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:
Here’s the room empty of everything- dated but not too awful!
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.
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.
Which unfortunately meant moving the living room about and making that my sleeping area for the next few weeks.
I installed a rail for my clothes and generally moved it about a bit.
It feels weird entertaining my guests in my boudoir… but all for the greater good!
My mum helped me rip the cupboards out- this desk came out with nary a scratch on it… so FREE DESK!
Carpet spike strip…my old nemesis.
I have no idea why they decided to leave this space empty? Look at all that precious storage space just WASTED for 30 years.
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.
This wardrobe might have been a bit big.
And that’s the wall exposed! Check out that pink wallpaper.
Goodbye gross carpet.
Underneath the carpet was lino which I kept down to protect the floorboards during the plastering/other work.
And that’s the room done and ready to have the wallpaper stripped!
Except when I poked about on the one wall to check the condition of everything… we discovered something rather strange…
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.
(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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Here you can see the first tiny hole peeking through!
This wall had some cool wallpaper underneath- anyone know what decade this is?
At this point it was getting late so we tidied up and ate lots of food ready for day 2.
All the laths were carefully bundled up and about 20 rubble sacks filled with plaster and wallpaper.
The light at the end of the tunnel was in sight, but we still had a long way to go!
After a big breakfast the next day we pushed on to finish the job.
Here you can see how dark the hallway is even on a sunny day!
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.
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’
Last vertical stud! Each one was chopped through using a circular saw on both sides.
Then rocked back and forth to get the nail out without damaging the surrounding wood.
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.
Some tidying later… and here is the new room.
The best part is when you come up the stairs and the house just opens out like ‘Hello friend’
‘Look at all the light I have from the two windows’
‘Look at how nice my bannister looks now you can see it from the side’
‘You know…if you ever extend into the roof you now have the perfect wall to run stairs up’
‘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.