Time Capsule Cupboards, Secret Doors and Timey-wimey Blue

Next weekend I have my dad coming to help me fit a new bath and sink- so I had to very quickly figure out what size bath I could fit in my super skinny bathroom, and prepare the bathroom as much as I can in advance by gutting it.

2015-08-27 22.12.00

In the end I went for a 140cmx140cm corner bath- Corner baths are not very in vogue right now but I think it will open up the space a lot more.

I then had to figure out what the hell I was going to do for a sink. After searching through all of ebay for a corner sink, I found myself coming back to the ones that had a cupboard built in. Though all the ones I found were boring and white and £100+, and I wanted something a bit more interesting.

2015-08-24 10.38.06

I found a furniture charity shop (5 minutes walk from my house!) and they had one of the tall corner cabinets for £15. Brilliant!

2015-08-24 18.05.13

(I also found this chair for £10. Yessss, gooood)

2015-08-27 22.11.33

I’m not a big fan of round/countertop sinks because of the lack of storage space around them, but if I have a cupboard around it and a shelf above at least I’ll have somewhere to put a tooth brush.

Then came the math as I attempted to figure out what size sink could even go on the cabinet. I did the math BEFORE I bought the cabinet, it just makes better narrative sense to show you it this way around.

2015-08-24 11.53.26

A base cabinet and a medicine cabinet in one!

2015-08-26 11.41.54

The taps arrive and it’s all very exciting. I love internet presents from myself.

2015-08-26 11.43.01

The bath taps and the sink roughly match- CLOSE ENOUGH.

2015-08-24 13.14.12

Here’s my super professional template of the sink. I think I’ll have to put the tap on a shelf above it to give it the best room, but it gives you an idea!

Finding the right sized sink was an ebay mission. My search history looked something like this:

counter top sink
30cm counter top sink
300mm counter top sink
31cm counter top sink
310mm counter top sink

Eventually I found a 32cm wide bowl sink- the theory being that it will look like a wash basin for your victorian morning ablutions.

2015-08-26 14.22.57

It arrives and it’s perfect! A bit small but better to have too small than too large.

2015-08-24 18.49.41

The cabinet is a recreation covered mdf THING, so I knew I was going to have to paint it. B&Q are having their bank holiday sale right now so I bought some paint for the rest of the house too, as well as some white spirit because euuurrrg oil based paint. I wanted to use chalk paint but there were no blues that I liked and I have a personal vendetta against light blue in bathrooms.

house-colour-scheme.

I decided on a dark blue for the bathroom because I have a lot of navy blue and grey towels, and remember my colour palette?

Blue it is!

2015-08-25 13.26.01

Prepping for painting!

2015-08-25 13.53.25

I think the last owner was a smoker, judging from the smell and the colour of the water. Mmmmm

2015-08-25 14.24.56

Uhhhhh, that’s a lot more blue than I thought it would be.

2015-08-25 14.24.51

Ah well, too late now! I’m of the opinion that you should just let yourself make decorating mistakes and learn to love them or do something about it. So on it goes!

(Cheers for the masking leafletts B&Q)

2015-08-25 15.15.44

At this point I was like ‘hmmmm what does this blue remind me of?’

tardis-transparent

Whoops! Take note Dr Who fans- Dulux Oxford blue is perfect TARDIS gloss paint.

2015-08-25 15.15.56

Hopefully this cabinet will actually be bigger on the inside…

2015-08-25 16.11.57

First coat done, paintbrush gets chucked into a bag in the fridge. I think paintbrushes are in the ‘Misc’ food group.

2015-08-26 10.38.09

The dawn of a new day and a new coat to be done! The backs don’t have to be perfect so they both go on their side for the final coat. I tend to do a very thin coat of gloss and a dry brush over when done to catch any drips.

While the paint dries I start work on gutting the existing bathroom.

2015-08-26 11.06.56

This cupboard used to house the water tank- you can see along the top it was once a victorian wardrobe of some sort that was converted during the extension.

2015-08-26 11.07.18

WHY WOULD YOU TILE OVER HINGES? WHYYY?

2015-08-26 12.31.12

I find some vintage tiles that I’m not particularly excited about.

2015-08-26 12.31.19

Original boards under the tiles?

2015-08-26 12.31.24

These are the old gas lead pipes that run all the way through the upstairs. Fortunately for me none of the pipework will block the bath size I’ve chosen. If I’d gone with the walk in shower I’d originally planned I would of had to cancel and start again so… yay!

2015-08-26 12.46.45

Free pencil!

2015-08-26 12.49.15

Random wiring! Turns out this ran from the switch outside, through the cupboard, under the wall and into the BEDROOM. I was dismantling this while the electricians were rewiring the upstairs and this made them chuckle.

2015-08-26 13.10.30

I should make a point to say that by this point I’d been in the bathroom for over an hour tearing this bastard down. You can see all the gubbins in the bath- the result of the same cupboard being built on by several generations of home owners!

2015-08-26 13.18.11

Levering this off was a nightmare- turns out original wardrobes are actually built INTO the walls.

2015-08-26 13.31.59

Pulling out the last of it pulled off a bunch of plaster and began to reveal what appears to be a SECRET DOOR. The electrician is with me at this point like ‘what the hell’ and starts helping me get the mdf off.

2015-08-26 13.43.26

YEP- ITS A DOOR.

2015-08-26 13.32.49-2

I rush to the other side and pull the panel off what I thought was a stud wall.

2015-08-26 13.32.37

NOPE, ITS A DOOR.

At this point I’m super happy because I’ve always wanted find a secret door but with none of the awful creepy things that could be behind one. I officially have a door in my house that goes to nowhere.

Our theory is that when they extended the house they took the original door off the hallway and just used it to make the bathroom wall. I’m totally going to keep it to confuse visitors who dare to use my bathroom. It’s already tricked Christian!

2015-08-26 15.36.29

So uh, this is the only access to the attic above the bathroom. I think this house has been extended at least twice as each section of roof has a dividing wall. The poor electrician had to go up in this which is only a foot or so worth of space to sort the bathroom light out.

2015-08-26 15.05.06

While the bathroom is covered in secret door dust the electrician thinks it’s the best time to fit the extractor fan. This was amazing to watch- it took just under an hour to slowly get through the two layers of brick. You can see the little cloud of dust he’s making.

2015-08-26 15.27.52

This hole is going to stop the mould!

2015-08-26 15.27.48

…but the damn thing also got brick dust EVERYWHERE.

2015-08-26 16.42.09

Even on the tooth brush I forgot to take out of the bathroom. 😦

2015-08-26 16.15.49

It’s okay, I’ve been meaning to strip the super gross carpet anyway.

2015-08-26 17.00.28

MMMMMmmm lino tiles.

2015-08-26 17.00.33

There’s only so much I can do with the bathroom floor until my Dad comes to help do the bath so a quick mop will have to do for now.

The electrician is done with the bathroom now, but turns out the light I picked takes weird size bulbs, so this is my super romantic totally safe bathroom light until the right ones arrive.

2015-08-27 21.07.13

Goodnight weird bathroom with your secret door. Don’t let the space time continuum bite.

Advertisements

Tiles gone Wild!

This week was Tiles Gone Wild- starting with yet another drive from Southampton to Manchester, with a stop in Sheffield to nab Karen on the way…

2015-08-18 09.18.16

So, uhh, turns out mattresses are, like, super huge? In my head it would be easy to fit a mattress, a chest of drawers, two chairs, a bunch of stock and some clothes into my car, but in reality the mattress I was taking up with me was so huge I could barely fit it in my usually-a-size-queen car. I summoned my poor mother at 8am for (mainly) moral support as I stripped my packing to everything that absolutely needed to go, and then proceeded to pack every cubic inch of the car available to me.

I ended up sacrificing one chair and a chest of drawers and packing lots of the t-shirts into plastic bags to fit into weird spaces. I even managed to save enough space for Karen.

Just.

2015-08-18 17.52.04

First glamorous part of Karen’s visit was mopping the guest bedroom floor to get rid of all the plaster dust and wallpaper muck it had absorbed the previous week.

2015-08-18 18.33.53

Then setting up my bed frame- this one has been with me about 5 years, can fit into my car and only has ONE screw missing. I love you bed frame.

2015-08-22 17.46.06

A Lamp, a bed duvet and a £10 bargin rug later and the room is practically a bohemian paradise. The fantabulous guest house is now open for business!

2015-08-19 11.11.07

Having Karen about meant tackling all the jobs I can’t do myself- the first of which being taking the ugly ass sofa and a bunch of rubble to the dump.

2015-08-19 11.11.15

It only *barely* fit with the help of some rope. If it hadn’t have fitted I guess we would have just had at it with a crow bar 😀

2015-04-29 10.10.05

Remember this bad boy? Well it was time for it to leave…

2015-08-20 10.10.54

The chimney is still open at the top- I’m not allowed to have a fire in my area so I may look into getting a new cover to prevent birds from trying to make nests inside it.

2015-08-20 10.19.20

We managed to crowbar up the front of the (SUPER HEAVY) tiled fireplace and that’s when things started to get particularly interesting. 

2015-08-20 10.23.58

Original tiles! Around this time we started feeling like we were on time team and about to witness something special. We still had a lot of ripping to go to get the full design, so it was time to leaver the top of the fire place. It was held in place with rusty screws that took a hacksaw to finish off and it was so heavy it took two of us to walk it across the room.

2015-08-20 10.41.04

Turns out they’d just filled the gaps in the fire with just rubble and crap. Noice one guiz.

2015-08-20 10.59.50

These top bricks were installed around the same time as the 70s fireplace and were not done well. Suddenly we were digging and digging and taking more and more out.

2015-08-20 11.02.10

This is Karen, surveying the destruction in our wake. The coal dust and rubble was kicking off a lot of dust at this point so we did most it with breathers on. My flem still came out black at the end of the day though.

2015-08-20 11.02.22

Such hand filth! Coal gets EVERYWHERE, seriously EVERYWHERE. We learnt the true meaning of dirty on this day.

2015-08-20 11.02.36

Remember the piles of rubble and crap down the sides of the fireplace? I picked up one bit and said ‘Oh hey, tile!’ and suddenly a treasure hunt began!

2015-08-20 11.33.41

Here are all the tile shards we found in the coal/rubble. Along with many, many bricks.

2015-08-20 15.56.35

We also found this chunk of marble snapped in half wedged in either side. I think these were once part of a mantle piece but the colour is very different from the tiles so would probably be a different mantle. Shame we didn’t find the last bit but I’m hoping it might be somewhere in the other fireplace!

2015-08-20 12.29.50

We then took a break to clean up our findings, and just well, clean ourselves up. I’ve only got a bath in the house so I’ve broken down and bought one of those hose adaptor thingies, just like grandma used to have!

2015-08-20 13.06.06

We then spent the good part of an hour matching up all the tile pieces. Every time we got a match there was much ‘WOAAAAHHH’ as the pictures began to form.

2015-08-20 13.05.05

These are a simple border tile, probably much later than the rest. The bottom one is practically intact!

2015-08-20 13.05.49

Unnfff you have no idea how satisfying it was to be able to almost make a full tile out of these. We think they were a set of 2 around the fireplace. They have a bit of an art nouveau feel and the colours are DAMN CLOSE to my house colour scheme. Rock on little tiles.

Tile 1

Tile-2

I then went to photoshop and mocked up what the tiles might looked like if complete. I think I’ll have to make a little display box for these little treasures along with the complete image. I have such house feelings right now.

Tile 3

This tile pattern was just a repeat so using the most intact corner I made a full tile. The colours are even nicer in person!

Tile 4

And here’s the much later beige tile- still lovely but can’t really compare to it’s sisters.

Speaking of sister tiles….

2015-08-20 16.03.042015-08-20 16.03.10

I scrubbed up the marble piece and it’s basically made of amazing. If I don’t find its missing end I’ll make it into a feature somewhere because HOT DAMN.

2015-08-20 11.22.39

Now it was time to go back into the room and clean up what we’d found there. The following posts are basically renovation porn.

2015-08-20 13.12.54 2015-08-20 13.13.04

1920s? Possibly earlier? The entire thing screams Art nouveau and the colours and the YESSSSS

2015-08-20 13.13.10

Karen and I were grinning like loons when this finally revealed itself.

I remember saying to myself when I bought this house that I hadn’t fallen in love with it (who would with all the 70s and mould?), but I could grow to love it.

Currently I have a bit of a crush, but only because it’s started showing it’s hidden, softer side to me.

2015-08-20 13.07.37

Here’s all the rubble generated by that ONE fireplace. Karen and I lugged it to my car, asking ‘Dude, do you even lift?!’ because rubble is heavy yo.

2015-08-20 15.26.03

Second dump run!

2015-08-20 15.44.24

A couple of bags split and invaded my car. Sorry car.

2015-08-20 15.44.32

I’ll hoover you soon, I promise!

2015-08-20 16.17.58

The last day of Karen’s visit was Asbestos Removal Fun Times. The surveyor mentioned that these tiles might be asbestos and after weighing up several options and the dangers involved I decided to go with self removal. Both Karen and I are used to wearing the correct PPE and isolating dust from our resin casting work, and with the correct procedures we’d be as much at risk as someone I’d hired to do the work for me.

2015-08-20 16.18.02

Normally with asbestos it’s a-best-os (HA!) to just leave it the hell alone. But these tiles were on their way down anyway, and I’ve got a nice man coming to rewire the kitchen tuesday and I didn’t feel comfortable with him drilling into mystery tiles.

SO, removal it is!

2015-08-20 16.17.54

With some advice from the interwubbs the night before we painted the entire ceiling with PVA glue.

2015-08-20 16.44.34

Pro tip- just use the glue neat. If you mix it with water it will spluge all over everything.

2015-08-20 16.50.24

2015-08-20 16.53.58

Cupboard adventures! Or an excuse to show the internet my bum…

2015-08-20 16.57.29

Glue-y clothes straight into the wash, the first of many, many washing loads.

2015-08-21 09.21.04

This is the last picture before we actually started yanking the stuff down. We isolated the room which means no phones or picture taking.

2015-08-21 11.01.28

Here’s the ceiling after we were finished, see how half is plasterboard and half is the original plaster and lathe? The plasterboard looked suspiciously modern though…

2015-08-21 11.01.35

Every single surface was wiped down, scrubbed and rinsed again.

2015-08-21 11.02.10

Even the tools! The paper suits and masks were thrown away, and all the clothes (and my shoes!) chucked into the washing machine.

2015-08-21 11.02.52

Though turns out, we needn’t have bothered.

2015-08-21 11.03.38

We found this newspaper scrunched up under the plasterboard, dated 1996, WAY after the asbestos ban. Turns out these tiles were all NOT-BESTUS and we could have just yanked them down any old how.

2015-08-21 11.19.05

Oh well, best to treat it like it was just in case, and take the bags to the dump.

2015-08-21 11.19.19

Good bye Not-bestus!

We’d scheduled the entire day for ceiling removal and finished at the early hour of 11am, so it was back home in time for lunch!

We’d beaten the ceiling, it probably wasn’t asbestos WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

2015-08-21 12.15.43

DAMMIT.

2015-08-21 12.15.46

In the middle of helping Karen cook a lovely stir fry, the plasterboard panel that was loose heaved it’s last sigh and came crashing down and smashed me on the head, coating every newly cleaned thing with a fine layer of black soot.

2015-08-21 12.19.51

FIRST BLOOD. Touché house, touché.

2015-08-21 12.21.54

Cleaning this up was a nightmare, though by a stroke of fortune the dinner was FINE. I ate it while considering the unlikely odds that the panel would fall only when I happened to be standing underneath it.

2015-08-21 12.21.42

It took several passes with a mop to get it clean again, each pass seemed to spread even more black around.

2015-08-21 20.06.17

After the third load of washing in so many days Karen and I took a walk around town to make sure I wasn’t concussed, then proceeded to invent a cocktail of blue curacuo and kraken spiced rum that we dubbed a Sea Monster. We then watched a bunch of Steven Universe on my bedroom floor and decided that cream soda makes all cocktails taste like cake.

To celebrate the house not killing me we went out that night to the local gay bar called The Handbags Club, which was quiet but friendly. Karen and I are both super cheap dates who don’t drink very often so we ended up leaving at 11pm and drunkenly buying choux buns at the local tescos to eat on the way home because I am a food enabler.

The next day Karen was heading back home as I’d stolen her from her work and cats for way too long.

2015-08-22 13.22.04

As our last treat together we grabbed some together breakfast waffles (well, more like lunch) at the Wasabi Dessert room, then some more exploring of the Northern Quarter and off back home for both of us!

Cheers for a fantastic week Karen- next week it’s rewiring the kitchen and Tab’s panic designing of a bathroom suite.

Wardrobes, Walls, Wallpaper and Windows.

This week I’ve been rehearsing and performing in the G&S festival up in Harrogate, so the lead up before I left was about stripping the front bedroom down ready for me to house my second visitor to the house, the epic Karen.

2015-07-28 08.50.25

A good metre of the bedroom had been lost to these built in cupboards- I’m all for storage but now when it loses you space!

2015-07-28 09.07.19

See how they’ve just covered up the gap? Useless space, holding nothing but dust and disappointment.

2015-07-28 09.24.00

This is the super legit light which did actually work, but sure as hell doesn’t now.

2015-07-28 10.14.09

Taking these down became and exercise in logical thinking. How the hell did they even put this damn thing together in the first place??

Why did they need so MANY of the cubey things? WHYYY

(Does anyone know what these things are actually called?)

2015-07-28 10.15.03

Here you can see the chimney breast that someone found so offensive they encased it in 9ft of wardrobes.

Why yes, I do use metric and imperial interchangeably. I am a product of the awful 90s switch from one to the other and make no apologies.

2015-07-28 10.35.18

Beautiful! Depending on whether this becomes a bedroom or a living room I’ll either turn these into built in shelves or sling a pole across the gaps to make a wardrobe. Shelves like this are SO simple to do, I’m going to have so much storage all the boys will come to my yard like ‘wow, that’s some damn fine storage space you’ve got there.’

2015-07-28 10.35.38

Here’s the debris of the wardrobes- I’ve sorted it into piles of reusable wood and ‘haha no way will I get the screws out of this ever’. I started dismantling these with a screwdriver, followed shortly by an electric screwdriver, then a crowbar. Which is basically the sliding scale from Sensible Deconstruction to Sodding Demolition.

Also, you see this lovely chair that I inherited from the house? I’d been using it all week to stand on and to sit and draw at my desk. It is currently my ONLY chair in the house.

I went to go and change the light bulb in the middle bedroom, and discovered a TERRIBLE SECRET.

2015-07-28 08.31.48

SURPRISE COMMODE.

This makes it the THIRD commode this house has blessed me with. The worst bit is that it’s my only chair so I just kept using it like ‘Whelp. I’ll probably not get chlamydia.’

Stay tuned for health updates.

2015-07-28 13.45.58

At this point I decided that I really did need to buy a wallpaper stripper, so I toddled off to buy one. I made a detour in the wallpaper section because it would be nice to look at what wallpaper I could eventually put up instead of the 70s mosaic I currently have. I’m looking to get something that would have looked at home in the 1870s, which means no sparkly damask for me.

2015-07-28 13.47.08

I’ve never put up wallpaper before, but this house is old and I don’t intend to re-plaster the entire thing unless I have to. Like most things with this project I figure I’ll just learn and have to deal with whatever the results. By the last room I’m sure I’ll be pretty good at it.

2015-07-28 13.48.39

I really like greens and reds, which makes it very hard to decorate a house that doesn’t look like Christmas. I’ve been scratching my brain to figure out a house wide colour scheme. My last house I did the whole ‘one colour per room’ thing, which made it a bit disjointed. I then painted it all white to sell it and it was quite nice, but I don’t plan to sell this house for a while so I’m going to let myself go a bit nuts.

The problem is that after a certain point you reach massive levels of Decision fatigue. I sometimes wish I was doing this house with someone else so I at least have someone to share the load on ‘I don’t know Reginald, what colour of metal effect do YOU think the taps should be?’

A lot of sites recommend you look to your wardrobe when selecting your house. I wear a lot of Autumnal colours, but I would like my house to be a bit more interesting than Beige Land. Today’s outfit, brought to you by the colour Brown.

I’d been pulling my rapidly declining hair out trying to figure out something as simple as my front door colour, when I realised I could use my ART POWERS to make a colour palette for the entire house.

front 2

It’s a red brick house and I have no intention of painting it, so whatever I pick has to work with the brick itself!

house-colour-scheme.

I grabbed a photo of the outside and eyedroppered the brick colour, then wandered over to paletton, which is what I use to make colour schemes for comic book work. I made up a Tetraid colour scheme and played about with it until I got this, my own set of colours that I’ll be using through the house.

So, green and red it is! Hopefully the browns and deep blues will make it less festive and more fantabulous.

2015-07-28 13.49.27

Back to beige land with wallpaper. The problem with wallpaper is that I really need something textured to cover up the worst of problems, but I don’t want to use vinyl as that can make damp problems worse.

2015-07-28 13.50.57

Fortunately more and more places are making this stuff- embossed wallpaper that allows the house to breathe, and you can paint it!

2015-07-28 13.51.22

Also, at £7 a metre it’s a hell lot cheaper than a plasterer.

2015-07-28 19.41.33

Not that I *won’t* be using a plasterer in some places…

2015-07-28 19.41.26

Down the side of the window was some original plaster- complete with bits of hair to hold it together!

2015-07-28 19.41.39

This is just above the bay window at the front. The plaster has been removed by me as I noticed it was a bit crumbly when I was pulling the paper off. Chiselling along the line you can see that it follows where the lead flashing probably used to leak, which has fortunately now been fixed. Hopefully all it will need is cementing and re-plastering, but it’s best to get the old crappy plaster off than to slap a layer of plaster over the top and hope for the best.

2015-07-28 19.41.48

Unfortunately this means the radiator has to go to make re-plastering easier. So, TO THE INTERNET as I learn how to take a radiator off a wall.

2015-08-04 16.53.49

This is my fancy as fuck radiator drainer. I packed my collection of metal service trays with my pots and pans- I don’t think I’ll be bringing out the hor d’oeuvres any time soon so at least it gets some use!

2015-08-04 16.53.58

The internet told me to turn off the top bits on both sides, then unscrew the side and let the water drain out. Turns out even with no water gushing in the pressure in a radiator is pretty high, so don’t take the side off until it’s stopped dripping unless you want a face full of old radiator water.

MMMMmmm

5 or so filled trays carefully sloshed to the bathroom later and it stopped dripping water so I decided it was time to get the thing off the wall.

2015-08-04 17.24.16

Turns out radiators are REALLY HEAVY and also sometimes filled with black ooze. This is why you do this kind of work BEFORE getting carpets fitted. Also, probably do this with a friend, unlike me who did it with my friend ‘Enthusiastic Idiocy’

2015-08-04 17.24.21

But I did it! Wheee first ever radiator removal.

2015-08-04 17.30.36 2015-08-04 17.45.31

Some chiselling/hammer work later and all the crumbling plaster is off the wall and it’s time for me to finish stripping the rest of the wallpaper.

2015-07-28 21.47.43

Here’s a hot stripper selfie I took before I removed the radiator. Wallpaper stripping is something you can do at night without bothering the neighbours too much, which is what I spent my evenings doing without the distraction of the precious internet. I did most of this with a breather on as I really don’t want to destroy my lungs with whatever they decided to glue the wallpaper up with.

2015-07-28 22.25.59

Taking down wallpaper is messy, yo.

2015-07-29 14.57.27

2015-07-28 22.26.11

The ceiling wallpaper tended to come off in massive strips, but the ceiling plaster is a bit spongy- ie it moves when you press it. This sounds worrying but it basically just means the plaster isn’t attached to the lathe any more so it’s time to take it down and re-plaster. This is one of those things that is best left to professionals, so I’m leaving that the hell alone.

2015-07-29 14.30.53

Several layers and several decades of wallpaper!

2015-07-30 16.23.06

Found the air vent! This is why this house has a damp problem- they’ve blocked everything up to try and keep it warmer and just invited the mould inside on a beige, moisture filled carpet.

2015-07-30 22.09.22

Found the loft hatch! This probably hasn’t been opened since the 70s, and it was late at night when I found it.

2015-07-30 22.09.43

I made the executive decision to NOT open it that evening because part of me was like ‘Don’t do anything that would get you killed first in a horror movie’

2015-07-30 22.32.31

I finished stripping the entire room the night before I was due to go to Kitacon, an anime con in Birmingham, and all my friends were already there partying it up. PRIVATE PAPER PARTY.

2015-07-30 21.37.59

Now for something particularly exciting- my Dad made a comment about the doors probably just being hardboard over the originals, so I decided to test the theory.

2015-07-30 21.38.33

Tell me your secrets…

2015-07-30 21.38.55

Tada! Original door baby! You can see how the handle was moved up to suit the 70’s aesthetics, and possibly height.  It’s finds like these which cheer me up after a long day of wallpaper stripping.

2015-07-30 21.39.05

It’s a bit pitted and marked all over, but some sanding and paint will get those looking special once more. Now to just do every other one in the rest of the house.

2015-08-04 14.26.31

My last project before Karen’s arrival was to dye the curtains and re-hang them in the room. Dye is cheaper than new curtains and I think it’s a sweet idea to reuse what came in the house as much as I can. Also £10 worth of dye is better than £40 worth of curtains if I change my mind about colour schemes. I swear by the dylon machine dye- it doesn’t stain your machine and it’s super easy to use.

2015-08-04 14.26.15

Here’s a before and after shot- from faded pink to bright red in a couple of spin cycles!

2015-08-04 19.20.58

Unfortunately the spin was a bit too harsh on this corner, but that just means I’ll one day sew a band of fabric to the bottom of these and make them even fancier.

2015-08-04 19.21.53

And whelp, that’s about it for now. I’ve put the curtains up so the room can have some privacy and I can set up a bed in there for guests. It looks a mess, but I’m slowly learning to accept that this house is going to look far worse before it looks better, and any guests just need to be okay with that.

See you soon little house, the next few days involve removing all kinds of tiles from the kitchen and other things I need a chum for. If I’m feeling brave I might even take out one of the old gas fires…

Friends, floors and fires

2015-07-24 15.56.30

 

Mid July it was back to the house- this time with my treasured chum Clementine! I had Manchester MCM comic con to attend which meant hauling all my comic book and t-shirt stock to Manchester Central, but first a trip to the house to rip up some floor boards!

 

2015-07-24 13.32.19

I had a company coming that tuesday to check the joists for damp- unfortunately most companies won’t pull up the boards for you so I borrowed Clem to help haul them up, and to have another human being with me in case I found a corpse.

Turns out that pulling up floorboards is DIFFICULT. One hour, a hammer, two crowbars and some battered floors later we had a hole in the front of the house.

 

 

2015-07-24 13.32.29

 

 

The joists were fine! It’s not often you rip up a floor and it’s BETTER than you expected.

…Is it bad that I’m disappointed that we didn’t find anything weird down there?

2015-07-24 13.33.19

 

The floor had a slight dip when you stepped near the window, which I assumed was rot. Turns out it’s actually that the stilts going down from the joists that support the floating floor (pictured above), don’t actually touch the ground. A phone chat to my most knowledgeable Auntie Meg (an experienced owner of a victorian town house and a church conversion) revealed that this gap is probably what kept the floor from getting rot. The solution will be to wrap each of the stilts in some damp proof membrane and whack a slate tile underneath to prop it up and prevent damp travelling up the ground into the floor.

 

WIN.

 

2015-07-24 13.59.42

 

The joists in the dining room however do have some rot, but quotes to fix it are around £500. Also I don’t have rising damp!

HOT DIGGITY.

2015-07-24 14.00.18

I decided at this point to leave the floor open- I’ve got some rewiring to do so no point putting the floor down only to have it ripped back up again. It niggles to leave stuff open like that as all I want to do is make the house *nice* already.

These past few weeks have been about realising that this house is going to get a WHOLE lot worse before it gets better. It’s like I have an entire crate of eggs and must crack them all before I can start cooking the first omelette. Unfortunately it just makes sense to rewire first, then plastering/door replacement/ flooring etc.

2015-07-27 12.23.12

Then Clem was off back home to Southampton- but not before a trip to the highly recommended Richmond Tearooms, an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe in the Gay quarter of Manchester. Excellent sandwich options and a cream tea for about £15 a head if you’re happy to combine a regular one with a fancy one and split the desserts. We also made it to the Sugar Junction in the northern quarter which has some of the best tasting, simply elegant cocktails that I’ve had for a long time.

Moving to Manchester was supposed to be about finding a life of comfort and class, so the following week was about getting life as comfortable as possible.

2015-07-28 12.15.26

The most important thing in my life is my bed. It’s where I get all the energy from to do, well, EVERYTHING I do, so it’s gotta be good. Unfortunately the ikea mattress I bought the previous week was the wrong size- after I rolled it out the mattress tube I’d hoped it would get bigger to fit the bed, but unfortunately it was the weird Ikea size. So I sheepishly rolled it up in a sheet, tied it with rope and wheeled it back to the store for a relatively painless return and an upgrade to a spring coil mattress.

 

2015-07-28 15.28.35

I like to make sure every trip in my car I do more than one thing,  as it saves fuel and time, so I also stopped at argos for a larger ladder (as the 9.5 foot ceilings were proving very hard to reach on my little step ladder) as well as a wallpaper steamer and a circular saw.

 

 

2015-07-29 12.32.22

After some hunting I managed to find a microwave for £40 in asda that I didn’t hate. When did microwaves get so expensive?! I might just be a cheap bastard but I wasn’t going to pay more than I did for a microwave than I did for my washing machine.

 

2015-03-30 14.56.03

Remember these fires? I’d lined up a bunch of different people that week to quote for removal, but I took a liking the the first guy and he said he could disconnect them both for £100 and was free that afternoon.

BRILLIANT.

Until he checked the system and found that the shut off valve at the metre was letting gas pass through. One call to the gas company later and I had a team on my door within 2 hours.

 

2015-07-30 16.59.20

 

 

 

After some talking a SECOND van turned up and there was discussion about whether they’d have to pull up my front patio. I’d been hoping to go to a life drawing session called Dr Sketchy in Manchester that night but with the gas adventures I resigned myself to staying in that evening.

2015-07-30 16.45.02

At 6pm the gas people let me know they have a final test and they can leave- my train was due at 6.12 so I grabbed my art gear and dashed out, only for the train to be cancelled.

😦

2015-07-30 18.48.31

So instead of a fun evening out I slouched home and took out my anger on the damp chimney breast.

Pulling plaster is a lot of fun, especially when it’s crumbly like this. The damp in this room has been caused by the chimney being blocked up without ventilation. While this seems like a good idea to stop draughts, over time the inside of the chimney builds up moisture and it’s just a bad thing.

 

2015-07-30 18.48.47

I was hoping to be able to open up the old fireplace, but someone in their infinite wisdom blocked it with solid concrete, making it impossible to chisel through. Fortunately there was a magical brick hole already there for me!

 

 

2015-07-30 18.48.57

 

Ancient cobwebs of very annoyed, long dead spiders.

2015-07-30 18.49.11

 

Oh look, the abyss. What lies within?

2015-07-30 18.49.18

Ehhh, nothing bad.

With the flash on you can see it’s basically just a brick wall that’s a bit wet from condensation. I’m leaving the hole there to air it out and shall be hunting for an airbrick of suitable prettyness to keep it open.

 

Whoooo for no dead bodies!

 

2015-07-30 18.48.42

This is the remains of a gas pipe for the old lighting system- there’s lots of these pipes left all over the house, including the front bedroom.

 

2015-07-30 13.21.56 2015-07-30 13.21.50

 

Solid lead!

 

2015-07-30 18.49.55

 

Good gawd plaster removal is messy. I spent all of this wearing my organic breather, because hot damn do I not want to get the ‘beige lung’.

2015-08-04 16.18.29

 

 

The plaster either side of the chimney was pretty DIY and crumbly so over the next few days I poked it and took most of it off. Some of the patches are made with some magically strong plaster that I couldn’t make a dent in.

2015-08-04 16.18.43

 

 

 

Is it bad that I think it looks kinda cool and would be a shame to cover up in plaster?

2015-08-04 18.59.28

 

Then the hard job- cleaning up the plaster and putting it all into rubble sacks. Here’s to getting fitter through house work!

 

Next post is about wallpaper stripping, window finishing and wardrobe demolishing!