Making An Entrance…

The blog has been AWOL for a few weeks, we’ve been busy grouting the kitchen floor and scrubbing the kitchen floor and sealing the kitchen floor and grouting the kitchen floor and scrubbing the kitchen floor and sealing the kitchen floor…you get the picture. It’s been incredibly boring and blogging about it would have been even more boring, but we’re on schedule to be finished very soon.

Anyway, enough of the grouting gripes, I’ve found some bargains! I’m forever getting told off for blowing the budget so I’m being smug about saving some money for once. Not too long ago, Friday nights were spent enjoying cocktails in new dresses…last Friday night however, I found myself in the bargain corner of B&Q perusing toilets…

2015/02/img_5330.jpg I’ve no idea why, but they were offering £120 toilets for £5, I’ll take two please! They even packed them into the car for me…what more can a girl ask for?! Except a Kir Royale that is.

2015/03/img_5358.jpg This one, destined for the downstairs cloakroom, has gone into ‘careful’ storage in the courtyard. The other, much more modern style, is in the attic.

In other news, skulking around the house trying to avoid any further grout related tasks I’ve done a few other little jobs which I fraudulently promoted to the ‘urgent list’. I’ve given the kitchen sofa a coat of varnish as it was looking a bit knackered, I’m not sure it’s exactly a recommended technique, it’s revived it really well, we’re having some new cushions made for the sofa too, which is fortuitous as they will cover the varnish I spilt.

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We have also spent a few hours making the entrance hall a little more welcoming, all that really needed doing was a bit of caulking, filling, painting walls, ceilings and door frame and finally sorting out the floor…actually quite a lot now I come to list it!

2015/03/img_5321.jpg This shows the floor straight after the carpet was lifted and benefitting from a quick scrub, the tiles are in great condition, all things considered. I can’t wait until we can finally lift the hallway carpet!

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I also hung a little mirror with shelf (Ebay!) which I somehow thought would be bigger, it needs something that makes a bit more of a statement, but he’ll do for now, and it’s nice to bring a little Spring indoors.

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This is the view that now awaits our visitors…

2015/03/img_5355.jpg Much more welcoming than the entrance that Lansdowne offered a year ago!

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Weekend Bits & Bobs…

We’ve had a weekend of finishing little jobs in the kitchen. Ronnie has been moaning that I’ve been posting too much ‘girly stuff’ so we’ll start with some manly grouting, grrrr!

We chose Marrakech tiles from Tons of Tiles (whose image I’ve borrowed) for our kitchen splash back.

2015/01/img_5006.jpgThe tiling was done a while ago, but we’d not got round to doing the grouting, mainly because the tiles are made to look like nine small individual tiles, as there is terracotta ‘grout’ between the tiles, we needed a similar colour to avoid the actual grout looking screamingly obvious. We only needed a really small amount of coloured grout so sourced some powder pigment to mix with standard grout.
2015/01/img_50021.jpgOnce I’d mixed in the pigment the grout was more atomic orange than terracotta, I added acrylic paint until i reached a near perfect match, does that make the man-job girly?

2015/01/img_50041.jpg I tried a couple of different sized spatulas to get the grout in, but found it was best to bite the bullet and get my hands in there.

2015/01/img_50071.jpg Once done, we were able to replace the socket cover. Ta da!

2015/01/img_5034.jpgWe also put the new new blackboard up. Annoyingly, I’ve not taken any photographs of this project, but as I was unable to find a vintage looking blackboard at a reasonable price, I decided to make one.

2015/01/img_5019.jpgI’d found an old pin board in the attic when we first moved in and it was about the right size, we took the board from the frame and used it as a template to have a sheet of steel cut to size, we then covered it in blackboard vinyl and popped into the frame. So we now have a magnetic blackboard for just a few pounds. I’ve since found a local company Chalkboards UK that does a similar thing which I may well have used if I’d known they were there! Perhaps I’ll get them to make me something for the Craft Room.

On a roll with blackboards, I hung this dinky Ebay unit on the inside of the pantry door, it’s really just for the shopping list etc. but quite handy with it’s little pocket and hooks.

2015/01/img_5026.jpgWe put a couple of hooks under the new shelves to hold our new mugs, in an attempt to reduce washing up we’ve both got an initial mug, and it’s against Lansdowne law to use anything else!

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I’ve also finally got the fabric sorted for the kitchen sofa and bench seat, so we can now get on with making those! The heather linen will be for the seat pads, the rest will be for cushions and chair seat pads. The Harris tweed cushion was bought on our pre-Christmas visit to Edinburgh, I could do with getting a bit of this fabric to tie in elsewhere.

2015/01/img_5023.jpg We also fitted the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom, the whole house now has ceilings, oh the luxury!

2015/01/img_5028.jpg Lastly for this weekend, we attempted to fill a hairline crack in the craft room, guess what…the plaster fell off. I’d hoped those days were behind us but seems not, on the plus side, it’s interesting to see where the old and new parts of the house meet.

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Kitchen Projects…

It’s been all go the last few weeks to get the kitchen finished before Christmas and all but a bit of snagging, we’re there. I’ll post before and afters in the next couple of weeks once the dregs are done, but in the meantime, I wanted to post a few ‘mini projects’ that we’ve done in the kitchen.

First up, the cubby hole in the kitchen has two beautiful carved sections, they are Victorian and I like to think original to the house, though clearly not in their current position. I toyed with the idea of stripping them, but they are so intricate it would have taken forever and I was fearful would they have an air of (very) Shabby Chic, heaven forbid, so I decided to gild them, the result had a definite feel of ‘Bollywood prop cupboard’ I panicked I’d wrecked them and ran some brown paint over them, then some dark varnish and finally attacked them with wire wool… I’m pleased with the result, though not at all what I set out to achieve.

Before & After…

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And both sections shown together, one with flowers and one with fruits…perhaps telling the story of the seasons?
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4750.jpg It’s difficult to show the positioning of the cubby, this is about the best I can do…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4752.jpg Pretty pleased given that a year ago it was a cold, damp and useless area at the top of the hall…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4753.jpgWe needed a couple of shelves for cookery books etc. Wherever possible we’re trying to avoid off the shelf products, (except the Ikea kitchen #budget) so I sourced natural edged, made to measure shelves from the very helpful Ben Loughrill
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4551.jpg These had a couple of coats of Danish oil, which, never fails to amaze me how much it improves the look of timber. I then set about marking out the wall for the brackets, easier said than done as each hole seemed to hit a different substrate, including the metal casing of the electrics, oops.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4547.jpg We then cut segments out of the wood to accommodate the column and finally screwed into place.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4760.jpg The little hand-forged hooks, like the brackets, and most other things in this house, are from Ebay. Since putting up the shelves for our books, I’ve decided I prefer to display a random selection of tat on the shelves, and said books, cause of all this fuss, have been relegated to the pantry.

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The last little project was door handles for the pantry and boiler cupboard, I searched and searched for some pewter handles that had a bit of a vintage feel, without being ‘antique’ style…it proved pretty hard on a sensible budget. I eventually ended up with these, from, you guessed it, Ebay, they were £12 for two pairs. When they arrived they were in Homebase packaging, I assume someone bought them and didn’t like them.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4764.jpg I also got this little collection of old keys for just £3.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4414.jpgWe fitted the new handles, painted the door black underneath the keyhole, drilled a hole, sawed the business end off the keys and glued them into the holes.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/180/57909570/files/2014/12/img_4331.jpgThey look great but visitors DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT turn the keys, they will fall out, and there may be tears.

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!

Comings and Goings at Lansdowne.

This week has been one of comings and goings. Coming, most notably was our cheque from the sale of Ronnie’s house, and with almost as much excitement (from me) my three Ebay purchases from last weekend, goings were my little round table and the giant holly tree.
The garden looks a lot bigger without the tree, but also more ‘normal’, and I don’t like normal. You can now clearly see the original Victorian fence to the right of the garden, we’ll need to lose this to put up a new wood fence fairly soon which will be sad, but I think the days of a 3ft fence dividing neighbours are long gone, especially when you own a crazy cat, and them, and even crazier dog. I hope to be able to use the old fence to divide off a little vegetable plot at some point.

20140302-193227.jpg On Saturday I collected last weeks Ebay steals, I’m totally, and utterly in love with my window, I’ve looked at sooo many, but when I met this beauty, I knew it was the one for us. .

20140301-194815.jpg It’s going to look stunning when it eventually goes into the alcove. I also picked up the mirror which I can’t wait to hang, it will be opposite the French window so should make the area feel much more spacious than it actually is. The guy I bought it from had stuffed bats hanging from his hallway ceiling, so I expect the mirror is glad of a new home!

20140301-194658.jpg Finally on my little road trip, I collected the corner cupboard for the kitchen, it’s actually much nicer than I expected and I feel quite sad that it will most likely end up being repainted to match the units, I love the little lock and key.

The DPC has gone in this week, along with the base plaster. It’s good to see the back of most of the bricks and house feels a lot more finished than it did last week. Some bricks we didn’t want to see the back of though were the ones that form the library fireplace. It’s not especially pleasing to get home from a day at work to find that the bricks we painstakingly removed plaster from have been plastered over again! The DPC guys are coming back next week to correct their mistake and get the plaster off again, hopefully the chimney won’t fall down in the process.

20140302-191927.jpg I’ve got upholstery class next weekend, so I’ve been doing a little bit the dreaded chair to hopefully get it somewhere near finished in class. Progress on the exposed brick wall in the kitchen is a bit slow, it’s difficult when aiming for a rustic look to identify quite what ‘done’ looks like, it’s definitely NOT done yet though…homework for the week…I think. The kitchen fitter starts on Thursday, excited, much. We’ve been getting the last bits and bobs finished in preparation today, we cleaned up the areas where the two walls have come down and found the old quarry tiles a few inches below the current floor, I’m afraid that’s where they are going to stay as they are now covered over again ready for tiling.

20140302-192934.jpg We’ve also chosen our worktop, we’ve gone for the 40mm oak, it’s the middle one on this picture.

20140302-195741.jpg And finally, I (re)found this tea pot, we found it in the garden on moving day and rediscovered it in the depths of the last kitchen cupboard to go today. It’s quite sweet!

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Hitting the wall…and other areas of the house.

So, this weekends checklist:

1. Kitchen delivery – Check, what better to be doing at 7.02 on a Saturday morning.
2. Kitchen fitting quotation – Check (under budget!)
3. Ebay kitchen bar stool purchase – Fail (‘sniper’ app failed to snipe!)
4. Holly tree felling – Fail (gardener didn’t turn up, currently 37hrs late)
5. First plaster coat – Check
6. Kitchen wall renovation – Almost check (ran out of brick acid…and patience)
7. Ebay window purchase – What? It wasn’t on the list?! Erm… Check!
8. Ebay mirror purchase – Check (I’m a better Ebayer than the app!)
9. Scrap metal collection – Fail, apparently our local scrap dealers only work weekdays!
10. Coffee trunk listed on Ebay – Check (to pay for the window, obvs)
11. Ebay corner cupboard purchase – Check
12. Collect light bulbs from Post Office – Fail

Kitchen delivery: Ikea turned up on time to deliver the kitchen, slightly concerned by the minimal volume of the boxes – currently all stacked in the downstairs loo! Seems Ikea really are the masters of compact packing, or half the order is missing, we’ll find out soon enough.

Kitchen fitting: Looks like Miles will be our kitchen fitter of choice, likely to start a week on Saturday as we have another weekends snagging to do before they start.

Kitchen stools: I smugly trotted off shopping safe in the knowledge my super-duper new app would get my stools for the best possible price. Seems I should have stuck to the old method as someone else got these beauties for £15 each, raged!

20140223-220759.jpg Tree felling: The tree surgeon failed to show, maybe he fell out of a tree?! He did arrive earlier in the week to clear the garden though, not quite sure how he did it, but looks like there’s been some sort of apocalypse!

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Plaster: Ronnie filled all the holes the electricians made, ready to be skimmed by the proper plasterer.

Kitchen wall: This is to be exposed brick, but was covered in a huge amount of mortar and plaster. I used brick acid to break down the mortar, washed it off and scrubbed with a wire brush for HOURS! Needs a few more hours work and then a coat of sealant, really pleased so far though.

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(Accidental) window purchase: I accidentally bought this for the wall between the kitchen and alcove.

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(Intended) mirror purchase: I’ve been after one of these mirrors for a while, usually about £195, I’ve picked up this one for £80, kerching!

20140223-223819.jpg Scrap metal: What sort of a scrap dealer does not work weekends?! They don’t make them like they used to. The scrap pile has grown further over the weekend and now includes the old fridge freezer. The lot should have gone when we get back from work.

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Coffee trunk listing: I’m sad to let this one go, but although this house is twice the size of the cottage I bought the trunk for, it just won’t fit anywhere.

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Corner cupboard purchase: Ikea strangely, only make wall corner cupboards in white, so I’ve been on the lookout for something I can paint to tie in. This is what I’ve bought…

20140223-222311.jpg This has already been ‘up-cycled’ (as the cool kids say) and I was intending to get something I could renovate myself, but this was a bargain and just needs painting in a slightly darker colour.

Light bulb collection: Getting dimable bulbs has been a nightmare, and an expensive one at that! Delivery was attempted while we were out, so I went to collect them from the Post Office, which, apparently closes at 11.53am, not 12.00. Oh well, we’ll wait until next week then, light is over-rated anyway.