Back wall and Bathroom Building…

We all have our quaint little winter traditions, mine seems to be ‘get a wall knocked down’, like I did last year in December to make the workroom. 

Over the past few months people have been saying to me ‘oh you must be finished soon, right’, to which I laugh, shortly followed by sobbing. Because when it comes to this house renovation I saved the best thing for last…

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In red there’s the weird outside toilet thingy, which for reference used to look like this:

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The plan has always been to knock these two little walls through and to make it into a downstairs bathroom, but there was some other stuff that needed sorting first, like making the house relatively liveable. There was also this problem…

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Can you see how that wall curves out under the window? Yeah, basically someone decided to build a cavity wall in my upstairs but not below (whyyyy?) and over the years this has made the wall curve out. It wasn’t dangerous but was bad enough that I wouldn’t be able to fix it with remedial wall ties. I knew when buying the house I’d have to spend about £3,000 on taking the wall down and rebuilding it.

Yeah, don’t buy a fixer upper unless you’ve got a lot of cash sitting about kids.

To save on labour costs of both projects I decided to get it done all at once, hiring the brick layer who did my wall knock through in the workroom. Of all the people I got quotes from he was the only one who spoke comfortably about dealing with building control, which is generally a good sign as it means he’s not afraid his work would be up to scratch. He was also the only one willing to reuse as much of the bricks as possible, and to remove the rubbish in his tip truck instead of parking a skip on one of the precious parking spots on my back lane.

So on a cold, cold November morn, I woke up to the gentle scraping noises of the builders starting to dig me a new bathroom.

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In the space of a day they had dug the footing foundations for the new wall as well as demolishing the inner walls of the toilet, something I knew would have taken myself and several friends days. Sometimes it just pays to get the professionals in.

 

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While digging they found one of my soil pipes had a fracture in it and replaced it before it could fill up the foundations, which is currently being protected by the rain by this handy door. Shame, I’ve always wanted a moat!

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The next week they put scaffolding and support props up to take the weight of the house while the outer wall skin came down.

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And the walls kept tumbling down in the city we loooooveeee

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YEP.

Here you can see up into the floorboards in the bedroom below. That room became CHILLY to say the least and had to be isolated from the rest of the house. Fortunately it’s the guest bedroom (where the wood lives!) so I didn’t freeze.

 

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They removed the wooden facia to find that for some reason they’d popped not one, but two steel beams into the wall here (whyyyyy?). The builders had to cut the nuts holding the two together and hammer the front one backwards to be able to fit the bricks in.

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After a visit from the building regulations guy (who was actually rather nice and mainly concerned about me making sure it was insulated well enough) they filled in the moat with concrete and began making me a TEENY wall.

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Then mother nature decided to intervene.

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Concrete can’t set below certain temperatures so the builders had to take most of the week off waiting for the weather to clear up. During this time they dug out the floor of the bathroom to fully insulate it with kingspan and put in a damp proof course. Builders sometimes get a bad rep for taking time off but the second they had good weather these lot WORKED.

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They also used this time to do the mystical cut through on one side of the wall of the kitchen. I looked out when it was happening and all I saw was a plume of dust gush out of the window hole. D:

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We finally had a streak of clear(ish) skies last week, so the builders returned to finish the repairs to the back wall. In some places it was an entire half brick out, which makes me very glad I bothered to get this repaired.

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They also put me in this new snazzy window!

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We managed to find the glass company who made my back door so even got a match on the glass effect.

Then with the window ready to go it was time to knock through into the kitchen. To reduce the level of dust they used a chisel and bolster and did it by hand as much as possible.

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BOOM

Just goes to show that when a window of opportunity closes… a door way opens.

😀

 

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And here’s the space for the new bathroom!

There’s still some wall ties to be done, the scaffold to be taken down and some bits and bobs to clean up but now I can actually step into the space and get a feel for how it will be laid out. This side is going to hold a big ol’ shower.

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Here’s a little hole for the extractor fan, carefully blocked with a brick to keep rogue squirrels out.

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And here’s the tattered remains of the toilet that once was. I was sort of hoping to be able to get a working toilet (OH AND A DOOR) in there by friendsmas but it looks like it’s going to take me a while to find a plumber. My builder (which is normally very good for tradesmen) hasn’t worked at all this time, so tomorrow morning I’ll be calling up various places and seeing what quotes I can get.

In the meantime I’ve got a decent pantry to put drinks in to chill…

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Tab’s Tacky Entryway…

It’s November, freezing and builders have just made a new hole in my house (a winter tradition!) so here’s a post about something I’ve done which has helped improve the warmth of the house- replacing the front porch door.

(That and generally making the hallway entrance look nice, and by nice I mean gaudy as hell. Please leave your good taste at the door ladies and gents, you don’t need it at my house.)

No standard PVC door was good for the Fantabulous house so I had to go DOOR HUNTING

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The doors in their natural habitat- Insitu reclaim in manchester.

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I had a wild Christian come to help- which shows how long this has been on the to do list as this was back in May…

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Insitu is great, they have an entire room dedicated to just old toilets. I was looking for something I bit more insulated than their reclaim doors though, which I eventually found in a triple glazed oak door in a quality seconds hardware shop called Relionus D I Y & Door Centre in north Manchester.

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Two months later in August my mum came to visit and we finally got to work  installing the door instead of just looking at it longingly everytime I went to the kitchen.

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This is the old door which after some pondering with bits of wood we realised we could just cut out the new door hole in it and use that to hang the new (slightly smaller) door.

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Here’s some measurements so you can see how skewed the house really is. We decided to just do everything to level which meant a 5cm change between the top and bottom…

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This wood was a nightmare to cut and took several recharges of the circular saw to do. I guess that meant it was good quality but it was still a right pain.

 

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After adding the top piece and side we popped the door up on the hinges and then leaned a ladder against it so it wouldn’t swing open in the night.

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The next day we added the final strip down the side (which had to be slowly cut down again and again to fit) and added the lock. This is the opposite way you usually fit a door, but in a house this wonky you might as well keep the straight bits straight (the new door) and the weird bits weird (the entire house).

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Then I cut some trim to finish off the insides and keep the draughts coming through the cracks down the side. I ran out of trim so I just made a random pointy thing to go at the top.

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For some extra heat insulation I also got a double glazing unit made to fit behind the original porch glass and nailed it into place.

The effect of these two on the heat of the house was almost immediate- as well as giving me the peace of mind that if someone managed to kick down my front door they would just have a larger, thicker door waiting for them.

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A few weeks later I had a week or two of free(ish) time so I decided to tackle the decoration in the hall. First thing to go was this stunning relic of past wallpaper…

 

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Mmmmm check out that faux wall stone

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BE GONE

Then I painted the hallway with lots of white paint, not bothering to strip the other wallpaper as it was far less offensive to the eye and would have pictures covering most of it.

The next question was what colour to paint the new porch door…

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I finally repainted my front door green back in July but I think that would be a bit too much green even for me. Red would match the brick of the house but make the place too christmassy, blue would be too much with the green carpet, white was boring…

I gave my mum a call to catch up and asked what colour to paint the door as I was uming and ahhing so much over it. The conversation went like this:

Her: Anything but yellow.

Me: I KNOW I’LL PAINT IT GOLD

Her: How is that not yellow??

Me: 😀

 

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AND SO THAT’S WHAT I DID

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It’s surprisingly tasteful??? I think what I was expecting was a super shiny gold chrome, but what I got was a door with a dull lustre. Turns out not many people paint their door metallic gold so I didn’t have many comparison pictures to look over on pintrest, but I like it and have no regrets. It’s going to look great with a christmas wreath 😀

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There were still a few painting jobs to go so I picked at those over the next few weeks, doing things like glossing all the trim in white.

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Then painting my worse for wear tiles with some black door step paint. Sorry for the weird dark photos- I didn’t want to accidentally get posted letters glued to the wet paint so I had to do it at night just before bed XD

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I grabbed this light off Gumtree last year for £30- see how clean and white the freshly painted walls and trim are!

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A place for coats and hats! This is the blocked off door to my workroom which makes a lovely little coat nook. The hooks were a charity shop find by my mum (who brings the most random gifts from down south for me).

The hallway was clean and nice again, but there was room for one more embellishment, one that you might say has world wide appeal…

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I’ve wanted to do a big mural wall SOMEWHERE in the house since I learnt they were a thing. I scoured the internet for MONTHS I tell you different mural options and realised that while some of the great artists stuff was lovely, there wasn’t anything that I liked enough to put up on the wall. I considered Mucha, Van Gogh and the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog  but didn’t find anything that had true personal significance. But then someone commented about how I need to have a drinks cabinet globe and that got my brain ticking.

Several days of ebay and measuring later and I managed to find a german company that printed a vintage map for £60 that had the correct height to run floor to ceiling in my little porch nook.

 

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I discovered (when I actually read the instructions) that this was a paste the wall job and was surprisingly easy, if not awkward in the tiny cramped space of the porch. The hardest bit was the ceiling which kept falling down on my head as I tried to cut it to size but eventually got wrestled into submission.

 

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So to one side we have the Americas and New Zealand- places where I sell most of my comic books to and the reason I can work from home.

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Then the other half of the world and the little smudge that is England to the other side.

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And of course, Australia on the ceiling! It’s the right way up when you enter the front door (if the world can have a right way up?) but I wasn’t going to lie down on the doorstep outside to take this photo XD

Anyway, here’s the doorway where I enter and exit the world, something something global symbolism and unity.

With the gold door I think the hallway is the opposite of good taste but I also love it. The next job was to hang some mirrors and art to get some more light into there, but that can wait for another post. That one involves finishing off the rest of the library details, including the wall of beautiful men, my deformed plush animal collection and the famous flaminglow lamp.

Until next time at the Fantabulous House!

~Tab

Uplifting the outside

Autumn is well on it’s way meaning the weather is what you’d expect from manchester, but back in september I had a day or two of sunshine- so it was time to do something about the rather sad looking stonework out the front of my house.

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As with all renovations this had been deemed ‘super ugly but not vital’ so had sat on the To Do list for over a year. With winter fast approaching I knew I wouldn’t get many opportunities to do this again so I marched my way outside, dust sheets and brush blazing, ready to spend my day being gawped at by passers by in cars.

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First step was to scrub everything down and go at it with a wallpaper stripper to get the worst of the flaking paint off. I know you can really clean things up with a heat gun or a jet washer but I was just looking for a fresh coat of paint, not a masterpiece.

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I decided on cream because that was the colour of the masonry paint I’d picked up in the B&Q bashed bin for £6.

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Check out that before and after!

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First coat!

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Then I chased a bunch of angry spiders out from the window ledge and used a paint scraper to clean it up.

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Compare the difference- unpainted on the left, painted on the right.

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This bit and the bay window gutter were so tall I had to borrow a ladder from my neighbour who saw me working and felt pity. I was cleaning in a yellow t-shirt with a bucket and as I scrubbed the trail of filthy water would slowly trickle down my arm into my armpit. Wet t-shirt competition anyone?

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Mid-painting! Even the glass shines brighter with a little polish.

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Now it was the upstairs windows- which I did by just leaning over the edge of the open window and painting from there. I considered using a ladder for them but….

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…windows are surprisingly high okay? This is why you pay roofers so much money- half of it is danger cash for them risking their lives, not you.

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Right side unpainted, left side painted! Sometimes houses are the kind of dirty that only a coat of paint can fix.

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The next day I did another coat of the cream and set about putting some outside wood filler into the rotten bits of the wooden guttering. Most of the street have theirs replaced with something sensible like plastic but mine is still in *relatively* good nick so I’ll be leaving it for as long as it works.

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External wood filler is great- mix 2 parts together and it’s cured in under an hour ready to be sanded down and a lick of paint. I already had a tin of green wood paint from the kitchen and front door so green it is!

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And here’s the final result, photos as of yesterday!

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As a final touch I added a dab of gold inside the house name, because why not.

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As a comparison, here’s the photo of the house as taken from the estate agents website back in 2015.

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And here it is when I nipped out to take some photos of it yesterday. Of course in true Manchester tradition that was exactly when it decided to rain.

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But with rain comes rainbows!

I keep getting asked if I’m done with the house yet, the answer being a resounding ‘nope’. Right now I’m getting quotes for some back wall repairs and the downstairs toilet conversion which will be time consuming and *expensive*, probably the most expensive on the house to date. I’m dreading doing it because it means cracking open this beautiful shell of a house I’ve made and letting the dust, rain and builders back in. But it has to be done eventually, so that’s a project for the next few months.

In the meantime I’ve got some finishing touches to update you on and some final photos of the hallway!

Until next time~ Tab

Over a year later… and I finally paint the front door.

I’ve just got back from a couple weeks holiday/business trips (NYC, Wales and Southampton. Random mix I know!)  but I’ve still been working on bits and bobs around the house, it’s just that everything is half finished so I don’t like to post them. Things are slowing down now as I’ve gotten everything vital to living finished… but will start to speed up again as I panic about how close this Christmas is and all the stuff I wanted to have finished off by then. T_T

One of the big accomplishments last month was finally painting my front door.

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As a reminder this is what the door looked like when I moved in last July.

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(This was the state of the front garden, which was cleaned up pretty shortly)

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(Much better!)

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The square anti smash glass wasn’t really my style so I copied the design of the top window and had a new pane installed back in October 2015. 

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Then 9 months later (and a hell load of work) I got the step ladder out, a tin of the left over kitchen paint, a new letter box I’d been sitting on for months and a jigsaw, ready to finally tick the door off the To Tab list.

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This door is probably the original with the house- I felt like a savage hacking into it but the new letter box wouldn’t open through the old slot. It was the most delicious burning wood I’ve ever smelt… maybe it aged like a fine wine?

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As well as the green I decided I would pick out some details with gold, because this house is either go fancy or go home. I found it easiest to do the gold over the edge and then cut in with the second coat of green. I’ve awkwardly swirled out my house number because I’m all about sharing the intimate details of my house adventures, but not the actual address.

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Moar gold for the haus hoard.

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Masking tape only does so much so once everything was dry (and no rain- yayyyy) I used a scraper and some white spirit on cloth to clean up the edge.

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ONLY TOOK ME OVER A YEAR BUT MY DOOR IS SHINY AND GREEN. YESSS

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My next step is cleaning and painting the stonework, hopefully while the weather is still nice. And someday I might get around to taking the old ‘for sale’ sign down…

The Library? Drawing Room? Sitting Room? Parlour? Who cares it’s basically finished

When we last left the fantabulous house back in April I’d just ripped down the hallway wall to make a new open space:

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Taking that wall down left me with an electric cable sticking out of the floor as well as two radiator valves that needed moving.

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Fortunately for me the cable was just from a junction box so it was super easy to replace that with a longer cable and just move it to another wall. Don’t play with electrics if you don’t know what you’re doing though kids- that’s how fires start.

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Here’s a blurry picture of me using a circular saw to cut access in the floor.

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TAHDAH

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While electric cables mean more possibility of death, the most damaging thing is actually a radiator valve. If I kicked the head of this sucker off pretty much all of the upstairs central heating system would have emptied into the floor, ruining my brand new workroom ceiling and gawd knows what else. My Dad was appearing in a few weeks to help me move it over, so until then I made it a special wooden hat out of scrap wood to keep them safe.

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These were screwed into the floor- wouldn’t protect it from a flying kick but made sure the floor didn’t sink to an early grave.

Then it was time to start stripping wallpaper and get the room ready to be replastered.

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Holy original wallpaper batman!

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This was fused to the wall and most likely as old as the house. Anyone with some wallpaper expertise know when this was made? It’s discoloured from age but there was something about it I loved (despite the vomit-y yellow appearance)  and seemed a shame to plaster over it.

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After chatting to my neighbour and plasterers I wandered down to a local charity shop and bought a frame to bolt to the wall which the plasterer was happy to work around. He seemed to think I was a bit crazy but by this point I’m used to workmen looking at me like that.

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Then I covered it up ready for the plasterers to begin work!

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The only thing left to do was to climb into the roof and move the light over by a foot.

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You can see it more clearly here- while it looked fine before with the wall knocked down you could see that the two lights were slightly out of line. So I did the scary thing and moved the one over the stairs.

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Dawn breaks on the room ready to be reborn!

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The chimney was so wonky I just got it boarded and skimed

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The wibbly ceiling was too wibbly for this world and fearing it crashing down I got that reboarded too.

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(The workmen were not invisible, I just took all these photos while the plasterers were out at lunch.)

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Sexy new ceiling being sexy

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Bonding coat around the frame

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Hot diggity what a lovely new room! It was about 2 days work from start to finish and I still have no idea how they did above the stairs.

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(The plasterers finished friday afternoon just in time for my dad to roll up and for us to move the radiator over to help with drying out the room. Cheers Papa Kimpton!)

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Hot damn thems some fine walls.

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Ain’t nothing smoother than a freshly plastered wall

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And check out the wallpaper still intact! Or is it a picture of my ageing decrepit face?

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With everything dry a week later it was time to do a mist coat

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LET THE PAINTING BEGIN

(I’ve given up wearing shirts while I paint ceilings. Sorry neighbours.)

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I decided to keep the swirly wallpaper on the stair wall because I didn’t want to get my entire downstairs hallway replastered as well. I’m just tarting it up with a fresh coat of white paint.

 

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My next job required a second pair of hands a couple days later- making a faux beam along the back of the plaster coving that used to be in the hallway. Much drilling and swearing later we managed to recycle some of the stud wood into 3 parts and put it up on the (wonky) ceiling.

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This was followed up with two 10mm planks of timber underneath the coving to help support it.

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Then some new (super cheap resin) coving goes up in the other side of the room- not matching but acknowledging that these used to be two rooms and making it easy to put a stud back up if I so chose.

Then lots of expanding foam to fill the (huge) gaps because this ceiling is as straight as me.

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Then I basically left the project alone for a month while work got in the way. I spent about a week applying plaster/filler to this beam to get it looking finished. Plastering is hard yo, that’s why people do it for jobs and deserved to be paid top dollar.

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I did use this chance to add a corbel to the beam because I think everyone needs support in their life.

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Filling in the coving gaps. Coving is the worst and requires SUCH math so I’m not even going to go into how much error and trial went into getting these angles right.

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Using a wet paintbrush over filler/plaster is a good way to make it match- I’m going to remember that one for later!

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With the plaster drying it was time to tackle the trim…

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HERE I GO

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Such a sad radiator, it’s okay, we’ll make you pretty again.

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Ewww. This house was the kind of dirty that only a coat of paint could fix. I’ve gotten much better at using oil based gloss and now I can use it I wouldn’t go back to water based or satin. It just makes everything so much nicer and easy to clean.

Around this time I got a quote to replace the (slightly broken) window and with my 1 year anniversary housewarming coming up the pressure was on to finish and get everything done in time. Usually I paint all the walls first but with builders needing to change out the frame and furniture being on floors I realised that I needed to sand and paint the floor over the course of 2 days.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I decided not to hire a drum sander for this floor as they are super heavy, don’t make a good job of wonky floors (like mine), and it would save me £100+. Instead I would be using a handheld belt sander because I’d had to use that one all around the edges of the work room floor anyway.

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After about an hours sanding my neck started to hurt something rotten though so I stripped off my protective gear (IMPORTANT) and came up with a cunning plan…

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Yep.

Turns out you CAN cable tie a belt sander to a stick. You probably SHOULDN’T but that is what I did and I am still alive. I had a friend with me to supervise and was wearing gloves, face mask, visor and ear protection so I’m not a complete idiot but it’s not on my list of things I recommend other humans do.

I then spent the next couple of hours walking my new dog up and down the the floor before unhooking it and doing the edges.

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The next day was hand sanding all the weird bits and hoovering up all the dust (SO MUCH DUST)

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Then a rub down with white spirit (WEAR A BREATHER) before onto the actual staining…

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Coat 1 (aw yiss)

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Coat 2

This probably needed a third coat but I was running out of time and had a room to paint, so down the tarps went

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I tape all my edges because while I can cut in a line free hand with a house this wonky it’s good to have a starting line. I also needed to keep white paint off the freshly stained floor.

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Here’s how I painted the coving above the stairs without risking my life. Cable ties are really useful!

With the ceiling/coving all dry and a brilliant white it was time to add that splash of colour I’d had waiting in my cupboard for months with this room in mind.

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Oh dear.

This is dulux ‘Tuscan Terracotta’

By which they mean ‘Salmon Pink’.

I’d been fooled by their man-vertising and bought it, thinking it would add a soothing masculinity to my room. Thing is- I wear pale pink all the time and have several pink shirts, but even I rankled at the idea of painting a room salmon pink.

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BUT I DID IT ANYWAY

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Because you only live once and you can always paint twice.

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And when it was there on the walls, fading from eyes bleeding wet to soothing dry matt, I realised that I actually really really…

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Liked it?

It’s more soft pink than the burnt orange photos, but there’s something about it that does have that deep soothing quality I wanted from this room. So masculine stereotypes be damned, I was happy and going to live in my pink room with glee.

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Unfortunately even with masking tape paint edges don’t come out very well. However that’s easily fixed up-

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-Awwww yisssss. That’s what the good stuff in life is made from.

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The paint dried just in time for the window fitters to turn up and blast the old creaky window for a brand new one.

 

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Now it was the rush to get everything finished for the house warming. I’d found this old fire surround in a charity shop for £15 and once again awkwardly fitted it into my car.

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(Like the first weekend with my dad, almost a year ago)

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This time it was just me though and a very, very slow climb up the stairs with this slung over my shoulder.

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Luckily for me I had two large tiles left over from the bathroom perfect for making the fire hearth.

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Cutting a hole for ventilation and adding a support shelf for a very special stone block.

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I found this broken slab with Karen in the debis of the downstairs fireplace back in August last year

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After cleaning it up a bit we realised it was slate painted to look like marble- and would make a totally awesome addition to the fire.

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Here it is in pride of place with the surround to check the levels of everything.

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Then- wallpapering!

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I had a bit of uneven plaster at the base of the chimney breast so I wallpapered the entire thing to give it a smooth surface to paint over. This is just black metal paint which might not be the best thing to use but it’s just SO GLOSSY I love it. I decided to just paint the missing section of the stone black so people could see it was something that was smashed- another little mark of the house’s history.

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Karen arrived on thursday to help me get all the furniture ready for the housewarming friday evening. I bought some discount chalk paint (this time the tin was truthful and called itself ‘salmon’) and used it to tart up the old set of shelves and drawers that used to be in this room:

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Mmmmm faux wood finish

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But it was FREE furniture and I wasn’t going to pass that up.

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2/3 coats later and a spritz of furniture sealant and I had a lovely set of shelves and a desk.

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With furniture drying and guests looming I took to the ladder and changed the light fittings for something a bit more interesting.

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Yay now my guests don’t have to sit in the dark

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Tight fit!

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Desk squeezed in and fire surround secured into place over the (just) dry black paint.

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Rolling back the tarp, sweeping the floor, adding furniture…

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AND LO, A ROOM FIT FOR A KING

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And then we had a party and it was very good.

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I’m still moving my stuff in but my books are now officially where they should be- might need some more shelves though!

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And check out my super fancy coffee table!

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😀

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Never a dull day at the fantabulous house. The only question left is… what do I call the room?

 

What should I call the new room?
The Library (because it will have books)
The Parlour (because parlour games idk)
The Drawing room (aka, room to withdraw to after dinner)
The Sitting room (I will be sitting in there after all)
The Middle room (makes sense)
The ATRIUM (technically needs an open top but what a name)
Other
Please Specify:

Quiz Maker

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It’s got to be something that I’ll actually use as a name- answers on a post card!

 

Until next time friends ~ ❤

A Fantabulous Year in Review

July 2015

Got the keys and started work!

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First thing I did was gut the upstairs bedroom and rip out some old plaster.

August 2015

Karen and I rip out the front room fireplace and find some awesome original tiles!

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Then while gutting the bathroom I find a secret door

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The kitchen gets rewired D;

September 2015

My dad helps me install a new bath in the bathroom:

And a new sink

The front bedroom gets replastered and then sanded

Then given a splash of colour!

October 2015

The front door gets a new stained glass piece made and installed

With one room finished I hire a tiny van and move all my stuff in

November 2015

The kitchen gets replastered and repainted

My dad helps me put in the sink of my dreams- annnnd a dishwasher!

December 2016

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Some nice builders take out my back window and put a set of double doors in instead.

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Then they knock through the downstairs

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At the same time after weeks of working when I had the time…

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…I finish off the kitchen with lots of help from others

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Just in time for the feast of friendsmas!

January 2016

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I paint the secret bathroom door tardis blue

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And finally finish off the bathroom

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(sorta)

 

I also remove the second fireplace downstairs.

And cover the kitchen in tiles

Then finally, properly finish the kitchen off.

…January was busy.

February 2016

 

Downstairs gets stripped down, plastered and sanded within an inch of it’s life.

I go insane painting a 10x5m (32×16 foot) room white

The rainbow chandeliers take their proper place

I reinstall some ‘original’ features as best I can.

March 2016

I paint the workroom floor green and realise I am a chameleon.

April 2015

After weeks of painting, sanding and shelf building I finally move into my workroom!

Then with more plans in the works I move my bed into the front bedroom/living room, ready to tackle the middle bedroom.

house plan middle room wall

Then I go totally off plan and decide to take out an upstairs wall because YOLO

May 2016

Convention seasons starts again and I’m busy as hell.

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During this time I work on stripping down the middle room and find some super cool original wallpaper.

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I go on a hunt for a porch door

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And get the middle room replastered.

June 2016

I basically do nothing because I’m at a convention every weekend for a month and am filled with tired and sadness

July 2016

With the one year mark coming up I panic and spend 2 weeks manic working on the middle room.

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I sand the floor by hand with a belt sander

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Accidentally paint the room salmon pink2016-07-14 15.26.36

Borrow Karen for help in the last few days

Today

Then on July 17th, one year after buying the house, I finally have a proper living room.

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I’ll update a post of the full workings of the middle room and some round up photos once I’ve moved my books in, but that’s a rough guide to the first year in the Fantabulous house. I’ve got some scary wall repairs and a bathroom conversion downstairs to come in the future, but for now the worst is over and all that can wait until when I’m good and ready.

It’s been a year of elated highs and miserable dust covered lows, but it’s nice to look back on all that’s been done instead of the ever growing ‘to do’ list of the future. I’ve updated the post archive with dates so you can look back on the past posts- enjoy the journey, it’s a rough one! A big thanks to everyone who helped get stuck in with me- Particularly my Mum, Dad, Karen, Ruben, Amanda and Clementine- you’ve all gotten as filthy as I in my quest to have the house of my dreams.

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Now it’s time to have a proper house warming- Until next time, cheers from the Fantabulous house!

 

 

 

Bye bye bedroom… Say hello to the hallway library.

It’s been an…interesting week at the Fantabulous house, to say the least. This April I’ve been tackling the middle bedroom, which is also been where I’ve been sleeping/living for the last half year as it was the ‘best’ room in the house.

As a reminder, here’s the floor plan once again:

house plan middle room

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Here’s the room empty of everything- dated but not too awful!

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The room came with all these built in shelves which while useful storage, took up about 2.5ft of space, making the room look much smaller than it actually is.

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The old wallpaper was also peeling due to some (now fixed!) roof leaking issues. The entire room just needed to be emptied, stripped down, replastered and repainted.

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Which unfortunately meant moving the living room about and making that my sleeping area for the next few weeks.

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I installed a rail for my clothes and generally moved it about a bit.

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It feels weird entertaining my guests in my boudoir… but all for the greater good!

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My mum helped me rip the cupboards out- this desk came out with nary a scratch on it… so FREE DESK!

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Carpet spike strip…my old nemesis.

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I have no idea why they decided to leave this space empty? Look at all that precious storage space just WASTED for 30 years.

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Unfortunately there was no super cool fireplace behind the book shelves. At some point someone went around this house blocking off the fireplaces with plaster, which sounds like a good idea to reduce drafts, but unless you install a grill like here leads to awful condensation build up in the chimney breast. I’ll replace this one with a sexy victorian style one at some point.

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This wardrobe might have been a bit big.

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And that’s the wall exposed! Check out that pink wallpaper.

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Goodbye gross carpet.

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Underneath the carpet was lino which I kept down to protect the floorboards during the plastering/other work.

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And that’s the room done and ready to have the wallpaper stripped!

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Except when I poked about on the one wall to check the condition of everything… we discovered something rather strange…

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Turns out the wall separating the hallway and this bedroom was actually lath and plaster, the victorian equivalent of a stud wall. Horsehair and lime, the whole shabang.

My mum made a joke like ‘Haha you could just knock through it into the hallway’

Me: ‘Ha, yeah I COULD just make it all one big room. Like a big library with stairs going into it. Like an atrium… like a living room like I’ve… already got up here.’

Mum: ‘I shouldn’t have said anything, should I?’

Me: ‘OH MY GAWD’

I then spent the next few days furiously talking to my friends about whether or not I should take this wall out.

Con: Turns a 3 bed into a 2 bed, lowering the resale value of the house. 

Pro: I’m using a room upstairs as a living room anyway so I wouldn’t lose any rooms. I’m not planning on moving any time soon and a stud wall isn’t that expensive to put back. 

Con: It’ll be super messy to take down and you have to move a radiator. 

Pro: If I’m going to take it down, now is the time to do it while renovating the house. I’ll have to move a radiator but it will open up the hallway, use that wasted space and make the hallway much lighter. 

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(Here’s an idea of how dark the hallway is, photo taken on a normal day with no lights on)

Con: It’s hella weird and people will think you’re crazy

Pro: THAT’S WHY IT WILL BE AMAZING

I double checked my budget and realised that this would not cost me much more than keeping the bedroom.  I’ve learnt with this house is to work with what opportunities are given to you, and I knew that if I DIDN’T take this wall down I’d regret it for the next 10 years, always wondering what the room would be like.

The next week I had a structural engineer visiting to confirm some things with my back wall and I had him double check if I could take the wall out. He said it would be no problem…and that I should totally do it.

So… I did.

house plan middle room wall

Theoretically removing this wall should make one SPECTACULAR room which will then become my hub for entertaining guests, smoking my pipe (if I had one) and storing my books, officially making it worthy of the title ‘Library’.

I just had to take down one little wall to do it.

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First step was disconnecting the radiator and moving the hallway carpet as well as turning off the sockets upstairs. Then covering up all doors to other rooms with dust sheets, because it was time to get DUSTY

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My friend Ben who was helping me said ‘I’ll put on my dust mask later when it gets bad’ before we began, to which I said ‘NO. You put on your dust mask NOW because you have no idea what we’re about to unleash upon this innocent world.’

And unleash we did.

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Once the plaster was crowbared and hammered off (and swept into rubble bags because oh my GAWD) it was time to start levering off the laths. This was exhausting but also incredibly satisfying.

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Here you can see how the plaster stays on the laths on the other side- it’s splodged through to make sure the wall doesn’t fall off.

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Here you can see the first tiny hole peeking through!

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This wall had some cool wallpaper underneath- anyone know what decade this is?

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At this point it was getting late so we tidied up and ate lots of food ready for day 2.

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All the laths were carefully bundled up and about 20 rubble sacks filled with plaster and wallpaper.

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The light at the end of the tunnel was in sight, but we still had a long way to go!

 

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After a big breakfast the next day we pushed on to finish the job.

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Here you can see how dark the hallway is even on a sunny day!

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Once the laths were all gone it was time to take care of the studs. These were built with giant victorian nails so once I’d sawn through them I had to hit them with a hammer to dislodge them then wiggle back and forth until they popped off.

Fun fact- the horizontal studs are called noggins. Carpentry is adorable.

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Of all the things I’ve done on this house, this was genuinely the most physically exhausting. Ben and I would occasionally have breaks consisting of us just lying still on the ground in silence like ‘oh my god I can’t even bring myself to speak’

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Last vertical stud! Each one was chopped through using a circular saw on both sides.

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Then rocked back and forth to get the nail out without damaging the surrounding wood.

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It was super filthy, terrifying work. While this wall didn’t support the house it was still attached to the ceiling in places and it was my job to wiggle these out as gently as possible to preserve the ceiling and the coving.

BUT IT IS DONE NOW, AND THERE IS NO TURNING BACK.

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Some tidying later… and here is the new room.

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The best part is when you come up the stairs and the house just opens out like ‘Hello friend’

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‘Look at all the light I have from the two windows’

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‘Look at how nice my bannister looks now you can see it from the side’

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‘You know…if you ever extend into the roof you now have the perfect wall to run stairs up’

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‘Now strip my wallpaper and get some plasterers to tart me up – I want to be pretty again.’

I’m working on it house, I’m working on it.

Until next time~

Tab & The Fantabulous house.