The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

Week 27: almost, but not quite

We’re so close.  So very close.  And yet, not quite there.

We planned to move on Monday, 19 December.  The flooring was meant to be done at least 8 days beforehand, so would have been “cured” perfectly well.  Even if everything wasn’t completed, we’d probably have electricity as well.  Now…who knows.

We arrived on Sunday morning to check out the floors on the ground floor.  While the colour is gorgeous, there were definitely some mistakes that have to be corrected.  I will not live with brush marks that are so distinct.


The week prior, I also noticed that the towel rack was placed, not over the toilet, but in the bathtub area.  So that had to be moved.  Luckily, it was and it’s fine.


On the positive side, the kitchen is looking good overall (still need to finish with tiling, move the extractor fan up and install the dryer), painting is pretty much done and we got our carpets in.  We’ll wait to see how the floors turn out, whether or not we get electricity turned back on and, we can hope that the weather gets nicer (it’s been rainy) so the outside of the house begins to dry so we can get the final coating of the render.



Edit: Just wanted to say that we have a move date – Dec 23rd.  So cross your fingers that the electricity turns on!


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 21 – ups and downs this week

So much going on.  So much.  Which, I guess, is the norm as you get to the end of a renovation project.  Some of it was planned, some of it was not so planned and we had one emergency.  I apologise ahead of time because this will probably be a very long post full of lots of words as well as pictures.

First, the “emergency”. We no longer have a fence between ourselves and our neighbours.  They needed to bring a digger in to make a hole for their concrete base (side extension).  The digger did two things – knocked over our concrete posts (which they’ll have to replace) and cut through the electrical wire which comes to both of our houses.  So, we got an emergency call at 9pm about this.  The electrical company found a problem with our electricity while fixing this cut and so, took away our electricity.  Yup, our renovation is without electricity until our contractor can produce an electrical certificate.  Now – the electricity was only connected to an extension cord at the time, so any fault is not in the wires in our house (they are not connected).  We’re not sure where a fault might be coming from unless it’s from the base unit or from the wiring coming into the house.  Yikes.  Expensive.  In addition, the contractor is not in a position to provide an electrical certificate for at least 2-3 weeks (as he’d have to install all the outlets/lights, etc and test them before he could get a certificate).  So, my contractor is going to have to bring a generator to supply the guys with electricity.  Boo.

Another thing that has made life a bit difficult is that it seems as if the guys have lost some stuff – they couldn’t find the legs to our range cooker, the specialist bathroom recessed lights and some screws necessary to put the kitchen together (as well as instructions in how to put it all together).  I know our contractor is a bit pissed off at them for not being more organised (he stops by but he’s not there all the time).  I’m not paying for anything they can’t find.

On the positive side, our flooring is in.  They will still have to sand and wax it, but it looks good.  I like the pattern they used (from what I can see so far).  A lot of the painting has happened.  And they have begun to put our kitchen together.  It will happen.  It will all come together.

And now, the pics (with a few words):


Our current house is being over-run with boxes.  We have ordered lights, switches and plugs for the first and second floors (ground floor will be another time).

Finishing work on the plastering.

Our sliding doors have been installed – the bottom roller still needs to be applied and it needs handles (which we’ve purchased) but I like them.  They will provide light straight through as well as a sound/smell barrier between the living room and kitchen.

The kitchen furniture and appliances are finally being put in place.  It really allows us to see how much space as well as storage in the new kitchen.  It’s going to be amazing.

As you can see, the kitchen furniture is on its way to being placed and fixed.  Guess they figured out how to do it and found screws. They didn’t seem to find the legs for the oven though…boo!

One of the guest bedrooms after one coat of paint – the fireplace will be repainted.

The other guest bedroom – this fireplace will also be painted.  Neither fireplace will work – only decorative.

First coat on the master bedroom.

We’re looking forward to seeing continued work on the kitchen, more painting, etc.  It’s so exciting to see if all coming together despite the various setbacks.

Week 20: painting & flooring

It’s starting to get exciting!  Our contractor has finished laying down the underfloor heating.  It’s so much better than the system we have in our current house.  And it was much more thoughtfully planned out than in our house.  I can’t wait to feel it under my feet as I stand at the stove cooking and while washing dishes. He has also had the guys begin the lay down the wood flooring.  It looks great and it hasn’t yet been sanded or waxed. Here’s a video of the work that has been done.

The Youtube Video link

In addition, they’ve begun the painting process and have finished up the tiling in the bathroom (though I had to order more grout and a few finishing bits.

It’s a bit dark (rainy) so you can’t really see how fabulous this blue is in the office.  It’ll make for a relaxing space for my counselling and when my husband works at home.  It’s only the first coat but still looks fabulous so looking forward to seeing what it’s like after a second coat.

My mother-in-law’s bedroom.  The colour is a bit of a vanilla white (slight yellowish tint).  It’s quite lovely and her style.  The fireplace has been primed and will be painted black.

The doorway is ready for the sliding door!

All of the paint we’re using is Dulux Trade Diamond Matt paint (except our bedroom).  The exact colour used in my mother-in-law’s room is Jasmine White.  The colour we’re using in the office is Sea Blue.

Week 19: lots of ‘stuff’

We’ve gotten a lot of deliveries of ‘stuff’.  I know it’s made it difficult for the builders due to the issues from the previous weeks.  But at least it has arrived, ready to be put in place.  They have continued to work on the walls on the ground floor and once that’s done (hopefully by tomorrow afternoon), they can start on the underfloor heating.  In addition, we finally got the bi-folding doors in, and they are fabulous!  So much light.

The steel beams have been covered. Including the beam above the side door!

As you can see, there is more to cover.

Kitchen stuff being stored in the master bedroom

This is the colour of the cabinet carcasses

The rendering beginning to be put on the front of the house

I’m looking forward to our next steps.  Things are going to move at a quick pace, I think.

Week 18: slow moving

It has been a frustrating few weeks since I last posted.  We had building control come to do an inspection and they decided we needed a new steel lintel above a doorway (side garden).  That meant working with our structural engineer, who is not great at responding quickly.  He finally did get in touch and so the steel will be put in this week.  That meant that the flooring, underfloor and wood, had to be put off as well as finishing the plasterboard and plastering.  Unfortunately, our kitchen furniture and appliances are being delivered this week which will further complicate everything.  But, that’s life in renovations.

One thing that has happened is that a lot of final plastering and priming has been done on the 1st and 2nd floors (2nd and 3rd floors for you Americans out there).  It does look very nice.  We’ve picked out our paint colours for these rooms and look forward to seeing them painted.

My mother-in-law’s bedroom

The guest bedroom

We have received our wood flooring, which will need to be sanded and waxed once it’s laid.

Our bi-folding door is at the house and just needs to be put in (as the opening was fixed to fit it correctly).

While it is frustrating to have work keep getting pushed back, we can see it all come together.  It’s great to see how much space we’ll have under the staircase, for example:

We’ll have doors put on so we can access this area (dog food & our vacuum will fit).

The plastering has begun around the living room, ground floor hallway and kitchen/diner.

So – lots of plastering yet to happen, painting to come, flooring to put in, etc, etc.  It will happen.


Week 16: prepped and ready

Nothing too exciting to report this week.  Basically, it’s a waiting game until items arrive.  So the guys have been prepping things in anticipation.

The flooring is ready in the ground floor for the underfloor heating to be laid.

The walls in the living room have been prepped for plastering.

And the outside of the house has begun to be plastered so that they can put the final surface on it (very awesome protective stuff).  It’s a silicone rendering which will help protect the house.  We’ve chosen this colour:


The week ahead will bring the underfloor heating being put into the ground floor and the walls being prepped and plastered.  The week after is when things get exciting – bi-folding doors put in, oak flooring being put in and waxed…wahoo!

Week 15: walls are down, skylight is up

The walls have finally come down in the kitchen and the steels have gone up.  It’s now one big, huge room.  Honestly, I think that room is bigger than my first flat.  In addition, the skylight has been placed where it’s going to be (though still covered with film so its full glory is not to be seen yet) and the doorway to the back garden has been measured (so we’ll hopefully have the bi-folding doors in a few weeks).  Not much else has happened in the house other than the corner toilet has been put in place in the loft bathroom.  But it’s still SO EXCITING!

We did a walk through and figured out where all the lights are going, where the electrical sockets should be placed and what else might need to be changed.  It’s going to be fabulous when it’s done.  I hope.

On my side, I’ve ordered the English solid oak wood flooring from Northwood Forestry Limited.  We’ll have to finish it at the house but I like that idea – it gives us the ability to choose whether to keep the natural wood colour or stain it a bit.  The flooring is meant to be used with underfloor heating and was just about the same cost as good engineered wood flooring.  Yay!

I’m quite certain we’ve selected our tiling for the backsplash, but I’m not going to share it ahead of time.  There needs to be a few fun reveals, ya know!

So, here’s the collection of photos from this weekend to check out:

New door handles have been selected

It’s a tight fit and a small bathroom but it will work.


Wall covering have been removed - discovered a bricked in fireplace.  We're not using it as it just won't work with the rest of the room.  Plus it'd be darn expensive to fix it up.

Wall covering have been removed – discovered a bricked in fireplace. We’re not using it as it just won’t work with the rest of the room. Plus it’d be darn expensive to fix it up.

Steel beams are in place

More steel beams and the pyramid skylight is in place.


Post Navigation