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.

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…

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.


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.

Autumn Decorating Day 4

IMG_6748The first coat of Calamine went on in the entrance hall. This was followed by more patching of the walls as the even paint coat shows up imperfections that are not as visible beforehand. P and T are very thorough.

IMG_6751You certainly can’t say I worked with a restricted palette on this house!


The first house we built and decorated was completely white inside – Dulux’s Dove White on the walls, ceilings and woodwork. It looked lovely and it was easy because I didn’t have to think too hard about colour – I could save it for the fittings, furniture and accessories. Also because it was so open plan it was difficult to decide where to stop one colour and start another.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 11.23.27 am

The next house we bought was completely cream inside – walls ceilings and woodwork. Both of these were modern Australian homes and the pared back colour palette seemed to suit modern homes in a hot country.


Then we moved to UK and I got a bit more adventurous with colour. This was my first red room, in the Victorian terrace we bought in Liverpool – though still many of the rooms were white. I think that because the UK climate is colder, and the sky greyer, having more colour in the home makes it feel warmer, cosier and more inviting. This current house then is really the culmination years of pent up colour desire – I have gone technicolour just at the moment when Little Greene and Farrow and Ball are bringing out entire colour charts simply with dozens of shades of grey (which is very ‘in’ at the moment).

IMG_6749With the walls almost finished, you find your eye catching all of the period details instead of the patchy, cracked old walls.

IMG_6752Going up the stairs.

IMG_6753At this point the colour changes for the next two floors.

IMG_6755A second coat of the Pigeon has been applied.


From this vantage point you can see both colours at once.

IMG_6756Up to the top floor.

IMG_6759Looking sharper with this second coat.


Back by the front door the cast iron radiator has had one top coat of the Old Penny Bronze.

Autumn Decorating Day 3


P and T the decorators continued their work. The entrance hall and stairs have been whited-out. Rose inspecting.


The space feels so much bigger already. This will be painted in Farrow and Ball’s Calamine, which I have already used in the utility room and have seven and a half litres of it left over. It’s a subtle, bluish pink, not at all sugary or Barbie-like, and looks quite different according to the light. In the evenings with yellow incandescent light its takes on a completely different hue.IMG_6733

On the next two levels the first coat of the wall colour went on. It’s called Pigeon – a greenish/grey. P the painter originally referred to it rather unceremoniously as ‘khaki’, though I have swung him round and he now refers to it as The Funky Pigeon.IMG_6735

It looks nothing yet but I know how it will turn out.


The restored cast iron radiator by the front door also got an undercoat. This was stripped about 18 months ago but I never wanted it painted until all the other work around it was complete. The tin of Ardenbrite ‘Old Penny’ metallic paint is the most expensive paint I have ever bought – and that’s from someone who has a house full of Farrow and Ball.IMG_6747To help the drying process I turned the heating on for the first time this season. Rose was quick to reacquaint herself with her favourite radiator.

Autumn Decorating Day 2


P and T the decorators were here again. The ceilings in the hallways and landings were covered with lining paper.IMG_6720

This creates a smooth, even surface for painting. IMG_6722

It covers a multitude of sins.IMG_6724

It also means that any cracks that form in the orignial palster underneath will not show. Many of the other ceilings in the house were replaced but these ones could be saved.

IMG_6726There was also more sanding and filling.