The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

More Roses

Very happy that I have not killed the roses.  After dead-heading them all, I was worried that they wouldn’t come back, but they have.  Yes, these are definitely continual blooming roses.  They are growing taller and stronger.  I expect to have them climbing upwards and be more visible from the back of the house within a year or two.  Yay!

Here’s a few pics:

As you can see below, the fire coloured rose is being very prolific.

I also bought two bush roses for the side fence.  They aren’t meant to grow much taller than 4 feet or so.  Very lovely hot pink colour!

Roses

I have never been known for my green thumb.  I’d say I have a brown thumb most of the time.  I can get some things to grow initially, but I tend to be a bit neglectful and they die.  It’s sad. But, in the last few years, I’ve gotten a bit better at growing. Having the internet is helpful, so I can learn how to plant and grow things better (and know how to maintain them).  So, I decided that I’d plant roses in our back garden.  They would do two things: bring some beauty and provide (eventually) some security (thorns).  I went with climbing roses that are meant to be hardy, in the sun and which flower a bit more often.

Unfortunately, I got them during the hottest part of the summer so far, which meant keeping them from dying was a bit more difficult.  It took me a while to get the holes deep enough (tough digging!).  But it finally happened, they were placed in their designated areas.  I had to deadhead all of them shortly after, which made me sad, but there is hope that new flowers would come.  Two of them are proving that (one has tons of new buds and flowers and the other has some buds).  The other two have new leaves coming in, so we’ll see if we get more flowers in the future.

We have the Generous Gardner, which has a very pale pink English rose (one that hasn’t come back in yet):

 

The Warm Welcome with its unusual flame coloured roses:

 

The Crown Princess Margarita which has an apricot coloured rose (we’ll soon see):

And finally, the Pilgrim, which produces a soft yellow rose:

I’m trying to decide if I want to get a few more to plant in the back.  We’ll see.  If so, I’ll definitely post pictures!

Flowers and BBQs

It’s finally feeling a bit more like spring/summer weather and so flowers are coming up in the back garden. While we’re still quite weed infested and have a lot of things to figure out, in terms of what we want in the future, it’s beginning to look a lot better.  Here’s a few pics I took the other week:

 

In addition, my husband decided that he wanted to take on the task of building a brick BBQ for the side garden.  He’ll eventually also build a pizza oven next to it (I can’t wait to bake bread in there).

(it’s not actually wonky – bad camera work on my part)

We still have to clean it up a bit, but I’m quite pleased at what my husband has done.  We ordered a gorgeous (and freaking heavy) cast iron grate, the coal holder and a warming grate.  We’ll have to figure out how to protect the grates from rust, other than bringing it inside all the time. Searching for a suitable cover will begin shortly.

The office decoration

Slowly but surely we’re starting to decorate the house.  We’re working on finding artwork we like and that works with our house.  It’s hard.  Harder than picking out paint colours or deciding kitchen cabinets.

We did add a few pics to our office.  We’re in love.

The first two are pieces of work that I used to have in my counselling office a few years ago at a school.  I love them as they are artwork by my step-father, Fitz.  They bring you in and make you wonder, what is this? Who are they? Are they people? Hmmm…  Perfect for a therapist.

The third piece was chosen by my husband and I’m quite pleased with it. A gorgeous print of the world, with an old world feel. We purchased the print and got it framed (holy expensive, batman).  It has a place of honour behind my couch.

Now our office is not just a swatch of blue.  There are all sorts of interesting items. I love spending time there!

The final video

I know.  It’s been a while. We went on holiday, I got ill, things got in the way…you know the drill. But I finally got a chance to take the final renovation video.  Is the work all done? Not entirely, there’s things to change. But it’s mostly done (and what has to be done isn’t really all that visible).

So, here’s the “before” video.  Definitely check it out first so you can see the changes a lot better.

Youtube video of “before”

And this is our video of “after” (please note that I did not spruce up the house – it’s how we live – and it’s certainly NOT a show home).  Excuse my voice and brain farts.  I did this three times and I guess it’s how my brain works.  It’ll never be perfect.

Youtube video of “after”

If you want to see all the pics I took and saved, you can head to my Flickr album here: click

If you have any questions about where we purchased items, please get in touch.

I’ll update the blog as we put up new paintings, do the outdoors, etc.  Owning a home is a never ending bit of work!

Week 40: new deck

Yup, we’re still going.  It’s basically at the stage of just getting a few fixes in things that aren’t working exactly the way they are meant to, adding a few small thing, etc.  I’m hoping, as per usual, that this week is the final week but who knows. We’ll see.

This week brought about our small deck.  It runs a bit past the length of the folding doors to the back garden.  We’ll put our bbq grill on it and, in the summer, can also relax on chairs out back.  While the dog is a big suspicious of the deck right now (scary cat), I have a feeling he’s going to love it.

The deck is not quite yet finished as I forgot to order the edging materials, but that’s something I can diy, so not too worried about it.   It’s made of composite, so won’t need treatment and will last for ages.  It has a look of real wood and goes well with the fencing we have next to it.  Quite pleased.  We got the materials from eDecks.

I look forward to seeing how we use it on a nice, warm sunny day.  I’m imagining sitting with a lovely glass of wine.

Week 37: liquor cabinet & heating

Nothing much has been happening to the house.  Frustrating but accurate.  Here’s the list of what is left to be done:

1. Sticky master bedroom door needs to be fixed
2. Installing a deck outside the back
3. Fix the above the oven fan
4. Fix the extractor fan in the 1st floor bathroom
5. Finish off the external work – there are a few areas that aren’t completed on the walls, though the scaffolding is down
6. Re-finish the overhang in the front entrance, affix the external light
7. Finish the front entrance (put in brick and drainage)
8. Fix usb ports in living room plugs
9. Work in the garage – holes in the ceiling
10. Install radiator in office
11. Railing from ground floor to 1st floor is not stable.
What has happened?
We got a whole new smart thermostat system put in place.  It’s awesome.  We have the Honeywell Evohome.  It’s fabulous.  On the ground floor, we have a system attached to the underfloor heating and wireless sensors in the kitchen, living room and hallway, so we can set up different temps for each area.  The sensors look like this:
In all of the bedrooms (and eventually the office, once we get a radiator there), we have radiator controllers, which are also wireless.
And we have a controller sitting in our hallway though we can use an app on our phones to control everything as well.  Right now I have everything on a timer, so, for example, it’s cool at night in our master bedroom, warms up at about 6am, cools down again during the day and then warms up at about 6pm until 10pm.  For my mother-in-law, we have it set to be slightly warmer during the night and much warmer during the day as she spends so much time in her room.  I love the ability to make rooms as warm or cold as necessary, thus saving money and making it comfortable for those who are in the room.
The second thing we’ve done is to purchase a liquor cabinet.  You’d think that with all the space/storage in the new kitchen, we wouldn’t need such a thing, but it was getting annoying to have to pull out the island chairs every time we wanted to get a wine glass or some gin.  Certain things didn’t fit under there so we couldn’t place the alcohol in more reasonable locations.  So, a liquor cabinet it was – plus it gave us a place to put our tv (which is not shown in the picture below as we did that afterwards).  You can see the new chairs next to the cabinet too!
This piece of furniture was from IKEA.  It’s the Arkelstorp sideboard.  It’ll be handy to put some of the dishes we use for entertaining as well (example, I added the tea set after this picture).  It means we no longer have any items above the wall cabinets, leaving a much cleaner look.
That’s it.  We’re almost there (yes, I say that every week).  Can’t wait for the final video. One day.

Week 36: a bed and toaster

We’re still waiting for everything to be finalised. Yup, waiting.  I’m hoping that it’ll happen soon as we’ve made a few decisions, such as having a small deck instead of a step coming out of the back folding door.  It won’t be very big, but at least big enough to put our bbq grill, and allow Barney, our dog, to lie out in the sun.  We’re trying to decide between wood and composite.

Barney is happy as we purchased him a new bed for the living room.  As an older dog, he’s struggling a bit with the hardwood flooring, so we bought him a very, very large pillow/bed.  It takes up a lot more space than I expected but it fits him, even when sprawled out fully.

Barney, the bed and his favourite black sockie.

We had to buy a new toaster as my husband broke the old one.  The old toaster had done it’s job for a long time (probably 9 to 10 years).  I searched quite a bit for a replacement.  There’s a LOT of options out there, but the one thing I knew I wanted was a four piece toaster.  Oh, and I’d prefer one that was either black or silver.  I looked at the ratings and the one we bought came in quite highly rated for its price.  So, here it is:

I love the look.  I think it’s fabulous.  And it has the features I wanted.  Hopefully, it will work well too!  (DeLonghi Black Brilliante 4 slice toaster)

Week 34: a table arrives

The new table has arrived and it’s gorgeous.  It’s a VERY dark brown (almost ebony) stained oak.  It fits so nicely in the space.  It’s a shame the chairs we ordered aren’t here as well (different company) but our current chairs will work perfectly fine.

 

What’s really cool about the table is that you can remove the two leafs on top and you get this…

 

 

Yes, it’s also a pool table.  And a nice one at that.  We ordered it few months ago and it was made for us, with our own specifications by Michael Allen Luxury Pool Tables.  We went to their showroom in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, a good hour and a half away.  So worth it.

Roy is very happy with the results and thinks that it’s a fab pool table.  It came with everything – we’ll be putting up the cue holder on one of the recessed walls, which will hold the four cues included.  We were also given the balls, triangle, brush and chalk.  It’s going to be a fabulous addition to the very social kitchen space.

Week 33: you take the good…

There are quite a few things going well in the house right now so I decided to post afterall.  The first is that we actually have a working dishwasher and it’s better than I knew it would be.  We have a Siemens IQ700 dishwasher and it has a few features that are wonderful (or just fun):

In the fun category…the blue light.

In the useful category – you can put down every single prong on this thing, so you could do some major pots, if you were so inclined.  You can also move the middle and upper levels so that you can give more space to the bottom or top.  There’s also an attachment so you can put in baking trays. And the top level?  It’s a cutlery space  Wild, eh?  (I know, middle age has hit me hard when I get excited about such things)

I’m also loving the washing machine and dryer.  The washing machine is also from Siemens and the dryer is from Bosch.  It’s an amazing thing to be able to wash and dry a few loads of laundry in one day.

For those of you not in the know (aka, haven’t lived in London), most people have their washing machines in their kitchens due to space considerations.  And many do not have dryers for the same reason.  Luckily, we have a little space where the new boiler went that fit the dryer.

One of the other things I put in that room is a special hanging rod that you can fold away unless you are using it.  So, I can take my husband’s shirts out of the dryer and hang them immediately. LESS IRONING!

The tap and sink are finally working/installed on the island.  It’ll be great for veg and quick hand washes.

Another welcome addition to the island (and I’m currently using this one) are plugs on the sides.  We had hoped they would be placed more “inside” the island but it just didn’t work out.  This is fine.  On one end we have a plug with USB ports and the other is just a normal outlet.

So, things are looking up. We have some external lights, our security system seems to be doing what it is meant to be doing and we recently had a visit from Sky who connected my mother-in-law’s box to the dish, so she’s happy.  Hopefully all the work will be finalised shortly.  Not much more to come.

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