More house progress

January 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm (Cats, DIY, House renovation)

I’ve lived with crappy unfinished floorboards in my our downstairs hall since May, so New Year’s Day was spent doing work on the house.

As much as I love being an eco-minded person and the OSMO Polyx floor oil, it wasn’t in the budget this time. Instead, we’ve used a low-VOC  floor varnish in a rosewood color, which costs a third less. But the best part is this varnish touch-dry in around an hour, rather than 12 hours. You see, with two cats, it isn’t practical to use slow-drying stuff because we feel mean about locking them in a bedroom for that long…

The picture below shows the hall floor with the first coat of varnish alongside some boards in the pre-varnished state.hall-floors

To achieve this look, we removed as many old paint splatters as possible, used the hand sander to lightly sand the surface, prepped the board with white spirit, and varnished. No heavy-duty sanders involved at all. Obviously, this look isn’t for everyone. It’s quite rustic (you might say sloppy….) but it allows the character of the Victorian-era pine to show through. Interestingly, the camera flash reveals uneven color on the varnished boards, but in real life the color is fairly uniform. We’ll be doing the second coat tomorrow.


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Still yearning for the US…

October 16, 2008 at 9:39 pm (Decluttering, DIY, House renovation, Moving to the US)

I still hope we can move to the US in early 2009. The yearning is still there! We just need to, oh, let’s see…

  1. Sand and paint all the new window frames
  2. Sand and oil the floorboards in the downstairs hall
  3. Sand and oil the floorboards in the office/2nd bedroom
  4. Decorate the office/2nd bedroom (during which time the other half will be working out of the dining room!)
  5. Continue decluttering and selling off/freecycling everything we won’t take with us
  6. Pay off our bills / maximise earnings

That’s all 🙂

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Oh My Stairs!

June 13, 2008 at 4:19 pm (DIY, House renovation) (, )

Whew, finished our stairs a few weekends ago. We’d taken up the carpet; cleaned, sanded and oiled the middle part of each tread and riser, and painted the outer parts of the treads and risers to match the skirtings.

Let me just say, this work was a pain with the kitties around. They always want to be with us – either to ‘help’, get cuddles or just hang out. They are very social!

The next stage will be the downstairs hall floor. We now know our only option is to shut them in the sitting room with their necessities just after our dinner, then oil our way to the base of the stairs. Then J and I will be upstairs for the evening (at least the loo is on the upper floor ;-))

Good thing the OSMO Polyx Oil dries in 10 hours or so.

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Sticky Situation x2

May 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm (Decluttering, DIY)

As we’ve taken up the carpet off the stairs, we found the same problem we experienced in our last house, a sticky glue was used to adhere the carpet underlay to the stairs. Okay, it makes sense from a safety point of view, but it is annoying to get off!

Husband has taken on the task of getting rid of the sticky stuff on the stairs (reports that a combo of sanding and scraping are working) and in the meantime I decided to clear out the bathroom cabinet. Unfortunately my cold wax gel had been on it’s side, and the lid wasn’t quite tight, which means it leaked out all over the bottom drawer. Sticky messes – what fun!

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Wiring the House

November 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm (DIY) (, )

Back in April, I started wiring the house for internet and tv. This weekend I was finally able to finish! It’s taken so long, because I’ve needed access to the subfloor, as I’ve been running the cable beneath the floorboards and between existing holes in the walls.

We now have ethernet sockets in pretty much all rooms, and satellite cable too. It all fans out from a central point in the dining room, where all the cables meet at a “patch panel”. There have been a few hiccups, but generally it’s all worked out nicely and it’s great to get rid of the “temporary” cables that have trailed down the stairs for that last year!

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Door Knocker Finished

November 6, 2007 at 10:48 pm (DIY, House renovation) (, , , )

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I’d like to say this is because we’ve been far to busy finishing the house, but that wouldn’t quite be the truth.

However, a few things have been done; We’ve finally finished the door knocker! It’s been stripped and, along with the door, repainted. The detail in the bat is incredible, so much had been hidden by layers of paint. Take a look yourself:


Stripped! Amazing detail – you can see the veins in the wings (top right picture)

Another close up…

Finally reinstalled, and given a (thin!) coat of black paint.

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Kitchen Photos

September 16, 2007 at 6:23 pm (DIY) (, )

We had some visitors today, so have been tidying a bit. Just took some photos of the kitchen, which we thought you might like to see. The back of the kitchen still need to be done, and the window at the back will eventually be deeper…

View towards garden
View towards front of the house

Our superb tiling 🙂

Our dresser (gnarly old thing from ebay!)

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Time to sort out the front door

September 16, 2007 at 5:59 pm (DIY) ()

Now that the scaffolding’s down and while there’s still some sun and daylight left, I’ve started the process of re-doing the door.

So far I’ve rubbed down to the bare wood where it needed it (left), and given it a lick of undercoat (right).

This took much longer than expected, but then I should have realised this, as everything has taken much longer.

We had friends over today so no chance to apply the topcoat, and now it’s raining. Hopefully tomorrow will be dry…

L removed the door hardware and spent a good hour scrubbing it with Nitromors to remove the old paint. The metal still needs a finishing clean with some wire wool, and it’s badly corroded, but I think it’ll look pretty good when it’s finished.

While cleaning I found the maker’s name: A Kenrick & Sons. This turned up after a bit of googling – it’s a match, and amazingly the company’s still running!

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Still a long way to go

August 29, 2007 at 9:51 pm (DIY) (, , , )

The big news is our stuff was taken out of storage a few weeks ago. I’m proud that we did it all ourselves. The only worrisome piece of furniture was the long sofa, but we “somersaulted” it from the van to the sitting room over moving blankets, and “walked it” where we couldn’t somersault it.

The sitting room was professionally decorated and we’re now in the midst of doing the floorboards. Rather experimentally, we’ve decided to paint them with Holkham Linseed Oil paint in Chocolate colour. It’s natural and non-toxic so we’re really happy with that. Unfortunately, the stuff takes aaaaaages to dry. I assumed that “24 hours in prime conditions” just meant 19-20C and dry. WRONG. It turns out I put the second coat on too soon, so goodness knows when it’ll be dry enough for us to put on the finishing coat of OSMO Polyx oil.

We decided to do the floor in two stages to avoid finding a new home for the sofa (this would be impossible — the dining room is full to the gills with the rest of the sitting room furniture and the rest of our boxes). In the meantime, we have hooked the Topfield up to our little tv and the office/guest room is also our temporary sitting room. 🙂

Given that we still have a whole other “half” of the sitting room floor to complete, it’s a total guess as to when we’ll have our sitting room back again. Waaaa!

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Main Bedroom Nearly Done

July 9, 2007 at 4:50 pm (DIY) (, , )

The main bedroom is nearing completion. We’ve removed the woodchip from the walls and ceiling, had the ceiling repaired and skimmed by a plasterer, then we painted the ceiling, coving and skirting boards*, put up lining paper*, painted*, scrubbed the floors, and oiled them.

The photos feature two of our eBay bargains, a restored Victorian fireplace and an Edwardian wardrobe (lined in some lovely cedar!).

* work still in progress

The paint on the wall behind the wardrobe is Cotswold Stone by Green Paints. They are soybean oil based, low odor, and better for the environment and people. The paint seems great apart from the fact that it’s not quite the colour we saw when we chose it from paint samples! However, we’ve decided to live with it!

For the floors, we chose against the standard “sand and varnish”. We’ve sanded floors in the past, and it’s just soul destroying. The prep takes forever, it creates a huge dusty mess, uses loads of electricity, costs tons to rent the machine — and it always takes longer than you think. Furthermore, it strips the floorboards of their character.

So, this time round, we’ve decided to go with the rustic and natural look. I realise it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but we like it. The colour of the boards in the photos is their natural colour, darkened with age. The lighter boards show the colour pre-oiling.

The boards have been scrubbed clean (-ish…the coal dust is really impregnated), allowed to dry, then then oiled in two coats of Osmo Polyx hardwax oil. This stuff is great! It’s environmentally friendly and super easy to use. Plus, I’m almost embarrassed to say, but we both kinda like the smell!

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