Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Window Song

Oh what a fun week it's been. The timing of things truly impeccable, I am between jobs, my house mate is off sick and this is when the builders come in and literally knock the S**# out of the place. The dust is incomprehensible, the noise of bricks and glass smashing all around me quite alarming and the cold generated through having no ceilings just as autumn descends unbearable.

But, on a positive note, there has been progress. The majority of the deconstruction is over (I HOPE!), they have done a layer of bonding and plaster, along with installing a new ceiling in the spare room and we have a new velux window in the landing.

Installation of said velux caused quite a flurry of excitement,
1. Where should it be positioned (ermmmm, there? Points sheepishly to what looks like the centre of the beams). 2. How should the ceiling around it be built? Should the ceiling follow the shape of the roof up, slanting up and slanting back down again? - great for light but could look weird. Should it slant up and come down in a straight line? - could look better but not as good for light. Should it be boxed in, within its own little tunnel? - kind of what was there before and what was the point of replacing it?
Emergency Saturday morning breakfast meeting involving entire household, full team of builders, google images for reference and Dad on conference call and I think we have a solution. It will be boxed in but with a significant gap around it, therefore preventing lack of light.

This will either make no sense, or will seem like an obvious decision but it's at times like these when I wish I had an architect on hand or some experience to help me on my way.

It will come as no surprise, we've heard it all before, but sometimes renovating can be really hard work. The relentless dust, the endless list of chores, the constant presence of builders in your house, the zapping of money you don't really have to spend, the endless decisions you don't feel qualified to make. Maybe it's the full moon, maybe it's the impending winter and need for a holiday.
Maybe I should just shut up and paint my door!

Monday, 18 October 2010


They are back.... Oh hell-yeah they are back!!

I left the house this morning and I had ceilings... now, I don't.

It is something of an emotional roller coaster this renovation malarkey.
First time round, it was somewhat like a game, even the money felt more monopoly than real. Why else would you handover literally thousands of your hard earned cash on a daily/ hourly basis, surely that couldn't be real money? The house was so entirely revolting I cared not a jot to see it being knocked into oblivion, I had no emotional attachment and it was all just so new and exciting.

This time round... hmmmm not so much.
I have grown rather fond of the place, hours of blood, sweat and actual tears and yes, every penny I own. So to see it butchered in this way is somewhat upsetting. I am aware that the hallway still looked like a squat dwelling and the ceilings are covered in polystyrene tiles, but, at least they were ceilings!!!!

Yet, and yet, I am in equal measure, filled with amused glee. How fascinating to look up and see the roof, how amazing to know how all the cabling works beneath your satisfying to know that you are taking a house back to its bones and putting it back together piece by little piece.

But wait... the carpet has gone, the last remaining relic from the previous owners....tragic!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Singing In The Rain

The seasonal down pours with which we have recently been blessed brought more than the usual frizzy hair, what shoes to wear issues.

Two painful realities have emerged. 1. We have bought an old, decrepit house, as with all houses of this vintage (decrepit) it is going to be eternally fraught with problems.
2. Our first set of builders were, it now emerges, cowboys.
How do we know these facts?

1. During one particularly heavy down-poor, I heard what could only be described as a river flowing outside the window. It was, in fact, a river. The guttering is literally hanging off the wall, therefore neither use nor ornament. It will need entirely replacing.

Having un-blocked the fireplace, I was under the illusion that it would be a little sweep of the chimney and all systems go, toasting marshmallows with Silent Night in the background and the tree in the corner (it would also be snowing and we would be in the Cotswold's not Hackney). So the chimney sweep arrived, 6.45am, 2 loud, cock-e-neys (Dick Van Dyke and a small child that went scurrying up the chimney in his flat cap). Delighted in showing us the brush sticking out of the top of the chimney, delighted even more by informing us that the cost of getting said fire working would be £1700. Marshmallow over a candle anyone?

2. The downstairs loo, fitted by building team number 1 leaks. I don't mean from the loo (although that too has been plumbed illegally!) or sink even. No, no, it leaks through the wall. The ground water from outside is seeping in through the wall and soaking the floor - nice! To be honest, the downstairs loo is a disaster, a botch job, I hate it and would like to pull the thing down and start again.

But folks, you live and learn - on we go!

The countdown has begun until the return of the builders. Ah how I longingly await the dust in the hair, coffee all over the worktop and 24/7 demanding phone calls. So before it is gone forever, I thought it only fair to show the hallways and ceiling as we currently know and love them. (the carpet will stay - OBVIOUSLY!)

The coving has been bought, radiator search on, the door is making great progress. I am still faced with a couple of serious issues to resolve.

1. Lighting - Current thoughts are repeated non statement lights in downstairs hallway with one statement light over stairs. However, having recently snooped on house down the street with a statement light on entry, I may be changing my mind.
Budget for lighting, is, well nil. Therefore I am trying be creative, I recently saw the lights above in a shop window and think a smaller version may work. Also considering something imaginative with clusters of vintage light-shades. Thoughts?

2. Colour - see shades of grey above that have been on the wall for about 4 months, obviously it has always been intended to be grey. However, something has happened to me, I do have a bit of a temperature so it may pass, surely just a little glitch in sense, but.... I think I might be going for... wait for it.... stop me if you will... yes I may have lost my mind...... WHITE.
There, I said it.