About ladylansdowne

A designer of stuff, lover of history, travel and shoes. In that order.

Hallway Update…

The hallway has been one of the most depressing areas of the house for so long, it needed sooo much work, I’ve spent many hours sitting at the top of the stairs looking down into the hall a foot deep in plaster, air thick with dust and asking myself what the hell we’d done buying this place…this photo doesn’t even show it at its worst!

 

If you are new to the blog, you might want to take a look back at the earlier posts covering the initial works including DPC, Helibars,  plasterwork  and door stripping in the hallway. 

  

FLOOR TILES…

Once the heavy work of rewiring, gas installation, wall strengthening, DPC, replastering & replacement of rotton wood (phew!) was done, we lifted the vile, vile, plaster encrusted carpet to uncover our original Victorian hall, we’d lifted corners of the carpet numerous times & knew it was in fairly good condition, but it was quite a moment to finally see the whole floor. 

Here comes the but…No sooner had we given the tiles a good clean, we became aware of a little ‘springy patch’ and within a week Ronnie had gone through the floor, breaking eight tiles in the process. It had to happen…and honestly? I was just glad I didn’t do it! The ensuing hole was about 5 inches deep with just soil below, it seems the tiles were laid on thin wood sheeting spanning small joists.  

As we needed to source replacement tiles, the hole was filled but remained untouched for a number of months while we got on with other higher priority stuff.  

 

We were galvanised back into action on a Sunday afternoon trip to a reclamation yard where we came across the replacement tiles we needed. Another but… I realised once we arrived home that my then 41 week pregnant brain bought the wrong colour tiles…I’d got black and we needed beige, worse, the yard didn’t even have any beige! Recounting the story to our neighbours, it turned out they had spares as they had altered their hallway slightly, they kindly gave us the tiles we needed to complete the repair.

Finally the floor needed a HUGE clean to get it looking good. After lots of research, unsurprisingly, it transpired the best solution was good old elbow grease. While I was researching cleaning methods I thought about Sarah Wooldridge who the 1911 census told us was Lansdowne’s live-in servant. I bet she kept the floor looking spot on, judging by the dirt that came of it no one had bothered cleaning it since she left town! I read that once clean, the tiles should be finished with a beeswax & turps mix which was put on liberally then buffed off the next day giving a subtle matt sheen. There’s still a few cracks here and there, it’s far from perfect but I’m not sure a floor that’s 120 years old should be.

  
WALLS…
Much to my dad’s dismay who painted the hall, we’ve decided to change the paint colour. I originally chose a dirty light blue emulsion as I thought there would be some subliminal connection with the blue floor tiles, but as they only refeature in the porch…I failed! We’ve now chosen a much more complimentary antique white which will brighten the space. We’ll leave the repainting until the attic is done as it will no doubt get wrecked as workmen trudge through.

HEATING…

We had two radiators installed in the hallway, given the choice, I’d have opted for Victorian style radiators, which is exactly why I’m not allowed to be in charge of the budget! I was keen to install radiator covers but Ronnie banned them based on their energy wasting credentials – god knows we need every bit of heat we can get in this house. We reached a compromise of radiator shelves which I sourced from EBay. We chose chunky rounded edge shelves with Edwardian style bracket fittings, these were only around £30 each but make quite an impact and give us a couple of much needed focal points in the hallway.

As we near the start line for the attic conversion, we’ve spent days dividing the contents into keep, charity or tip piles. We rediscovered quite a lot of decorative objects that have been out of mind for months. We’ve made use of a couple of these pieces by hanging a vintage mirror above the radiator nearest the door for last minute hair & make up checks. The one nearer the kitchen has a photograph of our holiday in Sri Lanka.

   
 

We were also able to find a place for my Grandparents grandmother clock which had sat awkwardly in my parents Seventies house for some years.  

 

  

LIGHTING…

We bought the ‘Carmella’ light fittings from BHS just before they closed, thankfully we got a couple for the upstairs landing to put into stock for when it’s decorated, though I notice BHS have a selection of lighting online again now, including  these but at nearly treble what we got them for in the sale.

 

STILL TO DO…

The last jobs will be to reprint the walls, paint the staircase, lay a carpet runner, hang more pictures…and the transformation will be complete at last. All in all still a LOAD of work to do, but at least I don’t cry when I sit on the stairs anymore, that’s got to be progress, right? 

   

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Craft Room…

Two years after I decided how I wanted the craft room to look, it’s about done. The room is bijou at best, but with a bit of planning it’s worked out just fine. 

 Like every other room in the house, things got a whole lot worse before they got better. Firstly the heating installation meant lifting the floorboards & general havoc, followed by a rewire and new windows. In true renovation style, we then had a big piece of plaster fall down & a significant repair to do.  

  


The last dirty  job was to change the ceiling boards for new fireproofed versions as this will be checked off by building control once the attic is underway.

Eventually we reached blank canvas stage and we (I) began planning. Due to my frankly ridiculous hoards of stationery, ribbon, washi tape, beads & random other sparkly tat, storage needs were key. The first issue was that the weak stud wall  meant I couldn’t have the shelves I’d anticipated, boo, so the rest of the room needed to work extra-hard.   

 My work desk was easily constructed by cutting to size a piece of white Formica worktop & sliding it into the nook the three walls create. We cut circles in both corners for flush fitting cable tidies – fancy! It’s big enough for working, crafting, sewing, maybe even writing the odd blog post. Beneath the desk are my two Bisley units holding all my jewellery & sewing paraphernalia. I had planned on getting these powder coated, but now they are in place I’m not sure it’s worth the outlay…? 

 I wanted a storage cabinet on the opposite wall. I looked at numerous vintage haberdashery cabinets but they were too wide, too deep, too tall and ultimately (very pregnant) I got bored of looking as it was preventing progress and I knew if I didn’t get it sorted before Littley’s arrival I might never have a craft room. There was only one thing for it… IKEA! I chose the Liatorp which was the skinniest, tallest model they had.  
I’ve been able to squeeze most stuff onto the adjustable shelves in my numerous jars and storage boxes and it looks pretty good. After having all of this sprinkled throughout the house for so long, it’s rather luxurious to have it all in one place & I’m already finding that I’m enjoying doing more ‘projects’.

    

 I also picked up a set of dip dyed storage baskets for fabric remnants etc. from Very to keep on top of the unit – Every little helps! 

 I was set on a colour scheme of black, white, pink & gold –  I spent a good portion of the aforementioned eighteen months deciding on wallpaper. I wanted something monochrome in a bold, graphical design but needed to be careful of the scale due to the dinkyness of the room. Here were the choices… 

 

After much deliberation and despite trying to dissuade myself, I did of course decide on the most expensive which was the Cole & Son ‘Hix Hexagon’ in the top left corner. Seeing this picture reminds me that I also ended up with a free roll of the paper bottom left due to a delivery mix up, I must try to use that somewhere, or at least EBay it. 

 

The paper has a midscale print with a gorgeous matt gold detail which compliments a truffle silk blind I wanted to reuse from my last house. The pink for the walls was mixed to match my Kate Spade storage boxes & I chose a neutral woollen carpet for the floor.

As I was unable to have the planned shelves on the back wall, I decided on a large pin board instead. I couldn’t find a board with a nice frame so I spray mounted a piece of cork sheet to a piece of hardboard and popped it into a pewter picture frame. 

      

So there we are! It’s much brighter than it appears on these photos, it’s a grey and dull day out there. So that’s three blog posts I’ve managed this year, eek. There’s so much I need to show you! In the meantime a very Happy New Year to you all.

Hello Again…

It’s been six months since my last post, oops. BUT, we have the very best of excuses, we were busy on a project of an entirely different type and we were overjoyed to welcome little baby Peony to our family in late June. Please bare with me on any posts containing extensive waffle and appalling spelling for the next few months, most likely I’ll be writing at 4am. 

 

Following that news, If you are now anticipating the nursery reveal, don’t hold your breath! It currently looks like this…  

 

Peony’s room will be stagnant until we have our attic conversion done as together with the master bedroom, it’s directly below the loft space and so will need ceilings replaced during the works. 
 
As always, we have curated a few bits and bobs which will shape the nursery, these include a Lloyd Loom blanket box I reupholstered, a mini rocking chair I need to reupholster, Victorian school desk and a string of acid-bright silk lanterns from a trip to Hoian, Vietnam. We are keen to have one wall as a world map, something like this from Murals Wallpaper. We don’t want Peony’s room to be over-girly, we want it to be a bright, fun & educational space that can evolve as she grows. 
 

Before I get too distracted by the decor, we need to get planning permission on our attic conversion. We are currently in talks with the council on pre planning. To save on architects fees, I’ve done basic plans to open negotiations with the relevant department ahead of professional plan submission. Planning is never easy, but even more difficult in this instance as our house is in a conservation area meaning the property is to be kept as original as possible, even though the proposed changes will only affect the back of the house which is mainly a 1980’s extension. Here are the before and (rather ropey) after visuals. 

 View looking back from the garden…
  View from the corner point…

 Roof view…

Ideally , we intend to add a dormer to the attic space, meaning we could accommodate an en suite bathroom directly above the first floor bathroom. We’d also like to add a Juliet balcony to the bedroom area to ensure the conversion is as light as possible, finally we’d like to render the 198o’s extension. When the new part of the house was built they used horridly cheap, modern bricks, which do nothing to help the extension blend in with the original building. Initial planning feedback has refused the render as it ‘is not in sympathy with the original fabric of the house’ frustratingly, it is difficult to communicate that the render only changes the 1980’s section of the house which has no relevance to the conservation area…We’ll discuss that at next stage. They also said the dormer housing the en-suite would be unlikely to be passed as it would overlook neighbours…even though there’s only a window at the back.

The revised plans below have been submitted and we are now waiting for feedback from the team, while getting architects to start pricing for us.

    
 
There’s plenty more to update you on, watch this space,  I’ll try not to leave it six months!

Library Update…Volume Three

Between us, we have so much ‘stuff’ picked up from antiques shops, travelling or ‘donations’ from friends the library seemed the ideal place to use them. When I decorated my last house everything matched, too much, now I’m much more about a ‘curated’ look. All we’ve bought new for this room is the fabric for the blind…and even that was from Ebay! 

The first item in was our Victorian Pub Shelf which we were kindly given. It originally came from an old local pub, The Bell. I expect this shelf would have been in the pub when this photo was taken.   

  

The shelf still needs a good wax and polish, but looks great and adds some real character to the room, as well as providing storage for some of our (excessive?!) alcohol collection.

    
  

The leather sofa, chair & cushions have been reused from my last house. We’ve been able to get the globe and picture that we found on weekends away over the last year or so out of the attic and found homes for them. 

  
 

The pink chair has also come to live in the library, adding a much needed splash of colour.  

  

The funny little Indonesian table & the painting we bought in Oslo have also found their home in the library.

  

The shelves now display our books & ornaments…I think they will evolve as we add to our eclectic collection. 

    
  
Other oddments lurking around, including our giant candle holder, copper pot and some plaster mouldings we bought in a junk shop in Sri Lanka. 
  

There is still a bit of snagging to do, including the strip lights under the shelves, making the window blind and a repair to the coving, but we’ve come a long way from the smelly, damp room we used to have…

Before…

 

During…

  

After…

 

Most importantly, Dottie cat loves lounging in the library…winning. 

 

Library Update… Volume Two

So, we left off where the chimney breast had been repointed but still needed brick repairs, that has now been down, and a little more besides. 

I was dubious, but the ever-thrifty Ronnie insisted on repairing the brickwork ourselves, off he went with his drill and a few hours later there was a uneasy looking gap in the arch. 


 

We didn’t want new or even reclaimed bricks that would look incongruous with the original bricks, so wherever possible, we turned and reused bricks. A few more hours and a lot of mess later, we were done. I’m really pleased with the result. I like that that it doesn’t look too perfect, it still bears the scars of the fireplaces we ripped out, but they are just that…scars, rather than the big gaping wounds that were there before. A few hours with a bucket of brick acid got the bricks looking good, we finished them with some matt brick varnish.

The next job was to level off the floor so that we could lay the hearth bed. We built a frame from some timber which was loosely screwed into place.

 

We then filled the cavity with several buckets of cement and left it to settle, level and dry over a weekend.  

I’d anticipated a brightly coloured tiled hearth, we got in loads of samples but none looked quite right with the brickwork, eventually we decided to use some left over stone from the kitchen floor.

Next was to have the walls plastered, the guy that did the rest of the house had gone to USA for a couple of months, so we used a locally recommended guy who did an adequate, but not great job as all the filler patching in the later pictures show!

The floor was sanded and given 5 or 6 coats of varnish. We used clear varnish and the floor came up a lovely honey colour.  

 

Paint was the next decision, I’ve been inspired by Abigail Aherns signature dark walls & as this is our second reception room we felt we could be a little braver with our depth of colour. Instead of the usual small fortune spent on tester pots we jumped straight in with a dark purple we had mixed. Big mistake. Once it was dry it just looked…well, cheap. So off I went to spend a small fortune on tester pots of more sophisticated colours, we eventually chose a tertiary purple. It’s taken a bit of getting used to, but we love it now.  

 

Last big job was to fit shelves into the alcoves. Ronnie did this by sinking steel rods into the wall and cutting them to length with the angle grinder, I left the house at that point!

 

We then cut the shelves to size and slid them onto the rods, secured with epoxy resin & painted them and we were pretty much there. You’ll see we’ve also had a log burner fitted. Next, dressing the room! 

  
 

 

Door Renovations…

It’s been sooo long since I last blogged, it’s turned into winter! As ever, there’s been a lot going on, I don’t really know where to start with the update. The newly dipped doors are a good a place as any I guess… We had the doors stripped for around £30 each, which seemed much more sensible than spending a similar amount on Nitromors and wire wool do do it ourselves. We had them waxed but they still seem quite thirsty so I’m giving them a goat of Danish oil now and again. 

Lounge door, we replaced the handle with a beehive style modern version. The stripping revealed the ghost of an old finger plate, so we sourced a beautiful replacement from eBay.

  

Guest bedroom, these door handles had been painted, I thought it would be worth stripping them to see if they had potential before replacing them. They came out really well, revealing tortoise shell Bakelite. 

   

 

Master bedroom, this door was also stripped, I need to source an original brass door knob that will fit through the lock. All of our original bedroom doors have hefty locks on them, those Victorians must have been rather worried about nocturnal assailants. 

 

None of the door furniture will match, it would be pretty much impossible unless we went for full repro which we don’t really want to do, so we’re just picking up stuff we like as we see it. I have these two push plates to find a home for… 

 

So far I’m not sure where we’ll put them, but here they are in their previous home.  

An old theatre somewhere in Yorkshire, I wonder where all it’s other treasures will end up? 

 

More updates to come soon..Promise. 

All Play & No Work…

We took a few days off our renovation schedule and went to explore Lisbon. Such a beautiful, atmospheric city and just SO much to see. Here are a few highlights of what we saw….

Cathedrals, monasteries and crypts…

Aquariums, with a stunning display ‘Forests Underwater’ by Japanese artist Takashi Amano…

Vintage car rallies, the hills of Bica and antique trams…


Tiles, courtyards and the deep blue sea…

Cityscape at sunset, stonework and colonnades …

And some of the best street art we’ve seen….

Back home now… Best get cracking. 

Ceiling Price…

Upstairs, we have compacted everything from the guest room & craft room into the spare room, to allow us to do repairs, floors and decoration.

The first thing to do was pull down the guest room ceiling as though it looked perfect, it had zero insulation, the small cost of a new ceiling will soon be recouped through energy saving. I hate wrecking things in the house that look perfectly ok, but I’ve learned that A. Ceilings are easy to do B. Insulation has an instant & dramatic effect on the warmth of a room. 

This photo makes the task look a little cleaner than it actually was…

This reveals the true chaos of me being let loose with a hammer and a crow bar!


And this one…well, this shows the massive patch of rotten roof we found. Damnit. This is going to cost about £1000 to repair which was totally unbudgeted for but on the positive side it will mean we can insulate externally which offers increased heat retention and if we must have a rotten roof, better now than finding out once the new ceiling is is place.

I’ve started to think about how on earth to dress the windows in this room. It’s so difficult as there’s the short windows either side of the  inward opening doors. My latest thought is ceiling mounted roller blinds, as long as they are thin enough to allow the door to pass under. I’m checking out measurements as I’m thinking, if necessary it would perhaps be possible to create a counter sunk section of the ceiling for the blinds to sit into.

Finally, I’m excited to be part of the Amara Design Awards! If you’d like yo vote for Lansdowne Revisited, pls click the button below…thank you! 

Library Update…

It’s been a while…despite my best intentions, the WordPress App seems to have gremlins, anyone else had problems?

Anyway, there’s a lot to catch up on…none of it very glamorous I’m afraid, but that’s the way it goes.

We’ve been busy in the library preparing for plastering. I’ve been Chief Chimney Restorer, recent duties have included chipping out the old mortar using a chisel attachment on the drill, followed by lots of scrubbing and finally treating the brickwork with acid to clean it up. The basic brick acid process is to wire brush the brick faces to release any loose mortar, then paint on a coat of brick acid which fizzes over the surface dislodging and dissolving mortar (it’s supposed to be diluted, but I use it neat… I’m a busy girl!) Leave the acid on for 15 mins or so and then rinse off with water and a floor brush. Here’s our brickwork before and after treatment…

We then set about chiseling out the damaged bricks at the base of the arch that we uncovered when we removed the old fireplaces. We’re planning to replace the damaged bricks with some we found strewn around the garden so they don’t look too incongruous against the originals. For now, we’ve put a prop in place just in case, we’ve worked too hard for the house to fall down now! 

Next job was to replace the mortar. The mix is made from sand, cement, plasticiser and water, mixed with a paddle mixer. The mix then went into a mortar gun, a simple but genius tool. If we’d had this to grout our kitchen floor it would have saved a boat load of work! 

Run lines of mortar into place & smooth over and, well…that’s about it! I’ve taken out a bit more than I should so that the brick faces protrude slightly, I didn’t want the mortar to look too new & prominent.

The bricks now need another treatment of brick acid to clean them up again and then need sealing, but it’s already looking much better than it did. 

We’ve put plasterboard up above the picture rail to cut down on plastering costs. Quite momentous as we’ve now reached the stage where any brickwork exposed is visible because we want it to be. It doesn’t feel that long since every room was bare brick.

 

The plasterer should be back in the next week or two and should get the room finished over a weekend. We’ll then have to sand the floor. Grim. I’m thinking ahead to the design of the room. We’ll be using my leather sofas from my last house, together with the chair we had reupholstered and the globe we found in Stroud and I’m hoping to throw in Fired Earth’s ‘Carbon Blue’ &  I’m loving this watercolour print fabric from Villa Nova. 

Finally, I’m excited to be part of the Amara Design Awards! If you’d like yo vote for Lansdowne Revisited, pls click the button below…thank you! 

The Bog Blog…

Get the flags out, there’s another room done! It may be the smallest room in the house, but it’s another one down all the same. The cloakroom hasn’t turned out at all as I originally envisaged, I was thinking high cistern and subway tiles, it didn’t end up that way for several reasons…

1. Every interiors magazine has indentikit versions.

2. High cisterns and (nice) subway tiles are expensive.

Essentially we were led down a different path as we had tiling to use left over from the kitchen floor, we wanted to find a place to use the Victorian pot cupboard we bought and finally, we saw this on a trip to Stokholm.

And so it began… 

 
Once the horrid old bathroom was taken out we laid the stone floor and had the new suite fitted. We reused the chandelier from the bedroom of my last house. Our carpenter cut into the Victorian cupboard to accommodate our basin.

  
We then turned our attention to the walls. Inspired by the Stolkholm bathroom, we decided to use the photos we’ve taken on our travel adventures together to paper the walls. We had our favourite images printed to A4 size, trimmed where needed and then laid them out in columns, trying to avoid similar colours or repetition of locations falling too near to one another.

  

Once our composition was decided, we used LOTS of extra strong wallpaper paste on the reverse of the prints. We left each for a couple of minutes to soak before we put them onto the wall. 

 

Putting the images up was easier than anticipated, I was ‘Chief Passer’, while Ronnie, armed with a set square and level, assumed the role of ‘Chief Sticker’. Over the course of a weekend, we got the two walls covered. Once fully dry, we gave them three coats of oil based varnish. 

 

I’m really pleased with the outcome, especially as it’s cost so little. It would have been infinitely more tasteful if we’d used black and white images, but the colours are just so evocative of our travels, and if you can’t do something a little bonkers in the cloakroom, where can you!  

  

The last thing to do was put up shelves into the alcove. You’d think I’d be a seasoned pro at simple tasks such as putting up shelves, apparently not. Firstly the shelves arrived late (long story) and when they eventually did arrive, the ‘Tudor Oak’ wax colour I’d chosen looked more like red fence paint.  

Out of character perhaps, I couldn’t be bothered to complain, mainly because at best , I’d presumably need to wait for the vendor to grow another oak tree before I recieved replacements. So, I (stroppily) sanded and waxed the nasty shelves to a colour I was happy with and then started drilling the wall, basically it all went wrong and before I knew it we were in DIY SOS territory, spanners, gripfill, clamps…It was time for a man to take over. Once the shelves were up, they became home to some of our travel books and trinkets. 
   

 

 

 
  
We still need to replace the door for a Victorian version, but that can wait a while, we’re on to the next room.