The Ridiculously Red Room

The front bedroom is getting there, here’s a reminder of the layout so you know which room I’m talking about:


This room I’ve been doing on and off around, you know, everything else. The first step was gutting it entirely and ripping off the wallpaper. 

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When I stripped the wallpaper off the ceiling I found the old loft hatch- safety first in case it’s filled with spiders and pain!

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The hatch is so small I can barely fit my head in it.

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Using my phone I manage to take a wobbly photo. I decide to not attempt to squeeze my body into the tiny space because I was about to get some very nice men around to put in a much larger loft hatch.

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Here’s all their tools for the havoc they were about to wreck. I went with this company because they turned up on time and quoted me a reasonable amount for the job on the same day and I didn’t have to wait months. This sounds like not much, but one thing I’ve learnt from several weeks of chasing workmen, it clearly is a cut above the rest.

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Boom, loft hatch! The guys were filthy after putting it in, another thing which makes me glad I didn’t do it myself.

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The portal to the ceiling is now open!

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Turns out there’s some decent insulation in the roof, and some decent space too!

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The roof even had an insulation certificate dating back to 2009, which is damn good news for me. This means I can just chuck some boards down and enjoy all that free loft storage.

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The ceiling in the bedroom was original lathe and starting to get springy (read: falling off). I researched all my options (one involving taking a ceiling down completely, but yeeeeeshhh the mess) and I decided to just get it boarded over with plasterboard. It’s a super tall ceiling so losing height wasn’t an issue.

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The guys finish off the loft hatch then get the plasterboard and plaster up into the room, ready for day 2!

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Day 2 the plasterer turns up. They screw the plasterboard into the ceiling and do the skim coat on top. Plastering is a fine art that I know I will never attempt, the guy who did my ceiling has been doing it since he was 14 and only took 30 mins to get the first coat on.

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I decided to leave the chimney breast wall as I was going to wallpaper it. Turns out that was a mistake, more on that later.

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Finally the hole under the window is fixed!

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Anyone want to come with me to manchester and get PLASTERED? 😀

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While the plaster dried I realised that I needed to tackle the floor. My plan is to sand and paint most of the floors in this house- I figure if I don’t like it it’ll be easy to just carpet over the top. Sanding is dusty business and I don’t want to have to wash a wall right after I’ve painted it, so sanding before painting.

First step was sweeping and washing the floor to get rid of as much plaster as possible.

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I screwed down all the lose floorboards as well as I could. The floor is in pretty dire condition which is why I’m going to paint it instead of staining it.

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I hired a floor sander for a day. It’s probably about as heavy as me. This is me about to lug it up the stairs. D-;

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We’re upstairs and ready to go!

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Only to bust the sandpaper off the drum in like… 5 seconds.

So sanding is harder than it looks. It took me a couple sheets of exploded sandpaper to figure out that I can’t just let the drum drop to the floor and drag me along, I have to lean constant weight on it to keep the drum from going down too hard.

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I do a diagonal once over first to get rid of the worst of the bumps.

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Then one another way. Zooooom

By Zooooom I mean painfully running a super heavy, super loud sander over and over a floor while your shoulders scream at you.

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I do a pass in a very rough paper then move on to a finer grade.

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I’m just trying to get the floor ready to take a coat of paint so perfection is not the final goal. If I wanted perfect I’d have just bought a newer house!

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Next up is the edge sander! You have to do it while crouched over and my floor is super uneven which means the edge sander kicked about like a cat trying to avoid being put in a christmas jumper.

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I am clearly not meant for a career in floor refinishing, but it’s good enough for me. After painting the room I’ll touch up the edges with a multitool/hand sanding to give the paint a good surface.

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Sawdust, sawdust everywhere. This is just what escaped under the door.

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Lugging the sander back down the stairs I decided to take the ‘easy’ way and bounce it down step by step. Turns out there was still a bunch of sawdust inside so it left me a thoughtful little pile on each tread.

Muscles aching I take the sander back the following morning- total hire cost including sandpaper and bags came to just under £100. Next time I’ll try to get more rooms done in one go which will be easier now I know (vaguely) what I’m doing.

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Then I cover up the newly sanded floor to get ready for some painting! I attempt to use some cheap plastic dust sheets but they couldn’t cover a knat’s arse and so I hunt around the house for curtains, canvas and whatever I can use on the floor.

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I have an entire roll of DPC that I’m not going to use all of downstairs, so BOOM brand new dust sheet.

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The plaster’s been dry for several days now- the plasterer said I just needed to let it all go light pink but I gave it a little extra time just in case. First it’s the mist coat, a mix of cheap matt emulsion with a tenth of water splashed in to make it go a little further.

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There are lots of different techniques for putting on a mist coat, some people recommend only a brush, some a 50/50 mix of paint to water, the list goes on and on. I just tried to keep my paint as thick as possible as that stuff splashes EVERYWHERE.

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I spent my last house renovation cleaning paint flecks off my glasses so time to break out my sexy painting goggles!

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First coat looking a bit grim. This paint was weird and almost transparent when wet, but once dry was a lot better!

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Getting there! In the end I did 3 coats over the course of a couple of days.

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Easiest way to clean paint/plaster off a socket is to just scrape it off.

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Other room prep is removing the old curtain rails from the window, and just sanding all the trim and door ready for Karen’s arrival!

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Neither Karen or I have put up wallpaper before but Karen makes awesome stuff:


and I can also make stuff


So clearly together we should be able to wallpaper, right?


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We mix up wallpaper paste next to breakfast.

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Then we do some math and realise that I clearly haven’t bought enough lining paper OR fashion wallpaper.

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I do an emergency trip to B&Q while Karen works on covering the wall with the paste. I think it’s called sizing the wall and along with pasting the paper apparently makes it easier to apply.

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I return with tubes of beautiful paper!

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We lay on two strips of wallpaper before swiftly realising that we’ve put waaaay too little paste on the first one.

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Karen lifts the wallpaper while I paste underneath and we put it back and pretend everything is fine and we totally know what we’re doing.

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This is where we learnt that wallpapering over wonky walls is super difficult and if you’re getting a room re-plastered you might as well get the whole damn thing done.


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Here’s me using a dry roller in a sad attempt at making the wallpaper flatter.

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While the lining wallpaper dries we get to work on painting the trim, door and radiators.

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One has been removed but it was a pain so the other we just leave on the wall and paint it there.

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Floating radiator!

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Karen’s paint suit is a sport relief onesie that she got in a charity shop for £1. It has a little hood so while I’m painting the windows I don’t splash drips on her.

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I’ve cleaned as much paint as I can off the old door, filled it and sanded it down.

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Soon it will be pretty!

We leave the trim to dry and then it’s time for the exiting part- colour!

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Karen draws first blood!

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Karen rolls while I attempt to cut in all the paint edges as best I can.

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The window, door and skirting board are all wobby as anything, but I do my best!

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One tin of paint was supposed to cover 32m2, covered more like 20. But that’s okay, I brought a second tin of the same-

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Uh oh.

A second emergency trip to B&Q later, the nice lady let us swap the paint tin for the right colour.

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Luckily for us the two paints match and the rest of the room continues.

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RED ROOM! 😀 It’s dried a gorgeous deep red and I am so happy I took the risk on a vivid colour.

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Turns out my new bath has the perfect drying rack for brushes.

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We wake up bright and early the next morning in the rush to get the wallpaper done before Christian and Midge arrive.

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I’m used to pattern matching fabric- surely matching wallpaper will work the same way?

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I don’t have to worry about the top as I’ll be installing coving afterwards. Might not be the best way around to do things but ehhhhh I’ll deal with that when I come to it.

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Patterns- MATCHED. This is very satisfying when it goes right.

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It looks a bit bubbly in places, but considering the condition of the wall, it’s a DAMN good job. Some of this is the lining paper reacting to moisture from the paste and once it was dry most of this flattened right out.

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Trimming the edges.

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Corners are difficult, how do I corner? I think real professional people cut it into two sections but as my alcoves will be hosting shelves I kinda gave up caring.


It was at this point Christian and Midge turned up and sat watching while we finished up. Turns out we’d accidentally dressed as Mario and Luigi.

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Last piece!

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The guys clean up the room and turn the wallpaper table into an actual table with the help of a wardrobe door while I cook us dinner.

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Dessert is whatever I had left in my fridge, mainly custard and fruit. A brilliant way to christen the brand new room!

Next step is to touch up the trim painting, install the coving and start on those sexy shelving units I promised myself. Then the room will become a stock storage room/guest room/dining room.

I can’t wait to get this first room finished, it gives me hope that while the rest of the house is shambles, clearly I know what I’m (sorta) doing and will make a nice house.

Until next time, I leave you with some Fantabulous wallpapering tips:

Hard lessons I’ve learnt about wallpapering:

-Don’t calculate your wall by metres squared, calculate how many lengths of your wall you’ll fit into a roll. A 10 metre roll covers 5m2, enough to do half my wall theoretically, but my 2.75m high ceiling means you get 3 ‘drops’ per a roll. We ended up using 3 rolls of the fashion wallpaper and that was without ripping any. 

-Keep your area scrupulously clean. Seriously.

-Use loads of paste, make sure you get the edges. If you’re inexperienced like we were it’s better to just be patient and wait for the paper to soften each time than to paste a bunch at once.  We had to repaste a couple of pieces that had gone dry. 

-Wallpaper looks really horrible and bubbly when it goes on but it shrinks as it dries, making what looks like an awful job actually not that bad. 


Papa Plumbs a Brand new Bathroom- The fast bath and sink switcheroo.

I’m back at the fantabulous house after 12 days away visiting friends and family- I’ve been to Weston-super-mare, Bristol, Llanelli, Cardiff, Southampton and Bergen (Norway) and now I’m finally back at my desk in manchester, ready to tell the details of my Dad’s visit, AKA the bathroom single day switcheroo.

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My house currently only has one bathroom and a crappy outside toilet. The outside toilet is one day hopefully going to be knocked through to make a bathroom downstairs but I still haven’t found a builder who will a) turn up when they say they will or b) quote me for the work. My original plan was to do the downstairs first but as I want to get this house guest ready by christmas, I decided to charge on with the upstairs bathroom.

Which means any work would need to be done in the space of a weekend so I could you know, use the facilities.

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The cast iron bath is a bit too long for the room so I decided to update it with a corner bath to open the space up. 2015-08-27 22.12.00 2015-08-27 22.11.33

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Here’s the corner cabinet and sink combo I painted ready to make the new sink. Looking good!

As the front bedroom is being painted right now I had to move the guest bed into the back bedroom to get ready for my Dad’s visit.

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Corridors are difficult.

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Beds are difficult.

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Mattresses are difficult.

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This room has been stripped of wallpaper but it doesn’t look half bad! It’s basically shabby chic, right?

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Okay, so it’s only chic on the side of the room that doesn’t have piles of rubbish and wardrobe doors.

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While clearing the room I found a newspaper stuffed in a skirting board.

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1976- nice!

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Which is about the age of my vacuum’s poor filter which I finally got around to cleaning.

By cleaning I mean accidentally poking holes in it, rendering it useless.

By useless I mean vacuuming plaster dust up one end and shooting it out the other in a fine mist.

…Probably time to buy another filter.

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The bath turned up earlier in the week on a pallet, though the nice man helped me take it off and get it inside. Ebay is a smashing place to buy baths from, I got mine for under £250 and it was a super weird 140x140cm size.

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Last job before Dad turned up was to install the bulbs in the bathroom! Finally- light!

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Friday afternoon and my Dad turns up with a house warming gift. 😀

My dad collects things from antique shops, which suits me just fine. This one is going in the dining room. 😀

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Dad’s other very important gift was a sledge hammer so we could finally get rid of the 70s fireplace that was too heavy for even 3 people to lift.

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The metal bars through it had to be cut with a hack saw and then the large pieces carefully taken to the car.

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More rubble sacks and a trip to the dump!

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This was friday so we stopped and had a meal out, getting ourselves ready for the mission the next day. I had a slice of oreo cheesecake the size of my face!

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Bright and early the saturday morning, getting all the plumbing bits sorted so we can change over as quickly as possible.

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As you can see, the last person to plumb this bath in really had faith in it working…

…also plaster dust, y u go on everything?

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First step is to isolate and label the existing pipes. Direction is very important! Dad even let me do one- plumbing is a fine art so I’ll let him work his magic but I wanted to give at least one a go.

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With the pipework detached it was time to take out the existing bath. Dad took care of this one again with the sledge hammer- this bath is cast iron with a ceramic coating and smashing it was like ringing a giant bell with shards of glass-like ceramic firing off everywhere.

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Our job was to take all the sad pieces downstairs and sweep up all the super sharp bits, ready for the new bath to take its place!

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After some wiggling up the stairs we get it in!

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What a fit!

We take the bath out the room again and Dad takes a break while I remove the rest of the bathroom tiles to make mounting it to the wall easier.

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Much smashing and sweeping later and then it’s time to add the plastic push fittings around the wall of the bathroom.

The water in this house runs from the boiler to the bathroom then back down to the kitchen, which means this can’t go wrong or there’s the kitchen out of commission too. There’s a separate overflow lead pipe from the bath that’s just been cut down.

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Once we’ve tested and are happy with the pipes the bath goes back in, this time with it’s little legs.

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The bath gets pushed onto it’s brackets, levelled and feet adjusted, followed by connecting the overflow. Got to love flexy pipe fittings.

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Luckily the original lead pipe fitting works and doesn’t leak. If we couldn’t get this to work it would have meant removing bricks and running a new pipe outside, so phew.

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Then taps!

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Drawing on the cling film protecting the bath means if you change your mind you haven’t stained the bath forever.

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Some hole sawing later with a drill and the taps are in place!

We then take a side trip to the hardware shop round the corner as the washers in the tap aren’t good and let water through at the second junction. We buy 6 extra washers for 96p and use the opportunity to grab lunch.

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Back after a trip to the cafe, we put the washers in place and the bath taps are go! The drain doesn’t leak and all is good. 😀

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Next we say goodbye to the sink.

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I might keep this for the downstairs bathroom- it’s actually quite fun and it’s FREE so that’s a bonus.

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(things that are hard to take photos of- drilling cabinets)

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(things that are hard to take photos of- jig sawing cabinets)

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We make it look easy here, but getting the pipes lined up inside the cabinet was a nightmare- we spent a good hour butchering the back of it and figuring out how to get the pipe work inside.

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Finally we did it and the drain passed the toilet paper test! No drips! :DDD

The walls need plastering, there’s still a hole in the ceiling, all the pipe work is on show and the floor is grotty tiles, but we’d set out to change the bathroom over and done it all in the space of a day.

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That evening I got to try out my new bath and it’s amazing- having a corner bath means I can sit in the tub cross legged with room to spare and the bathroom has so much more space now.

This week it’s finishing off the front bedroom with Karen, but the hardest bit of the bathroom is done and I can’t wait to start the clean up and finishing it off. See yah next week!

Kitchen Wrecking, Reckoning and Rewiring.

So, just over a week ago I got my kitchen rewired.

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The electricians needed to chase new sockets into the walls, which meant that these tiles just had to go.

A helmet and visor seems overkill, but as the kitchen tried to kill me the previous week I wasn’t taking any chances.

(Remember the plasterboard that hit me in the head?)

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(It’s very hard to take a photo of one’s own head by the way.)

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Ceiling has now been extra secured to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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Taking off tiles is easy, it’s just messy and difficult when you only have one person to move a cooker.

Also, hot damn, the plaster behind the tiles couldn’t wait to leave.

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The kitchen was now ready for the electricians, who turned up and began turning up, well, everything…

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The Front bedroom for socket replacements.

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The upstairs hallway

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My kitchen has a concrete floor, which means all the wires to the kitchen went through the hallway and top bedroom. My upstairs was basically an intricate series of holes for 3 days, and while it was happening I was painting the bathroom cabinet ready for my dad’s visit. 

And this was just Day ONE.

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After discussing it with the electricians I took down all of the top cabinets in the kitchen. I was going to change them anyway, this would just make it easier for them to do the job.

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The very nice electrician lent me his very sexy ryobi drill to help with the job after they’d gone home that evening. Cheers!

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Goodbye greasy old extractor fan!

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Goodbye cupboards!

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SO MUCH GREASE. I’m saving the cabinets to make a cupboard for my boiler but I can see why most people just rip them out.

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My new cooker is slightly wider than the last so I trimmed down the work surface so it would fit. I’m being as cheap as possible in this kitchen so I can afford to get a stone worktop, but that will come a couple of months down the line.

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Such a sorry excuse for a kitchen.

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Check out the burned black wallpaper where the cupboards used to be!

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Ah well, the kitchen is awful but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook something nice!

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The next day the electricians chased down through all the plaster and then got to work on the bathroom and upstairs.

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There was no sockets in the kitchen that night so I ran an extension for the fridge and a kettle- such glamour!

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That was the day I ripped out the bathroom cabinet and found the hidden door, so I was filthy. Unfortunately no power in the kitchen means no boiler, so it was time for the classic boil a kettle for hot water and scrub with a rag trick.

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Such filth!

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The next day Christian turned up with some of more of my furniture (Yay actual CHAIRS) and we went out to manchester to give the electricans space to work. We came back just in time to see them off with everything finished!

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Look at all the power I now WIELD.

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Christian waited patiently for dinner while I wired in the new cooker, then it was off to catch the 3am ferry to our weekend away in Ireland for MCM Comic con.

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First stop- the whisky distillery!

It was a good break from the house- Things are rough right now, there’s something about exposed brick work that makes everything seem a bit more scummy. Also, plaster dust gets EVERYWHERE.

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When I got back from Ireland the first thing I cooked in the new oven was fancy cheese on toast with tomatoes and basil.

I’m keep telling myself that to make an omelette you have to break some eggs.

I’ve just got a lot of damn eggs to break right now before I can start cooking, but when I do it’s going to be a DAMN fine omelette.

Next post is plumbing the new bathroom, AKA the weekend visit from my dad!