Monthly Archives: October 2011

Relight my fire!

Next up, it’s time to sort out the manky fireplace in the living room – it’s days are numbered!

And here is progress after day one: old fireplace is ripped out, chimney lined, fireplace opened up, lintel and brickwork done.

And day two, opening is lined, walls rendered, hearth fitted, mantelpiece fitted:

By the end of day three it’s all done (bar the painting):

We are really pleased with the end result – excellent work from Carl Cox… no not him – I mean this Carl Cox.

The stove is a Woodwarm Fireview Slender 5KW – the “slender” bit is the depth, meaning we get a visually wide stove but it isn’t too big (and hot) for the size of room.

Frustratingly we can’t light the fire for over a week, while we wait for the plaster to dry.

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Shed in the corner

To complete the veg patch we have got ourselves a new shed.  It’s a 7×7 Corner Shed from B&Q, made by Shire Garden Buildings.

Overall, its been pretty straightforward to put up, in contrast to some of the reviews on the B&Q website.  However one weakness is definitely the shed floor, the tongue and groove timber looks nice but seems way too thin – it flexes worryingly underfoot so we’ll definitely need to add another layer of board to reinforce the floor.  This isn’t a big deal but was a tad disappointing…

We painted the panels before assembly, which made things sooo much easier than painting after assembling it.  As with our fences, we’ve gone for Cuprinol Shades “Wild Thyme” combined with “Country Cream” for some of the details.  Here’s a few shots of the shed assembly in progress.

Pretty pleased with progress after one day’s work.  We still need to fit the door latches, glaze the windows and finish off the trim around the roof felt.

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(Not) pretty fly for a light buy – Kartell Fly is not up to scratch

The newly decorated dining room was in dire need of a new light since the chintzy chandelier was binned.

After ditching Plan A in a moment of spontaneity in John Lewis we went for a bold Plan B, in the shape of a striking Kartell Fly pendant ceiling light in orange.  Here’s what it looks like in a showroom / brochure:

Quite impressive, quite striking, modern, etc.  At least, that’s the idea… however, after unboxing the light, switching electrics off, struggling through the rather sparse fitting instructions by torchlight, and diligently NOT removing the protective film from the shade until installation was finished we were pretty disappointed.  That big orange shiny shade was covered in little (and not so little scratches).

Fair enough, these things happen so we dug out the receipt and John Lewis swapped the shade with no fuss.  Got the new shade home, electrics off, fitted it in the dark again, peeled protective film off again, electrics on…

Grrr, even worse!  More scratches, even bigger!

After wasting a couple of evenings fitting / unfitting the light twice, and a couple of lunchtimes collecting from John Lewis twice we’ve given up.  We’ll dig out the receipt again and get a refund.  The Kartell Fly seems to be style over substance, as whatever they do to manufacture and/or protect the shade during transit just isn’t up to scratch.

We’ve reverted to Plan A and gone a bit more traditional with the John Lewis Elio 5.  Much better!

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New panes, no pain!

Next on the lists of improvements is new windows!  The old ones were probably fitted as an “improvement” in the 1970s, replacing the originals with 1970s state-of-the-art aluminium framed double glazing.

Unfortunately the last few decades weren’t kind to these windows.  The seals went, double glazing blown – so they were quite drafty and pretty ineffective at keeping noise out and heat in!

So here are our new Rehau double glazed windows!

And a close-up of the bay.

Just need a touch of masonry paint to make good a bit of disturbance on the render – then we’ll be all done!

New windows are excellent – nice and quiet, no drafts and a good professional installation from FHI Trade Frames.

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Doing the dining room

The poor dining room was quickly getting left behind by progress in the rest of the house.  Glancing in to the dining room from was like looking into a timewarp, complete with two-pin sockets (and probably a few ration books, threepenny bits, etc).

So we set about ripping up the carpet, removing wallpaper, fireplace, shelves – pretty much everything went!

After patching up the rough bits of wall we set about painting.  White (of course).  Unfortunately the ceiling wasn’t too keen on being painted white – it much preferred to keep the 40 years of nicotine staining, despite several coats of emulsion.  Two options to solve it were:

A) Sugar soap and a LOT of scrubbing

B) A coat of some potent Zinsser Cover-Stain primer

We went with option B, which worked a treat but the fumes from the Zinsser paint were absolutely horrendous, the Tesco groceries delivery driver certainly got a smelly shock when he came to the door that evening…

Once the painting was done we boarded out the fireplace opening – this will be purely decorative as the chimney will be capped.

And finally, we got to work on the flooring.  The existing boards are actually quite sound, albeit stained a drab matt dark brown, but we didn’t fancy sanding them down – couldn’t face the mess after doing this in the living room.  So we opted for laying a new solid wood floor on top of the existing boards.

After perusing the samples in B&Q we went for the “Hand Scraped Wheat” solid oak flooring.  These boards are quite light in colour and have a slightly rippled uneven surface, giving them a slightly aged look.

The instructions gave a few options for laying solid wood flooring on existing floorboards: glueing the tongue and groove joints, using a self adhesive underlay or using secret/hidden nails.

The first two options sounded messy and a tad unreliable – nails seems like the best solution.  A quick trip to the local tool hire shop and we were equipped with one of these:

It quickly became apparent that secret / hidden nailing was a good solution – it was really quick and easy to make progress – time for an action shot…

As per the instructions it was important to leave a gap around the boards to allow for expansion of the wood.  The absolute best way to hide this gap would have been to remove skirting, board up to wall (with gap), then put skirting over the board to hide the gap.  However we opted for the easier option of using some beading tacked on to the skirting – gives a perfectly good finish without the hassle of removing skirting…

Still plenty to do – like the fireplace, hearth, light fitting, mirror, remainder of beading, threshold bar, etc.  However the floor is down and furniture is back in – hooray!

Oh, the next instalment on Barnacles Choice will show you our brand new windows!

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