Sunday, 21 September 2014

First appearances...



During one of the hottest weeks in August (relatively speaking - this is the UK after all), I had a week of annual leave so I could be at home while the roofers were here repairing the chimneys. This was a requirement of my mortgage company and the work had to be completed by October. Essentially they needed to do some re-pointing and waterproofing to the chimney stacks and to cap the disused chimneys to prevent rain entering and causing damp.

 The scaffolding in place

The new chimney pots ready to be installed

Given that I had to be at home, I decided to use the time (and fine weather) to undertake some work at the front of my home.

On first appearances, things didn't look so bad...
...whilst the bright blue front door and the ugly house number plaque weren't to my taste (not to mention the straggly garden planting), things seemed relatively well kept.

However, if you took a closer look, this is what you would see...
 Peeling paint on the masonry and painted brick work

 Peeling and cracking around the door architrave

 Ditto above the door (complete with spider webs and ugly porch light)

 Cracked and peeling paint on the eaves/soffits

Even the door step left a lot to be desired

My concern was that if I left this for another winter, then some more permanent damage would occur to the building (particularly the woodwork). I can't admit to enjoying this at all (it was simply very hard work), but I got stuck in and managed to:
  • Strip the woodwork and repaint
  • Sand down the painted masonry and repainted
  • Stripped and re-painted the door step
  • Repainted the front door
  • Replaced the house number plaque
Later in the year, I'm having a landscape gardener come and re-work the front garden for me. This will involve lifting all of the stones and re-establishing some more formal garden beds along the fence and underneath the bay window. I wasn't going to touch the front garden until the gardener undertook the main work. However, it was looking in such poor condition after I had spent the better part of a week trampling over it, I decided to also remove all of the existing shrubs. I've done a little replanting in the areas that will align with the new garden beds...the remainder of the planting will need to wait until he removes the hard landscaping.

Anyway, here is the finished product...
 Note the new shutters at the bedroom window - more on this in a future post...

 Some new lavender bushes and a standard myrtle are now gracing the garden. There is a second myrtle to plant on the other side of the bay window, but I need to wait for the landscaper to did out some concrete. I had always planned to use myrtles here (something a bit different to standard bays), but was delighted to find such a good deal at the Crocus open day on 6 Sept when they were reduced from £40 to £10 each.


The ugly porch light is still to be replaced with a more traditional lantern when I can get the electrician back... but a bit of dove grey paint, a simple slate house number, and a much more altogether calm and elegant welcoming entrance to my home...well I like to think so anyway!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The kitchen refresh...



As you will recall from my last post, I decided that a mini-makeover was in order for my kitchen. The longer term plan is to extend the kitchen and have french doors leading on to the garden. But, I decided that I couldn't live with the pink walls and bright mosaics for the several years it will be until I undertake the extension.

Here is a reminder of where I started:

The plan of work included:

  • paint the walls a shade of greige
  • remove the tile and replace with white subway tile
  • paint all of the pine woodwork white
  • paint the cream cupboards white
  • replace the black sink (and probably the tap as well)
  • make a new roman blind for the window
It took several weeks, but is almost complete - I need to wait for the builder to replace the sink and tap for me (that is a diy step too far for this novice), but all else is done.

Work in progress...
Glass mosaic tiles  and wall shelves removed

Undercoat on walls, woodwork painted, cupboard painting and tiling in progress

And the finished product...
 The walls are a very pale grey - I probably could have gone a shade darker given the light in this room, but am still very happy with it. It is Shadows (223) from Little Greene in intelligent eggshell.


 I made the lined roman shade using this tutorial 

 My originally cream clock also had a mini-makeover with Annie Sloan Paris Grey paint.
The print is an RHS botanical archive print.

A close up of my first (and quite possibly last) attempt at tiling.


All in all, it is so much more pleasant spending time in this room now. 

Work has also been progressing elsewhere inside and outside of the house - updates coming!

Monday, 11 August 2014

The kitchen - plans for a mini-makeover...


So, after two months of living in the house, I'm ready to start my first room renovation. I've decided to start with a mini-makeover of the kitchen - in the longer term I plan to extend the kitchen with double doors leading onto the garden. So this renovation just needs to make me happy to live with it for the next few years.

My kitchen board on pinterest is overwhelming slanted to white cabinets, carrera marble counters, subway tile, and dark floors.





As this is only a temporary makeover, I don't intend to make any large scale (read expensive) changes - so the marble countertops will need to wait until the kitchen extension.

As a reminder, this is where I am starting... 
...a vision in raspberry, cream and red/orange/pink/mustard yellow mosaic tiles...

The non-changeables are the dark granite look laminate benchtops and the slate floor. The cosmetic changes I am planning include:

  • paint the walls a shade of greige
  • remove the tile and replace with white subway tile
  • paint all of the pine woodwork white
  • paint the cream cupboards white
  • replace the black sink (and probably the tap as well)
  • make a new roman blind for the window
As it is only a temporary fix, I am planning to get the job done for a budget of up to £500.

I had four days of leave from work last week as I had the roofers here repairing the chimney, so I was able to make a start on the kitchen. Here is its current state...
...like all renovations, I'm telling myself that things have to look worse before they look better...

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Life lately...


So, nearly another month passed...I never guessed it would be taking me this long to be posting any progress around this little Victorian house. But, when one is juggling a full-time job, things seem to take a little longer than anticipated.

There has been some action, albeit small and incomplete...

I've been enjoying the budleija in the garden (as evidenced above) - however, that is the last of these blooms that I'll enjoy this year, as I dug it out of the garden today. Budleija's can grow up to 6-7m and it was in a really inconvenient place in the garden, so out it went...

Speaking of the garden, some other changes have also been occurring...


The horrible blue shed at the bottom of the garden is now a much more subtle shade. In the photo above on the right the door is still blue, but that has now also been painted. Some of the larger shrubs have been removed. I still have two more to dig out, and then I can move into  re-planting mode.

The hall cupboard has also had a temporary makeover...






















The dreadfully dirty and filled with cobwebs space has had a coat of white paint and some new shelves installed. You just need to close your eyes to the hot-water tank and copper pipes. When I eventually get the boiler replaced, this water tank will become obsolete - and at that point the hall cupboard can have a proper makeover. But, at least I am no longer averse to storing my linen in there.


It has even been 'prettied' with some lavender that I cut from the front garden and dried...


I had an excellent electrician spend the day here a few weeks ago. Not only did he confirm that my wiring is in fairly decent shape (hurrah!), but he also installed a range of light-fittings for me. The previous owners had taken all of their fittings with them just leaving a bulb and flex.


Now I have three flush-mount chandeliers in-situ (sitting room, dining room and bedroom). These were £60 each from BHS - which I thought was a bit of a bargain. The electrician will be coming back in a few weeks to fit the lights in the bathroom and replace the front porch lantern.

The kitchen will be the first room to receive a proper makeover - albeit it temporary. Eventually, I plan to extend the kitchen out further into the garden, but in the mean time it will be receiving new paint, tiles, light and a new sink and tap. I'm gradually extending my diy skills. Recently, I've been learning how to remove backsplash tiles. The orange/red/mustard/pink glass mosaic tiles are on their way out...


And finally, I have a new friend. She has been a regular visitor ever since I moved in. So much so that I originally thought she might have been lost. As it turns out, she belongs to a neighbour two doors up from me. However, it appears that she just likes to make herself at home in everyone's house.

Introducing Harper...

Friday, 4 July 2014

House tour - the before...


It has now been 4 weeks since I completed on the house and have finally found time to take some photos in its 'before' state. These photos just make me realise how much work I have to do over the next year, but even with the week away in Edinburgh, some activity has been occurring.

So far I have:

  • Finally booked a roofer to repair the chimneys (this is a requirement of the mortgage company) - that will be occurring in early August.
  • Had a builder come to quote for some of the internal work (and garage repairs), but am still awaiting the quote back from him.
  • Had the tv aerial reinstated.
  • Suffered two weeks without a phone line and very patchy internet - though that problem was solved this morning (it took this long as the telephone engineers only work Mon-Fri during business hours...which is not particularly conducive when one works full-time).
  • Arranged for an electrician to visit next week to start replacing the light fittings, and re-site some of the electrical sockets.
  • Arranged for a quote for installation of shutters in the main bedroom and bathroom.
Various paint samples have also been ordered so that I can start painting as soon as the building repairs/electrical work has been completed. The previous owners made some 'interesting' choices with colours as you will see from the photos.

Anyway, here is the house in its current state...

Sitting room - I am just turning a blind eye to the fact that my duck-egg blue sofa clashes horribly with the olive green walls...

Dining room - this is one of the closed up chimney breasts that has some damp issues

The very bijou kitchen - it was like tetris fitting in my kitchenware (as three of the cupboards in this photo are actually the refrigerator, the washing machine and the boiler). The longer-term plan will be to knock through the back wall and extend the kitchen further into the garden.


The hall - both the yellow walls and the striped carpet will be going in time



The main bedroom (complete with mis-matched bed linen and temporary curtain arrangements). There are issues with this chimney also - I'll be reinstating a fire place (when I hear back from the builder...)
There is a second bedroom as well, but that is currently full of boxes that are yet to be unpacked. 


Bathroom - fixtures are in reasonable condition, but the blue walls will be going asap


The back garden - complete with some very overgrown shrubs.

Most of the work I've done to date has been in the garden. Some of these shrubs have already been pulled out and the hedge trimmed. Most of the rest of the shrubs will also be coming out in order to place proper garden borders, and planting more in scale with the size of the garden. The garden shed will also be changing colour.

So, this is the starting point - hopefully, things will start to noticeably change over the coming months...