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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 😀
Remember this bad boy? Well it was time for it to leave…
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.
We managed to crowbar up the front of the (SUPER HEAVY) tiled fireplace and that’s when things started to get particularly interesting.
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.
Turns out they’d just filled the gaps in the fire with just rubble and crap. Noice one guiz.
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.
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.
Such hand filth! Coal gets EVERYWHERE, seriously EVERYWHERE. We learnt the true meaning of dirty on this day.
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!
Here are all the tile shards we found in the coal/rubble. Along with many, many bricks.
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!
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!
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.
These are a simple border tile, probably much later than the rest. The bottom one is practically intact!
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.
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.
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!
And here’s the much later beige tile- still lovely but can’t really compare to it’s sisters.
Speaking of sister tiles….
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.
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.
1920s? Possibly earlier? The entire thing screams Art nouveau and the colours and the YESSSSS
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.
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.
Second dump run!
A couple of bags split and invaded my car. Sorry car.
I’ll hoover you soon, I promise!
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.
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!
With some advice from the interwubbs the night before we painted the entire ceiling with PVA glue.
Pro tip- just use the glue neat. If you mix it with water it will spluge all over everything.
Cupboard adventures! Or an excuse to show the internet my bum…
Glue-y clothes straight into the wash, the first of many, many washing loads.
This is the last picture before we actually started yanking the stuff down. We isolated the room which means no phones or picture taking.
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…
Every single surface was wiped down, scrubbed and rinsed again.
Even the tools! The paper suits and masks were thrown away, and all the clothes (and my shoes!) chucked into the washing machine.
Though turns out, we needn’t have bothered.
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.
Oh well, best to treat it like it was just in case, and take the bags to the dump.
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?
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.
FIRST BLOOD. Touché house, touché.
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.
It took several passes with a mop to get it clean again, each pass seemed to spread even more black around.
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.
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.