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. 


3 thoughts on “The Ridiculously Red Room

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