Post Stage 2 Monday

T the decorator finished up today.

IMG_0808Servant stairs before.

IMG_2925Servant stairs after.



11174888_393534494183021_2776386380673182863_nServant’s bedroom before.

IMG_2937Now known as the guest room.

11193233_393534477516356_267877858110156700_nFireplace before.



IMG_2938You get the idea.

IMG_2934Looking out onto the servant stairs landing.

IMG_2935And the window with the new roman blind installed today.

IMG_2929The new blind for Mark’s study was also fitted.

IMG_2930Does a good job. Also I continued planning for Stage 3! More to follow.

Post Stage 2 Saturday


You didn’t think it was over did you? On Saturday morning, D the plasterer came by to apply the render to the external wall of the new conversion. Ruby watched as he masked up the area. An hour or so after he began the doorbell rang, and when I answered it there was D – doubled over with blood coming from his hands and legs. He explained that his ladder had tipped over and he had fallen while he was doing the render on the very top part of the wall. I established whether or not he had hit his head (no) and whether he thought he needed a doctor or ambulance (no), and then applied first aid to his cuts. Both his shins had horizontal cuts and bruises where he had hit the ladder, and the skin on the side of his left hand had been sheared off. The most worrying part was that he thought he had hurt his back. He was also very pale from the shock. He sat down for a while and said that he was feeling a bit better. Then he got back on the ladder and finished the job! I told him he should go home but he wanted to finish it. There was a spectacular hand-print slide on the rendered panel where he must have tried to prevent his fall.


By the time he finished it was a perfect job. It just needs painting now.

IMG_2890I cleaned and organised the top floor bathroom.

IMG_2889The shower looks great and the water pressure is much better than the shower it replaced.

IMG_2893Basin unit with the mirror and shelf I installed almost two years ago when we first moved in.

IMG_2901Then we planted out the garden beds. There are lavender, foxgloves, hydrangeas, weigela, bluebeard, Japanese Anemones, and a Japanese Maple.

IMG_2903I will report on garden growth at regular intervals.

IMG_2905Looking good.

IMG_2899Around the side will be the next area we plant – ferns and perhaps a dwarf rhododendron.




Stage 2, Day 35

IMG_2814I spent the entire day sorting out “stuff”. New shed-like space under the stairs for tools (and WD-40) until I get a real shed.

IMG_2806I got everything out of the sitting room and dusted and vacuumed. We still need to restore the fireplace, do a bit of decorating following the damp proofing, and get carpet. And a bookcase.

IMG_2801D the carpenter was here and he secured the worktop in the utility room and fitted the up-stands (that vertical bit of wood is just keeping them in place while the glue dries. T the decorator also did a lot of the gloss woodwork in here too. Unfortunately decorators and carpenters are mortal enemies – it’s the issue of dust. In Stage 1 the decorators downed brushes and left when A the carpenter was in the front garden using the bench saw while the decorators were applying gloss black paint to the front door and woodwork. I did my best to coordinate them today but unfortunately a carpenter and a decorator ended up in the same room at exactly the same time. They managed to work through it though. I then moved a lot of things into the cupboards.

IMG_2817T also repainted the walls in the top floor bathroom to remove  the plumber’s hand prints.

IMG_2813And he applied what must be the fourth undercoat to these stairs. It’s all in the preparation. It’s practically glowing in there.

IMG_2803Gloss white in the toilet too.

IMG_2805P the decorator was also here. He had kindly collected the additional wallpaper I ordered and finished papering the guest room.

IMG_2818In a final push, A and D finished the front garden. Beds ready for planting. The two tonnes of gravel I helped haul from the truck  yesterday were laid.

IMG_2820Stepping stones to the gate.

IMG_2827It makes such a difference!


And peace was restored.

IMG_2837Rosie not sure what to make of the quiet.

IMG_2882Ruby inspecting the work.IMG_2825

Apart from a few odd jobs to complete, this was the end of Stage 2 for my builder. Thanks JB!

IMG_0230How the house looked two years ago in the sale brochure before we bought it.

Stage 2, Day 34


IMG_2720Yesterday, in the guest bedroom, I painted the insert in the fireplace black, and this morning I cleaned the hearth tiles.


I also prepared the floor for the new carpet. There were a few loose boards that I screwed down and I adjusted one that had a very loud creak. I also vacuumed thoroughly, especially around the skirting boards to prevent dust eventually staining the edges of the carpet.

IMG_2726The carpet fitters began by laying dust-paper and followed with the underlay.

IMG_2734An hour or so later – done!

IMG_2738Looking good.

IMG_1628How it looked just a few weeks ago.

IMG_2741The hearth tiles clash with the wallpaper but I wanted to have them on show anyway.


Do you remember when I revealed this fireplace about eighteen months ago?

IMG_1664And how I found the fire pieces up in the chimney a few weeks back?

IMG_2751Wallpaper close-up.

IMG_2779Oliver, Ruby and Rose inspecting at the end of the day.

IMG_2773Ruby was first over the threshold.

And Rose was the first to christen the carpet with her claws.

IMG_2743Carpet on the landing leading to the back stairs.

IMG_2753T the decorator continued undercoating them today.

IMG_2754The neat carpet edge at the top.

IMG_2728T also gloss-painted the doors on the top floor. Cupboard.

IMG_2731Bathroom. He also started to fill the woodwork in the utility and toilet.

IMG_2770P the plumber was here too. All the fixtures are now connected.

The new downstairs toilet possesses the most forceful flush I have ever witnessed.


IMG_2771Utility room tap.

IMG_2729Top floor toilet and shower.


IMG_2732The room is looking huge!

IMG_2760Externally, work continued on the new planters.

IMG_2761A slight adjustment is being made to the alignment.

IMG_2758The fence has been repaired.

IMG_2756Our neighbour will be very happy with that. I am too – I love the castellated top of the old fence palings and that’s an extremely sturdy new post.


At the side of the house, the site of the old servant courtyard will become the fern garden.


All cleared and ready for topsoil.

IMG_2767I had noticed for a few days that this drain around the side appeared blocked. The last time the builders were here I had to unblock it as it became filled with sand and rubble which obstructed the P-trap. This time it was much more difficult to clear.

IMG_2768I had to break it up with the trowel to get it out – it’s mortar that has been poured or washed into the drain and had set solid. I hope for my builders’ sake I got it all! Luckily I had a CCTV scan of all the drains just before work began so we can always make a comparison if necessary.

IMG_2765Finally, at the end of the day, after everyone had gone home, the gravel arrived. It was delivered by a lone man with a pallet trolley – no crane. Each of these bags literally weighs a tonne – 1000kgs. The poor man struggled so I had to help him push the load up the very slight incline to their final position. It was hard going even with the two us. I can’t believe they allow one person to deliver such a heavy load. He was a strapping Eastern European but as he said to me in halting English “I am not horse!”


Stage 2, Day 33

IMG_2646P and T the decorators were here. Getting closer with the guest room challenge. Wallpaper.

IMG_2649Unfortunately the pattern repeat was so large they ran out! I got on the internet to try to locate two more rolls with the same batch number to ensure colour and pattern consistency. They should be arriving soon and P will be able to finish by the end of the week.

IMG_2663P the plumber continued his work.

IMG_2683Shower in the top floor bathroom.

IMG_2684Those electrics are looking increasingly scary.

IMG_2682New sink unit and tap going in.

IMG_2658The electricians were here too. They fitted switches, sockets and lights. Light in the utility room.

IMG_2645Light in the toilet.

IMG_2665Externally, the planter pavers were cut and mortared in.

IMG_2669New fence post!

IMG_2672Progress by the end of the day.

Stage 2, Day 32

On Day 32 T the decorator continued work. I didn’t take pictures as it was mainly more undercoats on the woodwork.

IMG_2634The outside wall got its first coat of render, called the scratch coat.

IMG_2641And P the plumber began the second fix. Radiator in the utility.

IMG_2636Toilet starting to go in.

IMG_2639The little basin.


IMG_2637High-level cistern.

IMG_2640And radiator. I was concerned that this room might be too cramped but it all fits in neatly, making the most of the available space.


Stage 2, Day 31

I think this post will take the record for the most number of photos, so bear with me. Or scroll until you find something that interests you.IMG_2516Dawn, though it’s light here from around 4am. Sadly for the little tree on the far left it would be its last day. It was ugly, with prickly leaves, tangerine coloured flowers that turned into little sour purple berries that even the birds didn’t seem to like. We are taking the front garden back to a blank slate.

IMG_2522D and A did a lot of digging.

IMG_2524Still unearthing roots from the old silver birch.

IMG_2526These are some of the smaller roots. A and D were hacking at them with a saw but then decided to go and buy a giant axe.

IMG_2528They also hit a line of bricks running along the footpath. They were red bricks laid neatly in a header course so I don’t think they were foundations for a wall. My guess is that this was the original level of the front garden and these were the bricks marking the boundary. They were the same bricks that the  stump grinder hit in the middle of the tree trunk, which means that the tree, which was around eighty years old, grew over the bricks.

IMG_2546You can see that there is no straight line along the footpath so we will fix that.  You can also see how the ground level has risen, burying the bottom eight inches of the fence.

IMG_2547Progress by the end of the day. While all this was going on I discovered that Waitrose have an online Garden Centre that does home deliveries, great for someone who doesn’t have a car. It is the most brilliant site as you can search for any type of plant according to garden style, position, soil type, eventual height, flower colour, everything. I ordered all the plants for the front garden, filtering my choices to ensure they are all bee-friendly.

IMG_2525These pavers are going to become planters along the front of the garden. The larger ones are for stepping stones around to the side gate.

IMG_2562The carpenters were also here today. They finished fitting as much of the utility as possible, though the sink unit and worktop can’t be fixed until the plumbing is done. They made the cutout in the iroko worktop for the Belfast sink with a router. The offcut will be made into a nice chopping board.

IMG_2563Cornice work on the units.

IMG_2555They fitted skirtings, architraves and doors. This door for the toilet  has been reclaimed as it was originally the door into the old scullery, which became a kitchen in the 1950s and is now our breakfast room. It will look better when it’s painted.

IMG_2556New rim latch and knob. The dent in that panel was made when the door was in its original location – when opened it would hit the handle from the door on the servant staircase. I’ll have to remind T the decorator not to fill it as I like that it tells a story.

IMG_2554Now for our Alice in Wonderland door.’m less sure about the success of this one. This door has be re-sited from its original location, which was the cold store larder. In order to fit the new narrow space a great deal of the door had to be trimmed, so much so that there is barely anything left!

IMG_2553The door will be open most of the time though. I might do a trawl on eBay and see if I can locate a door more in proportion to the space. Once it’s painted, however, it may look fine.

IMG_2558They also built a shelf for that space above the door.

IMG_2550I got up on a ladder to see how it fits.IMG_2551

It’s a nice job and it will be a perfect place to store Chrismas decorations, picnic baskets and such.

IMG_2518Architrave around the stained glass toilet window. This is fast becoming my favourite room in the house. Perhaps because it’s the only room we have actually created from nothing. This was originally the covered courtyard space used to access the servant toilet and the coal store.

IMG_2543The breakfast room has become a building site. The servant toilet used to be about where the cat tree is sitting, and that space on the right with the little window used to be the cold store larder.

IMG_2541They also removed the suspect piece of picture rail in the lounge. When P the damp-proofer saw it a few weeks ago he said the swelling and cuboid-like cracking pointed, potentially, to dry rot.

IMG_2538No rot! It was just a big knot in the wood that had bulged out of shape.

IMG_2540Other cracks caused by the nails. That was a releif.

IMG_2544The carpenters also completed other little jobs around the house. The threshold from the hallway into the kitchen was fixed down. You can hardly see the plugs covering the screw holes.

IMG_2566They trimmed and refitted the top bathroom door.

IMG_2564Top floor cupboard door reversed and now with the rim latch refitted.

IMG_2565Original paintwork on the latch. As far as I can tell, all of the woodwork started out either stained dark brown or was painted this buff brown colour. You can see it also under the flaking paint on the door surround. At various other times the woodwork has been mint green and navy blue.

IMG_2567Little bit of skirting refitted in the top floor bathroom.

IMG_2157T, the decorator, worked on the servant stairs. Original dark wood finish to the stairs. I ripped out the original carpet runner last year. For weeks after we first moved in we thought we had some sort of gas leak in the back of the house but it turned out to be the smell of that carpet.

IMG_2158Door with its original stain. The darker brush marks were intended to give the impression of a more expensive hardwood.IMG_2521

Looking up the stairs. T painted the walls first.

IMG_2529Then the timber was given its first coat.

IMG_2530You can already see how much brighter it is going to be.

IMG_2023Looking down before.

IMG_2534And after.

IMG_2535The landing was also painted.

IMG_2537And the old servant bell.

IMG_2532Looking through to the guest room.

Much more to occur this week as we push through to the completion of Stage 2. The guest room is part of the Stage 2 challenge as it needs to be ready for Frogdancer, whom I am meeting up with in London next week.

Stage 2, Day 30


When did we get to June 19? T, the decorator, continued painting the woodwork. Glossy white window sill in the guest bedroom.




Top floor cupboard skirting boards.


Guest bedroom. I’ll need to scrape a couple of drips off the tiles but finally there is no trace of the pre-1964 purple in this room.


P also dropped by to paste some lining paper on certain walls. Servant stairs landing.


D the carpenter, later joined by D2, began fitting the utility room units. They fit the space very well and I love how the colours are working together. It’s an Edwardian meets Beauty School Dropout kind of utility room with a hint of 80s Ruthless People and Back to the Future diner.

IMG_2417Lots of cupboard space.

IMG_2425Oliver was the first to inspect.

IMG_2431Inquisitive curled tail.

IMG_2460New sniffing zones.

IMG_2477Considering how high he can go.


Ruby doing the same. Rosie didn’t come in, she likes to hang back and see what her brother and sister get up to. As the youngest, and lowest in their hierarchy, she doesn’t possess the same sense of entitlement that they do. Don’t worry, she’ll take over the whole place in her own time and on her terms, as youngest siblings often do.

Stage 2, Day 29

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 20.36.17Welcome, new reader. This probably isn’t the site you were looking for. IMG_2384Ruby and Oliver. Two peas in a pod. [Edit: I doubt this was the pair you were expecting…]IMG_2398Rosie. IMG_2389T, the decorator, continued work in the guest bedroom as well as the rooms upstairs. IMG_2388Freshly painted ceiling. The next week is going to be crucial as we push through to the completion of this stage of the renovation.

Stage 2, Day 28

IMG_2380The cats we so stressed today at being confined, as you can see. Oliver being upside down.

IMG_2372Ruby and Oliver reverting to kitten sibling behaviour and grooming each other. It didn’t even end up in a wrestle. Rose was snoozing.

IMG_2376T, the decorator, was working upstairs. Top floor cupboard.

IMG_2374Looking good. Those are shadows on the back wall, not drips.

IMG_2377Clean and bright.

IMG_2739 - 2013-06-11 at 17-21-27What it used to look like. Cobwebs, spiders, peeling wallpaper, a mouldy window, extinct woodworm, an ancient water tank, lead pipes, collapsing ceilings, draughty holes into the roof…the list goes on.

IMG_2379The bathroom walls have had three coats now. White. The woodwork will be next. Gloss white. I’m reserving judgement – I think have become so used to colour on walls in the rest of the house that this feels a bit bland. I shall wait and see.


The first house we built was entirely white, though perhaps white works better in a warmer, sunnier climate like Australia.