Tuesday, 16 May 2017

2016 Review, and 2017 House Goals

I've had a long time away from the blog.  I wasn't feeling passionate enough about it, and I have been working so hard on the house, that the irony is that whilst I've had a heck of a lot to write about, I have also had very little time to write about it.  I'm hoping to resurrect it though, as I've got an awful lot to catch the blog up on, and I want to continue to document everything I have achieved with this house.

I originally wrote the post below over Christmas as a draft, but didn't get round to finishing it.  It's obviously now May... oops!  So some of it may sound a little strange, but it was true at the time, so please bear with!

2016 Review

This time last year, I set out in this post my goals for 2016.  At the time they didn't all seem achievable, but I thought I would have a good crack at them anyway.  Here is what I set out to get done, and how we got on:

1. Start demo-ing the living room
The plan here was to start the renovation of the living room, but with dwindling funds I did not foresee finishing this project in 2016.
Well, I can tell you now, we absolutely smashed this room!  We started the demo in about March time I think which started with wallpaper stripping and pulling the ceiling down, and had mostly finished the project by the end of August.  I still need to update the blog with all the details of this project, but here is a sneak peek of the Befores on this project.

2. Patch up and Repaint the front of the house
This was such an easy one, I can't believe it took us until November to actually get it done.  Again, another one to update the blog with....

3. Finish the Hallway
We finally did all the finishing touches to the hallway - yay!  I just love it now. Here is the post with the final reveal.

4. Get the garage water tight
The old cement roof really was a bit past it... The water poured in when it rained and it was looking all very sorry for itself.  Well over Easter 2016 we smashed the roof to bits and put on a new shiny roof which is full waterproof - yay!  It looks so much better and the garage is now a really functional storage space for us.  And I mean, what better excuse to have a right clean out of the garage.  Not only was there all our stuff in there, the previous owners had left various bits too.  So that was a fab achievement of 2016.
Read about it all here and here.

5. Learn how to plaster
After spending a LOT on plastering, and not being completely happy with the quality, I decided it's something I could certainly have a go at.  Whilst most things I YouTube, I thought this skill would take a bit more finessing, so I booked myself onto a course in February 2016.  It was two whole weekends in Newark, and it was hard work, but I learned a lot, and I was certainly willing to give it a go in our house.
Since being on the course I have plastered the box room (hubby's office), the living room and our kitchen diner.  It's a skill I now have for life and I have already well made my money back on the course and the equipment. Success.
Read all about the course here.

2017 Goals

Now I've summarised the success of my 2016 goals, I suppose I should probably set some goals for 2017!

1. Remove all of the unwanted texture from the house (i.e artex)
This is heavily linked to Goal 2 below.  The last remaining unwanted texture is in the kitchen diner (walls and ceiling arrrgh), and the house just isn't big enough for the both of us. It's not me, it's you.

2. Overhaul the kitchen. 
There is just so much that I dislike about our kitchen.  When we moved in, it was the best room in the house, and I've seen a lot worse kitchens than ours.  But it wasn't to my taste, has too much texture, and not enough storage  A complete overhaul is required in 2017....

3. Get the vegetable patch going again
We completely neglected the vegetable patch last year as we were away in Australia for a month over August and September so there was no point doing much as we knew our efforts would be wasted in our absence.  This year we will have fruit and veg in abundance.  That's the plan anyway...

4. Refresh the bathroom
It's been three years since we bought the house in February so it's also three years since we did the bathroom.  We originally did the bathroom on a non existent budget and in a hurry, so now I've had three years to swoon over everyone elses bathrooms over on Instagram I'm not quite feeling the love anymore.  I think the key thing to change is the wall colour - it's currently Magnolia, and much to my husband's delight, I'm coming round to the idea that we could do with less magnolia in our lives.

5. Learn how to have a work / life / DIY balance
I'm terrible at balance.  I'm either all or nothing, and I really struggle with DIY projects not to let them consume my life for weeks on end.  It's usually because I cause such high levels of destruction that I'm quite keen to get our house back into some sort of liveable state that I kill myself trying to get it back together.  This means that I have zero social life and I just work and DIY, nothing else.  I'm looking forward to doing some smaller DIY projects this year that allow me to take or leave them, and our house isn't going to be insufferable if I'm not in the mood to finish said project.  Stay tuned to see how I get on!

K x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Office Make-over - Part 2

It's been a bit quiet on the blog recently as I have been overwhelmed by house stuff.  The fact we had the living room and the office on the go at the same time, left me in a state of disarray.  There was nowhere in the house to relax, and we had two rooms worth of stuff filling up the rest of the house, that the whole place felt overwhelmingly cluttered.  That, and I was killing myself evenings and weekends trying to make progress, that I just exhausted myself.  It dawned on me one day, that I had no idea why I was pushing myself so hard, so decided to slow the pace of renovations down to give me some space to breathe. It certainly helped,  but obviously meant that everything took a lot longer to finish.  We are nearly there now, so I'm going to take the next couple of weeks to catch up the blog on where we have got to with the house.

You can read all about Part 1 of the office makeover on this post.  Now is where it get's exciting and it starts to come together :) The paint!

 A new trick I tried out on this room was a technique my Polish friend told me all about.  Apparently it's the done thing in Poland, to put a strip of masking tape at the top of the wall, to bring the wall paint down from the ceiling line, to save you faffing with the impossible task of trying to paint a straight line at the wall-ceiling interface.  I don't want to spoil the punchline, but I am in love witht his technique!  It gives such a crisp line, is way easier, takes much less time and heartache, and in my opinion looks pretty darn classy, so for me it's a keeper.

I used the thicker version of Frogtape (35mm I think) and I think it gave the line some impact.  I've seen it done with 25mm and I think 35mm gives a much nicer effect.

I started with painting the edges with my trusty Purdy brush.  It was a bit nerve wracking putting the first colour on - it's a bit dramatic!

I kept the light switches hanging off so that I could paint around them to save getting paint all over the light switches.

First coat done - see below.  I actually found on the second coat I could get the roller up to the masking tape at the top without hitting the ceiling - but I did have to be really careful!  Not a job for the gung ho!

Pulling the tape off was soooo satisfying! Look at that line!

Next up, it was time to stain the floor.  I had already sanded the floor in Part 1, due to timing of days of work.  I used the same stain and products that I had used in the hallway makeover so that there is consistency through the house.  This room also runs straight off the hallway so it should blend seamlessly.  The products are:
- Manns Pine Floor Stain (in Dark Teak) - watered down
- Manns Extra Tough Floor Varnish

I also remembered when doing this, the reason why I write my blog. It's a way of documenting and recording what we have done to the house.  Since it had been a while since we did the hallway, I had completely forgotten how much I had watered the stain down by - oops! A quick look on the blog, and my question was answered almost instantly. 

It always goes on a bit dark, so I didn't panic this time.

I then popped the new skirting boards on before applying the varnish (again just because of timing of work and the weekends etc.).  I think they balance the white strip at the top really well.  I went for primed mdf bullnose skirting, the same as the rest of the house that we have done so far, and stuck them on with the non-solvent Gripfill (the yellow one). 

Please ignore the crappy central heating pipe in the photo below.  We had just drained the system down and topped it up with new inhibitor so the thought of draining it down again to re-route this pipe under the floorboards was too much to bear.  The next time we drain the heating system down we will sort this pipe out....

From the hallway, you can see that the colour of the floor now runs straight into the office which is great.  It's so much better than that old crappy stained piece of carpet that we inherited when we bought the house.

The final step was to caulk and paint the skirting board, and this is where I hit a bit of a rough patch...  Look at what happened when I pulled the masking tape off after caulking :-o  :,-(
I literally could have cried.  After all that hard work, and the coloured paint just came straight off.  Devastating.  I'm not really sure who or what was to blame for this - was it my application and technique? was it the paint?  was it the tape? Who knows. All I know is that I was peeved.

There are no words.  In the end I just had to suck it up, and lightly sand the affected areas, and touch up by hand.  It ruined the sharp clean line I was going for though which was a bit of a bummer.

Is it weird that I have a favourite corner of the room?  I have a similar favourite piece of skirting board joint that I did in the hallway.  Everytime I look at these 'favourites' it makes me proud of what I have achieved with my own bare hands.  

[Weirdo alert] This particular 'corner' (is it a corner if it sticks out??) is on the left of the window recess. And I feel like I really nailed the plastering here.  It's such a clean sharp external corner - I just love it.

Another really cool thing that happened was that Farrow and Ball regrammed my photo on Instagram! Eek! I couldn't understand my Instagram was going nuts until I saw this :) So cool.

I reinstated some of the original art work in this room, and the bike mount on the wall.  This one below I made myself on Word and printed out on A3 paper in an Ikea Ribba frame.

I was so jubious about this colour when I bought it, when I started painting it, and even when it was painted.  But now the furniture is back in, and I had a few days to mellow to it - I absolutely love it :)

It's just so sunny and warm and happy.  I love getting a glimpse of this room as I walk down the stairs.

The grey blind is new and is from Ikea.  The voile panel we had before and just reinstated.

I also made a new "Race Bling" holder for all the hubbie's medals - more in keeping with the room.  The old red one didn't look right in this room.  More about how I made this coming up in a few posts time.

I've lost track a bot on how much I spent on this room.  I had to aquire all new plastering tools, but a rough breakdown below. I already have a great corded drill but I didn't want to trash it mixing plaster which is super hard work on a drill, so I bought a new cheapie for £20 from Screwfix for the job.  Also cheaper than a specific plaster mixer.


Marshalltown Trowel - £50
Hawk, Buckets, Sponges, Mixing Paddle, Corded Drill, Bucket Trowel etc. - £70
Hire floor sander - £35


Plaster (Thistle board Finish) - £15
White Paint (Johnstone's Premium Contract Matt) 10L - £23.95
Farrow and Ball paint 2.5L - £40
Frogtape (2 rolls) - £12
Skirting Board - £23.05
New Blind (Ikea TUPPLUR) - £12
Floor stain and varnish - already owned, leftover from hallway
Paint for woodwork - already owned, leftover from hallway
Decorator's caulk and adhesive - £5

Total - approx £290
However, this includes all my plastering equipment which shall keep me plastering as long as I wish to plaster!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Office Make-Over - Part 1

We have had a little shuffle round in the house and decided to move the office out of the guest bedroom, and into it's very own room, which used to be the spare guest room with a single bed in it.

We gave it a quick lick of magnolia paint when we moved in two years ago, but other than that, it was left as it was, and to be honest, it became a bit of a dumping ground.

I also gave the hubby (almost) free reign to pick a colour of his choice, as it would be his office after all.  He had taken the mickey so much out of my Farrow and Ball colour cards, that when he picked a colour I think he was just being flippant.  But to show him I'm not a wimp, and I really can paint our house in a colour other than magnolia, I went through with it.

The colour he chose was Farrow & Ball Sudbury Yellow.

I've never used F&B paint before, and it was eye wateringly expensive - but I wanted to give it a go.  With it being a tiny room, I would only need one 2.5L tin, so there was some damage limitation. (But still, £40!)

Prepping for plastering by removing the skirting board (yes it was screwed on...)
One bit of prep that I wasn't bargaining on was removing this little bugger of a piece of skirting board:

After wrestling with it for quite some time, I realised the reason I could not extract it from the wall, was in fact because it continued THROUGH the wall, (yes, that's correct, through the wall), and into the master bedroom on the other side!  I'm not often lost for words, but that really left me speechless!  I mean, really?!  There is no way this was ever a two bedroom house, there are no other signs that the two rooms used to be one (that and all the neighbour houses are the same as ours) - so why on earth would someone think this was a good idea?! 

They really was no way it was coming off by pulling it, so out came my trusty hammer and chisel, and I chiseled the little bugger off.

And then plastered over him like he never existed...

So next up was, plastering.

I cleared everything out of the room, and put some scrim tape across the minor cracks on the ceiling.  No idea if that's a good idea or not, but I thought I would give it a go.  I also split the ceiling into two halves using scrim tape (which I would peel off after doing the first half) to give me a nice clean edge to work off for the second half.

Half of the ceiling plastered - scrim tape removed to leave clean(ish) join

It took me 7 sessions (each about 3 hours) to get the whole room done.  The room is approx 2.4 x 2m.  Plastering is all about time management, and making sure you have the right amount of time to go back and do the second coat, just when the first coat is at it's sweet spot.  It's all about good prep, setting up all your equipment ready, and making sure the surface to be plastered is clean and has sufficient coating of diluted PVA glue - this is to stop the wall prematurely sucking all the moisture out of the fresh plaster, making it unworkable too quickly.

I found a great solution for plastering around light switches and sockets.  What I did was that I turned the electrics off first, and then detached the front plates of the sockets from the wires behind.  I then cut out some small pieces of cardboard to cover the remaining hole and protect the wires.  I then plastered straight over the top as if it wasn't there, and cut the cardboard out after I had finished all my 'wets' (last finishing trowels). Simple, and so clean looking when it's done - something our plasterer who came in after the re-wire could have taken a lesson in!

Some progress shots:

Prepped (left) and after (right) shot.  The paint on the left is where I had sampled the colour before buying.

The hardest bit for me was around the window as there were so many fiddly bits like the valves for the radiator, and the narrow edges down each side of the window.  It really does look a bit pants, but the radiator does cover most of the worst spots, so I'm not too concerned.

Let's just say my plastering isn't perfect, and when it was all done, I did need to rub over the walls in some places with some really fine sandpaper.  But it's not horrendous!  After sanding I then wiped the walls with a wet cloth to get rid of any surface dust before painting.

I did two coats of a watered down white emulsion and then one coat of full strength white emulsion.  I love Johnstone's premium contract matt - it goes on so well and the coverage is excellent.  That and the paint shop at the end of the road sells it which is very convenient.

Look how huge it is now it's all white and clean looking!

Due to time off work, it was at this point that I decided to sand the floor back.  The carpet in here was the original carpet that the owners before it had left, and for some god awful reason (in terms of god awful points the previous owners have racked up quite a few on this room!) they had decided to fit it in two halves. As the room was so small, I just hired one of the edging sanders to get the room done, and it only took a couple of hours.  Not bad! (Absolutely killed my back mind. Will I ever learn?!)

Halfway through

And done!  Ignore the dodgy plumbing in the back of the shot.  This will get sorted out when we next drain the system down, but as we had just put some inhibitor in the system, it seemed like a bit of a waste to do it there and then.

And covered up with a plastic dust sheet to protect whilst painting commenced.

This is where I will leave you with part one. Join me shortly for Part 2 - the paint!

Monday, 6 June 2016

May Catch-Up

Once again, I have abandoned the blog for many weeks.  The house has gotten on top of me a bit this last month, as we had two rooms on the go at the same time which left the whole house in a disarray.

Note to self: only tackle one room at a time!

We started the living room first, but then I decided I needed somewhere in our house to practice my newly acquired plastering skills that I then dismantled the box room / home office too.

The office is now done, and looks brilliant, but took much longer than I thought (I decided if I was going to do it, I'd do it properly, so this meant sorting out the flooring, skirting etc. as well.).  Post to follow soon on this!

The living room is now a shell.  At one point we had garden loungers in there after we sold our sofa on gumtree, but even the garden loungers have had to go now that plastering has started,  This means that we have no where to relax apart from our bedroom, and I'm really anti technology in the bedroom so essentially we now have no TV!  Not that we ever did watch much TV, but it is nice to have it for when you just want to watch a bit of mindless tv every now and again.  It has had it's positives though as I am now trying to do more exercise in the evenings, and I have actually found time to start straightening my hair again!

It's still going to be some time before the living room is done though, so I best get used to it!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Fibre Cement Garage Roof Replacement - Part 2 (Fixing New Sheets)

The garage roof has been replaced - yaya! Watertight at long last!  You can read Part 1 all about how we removed the old roof and purchased the new roof here.

To secure the roof sheets we needed something to screw them into.  The existing purlins were L shaped, but the wrong way round, so the sheets would only rest on the top of the L if that makes any sense.  After getting some advice from the roofing sheet company, we decided to fix some timbers to the purlins, to give something more supportive for the sheets to be screwed into.  That probably didn't make any sense, but hopefully these photos will!

We used coach screws (screws with a hexagonal head) which meant that it was impossible to strip the heads of the screws.  You do need a special drill adapter for these though, although this was only £5.

Hubby went along ahead of me drilling holes through the existing steel purlins at roughly 40cm spacings.  Note - don't use the hammer function on the drill for drilling through steel!

I then followed up behind attaching timber tile battens  (approx 50x25mm) that had been tanalised (pressure treated to help resist rotting) by screwing from the underside.

To attach the roof sheets, we rigged up some string to run over the top of battens so that we would be able to tell from the top where to screw into.

We put 3 or 4 sheets on loosely first to make sure they were heading in the right direction.  It's really important to get the first one on right as you can't really make a big angle change halfway down the roof as the sheets lap squarely.  You could line it up with the edge of the garage, but there is a good chance this isn't perfectly square.

We attached the sheets with self tapping roofing screws into battens in every trough of the sheet.  We also used self tapping stitching screws to join two sheets together where they lapped.  All the screws have washers on them, which need to be compressed just the right amount. It was easy enough to do though.

One side done!

All the necessary tools and fixings.  We borrowed our friends cordless drill for the job - it was amazing!

We attached all the sheets, and then did the apex pieces last.  Hubby was brave and climbed on top of the roof - eek!

And it's finished!


  • Power drill - borrowed
  • Ladders - already owned
  • Hex drill attachment - £5
  • Nibbler drill attachment to cut the sheets - £40
  • Metal sheeting, apex, roofing screws, foam fillers £628.89 incl. delivery
  • Timber tile battens 8No. 50 x 25 x 2400mm £16.54
  • Coach screws £5
  • String - already owned
TOTAL £695.43

This was money soooooo well spent. It makes me happy every time I go in the garage and it's dry.  This was top spec sheeting (0.7mm thick with plastisol PVC coating), and came in way cheaper than the original quote we had for someone to do all the work (£2000! :-o ) Obviously, it required some leg work from us(!), and took two whole weekends, but my gosh I love it.  Who knew it was possible to love a garage so much! Haha!