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.

Carpenter Monday

D the carpenter was here today finishing off a few things around the house.

IMG_3592He started by repairing floorboards in Mark’s study.

IMG_3593The floor is now ready for sanding and polishing.

IMG_3590A couple of other boards were replaced too as they had been damaged when the plumbing and heating were done. Top floor landing.


And the loose one in the cupboard.

IMG_3594He then tackled the front door, which was starting to stick at the base. A few millimetres planed off the bottom and it’s fine.

IMG_3595He also planed down the picture rail to remove the bulge caused by the knot, which you can now see clearly on the right. I’m so glad it wasn’t dry rot!

IMG_3597In the utility room he added a piece of timber and some beading to the door frame to finish it off properly.

IMG_3596And finally, in the future pantry he fitted the doors to separate this area from the gas/electricity meters and my “shed” storage space. We reused the original door, cutting it in half and adding new handles.

IMG_3598In the new downstairs toilet I have fitted the accessories – toilet roll holder, towel ring and mirror.

IMG_3599It’s a porthole! It goes well with the fisherman’s lights in the utility room and breakfast room.


My Study


P and T the decorators have been working hard. After 13 months I finally have a study again, rather than the kitchen table! The walls are painted in Farrow and Ball’s London Stone and the frieze above the picture rail is Dimity. I would show you the rest of the room but only this corner is finished. Plus the contents of the master bedroom have been disgorged into this room as the bedroom is still being decorated. More to follow.

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 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.


Build Day #67

IMG_3507The kitchen is coming along nicely. I am particularly happy about the mantel above the cooker.

IMG_3509Ruby is already inside that cupboard and Oliver is following her. Clearly there is something fascinating in there.

IMG_3497First floor hallway. Just to remember the chaos.

IMG_3499D the floor guy was here today. The dining room has been stripped and sanded and has one of the three coats of sealant it is getting. It has made the room so much brighter.

IMG_3504The pine boards are in such great condition underneath all that wax and varnish. They smell beautiful too.


Just gorgeous – and this is after only one coat. They look a bit raw at the moment but they will also mellow with time.

IMG_3501Makes the rest of the room look shabby now! We are, however, getting very close to the point in the renovation where all our remaining jobs will just be cosmetic.

IMG_3493Mark’s study has been partially sanded but not coated yet.

IMG_3496Can you start to imagine now how it is going to all look?



Build Day #66

IMG_3357Today the former tradesman’s entrance external door became the internal kitchen door! It needs a handle and also has to be stripped and painted.

IMG_3362Other carpentry work included the reinstatement of skirtings around the chimney breast in the dining room/

IMG_3354The dining room floor is also now ready for sanding and polishing next week.

IMG_3347Luckily JB and I had a talk about the chandelier I would be hanging in the dining room. He realised that we would need to reinforce the ceiling to take its weight, so D the carpenter lifted Mark’s study floorboards one final time before they are polished on Monday.

IMG_3363Everything’s ready now. Well, once the ceiling rose is fitted.

IMG_3349JB removed the old lath and plaster wall in the toilet and started attaching the plasterboard.

IMG_3348He said the old laths were probably chestnut wood, which is a sign of quality in the original building.

IMG_3350He also did a coating on the walls of the bathroom.

IMG_3356The electricians were here. This is the first functioning light downstairs! It is in the future utility cupboard. Unfortunately it is now the only light that works in the house – we discovered an hour ago that none of the lights on the top floor work any more. Luckily the sun doesn’t go down until late…

IMG_3346Wall lights installed in the en suite. Ignore all the marks on the wall – the paint is washable.

IMG_3345Both lights.

IMG_3358Everything was left in a big mess today so I spent an hour or so sweeping, dusting and vacuuming the house at the end of the day. I know it will get messy again but it’s nice to have everything as tidy as possible for the weekend. It also means the cats don’t wander back upstairs covered in sawdust.IMG_3360A view down the side of the house. Lots of brick dust on the path.

Build Day #47

IMG_2843Today was Saturday but we still had a couple of trades here. The en suite walls were plastered.

IMG_2844You can see the future shower taking shape. The pipe running through the wall is our temporary water supply upstairs. It won’t be a permanent feature of the en suite.

IMG_2845The pipe snakes through the floor to the new water connection downstairs.

IMG_2846Mark’s future study got its ceiling plastered. To be consistent I should probably just call it Mark’s study, as I don’t refer to other rooms with a ‘future’ prefix.

IMG_2847When it first goes on, the plaster looks like milk chocolate. Could you imagine? The ceiling wouldn’t last long in this house it if was!

IMG_2857The roofers were also here today applying new lead to the front top floor dormer window. That room is our current bathroom and will become the guest bathroom. We currently only have one window upstairs as the front and rear dormers are boarded up while the new windows are made. It’s a bit dark. At some point we must take care of the wobbly fence and that rickety, rotten white fence post that looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can also see the skip is overflowing – we may have to pay for a fifth!

IMG_2855Close-up of the newly leaded window.




I was also very busy decorating today. I had to make sure I protected the unsealed quarry tiles before I began.

IMG_2851I sanded and prepped the breakfast room and gave it a mist coat.

IMG_2849Once you start painting things always look lighter and brighter.

IMG_2850I tested my two yellows for the breakfast room. The top one (Dayroom Yellow) was far too bright – almost an acid yellow. The one below called Hay is more subtle and is in the same tonal range as the Ball Green in the kitchen, so I think I will go with that.

Build Day #45

IMG_2825Today the hot water system joined the boiler. It all looks very complex. I will have to ask P the plumber what those small white and red cylinders are for.

IMG_2823A toilet bowl has made it into the toilet to try the room out for size.

IMG_2826This sink will be joining it one day.

IMG_2821The future recesses in the en suite shower were boarded.

IMG_2824The ceiling in Mark’s future study was boarded over now that the leaky dormer window above has been taken care of.

IMG_2828The skip is close to overflowing. There were also lots of deliveries of carpenter’s materials: timber, skirtings, architraves and such.

IMG_2829This morning I went downstairs with my good camera (all of the blog shots are taken with my iPad Mini) to take some more arty shots of the front door. Unfortunately, P the painter had already stripped it further and given it an undercoat – by 8am! Not to worry.

I have also been negotiating with my local tile retailer for the purchase of bathroom and en suite tiles.

T the kitchen man dropped by to do final measurements for the kitchen. The cabinets should arrive in week’s time and then the following week is allocated for the fitting! It’s hard to believe that we will soon have a proper kitchen again – with a dishwasher! The granite worktops will still need to be templated, cut and delivered, plus I’m not sure how ready the electrics are, so it may well be another month before the kitchen is functioning.

Build Day #30

IMG_2555The scaffold has now reached right around the house to the leaky dormer window that is causing the wet rot in the ceiling below. For Debby – you can see our second chimney in this picture also.

IMG_2559The scaffold one level lower, outside Mark’s future study.

IMG_2564At ground level.

IMG_2558The plasterers skimmed the walls in Mark’s future study.

IMG_2560This room will now have the best walls in the house along with the new kitchen and breakfast room.

IMG_2583Down in the breakfast room Oliver decided that he loves freshly set plaster.

IMG_2587He did a whole series of jumps and slides against the wall. Cat claws on fresh plaster sound exactly like fingernails on a blackboard but I think all added to his fun. In fact the cats had a real frolic in the large ground floor area – it’s much clearer today as the builders did a tidy up. Rose started by running and jumping about and then all three of them got into it. In the end I had to go and get the red dot laser and they had great, albeit dusty, fun.

IMG_2573Oliver taking a rest on the plaster board.

IMG_2567The entrance hall seems much bigger now that all the building supplies and the old doors and architraves have been moved out. I have my eye on this carpet now as I think it is time to rip it up and put it in the skip. Then we will finally get a good look at the terrazzo underneath.

IMG_2569Meanwhile, the garden is turning into a mud pit.