Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve been looking at kitchen floor tiles for months. So much so, I’ve even begun to bore myself, let alone any of you poor readers! This week I finally ran out of patience, sick of websites, and sick of samples that look nothing like the images on said websites, we headed off down the motorway to the Cotswolds yesterday to see a supplier and get the decision made. Beswick Stone have a beautiful, stylish showroom…the type that makes you want to deal with them as they clearly ‘get it’. We went armed with wall tiles, worktop and cupboard door, and left with two large stone samples and all our questions answered. The two on our short list are below…any preferences?

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We also reached a decision of these patchwork style tiles for our splash back…

IMG_3559.JPG Back at the house today the plastering is continuing in the second bedroom, meanwhile, we gave the freshly plastered hallway it’s mist coat, amazing how much brighter it makes the place!

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Next up on our to do list are the following jobs:
1. Make kitchen blackboard.
2. Get final quotes on central heating installation, there’s a distinct autumnal feel on it’s way.
3. Fit ceiling in kitchen.
4. Finish filling ceilings.
5. Re-fit skirting boards after re plaster.
6. Finish stripping bedroom fireplace.
7. Source a fireplace for second bedroom.
8. Source a kitchen door.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there, I’m starting to panic.

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This Week’s News…

We’ve been beavering away around the house, mainly whitewashing the fresh plaster and filling the ceiling cracks, neither of which make for thrilling blog posts. We’ve started to strip the bedroom fireplace, it was 50/50 whether we bothered or not, as it didn’t look as though stripping would change too much, other than obviously the colour, but after serious envy of this reveal by a fellow blogger, we went for it. Turns out there are masses of paint layers, and somewhere deep, under there is a super-detailed casting…it’s taking an age to restore it though!

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Plastering in the bedroom is done, hurrah! As the original plaster all came off the chimney breast we decided to leave it exposed for a while before we made a decision to re-plaster, after some deliberation, rubber gloves and brick acid it is.

IMG_3478.JPG I’ve also been starting to work though my ‘project list’, this weekend I’ve finished a guest bedroom chair which needed fixing, sanding and polishing…it somehow didn’t look quite special enough so I decided to add a Liberty print, not bad for £10!

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The Dirty Dozen…

Terribly behind on blogging, terribly behind on work schedule!

We’ve taken it a little easy the last couple of weeks, so there’s been little to update on. We were motoring ahead, we just needed to get the last tiny pieces of wall paper from the bedroom walls and then it could be plastered, problem was those tiny pieces of paper bought with them tiny pieces of plaster, those tiny pieces soon grew into twelve big fat sacks of plaster, there was much more in bags than on the walls.

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It was so depressing, we really thought we’d seen the back of that stage. So, in the face of adversity… We stropped off to a hotel in the country for the weekend and let the plasterer get on with it. Sometimes, it’s the only way!

20140727-210724-76044498.jpg We enjoyed some great food and drank champagne at lunch. We did of course, find a few select vintage pieces to join our ever growing collection.

20140727-210905-76145405.jpg I love this artwork, it’s printed onto leaves of an antique book and will look great in the library. Have a look at The Bindery website, they have some beautiful things. We also bought a letter rack from a Sunday morning antique market, I’ve been after one for ages, but patience paid off in this case…

20140727-211451-76491213.jpg Once I’d bought it I realised it has both of our initials on the back…obviously meant to be!

20140727-211550-76550474.jpg Lastly, we bought a hand painted mirrored fire screen, not sure if this is a keeper yet, but not the sort of thing I’ve seen before, so I’m ‘holding’ it until we design the lounge.

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20140727-211743-76663844.jpg I finally cleaned a copper plant pot I’d found on Ebay, and popped a dinky chilli plant in it, I wonder how long that will survive for!?

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Courtyard Transformation…

About lunchtime on Sunday I was pondering what we’d achieved this weekend other that getting the television onto the wall in the kitchen and making half a frame for a window (we ran out of beading, grrrr!). Ronnie’s mum & dad were here for the weekend and shortly after my silent ponderings they started having a ‘little tinker’ outside, I didn’t take any before photos as this was just a little tinker, but trust me, it was a mess, but within a few short hours weeds had been blitzed, rubbish shifted, walls cleaned, annoying dangly cables cut and pot plants perked up and rehomed, and it now looks like this…20140706-224048-81648661.jpg
From back door down to French window…

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Wall with roses and bedding plants…just pretend you can’t see the scaffolding, thanks.

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As night falls and the lights come on it looks amazing…

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20140707-082311-30191026.jpgRonnies mum and dad have also given us a fantastic selection of herbs which have been distributed between the sinks and additional containers and a fig tree, which they tell us will bare figs in three years time, we’ll enjoy those figs from the tree one day and remember a happy weekend spent planting it.

Ebay Addiction…

The week has mainly be spent doing evening trips up the scaffolding to check on chimney progress. This image shows the old chimney with it’s worrying right lean, and the rebuilt version, straight and crowned with the pot we bought a couple of weeks ago.
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I wonder what the chimney pot’s last view was like? It’s stuck with this one now.

20140629-172941-62981291.jpg The main chimney has been a nightmare for the builders to get back up complete with decorative brickwork, but they perservered and after a few false starts it’s up all but the last couple of courses.

20140629-173120-63080621.jpg We’ve had several compliments on our chimneys this week from passers by, people are obviously taking more notice of our project than I thought! After buying the chimney pot, and one or two other bits, We are it seems addicted to Ebay and possibly in need of therapy. Here is what we bought this week…

20140629-165436-60876462.jpg An antique toilet door lock, yes, we’ll soon be charging visitors to ‘spend a penny’, these renovations won’t pay for themselves you know! Our scheme will not commence until the cloakroom has been decorated, it’s a bit much charging in it’s current state. We also collected the bench we bought last weekend…

20140629-164059-60059592.jpg We collected it from a lovely couple who had bought it from an antique shop about 20 years ago, they were glad to know it would be going to a new home, which as they put it, would look after it for the next person. It will sit at the top of our stairs for a while, folk can sit on it while they wait for the bathroom, there won’t be a charge for the upstairs convenience. Inside the house Dennis has been cracking on with the plastering and we’ve been round the kitchen with a mist coat, it’s really starting to look different. This shows the alcove that used to be the vestibule at the top of the hall and is now the cubby at the bottom of the kitchen…

20140629-182030-66030695.jpgIt’s since had a wall knocked down, a window put in, plaster taken off, damp proofing put in, plaster putting back on and the mirror (that funnily enough I got from Ebay) hanging. We also got this huge champagne cork side table / stool type thing (which was not from Ebay, but would have been had A friend not appeared with it – thanks Lizzie!) Finally for this week, we enjoyed our first crop of home grown potatoes and finally got a doorbell, thanks Dad!

Up On The Roof…

This weeks project has been getting the chimneys operational. The builder has been busy taking down the old chimneys and putting them back straight. Indoors, we had the chimney sweep come round and we busied away clearing the lounge fireplace… 20140621-214835-78515844.jpg
I’d hoped when we bought the house we’d find an amazing fireplace behind the boards blocking it off, it turned out to be empty, but the Library Fireplace made up for the disappointment. When we cleared the bricks blocking up the fireplace we found numerous pieces of tile that I assume would once of been part of the fireplace, it has a black printed design and is hand coloured (not very well to be honest!) but I love the deep pink and purple in the flowers, and the shades match perfectly the colours in the stained glass windows, those Victorians certainly weren’t afraid of a bit of colour…anyway, back to the job in hand… I knew the task wasn’t going to be as easy as anticipated when this sizeable delivery appeared on our driveway…

20140621-223339-81219370.jpg Once unwrapped, a chimney liner apparently looks like this, who knew?

20140621-223421-81261179.jpg This is the gas version, the solid fuel version is slightly smoother. These ten meter lengths were around £300 each, someone is making some serious profit margin on this stuff. So now we just had to get them down the chimney, simple hey? Firstly we dropped ropes down, which Ronnie weighted with the vintage kitchen weight I bought a few weeks ago, this was not it’s intended purpose! That said, it was the perfect tool for the job. Once we had the rope down, it was time to get the liners up to the roof via the scaffolding, straightening them out as they went…

20140622-163850-59930194.jpg Now the plan was essentially to tie the liner to the rope on the roof, one of us to feed it down the chimney and the other, to tug like hell from below, I chose my role wisely.

20140621-224302-81782260.jpg As the fitting instructions recommended, Ronnie wrapped tubes of insulation around the liner as it was fed down the chimney, (improves the draw of smoke apparently) but every time I pulled the rope below, the liner was getting lodged in the crook of the chimney, we tried about 20 times during the course of an exhausting few hours and eventually decided to get a nose cone from the local stove supplier, we had read this would make the process easier. Brettle Lane Stoves were out of cones, but the guy very kindly gave us some invaluable advice, firstly, hammer the end of the liner into a cone form which will be easier to guide, and secondly, put the insulation down after the liner. We did just that and the liner came down perfectly, along with a random brick, some tin foil and a boat-load of soot!

20140622-165112-60672272.jpgThe second one came down sweet as nut, we’re now feeling quite the flue-lining experts, and very pleased to have saved around £1500 by doing this ourselves. Need to start researching fires next!

The Great Brick Hunt…

I didn’t do my usual weekend blog last week, as…well, we didn’t do any work! Saturday was a road trip to Stoke to pick up the chimney pot we bought on Ebay the previous week, on the way we stopped at five, yes five, reclamation yards. I couldn’t believe there were so many in such a small area while Googling, and felt sure at least one or two would be goners, but no, I can confirm, all open for business. I wondered if the industrial downturn contributed to the area becoming a bit of a reclamation hotbed, it saddened me to see all the disused potteries, once home to master craftsmen whose wares were transported all over the world, but now unloved, left to decay…much like the glass cones in our home town.20140620-222713-80833895.jpgI regret not buying these glazed bricks from the first yard, they would have been a nice feature in the garden somewhere, but alas, I stayed focused on my mission…Find bricks for chimney rebuild!

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The other three yards failed to inspire and we got bored of looking at bricks and decided the builder could put the dodgy ones out of view. I almost had my fill of looking at antiques, but then we arrived at Les Oakes, they don’t have a website, but you’ll find them on Facebook.

20140620-224130-81690590.jpg This is a gem of a place, a little like reclamation-Narnia. The collection is housed in several surreal barns, built fairly recently but bejewelled with stunning period windows, plaques, pediments…and anything else of interest the builders could lay their hands on. Their stock includes an amazing collection of, well, everything really! A lot of it is in the dark, and dusty, but that’s how it should be, there’s an air of special things lurking there. We left with a chair, awestruck.

20140621-204119-74479653.jpg The chair is intended to be one of our dining chairs, it may or may not make it into the final line up, but we’ll certainly be back at Les Oakes yard, frequently to pick up some of their fabulous furniture. Last stop, we collected the pot. Back at the ranch, some flowers have managed to raise their heads above the dreaded weeds. I love these poppies…

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And I’m pretty damn smug about this rambling rose, how very British summertime! It’s laden with beautifully scented buds and is magical in the evening with the fairy lights twinkling away.

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I’ll leave you with a couple of views from atop the scaffolding, our wobbly roof, and even wobblier chimney, a little more about these next time.

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Rain Stops Play…

What a week! It’s been a non-stop but fun few days. Starting on Thursday evening I took a cookery glass learning to make Dosa at the Loaf Community Bakery & Cookery School. It was great fun and I feel pretty confident I’ll be able to make the five dishes which we learned at home… One day. There was also the opportunity to purchase some of their ridiculously good bread, the sourdough is amazing and I’ll be on another class soon to learn how to make that!
Friday evening was tidy up and prep night. Boo. But we had the Dosas for dinner. Yay!
Saturday morning was set to see the arrival of Dennis the plasterer and the scaffold guys, the rain and wind were so bad the scaffold got pushed back until Sunday. One out of three ain’t bad, and Dennis got the lounge finished and rough coated the hall. It’s good to see the back of those holes! 20140610-194014-70814820.jpgRonnie filled holes in the kitchen ceiling. My dad painted the cloakroom. I peeled paint off the library ceilng rose, it needs a little more attention, but it’s difficult to know when to stop given that we’ll eventually be admiring it from eight feet below, rather than eight inches below, atop the ladder. The difference is quite dramatic, who’d have thought such detail lay below the gloop?

20140610-195657-71817991.jpgI also peeled paint off the stools we bought at the flea market, then waxed the seats (I may have used a tiny bit off wood dye to give the new wood a little, erm, heritage!) I’m really pleased with the results, a nice little bargain!

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The scaffold guys arrived on Sunday morning and spent the whole day erecting the scaffold up to the chimneys. These pictures show it from the side and front elevations.

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I planned to climb up to have a good look around, but was only brave enough to go onto the first staging. Ronnie clambered up and descended looking a worried man, not because of the dizzy heights, but because of the state of the roof. There are holes and dodgy slates everywhere. The ridge tiles are all in place, so that’s one positive.

20140610-200224-72144756.jpg The builder is due to start tomorrow rebuilding both chimneys. He’ll be taking them down, cleaning off the bricks and rebuilding, hopefully straighter! Once that’s done we have to climb up the scaffolding and drop down chimney liners, and ‘pop’ this crowning glory (yet another Ebay purchase) on the top, eek!

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