Tag Archives: wall

Lots of grain, lots of pain

We’ve not really been blogging much recently. Sorry, have you missed us?!

“What’s been stopping you entertaining us with your witty musings” I hear you cry. In a word, dear reader? SANDING.

The sanding box of doom. The sight of it makes my heart sink.

The sanding box of doom. Just the sight of it makes my heart sink.

Now, I am the Queen of Underestimating at the best of times but this time, woah, holy moly, that’s some serious work. Every single bit of wood in this house (except the ‘we’ll do it next year’ study and bathroom) has been lovingly rubbed, smoothing the way for a more elegant future.

I don’t think we realised just how much wood there was in this house or how fiddly sanding it all would be.

Original architraving and skirting is certainly stunning but the nooks and crannies hide varnished crimes that stubbornly refuse to be shifted.

We also never realised just how evil the sticky reddy brown varnish would be to get off. We were originally quite joyful at the lack of gloss in this house and yet half way through would have given anything for some simple gloss to go at!

We’ve spent weeks covered in icky red dust. Weeks covered in a film of skank. Weeks wheezing and puffing our way through misty clouds that gets EVERYWHERE! And don’t even get me started on the state of our poor hands.

Of course, we had an added problem – our plasterer. I’m not sure its possible to have found a tradesman who was messier or more inconsiderate. There were dribbles and lumps of plaster everywhere – we would frequently disappear behind clouds of plaster dust only to emerge angry and swearing.

He had also managed to get PVA all over the woodwork, and that stuff clogs up a sander faster than drunk chavs in Maccie Ds on a Friday night.

So, the plasterer has become He Who Must Not Be Named because of the extra mess and time he has cost us. Throughout our sanding ordeal Oly has very nearly needed anger management because of Him.

And yet, triumphantly we have now finished the sanding. Woohoo!! It honestly feels like a bit of a turning point.

Clearly sanding isn’t all we’ve been up to but it has totally dominated – we reckon we’ve done about 60 hours each.

We’ve actually just had a week of leave and are now absolutely exhausted, not having stopped work till about 10pm each night. We’ve really just returned to work for a break (Oly even started a new job today!)

There are however more exciting things we can blog about and will do soon. For now, we’re just giddy to see the back of the sanding.

So the next time you have a friend or family member embarking on any type of renovation, don’t offer to give them a hand with the painting, do some emulsioning for them or even suggest a paint party* – just help them out with a bit of sanding, they’ll love you forever.

purvs corner Haworth*We did consider telling our friends we’d get the pizza and beers in if they’d come to our Rub-Down Party.

Decided against it in the end, sounded a touch pervy.

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Which way do you hang Lotus wallpaper? A Facebook debate

We decided to upload a couple of pics of our lovely new kitchen diner to Farrow and Ball’s fabulous inspiration site.

I find it so useful looking at other people’s projects – whether my taste or not – and particularly like to see how paint colours turn out in different areas;  incredibly helpful for choosing. So we thought we’d do our bit by sharing our pics, we’re gracious like that.

F&B accepted the pictures onto their site last week, all was good.  Then I was a bit surprised to browse Facebook yesterday and see a pic of my own kitchen staring back at me in the news feed!

Facebook

It was shared by Farrow and Ball with the message “What do you think of this kitchen recently uploaded to our Inspiration site? Anything you’d change or perfect as it is?”

Now, there was a fair bit of love for the piccie (over 400 likes to date and 40+ shares) however there was also much hatred. And you know what? It didn’t bother us at all; it was just amusing how unnecessarily vicious strangers feel they have the right to be.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I dare say we wouldn’t like a lot of their homes so we don’t particularly care if they don’t like ours.

However, the comments that were actually annoying were the ones about the fact we had hung the wallpaper upside down. Facebook’s arm-chair interior designers chose to call us ‘idiots’, ‘knobs’ and ‘cocks’ because of it.  (But we’ve probably been called worse over more important things than wallpaper……)

Lotus BP 2061Lotus BP 2061Anyway, the lovely Lotus paper can be hung either way, it’s a matter of preference.

We spent a long time deciding and discussing the merits of both ways :

“It looks like cupped hands”, “It’s a smile”, “It’s a frown”, “I can see a beard now”, “That’s a weird jellyfish”, “Do you just see lady bits?” and so on.

But we chose the way we wanted it, up it went and we bloody adore it. We know it’s not to everyone’s taste and, honestly, we couldn’t give a monkeys.

However, I was very pleased that F&B graced their comment thread with the following:

“We love how passionate everyone is about this! As with anything aesthetic, subjectivity is the watch-word of the day – everyone’s opinion counts here and we welcome both positive comments and constructive criticism… We also thank the owner of this home for adding their photos to our inspiration site to help inspire others.

With regard to the direction of the Lotus pattern, this can be hung either way depending on personal preference. This is a common quandary and we have previously created a board on Pinterest to show how Lotus looks hung both ways. Included in this board is a picture of the original inspiration behind our Lotus pattern, taken from 19 century French archives: http://pinterest.com/farrowball/lotus-wallpaper-hung-both-ways/

Original Lotus paper inspiration

And here is that lovely original inspiration for the Lotus pattern from 19th century French archives  –  adapted and simplified to become the Farrow & Ball Lotus design.

Oh, well, now, will you look a that?! It’s the same way up as our wallpaper.

IN YOUR FACE FACEBOOK CRITICS!!!!!

Sorry, couldn’t help cheering. I guess that’s why we’re knobs/cocks/idiots. But we knew that already.

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Filth

Getting tired of looking at this

We don’t seem to have much luck with plasterers. The first one we tried to contract broke his leg just after leaving our house.

The second kept cancelling and eventually we had to sack him off.

The third got started around 10 days ago. When we say ‘got started’ that’s probably being generous. It’s taken him days to really get started. He’ll turn up, do a bit and then either have to go and tax his car, get fitted for a suit for his brother’s wedding, smoke a fag or or run some other mysterious errand.

We’ve discovered several key facts about our plasterer since he’s been (occasionally) in our house:

  • He works at a slow pace. Treacle would give him a run for his money
  • He’s a bit stupid (sorry, but it’s true) so needs to be told the same thing on several occasions
  • His bucket has a leak in it and it will flood into your new kitchen diner from above, through the light fitting (no lasting harm done thankfully)
  • He can eat his own body weight in biscuits
  • And above all? He’s really really really messy.

Admittedly, we always knew the plastering stage would be a touch messy given the state of the walls and the artex ceilings but  he gets it EVERYWHERE.

We won't be having overnight guests any time soon

We won’t be having overnight guests any time soon

We now feel like we’re living in a bit of a building site and, I’m ashamed to say, we’re not even attempting to clean it up each day. I’m too ashamed to even share the photographic evidence. We are living like pigs, surrounded by plaster filth and detritus.

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

So, all in, we are finding our patience is exceedingly stretched and we’re not really getting anywhere fast. Still, he’s an honest lad, desperate to do a good job. We had been hopeful it would all be completed within the 3 week timescale he originally gave us but that is looking more and more unlikely – particularly as he ended up in A&E last week with chest pains……turns out he’s torn a muscle in his chest, right by his heart. How? Stretching to do our ceilings. Ooops. So, now there’ll be a few days off whilst he recovers from that.

Will we ever get rid of the artex that plagues us?! Even the cat is getting stroppy.

Meanwhile, we are limping towards the finish line with our kitchen diner. All will be revealed soon – promise! – but it’s looking, quite frankly,  incredible and is the one thing maintaining our sanity. Just.

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Strippers

IMG_2283

We have a lot of wall. Here’s the maths:

The ceiling is generally 3m away in most rooms 

+

The total internal sq meterage of the property is 191

=

A lot of wall. Fact.

Every single one of our walls was papered. Some had lining paper too, many had several coats of paint on top of the wallpaper.

Yep, in the last couple of months we’ve done more stripping than a cheap hooker in an Amsterdam window.

IMG_2288

Oly’s brother lends a hand

In some rooms it came off in great long, satisfying strips – like a ready-to-pick knee scab.

The back bedroom was one of the best rooms for this and we also uncovered this curious declaration:

Wilb loves Deev

Love graffiti. Who the hell are Wilb and Deev?!

In other rooms it unveiled impressive cracks:

Bedroom crack

The bedroom crack, also the homepage header. Recognise it?

In some areas it pulled huge wads of crumbling plaster with it:

Ooops.

Ooops.

But most of  all it just stubbornly clung to the walls, impervious to steam. However, we got there in the end and learnt a few things along the way.

  • Anyone who attempts to get wallpaper off without a steamer is, quite frankly, an idiot.
  • Wallpaper is surprisingly heavy when bagged up.
  • You will need a lot of bags and a lot of trips to the tip.
  • The steam is excellent for asthma and also a great mini facial.
  • Steam burns.
  • You will be covered in what we eloquently described as Wallpaper Jizz.

We also had lots of reproduction (cheap) plaster mouldings to contend with and they’ve left a bit of a mess where they’ve been chipped off.

It took two of them to work this out

It took two of them to work this out

And so this is what we’ve been left with and have been living with for weeks.

Kind of a mess? Huh? Our plan had been to get cracking with the plastering on all the walls (and the hideous ceilings) as soon as we could however the electrics threw a major spanner in the works – no point plastering when we needed rewiring and investigation.

However, that’s all now sorted and we can finally begin the plaster work. We have been warned about the total disruption, the mess and the dust but, to be honest, we’re not sure the house can get much worse at the moment. And besides, there’s always whisky.

Come on! Let’s get plastered!!

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When we fell in love with a map

The Future Mapping Company shop

Small but perfect shop

When we were in the very early stages of planning our dining area we knew we were going to paint it a shade of grey (in the end we opted for Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White) and we also knew we’d need to inject a pop of colour. On a rainy day last January in East London we found the answer.

It was peeing it down  and we were at Columbia Road Flower Market – we’d made a special trip back there to replace (as far as one can) stolen wedding jewellery after we were burgled.

There’s a great vintage shop called Glitterati which is where we were heading; treading the steps my beloved mum used to when she nursed in that area back in the 1950s.

However, partly because we wanted to escape the rain and partly because Oliver is a huge map fan, we dived into a tiny little shop called the Future Mapping Company.

On the back wall of the shop – which was, incidentally, about the width of the shop – was a fabulous 2m x 1m world map in shades of green.

Future Mapping Company's world map

Future Mapping Company’s world map

After gazing at it a while we got chatting to the seller who told us how it is drawn using equal-area projection to represent countries in their correct proportional size. It’s then printed using a lithographic process, with special colours, including silver metallic for the seas. The print is finished with a sealer, to protect the inks, and a gloss UV varnish is applied to the landmasses – for contrast.

Oly was sold, he wanted it and we knew – instantly- which wall it was destined for.

To save lugging it in the rain we ordered it when we got home (free shipping!) and it then spent several glum months in a cardboard tube.

The talented Robin Taylor then did a superb job of framing it for us – not an easy job on something this size, particularly when we didn’t want glass so’s not to obscure the print perfection.

And now, finally, we have been able to hang it.

IMG_2689

Perfect against the Cornforth White walls, – ceiling is in Strong White and it’s All White on woodwork and cornice

Future Map

Litho print with metallics and gloss UV

Map

Looking good with DownPipe cabinets in the background

Pretty as a picture – what’s not to love about a map?

The size of our wall somewhat dwarfs the 2m x 1m map in the pictures but, in real life, it looks very impressive and achieves the shot of colour we wanted.

Oly has already been lost to the wonder of the map, idly gazing. I suspect he won’t be the last.

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Kitchen diner day 1

Our biggest project has started! Having returned from a much-needed break in Corfu we set about clearing the utility room:

And then the lounge, which looked immediately better as soon as the dark red carpet was ripped up (and duly freecycled!):

We then took the opportunity in the empty room to measure up for the dining table we’re having made.

Why use a tape measure when a 6'2'' Oliver will do?

Why use a tape measure when a 6’2” Oliver will do?

The next day, it was all change as the (already false) wall came down pretty quickly:

Out came the mouldings and the fire surround:

Now, it’s no exaggeration to say that when this was all done and tidied up for the day, we just stood in the space and repeatedly exclaimed, in a soap opera stylee:  “Oh. My. God.” (and some choice expletives).

We really hadn’t been able to visualise how it could look and just how huge and cavernous it feels, let alone how lovely and light it would be.

Looking towards what will be the dining area

Looking towards what will be the dining area

Looking towards what will be the kitchen end

Looking towards what will be the kitchen end

So, that’s what 14 by 30 feet looks like. Who knew?!

We suspect the changes over the next few days will not be as dramatic, but can’t wait to find out.

We’re now incredibly excited about realising our dream space, a tiny bit apprehensive that what we’ve chosen will all come together but, above all else, very pleased with ourselves that we were able to spot this potential. (We’re just not thinking about the cost………..)

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The cat tunnel

Any cat owner knows that the cat rules the house. We are, unfortunately, no different and a constant conversation as soon as we had put the offer in was what to do about The Humph.

Humph

Our master

There were two issues for consideration.

1) In our previous house he had a cat flap in the back door and so was very used to, and loved, freedom. It also meant that when we go away for a couple of nights he is entirely independent – with the aid of an automatic pet feeder. So, no debate, we needed to install a cat flap.

2) He has to be confined at night. He is an almighty pain in the arse in the middle of the night – if he can get to your bedroom door he will bang, pluck and whine until you give in. He then either wants food or fuss, usually both. In our previous house we would just shut the lounge door and he’d be confined downstairs, free to come and go through the back door flap. Yet in this house the back door is in the hallway.

So, a flap in the back door was never really an option unless we were to build a Humph Gate to stop him getting up the stairs (we did actually consider this for all of 10 seconds). Also, cat flaps really aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing so we weren’t keen on it in the hallway.

That’s when we started googling ‘cat flap through a wall’ and found out that it could indeed be done. The kitchen – that will become the utility room – was decided upon and so we paid the handsome fee of £150 to do this:

His very own escape tunnel

It’s the ‘small dog, big cat’ flap. We haven’t told him so he can’t get body image issues.

Of course, as we are learning, this house is never straight-forward and there were inevitably electric wires running through the wall that needed diverting – hence the high price tag for the work.

The site of the tunnel also meant he popped out the other side into a drain so our friendly builder constructed a step with random stuff he found in the garden.

Cat tunnel and step

A small step for man, a giant step for The Humph

The cat tunnel

Thinking about it – when not distracted by the very old floor tiles

Will he fit?

Will he fit?

Success!

Success!

So, all is well once more as he has his freedom. A friend commented that we were crazy to spend this money and were we not concerned it will affect the future house price because now there is a hole in the back wall. Yeah, she doesn’t have a cat.

At least we didn’t pay for this:

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