About ladylansdowne

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

Kitchen Garden…

A few weeks ago, Ronnie’s parents came to stay for the weekend. They came about a year ago and transformed our courtyard, this time, they created us a kitchen garden!

This is the section nearest the kitchen door when they arrived. It’s essentially a ramshackle section built on the remnants of the old outdoor toilet and coal stores.  


The DPC, laid to kill weed, was pulled up and we set to work pulling up the roots of the anaemic weeds beneath, three bins worth to be precise. Ronnie’s dad used some of the various bricks and tiles we had hanging round the garden to build up and secure the walls and smoothed over the earth ready for planting. Before I knew it, it looked like this… 


It was then time to start planting, we were given an amazing selection of home-grown plants including beans, tomatoes, chilli, asparagus peas, butternut squash, Chinese cucumber, horseradish, potatoes, pumpkins and rather ambitiously, watermelons!  


Each of the plants were planted in carefully chosen positions and staked as needed. The kind help of Ronnies mum and dad created a manageable portion of the garden to look after & It’s great to have all of these vedgetables just a few steps from the kitchen door, I can’t wait for them to be ready!  

The same weekend, we were also the grateful recipients of a variety of herb plants, my aunt & uncle liked the herb garden we’d assembled a couple of weeks before, but the plants apparently weren’t up to scratch so they gave us some superior speciens…I’m pretty sure I have the best stocked herb garden in town! 


Meanwhile, Dottie found a great vantage point from which to keep an eye on the weekends proceedings…she’s not as silly as she looks! 


Hello Again…

Blog? I write a blog? Oh yes…that. I remember now. The last few weeks have been hectic with one thing and another, work, weddings…blah blah blah. So, this weekend is the first in a while we’ve actually done anything on the house, here’s a bit of an update on where we are.


After a bit of a false start, the fireplace is fitted. We had to chip off some plaster to allow the mantel to sit flush with the wall, that has been done and we’ve replastered it back into place.  


This is it many moons ago…

The floor is done (not that you can tell under all that dust) but we’ll give it a final coat of varnish once everything is out as its suffered a few knocks.

Windows are done, tomorrow work will start on their exterior renovation.

Other than decorating, the last job in the lounge is a coving repair, a small section was damaged when we stripped the wallpaper.  


We’ve explored lots of different solutions, at one stage we were intending to have a replacement section machined from MDF but have found a source that will make the same thing in plaster for pretty much the same price. We gave the supplier a small section of the original coving and we now have 2 meters ready to be collected which will be fitted next weekend…in the meantime, we’ve chipped off more of the old coving to allow us to replace the full run, so there’s now a big old hole in the wall and a section of Victorian gas light piping waiting to be taken down.  



The library has been a store room for the last six months or so, but we’ve now dispersed the crap into other rooms to free it up for plastering. The ceiling has been filled and sanded ready for about a million coats of paint. 


We have the same issue with the coving in here, it’s a different style of coving, just to complicate matters. We need to start making design decisions in here…


We’ve completed the paint snagging today, we need to finish chairs next weekend, hang pictures and seal the windows, then we’re done! 

So that’s what we’ve been up to for the last few weeks…basically not that much. Oops. 

May I Take Your Coat?

The boot room (technically not a room and with storage for shoes at best) is the first area to be completely finished…

For such a dinky area, there’s been a lot done. Firstly, there was a new back door fitted, followed by the rewire which destroyed the main wall. As this is in the newer part of the house, it didn’t need DPC, but as we’ve grown accustomed to complete destruction, we decided to pull down the ceiling. The ceiling cavity had more insulation squeezed in than I thought possible and then a little more, finally we fitted a new ceiling (which is surprisingly easy.) Oh and we fitted a new light fitting. And new light switches. That’s it.
It was then on to the decorating. The flooring was replaced with tiles running through from the kitchen. The paper that took me about two months to choose took all of twenty minutes to fit, it’s a little bolder than I anticipated but I love it. The bench which I painted a few months back, has taken a few knocks so needed another coat of paint and the cushion that June made for was popped on, though I should mention June sees faces in this wallpaper, so I need to think carefully before letting her at any other projects!  The final touch was hanging the coat hook.   

 So here’s how it look – Ta Da! I’m pleased that from a useless little area we have created space that works for coats, a seat and baskets for junk storage.  

 One room finished, ten more to go…


Wallpaper – Brian Yates at Wallpaper Direct.

Bench – Abbeville Storage Bench at   Great Little Trading Co.

Paint – Spotlight by Crown.

Everything else? You guessed it, Ebay.

Hotting Up…

In the hottest week of the year so far, we finally got the gas fire fitted in the lounge. The arch had to be partially bricked up and a plate fitted to hold the flue in place. As usual, the installation wasn’t straightforward, so there’s a little more work to do before it’s finished…


We need to reduce the opening of the fire surround slightly more and chip off a little more plaster so allow the fire to sit back against the brickwork. I’ve started to look for an overmantle mirror, doesn’t look like that will be easy either as the fireplace much wider than standard… 

Busy Bees…

These long weekends are giving us a much needed progress boost. 

The lounge isn’t too far off, the floor needs one last round of sanding and varnishing then it’s finally done…We’ll get this sorted in the evenings during the course of the week. 


There’s not too much else we can do now in the lounge until the fire is fitted over the next couple of weeks, one task we still needed to do was to make the opening of the mantle piece slightly smaller to avoid a gap between the backplate of the fire once fitted, it’s not an ideal solution as we’d rather not tinker with the mantle piece, but there’s little else that can be done as it’s such a large opening.


Ronnie attached some decorative profile oak skirting board to the back of the mantle, it actually blends in quite well and once it’s waxed it should look good. 

While the latest coat of floor varnish was drying we worked on other areas of the house to avoid smudging the finish, though the trail of dinky little paw prints meandering across the gloss suggests Dottie didn’t get the memo. We had a huge clear out from two of the spare rooms in the extension, we plan to get these rooms done quite soon as there’s really only decorating to do as walls and ceilings are sound. 

We busied ourselves doing mist coats on the landing and large guest bedroom,  even though it’s very rough it looks so much more ‘finished’ than bare plaster!  


I’ve also done a bit of homework on finding somewhere to get the doors dipped, it’s looking likely to cost around £20 each which was a pleasant surprise, we may as well get them all done at once.


The cloakroom got a last coat of paint, it’s now ready and waiting for the photos to go on the wall, followed by towel rail, which will hopefully be done next weekend.

 While hunting round for my bathroom accessories in the attic I finally remembered to hang up the Christmas mistletoe, it apparently brings good luck to a house, I’m not sure it still works if you forget to do it for five months but it’s worth a try, we need all the help we can get! Oh and the bathroom accessories? I found those in the bedroom.  

As the weather was quite nice, I decided I’d sort out the herb pots for half an hour. Five hours later, I’d dug out two bushes, planted more tomatoes, hydrangea & sunflowers, tidied the herbs and rehomed them outside the kitchen door on their own inpromptu wall. Roland if you are reading you better be impressed! 


The whole of the courtyard is now looking good, soon the rose will be flowering as it was the day we first viewed the house. The rest of the garden is going a bit, erm…wild, but one thing at a time…I’m going to turn my chair around and enjoy a glass of wine in the nice bit! 


Ticking Boxes…

We have got quite a lot done this weekend, including a few things of the snagging list…tick!

We had a couple of gas engineers come to quote on fitting the new fire. Normally our quotes are pretty close, but in this instance one was almost double the other…hmm. We ordered a made to measure hearth of black marble, it should be around a week. In preparation for its arrival Ronnie got rid of some of the old bricks from the base of fire and laid a new cement bed.  


Meanwhile, I got on to waxing the fireplace. I used fine wire wool to apply clear beeswax and buffed with the orbital sander. It’s come up a lovely honey colour but needs a lot more work to look it’s best. 

 This image shows the carved roses painted, stripped, waxed and polished. The  polishing has really highlighted the difference in colour of the inlaid wood.  


While the mantel was laid flat I was able to clearly see the makers plaque which first allowed us to discover a little of it’s history. 


I picked a few flowers whilst I was outdoors and tried to avert my eyes from the  rapidly thickening jungle of a garden. 


Oh, and I dug up some mother of petal buttons, about 40mm diameter. I’ll have to use them in a project some time. 


Back indoors, we fitted the chandelier in the cloakroom. This came from the bedroom in my cottage. There has been comments that the light be a little ‘overstated’ for the smallest room in the house, thing is, I like overstated!  We also got the floor sealed at last.


In the kitchen Ronnie made a trim to cover the gaps between the extractor fan and the ceiling, it needs a final coat of paint and masking removed but looks better already. It’s so satisfying concluding jobs like this.


Meanwhile, I sanded the lounge boards again and gave them their final coat of colour. They now need varnishing.  


Lastly I chose wallpaper for the boot room, which is a positive step forward as I was in danger of bankrupting the project with excessive sample ordering…


To help the decision, I roughly visualised what the shortlist might look like… I love the black and white print on the right, but as the wall is going to accommodate our main coat hook, I’m worried it will soon look dirty, so in conclusion, I’m going with the one on the left from Brian Yates…almost probably certainly.


Day of Rest…

After another Saturday spent snagging the downstairs loo, enough was enough and we took Sunday off.  We chose to go to a garden festival at nearby Malvern. 


There were some beautiful plants to inspire our garden, when we ever get to landscape it. I loved these auriculas in their cheery little pots and the wild flower style planting scheme ticked a few boxes too.  


We just bought a few bits and bobs as until we clear some decent space in the garden, plants will be engulfed by weeds before we’ve put our trowels down.  


I couldn’t resist these two hydrangeas, at only a couple of pounds each I’d have felt guilty for leaving them… We also bought this little birdcage mirror for the Victorian wall, I think it will look lovely once there is some foliage growing around it.  


Last but not least, I planted out some tomatoes…’Sweet Millions’, I’ll be happy with sweet half a dozen to be honest… Watch this space.  


Looooong Weekend…

So, three whole days working on the house, we’ve made progress, but of the preparatory sort rather than interesting sort so I apologise sincerley for the dullest entry to date!

In no particular order…

1. Painted the lounge windows, three coats and counting! I came across a photo from Christmas 2013 earlier, it looks so different now…and the tree hides the worst of it! 

 2. Painted the cloakroom, white, in preparation for our photos to be put up…maybe next weekend? 

3. Grouted the cloakroom floor. We hope to get it cleaned and sealed during the week.

 4. Masticed (it’s a new word, ok?!) the floorboard gaps in the lounge. We matched the colour to the wood, it needs another sanding, another coat of colour and then we start on the yacht varnish.  The mastic will be invisible after all that and will really help with the insulation of the room, and, it leaves little smiley faces on your fingers!


5. Dad and I painted the support under the bay window, after it had insulation added. 

6. Finished painting coving in hall. 

Over and out for this week, hopefully some prettier photos soon!

Lounging Around…

I sneaked off site for a few hours yesterday to an Interiors Experience upholstery class, as the dreaded chair is now finished, I dug this footstool out of the attic, I bought it last year with the intention of using it in the lounge as a low table.


I had not one, but four suitable yellow fabrics to choose from. After much deliberation, I plumped for a fifties style yellow, white and grey.   


I love it the look of this fabric against the stripe I have ready for curtains. I may use the others elsewhere in the room, or they may just languish in the craft room… 


The stool only took a couple of hours to do as the foam was in good condition under the old fabric. I just need to paint the legs and it’s ready.  

We’ve almost chosen a fire for the lounge, we want to get that in pretty quickly now so that we can get the floor finished. We also pulled off the horrid 1980’s double glazing, leaving behind quite a lot of frame destruction.  

We have also filled all the 207 nail holes in the lounge floor, that was fun. And finally, we managed to mend the extractor fan which we thought was done for, turns out a spacer had fallen from the ceiling and blocked the motor. Oops!   

Another Mixed Bag…

Another week of random progress at Lansdowne. In no particular order;

We have upcycled the Victorian pot cupboard we bought last year, as an under-sink unit. We had to have the carpenter chop a few slices out which seemed a bit of a shame, but it’s hardly museaum quality. Even after modification, there is still plenty of storage space and it looks so much nicer than anything modern… #smug 


I’ve also found a home for my a Grandma’s old mirror. I was intending to hang a beautiful etched glass mirror I have from Aunty Doris, my Grandma’s sister, but, A. It looks a little too big for the space and B. I was slightly concerned Aunty D would disapprove of her mirror living in the loo and have us struck by lightening…Grandma wouldn’t mind. 

So far the cloakroom budget is looking good, the floor was done with remnants from the kitchen, the sink was free (don’t ask) , the toilet £5, the cuboard I think we gave about £25 for and the chandelier hung in my bedroom at my last house. Next, is to think about finishing hanging the light (did I mention attempt number one didn’t go quite to plan, it’s hanging, but precariously at best, oh, and it doesn’t light up…hence the dark photograph), decorating the walls, ordering a toilet seat, fitting skirting, grouting floor, putting shelves in the alcove and digging around the attic for our bathroom accessories…damn that’s loads now it’s listed!

I also collected the Parker Knoll from the upholsterer, it’s erm, very pink! I think we’ll have it in the library… Ronnie thinks it will go on a bonfire. Hmm. 


We’ve painted ceilings throughout the hallway today and also stained the lounge floorboards, now for lashings and lashings of yacht varnish!  


We’ve also been on the hunt for a fire for the lounge, we want something fairly authentic looking, but from the people we’ve spoken to today it appears that there are a couple of issues, firstly the style we had in mind are of very poor efficiency level, averaging around 15%…or perhaps 85% inefficient would be a better description. The second issue is our opening is much bigger than normal, meaning we can’t have a solid cast fire, without messing about with the surround which I wouldn’t be happy with after all the work that’s been done on it… Can nothing be easy?!