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…







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. 

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! 

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. 

Groundhog Weekend…

This weekend, is much the same as last…Same crappy chores, just in a different room. We decamped from the library, back to the lounge, then back to library armed with our current weapons of choice – steamers and scrapers. Here is how it used to look, before we swung in with our wrecking ball.


Predictably, the plaster came off with the paper. Great. Oh, and the picture rail fell too. On the plus side, between layer 2 and 3 of ceiling paper, was a fab shade of yellow, oddly the exact shade I picked for my Blog highlight colour last week, I seem to have subconsciously branded the project, and appointed dirty yellow the corporate shade.


Oh well, at least Dottie had a nice day, spot the cat!


The Library Fireplace…

Firstly, I say library, I mean, snug, back room call it what you will. It’s home to our books (in boxes, admittedly) anyway. It contained a funny little deco mantel shelf, and a wallpapered plate. I’d had high hopes for the lounge fireplace, yet to be fully investigated, but investigated enough to reveal… Nothing exciting – I hadn’t really considered the library fireplace might have a story to tell.


After a bit of hammering the Deco bits came off, to reveal quite a pretty little mantel… Now on my Ebay list.


A bit more hammering, and we found this mosaic monstrosity. Fifties maybe?? Odd as the Deco mantel overlaying it actually looked to be of more age. I don’t think I’ll both Ebaying this one.


More hammering STILL and we found a pretty tiled arch fireplace, 1920s apparently. Another fascinating fact: Rectangular tiles suggest a 1900s surround, but our square tiles suggest a later version.


The poor old tiled fireplace has seen better days, there are a couple of tiles missing, and a couple more cracked. I’m not sure we love it enough to restore it… We have visions of this room being our snugly room with a wood burner, for playing chess and drinking brandy in (when we are grown up enough to do such things, obvs), the pistachio tiled number doesn’t somehow fit with this.


Finally, after several hours hammering, we unearthed a suggestion of a brick arch. We’ve left it at that for now as A. We got a bit bored hammering, and B. We can’t decide which fireplace we want. Uber exciting. To be continued… Though god knows when.