The (endless) finishing touches

Is it just me or can finishing touches take as long as the initial work?

It’s been two months since the major work in our kitchen and dining room renovation was finished and still I have no skirting boards, bare floorboards, no pictures on walls and we still can’t find anything. I think with the rush towards Christmas we definitely breathed a sigh of relief once January begun (and at least our bank account did too) but that also meant not as much got done. When you have someone you are paying to get stuff done it happens quickly, but when you put yourself in charge…hmm, well, not so much.

There has been some progress though. It wasn’t quite a joke about giving my Christmas houseguests paintbrushes when they walked through the door… In that lull between Christmas and New Year, we did white wash the dining room walls and our very kind Uncle painted the kitchen ceiling. We paid him in beer and leftover turkey…I think he was happy. So, this was where we left off last post:

Not bad for a day's work

The following weekend I started the undercoat for the walls. The top coat would be Blue Ground, and Farrow and Ball recommend a dark undercoat. I realised we had to try to get the undercoat and top coat done in the same weekend otherwise our room would be like a pit for a week…Ironically, when I tweeted the picture many people thought the undercoat colour was the real colour and started complimenting it! It was a very steely grey…and I think in certain rooms it could have worked, but…not in the kitchen…

Dark tones undercoat...

I think, if I remember it rightly, I got one coat done, went to see my friend’s new baby, did another coat, and then recruited my mum (thanks mum!) the next day to do the top coat. That was a fun weekend.

It was pretty scary painting over such a dark colour. On the first coat we couldn’t believe it would cover it over, but I guess they do know what they’re doing and like anything, when the second coat went on we could breath. I think it turned out okay!

photo 1I did feel a massive sense of achievement after this painting was done. And we do love the colour…

Next up was furniture and again, an offer from a kind relative bought us this rather lovely, 70s sideboard, out of storage.

photo 2

(Of course, now it is COVERED with things…post, paper, cards, fruit bowl, vase…etc..but still, it is a nice addition!)

And there have been another two additions to the house since Christmas too. These are definitely not improving the furniture and most likely will start to cost as much as home renovations themselves, but still…a house wouldn’t be complete without…

CATS!
CATS!
photo 4
Ripley (the mum) and Alaska (the baby) taking over.

Tomorrow, our builder returns to lay the dining room floor, attach skirting boards, build a new architrave and add a new door to the cellar top. I can hardly believe what it will be like for that room to be (almost) finished…

Oh, apart from the leak in the kitchen flat roof. Yes, we didn’t have floods, but the wettest winter on record has taken its toll on our brand new plastering and painting.

Damn rain.
Damn rain.

 *Moves new roof up the priority list for this year* *Forgets about new bathroom*

Sigh.

The spare room develops…

I found this rather beautiful old mirror in our cellar – a lovely gift left by previous owners from the past. It just needed a good clean and then I thought it was a good find for the spare room, so our first guest, staying soon, could see themselves.

photo 1
Mr Muscle gets to work
photo 2
Cleaned up nicely

Having the cleaning bug, I got to work on the spare room again. I cleaned the windows, and window sills. I re-made the bed. I cleaned the shelving unit. And then I dropped the cloth on the floor and when I picked it up, there was a cleaner, much darker patch and I thought, ah, there are decent floorboards under all this dust. So, out came the bucket and sponge and suddenly I was revealing rather nice, old, floorboards.

Before and after as it happened
Before and after

I wasn’t sure about having floorboards upstairs but it was amazing what a bit of fairy liquid did. Suddenly all thoughts of carpet were gone.

And then it was on to finding some pictures to put up. While the renovation happens our pictures had been safely away in bubble wrap, and before that they were in storage for months, so unwrapping some of them was like saying hello to some old much-loved friends.

I bought this one online after a trip to Chicago and have always loved it, and the colours:

photo 1

My other half got me this great print (bottom left below) from a shop in Columbia Road for my birthday shortly after we met. It used to hang above our sink in our flat in Stoke Newington and amuse me. The illustration next to it is from The Gruffalo’s Child, which I got when I worked on the book in my first job…

SING!

And here is the mirror in place below…along with a gorgeous screen print that was given to me by the very talented picture book and general graphic/digital artist Tom Percival as a gift when I left my second job:

photo 1

Extreme close up
Extreme close up

Pictures have basically gone up wherever there were holes in the walls to cover up…so it’s a little random I must say, but, it’s just so nice to have pictures on walls again, and suddenly, suddenly we have one room that seems lovely, even before we paint it. Here it is (with much thanks again to our inherited bed, delivered and put together excellently by my friends)…

photo 5

photo 2

photo 3

And finally, we needed to shield some unsightly piping and remains of the built in wardrobes before they all get boxed in, so we pinned up a simple white sheet, which though was a pain to put up, seems to have done just the job we needed it to.

photo-31

And here we have it, our first room – one that I would genuinely enjoy spending time in:

photo 4

Lounging

As you know, the building site continues. But as we have to live in it for a while, we have decided to try to make it as nice as possible. (As nice as it can be with holes in your walls and random patches of paint everywhere).

So, I have been unpacking more and more and rearranging rooms to make them as liveable as can be. The lounge is looking more lounge-like. This is what we had for a while.

Living room (sans much furniture)
Lounge, before (and without much furniture)

The one comfy chair situation was not one that could last long when there are two of you living there. Try watching a three hour film on a deck chair and you will know what I mean.

This room doesn’t need much work really but the work isn’t going to happen for while. The plan is we need to re-plaster (it’s crumbling), then paint (we picked the colour ‘Orangery‘ already) and then hope to be able to restore the original dark wood floorboards that should be under this bamboo flooring. They look okay from the cellar, but who knows what we will find when they come up. Oh, and we also need to replace the skirting boards too. And this is a room I said didn’t need much work.

But, as there isn’t anything structural, it isn’t a priority yet. So, we need to make nice for now.

First step was thankfully being offered a sofa on loan, which has been gratefully received and much lounging has already occurred. We then moved an old shelving unit from upstairs (which we aimed to throw out, but now I’m pleased we never got round to it) and today I have filled it with just some of our books (we have way too many). And with some pictures unwrapped and balancing precariously on shelves and fireplaces, it’s just starting to look just a bit cosy:

lounge sept 13-1

That will do for a while.  We have a few weeks without workmen coming up, so I did an epic clean today so we can enjoy the dust-free weeks.

The dust-free weeks until we get our kitchen ripped out and redone, and then all the dust in the world will be upon us again.

But, for now, I have my feet up on the (borrowed) sofa and I’m not thinking about anything else but lounging.