Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Loft Conversion Part 2

In the Loft Conversion Part 1 the attic went from this

To this

That was the hard part of the renovation and it took all of our money.  We focused on getting the rest of the house unpacked and in order. For the past few months we've been putting all the items without a home in the loft.

To get the attic finished, we sold anything we could think of (including some GS stock I was saving for a rainy day) to raise the extra money.  I love ebay.  It's amazing how much we sold and what people were willing to pay!

We got a carpenter in to put in skirting/baseboards, doors to cover the storage under the eaves and shelves.  The carpenter would work during the day and at night I'd paint.  One day the missionaries from church came and helped and pretty soon the loft looked like this.

Almost done, but so much stuff to unpack.  Including boxes and boxes of books.

We don't have enough cash for proper flooring, so we decided to sand and paint the chipboard that makes up the loft floor.  I started by taping, cleaning, filling holes and seams, sanding and painting the edges.  This took a long time because there was so much plaster that needed to be cleaned off the floor.  And the sanding!  I only did a light sand to smooth the chipboard, but I did it by hand.  Major workout.  The first coat pulled up the wood fibers so I did a light sand (by hand again, after cleaning sanding dust for months I'm done with electric sanders inside) and did a second coat.

Most of the boxes upstairs were books.  The shelves the carpenter put in were not sufficient (Niall has A LOT of books) so I made bookcases.  The space was a really awkward size and I couldn't find any pre-fab bookcases that would fit.  Plus it was less than 40 pounds to make them myself using furniture board.

We unpacked the books.

And went through the rest of the boxes, and suddenly (you know, after hours of working on it) the loft floor was clear. 

I did more cleaning, scraping, filling and sanding.

Originally I wanted to do a stencil but Niall wasn't sure about it.  I know it was our choice to do so much work on the house ourselves, but I'm pretty sick of it.  Plus the stairs still need to be finished.  So no stencil right now.

I may have shed a few tears as I finished prepping the floor to paint.  Prep work for painting takes so much longer than painting!

Niall stepped in to paint the rest of the floor.  We used Ronseal Slate Floorpaint and I was so happy it didn't make me vomit.  (Since I have problems with solvents I tried finding an eco-friendly version.  But floor paint needs to harden, and solvent free eco-friendly paint would not do.)

As a side note, Ronseal was so helpful.  I called them before painting to check that our process would be okay and didn't need a primer.

Here's the final product, a rather empty room with a lot of books.  We're pleasantly surprised at how nice the painted chipboard is.  The plan is to find a desk that Niall loves and make this the office.  And in time, a guest room.  So, seriously, who is coming to visit?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Living Room

The front reception room is more of a grown-up room.  It's mostly baby safe, but it has a lovely walnut and glass cabinet and our antique chaise longue.  Oh, and it's where Niall plays Black Ops on the Wii (also know as "merc-ing".)

When we bought the house I liked the front bay windows and the light in the room.  And the old, thick baseboards and the crown molding.

And, of course, I liked the door.

The floor was covered in laminate.  (Which we ended up removing and selling.)

As with the rest of the house, there were problems.  There were obvious signs of rising damp.  I decided to try and address the problem myself, and so began our work on the house.

After getting a survey done and talking with some experts, I decided to put in a damp course.  It basically involves drilling a series of holes and injecting a special paste. Supposedly the injection dissipates through the bricks over time, forming a protective layer that prevents the moisture from rising up into the walls.  Sheesh.  I'm from the desert.  Rising damp is news to me.  To start the course I had to remove the laminate.  And then the baseboard/skirting.  And I totally botched it and ruined the baseboard.  (Later we'd learn this baseboard is old and no longer sold.  Luckily a friend found a matching piece in a skip/dumpster which we "reclaimed".)

I put in the damp course.  After some discussion, Niall and I (mostly I) decided to lift the floorboards to put in underfloor insulation.  I went to a builder's merchant to buy a crowbar.  I guess it was odd having a woman with a baby buying a crowbar in this particular store.  Several of the guys there asked if I was mad at an old boyfriend.

The floorboards were in pretty good shape.  But on the left hand side you can see the shorter, mismatched boards.  They were put in, presumably, to replace a rotten joist some time ago.  We decided to relay the boards and replace the shorter ones with some from the salvage yard.

I had no idea how hard it would be to pry up the floorboards.  Getting two up took hours for me!

 As a birthday gift for me, Niall came and lifted the rest.

For about two months the "floor" was just a gaping hole while we waited for the salvage yard to get the right floorboards and started on the backroom/Family Room.

We found there was additional damp on the outer wall, so made the necessary repairs.

We put in another damp course on the outside.  (Don't ask my why the first one was put in so high, and why they drilled right into the bricks!)

Finally the salvage yard got boards so we put in the underfloor insulation and then laid the boards.  (Handyman Dave helped so much in this room!)

We sanded the floor.  Then put back in the baseboards/skirting, finished the floor, laid tiles where the hearth used to be, added a new vent and painted.  (Mostly the handymen did those bits.)  And moved in!

The piano and the round cabinet were given to us by a friend.  The painting of the lady is from Jared Gillett and is one of my favorite.  The painting of Niall looking like stained glass is by me, back when I used to paint pictures instead of walls. 

The same friend gave us an old telephone.  The chaise longue is in front of the bay.  (And no, we don't have any window coverings yet.  Our living room is on display for anyone who walks by!)

The baby wanted to be in this shot, I guess.  She does live here after all, and has spent a lot of time putting up with us renovating this house.  If you've been anywhere Niall has lived in the past decade, you'll probably recognize his photo of Dora.  (He doesn't know her, he picked it up in Detroit years ago.)  And another painting I did of Niall.

The living room was the first one we started working on and was almost the last one finished.  But I guess it was worth it, because for the past week Niall has hardly left the sofa!  (In his defense, he is writing.)

Family Room

When we bought our house the family room looked nice.  I really liked (and still do) the four paneled door.  My guess is it was added as a replacement, since it doesn't match the other doors in the house.

 The room looked fine on the surface, but structurally things needed attention.

The biggest problem (that we know of) in the room was the floor joists were rotting and needed to be repaired.   Every time we stepped on the laminate it was like a wet sponge.

There were loads of wires.

There was also this odd door leading into the kitchen.  Originally this was the outside door.  When the kitchen extension was put on the door didn't get removed.

To address the rotting joists we lifted the laminate.

There was one part of the floor that had a huge gap.    See how the floorboard is just missing right before the door? 

And then lifted all the floorboards.

We ended up having to fully replace two joists and reinforce almost all the rest, plus have some foundation work done and put in a damp course.  I thought I'd do this myself.  Whatever.  Handyman Dave started coming to help.  Thank goodness.

Since the floorboards were all up anyway, we added underfloor insulation.  (I'm always cold.  Underfloor insulation has been a dream.)  We added the insulation and then put back the floorboards.

The builders removed the door and made the plaster good.  A local building yard took took the used door and gave me store credit in exchange.  The store credit was used very quickly.

Once we got the floorboards back in the family room became a storage room because most of the other rooms in the house were undergoing major work.

Since Niall and I didn't love the laminate and some of it got damaged in our leaky garage, we decided to sell it (on ebay, and someone bought it!) and to sand the floors

We didn't get this room finished before moving day, but it got the last coat of poly oil shortly after we moved in.

Slowly we painted it.  Light blue?  Why not.

Niall calls this the safe room, because it is baby friendly.

He puts the playpen/travel cot and toy chest across the opening in the kitchen to block the baby.

The fireplace with the Spanish tiles isn't a worry with kids.

George (that's what Niall named the dark sideboard we got when we lived in Cambridge) fits snugly in one of the alcoves.  And Amber's painting of the Bowery hangs above George.

We should probably get a rug.  But after all the work to get the floor fixed and insulated I'm okay leaving it bare for now.