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.

A slightly improved bathroom

It’s all been very quiet on house projects recently. We have both been very distracted with work projects and so nothing much has happened.

But we have made a few small improvements to the bathroom although it’s far from complete. The room has been fully plastered now and so we’ve just painted it all white for the time being. Which makes quite a big difference, feels like less of a building site.

We’ve also finally been able to install the towel heater we bought ages ago and given how cold it is at the moment it is a welcome improvement.

The light is all dappled in this shot because I have also bought a lace curtain to go over the bottom section of the window which has put an end to the live shows we’ve been giving the neighbours. It’s an old-fashioned choice but it means you still get a glimpse of the garden and some crucial privacy.

It’s from John Lewis.

I have invested in some new towels. Half our old ones seem to have disappeared in the move and the ones we had left kept getting used for blocking up leaks and generally ruined. The new ones are mainly from Anthropologie and we’re keeping them in this cupboard we bought before the move and have been storing in the basement until now.

I fancy painting it, but we’ll hold off until we decide on flooring, wallpaper and any other colours we might have in this room.

And lastly we have finally bought and installed the clothes airer. It’s currently directly over the bath. It’s a little intrusive as it’s in front of the light from the window but I much prefer it to having clothes on floor standing versions everywhere.

Things still be done are quite extensive:

  • Sort the skirting board
  • Panelling behind the bath
  • Choose and install flooring (which depressingly probably means we’ll have to take up the bath, sink etc)
  • Fit the lights (all bought and ready to go)
  • New taps for the sink and bath
  • Decide whether to strip the existing door or keep as is

And lots of other stuff I am probably forgetting.

Bathroom designs

The bathroom has been a bit static recently. We had the wall taken down in the room early on which previously made it both a bathroom and kitchen. Weird. Then we installed a new bath, sink, shower, loo and washing machine which has gone into a little utility cupboard in the corner of the room. And to be honest we’ve quickly got used to it at this functional stage.

But this week we have had our plasterer back and so that means we can start thinking about painting the walls and what we’re going to do with the room.

I saw this picture in a magazine, Living Etc I think and liked it (it started my recent pink obsession).

Why they keep a suitcase under the sink I don’t know. But ignore that.

So I was thinking maybe lots of white with a fresh green and bright pink.

I’ve posted here before about this Toile paper by Timorous Beasties.

I love how it seems to be one thing but is in fact another and it could be my green. But it’s cream background isn’t quite right and it’s £100. Maybe for somewhere else.

Recently I picked up a copy of House and Garden and saw this paper by Original Little Bird and I think its £35 a roll so much cheaper. A sample is coming my way.

The bath is in the center of the room and that does mean we need to think of a way of giving some privacy from the window.

We hate frosted windows and so I’m thinking of getting a super old-fashioned lace curtain.

And we need to think about how we’re going to dry clothes on dull winter days. We have decided to get an overhead airer which we’ll position somewhere above the bath so you can relax and look up at your knickers drying.

Finally flooring. I really really want black and white tiles. Klaus wants carpet. We’ll see how that pans out.

But in the meantime we need to get the walls finished, plastered, painted and go from there. I’ll be interested to see how closely we stick to these initial plans.

Wash Day

We now have a functioning bathroom . Whilst the room itself is awaiting flooring, plastering, tiles, paint etc we have the brand new bath in and it’s working well.  

This bath comes from Aston Matthews and is extremely heavy. The underneath is left so you can paint it yourself and we’re yet to decide what colour to go with. We also need to buy some taps as these are a temporary measure where we have taken the taps off the old bath we removed.

Our amazing eBay purchased loo and sink have also been fitted and are working well.


99p sink


The shower plumbing has been put in place.  The tray, screen and tiles have been bought and are sitting downstairs and are all yet to be fitted. So it’s baths all round at the moment which is a bit decadent. It’s also a bit racy as we haven’t sorted out a blind yet for the window. That’s next on the list.

This room was actually two rooms when we first moved in and in this photo you can just see the door we have boarded up in the back right hand part of the room. This was previously access to a galley kitchen which you reached from the sitting room. 

The utility cupboard has now been enclosed and the washing machine fitted so we can finally do our washing at home again – many thanks to everyone who has let us come round to dinner with a bag of washing in recent weeks. We’d be much grubbier without you. 

The floor is in need of some serious attention. We haven’t even finished taking out all the nails as yet as you can see from this shot.

We’re currently undecided whether to keep the floorboards or have a different type of flooring. I’m keen on a black and which checkerboard look but we are living with it for the moment while we make up our minds and check out prices.

A busy weekend

First up is the bathroom. We have a new roll top bath ordered, paid for and arriving tomorrow. The shower screen and tray have arrived and we went out and bought some simple tiles. We’ve also started the process of building the utility cupboard which goes in the corner of this room. The new washing machine is sitting next to it ready to be slotted in. Plus plasterboard has gone on the ceiling.

We were however still missing a sink (and a loo). Everything we saw in the showrooms we either hated or was extremely expensive so we decided to check eBay. At the pub on Friday night using their wifi we found a very nice sink not too far away and about to end. It had no bidders apart from us so we picked that up for 99p, incredible. Then we noticed that the seller had other items, a complete bathroom suite in fact all of which was about to end. Since we were going to their house anyway we bought their loo, shower attachment (which we are hanging onto for the basement bathroom) and another bath. The second bath we thought we’d keep for the taps as they are so expensive and find a new home for the bath.

Here’s the loo arriving.

So that’s a very good condition bathroom suite for £7.48.

We left the bath out front as it was heavy and before we had the chance to take the taps off (which were ok but not too great) some very strong beachcomber came past and took it away. To be fair when this normally happens we’re pleased as we deliberately leave items we don’t need out front for poeple to take, but in this instance it was a bit swifter than expected.  I think we owned the bath for two hours maybe three. Nevermind.

On the way back to London from collecting our loot we swung past the Graham and Green warehouse sale in Chiswick and bought some small bits and bobs. It’s worth checking out particularly for furniture. It happens about twice a year and everything is at least 50% off.

The other room which has had a bit of attention is the back bedroom. This is how it used to look.

And here it is now. It’s not totally complete but a quick facelift.

This is Chinese Blue from Farrow and Ball and the orginal curtains.

But unfortunately the view back onto the landing shows the general state of mayhem.

This room and a few of the others have boards that can’t be put back down. Either they are too fragile or they have been cut but not across the beam so they are impossible to repair. So we went to the reclamation yard and bought some  new/old boards.

Some other treasures at the reclamation yard. These are taken on my phone so not great quality shots.

The boards are now in the house waiting to be fitted.

So still lots and lots to do.

Open plan living

The first big piece of work to take place was taking down the stud wall between what was the bathroom and the kitchen which are both on the  first floor.  Here they are before:

The wall coming down….

and now as one open plan kitchen – bathroom. Soon they’ll be all the rage.

where the old walls once met

On the first night Klaus had a bath and I did some washing up at the same time.

Caught short

So in the garden we have a kind of outhouse. It’s on two levels. One is in line with the basement and used to be an outside bathroom. Here’s the outside view.

lower level of outhouse


And the inside complete with old bath (that really must have been nippy in January).

tempting looking bath and sink


We are actually hoping to knock through from the basement level into this outside space and reinstate a bathroom. But that’s for a bit further down the line.

The the other half is on the level with the garden and includes an outside loo which no longer works. But Klaus has found a use for it.

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. 



In getting ready for moving we are having a clear out. Klaus has convinced me to throw away my back catalogue of interiors magazines (mainly homes and gardens and living etc). But before throwing them away I have gone through and cut out everything that catches my eye in the hope that it’s useful.

I’ve tried to organise them into themes.

Starting with the hall.  


I like the image of the staircase particularly, the contrast of the dark wood and painted rails. I also really like the corbels. Our new and currently drab hall could so with some features like this.

Sitting room. 

The TV unit on his page is a really neat idea. I’d like to use stronger colours like this on the walls as well. 






I was surprised how similar all these fireplaces were when I lined them up, seems like we like relatively plain white but traditional. 



Pointing out something not relating to chairs on the chairs page, the colour of the shutters behind the black chair is very similar to the colour we’re thinking on for the shutters in our kitchen. We’re considering pigeon which is similar but paler. 


The kitchen bottom right is probably most similar to the free-standing look we are planning. I’m quite keen on the pink walls in two of these shots but Klaus doesn’t seem too keen…..


Again mainly very traditional. Apart from the pair of very modern sinks. Klaus thinks it’s better to go for the more traditional look as these will date less quickly and I like the idea of using some very decorative tiles around the bath and sink as they have in some of these pictures. I don’t want the whole house to be traditional though so we”ll have to keep an eye out for the overall balance. 


Again lots of strong colour but also patterned wallpaper. Something we’re keen to try out as we haven’t used any before. 


It’s big (for London) and bland at the moment. Will need some proper planning.