Guests often want to know what the house was like before I got stuck into it. It was more than a little sad actually. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw it, all the same. The size was just right, the gardens really private and with many established beauties and the location totally amazing. It even had a view from the front. Never mind the incredible amount of work needed, the house was sold. I wanted to do something different with this house. It is not a significant building historically, nor had it any real integral esthetic qualities and so I felt that I could do absolutely anything with it, just for fun. I still have quite a lot of things planned but they can take their time, nothing important. Sometimes tired old houses just need a lot of love to live up again.
These first pictures are from the day of buying, have done nothing at all yet.
When you walked on the living room floor it had a spongy feeling, that was because of the lino laid on the carpet which was in turn laid on lino laid on newspaper. Top it off with a rug, and you are walking on air! It would have made the floors warmer, sure. I am wearing my coat, it is October and utterly freezing, inside and out. The same room, much much much later…
It is so pretty I could burst. This is the main bedroom. The carpet is especially nauseating, I feel. The plastic walls are also of a miraculous quality but underneath it all is a wonderful house waiting to appear. Anybody wants to come and stay at my beautiful accommodation? Can’t understand why not. The bedroom had a whole wall of wardrobe with a curtain, this is where the bed now sits. I knocked a hole in the wall to the old linen cupboard and put a wardrobe there instead.
Now the work could begin. I took measurements of the windows when I bought it, so whilst waiting for the 30 day settlement to end I had made most of the leadlight.
This is the bathroom after yanking out some of the fittings.
The state of the floor under the bathtub. Some long term leaking here. Sometimes when you pull things apart you get delightful surprises. This is not one of them, but fairly easily repaired. Discover something grim, look at the lovely view, start again. Repeat.
Aah, look, the lilacs are in bloom. Great stuff, back to work.
I love it when you are back to bare bones. Such potential.
Bathroom is starting to be less grim.
This is a really good stage, when the linings are taking shape and you can think about the finish. I made a wardrobe outside the bath, it eats into the kitchen a bit but I think it is worth the space sacrifice. The kitchen is plenty big enough. The thing on the left was a linen cupboard but I made a hole in the bedroom wall and reversed the opening of the cupboard, turning it into a wardrobe. Older houses seldom have enough wardrobes.
Second bedroom after removing the blocky wardrobe. Pretty, let’s look at the view instead, again:
I feel better now.
Here’s a handy hint: As the plumbing and rewiring happens, take photos of the wall before you line it. This way, you can refer to where the expensive things are before you put a nail through something!
You can see the kitchen through the arch. The vinyl wall covering prevailed throughout, paired with masonite cladding. All the doors were of the cardboard variety. Help, I probably need to see the view again.
The living room has now lost the old arch and is gaining shelves. These days I don’t mind a bit of joinery, but when I was a beginner I found built in shelves the easiest and most rewarding thing to make. When you think about it, it is a lot easier than other freestanding projects. It takes its balance and support from the house itself and hence is much less demanding.
I love a pile of random timber. It can be almost anything you want at this stage. All the timber that was pulled up from the house was reused unless it was bad. The pine lining boards were new, as you can see, but much wood was collected from the timber pile at the recycling station too.
After I finished knocking all the mosaic tiles off the old fireplace, and the bottom brick infill etc, I rendered it and painted it with a limewash I made myself. The cost is cents only, and is very easy and so attractive. I won’t give you the recipe but there are lots online which more or less say the same thing. Bit of this and that.
The kitchen is starting to happen. The back of the old arch now has fiddly carpentry, later to become marbled. The box is what will become the hall wardrobe.
The bedroom, complete with canopy bed. What? Not there yet? The masonite and vinyl has just been ripped off, and the wall to wall space consuming wardrobe removed though all the timber is preserved for other things later.
I had to lay a second floor over a perfectly good one just to get the trapdoor flush. It was only in the wardrobe, so no big deal. The trapdoor leads nowhere, but I needed it to do something tricky.
Safety for the ears is important. I take safety seriously, as you can see I actually wear them out completely. I have a new pair now. Luxury.
The second bedroom is lined, the door closed in, the wide opening to the living room made more narrow and more solid. The round windows are in progress, see them on the floor.
Making the daybeds. Add wood until you are done.
Since I worked with so much old odd bits of wood full of nails and stuff, it was nice to put a clean face frame on. Makes it easier to make it look good.
Here is the back. It is important to have airgaps with your slatted wood, or the mattress can’t breathe which is essential. You can also lift out sections of the slats in order to clean (or use) the space underneath.
The front. I swear, the hedge is three metres higher now. I had no idea it had grown so much. Must prune! The front hedge is a specimen hedge, which means it is composed of successively flowering shrubs. One after the other, it is great.
Here I am, looking clean for the camera.
And here, about to do something unpleasant and dirty. Interestingly, still dressed in the same shade.