This was our family room last year. No ceiling, stud walls going in by the external wall so we could use insulation and the dust, well the dust was everywhere, we're still sneezing it out over a year later. Back then it was hard to see an end to the family room, the only thing that seemed to have any chance of surviving the process was the old carpet stuck to the floorboards. This well worn red carpet had survived a ceiling falling on it, several heating engineers, a plumber who nearly set fire to it with a blow torch and enough caulk, silicon and PVA glue to recreate the Stay Puft finale from Ghostbusters. Over two weeks ago we still had the old crumbling plaster, then we found out what was hidden behind that plaster, then we were boarded, plastered and found some more hidden mistakes beneath the floor. So, where are we now? Are we living in a tent in the garden? Have we decided after the windscreen cracked on our Land Rover today to simply jack it all in and head for a warmer climate? No. We're too stubborn, stupid and salacious to give up.
We could put in an effect now, the kind you click on, think drum roll, think da-dah! Think...well, it's nearly finished. You can think, is that it? No, but this is better than what we had. Think old property. Think, it takes time. Think, tight budget. The stove needs blacking again with colloidal black, but that will happen soon after we can scrape ourselves back up off the floorboards, which we have scrubbed, mopped and scraped for seven days on the trot. The laying of the new hearth was fun, not easy as Andrew can't lift, he can shout, bark and tell you not to do that but he can't lift due to back problems. Yet, between us we have created a lovely new hearth.
However, the great success was Andrew's oak beam which he cleaned up over several evenings with a wire brush and sandpaper. He even made his own wax, which was 50:50 beeswax and white spirit. Only use on new wood because it treats the wood as it sinks in to the grain killing anything lurking beneath the surface. If you place it on varnished wood you'll end up with no varnish and buggered wood. We have treated this beam though with an off the shelf product to kill woodworm and dry rot. You can never be too safe with an old beam which was once painted blue along with blue walls. The Victorians loved blue.
The great success is down to the handyman we use, Glyn. He has been patient and helped us by doing the new skirting and architraves...we'll come to that and the perils of plasterers who board. Plastering is never cheap and it is something that can be learnt but it takes time to become proficient in it, and neither of us have steady hands. The only piece of plastering we did in the house looks like a sea crashing against the cliffs...it will have to be redone. The skirting across the floor is a nightmare too because the floor isn't level, think ship at sea again...don't get drunk in our family room you'll end up in a corner laughing, and wondering how you got there. There's a reason why all these photos are taken from the corner of the room, you naturally end up there. To put it bluntly, never play bloody marbles in our family room.
The plasterers though boarded the family room, the problem with that is that old cottages don't have straight walls...we do now in the family room, we're grateful for the plasterers doing this (and plasterers love straight walls) but we didn't have straight walls before, they didn't have spirit levels in 1700, they had a piece of string and the rain blowing in off the moors. That type of building was more bugger-it-and-get-it-up-I-can't-feel-me-knees. Modern type of building is straight-straight-nail-gun-straight-bosh and the result is that the old door casements aren't straight anymore, they actually ended up more buried into the new walls. At least the stone can breathe behind the boarding.
Glyn though came to the rescue again and as you can see from the photo above has built up the original casement on both doors and we have straight casements! We have learnt the love of caulk and scratching our heads.
There are some jobs we can't do ourselves, it simply isn't feasible for us, we're too cack handed, too buggered in the back and slightly too sweary. It's not pleasant to watch Andrew lose it at a drill, which he did this week when he discovered the drill he'd had for fifteen years had died. Value for money! Value for money! Value for CENSORED money! He spent two hours looking for the receipt to take it back to the company that went bust five years ago. We have been burnt by trades, see our attempt to go green, it meant that for years afterwards we panicked about using anyone but thankfully, Glyn, knows this is an old property and you can work against it and lose or work with it and have a home. Next we're having shelves made, the floor needs finishing and we need to start saving up again to do the kitchen. We're nearly finished, we're nearly there, we're nearly able to breathe again when the dust settles, until then, that floor looks like it needs mopping again.