Saturday, 17 September 2011

My off-white universe....

It's time we updated the blog on the INSIDE of the house. It's all too easy to get carried away with the garden, walls, veggies etc but the REAL show Must Go On, or we'll still be living in this shed in 2012.

The last couple of weeks have seen loads of progress, with plasterers working their way round the house, closely followed by Ian (and sometimes me) with the paint roller, sprayer or brush. UFH (underfloor heating) and floor screed are all down so now we're just 'finishing off'....

This is a challenging time for me. Not the most decisive person at the best of times, I am even driving myself up the proverbial off-white wall.

Whether to have Lichen or Skimming Stone on the woodwork, or White Mist, Elephants Breath or Churlish Green on a feature wall is only just the beginning. What about mosaics in the shower, but do they match the travertine on the floor (incidentally when buying stone tiles they are a fraction of the price if you buy them on line...) and how far up the wall do the tiles go?? Do you HAVE to have tiles behind the loo? Does the freestanding bath HAVE to have freestanding taps, how thick is the acrylic it's made from and will it wobble when you get in?

Do we really care? I suspect once I'm ensconced up to my neck in bubbles, red wine in one hand and book in the other, I won't even notice that the off white wall is a different off-white to the ceiling.

Actually, it's positively thrilling to see the finished colour on the bedroom walls. "Blackened", a cool version of - yup - off-white, conjures up images of sunny mornings, breeze gently blowing the soft white curtains whilst lounging, coffee in hand, gazing at the distant views.... Reality quickly kicks in however as the rain drums on the shed roof, and for the first time this evening I could see my own breath in the air.

Credit where credit is due - it is truly a joy to watch this man, Andy, plastering our walls - it is as smooth as a baby's bottom when he's finished. He's even managed to round off the edges to make some bits look 'old'.

And I think I'm in love with Kevin the carpenter. He's here every day, fixing everything, making it all fit together like a big jigsaw, and most important, being NICE at the same time despite having a bad back. Here he is putting plasterboard on the kitchen ceiling.

And here are the stairs which he's now put in. They fit perfectly much to my relief, despite having to cut off a piece of oak beam to get them in.
Since the last-but-one post we are pleased to say we have now ordered a kitchen. It is hilarious really - it's the same one we ordered a year ago and cancelled two days later. We've only been through 5 or 6 other kitchen firms since then. Classic. Roll on those happy days of filling the dishwasher and scrubbing out the sink.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A pile of old stone and a load of old bricks....

...given the right skills..
...and tools...
....Roger and Peter, 80 years combined experience.......a few pieces of slate.......and some lime mortar.......create the perfect garden wall. Lovely!
Now for the rest of the patio.... and yet more choices - what colour slabs, or perhaps gravel, and maybe a bit more brick mixed in? The lawn will also come up to the back of the wall and a herb garden planted behind the seat. This has turned out beautifully - the area was dug out when we lowered the inside of the house, so we've now got this lovely sunken courtyard. It is a delight to see what happens day by day. It's definitely a case of making things up as we go along.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Getting creative.....

It has been good today to unleash a little creativity after all the wrestling with more mundane-but-essential things like "do we put plastic sheeting over the insulation and under the heating pipes or the other way round......". Or, "is it better to spend more on self-levelling screed or have someone do it by hand with a dry mix?" I know these things are important but they don't really excite. Thankfully those two particular questions have been answered so we can forget about them.
So, what have I been creative with today? ooh, well the first thing was attempting to become an apprentice for a couple of hours to our stone wall builder. He has over 50 years experience of building brick and stone walls so what he doesn't know isn't worth knowing, to use an old cliche.
I am not easily deterred - mutterings of "now come on Rose (he always calls me that) that stone's too narrow - the wall will fall down if you build with that rubbish", and "not too much mortar in there...... that's got to come out, you haven't filled the joints" etc. have not stopped me. I find it very relaxing, interesting and therapeutic to find just the right piece to fit into the gap. I hope I can look out my kitchen window one day and say - "I laid that stone over there", but alas I suspect my efforts MIGHT have been removed and redone while I was using the composting loo or hiding from the rain in the shed.
My second burst of creativity was more agony than fun - arranging yet another set of cardboard cut-out kitchen units around a grid to make them fit into the awkward spaces. Due to our change of mind early on in the build, the space we are using for the kitchen is not purpose-made. Hence, the cupboards don't tend to fit very well! This must be our 6th or 7th attempt and we still haven't ordered a kitchen. I feel the pressure of the team of plasterboarders, carpenters and plasterers working their way relentlessly through the upstairs, down to the guest bedroom - next is the sitting room, then the kitchen - and I will be on the spot. "When is the kitchen coming" will be the cry - my weak answer "I haven't decided" isn't going to hold much water.
Help - or at least more therapy (I seem to need a lot of that these days) - arrived in the form of the third creative surge of the day. Mosaics! I love them - the colours, patterns, the cutting and placing of each tile. Determined to add some original artwork into the house, I've had a space made above one of the bedroom doors, below a rooflight, for a stained glass mosaic. The best way to achieve this is to join my friend Pam at one of her groups in Middlezoy for a few weeks. It's lovely. Sitting quietly with a group - each person engrossed in their work, chatting a bit, laughing a bit, but mostly soaking up the colours, and taking time to think about the small things of design and detail.
Here's one of Pam's