Adding Character to Your Home

 

Inject your personality, style and soul into your home and garden, not by sourcing everything from one high street shop. Your home will end up looking like a show home, far too contrived and bland. Whether you’re preferred taste is Retro, Shabby Chic, Vintage, Industrial, contemporary or even a mixture of styles creating an eclectic, individual home. By mixing it up a bit you’re creating a home which reflects you, and enhances your home. Take time to enjoy gathering ‘loved’ items. Homes and gardens evolve over time.

Selection of elecltic Interiors for every room

Eclectic interior ideas

If you’re looking for an unusual or particular item of furniture, lighting or accessories to add personality to your home or garden, the Three Wise Monkeys a vintage and arts emporium at The Saddlery, Woodcock Hill, St Albans AL4 9HJ   https://threewisemonkeysemporium.wordpress.com/ is the place to visit. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 11am to 4 pm. Enjoy a morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon tea in the newly opened vintage tea room and have a wander around two floors, packed with unusual items. Some will revoke memories of childhood ( scary, as some of us realize that we, too are vintage!), and some made by local artisans and crafts people, and a florist too, Flowers by Catherine.

 

A few pieces of furniture have been ‘upcycled’ into bespoke one-off  items, which could transform a room. Images show pieces by Carmel of Piece Unique and by me Sarah Maidment Interiors. We both take commissions  if you have your own item of furniture which you’d like customising.

 

You will also find Kelim rugs, cushions, and  stools and chairs upholstered in gorgeous Kelim rugs from Rug Addiction https://www.rugaddiction.co.uk/ . Other chairs re-upholstered, homemade cushions and artwork to grace your walls.

Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture

An array of Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture by Rug Addiction

If vintage clothing is your passion, Little Viking  https://www.littlevikingvintage.com have an array of dresses, jackets, shoes and bags for all. ‘Oh Sew Vintage’ for handmade dresses for all occasions.

 

You will also find every conceivable Doc Martin design boot you could ever wish for.

Selection of Doc Martin Boots, vintage heaters and lamp

Doc Martin boots, vintage heaters and lighting

Vintage books, comics, and  postcards can be found for collectors and unusual hand-made jewellery by local artisans.

 

Modern works of art and photography adorn the walls. This stunning picture of Nelson Mandela (below) taken by the photographer Greg Bartley would look amazing gracing the wall of a large room.

 

Limited edition framed photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

Visually stunning photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

IMG_6804Come and say ‘hello’ and meet Colin the resident ‘horse’ .

Fake horse called Colin

Colin, a reminder of the barns former life as a saddlery and stables

Design a Home and Garden that means Something to you

What does your home and garden mean to you? A place to relax, entertain and spend time with families. How do they make you feel? Our homes and gardens should create a feeling of happiness and well being – a haven of peace in a busy world, and reflect your personality and chosen lifestyle. Ha! in a perfect world I hear you say.

How often have you visited either a National Trust garden, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardens-and-parks,  The Chelsea Flower Show  or an open garden as part of the National Garden Scheme charity fundraising, https://www.ngs.org.uk/ and become inspired to create a lovely garden of your own, only to become despondent on returning home, faced with your own small patch of turf? We’ve also been guilty on the first of the warm, sunny days of rushing out to the local nursery or garden centre and purchasing seasonal plants for instant display, only to find that you don’t actually know where to plant them? Like all home and garden projects it’s down to good planning, you are, after all, creating an outside ‘room’ extension to your home.

Create a Mood board, after all many interior mood boards are inspired by nature’s colours’, textures and movement. Ensure that your outside space compliments your interior space, a cohesive, seamless boundary between the two.

Garden Moodboard for inspiration

Garden Mood board by thepapermulberryblogspot.com

Ten Guidelines on Planning your Outside Space

  1. Budget – How much are you prepared to spend?
  2. Measure your site.
  3. Note the aspect, is it North, south, East or West? This has an influence over choice of plants, and where you want your seating and entertaining area to be.
  4. Hard Landscaping – Hedges, fences, decking paths etc. working within fixed boundaries. Do you want a water feature? Do you want outside lighting? These should be incorporated into you plan now to allow for electrical wiring requirements.
  5. Soil. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky most of us have ‘rubbish’ soil – clay, chalk, sand, silt, loams and peat. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=179 (It maybe full of stones and builders debris too). To identify your soil type go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/htbg/module1/soil_types1.shtml  which offer great information other than purchasing a soil acid test kit. It’s important to choose the right plants for your soil if they’re to thrive ( not just the pretty ones). https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/beginners-guide/planting
  6. Collect ideas together you like from gardens, magazines etc. and think how you could incorporate some of these in your own garden. Also think about the transition from your interior to your garden. These should compliment each other and could be linked by either colour in the planting, fence or decking, or style of seating furniture and containers.  The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has an amazing website full of advice https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/design
  7. Prepare the planting border. Dig over at least fork deep, remove bricks, flints and anything else you may find and remove weeds. Then dig in well rotted manure. This is hard work, so not recommended on a hot day!
  8. Plan your planting scheme. Based on the aspect, space, soil type and desired final design and colour. Do you want a wildlife garden, attracting butterflies, birds and bees, a minimalist with maintenance to match? How much time, realistically are you’re going to spend gardening?

9. Now Buy your plants according to your list.

10. Compromise You maybe horrified by the price of your chosen plants, especially if selecting larger plants and shrubs for instant impact. Buy smaller specimens instead and be patient. Alternatively, consider scouring the clearance section for reductions, especially in the Autumn. O.K. they maybe going over for this season, but shrubs and perennials will come back next year to enhance your garden at a lower cost.

Be patient, gardens like homes evolve and grow over time. Below, are before, during and after picture’s of an overgrown and neglected garden, taken over two years.

 

The garden now, two years on. Just wondering how many beers had been consumed prior to cutting the lawn, judging by the stripes!

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House Before and After Pictures

I have now compiled ‘before and after’ pictures, with the occasional ‘during’ photo (remember it always gets worse before it gets better) which I hope you’ll enjoy and give you momentum to commence or  finish your projects.

The renovation and restoration of a 1930’s house is finished! Are you ever finished in a home? Probably not.

Front Elevation

Before – Sad and neglected                                        After – Restored and extended

Hall

Before - The original 1930s' entrance hall prior to renovations.

Before – The original front entrance hall prior to renovations.

Original 1930's entrance hall

Before – The original hall was dark and poky.

Acro props before steel beam is installed

During an internal hall wall removal.

 

After - The finished entrance hall in a 1930's house

After – The completed entrance hall

Sitting Room

Before - The sitting room with the original 1930's brick fireplace.

Before – The sitting room with the original 1930s’ brick fireplace.

After - The original 1930's brick fireplace cleaned up

After – The original 1930’s brick fireplace was retained, so too were the original Crittal French doors.

Before Original 1930's sitting room complete with Crittal French doors and brick fireplace

Before – A 1930’s sitting room with original Crittal French doors and brick fireplace.

Kitchen

Before - The original 1930's dining room

Before – The original 1930’s dining room

During - The wall dividing the kitchen and dining room has been removed.

The dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room has been removed, to be re-positioned.

After - the completed new kitchen

After – The completed kitchen

After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.

After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall. Original servants bell box is re-hung – shame no staff though!

Open plan kitchen/diner/day room with bi-fold doors onto garden.

View into dining/ day room area from kitchen

Before- original 1930s' dining room

Before- the original dining room prior extension and renovation work – damp wall is now where clock is hung.

Living Room

Rear Footings 3rd feb 2015

Before – Laying the foundations

Painted Stove and Fireplace

During – Marking the wall for the multi-fuel stove

Trescotte Sitting Room Afer 073

After – The finished sitting room

Family Bathroom

Before- A tired and dated bedroom                         After – A family bathroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom during construction

The first fix electrics in the master bedroom

After - Large master bedroom with Heals four poster bed

After – The finished master bedroom

master bedroom with four poster bed from Heals

After – The large master bedroom complete with a four-poster bed from Heals.

The Loo

Before with original cistern          After – Re-sited and restored cistern

Guest Bedroom

Originally a landing with airing cupboard, bathroom with separate loo. Now a guest bedroom, painted in ‘Setting Plaster’ Farrow and Ball http://www.farrow-ball.com/setting%20plaster/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100231

Rear Elevation

Before – An overgrown garden                           Waiting to mature!

However carefully one plans either a renovation or restoration project, it rarely comes in on budget – it’s usually over budget. This is not just because of unforeseen problems like discovering structural problems once the work has commenced, it can due to adding a few extra plug sockets here and there (it all adds up) or choosing high specification kitchen, bathrooms and fittings. Usually it’s because we’ve under estimated the basic build/renovation costs – raw materials labour plus VAT.  Comparing your projected budget spread sheet to the actual costs spreadsheet, helps analyse where you under budgeted or over spent.

Did we go over budget? Yes, we knew we’d go over budget when we decided to install the Sonas system. However, the original quote was less than the final invoice due to the time-lapse between the first fix and completion – the labour and equipment had increased in price. The quote was valid for 30 days only, lesson learned.  The building material costs were higher too, despite having a breakdown of these costs from the supplier which our budget spreadsheet was based upon. Generally, the majority of people under-estimate their expenditure.

With the uncertainty of property the market, and the impact Brexit may have, many home owners are opting to improve their current home instead of moving. Having had nearly forty years experience in renovating properties, although home values may dip from time to time, they always go up, and on the whole a good investment.

If you think I can be of benefit to you and your project, whether big or small just contact me.

Floor tiles on cloakroom floor     http://www.firedearth.com/tiles/range/patisserie/sucre-1 and entrance floor  http://www.firedearth.com/tiles/range/casino-floor/mode/grid

Artwork by Kim Major George  http://www.majorgeorge.co.uk/

 

 

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But with property that goes out the window.

You’ve all heard about creating ‘kerb appeal’ to your home for selling purposes. In a tough, competitive market, how you present your property for sale can win or lose a prospective purchaser. A badly maintained exterior can deter prospective buyers and often reflects on the expectations of the interior.

Delightful frontage

I want to see more!

First impressions count. Here’s a few things to bear in mind;

  1. Make your home’s exterior appealing so viewers are eager to come through the door to see more.
  2. Ensure there is no peeling paint, and that UVPC is clean, as well as the windows. Clean and polish your front door, add a new door mat.
  3. Clear away all junk, broken pots etc. Push wheelie bins into an unobtrusive space, if possible.
  4. Tidy up borders, weed, cut back any over grown shrubs and trim hedges. Fill any gaps with inexpensive evergreen shrubs. Place a planter by the front door filled with seasonal plants.
  5. The same can be done with a rear garden, replacing or repairing any broken paving or fencing.
  6. Look at your garden as an outside room, an extension to your home. Place seating and a table to show how a garden can work for entertaining and enjoyment.
A place to sit and enjoy your outside space

A place to sit and enjoy your garden

Did you know that a well-presented garden can add up to 20% to your home’s value?

But a garden is not all about selling and adding value – a garden is for the enjoyment of the occupants.

Which garden to you think is the most amazing? Wales Online has recently run a property and garden awards competition in association with Waterstone Homes,  http://waterstonehomes.com/site/  The Welsh Garden of the Year  criteria was to be an outside space that’s unique, one we would admire and enjoy. The garden category was all about making something special from the outdoor space available, whatever its size.

Create a mood board for your exterior

A mood board for your garden and homes exterior by Thepapermulberry.blogspot.com

The NGS (National Garden Scheme) http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens.aspx is an organisation which encourages people to open their gardens to the public, of which the proceeds from the entrance fee goes to charity. Some gardens also offer tea and cake – a bonus! It’s an opportunity to ask the owners about their gardens, and glean inspiration. Not everyone of course is brave enough to open their garden for public scrutiny, especially if a ‘Monty Don’ from Gardeners World type expert is among the visitors. Personally, I’m relieved when I spot ‘defects’ like couch grass or ground elder, it makes me feel better about my own gardening capabilities.

I spent one (yes, there was one) sunny June afternoon visiting open gardens in the small village where I live. The Old Rectory was the first stop; a flat lawn (for croquet perhaps?) was flanked one side with an old wall and a beautiful herbaceous border. Paths meandered into the kitchen garden with large greenhouse. Another path led to a large pond and tennis court. A Wisteria in full bloom, hung to the south facing Georgian façade of the house. There was a timeless, classic elegance to both the house and garden.

An herbaceous border blends with the house

An herbaceous border blends with the house image bygapphotos.com pinterest

Another garden was hidden behind a 1980’s home. My goodness me, I felt I was in a Chelsea Flower Show garden (and very relieved I hadn’t opened my own garden). It was beautifully designed in every conceivable way, from the layout to the planting schemes. The grass was a manicured, weedless perfection, and even the hostas were completely holeless! The winding path led to a wild flower meadow, awash with bees and butterflies, and continued to a super duper wooden gazebo.

A small cottage, whose garden was hidden behind a neatly clipped beech hedge was complete with climbing roses, clematis and small fish pond. A small gated access led to a raised vegetable plot and chicken coup. It was charming – the quintessential English cottage garden, who were serving cucumber sandwiches. Of course.

Raised veg beds and chicken coup

Raised beds and chicken coup image This Old House

In another garden there were bird tables, a fish pond – complete with fishing gnomes, with lots of places to sit and enjoy. It was a very ‘busy’ garden. I loved it, although not for me.

A delight was that each garden was an extension of the home it belonged to – a reflection of the style of the house, they went together. What I also observed, was how the gardens also reflected the personalities of the owners, much in the same way a pet or dress sense can.

But don’t just see gardening as an end goal or as a finished product to serve a purpose, it’s also about the journey. Last year the Chicago Tribune published an article on how a garden can teach you creativity, spirituality and more. You can read it here; http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/home/sc-fam-0414-creativity-gardening-20150407-story.html

It’s not only at Glastonbury that Jo Whiley, (presenter on BBC Radio 2 and Glastonbury) tackles mud in her wellies. Jo is as passionate about her garden as she is music. “Gardening is my sanity” Jo said in an article in an article in The Sunday Times http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/access-all-acres-with-jo-whiley-x3xl7lf9g

Hopefully this has encouraged you to dust off the trowel and unearth your creativity which has been lying deep beneath the soil. After all, gardens are a space to be enjoyed by you, your friends and family. A place of peace, reflection or ‘just to be’.

It feels apt to end with the final line from the film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden;

“The garden is always open now. Open, and awake, and alive. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden”.

Now open up your secret garden.

Design Tips by daviddomoney.com

Design tips to help you by Daviddomoney.com

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – Wind in the Willows

 

The wind in our willow and the only mole was ‘Mole’s Breath’ by Farrow and Ball.

We were very upset one morning looking down the garden. The whole of the lawn was covered with a fallen tree, battered by the wind from a storm the previous night. The tree had been a magnificent weeping willow and we installed a light especially highlight it when dark, with plans for a shaded seating area below its boughs.  Now all that remains is a broken stump – two thirds of the original size, not quite the ambience I had envisaged.  The willow had been key to the garden design. I really miss that tree.

Luckily the tree had not fallen on either our or our neighbours shed, however, it had to be cleared and removed as soon as possible so as not to damage the lawn further. Another huge job which took several days.  The tree had to be cut into manageable pieces to move it – logs for the multi-fuel stove, smaller twigs, branches and leaves. This was done in the relentless pouring rain. We had toyed about making a willow fence which was a nice idea but we really don’t have the time, know how or inclination.

A willow fence looks lovely in a garden

Making a willow fence from our pile of debris was beyond my caperbilities!

We hired a shredder so the smaller pieces could then be used as a mulch on the borders to help keep the weeds down. Its been so mild this winter they were continuing to sprout, along with the lawn. But, instead of raking the mulch over the borders my husband placed small neat piles and I now have what looks like termite mounds (or mole hills for that matter) all over the borders.

I had applied one coat of deep grey paint to a wall in the study, behind the original brick fireplace some months ago, prior to the wooden floor being laid.  Unfortunately it had dried in patches of lighter and darker tones, despite the wall having been prepped with a mist coat of paint over the bare dried plaster. I thought it was just a dodgy tin of paint although bought from a reputable company. My husband said it was the way I had painted it? –  I purchased another tin of exactly the same paint, and this time my husband painted the same wall. This also dried in patches. He applied a second coat, but with the same results. Dark at the edges where applied ‘cut in’ with a brush and around sockets, light where applied with a roller, and lighter still showing the outline of the plasterers mesh.

I abandoned this make of paint and purchased Farrow and Ball’s Mole’s Breath – being a similar colour to my original choice. http://www.farrow-ball.com/mole’s-breath//farrow-ball/fcp-product/100276    One coat of paint was applied and dried perfectly. Having already experienced problems with patchy and colour differentials in the master bedroom, I felt the company should be told about the problems with their product. After several weeks of email exchanges containing pictures, receipts of proof of purchase and batch numbers I received a refund for the two faulty tins of paint and a £5.00 gift voucher for my trouble. This hardly covers the time and expense of repeated wall painting. I just hope that the paint product problems will be investigated by the company concerned and rectified.

Farrow and Ball – Mole’s Breath dried uniformly and a great finish.

The wood flooring has now been laid to the ground floor. What a difference it has made to the whole house. Not only covering up dusty concrete floors, but means we can now fix the architraves and skirting boards to the walls. These can now be prepped for painting and a final coat of paint applied to the ground floor walls.

Although mild for the season, the underfloor heating has been switched on low to gradually acclimatise the wooden floor. This will swell and contact, as will some of the doors, which may need some adjustment.

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (18) House & Garden

 

Colour Palate Mood Board

Colour Palate Mood Board

The first floor has now been finished, apart from the wardrobes waiting to be fitted, and carpets laid. Laying the carpets will be the final job, as most of the ground floor is laid with concrete, which creates copious amounts of dust, which is walked everywhere.

The main building contractors have finished their work, and moved onto other jobs. It was very quiet at the house most days, unless the electrician, tilers or plumbers arrived to work on smaller outstanding jobs.

My mother, sadly passed away in August. Although expected, it  is a very sad and difficult time, with lots to do and sort out. Hence, work on the house has been intermittent.

The garden continued to grow, the lawn and lots of weeds in the beds. We managed to keep the grass down, but the weeds not. We should have laid black plastic over the borders when freshly dug with the digger weeks ago, to keep the weeds at bay. This would’ve saved hours of back breaking digging later. Someone told me their story when faced with an over grown garden, they decided to save on the digging and sprayed the whole area with weed killer. They didn’t realize that weed killer also kills plants and takes a long time for the ground to recover. They now have to dig out the existing earth and replace with new top soil.

I had a master plan for the border planting, lots of clipped bay and box trees, lavender, alliums and white hydrangers. This idea changed dramatically when I saw the price of plants and shrubs at local Nurseries and garden centres. Having two large borders measuring 3 m x  6.5 m in the rear and a front boarder to fill, and the cost of purchasing the more mature specimens to add impact, was not an option. I did consider more turf and less border, however, this was too much of a compromise to the design. This problem could have been eleviated had the garden clearance people not been so earnest, and cut back mature specimens instead of removing them!

I chanced upon end of season plant sales in local DIY and garden centres, some of which were half price or less, so spent several days filling my car with bargain perennial plants and shrubs. I selected plants which were complimentary or toning in colour, and offered different textures ( a mood board for the garden) and bought several of the same plants to group together, again to add impact. I also chose according to the aspect the plant preferred, shady, full sun etc. but did not buy a soil sample testing kit to find out if the soil was acidic or alkali as advised by a nurseryman. I guessed it was more acidic due to the Azelia and Rhododendron which had once been prolific in the garden, but alas now gone. The images below, I have used as inspiration, unfortunately this is not what my present garden looks like- but am working on it.

The terrace is now full of plants waiting to be planted, but was faced with two big borders to clear of weeds first. It was a daunting prospect. We covered one border with black plastic, which we hoped would begin to kill some of the weeds, whilst  we worked on the other bed. New top soil had been put down, but underneath lurked bricks, stones and various builders rubbish and deep rooted weeds. It was back breaking work, and could only be done in stages. Well rotted compost should have been added and then dug well in, prior to planting, and Gardener’s World would’ve  been disappointed in us, but they have a team of strong people to do this for them! As a compromise I put compost at the roots of the plants whilst planting and watered in. In such a large garden, the plants look a little lost, with large gaps in between them. This is to allow for growing space. I have to be patient. Gardens mature and evolve over time. The electrician has laid armoured cable to lights which will high-light some of the retained mature trees and focal points in one bed (achieved by a large pot with a tall shrub for impact). These lights have yet to be connected, but will add another dimension to the garden.

The front border had to be attacked with a pick axe (not by me I hasten to add) because it was so dry and compacted. This needless to say was also full of bricks, blocks and stones needing to be removed. A retaining border was made from sleepers and bolted together. Some daffodil bulbs have been put in between the newly planted shrubs and plants.

Tiles have now been laid of the floor on the entrance hall with an area left for a sunken foot mat. The cloakroom floor has also been tiled, which enables us to finish installing the basin and loo. The original cast iron cistern has been stripped and spray painted and placed in situ. I think it looks great.

Sourcing suitable engineered wooden flooring has been difficult. Samples, which looked fine on web sites, when arrive, are either too dark or too shiny, so they can resemble laminate. Other considerations are the depth of the top wood veneer, and of course price. Large DIY stores had disappointingly little choice, and in some cases were more expensive than smaller specialist suppliers. We’re still searching.

Engineered wood flooring samples

Engineered wood flooring samples

We are still trying to confirm a date with the multi- fuel  burner installers to return to complete the outside flue. Because they were so busy, they installed the internal flue and stove some months ago so we could continue with building the hearth and internal works. It was agreed to contact them to complete the job when less busy. Clearly, they’re still busy, and despite numerous texts and messages are too busy to reply.

The partitions and doors have arrived, and the carpenter has fitted them. Although needing staining , then glass fitting, they look great.

The wooden partitions in the workshop

The partitions in the workshop

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (17) What a Load of Rubbish

The Front Porch

The Front Porch

Although we enjoyed the ideal weather in July ( I warned you I was way behind with progress updates) we were still waiting for the roofers to return to finish off the garage, porch and boiler room rooves. Once completed the render can be applied and then painted. We are also waiting for the electrician to come and complete connecting the light switches and sockets, so we can have light and power. This would certainly help with the tangle of assorted extension leads around the house.

New wiring, along with current supply is the power hub

Electricity Hub and tea making station on what was the pantry shelf

 

The front of the house is finally being cleared of rubbish and transformed from building site to drive. We hired ‘grab’ lorries to take away the enormous pile of Earth, brick and stones. Although not cheap, these lorries can remove and takeaway far more debris than skips, which is more cost effective in the long run. Our eight yard skip ( one of many to be hired from this company during the whole renovation) was now full to bursting, and I rang the company to collect it and to hire another in exchange. The company I had used had recently been bought by another larger waste management company, who had no record of me, my skip, account number or address, so wouldn’t come and remove it. They asked if I was sure it was their skip, to which I replied, it’s bright red with your company name painted on the side. Despite this, they still insisted that the skip didn’t belong to them. Not sure what to do with a full skip sitting in the drive, I asked for their advice. One man suggested I pay for the skip to be removed and emptied. I had already paid for this service when I first hired the skip, and was not going to pay again. I suggested to them that as I required another skip, and they couldn’t find my account, that I would have to go to another skip hire company for them to collect the full skip and deliver another, and that the new company could keep the skip. I was told that I couldn’t do that, as the skip didn’t belong to me. (Well I had paid for it, and you keep telling me it doesn’t belong to you). Over several weeks phone calls were exchanged, and became a source of amusement to everyone on site. In the meantime, I hired a skip from a different company so we could continue with clearing the site. Eventually they found my account, and came to collect the skip. Quite a cheer went up! I was asked if I wanted another skip, but declined their offer, it was too much like hard work.

Some of the earth left at the front of the house was piled up with a digger to form a raised bed, in front of the hedge, and a retaining barrier was created using sleepers which were bolted together for strength. A stone slab footpath was laid to one side, for ease of wheelie  bin maneuvering on collection days.  Dragging a heavy bin over gravel is no fun. One was poured and spread over the cleared drive area and flattened with a whacker plate to form a base for 20 mm pea shingle to be spread out on top to form a drive. What a difference, the whole front facade was transformed. It actually looked like a drive. We spent another sunny Saturday planting  some herbaceous plants in the rear garden with my mum. Although her gardening days have gone, she enjoyed directing us from her wheelchair, and a day in the garden was enjoyed by all.

A Saturday was spent sorting out numerous stacked boxes, containing, what would be the fitted kitchen. First we separated the unit door fronts from the carcass’s into different piles, and set to constructing the units as per instructions. Each one was labeled on completion with masking tape for identification purposes, and roughly placed as per the kitchen plan. We needed a quiet day, without interruption or people wandering about, so we could concentrate. The cupboard fronts were left packaged and safety stacked until the units had been fitted to the walls. The majority of our kitchen order had arrived as promised, apart from the dishwasher and hob, to which we received no reason for non delivery from the suppliers. The washing machine did arrive, although damaged, so was returned, with the promise to deliver another within the week. Needless to say this didn’t happen, and after several weeks of phone calls I eventually returned to the shop to chase not only the washing machine, but also the hob and dishwasher. Fortunately this did not delay the initial unit fitting. Apparently the washing machine delivery people didn’t think we still wanted the washing machine. Really? Why would we purchase something that we didn’t want? The washing machine finally arrived the following week. The dishwasher was crammed into the rear of my car, but we had to wait another two months for our chosen hob, as there was a manufacturing fault which had to be corrected.

The kitchen at least was beginning to look like a kitchen, albeit with a temporary ply work top and no splash backs. But to have running cold ( still no hot at this stage) water from the sink was luxury indeed. We’re constructing our own central island unit, with a ‘pop up plug’.

Sensio PowerPod 13A 3-Gang & Dual USB Pop-Up Power Socket Black Nickel

http://www.screwfix.com/c/electrical-lighting/pop-up-sockets/cat6040010     This plug can be pushed in and out of the work top when required, comes with a useful USB port,  and has been designed around standard available units. The kitchen cannot be completed with kick boards until the flooring has been laid.

Aperture waiting for screens

Aperture waiting for screens

The kitchen flooring cannot be laid until the glass partitions have been sourced and installed. I have scoured salvage sites, Ebay and  companies specializing in steel framed doors and partitions.The former drew a blank due to available sizes and difficulty in transportation. The latter much too expensive. Discussions with different trades on site on other possibilities was solved by our excellent carpenter Tom, who suggested using Tulip wood and staining it, and put us in touch with a local small family run joinery company called Goodwood  Joinery. We had drawn out a scaled plan, which Tom then re measured which were sent to the joiners. There was an 8- 10 week delivery lead time, and we would need to order and put in our own safety glass, and stain it ourselves, but we had plenty of other work to carry on with, and the partitions only delayed the finished floor being laid. With lots of trades in and out of the house, this was probably fortunate.

The central boarding has been removed and wooden spindles inserted into the original aperture, so we can retain the original oak banister rail. These will be a time consuming job to paint, but has opened the space, and allows for more light through the  hall.

The roofers arrived! They have now completed the tiling on the remaining rooves. The electrician arrived! I shrieked a thrill of excitement when the lights went on, and we could finally boil the kettle from a wall socket, rather than disconnecting someone’s tool, or worse radio!

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That’s more like it!