2016: A year in DIY

And so goes another year in the house. A year of slightly failing to blog, but actually, not failing at all where DIY and house progress was concerned.

I started this year disappointed with the slow progress we were making with the house, but I end the year feeling very proud of ourselves, and with a sense that we have very much turned a corner and the end is in sight. Which, is a good place to be, finally, after 3 and a half years!

Last Christmas I was lamenting the fact that our upstairs bedrooms were still unfinished. This Christmas we hosted six people, in our three, almost complete, spare bedrooms. Sure, one of them was just painted white and had no floor, but it did have a window that finally closed, a blind that worked and a room for a double bed.

This year was the year that we dug deep into our own DIY skills, (well, hard work rather than skills) and took on as much of the remaining work as we could. Furniture was ripped out, floors pulled up, ceilings and walls were painted and flat pack furniture was put together. Even if painting my first ceiling ended up with me having a face like this:

My face after painting the ceiling

Our own bedroom sadly remains unfinished, for now, (while we prioritised readying the guest rooms for Christmas) but our biggest transformation is in our loft conversion. Badly done in the past, we always planned to redo the whole thing, but time and money told us we probably weren’t going to do that for a long time and so during the May Bank Holiday we just resolved to paint the whole thing white and see what we could make of it. The transformation is remarkable; a room gone from bright pink and purple, with a fogged up window, half a floor and a lime green bathroom, into a clean and serene guest room. A new floor, new glass for the window, ripping out old fitted units, a lick of paint all round and suddenly we have a beautiful space that we almost fought over this Christmas. (See gallery below)

And we finally have a kitchen roof that doesn’t leak! This was the year that we closed our eyes and swallowed the cost of a new flat roof, and thank god we did as the mess our builder found when he pulled it off was unbelievable. Three different layers of essentially a patched roof over the years made it pretty obvious why we’d had so many leaks. A hot week in August saw the laying of a new liquid fiberglass roof. Only marginally more expensive than asphalt but much, much durable – it should last years!

So, without further ado here’s how things have come along this year in the house…

Spare room 1

Loft conversion

Kitchen Roof

Final spare room – still missing a floor

All in all, a lot achieved!

The Christmas deadline pushed us on, but it was worth it that’s for sure. We now have 3 spare rooms! And we filled them with our family. It was busy, noisy, the cats hid under our bed for most of the period, but it was great fun and we loved every minute.

And now, we sit still for a while…

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Merry Christmas!
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And they all had a jolly good time…

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wishing everyone a peaceful New Year.


What we used/bought:

  • Paint for the first spare room was Green Blue, from, you know it, Farrow & Ball. We just loved this shade.
  • Cornicing was from a great place in Leytonstone. Made to order, fast and fitting available.
  • We must have made a least a dozen trips to the wonderful Webster’s in Forest Gate, for paint and materials. Love them.
  • Our favourite, basic, white paint for walls and skirting became Johnstones, which we bought from Webster’s above. Goes far and great coverage.
  • IKEA provided our daybed for the loft that transformed into a truly enormous king size bed. Comfortable and not too tricky to put together.
  • My good friend saved the day in our makeshift bedroom with a raised double airbed, a lot like this one. It was incredible and I am very tempted to buy my own now!
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The really boring DIY jobs

Since Christmas, while the weather has been cold and wet (is spring ever coming?) we have mainly been inside progressing with jobs that give you almost no pleasure at all.

Jobs that you really want to pay someone else to make go away, but you know you can do them yourself and so…you force yourself to. But, they are really horribly time consuming and really completely boring.

Jobs on this list include:

  • Painting architraves
  • Painting skirting boards
  • Stripping wallpaper
  • Painting doors
  • Touching up paint on walls that have been chipped while doing something else

Repeat until you want to kill yourself.

Over the last few months we have painted three doors, three rooms worth of skirting boards, stripped wallpaper from four walls and moved furniture around several times a day it would seem.

We’d just put these things off, knowing they’re no fun, but when you finish you go, ‘oh, wow, why did it take us two years to do that?’. Sound familiar?

A few pictures of our progress since January…

I think most weekends  in 2016 we have been doing something with a paintbrush…but, it’s the little jobs that can sometimes make the difference. The beautiful ornate skirting boards we had made based on the original old ones look absolutely stunning with the white beads really complimenting the orange walls. The kitchen door – although it took 4 days to paint (16 hour drying time, WHY?) – now looks super smart re-hung. And I definitely don’t miss the awful flowery wallpaper in the hall and landing greeting me every time I come home now.

Some lovely other finishing touches downstairs too. We got this stripy rug from John Lewis which we love for the lounge:

IMG_1174And it’s amazing what finally hanging long lost pictures can do for your sense of achievement…IMG_1043So next up is our spare room. Plastered last autumn but since then filled with “stuff”, we’re currently laying a new floor, replacing a window (first time we’ll have double glazing in that room for almost three years!), new skirting boards (groan, more painting), new radiator already in, new cornicing being ordered, walls and another old/new door to paint.

Currently in the exciting stage of choosing the wall colour (my favourite part!). I think we are in the blue/green zone currently, with front runners being Vert de Tere or Dix Blue – cue more sample pots…

IMG_1277So, watch this space – we have some guests schedule late May so I’ve given myself that deadline…fingers crossed.

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Things I’m loving & recent reads:

  • I only recently read my first Maggie O’Farrell, after several people couldn’t believe I’d never read her. I read Instructions for a Heatwave and devoured it. Did not want it to end. Definitely will be reading more!
  • I was lucky enough to get a proof copy of the upcoming Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Again, my first Chris Cleave and I absolutely loved this. Set in World War II, with a fantastic leading female I whipped through this and then cried at the end. He’s doing an event with Newham Bookshop at Wanstead Tap in June which I’m hoping to go to. Thoroughly recommend (out this Thursday).
  • I read Fiona Barton’s much hyped The Widow in January on release. I enjoyed the beginning, but for me, it didn’t quite deliver…fantastic concept though.
  • Post Serial (enjoyed the second season but not as much as first…) I am having a love affair with This American Life podcast. You can get recent episodes free through your podcast app, but I was recommended their own app – £2.49 and over 500 episodes at your fingertips. Each one explores fascinating real life stories and I cannot get enough of them at the moment. People are just so interesting.
  • We’re doing this thing of trying to watch everything we record on our box, rather than having series of things building up for months (a common habit for us). Just watched the absolutely stunning, and moving Show Me a Hero – the latest by David Simon (The Wire) about the Mayor of Yonkers in New York during a controversial public housing bill in the late 80s. Oscar Isaac plays the Mayor and wow,  a six-part masterpiece. Look it up!

Some colours have been chosen

It’s hard to write about colour selection without sounding wanky. But, okay, picking colours is hard. All we knew was that we didn’t want a totally white house (lovely as they can be). And I have been developing an interest in different shades of grey. Which, as a friend said to me, ‘five years ago I bet you wouldn’t have expected to be saying that, in normal conversation, without a hint of sarcasm’.

But anyway.

Here’s our favourite selection for the lounge:

The bottom row
The bottom row shortlist

I had an idea I wanted orange, but had worried it would be too, well…orange.

But, we found one we liked, and from the shortlist we chose this one:

Trial square
Trial square just to check it’s not too much…

I don’t think it is…so that is one decision made.

Kitchen/Diner – we don’t have much natural light in one part, so this is most likely going to be the lightest/closest to white room of the house.

Here is what we have narrowed it down to:

The bottom middle two...
The bottom middle two…

We’re thinking “Dayroom Yellow” in the diner part, “Skimming Stone” in the kitchen. God, paint names are stupid. (Though, hooray, I have picked a grey!).

The hallway is going to be the hardest decision. It’s huge, and potentially could be the same colour for three floors unless we pick some places to split it.

It could be some time before we decide from this lot…

Help
Help please