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.


Stage 2, Day 16

IMG_1798A busy day today. Ignore the ‘garden’ – it’s now a wildlife sanctuary for the hedgehog.

IMG_1799The lining of the utility room and toilet continued.

IMG_1805Plasterboard. Lots of interesting shapes.

IMG_1809Utility room ceiling.

IMG_1800It’s very high up.


IMG_1804Toilet wall and ceiling.

IMG_1802Walls in the toilet. The window opening has been boarded up, which will stop the neighbour’s cat Albus coming in, as he has been wont to do.


IMG_1811The view from the kitchen window.

IMG_1815Inspection team at the end of the day. We’re almost at the point where I will let them in to explore their expanding territory.



Stage 2, Day 15

The end of the third week.

IMG_1770Around the corner I spotted the new pavers for the front path.



Ceilings are starting to go up in the toilet and utility.

IMG_1781It’s all taking shape.



The new window was installed in the servant’s bedroom/future guest room. Here is the window making its arrival.


The old window. It’s always sad to say goodbye to an origninal window but it was rotten, thinly glazed and could not be opened. The servant’s room also had cheaper materials than the rest of the house. This is a traditional sash window, whereas the windows in the family’s part of the house were the more fashionable Edwardian casements. We managed to save the architrave though.




IMG_1758Our neighbour maintains a nice lawn.



IMG_1775Very nice. It’s not fashionable to like UPVC windows but these are very solid and practical. If the house were a few streets over we would be in a conservation area and all of the old windows would have had to remain. The house has thirty-six windows, so I can live with a few UPVC ones, plus the double glazing will help keep the place warm. This was an especially cold room as it has three external walls.

IMG_1778Both sections open, the lower part being very handy for evacuation if ever it were necessary. We should probably review our fire drill.


Outside before.

IMG_1769 (1)

Outside after. You can see that I had the new window made to the same proportions as the old one.


Old window on the way out.


Tiles for the utility room were delivered.


Tiles for the hearth in the dining room were delivered. Lights were delivered but I haven’t taken a photo.

IMG_1761Oliver being as brave as he could considering all of today’s disruptions.



Stage 2, Day 14

IMG_1721The pavers on our new back step have been mortared in.

IMG_1727Now we just need to work on the garden to make it worth stepping outside!

img_4791How it used to look a year ago.

IMG_1712The coal store is definitely looking like a room now.

IMG_1713Further lining, cladding and such-like occurred. Site of the future basin in the toilet.

IMG_1717We are going to get a cupboard door installed in the triangular ‘loft’ space; a great place to store the Christmas decorations.

IMG_1714Pipework for the new toilet. The red brickwork is less than a year old as that was once the doorway through to the old servant’s toilet. It will be a shame to cover it really.

img_4826How it used to look a year ago. We’re installing a high-level cistern toilet in the new space as a nod to the house’s past. It will be nicer than this though, trust me.

img_1971This is now the breakfast room! Seeing pictures like this makes you realise how much has been accomplished in the last year.

IMG_1728The brickwork is now complete on the new wall; it makes the old part of the wall on the left look rather shabby. Everything else here will be black-and-white timber and render. I blamed P the plumber for all of yesterday’s grit in the kitchen but I realised this morning that some of it was from the cutting of these grey bricks. All the doors were closed today as more bricks were cut, which made a big difference.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 11.45.51 amHere is the collection of colours for the utility room and toilet. The walls will be Farrow and Ball’s Cinder Rose (pink) and the wainscoting Vert de Terre (green). The units for the utility will be cream and the floor black and white tile.




Stage 2, Day 13

IMG_1692The new routines are setting in; the entire trio now get wound up around 8am. IMG_1696The reality of building work has also hit as boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘building site’ become blurred once more. Building materials have inevitably made their way into living spaces. IMG_1710Ruby doesn’t mind though as it gives her a platform to access to never-before-seen locations. IMG_1708P the plumber had to do a lot of brick grinding as he first-fixed the plumbing and heating in the coal store conversion. As a consequence, every surface in the kitchen and breakfast room was coated in a dark grey grit after clouds of dust billowed out of the back door. IMG_1701It’s very nice work though. Pipes for the washing machine and sink. IMG_1703Heating and pipework in the toilet. IMG_1704Connections through to the existing services. The heating has also been drained and the boiler turned off, so we are hoping for warm weather over the next couple of weeks. IMG_1695 The wall crept further up; the conversion is now fully enclosed.

Stage 2, Day 12

A great deal has been happening today.

IMG_1635Rosie started the morning with some stretches. It’s important to be limber.

IMG_1639Ruby and Oliver were on the lookout.


B the electrician came and completed the first fix of the utility room and toilet.








Lights. I have decided to go with wall lights in both rooms as the ceilings are so high.


This is the “fisherman’s” light fitting I am using in the utility room. It matches the pendant in the breakfast room.


In the toilet I am having this Tiffany style light above the basin and mirror.


A and R continued work on the wall.

IMG_1690The time capsule is down in behind this brickwork now.

IMG_1681The space is quickly being enclosed.

IMG_1682Toilet taking shape.

IMG_1679The tiles for the top floor bathroom were delivered; a nice travertine-effect ceramic tile.


The tree stumps in the front garden were ground down. Before.



The grinder exposed a line of red bricks that had been enveloped by the tree trunk. It wasn’t good for his cutting blades, apparently.


And after. We can now walk straight to the front door from the footpath! The stump of the yew tree that was next to the front door was also ground out.



I continued preparations in the guest bedroom clearing things out and tackling the fireplace.


There was still a certain amount of debris falling into this fireplace that I revealed last year so I donned my mask and gloves and set about trying to sweep the chimney out. It was an extremely dusty job. I ended up just having the vacuum cleaner running a metre or so away just to try to suck up some of the airborne dust. As I swept more and more of the debris out I was reaching my arm further and further up into the chimney. Given my past experiences I expected to come accross a bird skelton or two. On the ledge I felt a large piece of loose metal and pulled it out, bringing a load of debris with it. It was the bars for the front of the fireplace! As I continued there was more.


The ash pan cover.


And finally the baffle – the thing you use to close off the chimney (I know these words because I just looked them up). Whoever had boarded up this fireplace was thoughful enough to leave all the fireplace parts up the chimney. Thank you person-from-the-past!


It certainly saves me a few trips to reclamation yards to find replacements.

IMG_1677I still need to strip it the and have it repainted but I am so happy that I found the original fireplace parts.


I looked up the chimney, which now seems fairly clear (this photo was taken before I did a final sweep – you can see more debris on the ledge). I replaced the baffle, effectively blocking the room from draughts and future debris.

IMG_1678My bucket was full – this is in addition to the foot of debris that I cleared out the last time! It’s a mixture of soot, masonry and a lot of old bird droppings – the pigeons still love to hang out on top of the chimney pot, Rosie watches them every morning from my study window. The content of the bucket was probably 50% phosphate – I could give Nauru a run for their money.



Stage 2, Day 11

IMG_1604 It was a Saturday but I’m counting it in the build as some important work was undertaken. IMG_1602P the damp proofer came by in the afternoon and set up his equipment. IMG_1600He drilled holes into the wall and injected the damp proofing fluid under high pressure. IMG_1606The machine looked like a strange set of mechanical bagpipes. The active ingredient of the injected fluid reacts with the atmosphere to form a water repellent barrier. This halts the capillary rise of moisture (you can see the ‘tide mark’ of salts above the injection course – a classic case of rising damp, albeit a small one). He suspects that the cause of the rising damp is not the bricks but the mortar in between them, which sucks up moisture like a sponge, bridges the blue engineering brick damp course (that line of darker bricks) and then soaks the brickwork above. Modern repointing uses cement rather than the traditional lime, which would have allowed the wall to breathe and dry out more easily. He was still stumped as to why the rising damp is so localised to this one pillar. He was impressed though, as he said that a true case of rising damp is rare, as a lot of damp is caused by leaks of some sort. My theory is that the massive silver birch was helping to keep the ground dry as it would have drunk hundreds of litres of water a day, so the ground has resaturated over the last eighteen months since the tree was felled. In addition the tree sheltered the front of the house from prevailing winds and rain, so rain once again hits the front of the house directly and soaks the front garden. It will also help to remove the crazy paving from the garden as this will improve evaporation. IMG_1615He did the same injection treatment on the internal side of the wall. The whole process took a couple of hours. IMG_1611 After this, P treated the roof joist that had signs of past woodworm infestation. If there are any of the critters still eating away at the beam, they won’t be for long. The joist is still stucturally sound, which is good.

Stage 2, Day 10

IMG_1588We have half a wall and a partial window opening!

IMG_1572The time capsule went into the wall cavity.


IMG_1592The back step – the pavers are just sitting on the brickwork at the moment to get an idea of how they will look.

IMG_1573The roofers came a day early – I guess there’s nothing as motivating as a bank holiday weekend. It saves us having them here on a Saturday too. The before shot.

IMG_1574And after. The new Velux skylight window in the utility room.

IMG_1582It lets in a lot of light and is great for ventilation too as it swings open on a central pivot.


IMG_1594How it looks from the garden. A window on that back wall would have taken away valuable space for cupboards in the utility room, and if we put a window on the wall around the corner to the right it would have overlooked the neighbour’s garden a bit too intrusively.

IMG_1580The view into the future WC.

IMG_1576Preparations have been made for the damp proofing injections in the lounge and at the front of the house. It was a shame that this surfaced now after we had already decorated but on the bright side we hadn’t laid any carpet. I am now thinking of taking the walls a shade lighter when we have this repair redecorated…but it may be that it will look different when we finally get floor coverings in there. I shouldn’t second guess myself prematurely.



Stage 2, Day 9

IMG_1559The back step is taking shape.

IMG_1560Work continues on the coal store. I didn’t want to risk stepping on the new brickwork so I took this picture through the window. Sorry I didn’t even bother to open the window – it needs a bit of a clean.

210515 scott utilityHere is the design for the utility room, including that belfast sink. Perfect for bathing a small dog…