The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

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.

Week 32: not yet…but the small things I love

We’re not quite done.  I know, it seems so long.  It has been.  But we have had some good stuff happen.  We now have a working fridge.  Yay!  No more “not working so well” mini-fridge.  We have curtains on two of the rooms and at least privacy sheers on the front of the house.  Barney is adapting to living here (even if the people coming to work on the house freak him out a lot). The bathroom we use is amazing, the living room comfortable, we just got our alarm system put in (feeling safer already) and I’m almost completely unpacked.  Unfortunately, the dishwasher has been found to be blown and our washing machine decided to take a walk the first time I used it, so I still wash dishes by hand (not a big deal) and have been going to the old house to do laundry (boo), though I get to bring it back to a dryer which is amazing (soft towels for the first time in 12-1/2 years).  Luckily, after writing this draft, they fixed the washing machine so I’ll be able to do it all here.  They are still working on the exterior.  And the front and back gardens are a mess.

I decided to take pics of my favourite things for now.  I’ll post, finally, when I take the video of everything done (probably before the back garden is finished but that’s okay).  And I’ll post where we purchased everything in case something strikes your fancy.

So, here they are…my favourite things:

You can't really get a good feel of it from this photo but it's gorgeous. Such a lovely mix of blacks, blues and greys with little flecks of light (mica?).

You can’t really get a good feel of it from this photo but it’s gorgeous granite on the kitchen counters.  Such a lovely mix of blacks, blues and greys with little flecks of light (mica?).

 

We have some lovely fireplaces but this is my favourite. It's so different from anything else I've ever seen.

We have some lovely fireplaces but this is my favourite. It’s so different from anything else I’ve ever seen.

 

Our bathroom makes me so happy. The light coming in from the windows brings me joy. The whole thing has come together really nicely.

Our bathroom makes me so happy. The light coming in from the windows brings me joy. The whole thing has come together really nicely.

 

The door handles are so different from what was here before. They are soft on the hand and look elegant. A perfect fit for the age of the home (1920s/30s).

The door handles are so different from what was here before. They are soft on the hand and look elegant. A perfect fit for the age of the home (1920s/30s).

 

The rug under our dining table. It's a great mix of colours from navy blue to teal to pink to green, etc. Brings a shot of colour to a room that is very light, white and pale grey.

The rug under our dining table. It’s a great mix of colours from navy blue to teal to pink to green, etc. Brings a shot of colour to a room that is very light, white and pale grey.

 

Another bit of colour in our kitchen. And SO COMFY!

Another bit of colour in our kitchen. And SO COMFY!

 

The herringbone pattern of our white subway tiles in the kitchen is classic but a bit different. Perfect for the shaker kitchen.

The herringbone pattern of our white subway tiles in the kitchen is classic but a bit different. Perfect for the shaker kitchen.

 

It's not perfect or gorgeous but it works perfectly for us. Our front entry has enough hooks for all our coats, places to put our sneaker/trainers and any winter items, as well as Barney's leads and collars. It works.

It’s not perfect or gorgeous but it works perfectly for us. Our front entry has enough hooks for all our coats, places to put our sneaker/trainers and any winter items, as well as Barney’s leads and collars. It works.

 

Being organised. Having the space to be organised. It's tough to bring together two households worth of items (my mother-in-law had a LOT that we got rid of and I had a LOT that I got rid of), so it's nice that we could get it all put together. You should see the cabinet with the five types of dal - all organised in labelled jars as I'd have no clue).

Being organised. Having the space to be organised. It’s tough to bring together two households worth of items (my mother-in-law had a LOT that we got rid of and I had a LOT that I got rid of), so it’s nice that we could get it all put together. You should see the cabinet with the five types of dal – all organised in labelled jars as I’d have no clue).

Week 29-1/2: We’re in, Problems and Joys

It’s been an interesting few weeks since last I wrote.  There have definitely been some serious ups and down.  2016 is turning out to be quite the year in so many ways.  I apologise as this is going to be a bit long.  If you just want pictures, scroll to the bottom.

On Dec 19 we had an appointment with the UK Power Networks.  They never showed up despite me staying at home and not showering, which was so frustrating.  They then said they’d come before 1pm on the 20th.  It had to be then for two reasons – I had an eye appointment and we were also meant to get our alarm in on the 20th.  Again, they didn’t show. Due to not having power, we were unable to have them put it in.  I was so peeved.  (And we’re not going to be able to get it down until some time in the new year, darn it.)  My husband and I then call bombed them until they basically got someone to show – around 8pm on the 20th. Yay!

And then, it all went horribly wrong.  The guy started testing things – and everything started to blow – you could hear cracks and pops.  He stopped.  I called my contractor.  He told the guy what he thought was wrong.  The guy checked it out and then called more guys in – eventually they showed up at around 10pm.  Yup, it was going to be a long night.  The same two guys who showed up initially and turned off our power were the ones who showed up again.  AND YES – they were the problem.  The work they did initially ruined our system.  So, they dug it up, changed things and at 2:30am, they were essentially done.  But we had to have an electrician in the next day to fix the internals.  Finally, we had electricity.  But we also had a hole at the side of the house.

At least having power meant we could move.  So, we moved on Friday, 23rd of December.  We had asked the contractor to make sure everything was turned on.  Problem.  The guys had blown the brand new fridge freezer, the dishwasher, the extractor fan as well as multiple lights.  We were worried about the electrical  underfloor heating in the bathroom, but it worked.  It kinda screwed up the fan in there, though.  We soldiered through.  And discovered that the sinks were not plumbed in and no one was available to come fix ’em up.  So, no washing dishes.  Paper plates and plastic forks it was.  Boo.  We also, unfortunately, discovered that the washing machine was not fully plumbed in after a minor floor in the kitchen – we caught it quickly.

Here’s a few pics from the move:

We took over one of the rooms for all the boxes in the kitchen as the guys were still doing some work when we arrived.

 

We put together a small front entry place to hang coats and place shoes (no shoes allowed in our house).  As you can see, more boxes, and an excitable Barney.

 

Our new living room with our old couches and chairs as well as a new coffee table.

 

The old kitchen table with a new rug.

 

A warm master bathroom!

 

Stools at the island.  They are a bit brighter than I expected (ordered online) but I love them as they are a good pop of colour and are very comfy.

We had a delivery from IKEA coming tomorrow as well as a guy from Samsung to check out our fridge.  We’ll be talking to the manufacturers of our extractor fan and dishwasher as well to see if this is covered under warranty.  If not, UK Power Networks are bound to pay for new appliances.  I can’t wait to have a fridge that works (other than my mother-in-law’s old, not so cold mini-fridge).

We also don’t have a phone line, internet or cable at this point, which is driving us both a bit crazy.  We got unlimited internet on our phones but we can only use up to 6GB of data porting to our computers (I’m at our old house as we still have internet there so I could upload the pics and write this post.) .  I hope we get all three very, very soon!

On the positive side, the contractor came today and plumbed in one of the sinks and the washing machine.  We have a working dryer (it wasn’t plugged in at the time of the electrical issue).  I can do laundry tomorrow and not have to hang it up!!!   I love quite a lot about the house – it’s so much more open and airy.  I love the granite we chose.  Barney is having fun playing chase around the entire ground floor. Our new bed and mattress is amazing (King size).  Our new bathroom is just about perfect.  And the house is warm.

Despite all the issues, I’m happy that the house is coming together and that we’re there.  Once things have fully settled and the work is entirely done, I’ll do a final video and pictures so you can see before and after.  I’ll also list where I bought everything and more about our contractor just in case you want any info.

Post Navigation