Manic Monday

Reader, I ordered the beige carpet for the lounge!

Thanks for your votes and comments. Around 75% of you preferred the beige and I looked again at Rosie’s pure white fur and decided I wouldn’t risk it.

IMG_7164Today I spent some time working on the stairs. On every step there were dozens of staples and nails that had once secured carpet of various incarnations.

IMG_7158I spent a couple of hours removing them. Oliver helped.

IMG_7161By the end I had filled this jar. No wonder it was always so difficult to clean these stairs – can you imagine how many times the vacuum would snag on one of these each time?

IMG_7162The reason I removed them all now is because I wanted to get these stairs painted. It would only be a temporary measure, while we saved up for carpet, but I was keen to have this first flight of stairs looking neat and clean in time for the November reception we are holding for the unveiling of the blue heritage plaque. The rest of the stairs, halls and landings can wait but this is right by the front door.

IMG_7145I also saw to a loose board on one of the steps. Beneath these few steps is one of the last places in the house I have never seen inside.

IMG_7149No treasure unfortunately.

IMG_7155I screwed the board back in place, nice and sturdy.

IMG_7156I even countersunk the holes! If I had my wits about me I would have thrown a copy of today’s newspaper under there for someone in the future to find. Nevermind.


Do you remember the day I ripped up the carpet that was on these stairs? I found these little paw prints on the wood where a cat had once scampered up the stairs stepping in the wet paint.

IMG_7170I was on a roll so I grabbed the undercoat and gave the stairs their first coat. I figured I could safely do this as it didn’t need to be an expert paint job – it was going to be covered in carpet within a few months anyway. Tempting fate I painted the stairs while the cats were snoozing in various places around the house – no new cat paw prints were made though!

IMG_7169Just after one coat of undercoat. I actually quite like the painted look.

IMG_7174I’ll see how it looks when complete but it really brightens up the stairs, just like it did on the servant staircase. Maybe this flight doesn’t need carpet at all.

News flash – while I was writing this post the carpet store called me to say they can’t get the beige from their suppliers for at least a month…and would I like to wait or choose a different colour for the lounge…

Carpet Conundrum – With Audience Participation!

IMG_7129First, here is the lounge with the new wall colour.

IMG_7054Tile feature in the fireplace.

IMG_7135Roman blinds.

IMG_2838Sofas and cushions.

IMG_4874 - 2014-12-05 at 14-15-43Chair. Can you see where I’m going with this?

IMG_7110All that’s left is carpet. The lighter beige carpet above is a strong contender. It’s a Cormar carpet, 80/20 wool in a colour called Nutkin.

IMG_7109This is the other contender. It’s called Cardinal.

Let’s ignore the cat fur question – I have a new attachment for my vacuum cleaner which should deal with that. We all know what a beige carpet will look like – but what about red?

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 20.24.42

Here’s a sample of a tasteful, elegant room with red carpet.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 20.24.10And a gorgeous Edwardian interior with red carpet.

100528dUnfortunately red carpet can go wrong too. This looks likes Liberace’s Vegas home.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 20.38.15And a scene from an 80s episode of the The Bold and the Beautiful.

I’d be interested in your views – beige carpet with the red accents I already have, or the cardinal red carpet? Vote in this poll!






Further Lounge Redecoration

IMG_7124Today T was here doing some more decorating.

IMG_7126He put the second coat of emulsion on the walls and redid the gloss on the picture rail and skirting boards.

IMG_7129Then this afternoon P dropped by to give the timber fire surround and mantelpiece its first coat of varnish.

IMG_7128It will get a second coat late next week as the varnish is “cissing”, which means in places it is pooling and separating because of the old layers of polish. It still looks good though and will perfect after the next coat.

In other news, I woke up at midnight last night to discover the central heating was still on despite the fact that it is set to go off around 9pm. All the controls were off but the heating pump and boiler were still happily churning away belting out heat and the radiators were vesuvial. Even when I physically turned the boiler off the heat pump was still going. I did a web search that suggested I find the switch to turn the heat pump off too. I was back in bed around 1:30am after doing further research on the problem and sending an email to P the plumber. My research suggested a faulty valve. At 6am I got up and turned the boiler on, just for the hot water, and the heating started up yet again, depite it being turned off. P the plumber dropped around late that morning (it’s great to have reliable trades) and diagnosed the faulty valve on the pump system. We had kept some of the older parts of the system (installed in 2009) when we renovated last year, including the boiler. P has to get the valve and will be back early next week to swap it over. We can still use the heating and hot water but I have to turn the boiler on and off manually over the weekend. We might opt to use the top floor shower, which is electric and independent of the hot water system until it is fixed. It was for occasions such as these that we thought it best to keep an electric shower on the top floor. Eventually we will have to invest in a new boiler but we will wait as long as we need to while this one still works.

Lounge (re) Decorating Continued

Today P dropped by to give the lounge room walls below the picture rail their first coat.





A little sad to see the Cat’s Paw go, which actually looked quite nice while the room was empty like this, but when everything is layered back into the room – carpet, furniture, light fittings – the single colour on the walls will work better. The room is certainly lighter now.

Today in the lounge



Today P the decorator dropped by to do some prep work in the lounge following the fire installation. The holes in the walls were filled where the mantel had been repositioned. P was impressd at how little damage the fireplace fitters had done to the wall. As you can see, the servant bell push remained safe too.


P also patched the wall and skirting board where we had the damp proofing done.

IMG_7107I have bitten the bullet and P will be redecorating this entire room…which was only done 12 months ago.

IMG_7049I say entire room but it is only the colour of the main walls that is being changed. They will be painted the same colour as the section above the picture rail, which is Farrow and Ball’s ‘Matchstick’. I was just finding the dark tan colour, called Cat’s Paw, wasn’t working. This was partly because of the west facing aspect but mainly because I had based the entire colour scheme around a camel coloured leather sofa we had in Liverpool. No sooner was the room painted than we decided to replace the sofa with the two cream coloured Chesterfields we have now and gave the old sofa to charity.


I think lightening the walls will work better, especially as the carpet is likely to be a mid to dark beige, quite similar to the current wall colour, so it would all look too ‘samey’, particularly as the blinds have a similar background colour too.


I briefly toyed with the idea of red carpet but then, as you can see, Rosie brushed up against the sample with her white fur. I don’t even think my new Dyson Pet Hair vacuum cleaner attachment would cope with that.


Lounge Fireplace, Day 2


IMG_7035J and S the fireplace guys were here again today to complete the installation. Yesterday the old fireplace was demolished, the brickwork chopped out, lintel fitted, gas line set up, and slate hearth laid.


Today’s job was the fitting of the insert and replacing the original timber mantel.

IMG_7049And here it is!

IMG_7013Remember how it looked yesterday.

IMG_7050We still need to patch and redecorate the wall and sand and varnish the timber mantelpiece but you get the idea.

IMG_7054Detail of the gorgeous tube-lined tiles. The pattern is English Rose.


The Art Nouveau style hood.

IMG_7064Oliver inspecting. I turned the fire off and let it cool down before I introduced the cats to it.

IMG_7058Ruby. Rose wasn’t really interested.


I turned it on in the early evening and Oliver soon took possession of this vantage point.

IMG_7099He is quite taken with the flickering flames, so I will have to watch them for a while. I still remember the day dear departed Orlando shoved his face right into the gas fire the day he arrived in the UK from Australia and singed his whiskers.


Oliver may never move.

Lounge Fireplace, Day 1

IMG_7015This morning J and S the fireplace guys started in the lounge. The before shot.


First the original 1905 timber mantelpiece had to be removed and the 1930s fireplace demolished. You can see that the original opening was much larger but had been bricked in for the later fireplace. The mottled purple tiles suggest the 1930s and my research indicates a major renovation of the house in 1935 by Martha Baxter, so it all fits together.

IMG_7024Further demolition.


Behind the 1930s brickwork were traces of the original hearth tiles – dark green rectangular Mintons tiles.


That makes the recently-laid tiles for the dining room hearth an inspired choice!


They then hammered out some more of the brickwork and installed a new lintel.


Then lots of things occurred with the gas line under the floor and various connections. The final job for the day was the laying of the new slate hearth, which will be oiled and polished at the end of the installation. The new insert will be fitted tomorrow – I took pictures of it, but to publish them now would spoil the big reveal!

More tomorrow.




Here we go again…

Over the last couple of weekends Mark and I have been assembling Ikea bookshelves for his study. Photos to follow once they are all complete.

IMG_7013This afternoon I ‘decanted’ the lounge room ready for tomorrow.


I have lost count of how many times I have done this.


Everything is crammed into the dining room.


Tomorrow this fireplace is coming out. It will be replaced with a gas, coal-effect fire. I love a fireplace but there is no way I have the discipline for a wood fire – all that chopping of wood, sweeping of ashes, the soot, dust and chimney maintenance. My fire will have a remote control and will look a darn sight better than the current fireplace. It has the most depressing looking 1930s mottled tiles.

IMG_7018We will keep the original mantelpiece though. It’s made of boxwood, or perhaps teak, with these beautiful carvings of pomegranate trees.

IMG_7017The pillars have leaves at the top.

IMG_7019I am not sure if the servants bell will survive the removal of the old fireplace but I hope it does.

IMG_7009Once the fireplace is finished there will need to be a bit of repair work and decorating. Also you can see that in the far corner we have yet to redecorate where the damproofing was done.

Then it will be time for some carpet!


Autumn Decorating Days 7 and 8

IMG_6868The decorators P and T finished yesterday.


Entrance hall in Farrow and Ball’s Calamine – I hadn’t vacuumed all the dust off the floor at this stage. Ignore those wires too – they’re for the alarm system. The calamine pink walls give the terrazzo a real lift.

IMG_6887The panelling looks great too.

IMG_6888Cast iron radiator in Ardenbrite’s Old Penny Bronze.

IMG_6883Heading up the stairs.

IMG_6873On the first floor landing.

IMG_6889Looking down the hall, painted in Farrow and Ball’s Pigeon.

IMG_6892Looking back towards the landing.

IMG_6871Next flight of stairs.

IMG_6906Varnished Cuban mahogany handrails. An exotic hardwood now virtually extinct as the Victorians and Edwardians loved it so.

IMG_6874Look at that fine grain. We had a close call when I couldn’t get the Blackfriar’s Stain and Varnish that P wanted in time. We decided on a Dulux product instead which, as it went on, was the colour of beetroot and left awful brush strokes and was completely matt and opaque. You might as well have painted the wood purple.

IMG_6878Top floor landing. P had used the Dulux on this handrail and the next one heading down when I spotted it. The look on my face said everything – he halted the application and we set about with scourers scrubbing it off again. Luckily it was water based but this also meant that there was beetroot coloured water dripping all down the newly glossed white spindles on the balustrade.

IMG_6877We jumped in his van and sourced the Blackfriars product. The Cuban mahogany now looks magnificent.

IMG_6876Heading back down.

IMG_6899Exterior black gloss repainted. The lounge window and the render above were done again too.

IMG_6902This now means that every painted surface inside and outside the house has been decorated!

Autumn Decorating Day 5 and 6

IMG_6786I guess reading these posts must be a little like watching paint dry. Heh. Heh.

IMG_6788Day 5 saw P and T continue the emulsion work as well as some woodwork undercoating and such like.

IMG_6787Radiator with second last coat.

IMG_6784Look at the sweep of the ceiling as you go up the stairs.

IMG_6782On Day 6, M also came along to assist P and T.


There was more undercoating of windows, doors and balusters.


Glossing-up also began.


IMG_6776Top floor.



P was also working on the front elevation again. The front door and the black woodwork had taken a beating in the second round of renovations and also the garden work so P wanted to bring it up to scratch again. Undercoat following patching and filling.


Ha also repainted this window for me as it had been discoloured by the grinding out of the mortar for the repointing.

IMG_6769The invitations I ordered for the blue plaque unveiling arrived. The Lord Mayor will be conducting the ceremony in November.