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.
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!
See how they’ve just covered up the gap? Useless space, holding nothing but dust and disappointment.
This is the super legit light which did actually work, but sure as hell doesn’t now.
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?)
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Fortunately more and more places are making this stuff- embossed wallpaper that allows the house to breathe, and you can paint it!
Also, at £7 a metre it’s a hell lot cheaper than a plasterer.
Not that I *won’t* be using a plasterer in some places…
Down the side of the window was some original plaster- complete with bits of hair to hold it together!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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’
But I did it! Wheee first ever radiator removal.
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.
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.
Taking down wallpaper is messy, yo.
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.
Several layers and several decades of wallpaper!
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.
Found the loft hatch! This probably hasn’t been opened since the 70s, and it was late at night when I found it.
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’
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.
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.
Tell me your secrets…
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a before and after shot- from faded pink to bright red in a couple of spin cycles!
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.
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…