room and colours tested but since then it has left it in a semi-fuctional state while other bigger problems are dealt with.

But there’s been a problem. Some plasterboard that was used to line the gap in the fireplace where the oven now fits,  has buckled and bowed in quite a worrying fashion. It’s been checked out and it’s nothing dangerous, the plasterboard just wasn’t given room to move as it dried and settled. It looked really worrying though.

So the solution was to take off all the tiles and plasterboard and the area has now been rendered and will (probably) be painted rather than tiled again. Here is it with some damp spots where the render is being sealed.

The rest of this room is looking kind of OK. There’s a small desk in here now, and even some flowers when I don’t find the general building dust too depressing to bother.

Not much more can be done to this room at the moment as all the floorboards will need to come up again to put the electrics in the basement which is still largely untouched. In fact if anything the basement looks a bit worse. It needs damp treatment (quotes are happening at the moment) and therefore some paneling that was probably just put in to hide the problem had to come off.

Hmm lovely.

So on a more positive note the entrance hall has been taking a step forward. Again the floor is still untouched because the boards will need to come up, but the current plan is that this will be  Farrow and Ball Strong White which is the same as the bathroom and bedrooms.

And on the walls just on this level, Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose (the same colour as the kitchen shelves).

Just painting this hall and adding in this radiator cover has made quite a big change because when you walk in it doesn’t immediately say “building site” anymore, it doesn’t say “finished home either” but it’s much nicer.

Cinder Rose is quite a strong colour, but even so I wanted a strong colour for the two doors in this hall that really contrasts, whilst the door frames and skirting will be Strong White like the floor.

I got a few samples including some of the new colours from (it’s my favourite) Farrow and Ball.

And I’ve gone for the most punchy, Arsenic.

So far a very mixed response…

And finally some random objects I have been collecting.

A beetle paperweight.

Some regal tins.

A biscuit to hold biscuits.

And some birds, standing guard in the bathroom that I bought in a market in Cape Town.

Starting work on the basement and other bits and bobs

We have finally started work on our rather depressing basement. The bathroom in what we refer to as the outhouse is the main initial focus. We are trying to sort out the entrance to the room from what will be a living room.

The plan for the basement is that it will be a semi-separate flat that we can choose to rent out (and cover some of the renovation costs) or take back as use a guest space should we need it. It has its own front door underneath the main front door and it needs a lot of work, more than anywhere else in the house. But we are starting with the bathroom and I think you can see why….

I kind of wish we could keep this wallpaper.



It’s only a small space and so we’re struggling with how the layout in there will work. We have a lot of planning and decision-making to do downstairs and that will probably slow our progress as we find it easier to do a bit, take a look, think it over and then press on. But we will get there in the end.

Oh and we had to buy a shed to put all the DIY stuff we have been storing in the basement in. We’re going to paint it to look a bit like a beach hut.

Inside more wallpaper stripping has taken place in the trickier to reach areas around the top landing. This is in preparation for plastering the worst sections which we have already done on the first and ground floor. Soon we’ll need to agree on colours and flooring for the hall and stairs. But not just yet.

In the main bathroom, which is currently my favourite room in the house, I am still trying to decide on whether we should have wallpaper or leave it plain. If we do have wallpaper it will be just on one wall.

I got my selection of samples out and had a look at them in the space.

We quite like this one. But it’s not really right for a bathroom I think although it’s quite fun. It is by Lewis and Wood.

The we have this paper which I have talked about loads already on here. It’s by Timorous Beasties. I have decided against however as it is on a cream background and I want to keep the rest of the walls white now (final decision) and I think that will look ill-considered. But I will try to use it elsewhere in the house because it is cool.

I like this one too but it’s also a no for the same reasons as above. It’s from Zoffany.

And so that leaves this as my current favourite. It’s a bit lurid, but I like it and it’s from wallpaper direct and pleasingly is one of the cheaper one.

Oh and because the bathroom is the most finished I am able t do nice things like buy flowers to go in there without it being pointless and lost amongst rubble as they would be elsewhere.


An update in three parts

In recent weeks we have made a bit of progress.

First up is the plaster in the hall and on the first landing. It’s been done and dried, so we can now decide on colours.

This part was a particularly bad spot and we’ve had it simply redone for now. But I’d still like to replace some corbels at some point soon.

And now we need to finish stripping all the paper from this tricky section on the top floor. I’m a bit afraid of this bit as we’ll need to use ladders on the stairs. Not keen.

Then next is the basement. We’re due to start work down here shortly as at present it’s still totally untouched. We have a totally unusable bathroom down there which we will reinstate. And so in readiness it has been cleared of all the junk it has accumulated in the (what must be) decades since it was last functioning.

As you can see it’s in a sorry state.

And from one bathroom to another.

The one upstairs one is almost done.

We were going to do the floor in black and white tiles, but we decided that tiles were too cold and lino too horrible and we couldn’t find anything affordable in-between. So instead we painted the boards the same colour as the floors in the bedrooms. And actually I now think we should use this colour more elsewhere and have greater consistency in the flooring. I used to think it was a bit unimaginative to paint everything white (or in this case Farrow and Ball Strong White) but now I wonder if it isn’t a good idea and allows you to be more daring with wall colours and still feel like all the rooms and house are connected. Anyway one to think over as going with white floors in the front hall and kitchen might be a bit much – not sure.

This piece of furniture next to the sink is a new addition. We picked it up for next to nothing in a dodgy looking local shop.

The clothes airer is still going strong and proving to be really useful.

I am not certain about the colours of the walls. At the moment they are just white and I quite like it. But I did have my heart set on using some wallpaper and colour in this room. Ideally this paper from Timorous Beasties.

But the one thing we have decided not to touch is the paint on the door. I like it just the way it is.

This room was actually subdivided into two rooms when we moved in, a thin kitchen and a thin bathroom. We took out the partition wall and made it one room again.

The pictures from that stage are here.

Before photos

To go back to the beginning I have been meaning to post some shots that show how the house was before we moved in.  These images taken by our photographer friend Paul are a good guide.First up is the front room which we will make into a kitchen / dinning room (the current kitchen is part of a room on the first floor that has been divided into two; a narrow bathroom and a narrow kitchen which unfortunately cuts across a window). The plan is to have the more formal eating area at the front and the kitchen at the back so we look out over the garden. Not the heating, we have this kind of thing in every room and they will all need to be replaced with central heating. 

what will be the kitchen

The staircase has been enclosed and so we’ll remove that and need to restore the banisters etc.

enclosed stairs

 A peek at the bathroom which is one half of the upstairs room we will remove the partition wall from. This side has its half of the window boarded up and so a new smaller window has been cut to give some light. 

peeking into the bathroom



Then on the downside (literally) we have the basement / lower ground floor. This area hasn’t been lived in for quite some time, probably decades. We’re hoping to make this a semi-independent flat with a small kitchen and bathroom which friends and relations can use but as you can see it really needs some work. 



And the creepiest room in the house. The storage space under the outside stairs which run up to the front door. Many people are too scared to even approach. One day this will be something cool like a wine cellar but if we’re honest that’s some way off.