Stage 2, Day 1

Today Stage 2 of the renovation officially began!

IMG_1384This is the current view from my kitchen window onto the servants’ courtyard – not very inspiring. This was part of the service area of the house: the Edwardian cistern collecting rainwater is to the left and there would have been a pump to utilise that water for washing. There was also access to the coal store and the servants’ toilet. No verdant views of the garden for them. In Stage One we blocked up the external doorway to this courtyard and converted the original servants’ toilet into part of the breakfast room. The covered area you can see here is going to be enclosed for a new downstairs toilet (with indoor access, unlike the one we removed!). The coal store, which is on the other side of the black door, will be converted into a utility/laundry room. The courtyard will eventually be developed into a more picturesque space, perhaps with a small tree like a Japanese Maple, or a water feature or bird bath.

IMG_1377Inside the coal store.

IMG_1380The original lath and plaster ceiling. Today we discovered a massive abandoned wasps’ nest above this.

IMG_1381The view onto the courtyard from inside the coal store.

IMG_1382Edwardian thumb latch on the coal store door.

IMG_1305On this handmade brick we can see the imprint of the brickmaker’s hobnail boot.

IMG_1391This morning Ruby was on the lookout for the builders.

IMG_1407A skip was delivered.

IMG_1409And a lot of building materials.

IMG_1412The coal store door was removed and the pavers and brick floor of the coal store dug out. If you look carefully you can see that each brick is stained with a few centimetres of coal dust that has filtered in deep between each brick. The smell of the coal was so strong that you could even smell it indoors.

IMG_1413A deep trench was dug out for the foundations of the new external wall.

IMG_1414Some new bricks were incorporated into the foundations where they were beginning to crumble at that corner.

IMG_1415The scene by the end of the day. Spot Oliver in the window. He was very brave today with all of the activity. In other news, some more blinds were fitted (pictures to follow) and the Edwardian leadlight window we are going to use for the new toilet was delivered.

Build Day #81

IMG_3973Electricians installed lights and smoke detectors in the hallway.

IMG_3996Wall lights in the lounge. They don’t have their little shades on yet.


IMG_3986Another hallway light.

IMG_3988Back bedroom (former servant’s bedroom).

IMG_3989On the back landing this fitting was attached to the still wet filler – a bit of a mess really but the electricians were determined to power up whether we were ready of not. In the end they spent half the day trying to figure out a short they had created in the downstairs sockets. So in fact some of the rooms that were ready, sanded and painted still didn’t get their lights! Argh! Frustrating.

IMG_3991Downstairs cloak room now empty after the removal of the old toilet. The little pane of broken glass in the window has been removed and a replacement ordered.

IMG_3994Rosie inspecting. Thankfully the terrazzo under the toilet was undamaged.

IMG_3992Our new, single stopcock for incoming water. Much better than the four original ones!

IMG_3993I have the hooks to put back on these timber struts. I just need to apply some paint remover to the old hooks first though.

IMG_3972P the plumber connected the top floor to the main pipework and the temporary pipe was removed. Also, on the top landing the three old pipes that ran up this wall to the old expansion tank in the roof were removed. It won’t be long until the temporary Great Wall on the left is removed too so that this ceiling can be over-boarded and plastered.

IMG_3977All of the taps and pipes and toilets were commissioned. In the darkness you can see Oliver sizing up his new steam bath platform. He likes to accompany you in the bathroom when you are having a shower and needs somewhere to sit.

IMG_3979Spotting the running water in the basin for the first time.

IMG_3981These waterfall taps are great.

IMG_3984Endless fun.

IMG_4005The trouble is now the cats come to expect water on demand…

IMG_4003New rim latch and handle on the under servant stairs cupboard. Looking smart.

IMG_4002And on the servant’s stairs door.

IMG_4014New handle and mortise latch on the kitchen door.

IMG_3974Ceiling rose ring ready for fitting in the master bedroom.

IMG_3999Range cooker fitted and connected to gas and electricity. Shiny.

IMG_4039Oliver inspecting the ovens.

IMG_4015There are going to have to be some new rules enforced when the kitchen comes into use.

2014-08-15 15.22.14JB and P the plumber lighting the gas for the first time. We have fire!


IMG_4045Miss Rose. Just because.

IMG_3997Washing machine taps and outlet in the utility closet.

IMG_4047Build Day #81 was yesterday (Friday) and today there was a small amount of work done but I don’t consider today’s work a fully separate and complete build day as the trades were only here for an hour or so. The roofers were replacing roof tiles until their tile cutter broke down. T the kitchen man measured up for the glass splashback in the kitchen. The tilers came and fitted the splashbacks in the toilet…

IMG_4048…and bathroom.

IMG_4049They also repaired some of the lost grout in the kitchen and breakfast room quarry tile floors ready for Monday’s final cleaning and sealing.

IMG_4050As of Monday everyone will be barred from these two rooms while the floor is treated. Everything has been completed in here apart from the final electrical testing and the fitting of the over counter kitchen lights, both of which are low impact on the floor. Then on September 1st it will be time for us to move into these rooms!


They will become the new ‘Cat Headquarters’ and we will be moving all of their things in – cat beds, cat trees, food, litter, toy box etc. The rooms will also be my new Command Central for the rest of the build.







House Tour: Dining Room

IMG_2702 - 2013-06-11 at 17-12-56This is a picture I took of the dining room on the day of my first viewing of the house. One of the things I loved about the house was that it had a separate formal dining room. People ask whether we will knock through into the lounge room to open up the space but my answer is no – this is the first house where we have had a completely separate room for formal entertaining. I can also imagine Mark seated by the french windows reading the newspaper. Also, if we knocked through I would lose the wall where I need to put the piano!

IMG_4544The garden needs work but the dining room has a lovely aspect and it gets morning sun.

IMG_1222The french windows themselves need to restored but everything original is there.

IMG_4543The original lever handle on the door.

IMG_1218The dining room is currently a store room – most of our possessions are still in boxes. A lot of furniture is in rented storage space in Liverpool but these are particularly precious items. There are breakables that we didn’t want to entrust with strangers, also sentimental items, for instance Doris and Orlando’s ashes are in one of these boxes – we weren’t going to let them out of our sight! All the things stored here are light enough for Mark and I to move about the house when builders need access to this room. It may well be that the builder will want everything out for a couple of weeks, in which case most things are still packed and ready to go.

2013-09-24 10.13.21Ruby is self-proclaimed queen of the boxes.

IMG_0828Rose gives her a run for her money though.

IMG_1221Many of the rooms in the house have ceilings that will need to be repaired.

IMG_1220We also need to have the copper heating pipes re-routed.

IMG_2703 - 2013-06-11 at 17-13-08Paddy had the heating and boiler upgraded about four years ago and I think she just wanted the plumbers to take the path of least resistance with the piping – straight up the dining room wall! They simply cannot stay.

IMG_0937Mark and I have been slowly removing carpets in all the rooms. Ideally we would have lifted the carpet in the dining room before all the boxes went in but there wasn’t time on moving day. We spent and hour or so a couple of weeks back shifting all the boxes about and taking up the carpet as we went.

IMG_0940The fireplace in this room is long gone but I was  curious to see whether there were hearth tiles under the carpet.

IMG_0944They need a good clean but they are still there! One of the things I want to do is reinstate the fireplace here. Note the original servant’s bell push on the right. The floorboards are in pretty good condition too. I want them repaired and polished.

IMG_8497I have my eye on this fireplace surround but I don’t want to commit to buying until we are sure we can afford it! It may have to wait until later.

IMG_4516There is a beautiful copper door handle on the hallway side of the dining room door.

IMG_4517On the inside though is this rather ugly handle.

IMG_1223Searching online I managed to find a matching pair of door handles. The site I bought them off said they were 1920s but I suspect they are Edwardian as we have the same doorknobs on the lounge door as well. The spare handle will go in the lounge as the inside of that door has an odd handle as well.

IMG_0951Rosie looking beautiful on the chair. They love it when I go down into the unused rooms in the house. It makes them bold and they love exploring.

The room will be beautiful when it’s finished.

31721505c5a3f46c5c959586cb68ee8cec114afbHere’s one I prepared earlier! Only kidding. Our neighbour’s “twin” house was up for sale last year and this is a picture of their dining room – I flipped it in Photoshop so it looks like ours. I really like their mantelpiece and I wonder if it’s the original.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.29.33House of Fraser were having a sale so I bought this chandelier to hang above the dining table. We will have picture wall lights installed as well. At some point I will also need to think about colours for this room.