Posts belonging to Category Doing up the house



Stumped by a Tree Stump

So, I said I wasn’t ready for a camera crew poking around my house.  I wasn’t exaggerating.

digger

digger

This has been the scene out of my front window today

digger from window

digger from window

but the small digger was no match for the tree stump – which is in reality a lot bigger than it looks here (the black X is the top of the stump).

digger and tree roots

digger and tree roots

A bigger one has been ordered (digger, that is, not tree stump :-) ).

I found some photos of the house when we bought it.  It looks even worse than I remember it!

before pic of the front of the house

before pic of the front of the house

Now I can see how far we’ve come

another before pic of the front of the house

another before pic of the front of the house

But it’s no surprise that we’ve still got a way to go!

front of house

front of house

Oh, and yes – the inside was just as bad as the outside!

before pic of the living room

before pic of the living room

Looking back, it’s not easy to see why I wanted to buy this house!   It’s definitely been more work than I envisaged.  But it has given me a fabulous studio to work in and a project of a garden to work on!  I do love it.

Making a House a Home

Some of us have a starting point which is rather grand

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

and some start with a house that’s small but very pretty indeed (we stumbled across this house in a small village on the tiny Greek island of Sifnos)

home in a tiny greek village

tiny but gorgeous

while some may have something in need of serious attention

ramshackle shed

ramshackle shed

and some are just in a seemingly perfect setting

Little Venice in Mykonos

Little Venice in Mykonos

although possibly the vast majority of us settle for a quite ordinary type of house or apartment.

What most of us have in common is the desire to turn our house into a home.  Whether you have a mansion, a 3-bed semi, a one-bed flat or even a shed (hopefully slightly more robust than the one above!), your ideas will be different from someone else’s – and that’s what is so great about the process.  It’s creative and personal!  In your own home you can surround yourself with the things you love.

So, here are some of my ideas for helping to make a house a home:

cupcake clock

cupcake clock

Clocks for the kitchen, personalised or humorous – or just because it’s always wine o’ clock somewhere in the world

it's wine o' clock clock

it's wine o' clock clock

Or maybe a heart-shaped personalised chalkboard.  Pretty and practical, a convenient place for reminders and shopping lists.  These come with a little basket on the front to hold the chalk and a cloth wipe.

personalised heart shaped chalkboard

personalised heart shaped chalkboard

Or a little plaque for your little house:

love lives in little houses hanging plaque

love lives in little houses hanging plaque

Somewhere for the kids to proudly hang their artwork

personalised mini masterpiece art hanger

personalised mini masterpiece art hanger

And something to  make you smile

cake is not just for breakfast hanging plaque

cake is not just for breakfast hanging plaque

Pop over to www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk if you’re interested in buying or just finding out more about any of the above (houses not included) – or maybe something similar. 

They’re all hand painted to order, so you can request colours to fit in with your own home.

Furniture Revamp

There’s been some painting going on in the studio that hasn’t been for work.

This neglected, unloved and – dare I say it - ugly sideboard/dresser was rescued from landfill by my son, who then didn’t know what to do with it!

neglected sideboard

Cue me and my paintbrush.  I took the top half off (it was neither useful nor pretty) and found a fairly sound base which only needed a bit of filler, a couple of coats of paint and a few minutes with a sander to create a lovely . . .

 

. . . shabby chic finish

sideboard

Ta-da!!

the finished article

It now fits very nicely in our living room, alongside some shelving that’s already there.  Its cavernous cupboards should help swallow some of my studio/office overspill and help stop the house looking like a workshop.  Well, a girl can hope!

I love the shabby chic finish – very a la Country Living, I feel – and already have my eye on another couple of pieces of old furniture!

My kitchen is getting its tiles

My friend and colleague from my old job, Pete, recently completed a tiling course and has started taking on tiling jobs alongside his teaching work.  He agreed to tile my kitchen, and I am so pleased with how the tiles are starting to look.  I think the blue and white looks gorgeous.  I love the unevenness of the tiles, which (as I keep saying) are not quite the £350 a sq mt tiles I fell in love with, but I love my cheapo tiles just as much.  Really.  They are the most gorgeous shade of blue, with random shading and an uneven surface and edges, giving them that handmade look at a bargain basement price. 

Of course, it takes the skill of a good tiler to make them look fantastic.  They didn’t elicit this much excitement while they were sitting in their tatty cardbord box.

Here’s Pete doing his stuff with said tiles:

tiler in action

tiler in action

And more tiles went up:
almost tiled

almost tiled

The other side of the kitchen didn’t get left out:
more tiles

more tiles

I thought you might like to see how the kitchen was a few months ago when we bought the house.  It was desperately in need of a little great deal of attention.  Just in case you’re interested, the wine bottle was half-full and left by the previous owner.  Honestly.
kitchen before
kitchen before
kitchen before
kitchen before

Pete is back tomorrow to finish off and do the grouting.  After that, the kitchen is just waiting for an oven and hood, some drawer fronts and some plinths.  Oh, and we’ll be moving our furniture out of storage on Thursday, so the kitchen will get its fridge freezer and dishwasher.

 

Yay!   It’s starting to feel like home!! :grin:

I need a bathroom!!

Things are moving on apace at the new house.  This is where we’re up to at the moment:

Laminate flooring was completed throughout the ground floor today.  Here it is with all the fitting debris waiting to be cleared up:

laminate floor

laminate floor

Here it is looking all new and shiny in the afternoon sun:
laminate floor

laminate floor

There are roofing joists up on at least part of my new studio.  Nice view of the sky through them.  Let’s hope the weather holds up at least until the roof is on.  We’ve been very lucky so far…

roofing joists

roofing joists

My tiler is starting tomorrow in the kitchen.  Carpets will be fitted on Monday in the bedrooms.  The bedrooms are painted and now just need tidying and cleaning ready for the carpet fitter:

bedrooms are painted

bedrooms are painted

But we are planning to move in next weekend… and just look at the state of my bathroom!!!

There is a big hole in the corner of the floor:

a hole in the bathroom floor

a hole in the bathroom floor

The rest of the floorboards aren’t looking too healthy either:

and the rest of the floor is a bit dodgy

and the rest of the floor is a bit dodgy

But we do have a sink.  Taps too.  Nothing yet to take the water away.

we do have a nice sink in there

we do have a nice sink in there

The water pipes are in place for the shower:

pipes ready for the shower

pipes ready for the shower

And we have a bath.  The trouble is, it’s not in the bathroom yet.  Here it is sitting in one of the bedrooms, still in its cardboard box:

the bath in a bedroom

the bath in a bedroom

 

Where oh where is a plumber when you need one?  I’m hoping he’ll be back on Monday…

And speaking of missing plumbers, where have all the builders gone?

where have the builders gone?

where have the builders gone?

George, the builder working on the house, is on holiday.  The two builders working on the studio were nowhere to be seen today.  They turned up eventually with a steel joist they’d had to travel miles for.  The roofer is waiting to start – he’s been working over the road, and keeps popping over checking on progress.

Still, as we keep saying…”it’ll be lovely when it’s done”.

Phew!! It’s all Happening!

What’s been happening this week?  Here’s a quick update:

Kitchen Sink Drama comes to an End:

The sink is now ready to use, with hot and cold running water through the taps, and a waste system that takes the dirty water away.  Oh, how we take so much for granted in our homes!  Here it is in action:

washing up for the builders' cuppas

washing up for the builders

We have chosen the kitchen tiles:
New blue tiles for the kitchen

New blue tiles for the kitchen

I really loved some hand-made tiles I saw in a local tile warehouse.  Ha! No wonder they had no price displayed… £3.50 each, and there were about 100 in a square metre.  You don’t need a degree in maths to work out they weren’t even close to the affordable side of expensive.  The ones I decided to buy reminded me vaguely of the handmade ones (although no doubt they wouldn’t stand up to a side-by-side comparison) but it worked out cheaper to buy a square metre of them than a single tile of the handmade variety.  And, our budget being what it is, there was really no comparison in the end. 
.
I shall shed a silent tear for the handmade tiles which will remain in the tile shop :cry:
.
We Chopped down some Trees:
condemned conifer

condemned conifer

Condemned Conifer's Condemned Friend

Condemned Conifer

Here’s a view from an upstairs window:
slightly overgrown

slightly overgrown

And look what happened:
tree no more

tree no more

The other stump is behind the stack of paving slabs in the photo.   Cutting the trees down, which dominated the garden and were semi-central, has opened up the garden and made it seem bigger.  It also means that winter light will reach the studio.  I feel guilty though: both trees were well-used by birds and squirrrels.  I hope they don’t feel too displaced – there are lots of other trees in the garden (and surrounding area).  We didn’t spot any nests, which makes me feel slightly better.

We painted endless ceilings (and walls):
.
My roller arm is now all rolled out.  I now have numbness and tingling in two fingers on my right hand.  We have still not finished painting – the bathroom ceiling hasn’t even been started yet!
Kitchen Ceiling

Kitchen Ceiling

painted ceiling

painted ceiling

We got Central Heating Fitted:
A warm house

A warm house

What can I say?  A warm house, with a boiler and radiators, as well as hot water on tap.  And a sink that is plumbed into the waste!  Oh, and painted walls!  The joy is endless!!!  It’s been an exciting week!
.
I almost forgot to say: we plan to move in by March 10th at the latest :shock:

1st Unique Gifts will have a Home

I’m so excited!

The reason for my excitement is that my new workshop/studio is being built.  When it’s done, I’ll have a fabulous space to work which is just a few steps from my back door.  1st Unique Gifts will have a proper home.

This is the progress so far:

this is the starting point

this is the starting point

Now the garage above has been demolished and the rubble removed.  This was done courtesy of  www.barneyrubbles.com who dealt with the tangled overgrown ivy, the asbestos, the concrete slabs, the rotten wood – you name it.  What superstars!!  I can certainly recommend them.
No walls yet!!

No walls yet!!

Still no walls!

Still no walls!

The concrete footings have gone in (and it snowed):

footings in place for walls

footings in place for walls

It will be kind of an L-shaped building (plus a sticky-out bit)  wrapping itself around an existing garage.  You can get an idea of that from this picture, now that the concrete floor is in place:

A floor in place

A floor in place

 I’m not sure as to what I will do with the floor.  I need a cost-effective (i.e. cheap) option.  I thought about just painting the concrete floors, but don’t know how my aching joints would hold up.  I suppose I could try it, maybe with a few rugs where I stand or sit the most.  I don’t want flooring that I’ll be worried about splattering with paint: I am a messy painter!

And now there are walls:

the studio has some walls!!

the studio has some walls!!

And even windows:

And now the studio has a window

And now the studio has a window

And a door:

The door is in place

The door is in place

 

I managed to save the tree at the corner of the building, although it did have to lose a few branches.  I’m sure it will provide some much-needed shade in the summer (although given our unpredictable climate, I won’t predict in which summer the shade will be necessary – maybe not the upcoming one??  We can only live in hope).

I am sure the local wildlife will be grateful for every tree I save.  The garden was sorely neglected and very overgrown (and obviously attractive to birds, squirrels, cats, frogs, etc), although the two greenhouses, well-filled compost heap and myriad trees and shrubs attest to it being a well-tended garden at some point in the past.  The years of neglect mean though, that some trees are overgrown, in the way and even dangerous.  So, the chopping down has started – which must be a bit of a blow for the birds and squirrels.  It will be a slow process, though, which may mean it’s less of a shock for them, as I want to reuse as much of the wood as possible: chippings for pathways, logs for the woodburning stove I haven’t yet got, rustic stools and benches perhaps?

More later!

Kitchen Sink Drama Continues

Not so much kitchen sink drama any more (no more trips across the country or broken bones in plumbers’ feet, for instance) but on it goes.  Yes, for those punctuation geeks out there, I know there was only one plumber with a broken foot, but I’ve referred to him as plural because everything else in the sentence is plural.  I know punctuation geeks are reading because I am one myself and I know some of my ex-colleagues are too.  If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, good on you.  Live your life happily unencumbered by apostrophe conversations!  Some of us just have not got that option.

You would think buying and connecting a sink would be a fairly simple affair.  But here we are, not quite sinkless (which is a step forward from last week) but certainly drainless – unless you count the plastic bucket under said sink.

Thank you God for buckets

Thank you God for buckets

As you can see, the plumber blessed us with a visit, connected our water supply (a good thing for the toilet situation, too, as builders have got to go somewhere!) and made everyone happy.  He needed another part for the waste though, so will be back…

I have captioned the photo Thank you God for buckets, but the thanks really should go to the person who invented buckets.  And the shops that sell them.  See you soon…

Presenting the Ikea Domsjo Sink

The Ikea double bowl Domsjo sink (all the way from snowy, gridlocked Birmingham) is safely sitting in its place in the kitchen, as you can see here.

What a gorgeous sink!

What a gorgeous sink!

It’s a shame the plumber is too busy with emergencies to come and work on plumbing it in.  Let’s hope for some warmer weather so everyone stops getting burst pipes and I can have my plumber back.  My Domsjo would like some nice taps and a waste connection, please.

Kitchen Sink Drama

Well, it’s all go here. What, with four rooms prepped and painted in five days, a kitchen bought and installed, a garage demolished and removed, footings dug for a new workshop/studio, trees cut down… need I go on?

Probably not, but I will.  The title here is Kitchen Sink Drama, because, well … we have had what you could call a bit of a kitchen sink drama.  A drama which involves Birmingham, South Wales, broken bones, snowstorms, rats in a bedroom- and of course, a kitchen sink. You couldn’t make it up.

I decided to buy my kitchen from Ikea, simply because I loved their Domsjo double bowl sink.

Cabinets in place for the Domsjo

Cabinets in place for the Domsjo

  I measured, planned, ummed and aahed, measured and planned some more, trotted round Ikea a few times, then ordered it.  Several items were out of stock, several items not as requested, several items missing and several items deliberately put on wrongly by staff simply because my sink being out of stock (as well as other bits and bobs) meant my order would be under £2000.00 and therefore wouldn’t qualify for the discount.  I couldn’t, of course, do anything so simple as pay for and order the sink (and other out-of-stock bits).

The kitchen couldn’t be put into position without the sink, the flooring (throughout the whole ground floor) couldn’t be fitted without the kitchen, and the furniture couldn’t be taken out of storage till the flooring was installed… it felt a bit like the old woman who swallowed a fly.  It could go on forever.

Domsjo sinks aren’t available to buy over the internet.  So I checked the stock levels of the Domsjo sink in all the Ikeas in the country.  They had some in both their London stores, and a few in Bristol.  They had one in Birmingham.  That was the sink situation in the whole country. It wasn’t worth driving to Birmingham with only one sink in stock; it would only take one other person to get there before me.  I flirted with the idea of staying overnight with my student daughter in London for the purpose of sink-purchasing, but the idea didn’t inspire me.  She is very untidy and keeps pet rats in her bedroom.  Very nice rats, very friendly rats, but probably quite smelly.  Not sure I could cope.

Ebay had a Domsjo double bowl sink – still in its box, in an outhouse in a South Wales village. Mr 1st Unique and I reckoned we could get there and back in a day.  The measurements the sink-owner gave me worried me a bit as they were not the same as mine.  And the stock number was different.  Dare we risk it?  We reckoned we had no option… so we planned our journey, messaged back and forth on ebay, and just before we went I checked Ikea’s website.  Birmingham had nine of the damn things in stock!!!  What’s more, we had to drive straight past it to get to South Wales.

We drove as far as Birmingham, straight into a blanket of snow and slow traffic.  We decided to stop off and check the Birmingham sink situation for ourselves.  After all, the website could well be wrong.  Or there could be a rush on Domsjo sinks. 

We got it.  And a nice meal.  And a lovely walk round (if you’ve ever been to Ikea, you’ll know exactly what I mean).  I phoned the Welsh sink-owner on Ikea carpark with the Brummie sink in our boot.  He was very nice about it.

We got the sink home, and then the real problems started.  It wasn’t meant to go in a corner situation, like I’d planned.  It was a conundrum that took George a couple of days to sort out.  Then the plumber fell off a ladder at another job and broke two bones in his foot.  I don’t mean to be unsympathetic (the poor guy must be in pain), but just as I get a sink I lose a plumber.

I found another though, after about twenty phone calls and a visit from one plumber who seemed confused by the job, and couldn’t give me any idea of cost.  He was followed by the only plumber who’d had the decency to reply to my message.  What a great guy.  SuperPlumber! Nothing was too much trouble, he was quick, came back when needed, and sorted the pipework out.

The sink story isn’t over yet.  The sink is in place, but not yet plumbed.  SuperPlumber can’t get back till Monday, but I’m sure he’ll get my Domsjo plumbed in…

Watch this space!