In the pink

Progress in the basement flat continues at pace as now it’s all about adding things that make it look better as opposed to stripping off plaster and generally wrecking the place as part of the “battle of the damp”.

Here’s a before shot.

And here’s the best of the interim ones.

The floor has been painted strong white like the rest of the house and the walls are setting plaster also from Farrow and Ball. I really like it, but it’s a slightly depressing colour to use when you pay someone to plaster the walls, then carefully prime them only to paint them basically the same colour as they were before. Again the ceiling is also the same colour and the skirting will be too.

And one of the many deliveries that helped get us there.

The boiler will be boxed in as part of a cupboard.

From this angle you can see the unpainted end of the room which will be a kitchen area. The lighting is already in for that work area.

They are from B&Q.

Still some work to be done on the door and obviously the stairs beyond but you can see the flagstones are back down and looking good.

The view into the bedroom.

And here’s the fireplace with the beautiful tiles that were uncovered when the heater was removed. Unfortunately there’s some pretty extensive damage, although ultimately the plan is for a wood burning stove in here so that might cover the gap and work. We shall see.

Here’s a close up of the lights which are from John Lewis (like the ones in the bedroom). The plan is that a sofa will sit under these.

Off the entrance to the flat is a kind of cellar which sits under the front steps. It was a horrible hole full of coal dust and a bit scary. It’s now had a new floor put in and is ready to act as some handy storage.

The plan is to put another toilet in the space under the hall stairs and because of that some serious digging has been required to put new plumbing in. Which also means going out the back door and particularly using the outside tap is a bit tricky.

And lastly, also outside some of the holes in the patio filled from our large supply of random bricks.

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.

Totally plastered and a collection of random images

A new year and we’re back on track with the house. Starting with a big plastering project.

We’ve decided to get the front hall and the top three floors of stairs done. Some sections need to be totally replaced as the plaster is shot, some bits are full of holes and some sections just need simple skimming to touch up what is already there.

But to be ready for the plasterer we had to get all the wallpaper stripped so it was easy for him to start work.

Holes roughly filled.

Some places are quite hard to reach…

Unfortunately we didn’t leave enough time and some late night work was required.

In the front hall the arch has been sadly ruined. We need to look for some corbels to fit beneath this which are as in keeping as we can mange to give this a bit of detail and interest back.

And so we’re all set and work started today. Once done we’re onto choosing a colour scheme. We’re hoping that tidying the hall and stairs up will make the house look less like a building site and more like a home that needs a bit of work. It’s a subtle but important difference…

Next up a selection of scrapbook shots, images I have collected. In some cases I want to keep them as reminders for the house and some I just like.

In no particular order.

A lampshade made out of a bucket.

A chair with cutlery printed onto it.

A matching row of lights (I’ve always wanted this for the kitchen).

Some great floor tiles.

Plants growing in old tins.

And finally a kitchen display in Anthropologie.

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.

Uncovering the fireplace and recovering the ceiling

As the weather turns colder we’ve been thinking about getting our fireplaces sorted. We need a complete new grate and surround for the dining room fire and for the sitting room we have a surround but need a new grate to make it useable. 

The sitting room fireplace is in a classic Georgian design and we’ll probably get something similar for downstairs. However the one in the sitting room is covered in thick white paint. When we bought the house it was mentioned to us that this was a marble fireplace underneath. So we’ve had a quick look using a heat gun to peel away a bit of the paint. 

What’s was really surprising at this stage was that it seemed to be two colours. A normal pale tone and what looked like a lime green outer section.

Removing the paint with a heat gun was probably not the best idea from a health point of view as we don’t know how old it is (lead is a worry) plus the smell is truly terrible. So we ordered some specialist products to take the paint off and fully reveal what lies beneath. You have to keep it under clingfilm to keep the moisture in. 

and it worked. 

This was the results after leaving the paste on for one week. A few bits still on but we can sort those and the lime green has strangely vanished. We’re so pleased this has turned out well as replacing this like for like would have been really costly.

 Now, still in the same room but looking up.

You may remember this disaster where the ceiling collapsed.

Here’s the original post about what happened. We also had that repaired this week.

Here’s an action shot.

Nice technique.

And the ceiling all done afterwards – original features intact.

And so now we’re in a position to start decorating this room. We think we’re going with carpet in here, but otherwise we have no firm ideas.

Waiting for the dust to settle

Yesterday we had a long conversation about the ceiling in our sitting room. There were cracks in the ceiling plaster when we moved in and we knew it was an issue. We looked at the floor from above to check it was the plaster rather than the whole floor which it was. With that in mind and on the basis that the plaster had been up for the best part of two hundred years, two world wars (and one world cup) it was on the list of things to fix “some time next year”‘. Non-urgent.

Then this evening it fell in.

I was just about to go up and watch some TV but thought I’d go into the garden with the dogs first. Otherwise this would have landed on my head. 

As you can see the sofa is now an ex-sofa. 

Everything else seems like dust damage only. And there’s a lot of dust which is partly why we hadn’t looked at this before. 

Fortunately the cornicing looks OK. 

We hadn’t done anything to this room yet so it’s not like it’s ruined all our hard work, but it’s not exactly ideal. Now we just have to figure out the best way to fix it.