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!
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Living through dust, or, a kitchen transforming

I have neglected the blog recently. This is because since I last wrote, we haven’t had any living space. About a week after the living room started being torn apart and put back together, we started on the kitchen.

Anyone who’s ever lived through having a kitchen refurbished knows the upheaval that comes with it: the lack of sink, oven, washing machine; the constantly feeling of dust, EVERYWHERE; the longing for the day where you can cook a meal again and wash up in the same room (slash, load the dishwasher). It’s certainly a test of wills, I tell you.

Luckily we just happened to be away for the very worst part of the refurb which we were thankful for. While we were swanning around the US, our builder was ripping out our kitchen, finding the walls in a bad state, rebuilding them, reskimming them, and starting to lay a new floor.

We dismantled as much as we could before we fled the scene:

photo 1
Bye old kitchen…

photo 2 photo 5

Everything had to decamp into our spare rooms…including the new kitchen which was delivered (Thanks Ikea) just before we went away, and single-handedly carried upstairs (all 83 packages) by my other half. Goodbye spare rooms, for now:

photo 3 photo 4

So…when we returned, what did we find? Well, actually, things had moved along nicely, and despite feeling like you constantly can’t find anything, and getting sick of takeaways, we shouldn’t complain that much. In two weeks things have been moving pretty quickly…take a look:

We have been mucking in as much as we can to help speed things along. My other half has been helping with laying the underfloor heating mats (a very straightforward way of getting some heat into our very cold kitchen, and easily bought online), and we have spent each weekend since being home painting…not always what you want to do after a busy week, but suddenly we can see the light.

This coming week should see some big things being done. The sink should be functioning in the next few days, the wall cabinets should be going up, the final coat of paint going on. The tiles we raced around to buy before we went on holiday (just from B&Q, but we’re very pleased with our choice in the end) should be unearthed again after being covered in cardboard all week (to avoid paint spillages…). The lounge is being painted so we can move back into it.

We have just over two weeks to get ready for Christmas, and I *think* we will make it.

The next part to do is the diner. And if we don’t quite finish that, what better way to say ‘Merry Christmas’ than by handing each relative a paintbrush  with their turkey and putting them to work, eh? Certainly one way to work off the Christmas dinner.

Making filing more interesting – part one

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged. Hey, I guess I have been having a life outside my house! Yay me.

We’ve both been busy, and the house has been having a quiet period. And while it does we have been looking around for things to go in the house when its done. One thing we talked about getting for a while was a filing cabinet. Anyone that owns a house knows there is a lot of paperwork that goes with it. And while my professional filing strategy is filing paper in the BIN as long as I have a digital copy, that doesn’t quite work for household admin. You always need to know where to find your mortgage agreement, council tax bill, driving licence etc, so, we wanted a filing cabinet. And personally I think they are one thing that can be practical, but beautiful, if you get an old one or work one up.  So, we have been on the lookout.

A few weeks ago I visited this Discount Office Furniture warehouse in Manor Park, E12 after a recommendation by a family member. They have a great selection of used office furniture – desks, chairs, filing cabinets, bookcases – and the occasional gems. We went back last weekend for another look and found the below, and old 15 drawer filing cabinet which we liked the look of:

Complete with old stickers
Complete with old stickers

We talked to the guy in the warehouse about advice for revamping it, and the first step in the process was to get it all cleaned up, before sanding it down if we wanted to repaint it. So far, we’ve just managed the cleaning part but we have ordered some paint for the next instalment.

Cleaning it up actually took a while. It had a lot of residual glue marks from old stickers on it (why do people use stickers when the handles have a place to put paper labels?) – so we grabbed a bottle of white spirit, a bowl of soapy water and got cleaning:

Elbow grease
Elbow grease

I was on quality control duty while the other half white spirited and scrubbed at the leftover glue:

I sent a few back
I sent a few back

The inside was pretty filthy so I grabbed the soapy water and a scourer and got to work:

cleaning inside
Looking better

And then it was putting all the drawers back in, and drying it all off before making our own labels:

Cleaned up nice
Cleaned up nice

Pretty pleased with how its looking so far.

While making our own labels we found a few old ones from the previous owners. It seems this was no ordinary office filing cabinet:

Also found one that said 'Information Profiling'. Hmm.
Also found one that said ‘Information Profiling’. Hmm.

This may have held a few secrets in its time. And I’m pretty sure our paperwork will be far less controversial than the ‘Stop and Searches’ that were previously held in here.

While the original unit looks great, we decided that it might be interesting to paint it with a bright colour to make it more of a feature. We’ve picked ‘Blue Ground’ by Farrow & Ball which might not be a usual filing cabinet colour but we’ll see what happens. The next stages are to rough it up with sandpaper (apparently the rougher it is, the better the paint will take), give it a coat of primer and then two coats of the paint (Farrow & Ball do metal paint versions of all their colour options). We’ve gone for a silky finish rather than matt or gloss, which I hope will echo the original metal finish.

So, the paint has arrived and now we just need to find the time to get the next stage done. Which, is easier said than done.

Part two to come soon…