The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

Archive for the month “December, 2008”

(Mostly) Finished Work

We’re basically finished with our renovation.  There are the smallest things that we still need.  A new light.  A piece of wood.  And of course, lots and lots of decorating!  I’m probably going to change the name of my blog…and add a decorating theme to it so I can show off how it changes with new ‘stuff’ inside.

So here we are.  The before & the after.  The ups and the downs. 

(I have to unearth my good camera cause my casual one that I used during the renovation – due to dust- just doesn’t ‘get’ the colours right)

  Entry before…had worn down carpeting, vinyl flooring and the door led to the galley kitchen.

  New carpet, hardwood flooring, new door leading to 1/2 bath.

  The old study, with purple carpet, white walls & shelves.

  The new study with orange-yellow walls, chocolate brown carpet & a newly painted fireplace surround.

  The old galley kitchen, which led to a shower room & exit.  There was a wall on the left side all the way to the exit.

  The half-bath which is in what used to be the first few feet of the galley kitchen.

        And this is the new kitchen, which is HUGE for a 1930’s house’s kitchen.  We are very excited about it…solid oak, granite, sage green walls, great finishes (including the pull-out tap).

    The old living room & dining area.

And now the new:

 (no more fireplace)

  No more wall in dining area to separate from kitchen…and with our new solid oak table & chairs.

That’s it for now.  It’s getting late.  You can see how many changes were done just in the ground floor.  Amazing, isn’t it?! 

I’ll post more after we have put up pictures and decorated a lot.  Of course, it won’t be finished any time soon, but we hope to have a lot done by the end of January, so I’ll keep posting through to then.  But for now, it’s two weeks of no pics from me…see you in the new year!


The final countdown

So we’re heading toward the end of our work on the house.  We’ll still have a lot of stuff yet to do – like put together beds, wardrobes, etc and do a lot of decorating.  But overall…we’ve very, very close.  So a few pics before the final before & after renovation tour.  (And then I might turn this blog into a decorating blog…).

Note the lovely shine…this will not last for long!

One of the new curtains we’ve picked out.  This wine one will go in the yellow room.

A security light out front.

We’re now all fitted with carpet…a lovely creamish colour in the bedrooms, a toffee in the hall & stairs and chocolate brown in the study.

We have new lights in the upstairs bathroom…but we may have to change them as they constitute mood lighting – so no chance that I could do my makeup in the bathroom…then again the downstairs loo has plenty of light so that may be my new get gorgeous room!

New windows for the kitchen!

Work on the new doors.

More pictures to come (hopefully) tomorrow night…but then not again until the new year.

Quick note…

Roy talked to our contractor with some strong words this morning. They are going to cut a hole in the ceiling and re-insulate the area as requested. I think money may have talked here as well as knowing that we could give recommendations of yay or nay to a lot of Americans with money to spend (in the future). So – we’re hoping that things will go forward well. Our carpet and the rest of the flooring is meant to be in by the end of the week. We’ll be moving a few things in tomorrow (to the loft, which is done), but that majority after we return from the States. Have to hire movers sooner rather than later I think.

Kitchen updates

Despite the upset with the insulation (as described in my last post), there were a few things that have been done well.

Outlets have been installed.  We love the fact that they are silver in colour instead of the typical cream/white.  You can see that they are a bit different in the UK as you have to turn the outlet on to use it (which I kinda like as it saves energy just a touch).  Thanks to suggestions from family, we have a TON of outlets…probably more than we will normally use.

The ‘outlet’ on the left is the phone connection…a great thing to have in a kitchen!

A few finishing touches are being put in the kitchen, from laying the granite worktops (lovely!), to putting in the sink (no pic yet), to putting in the cooker (oven) and the extractor fan (fell in love with this!). 

 This is where our dishwasher is well hidden – they had to ‘build’ the end bit just for it.

 The very dusty granite worksurface.  It’s great – it is black but it has bits of brown/rust in it, which goes very well with the kitchen cabinets.




So everything seems  to be going well.  The kitchen is looking lovely.  It’s kinda on track.  And then, you find something wrong.  Something quite big.

The builders did not insulate the part of the kitchen in the extension.  They had ripped out the ceiling, took out the insulation and put in a new ceiling.  We had asked our contractor if they were replacing the insulation.  He said yes.  And then on Friday night after meeting with the contractor we went to the house.  One of the spotlights in that section was up in the hole, so you could see up into the area above the ceiling.  And there was nothing.  Nada.  They haven’t put in insulation.  We called the contractor immediately and he said he’d check it out.

Today we went to the house.  They had put the lights up in the ceiling so we could no longer see into the holes.  But as we felt the ceiling, we could tell the difference between the insulated area and this area.  Our kitchen extension has a cold ceiling.  Are they trying to hide the fact that they still haven’t done a thing?  We hope not.  Anyway – we’re not paying another penny until this is rectified.  And of course it means that things are going to be put off most likely as they may have to put a hole in to put in the insulation.   And this peeves me off.

A few small moves

A few small things have changed in our London palace.  The upstairs bathroom is very much close to completion; the bedrooms have just a coat or so much more to paint & carpeting to arrive; the kitchen is beginning to come together with the delivery of our cooker (oven); and our flooring in the downstairs is taking shape.

Our hallway light upstairs.  Elegent and yet modern.  We spent a few hours searching for just the right light to compliment the bedroom lights and yet be a bit different.

The old doors were quite beaten up as it was a rental.  So we’ve gotten new doors that have been given a lovely stain – will go well with the colours & flooring.

Our frustratingly compact bathroom is almost ready.  This unit will provide some needed storage and surface area for all my beauty products!  Now where to put the toilet roll?

Below are a few kitchen photos – the interior of the pull-out larder (so excited), the fridge (which has a blue protective covering, though it’s actually stainless steel…here come the magnets) and our new cooker (oven) which is not yet in place.  For those of you who have lived in London, you will appreciate my utter excitement at the size of our fridge freezer, which is why I took an interior fridge pic.




Walls are still being painted downstairs and the flooring is looking good!


Some finishing touches…

It’s been confirmed today by the builder – they will be done at the weekend.  And so the carpet will be laid on a week from Monday.  Which means our move in date on the 17th is final.  Our contractor is going to lend his van and his guys to move all our stuff that day (as well as a few days prior if we want…I’d rather be around).  So there will be massive numbers of changes over the next week…all of which will be shown in pictures!

The downstairs’ lights haven’t really been put in as the painting hasn’t really completed.  The only exception is the hallway light.  As you can see here, we’re going with a more modern feel throughout the ground floor & using a ‘spotlight’ theme.

I like the fact that you can move the lights around to focus on different areas/items in the hallways.

Staying on the ground floor…the tiling in the half-bath is almost done.  They’ve also put down the base for the floor tiles.  I expect that those will be laid tomorrow & grouting will begin soon thereafter.

The kitchen is almost entirely laid to tile.  We were asked which floor board we want for the adjacent living room & so we put down the boards next to the tile & next to the kitchen cabinets.  We decided to go with the darker wood as it’s a bit warmer and will go well with the hallway wood flooring.  Note in the first pic that the flooring is not as red as it shows (nor are the cabinets).  I just didn’t bother to try to fix it.


Upstairs in the bathroom, they’ve put in the cabinet that will host our sink and our toilet.  It currently has a black top but we’re changing it over to something that is tan which will go so much better with the brown/tan tiles.  I think in the future we may get a wood version of this as it would work well with the tiles, but we just didn’t have the budget for it.


You can see from this how small the bathroom is, but that’s London living at times.  Someday I’d love to have a place with a large bathroom but it’s not happening any time soon!

A final little pic…of our new shower head and the water coming out of it…how awesome is this?

Colour & Warmth

Went to the house today and took a few pics…things are moving forward.  The upstairs bathroom is getting there…

In the main bathroom, the tiles are all on the floor & walls with most of the grouting done and the underfloor heating is working.  I could walk on the flooring and it was WARM!!!  I can’t wait to get out of a shower in the winter and feel that mmmmm!  As for the shower, the shower head is amazing…it’s HUGE.  It’s gonna be like standing under a waterfall.  And our towels will be warm due to the heated towel rack.

In the half-bath, they have begun to tile.

The upstairs is pretty much painted.  From the loft bedroom which has new spot lights and a clean white coat of paint, to the hallways which are a lovely light shade of pale yellow.  The bedroom is an amazingly rich apple green (a shade which I can’t take a pic of in the dark and have it turn out…will have to work on that) and the second bedroom is a chiffon yellow.  New lights have been put in both bedrooms.

Downstairs they’ve begun to put in the underfloor heating, which will be in the kitchen, dining area & living room (or rear reception room as it’s called here).  Can’t wait to see what has happened by Sunday, when I can take daylight photos!







As you can see, the place is still quite messy.  But it’s getting there.

Beds and the t.v. cabinet

We have chosen our new beds.  We’re moving to a king size (UK) for our master and we’ll have a double in the guest room.  We are lucky that Roy’s cousin has a showroom, The Original Bedstead Company, in London on King’s Road (near Chelsea football team’s stadium….boo them) and offered us these two beds.  We are grateful and fortunate.


Our master bedroom bed


The bed for our guest bedroom.

I also turned in my own design for a tv cabinet to a wood worker.  He’s the same guy who we’ve bought our table & chairs from.  The reason we decided to do this is that they just don’t seem to have ready made cabinets like I’ve seen in the US, unless you want to spend £1,000’s!  So we’ll see if we can afford what I’ve designed:


The guy said that he would make it look better (cause I’m not a designer) and then get back to me soon about price and potential delivery.

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