Secondary Glazing

IMG_7881Yesterday the six huge windows on the stairs were fitted with secondary glazing. The three on the first flight of stairs.


And the second.


Secondary glazing improves the thermal insulation performance of your original windows whilst not detracting from their appearance. This is useful in period homes where you don’t want to replace perfectly good and extremely characterful windows with brand new double-glazing.

Secondary glazing is also an excellent sound proofer. Noise from outside, particularly traffic noise has been greatly reduced. Apparently the bigger the gap between the two panes of glass the greater the noise reduction, so these are actually better at noise insulation than double-glazing.

There were old secondary glazing panels here when we moved in but they were poorly fitted, had large timber frames and the glass was not the required safety-glass.


I chose aluminium framed secondary glazing with hinges and clips. This will allow access for cleaning and also possibly future repairs to the fragile Edwardian leadlight glass.

IMG_7879They also have a seal to prevent any draughts.

As soon as they were fitted we noticed how much warmer the house felt on the stairs and landings and even the rooms off the halls. I have turned the heating thermostat down a little and it’s still toasty warm. We will be very glad of this during January.


The clocks went back last night so sunset is currently at 4:45pm. By Winter Solstice, on December 22nd, it will get dark at 3:54pm. This means we are moving into hibernation mode.

IMG_7751In the lead up to the clocks changing Oliver was not fully convinced it was morning so he stayed in bed a bit longer.

IMG_7848As the days get colder we seem to get dozens of ladybirds coming into the house – they probably don’t survive outside at this time of year. It gets the cats excited though.

Speaking of hibernation, the hedgehog is still eating his food in the back garden so he hasn’t gone to sleep just yet.


Rosie inspecting a new coffee table book about one of her glamour idols.

IMG_7861Recently acquired vintage sideboard for the dining room. The new antique shop at the end of the road is getting a lot of business from me…

I am currently doing lots of little things around the house. For instance, last week I hung 33 pictures on various walls. Yes, I counted.




Lounge Before and After

IMG_5736On Monday the (beige) carpet was fitted and I have spent the last couple of days setting up the room.

IMG_5774I think we did the right thing not going for the red carpet as there are enough red accents already. Not to mention the cat fur issue.

IMG_5738So, what have we done in this room? Early on I ripped out the old plywood bookshelves and stripped the eighty year old wallpaper (remember L Johnson’s signature and the date June 11th 1935 written on the wall?). The ceiling was replaced, new wiring and radiator installed, new gas inset and slate hearth for the fireplace (reusing the original timber mantel), plaster repairs to the external-facing wall to repair old penetrating damp from the broken downpipe, damp proofing of the corner to the right of the window, and the room was redecorated (twice!).

IMG_5744The room currently has that wonderful ‘new carpet smell’.

IMG_5750Miss Rose insisted on being in the centre of every shot. Speaking of Rose, we also added the ceiling rose you can see above her.

IMG_5754Our resident diva Rose loves the camera. Ruby, in the meantime is ignoring me completely.

IMG_5755I got the mirror above the mantelpiece the other day from a new antique shop that has opened around the corner. Also that pair of Delft vases. Mark is worried as the owner of the shop now has a list of my needs for the house.


Ready for her close-up.

Lounge2And now a selection of Before/After shots for you. Some of them are repeats from above but they remind you of how it used to look.




This room is now done!

Mark’s Study

9515772939_ba80d597f8_oThis is what Mark’s study looked like when we first viewed the house. It was the most modern room in the entire house as the top floor had been converted into a flat for the carer of the previous owner to live in. The fact that this floor had its own little kitchenette, separate hot water tank and updated electrics meant that I could envisage how we might live in this house while it was being renovated. It was therefore a key factor in our decision to buy the house.

20418512562_6d87f1fd44_oAfter we moved in.

20425087482_8337d4dbb8_oThis room became ‘command central’.  It was our kitchen, dining room, living room, cat bedroom, my study and the building site office all rolled into one. It was a stressful time for us – Mark was in a new job and we were living in a new city, I was dealing with a hopeless architect and slowly coming to the realisation that we probably should have had twice the budget we actually did have for all the work that needed to be done. Later there was noise and dust, and a great personal loss that I have never blogged about here. Even day to day tasks were a challenge. The hotplates on the little electric cooker would turn off when they got too hot (!!), the drains blocked, we had a tiny little fridge, no proper heating for much of the time, and at one stage the windows were boarded up for several weeks. And no dishwasher! But we did have cable TV and wifi so it wasn’t all bad, and in fact we look back at that time with a certain fondness. We had everything we really needed in that small space, it was cosy and the cats adored having us and all their sleeping and eating places in close proximity.

20425090202_9cc3dc45f9_oThe bookcase was my pantry, the toaster was next to the armchair, and I still pity the poor moving men who had to heave that leather recliner up two flights of stairs (it was only about three months ago that we discovered it pulled apart into four separate pieces). Cat tree to the right.

20440409555_8fa610451f_oRose in the top of the cat tree, whilst Ruby surveys the scene from the other bookcase, which held glasses and crockery, knives, oils and vinegars.

19814780513_a6f1ef8611_oOliver and Ruby looking relaxed, probably despite massive construction work taking place on the floor below. Note the blocked up fireplace behind them.

IMG_7368This is how that same corner looks now.

IMG_7356Still plenty of cat beds though, if you look closely. I took these shots at dusk on a cloudy day, but in the afternoon this west-facing room gets masses of sunlight.

IMG_7365What have we done in this room? Not a great deal compared to the rest of the house. A new radiator was installed, the casement window was remade, the floors were stripped, sanded and polished. We redecorated of course – new blind, light fitting and wall colour (Farrow and Ball’s London Stone).

IMG_7363We had considered ripping out the kitchenette but then thought better of it. The little electric hot water tank under the sink might come in handy one day if ever the gas boiler breaks down – it supplies hot water to this sink and also the sink in the bathroom on the other side of the wall. The kitchenette is also handy for Mark as it means he doesn’t have to go down two flights of stairs to make himself a cup of coffee. It would also be useful in the future if someone wanted to turn this room into a guest room, or give a family member a certain degree of independence. There’s also a very convenient wine fridge under the counter…

IMG_7375This is also Mark’s den and library. Last weekend he finally unpacked his books, which had been in archive boxes for two years.

IMG_7372The units are from Ikea and our relationship even survived their construction!

20425186362_8f000d1758_oOliver, Ruby and Rose on the first day of building work, April 2014. To them, this will always be their room.

Coal Store Conversion Before and After

Coal Store 1

It’s a little late but I don’t think I ever did a final Before/After set for the coal store conversion to the utility room and toilet.

Coal store 2

The toilet was built in the sheltered porch just outside the original coal store facing the servant courtyard, which has become a garden.

IMG_7246The high level cistern toilet actually backs onto the original doorway for the servant toilet, which was converted into part of the breakfast room in the first stage of the renovation.

IMG_4826That’s what the original toilet looked like. That was part of the reason for my choice of a traditional looking high level cistern toilet in the new space.

Coal Store 3

The utility room was converted from the old coal store.

Caol store 4Velux window for light.

Coal store 5

And a handy storage space.


The week continues

IMG_7189On Tuesday I filled all the gaps and nail holes in the stairs.

IMG_7190And on Wednesday I gave them a second undercoat.

IMG_7193Looking good.

IMG_7205I also decided to see how the lounge would look if I applied some obscure film to the bottom of the windows.

IMG_7208This window is quite close to the footpath and because we have Roman blinds people can see straight inside when they are open. I don’t really mind that but now that the new fireplace is installed, and it will be getting dark earlier, I thought there are bound to be times when I nod off in front of the fire and I won’t want to be on display to the entire street. The obscure film is just high enough that it reaches the eye level of pedestrians, which is precisely the same eye level of a person seated on the sofa.

IMG_7214Standing up you still have a nice view outside so it doesn’t feel like I have blocked the entire window. It also helps that the film doesn’t go right to the edge of the glass – it looks more like an etched glass feature.

IMG_7217Someone wasn’t happy though, and I felt a bit guilty for depriving Ruby of one of her great pleasures: observing the street and passers-by, in particular the neighbour’s cat Albus.


I thought about it overnight and came up with this compromise.

IMG_7227A little spy hole for Ruby at both ends of the window.

IMG_7233After I did that this morning I gave the stairs their top coat.

IMG_7234I am quite impressed with how they have turned out.



IMG_7272I might even leave them like this permanently, or if I decide I still want carpet I will be able to have it fitted as a runner down the centre of the stairs.

IMG_7278The paint was taking ages to dry – the tin said two hours but  seven hours later it was still tacky in places so I couldn’t risk the cats running up and down on it.

IMG_7275The tin foil barrier seems to working so far. They have to use the maid’s stairs at the back of the house.

IMG_7267The stairs being painted also means that the entrance hall is now complete!

IMG_7270You can really appreciate the architecture now.

IMG_7264I will have to do some before and after shots so you can compare side by side.

IMG_7262Desk in the hall. It’s a good place to leave the mail and is also handy for writing cheques and such.

IMG_7273In other news, I went to the hardware store and bought a leaf rake. I am now prepared for this giant tree – a native lime – you can see the leaves are just starting to turn.