We moved here eleven and half years ago. Feb 4th 2005 to be exact. The house was run down and dated but we could see past all that.
We needed to start receiving B&B guests that May so, as we walked through the door on that first morning we started ripping out carpets as we wandered from room to room. Thirty years of coal and wood grime and a good inch of dog hair; we wanted them out before the removal van arrived.
This was followed by the fun bit, four weeks of knocking the crap out of the place; chipping back plaster; taking walls back to brick until they stopped crumbling away; scraping off wallpaper; whacking stuff with hammers. You would not believe some of the findings. Wallpaper held down with masking tape to keep the crumbling walls in; slivers of soap and old newspaper to fill holes and bridge gaps!! Four weeks later our plasterers who had helped us finish our old house (so we could move on), arrived to cover the walls back up again. We followed them around painting and decorating.
By May Bank Holiday 2005 we had the house ready from the front door, through the hall and into the guest dining room; up the stairs and into the two guest en suite rooms. All our own space was in the same sorry state we found it.
We did get our bathroom finished. John was amazing. I wanted twinkly lights so to create this effect (baring in mind the added complication of a curved ceiling). John build a false ceiling, drilled 250 holes and threaded them with 1/2km of fibre optic cable before I helped him manhandle it into position.
This involved me standing on the edge of the bath, balancing that end of the ceiling on my head whilst he fixed the other end in position. I also wanted black tiles floor and ceiling to create a feeling of ‘floating in space when standing in there at night. I know , I’m demanding, he’s patient and obliging. Especially considering that the glue dissolved the mosaic tile backing meaning that each 2cm square tile had to be attached individually. (I imagine lots of swearing under John’s breath and fake smiles through the 50 hours it took to create my dream).
At some point during the last eleven and a half years we have managed to (almost) finish our living/dining room, the floor is still as we found it having lifted the carpets on day one. We just can’t find time or energy to sand the floor boards. Plus there’s a troublesome little DIY conundrum to get our heads around before we do …. the room was previously two rooms but had been knocked through at some point in its past. The floor on the living room side and that in the dining room are slightly different levels and the gap in rough, uneven concrete. For eleven years we’ve ‘dealt with it’ like this…. a sheet of wood and gaffer tape…its become a bit of a feature…
The kitchen we acquired with the house was a 70’s extension to the 1907 original build with the added quirk of a second ‘fix’ whereby a larder had been knocked out and a back porch had been added. The floor with quarry tiles suffered the same idiosyncrasy as the lounge/diner; a line of concrete where the wall had been between kitchen and previous larder space and slightly different levels.
There were two different types of 70s cupboards and two different types of 70’s laminate worktop. I coped for a couple of years and then John promised to build me a kitchen. It’s about 60% there!!
John built the cupboards; they’re so substantial you could save yourself by hiding in the during a bombing raid. They never quite got finished beyond the primer. I added the mural in Spring 2016.
John has however resolved the floor issue here; leveling and quarry tiling throughout
As for the worktops. The kitchen is bespoke, lots of curves and odd-shaped worktops required. I don’t like to make it too easy. so we cut out some temporary ones for the shape some years back, and there they remain! We wanted stone. Five years or so ago we got round to sourcing some . Too expensive. We could never raise the funds. We had some grandiose idea of using recycled glass composite and moulding our own with the help of a local entrepreneur; John even researched how to go about it using YouTube videos; but it all got a bit complicated. We considered polished concrete. We even acquired a DIY kit to do it ourselves. I have no idea what happened to it.
Last month I called in a carpenter. He’s coming in September.
Then there’s the outside. It needs painting. its needed painting since we arrived. At some point we started glossing the window frames. and at some point we slapped a coat of cream/beige on the front lower half. I’ve always wanted t sunshine yellow. Starting yesterday we’re getting sunshine yellow.
I have no idea how I’m going to tackle the front upper half over the veranda. Perhaps John can dangle me out of the first floor windows and hold onto my legs…..