I was up early on Friday and soon after breakfast I began working in the small lounge once more. It was 8.30 and I was ready to go. First job was to apply the priming coat to the skirting board, door frame and door. The window and the fireplace were already done earlier. It took some time to get around the room but the finish didn’t need to be perfect as the paint was only a primer and in this case was being used to blot-out the mahogany stain too. All the stain has now gone. Next job was to strip off the wall paper which I had not been able to remove while it was dry. Now some people might use a steam pad to wet the wall paper but I use cold water applied with a brush and while the water is sinking through the surface in one place I use the scraper or even fingers to remove the paper elsewhere. Most of the time it comes off, well falls off in sheets! The only difficult part is where the top vinyl layer has not been stripped off first which then means the process has to be done twice. As I had already stripped much of the paper from the wall when it was dry there was little of the top layer left.
That work took me into the afternoon, with a break for lunch and then I decided to apply the first coat of white gloss paint to the window frame. It was surprisingly easy and could almost pass with just the one coat but it will get two.
You may notice that the carpet has gone but not the underlay. When I purchase a new carpet the underlay will be replaced too though the existing one is quite serviceable apart from a small area near the door which I think was water damaged when a liquid had been spilled and then washed off with water. It wasn’t replaced when we had the last carpet change over fifteen years ago so having a new one is probably a better idea. It was four o’clock and I was finished for the day. I am happy with the progress and am enjoying doing the work.
Having been informed that the guys who were to collect the old three-piece suite might arrive as early as 6.30 in the morning I had a very early trip to bed so that I could be up well before their arrival. The reason I had to do that was because I had to shift the suite from the garage and on to the front driveway before their arrival. I couldn’t have done that the evening before as rain had been forecast overnight and the council had stipulated that the furniture had to be dry when collected! I have no idea why that should be the case unless they planned to use the furniture or sell it off for the material value. I set the alarm for 4.30 and moved the furniture outside before 5.45. I then moved the tower components back into the garage where it is kept. I had dismantled it the day before after I had cleaned the chandelier. The remainder of the work I had to do in the lounge could be done using the tall step-ladder. Once that was done I ate breakfast and waited for the guys to arrive though they needed no contact from me to do their job. I had left the gates open so they could gain access. After breakfast I was wondering what I could be getting on with because after 9.00 I was expecting the representative who would be measuring for the curtains to call. His appointment was for any time between nine o’clock and noon so if I was to do anything it would have to be in the time before he came. I located the tube of decorators caulk and the applicator gun and proceeded to fill-in the gaps around the window frame. It took the whole tube to complete the work. It is surprising just how many gaps there can be seen once the old decorations are removed. That took me thirty minutes and by now it was 8.30 and the guys collecting the suite arrived! That’s just typical isn’t it? The work I had done, small as it turned out to be was one of those subtle changes which happen when doing work of this nature, it is not noticed but makes subsequent work a lot easier and professional-looking. Once the representative had been and gone I planned to lift the old carpet, dispose of it and roll-up the underlay for re-use beneath the new carpet later. In fact I ended up lifting the carpet before he arrived. The carpet had to go at that point to enable decoration of the skirting board anyway. Well the guy arrived at 11.45 and stayed for just over an hour. When he’d gone I drove to the pub for lunch. The car park was full yet the pub was relatively empty! Service and food was great as per usual but I didn’t stop long once I had eaten as I wanted to walk into town and do some shopping. The main reason for shopping was to purchase toiletries but I was also tempted to purchase a couple of clothing items, a lightweight summer top and an equally lightweight hooded summer coat. Well I need to be treated too, it’s not just the small lounge that has that privilege.
At last I finished work on the ceiling in the small lounge. I started Tuesday tidying up the paint work on the two stripes which encircle the cornice or coving (see yesterday’s post for pictures). It is difficult trying to obtain perfectly straight lines when doing this kind of work simply because of the abnormalities in the plaster work and consequently touching-up the paint afterward is often necessary. I spent an hour and a half before lunch and an hour after lunch to get it to a reasonably good finish. Whilst doing that work I took the opportunity to give the frieze another coat of paint, making three in all. Just after lunch I was looking out of one of the rear windows and took these two pictures
The time was one-thirty BST or half-past twelve GMT. The first picture is pointing directly northward. I only took them to indicate how much sunshine actually reaches the garden in the middle of the day in the month of April. The shadow will be closer to the house at Midsummer. The garden was in full sunshine during the morning as the sun was in the east and to the right in these pictures. When it swings around to the west most of the garden is again in full sunshine even at this time of year. The garden at the front points roughly south-west so gets the full sun most of the day.
Anyway back to work…I resumed painting the ceiling before moving on to apply paint primer to as much of the wood work as I could before deciding I’d had enough for one day.
Applying the primer has exposed numerous holes and gaps in the window frame though I knew there were some beforehand. Now I have to fill them all in before applying a second coat. At this point in time I guess I have covered about half of the wood work. It is taking much longer to do the work as I am doing it alone but I reckon I am doing well after only five days.
Although Sunday offered a welcome break for my physical well-being it did little to ease my impatience and eagerness to do something. It was good therefore to be able to get back to the job in hand, redecorating the small lounge. Most of the work hitherto had been centred on the ceiling and frieze and even now on the fourth day of actually working in the room there is still more to do in that area. I had begun to paint the two stripes around the cornice on Saturday and set about finishing it off on my return on Monday. As with many jobs I do I end up finding an easier way to do it as the work progresses. For painting the stripes I used a small piece of hard board to act as a guide and to prevent the paint going where it wasn’t supposed to. Using the guide also sped-up the execution of the work. However there still remains some touching-up where the colour has run on to the white paint. I expected that anyway but I will be able to touch-up the over-spill when I give the frieze another coat of paint. Anyway I got the stripes painted right around the room..
I then started on painting over the woodwork using a special paint to do it. I completed painting the first coat on the picture rail, on part of the window frame and the top half of the mantle-piece which surrounds the fireplace. There is much woodwork left to do yet, the window frame, the door frame and the door and of course the skirting board which is almost a half-metre in height, and all of that is just for the priming coat! So I am going to be rather busy in that room for quite a while yet. The end of the day turned out very sunny and I was able to spend an hour relaxing on the patio late in the afternoon. I sat and watched the antics of the numerous tits flitting about among the tree branches and the grey squirrel out on his rounds before finally returning indoors for my evening meal.
It is late on Saturday afternoon as I write this having completed almost three full days working at home on the small front lounge. A few days ago I had decided to completely renovate the room which although having had a change of furniture and a carpet since we moved into the house in 1988 has never been redecorated since 1989! Anyway that aside I decided on a total change, decor, furniture, everything. I was going to employ someone to do the decorating but changed my mind to do it myself. Over the last three days I have concentrated on the ceiling and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post I painted it twice. I thought it might need three coats and indeed when I looked at it this morning it still looked a little patchy in places. That meant a drive to the supplier to purchase another 5 ltr can. First job for the day though was to dig out a few bluebells which had thought I’d given up on them but no, I have been digging them out as they appear. Thankfully there are not as many now after all my hard work earlier in the year. That took a half-hour and then I phoned ahead to make sure the supplier was open. Many businesses close from Good Friday to Easter Monday so I had to make sure. They were open until 2 o’clock but I went immediately as I wanted to continue with the work. As it happened I did have enough paint to complete the second coat on the ceiling and frieze but would still need the extra can to paint parts of the ceiling which still looked patchy. I wasn’t going to do that until Monday at least but I had the extra paint ready now to hand. Finishing off the second coat and painting again the frieze and ceiling cornice for the third time on the window wall took me to lunchtime for after lunch I had decided to start painting over the dark blue stripes with the new red colour.
Incidentally, the dark-stained woodwork you can see in the pictures will eventually be painted white as the work progresses. Try as I might I couldn’t avoid spilling over the new colour on to the white parts of the ceiling. I used a piece of thin board like hard board to shield the parts of the ceiling I didn’t want the paint to touch but it was never going to be perfect. It will be easy enough to touch-up with white paint where necessary later. I stopped work at that point and wouldn’t be returning to it until Monday. Sunday was my rest day.
THIS OLD HOUSE WITH ITS FRIENDLY PORCH NEEDS A FRESH COAT OF PAINT AND REPAIR WORK – NARA – 550109 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Friday was all day working day in the small lounge. The job for the day was to finish covering that part of the ceiling I was unable to do on Thursday through lack of time, though I had no intention of working any longer than I did. Once that was done it was time for lunch but after lunch it was time to start over again from the beginning. One coat of paint was never going to be enough, it needed another. I got as far as repainting at least three-quarters of the ceiling and frieze but it was getting late and the light was fading anyway. By that time I was ready to stop after almost eight hours. I don’t work that long doing electrical work these days! I looked over the work I’d done and began to think I might have to give it yet another coat but it was too dark to see properly. I would have to wait until the next day when it would be lighter. Twice over should be enough but if it needs another coat then another coat it will have. One problem is the fact that I will have to purchase another can of paint to do the third coat if it needs it and in fact as I write this on Friday evening I have barely enough paint remaining to finish the second coat! I would know the following day regarding that. Friday wasn’t a nice day as far as the weather was concerned so it was just as well I had something to do indoors. I think the worse job of all in decorating a room is painting the ceiling, it is tiring even when close access is possible. I am so glad I purchased the tower a couple of years ago, it has become an invaluable asset.
Moving on from yesterday’s post I was able to spend most of the day working at home in the small lounge. It was about 9.30 however before I made a start. There were a couple of things I had to do first, remove the six curtains and the hardware for them from the window. They are of the right length and width to be reinstalled in the rear lounge which for years hasn’t had curtains hanging there. The rear of the house isn’t overlooked so privacy was never an issue but curtains will improve the look of the room and help retain heat in the cold months, although the double-glazing we had installed around the house a few years ago does most of that work. I removed the two wall-mounted lights and a couple of items of furniture before finally getting started on the first coat of emulsion on the ceiling and frieze. I began in this corner of the room….(click on pictures to magnify)
You can see the contrast in colour on the ceiling where the new paint meets the old. Basically I followed around the room at the wall to get the frieze painted too. I managed to complete up to more than halfway around, above the windows.
Once I have completed the frieze and the ceiling edges I will move to paint the centre area. The ceiling and frieze will then need a second but final coat to blot out the existing pale blue colour. In the pictures you can see where the cornice has been painted in a darker blue forming two stripes around the room. They are going to be painted over in a shade of red to match the new furniture, carpet and curtains. I stopped work for lunch and was about to resume work when I received a call from the decorator store informing me that the wall paper had been delivered and was ready for collection. I went to collect it, resuming work on my return. I did get a couple of electrical offers of work but I turned them down as not being something I was prepared to do. As I write this on Thursday evening no doubt there will be more offers tomorrow, if not I will have plenty of things to keep me occupied in the lounge. Because the room faces roughly south-west it gets rather warm during the day when the sun is out. Sometimes that is an advantage, sometimes not. I did a little stripping . of the old wall paper where is has been possible but I will need the steam pad to get most of it off. I phoned my youngest son who had borrowed the machine some months ago but hadn’t as yet used it! He would bring it over at the weekend. I stopped work for the day at 5.30 as E had returned with the weekly shopping and it was time for my evening meal an hour later. I seem to remember doing a lot of redecorating in the first few months of last year……..mmmm.
So I began Wednesday getting organised to start the redecoration of the small front lounge. First task was to clear a space in the garage so I could then move the old three-piece suite into it. Here is the lounge window with the front door to the left and the garage on the right (picture taken last year). I had to manoeuvre it through the door, down the steps and around to the space I had prepared to the left of the van. Fortunately the front door is really two both of which open fully and the garage is more than twice the width of the van and almost twice as long.
It was surprisingly easy to get the suite moved. Next task was to bring in a section of the tower from the garage and erect it in the lounge.
The platform on the tower is slightly less than half the height to the ceiling and at a perfect position to work on the ceiling and frieze beneath it. It was around eleven o’clock when I decided to drive off to the decorator supply store to order in the wall paper having made up my mind which one I wanted. I returned their sample book at the same time. Whilst there I also purchased white emulsion paint for the ceiling and a small can of a red-coloured emulsion with which to pick out part of the cornice which is presently blue as in the picture below.
I didn’t return home directly but went to the pub again for lunch. I must have arrived just at the right time for it became full of diners shortly after. I didn’t hang about once I had eaten and then returned home with the paint. The wall paper would be in the store a day or so later ready to collect. I spent a little time disconnecting and removing an old cctv control unit from behind the television and the two wall-mounted lights. You can see the circular electrical boxes in the second and fourth pictures.
That was about all the work I did on the day. I have yet to remove some small items of furniture and other things followed by the television, carpet and probably the underlay too in case it gets damaged. The underlay will be used with the new carpet I have yet to purchase but that will be done when the rest of the work is completed. Our local council will collect the old suite in the morning of the same day the guy coming to measure for new curtains will arrive, that is tomorrow, Thursday. I am hoping that by the time you are reading this I will have made some progress in the redecoration. It is looking more likely that I will end up doing the work myself unless my decorator friend becomes available.
Talking about redecorating one of the lounges in yesterday’s post set me thinking seriously about getting the ball rolling, setting the wheels in motion as it were as I had nothing else to do on a dull Monday morning. What a difference the weather turned out to be on Monday compared to the previous two to three days. It was much cooler and windier though I will say it brightened up later. Not one for hanging about too long before making the decision to get the lounge redecorated I made immediate steps in that direction. Before I could do anything however I received a call telling me that the photo cell sensor unit I had ordered had arrived and was ready for collection. As it happened the existing sensor had resumed working as before but I still followed through with the purchase and drove there to collect it. It will be a useful stand-by should one of the two installed units fail. Pity it cost £75 for the privilege but there you go. So getting back to the lounge…..I organised an appointment with Hillary’s who’s representative will now be coming along on the 20th of this month, three days hence in fact, to measure for bespoke curtains and to install them at a later date. They have to be made to suit because the windows are of unusual dimensions. At the same time I will decide on the colour. That arranged I proceeded to check out the local furniture stores over the Internet and finally selected at least for the time being the sofas I want, one three-seater and the other a two-seater from DFS. They cost me £1700 in their sale offer. I paid up front. The suite we have at the moment consists of a three-seater sofa and two armchairs but having a two-seater instead of two armchairs saves space and for this room will be more suitable. I have chosen from the Mendez range in the colour ‘Bordeaux’ which as the name implies is a rich crimson red. They, I have been informed will take around six weeks to manufacture and deliver, plenty of time to be getting on with the decorating. Whilst I was out collecting the sensor I drove to a decorating supply centre and purchased some cover stain (for covering the existing mahogany stain on the woodwork), some gloss paint and wallpaper paste. I didn’t purchase the emulsion on that visit but will collect some later and neither did I purchase the wallpaper. Now I have ordered the furniture I can decide on the colour of the wallpaper and later on the carpet. I will need to decide on the colour of the wallpaper before I have the curtains made too. So it starts…. After I had dropped the materials back home I went to the pub for lunch and at the same time phoned my decorator friend. He told me he was quite busy but maybe could do the work in a few week’s time. I just have to remind him later on. I see him at the pub sometimes too though he wasn’t there on Monday, well he would be working at that time of day! I had thought about doing the work myself but I will have enough to do stripping the room and getting it ready to work in and of course any electrical work that comes in. Later in the afternoon in fact I received a call to do some electrical work the following day which all helps to lessen the cost of the decorating.
I started the day on Monday with nothing to do. It was raining, not a lot but enough to keep me from working in the garden. I called back to house I had done the emergency repairs on Sunday for two reasons, to collect something I had left there and to check things were alright. I couldn’t phone ahead as I hadn’t asked for the phone number when the caller rang. She had marked her number as private. My mistake for I usually insist on a contact number in case I need to contact the caller. I took the chance but there was nobody at home and I left a note so they could call back. Looking through their window I could see some of the kitchen appliances were switched on as I could see the indicators lit. I could also see what I had left there sitting in the window sill! Oh well I would have to wait for their call, No sooner had I returned home when another call came in asking for my electrical services so I attended on that one and didn’t get back home until 1.30 just in time for lunch. After lunch I decided to work on filtering more soil in the front garden flowerbed for the weather had changed dramatically. It was now sunny and warm. I spent four hours and made a lot of progress. There remains less than a square metre of soil left to filter as I write this on Monday evening. It is hard-going filtering out soil but it is worth the effort. I am truly amazed at how many bluebell bulbs I have removed, there are now thousands of them in the green wheelie bin. As I write this I have no other work scheduled until Wednesday so I may be able to finish the bed on Tuesday. The weather forecast is good for the next few days too. What has E been doing whilst I have been working in the flowerbed or away from home? She has been painting the cabinet and drawers in the top room and has also finished the painting of the room itself!
Once I have finished the outdoor work I will fit the room’s door furniture and curtain rail. It will then be ready for a carpet to be laid once we buy it.
The top room project was always going to be quicker to accomplish as for one the room is relatively small compared to the other rooms we have refurbished. Even so it measures 5 by 3.5 metres at floor level and although the ceiling slopes it is high. At its lowest point where it meets the wall it is still more than 2 metres from the floor and even if the fitted furniture (worktops) were not there it would be difficult to hit it with your head. As small rooms go therefore it is quite large. Its twin room backs onto it (to the right in the first picture). Apart from removing the shelving that was beneath the worktop most of the work would simply be decorating. The door and a small part of the frame require minor repairs and the door lock requires attention, either servicing it or replacing it depending on what I find when I remove it. It is a little stiff to operate at the moment. The door handles need replacing and the curtain pole re-fixing too. I may replace the existing fluorescent light with an LED version later. We are undecided yet as to what colour carpet to lay and this time we will need to purchase carpet underlay too. The other rooms had good quality and undamaged underlay so we only had to replace the carpets but this room had been fitted (by the previous owner of the house) with a cheap carpet/underlay combination which perished. Well it had been on the floor for at least thirty years. Plenty of time to buy a new carpet yet. I worked in the room alone on Thursday as E hadn’t felt up to it but I only spent three hours in there.
I applied a top coat of gloss paint to all the wood surfaces apart from the door and left it to dry. That would take 24 hours. However, gloss paint takes a few days to dry to a hard finish depending on the conditions. It would probably be Saturday before you would find me working in the room again as I had electrical work to do on Friday.
The advantages of having a house with 53 steps in it means I get plenty of exercise. The disadvantages include the extra time it takes to do any work at the top of the house! I reckon I am reasonably fit for my age (70+) but climbing those stairs a few times leaves me exhausted. For example, if I begin working on our current project too soon after breakfast and climb those stair steps (40 from the breakfast room) I am a little out of breath. After a while though descending and climbing them isn’t so bad but it is still tiring if I have to do it two, three or more times, which is often the case. Again the same thing happens after I have eaten my lunch. Obviously, well to me anyway, my body is being starved of oxygen whilst my food is being digested so exercise becomes more difficult. At the other end of the scale tiredness sets in through lack of sustenance and my age. Doing any work at the top of the house is always going to take longer because of these factors. Still I plod on. E will be finding it even more difficult I know as she suffers with her condition (spina biffida) which, though not severe, nevertheless impedes her movement somewhat. More recently she has been suffering with a problem around one of her knees and even as I write she is booking an appointment to have it X-rayed. Despite her afflictions she works quite hard and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop. I have to insist she stops before she will do so herself. So things take longer when we get older and we need to be more careful that we don’t rush. There isn’t a need to rush anyway but there is the need to keep active else seize-up! Progress has been good on the project, the walls and ceiling are fully painted and the woodwork that needed to have an undercoat, that is most of it, has been painted. E painted a large section of skirting but somehow managed to twist her back in the process. It took her quite a few minutes to manoeuvre herself into a position whereby she could get up off the floor. I could do little to help (she’s very independent). I had to suggest that I do the low-level painting in future for there is plenty of painting that has to be done at waist height which will be more comfortable for her if she insists on painting something. To be fair she doesn’t usually have problems but it proves just how susceptible we can be if we don’t take care.
Well in the top room to be precise. I have had some free time at home lately and it has enabled me, with the help of E, to get on with the top room refurbishment. On Friday we were able to strip the room of its carpet and generally tidy up after which I made inroads into altering the worktops and shelving. On Saturday morning We took the opportunity to do more work in there but only until lunchtime at around 1.30. I removed some under the worktop shelving and some support struts for the main worktop then strengthening it to allow only one support to be used instead. This support was by way of a panel rather than a post which made everything even more sturdier. You can see the panel beneath the long section of worktop in this picture. The mark on the wall beneath the worktop centre of picture is where the removed shelving was fitted. It all doesn’t sound much but it is all sawing, shaping and screwing timber and it takes its toll especially when the timber has to be cut down in the cellar and the work is at the top of the house, three levels higher! They say living in a house with stairs is far healthier for the heart but we have the equivalent of about four flights of stairs from the cellar to reach the top of the house. There are actually 53 steps and the average number of steps on a staircase in a two-storey house is 13! I have lost count on the number of times I have had to make that 53 step journey lately and of course I had been carrying weighty items with me too. No wonder I get so tired at times. E has been filling in all the holes and gaps in the wood work ready for it to be painted later and lending me a hand when it was needed. Basically all the construction alterations are now complete and soon we will be ready to begin the actual task of decorating the room, starting with the sloping ceiling.
Here is another picture showing the remainder of the worktop near the window where I fitted a side panel also on Saturday… Also in the pictures you can just about see the two electrical boxes beneath the worktop. One (third picture on the right hand side) contains terminals connected to some of the ceiling lights in many of the rooms in the house and the other (first picture in the centre) alongside that box contains an interface unit designed and constructed by myself which when connected to a computer will allow the computer to switch on those lights. It is not in use at the moment as it needs modifying to allow a USB connection. There are also a number of power outlets located beneath the long worktop out of sight and were there to power computers, printers and scanners many years ago. There are holes in the worktop surface to allow cables to pass below it and out of sight whilst keeping the worktop free of cables. E will use the same method for connecting the machinery she intends using in the room. The third picture also shows a vent beneath the short worktop. A fireplace once graced the room in that position as the vent is in the chimney stack and the floor in front of it has a stone base set into it. We figure there had been possibly fifteen fireplaces in the house when it was built in 1887 with four chimney stacks serving them judging by the remnants left throughout the house. Coal must have been very cheap to buy else they were that rich it didn’t matter!
We will be painting all the timber in white. As you can see from the pictures there exists a mish-mash of worktop surfaces which was the result of adding sections over a couple of years when materials became available. We were obviously not that fussy about what it all looked like and just concentrated on getting something fitted for immediate use. I hasten to add that this was the only room treated that way!
The room at the top of our house is actually two rooms with another at a slightly lower level. The one at the lower level is basically inaccessible at the moment as it is filled with my son’s furniture. Of the other two rooms one has a bed in it and is also filled with boxes and bags belonging to both of my sons but it does now have some free space. E and I dismantled the bed and stored it against a wall whilst re-arranging what was stored in there. The third room was the one with the hole in the ceiling and the damaged wall that have now both been repaired. However, the room needs redecorating but it also is filled with many boxes. E and I are going to empty the room and may have already done so by the time you read this so that we can lift the old carpet and set about painting the walls and the worktop surfaces. Years ago I used the room as an office/study and at that time I built a framework little by little on top of which I fitted a worktop around three of the walls. I had computers, printers, scanners and all the paraphernalia that comes with an office, ring binders, filing boxes and paper. I kept all my business records up there too. The room hasn’t been used for quite a number of years now and that is why it has become filled with boxes. E wants to use the space for her crafting hobby and other things and is ideal for that. The shelving and work surfaces can therefore remain as they will be used. On Wednesday afternoon E and I went shopping for emulsion paint again and for the small tin of textured paint we needed for the ceiling because we had used up all that we had. The work in the room will mostly be done with a paint brush but I may have to move one or two power points though there are plenty of them beneath the worktop. Earlier on Wednesday I cut and fitted some lengths of 150mm high board to fit on top of two of the worktops against the wall where they had none. The small project won’t take us long as we are not going to make the room anything else but functional and it all started with a hole in the ceiling! Perhaps I will get the opportunity to change all the radiator valves another day! Plenty of time for that though. Whilst we were out we bought a couple of tomato plants and two plants for the gardens front and back. Here are the two plants…
The top one, a ‘Bottle brush’ plant, had yet to be put into the front garden. The bottom one, a ‘Dwarf fan palm’, I planted next to the ‘Yucca’ I had planted a day or two before. The Yucca can grow more than three metres and should always be taller than the fan palm which is supposed to grow to a metre and a half.