Sun, 09 Dec 2007


Over a month since the last diary entry. What have we been up to recently, apart from lying on the sofa munching grapes ?

Well, we've finished the Boy's bedroom. He started moving in the minute the project team (me and Sylke) handed it over but take my word, it makes the Saint Pancras refurbishment look like a doll's house. We fitted blue LED feature lighting (10 quid remaindered in B&Q). The flooring is cheap engineered laminate boards (11 quid per 2.4 m2 also remaindered in B&Q). The lad and his mates are heavy-footed and fond of rough-and-tumble so we laid out for sound-absorbing board under the flooring (20 quid for 10 m2). Now we only hear them when they're getting loud enough to need shouting at anyway, heheh. With seven crates of old toys and games banished to the attic, he has a very nice room now.

The kitchen is taking second priority for a while as we can't afford to do it properly yet. Sylke chose a pale blue which lightens it up without making it look cold. I was really surprised how it improved the room, even though we've only done half of it so far. We discovered that the last people stuck the wood-chip on the kitchen ceiling with PVA glue, presumably due to the number of leaks they apparently had from their own bodged plumbing. I'm still peeling it off with the help of the wallpaper steamer. Every single waste joint in the bathroom above has a corresponding black and soggy hole in the plasterboard, and the skimming is coming down along the joins. If I ever find out which firm of dodgy builders did this extension, I'll let you all know !

So otherwise we're relaxing, right ? No, we hated the last people's living room decor so much that we've stripped every single surface back to the plaster - or the cement in the case of the floor. The plaster is in the predictably appalling state that we are now coming to expect from the previous owners' so-called professionals. When we moved in we covered up their red and green colour style with a big bucket of magnolia, but we'd like something a bit less anonymous. It still had fussy heavy woodwork, meant to look period but which just made the room look small, and wasn't even neatly done. I pulled off their naff dado rail and Sylke is painting the big dark bulky fake fireplace into white (less muss-and-fuss than ripping it out as we were originally going to do). I bought up B&Q's last few packs of cheap flooring and a large sack of finishing plaster — with that, a large roll of lining paper and the paint we have lying around we should be able to do it without any more expense. Reckon we can get it finished by Christmas ? We hope so !

Sat, 18 Aug 2007

Decluttering: A new Prinfiple

I've adopted a new principle to help keep the place tidy, and it's working well in my study. "If it's worth keeping, it's worth keeping clean. If it's not worth cleaning, throw it out." Not only have I decluttered a lot of obsolete stuff, and made room to empty all the worthwhile boxes onto shelves and sort them out too, but what's left is all much cleaner. It even looks a lot tidier and we can now once again vacuum the corners of the room, woo-hoo !! Mind you buying a new book case from IKEA's Bargain Corner was a major help.

We have also decluttered more radically by removing a stud wall between two small awkward spaces upstairs to make one massive and airy bedroom. "And that is why I am carrying a crowbar, officer." In John's room we knocked down a fitted cupboard that was falling to pieces and full of very tatty toys and games. It should make his room too feel larger and give much more usable space.

Having also decluttered several black bags of rubbish from under his bed, we are going to replace the boy's combination bunk-beds-and-den with a divan bed which cannot accumulate clutter underneath, except perhaps in a controlled way if it has drawers. Meantime John is squatting the living room with his mates, whilst Sylke strips off this one small roomful of the heavily embossed wallpaper which pervades the whole house. Fortunately we have two studies / sittingrooms of our own and a bedroom to hide in ...

On the Toilet

Things have been busy here with getting things done, step by step. I spent today replacing a broken toilet flush syphon which had been given the Order of the Flushing Bucket since last weekend. Took ages to fix as it incorporated a bit of a bodge like so much else previous work in the house. Previous syphon was flimsy modern plastic rubbish which was far too big for it, which had to replace with the same thing since it was all B&Q had in compatibility of fixing on horrid low level installation :-( We would have liked a dual flush one to save water, but we didn't get it ordered in time so bought said horrid flimsy duplicate one in B&Q.

Don't know why we didn't just go to Screwfix to get a trade one like we normally would. At least theirs might have been the right size and definitely far more robust - fitting the rubbish took so long anyway ! So we will probably have to do the job over again when we can afford. Remind me never to install another low level flush loo until I've vetted it for ease of assembly ...