The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

Archive for the category “lighting”

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 25: more painting and electrical stuff

I passed on the paints to the guys on Friday, for them to do the work on Saturday and Sunday.  Here’s what we chose:

Dulux Trade (only paints we’ll use) Chiffon White 4 for the hallways and stairs:

It’s a good neutral which will go with both my mother-in-law’s vanilla based bedroom & bathroom colour, as well as the blues, greys and yellows we are using on the ground and first floor.

For the kitchen we’re using Dulux Trade Quartz Flint 4, a pale grey which will work with the cabinets:


And finally, the living room.  Yeah, we went for it. Bright blue.  It’s not as bright in person, painted as the tub of paint would make you think…but it’s still quite a lovely bright blue. Dulux Trade Royal Regatta 3:

Here is what it looks like in person with the new lights (chandelier and wall lights).

The kitchen and hallway/staircases haven’t been painted yet as they are still working on some plastering and prep work.

What has been done are a lot of the lights:

The entry/front hall light.  I wanted something that wasn’t too imposing but still was a bit different.

The shabby chic light in our guest bedroom (more off white than grey, unlike this pic).

I used the old living room light for the exercise/guest/tv room.

Our office light.

I’m going to hold off from sharing my bedroom lights mainly because the pics I took of them just weren’t great.  Next time you see the master bedroom, it’ll be fully finished.

A few bathroom details have been added, though neither my mother-in-law’s nor our master bathroom is fully finished.

My MIL’s bathroom – added the towel rack and mirrored cabinet.

Our lit mirror (which also has a demister).  It’s the same width as the cabinets which means I won’t have to share with my husband (yay!).

Our towel rack, which I love, love, love.  It is so different from anything else I saw out there.

And our shower…with an extra handset on the tub filler (which will make it easier to wash my hair while luxuriating in the tub).

We were meant to have our worktops in the kitchen put in, but there were a few issues that came up.  I’m hoping that we’ll be ready to get them by the end of the week.  We shall see.  We still have to have the ground floor waxed, which will take up two days of work and then need at least 2-4 days to dry enough to really do much on it.  We can’t move in until at least a week after this has happened.

Our carpet is scheduled to be put in on Dec 7 and we’d like to move in on Dec 16.  That’s only 2-1/2 weeks away.  Will it happen?  I’m guessing no.  I’d love to schedule the move but I’m just not ready to do it. Bah.

Week 24: little details and exterior

Possibly three weeks to go (hahahaha) until the work in the house will be done.  Nah.  Probably not.  But, we are hoping for pre-Christmas.  We’ve put off our holiday and Roy will be around to help me decorate.

I’ve started to search for specific items for within the house and we found the pendant lights we’ll use above the island.  My husband doesn’t like most of my entry way (front hall) light suggestions as he sees them as outdoor lights, so I’m trying to come up with a compromise.  What do you think of those below?


We’ve begun to figure out what we’re doing for our kitchen/dining table.  My husband has researched something a bit different – a pool table which can become a dining table. Very different.  He actually found one I like.  So we’re considering it.  We measured the space and there should be enough for a small table (6′ by 3′) which will have a table top along with the pool table bit.  We’re still trying to figure out the exact colour of the wood as well as what sort of chairs, but my husband would prefer fabric covered chairs, so I think we’ll go with it.

We have definitely found the stool we’ll use for our island (we’ll get 4):

The colour will work well with our island pendants (gives you a hint as to what they’ll look like) plus they are adjustable.

Some of the small changes around the house…

The exteriors of houses in London are quite different from what I was used to in the States.  The house I grew up with had vinyl siding, some of the houses nearby had wood siding and some in the cities I lived where brick. But NONE had pebble dashing.  What is that?

Also known as roughcast, pebble dashing is a coarse plaster surface used on outside walls that consists of lime, and sometimes cement mixed with other items.[1] The materials are mixed into a slurry and are then thrown at the working surface with a trowel or scoop. The idea is to maintain an even spread, free from lumps, ridges or runs and without missing any background.  It was used a lot in the 1920 and 1930s as it was easy to do and didn’t need a lot of skill (due to WWI there were a lot of skill sets missing).  It also lasted a very long time and was cheap.  I think it’s SUPER ugly.  Below is an example similar to our house:

Ours was damaged with all the house work so we’re getting new rendering.  What you can see in the pics above is the insulation that is under the render.  We’re using K-Rend, which is a silicone product that goes over insulation.  We’re doing exterior insulation as the walls could not be insulated (typically houses built in a similar era had cavity walls – this type of house does not, so cannot be internally insulated) and then the render will be put on top.  We chose a grey (granite) which is a medium grey colour. As we live on a busy street in London, the exhaust tends to colour lighter coloured houses, making them look dirty.  We’re hoping that this colour will help.

The electrics (plugs, switches, etc) are slowly being put in place. I really like what I selected, which is a brushed steel.  We also have the new underfloor heating thermostat in place for our master bathroom – yay!

So, what’s coming up this week? I’m expecting that the rest of the electrics will be put in, that the lights on the 1st and 2nd floors will be installed (other than the hallway), and that they’ll begin to paint the halls and staircase walls.  I know they are doing the rest of the prep work for the walls in the kitchen and living room, so may get to painting those as well.  We’ll see.

On Tuesday, we’re having a guy come to quote for the carpet on the staircases, 1st floor hallway, 2nd floor bedroom and the office.  We have carpet for the other bedrooms, so we’ll get a quote for re-instillation. We went to pick out the carpets this weekend with my mother-in-law who approved the colours.  We’re doing a champagne colour on the 2nd floor (mother-in-law’s room) which hopefully will go with the vanilla yellow walls, a pale grey in the office (to go with the denim blue) and an ash colour for the stairs/hallway – similar to this (in colour & style) which is a good neutral:


We selected our beds and mattresses.  I have to say that our favourite bed company is the Original Bedstead Co.  We already own several of their beds.  We are getting a super king for ourselves and a twin/single for my mother-in-law (it’s what she wants).  We also own the Arran bed in chrome and the Virginia in satin white.  Fabulous!  Here’s what we’re getting:

Mother-in-law’s bed.

Our bed

Week 23: coming together?

Yup, I skipped a week.  There really wasn’t much to see, though stuff was getting done.  So I decided to wait a week and show you better what has happened.

On the downside: I arrived on Friday to meet up with the guys doing the template for the worktops and found water coming through the ceiling.  The guys working there don’t have fabulous English so I couldn’t understand what happened.  But it definitely means that I’ll be making them take down the plasterboard there as I don’t want mould.  The worst part – it was coming through the hole made for one of the lights and dripping down wires.  Yeah, safe.  Luckily, not connected.  In addition, we still don’t have electricity.  Oh, well.

UPDATE: saw our contractor yesterday.  He had heard nothing about it so I’m glad that I was there.  He’s going to be investigating and, yes, he will definitely remove all the bad plaster, etc.

On the upside: painting has continued, switches have begun to be put in, lighting has arrived, sanding of the floors has been achieved and we had the guys in to do the measurements for the granite.  The kitchen still has a lot of work to yet be done but it’s moving forward.  Lots of pictures!

Lots of lights (there are more!) and switches and plugs

The navy of the master bedroom

Master bathroom blue

Newly painted feature fireplace in mother-in-law’s bedroom

The template being measured


A few pics from the template

The big sink

Handles on the kitchen drawers and cabinets

Newly sanded oak floors

The mess that still exists on the 1st floor (2nd floor for those Americans reading)

It’s very exciting that things are moving forward.  I really can’t wait for it to finish!


Week Nine – more plastering, decisions on hold

A few small changes have happened as we’ve finished week nine.  Basically, plastering, electrics and plumbing have continued.  It’s not glamorous or pretty, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

The floors are still coming up in the kitchen area, but we haven’t been able to move to begin the extension as we have to make some changes and our architect is on holiday for two weeks (and the structural engineer doesn’t seem to want to return calls).  At least there is plenty for our contractor to do in the other floors.  This will push back the finishing time a bit.  Oh, well!

The wall has gone up in one of the doorways to the kitchen.  It’s going to make a huge difference.  We’ll now be able to do laundry without worrying about getting a door in the back.  Yay!

They installed the skylight into the loft bathroom and have figured out where the toilet, etc, will be placed.

We’re going to be making some changes to the front of the house.  With the installation of the windows, the plaster/pebble-dashing came off in chunks.  So we’re going to have the contractor remove all the plaster (YAY – it’s ugly), put new smooth plaster on and paint it white, which will go nicely with the red brick.

Week Seven – small changes

This week brings with it a few small changes and a few concerns and possibilities.

Possibility: to be able to lower the floor so that we have higher ceilings.  Most of the 1920s houses in London seem to have very high ceilings.  Our house doesn’t really.  But there is a LOT of space under the house so we can move the floors down (which is good, especially as we’re doing underfloor heating in the entire ground floor).  This will be a great thing.  You can see below all the space under the kitchen that exists:


Can we fit in the bi-folding doors that we want?  Can we fit the kitchen furniture that we ordered? TBD.

The little changes – they have begun to plaster a bit and rip things off the walls.  The master bedroom has been pretty much stripped.  Lighting and electrics are being laid.

Main bathroom – ready for lights & plastering.

No more pine cladding or ceilings or plastered walls in the master bedroom

Plastering has begun in the office and in the loft bedroom.

We can see that things are coming together a bit more but it also means there are more questions.  We shall see what comes over the next few weeks.  I’ll post again in two weeks.


So, we met with our builder yesterday.  While installing the fire alarms (they are heat sensitive and have to be wired in throughout the house due to regs), he discovered a few bad things:

  1. There appeared to have been a leak into the extension ceiling (kitchen) next to a light.  So, part of the ceiling was bad.
  2. The light wiring was done completely wrong in the kitchen – they had the junction box in the wrong place, they used the wrong types of wiring and lights.
  3. The above caused burning of a joist in at least one place in the ceiling.  Yes, fire.
  4. They used the wrong insulation in the ceiling, and it’s one that could have very easily caught fire due to the wiring/lights.

What does this mean?  They are going to have to pull down the entire ceiling, see what the damage is, fix what needs to be fixed and then we’ll have to buy all new lights.

Unfortunately, the guy who did the original work is out of business, or we’d sue him for all of this.  We were very naive when we had the work done originally and there were so many shortcuts that this guy took.  He was clearly a cowboy builder in a lot of ways.

Sigh.  One more expense to be had.  More time taken up. Bah!

Week 10: almost there

Holy cow.  The work is almost finished, with an expectation that almost everything will be done by Friday.  Our builder is going away for the holidays, so we’ll come back together during the first or second week of January to do a final snag list and then the handover.  We’ll be able to move in February if we’d like.  This week I’m going to start really looking for carpet for the loft bedroom, small bedroom on the first floor, the hallway on the first floor and the staircases from the ground to first and first to second floor.  We’ll be keeping with greys for most of it.  I have a lot of pics of the work below.  Once we get the carpet in and furniture all set up, I’ll do another video to show the before and after.


As you can see the scaffolding is finally down, so you can see how the loft has been built up.  Here’s the before:


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The hallways and small bedroom lights.  They fit with the other lights in the house.


The staircase going up to the loft.  Needs another coat of paint, but I’m liking it so far.


The handrail which will be painted a darker grey than the hall colour (which is a very pale grey).


The shower is being fit…still needs some grout work done.  But I love, love, love these tiles.  We’ll add some glass shelved for shampoo & that stuff.


Where the higher tiles end is where the glass panel will go for the shower. You can also see the grey floor tiles which I think compliments the teal metro tiles nicely.  I have to find a good toilet roll holder – not sure yet what to get.  It’ll be placed in front of the radiator.


The corner sink & cabinet (not fully in place yet) were chosen due to the small size of the bathroom.  I think they will work well in there.


I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but it will be the light fixture in the bedroom – there will be 8 bulbs and it will be placed in a pattern that works to light up the entire room.  Hoping it works and looks okay.

So glad that it’s almost over.  Next steps…the Vale house!

New furniture

We are adding new furniture to our future bedroom and our move date has been finalised. We’ve added two bedside tables from Marks & Spencer and purchased wardrobes and tall skinny dressers from IKEA (which will be delivered in two days).

Here are the bedside tables:

My project for next week will be to clean and work on the light fixtures in the room. Here are two pics of them. They are originals and fit with the 1920s style of the house and hopefully will work with everything we’re putting into the room.

I wish they were a brushed chrome or silver to go with our bed and bedside tables, but such is life. Right now we’re not interested in replacing them.

This weekend our tasks will be to put together the IKEA stuff (huge) and get rid of stuff from another bedroom. This is the biggie! There is more in this room than another of the others (we’ve already cleared two rooms) so it’ll be a challenge. Amazingly enough, almost every single thing we’ve put outside has been snatched up – from furniture to very old TVs to a lamp (ugliest thing I’ve seen).

Move in date: 17th JUNE!!!

Start of work on our current house: 13th JULY!!!

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!


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