The Dining Room

Greetings! It is late winter here in the Edwardian house and we are all well.


Over the last year or so, the dining room had gradually been turning into a stock room for my new venture – boxes were piled high and it was getting difficult to even get into the room. I have just had a major clear out and hope to keep the dining room clutter-free from now on. While it was tidy I took a few pictures.


I think this will be the year that we finally get around to fitting window coverings in this room. I quite like plantation shutters but they can be very expensive and might be difficult to fit on the french windows. So perhaps we will get roman blinds instead.



It would also be nice to one get a wood burning stove fitted in the empty fireplace, though I wonder if it might be too hot for people when they are seated at the table?


I guess there is a fair amount of room between diners and the potential fire though.


I will investigate and keep you updated.


In the meantime, Miss Rose says hello!


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.




Stage 2, Day 24

IMG_2233First, I know that some of you have been missing the cats. Oliver and Ruby in their dungeon ie. the master bedroom, during today’s work. Look at them suffering on the mink throw and looking daggers at me.

IMG_2236Rose on the damask attending to her toilette. I even had the QVC shopping channel on for her.

IMG_2210This morning A and D turned their attention to the front garden. They began by digging up a lot of the crazy paving.

IMG_2214Then there were massive tree roots to unearth.

IMG_2227That looks like an enormous tree branch but it is, in fact, a root.

IMG_2228All cleared and leveled. Next the hardcore base was laid and compacted but I don’t have a picture of that.

IMG_2272And then the paving stones were laid.

IMG_2267We finally have a front path! We have to wait for the cement to dry before we can use it though. The path and front garden will vastly improve the street-appeal of the house.

IMG_2270J the tiler grouted the utility room. I can’t get enough of those tiles.

IMG_2269Just look at that edge where it meets the quarry tiles.

IMG_2280He also finished grouting the bottom section of the shower walls in the top floor bathroom.

IMG_2271And repaired the section of loose grout in the kitchen’s original quarry floor for me.

IMG_2206Finally he tiled the hearth of the open chimney breast in the dining room. Before.

IMG_2238And after: it really completes the room. J the tiler said they look like they have always been there. Most of the other fireplaces in the house have inset gloss tiles in red or green which is why I was drawn to these.

IMG_0876Here was Oliver a year and a half ago helping to uncover the fireplace tiles in my study. The original tiles as you can see are smaller but it is the same effect.

IMG_4491And the green tiles in the bedroom when I revealed that fireplace.

While we are talking about the dining room, you can see some before and after shots here.

IMG_2208B the electrician was also here today. Switch plate before (sitting too proud of the plaster).

IMG_2211And after. Hardly any damage done.

IMG_2209Wire for the unnecessary extractor fan before.

IMG_2212And now gone.

IMG_2222Old ugly pull cords in the top floor bathroom.


IMG_2279Replaced by a discreet switch for the shower above the bathroom door.

IMG_2282And a new switch for the light just outside, which is a legal requirement if you want to have bathroom light switches.

IMG_2276The new bathroom light was fitted but unfortunately the glass shade was cracked, so I have ordered a replacement.

IMG_2223Utilitarian light and pull cord in the kitchenette in Mark’s study decommissioned. The main light in that room will be enough, plus we will no longer be cooking in this room.

IMG_2224New light fitting for Mark’s study.

IMG_2283With its New York Tiffany shade.

IMG_2275New light fitting for the top floor landing. And new smoke detector.

IMG_2273The trunking on the landing was also neatened-up.

IMG_2217New light fitting for the servant stairs landing. It’s the same fisherman’s light that I have in the breakfast room and I will have a matching wall light in the utility room. It’s my attempt to keep the ‘story’ of the old servant areas of the house consistent by using more austere lights in those areas.

IMG_2218Ready for the new light shade in the guest room. This will be a non-austere room, however.

IMG_2265While B the electrician was on a break, I couldn’t help but utilise his ladder to have a look in the loft. I managed to get my head and shoulders through that hatch.

IMG_2254It’s a huge space up there, at least six feet high from the rafters to the apex with no cross beams. Lots of old insulation piled up everywhere though. I think I’d like to get one of those fold-down ladders to gain access to this space as it would be great for storage. I’m sure we could even do a loft-conversion and turn it into an extra bedroom but we don’t really need a fourth floor or another bedroom. I’m tempted to explore the possibilities one day though.

IMG_2258There’s also a redundant water expansion tank up here for the old heating system. I’m glad it’s a modern plastic one rather than an old asbestos example.

IMG_2240The plaster work around the guest bedroom window was also patched up. I had a couple of windows measured for blinds today, including this one. I also confirmed the carpet order for this room. My nine week guest room challenge is running on schedule. Tomorrow the decorators arrive!

Dining Room: Before and After

dining2In this before and after shot you can see the dining room as it appeared in the sale brochure and how it looks now.

dining3What have we done in this room? First, the ceiling had been over-boarded and skimmed as the original lath and plaster ceiling was cracked and in danger of collapse. We managed to keep the original cornice and picture rail.

dining4The walls were in good enough condition to cover with lining paper and re-paint rather than re-plaster. We redirected the ugly copper central heating pipes that ran up the wall by the door.

dining6To the left you can see that the fireplace was reinstated. We still have to tile the hearth and decide what sort of fire to install – perhaps a gas log fire or a wood-burning stove.

dining7We had the original pine floorboards stripped and polished.

dining5The French doors were restored as much of the wood had rotted in the bottom panels. As with the rest of the house, this room was rewired and redecorated. Just in time for some pre-Christmas entertaining!


Build Day #101 – and an anniversary

Friday was both the 101st day of the build and the one year anniversary of moving in!

IMG_4324It was a bricks and mortar day, so there was a lot of repointing of brickwork by A and A.

IMG_4326This was done the other day but it’s a good shot of the repaired cast iron downpipe. JB found an exact match of the one that was stolen by the metal thieves. Even the brackets are the same. Note that our house is now looking smarter than our neighbours!

IMG_4327The downpipe has a new gully trap too.

IMG_4328Around the side where the door and window were blocked up. Note all the new gutters and downpipes too.

IMG_4331Looking up at the freshly painted windows.

IMG_4335Around the other side the french doors have been repaired, refitted and repainted.

IMG_4336New handles.

IMG_4337Looking up to the top window, the scene of Rose’s fall.

IMG_4341The dining room is taking shape.

IMG_4340I excavated the hearth, removing the old tiles and breaking up the cement. Underneath is the ash and rubble base. The tiles were definitely not original. They were from the 1930s and had the maker’s mark of Sherwin and Cotton. I will need to think about what we do with this fireplace when we have some money…IMG_0944A before shot for you, taken the day we lifted the peach coloured carpet. I must reattach that servant bell.

tilesOnline I found a smaller version of what the 1930s fire might have looked like. These are the same Sherwin and Cotton tiles. I would say the fireplace was the work of Martha Baxter.

IMG_4343Oliver spending some important upside-down time in his new breakfast room location.

IMG_4348He reminds us that it’s important to look at the world from a different perspective. He is happy to spend the night in the breakfast room and kitchen with his sisters but is very keen to come straight out in the morning. I don’t think he likes the neighbour’s cat Albus peering in through the doors.






Build Day #76

IMG_3733Typical morning scene. After breakfast Rose and Ruby have taken to sharing the spare duvet (that’s English for doona) and Oliver has just been looking through the window at the pigeons who sit on the chimney.

IMG_3757Carpentry work. The restored casement window has been refitted. The casement on the right is awaiting its new pane. The bathroom window had the cracked pane replaced as well but I forgot to take a picture.

IMG_3736Skirting boards recycled from elsewhere in the house have been fitted in the utility cupboard.

IMG_3742And in the entrance hall.

IMG_3737The resized canopy panel has arrived and once more the kitchen has been pulled apart. It will be all be assembled soon…

IMG_3744The second ceiling rose has been fitted. This is the one in Mark’s study.

IMG_3745The third rose has been fitted and is awaiting its outer ring.

IMG_3746Here is the fourth Rose.

IMG_3748Awaiting a head scritch.


IMG_3739Farrow and Ball’s ‘Incarnadine’ in the dining room.

IMG_3740Gorgeous. I like it even better than ‘Blazer’, which we had in Liverpool.

946228_140471349489338_850348158_nOur Liverpool house for comparison. Blazer had a more yellow hue.

IMG_3741This is darker and is more towards blue in spectrum.


Build Day #75

IMG_3715Hello yellow!

IMG_3716The breakfast room is coming together quickly now. The topcoat of Farrow and Ball’s ‘Dayroom Yellow’ has been applied. It’s bright and cheery and when the sun shines you might need your sunglasses!

IMG_3713In the dining room the lining paper has been hung and the ceiling has had some undercoats.

IMG_3709P the painter discovered a spillage problem when he opened today’s paint delivery – it looks like a massacre! Farrow and Ball are sending a replacement tomorrow. The colour is called ‘Incarnadine’ – I am embracing colour in this renovation. There is a trend at the moment for cool neutrals – different shades of grey are very popular but I just don’t think they would work in our house. Plus I won’t be associated with ‘fifty shades of grey’ in any way.

IMG_3728Plastering and patching continued in the toilet.

IMG_3725And bathroom.

IMG_3719Pipes were a bit of a theme today. Pipes installed under the kitchen sink.

IMG_3720New downpipes being assembled.

IMG_3721The redundant downpipe by the coal store was removed. You can see where the door to the servant’s toilet was bricked up (now part of the breakfast room). In Stage 2 of the build (scheduled for some time next year, hopefully) this little porch area outside the coal store will be turned into the downstairs toilet.

IMG_3724The blocked downpipe at the front of the house was disassembled. You can see all the algae where it has been leaking and causing damp in the lounge room wall.

IMG_3706The downpipe was full of this black, rotting leaf litter and there were roots in the pipe at ground level. This meant that during rainfall the pipe would simply fill up and overflow. It’s why I would always hear a gurgling sound in the bedroom when it rained outside, nothing was draining through the pipe.

IMG_3704The pipe is clear now and it will be reattached when the underground pipe is cleared of tree roots (or replaced).

IMG_3722The soil stack pipe at the side of the house is ready for connection.

IMG_3718We also have a tap in the kitchen! No water yet though. Ruby is going to love drinking from that. She will probably learn how to turn it on.

IMG_3714In the en suite some of the cabinetry was fitted. It’s getting exciting now.


Build Day #74

I know that some of you come here to see the cats and that they have been missing from the last couple of posts. Sorry about that.


Here’s Ruby on the kitchen bench, making it her own.

IMG_3681Ruby wanting to learn how to use the drill.

IMG_3682Ruby wanting to learn how to use the teppanyaki griddle.

IMG_3693Oliver looking worried on the landing.

IMG_3696Oliver looking handsome. And a bit worried.

IMG_3667Rosie checking out the breakfast room.


The under servant stairs cupboard has been stripped ready for painting and has a new handle. OK, I need to admit it. We have decided to call in reinforcements for some of the decorating. P the painter is finishing off the breakfast room and kitchen and will also be decorating the dining room. I probably could have done it myself but it would have taken me ages, plus I’m not convinced I could paint woodwork very well.

IMG_3686The breakfast room has had a yellow based undercoat. This is not the final colour, which will be Farrow and Ball’s ‘Dayroom Yellow’, but it gives an idea of what a yellow room will look like. Bright and sunny.

IMG_3671The kitchen door has been stripped and filled.

IMG_3674The dining room floor has been covered and the walls and ceiling prepared. The walls are going to have lining paper and will be painted rather than wallpapered. I prefer paint as it is much easier to redecorate and change the colour. Not that I will ever want to change the colour that I have selected.

Once these particular rooms are decorated, and the quarry tiles in the kitchen get their final clean and seal, we will be able to get the rest of our furniture out of storage from Liverpool. We are hoping to have delivery at the end of August, which will be just over eleven months after we moved in. Not everything will be finished by then but it will mainly just be decorating work. It will be nice to have all of our stuff back under one roof even if we can’t uppack it all. Mark is of the view that if we didn’t really miss it for almost a year then it’s not incredibly essential to our lives. He is determined to downsize but we haven’t even fully upsized yet.


Carpentry work continued. Skirting board where the old door into the bedroom was (now the en suite).

IMG_3678More skirtings. The kitchen is almost finished; the last parts arrive on Friday.

IMG_3675The toilet and bathroom are almost ready for their final skim.


The repair to the back of the servant’s stairs cupboard was too quick for me to get a time capsule together.

IMG_3701I bought this oil painting today. It has been done by a good amateur hand and will go nicely on a wall in a room yet to be decided. It was in the charity shop for £5 so how could I pass it up? Mark asked if I bought it for the frame. I really like the painting but it is true that even the frame is worth more than £5. It is signed L H Cockerill and is called ‘Come into the garden’.







Build Day #73

IMG_3654Today was a busy day that began with a big clean up.

IMG_3660This is going to be our ‘utility closet’ for the washing machine and dryer. Eventually we will build a full utility room in the coal store at the back of the house. Afterwards this space will be used for storage or perhaps as a walk-in pantry.

IMG_3663Carpentry work continued. This is the repaired/rebuilt casement for Mark’s study.

IMG_3655The French doors were put under the microscope today and found wanting. When the bottom panels were removed there was plenty of rot and evidence of old repairs. They had to be taken away to a joiner. We are not sure yet whether they can be repaired or if they will need to be remade.

IMG_3652The creaky broken step in the servants staircase has been repaired.

IMG_3651To access the step, A the carpenter needed to ‘break in’ through the under stairs cupboard. I’m tempted to put a time capsule in there before it is sealed up.

IMG_3657In the dining room the first of the ceiling roses has been fitted.

IMG_3653The doorway is being prepared for its oak threshold. The terrazzo has been cut and trimmed on one side and  the quarry tiles on the other, and then the gap has been filled with cement. There was a row of blue engineering bricks here that would have formed the foundations of the brick wall that we cut through to make the door.

IMG_3666Outside the gutters have been fitted to the dormer windows at the front and back of the house.


Build Days #69 and #70

IMG_3529The floors were finished on Tuesday and this is a picture from Wednesday morning. Mark’s study.

IMG_3565Looking good.

IMG_3531Dining room.

IMG_3354How it looked just a few days ago.

IMG_3533Carpentry work continues. This is a box built around the copper pipes that run along the ceiling in the toilet.

IMG_3534Reclaimed architraves were fitted around the new kitchen doorway. Other doors were eased so that they open and close properly.

IMG_3570The replacement granite was fitted today.


IMG_3573One or two more things need to happen in the kitchen before it’s finished. The arched panel behind the mantel is being remade so that it finishes  lower down. This will also allow us to lower the extractor fan behind it as it’s just that bit too high at the moment. I also want the corbels cut down so that the the shelf is closer to the arch.

IMG_3572The dresser unit is finished though.

IMG_3546Not only do our cats know when knock-off time is, Albus, the neighbour’s cat, drops by around the same time each day to commune with Oliver, Ruby and Rose.

IMG_3545Ruby and Albus stare at each other a lot, and not just from this window but the ones at the front too. Soon her boyfriend Teddy Westlife will be getting jealous.

IMG_3555Rosie saying hello.

IMG_3549And finally Oliver.

IMG_3564Once all the evening excitement of exploration is over, we return to the top floor flat. Oliver leads as he likes to demonstrate how the stairs work in case we forget. He will run about three or four steps ahead, pausing to check you are following him.