Today A, the floor man, returned to seal the terrazzo. I’m really happy with the result.
T, the decorator, completed Mark’s study.
In the afternoon I refitted the light and roller blind, and removed the paper that was protecting the floor.
It just needs furniture now.
View from the window.
Meanwhile, I opened up the back of the house as Frogdancer arrives tomorrow. Oliver made himself comfortable on the guest bed.
Ruby attempted an escape. I must remind Frogdancer not to open any windows more than two inches.
Later all three congregated on the back stairs. This is all new territory for them as we have tended not to let them into this part of the house. Ruby, at the top, has taken possession, Oliver is unsure, and Rose is front and centre, as usual, for any photo opportunity.
T the decorator was here today working on Mark’s study.
The colour is Farrow and Ball’s London Stone.
Or, as Mark described it when it was used in my study downstairs, brown.
Just needs a second coat of gloss on the woodwork and this will be another room done!
In my response to iODyne’s comment the other day, I said that my favourite Nigella pantry was the one from Nigellissima, which just happened to be on Good Food as I was typing this post. Looking at it now, it’s not so much a pantry as a corridor, but I do like the black shelves and cabinets. In this shot she is reaching for the black case containing her licorice stash. I’d have one for chocolate.
Today A, the other floor guy, came with his assistant to complete stage one of the terrazzo restoration.
A before shot taken from the vestibule.
Looking from the kitchen.
Close-up. Terrazzo is basically made up of chips of marble or granite set into cement and then ground down and polished to reveal the stones. Our terrazzo is very dirty and dull.
The terrazzo continues into the coat room.
And also the future walk-in pantry. Each space is defined by a reddish-brown terrazzo border.
Stage one involved two deep cleans and a resurfacing with a diamond polisher. It all got very wet in the process.
How it looked by the end of the day after it had dried off a bit.
It has cleaned up beautifully and the colours are much brighter. On Friday they will be back to apply the sealant and to buff and polish the floor. We have to be careful not to get it dirty in the meantime.
Meanwhile T the decorator was working upstairs on Mark’s study.
Ceilings and walls filled and given a first coat.
The floor in Mark’s study is drying nicely.
There are a couple of boards with ancient woodworm holes. D the floor guy said they were under the old wax so they have long since gone. He was actually surprised by the good condition of the boards generally.
Today T the decorator was working on the coat room/boot room.
How it used to the be with the 1950s toilet and the unmentionable carpet. I remember the day I ripped that carpet up, wearing gloves and a face mask, greeting the silverfish and earwigs as they scurried out. Oh how far we have come.
Originally it was an Edwardian telephone room, close to the telephone wires on the street and private for conversations.
Still a few more coats of paint to go. I am trying to decide whether I restore the old paint-covered hooks I removed from these rails or just buy new brass ones.
On the weekend we moved the washer and dryer into the new utility room, which strangely seems to make the room look bigger rather than more cramped. I should have taken a proper shot without all the bits and pieces in the sink but I’ll get a better one of the room when the doors are painted and reattached.
That meant that today T the decorator could start on the now empty former-utility-space/future-walk-in-pantry. I need to do something about the obsolete washing machine inlet and outlet pipes, though it seems a shame to waste perfectly good plumbing that was only installed last year. I have been reading about plumbing ‘dead-legs’ too, which are not great, so it would be a good idea to keep using these pipes to prevent water standing in them for any length of time. Apparently that’s how Legionnaires’ disease can get started…
I was thinking about getting fitted units but this would mean I would lose a lot of potential storage shelf space.
I mainly want it to be like Nigella’s pantry after all.
But then a sort of wet bar/butlers pantry set up would be useful too.
I then found these little catering sinks online so I am thinking about installing one of those. If the pantry is also used for making and serving drinks (the dining room is right across the hall) then a little sink would be perfect for rinsing the odd glass or washing a knife used to cut a lemon wedge. I’m just trying to think about whether it would look too much like a prison cell or public lavatory.
I could get a little wine fridge too and then still have lots of room for shelves.
T also started to patch and fill the coat room.
Meanwhile, D the floor guy was back to tackle Mark’s study. All D’s equipment on the landing. The green sander weighs 95 kilograms so he had a helper drop by in the morning to assist him with lugging it up the two flights of stairs to the top floor.
The lighter boards are the new ones and they will darken over time. Last year D did the dining room and my study. In a couple of weeks we want to do the floor in the other bedroom, so he will be back. Unfortunately we couldn’t get both rooms done at the same time as the second bedroom needs to be ‘decanted’ into this one first – and before we do that, this room needs to be decorated. One day we will see an end to the constant shuffling of our furniture from one room to another and everything will be in the right place!
P the decorator was here today. Render painted white.
Toilet and utility doors stripped using a blow torch/lamp. I call this the burnt toast phase.
D the carpenter was here today finishing off a few things around the house.
He started by repairing floorboards in Mark’s study.
The floor is now ready for sanding and polishing.
A couple of other boards were replaced too as they had been damaged when the plumbing and heating were done. Top floor landing.
And the loose one in the cupboard.
He then tackled the front door, which was starting to stick at the base. A few millimetres planed off the bottom and it’s fine.
He also planed down the picture rail to remove the bulge caused by the knot, which you can now see clearly on the right. I’m so glad it wasn’t dry rot!
In the utility room he added a piece of timber and some beading to the door frame to finish it off properly.
And finally, in the future pantry he fitted the doors to separate this area from the gas/electricity meters and my “shed” storage space. We reused the original door, cutting it in half and adding new handles.
In the new downstairs toilet I have fitted the accessories – toilet roll holder, towel ring and mirror.
It’s a porthole! It goes well with the fisherman’s lights in the utility room and breakfast room.
I’m back from London where I paid my respects to Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s cat, at Dr Johnson’s House. Hodge sits on a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary next to some oyster shells. He could eat only oysters in his old age and Dr Johnson went to the market each day to get them himself as he didn’t want his servants to resent the cat.
Mummified Egyptian cats at the British Museum. The one at the back has the same expression as Oliver.
On a walk around Marylebone we came upon this enormous crane.
It was preparing to lift this: an instant loft conversion. They rip the old roof off the house and drop this on the top – it has a stairway, a bedroom and a bathroom. Incredible. It must be cheaper in London to do this rather than build something by traditional methods – I imagine it would save on labour, access costs, scaffolds etc. It must be nearly impossible in London to park, receive and store deliveries, and would cost a fortune for skip licences. With this they just close off the street for a Saturday afternoon, bring in a huge crane and it’s pretty much done!
Back at home moulting season is upon us. Rose after a perfunctory brush.
Oliver’s fur was the worst. British Shorthairs have a double coat and this undercoat thickens in the winter. Rose inspecting.
And now for some house news. Yesterday a gas engineer was here connecting the lounge’s old gas pipe to the new system – here you can see the new copper pipe stretching along the back of the under-stairs cupboard. This pipe connects to the old pipe that goes under the terrazzo in the entrance hall and terminates in the lounge. My plan is to get a gas fire installed in the lounge but we needed to ascertain whether the pipe was safe to use, otherwise it would cost a lot more and we would probably have had to cut into the terrazzo to lay a new pipe. Good news – the pipe is safe to use, so now I can order the fire!
I have also been organising Stage 3: scheduling carpenters; arranging for D the floor guy to come and sand/polish the floorboards in Mark’s study; scheduling A, the other floor guy, to restore the terrazzo; scheduling the carpet fitters; scheduling decorators. Stage 3 will see the completion of the internal works.
Stage 4 will be the back garden.