Master Bedroom Renovation

Back in late August we decided that it was time to finish upstairs. Now, when we say this, we do not always mean that everything is painted. Hell, the bathroom has technically been finished for three years, we're just coming to a consensus on colour and finishes now. We tend to 'complete' things in fits and spurts, we save up, we get it all done, we recover from the shock of it all and wonder where the money has gone. This is an old house. Hell, it is a really old house, every time we peel another later off the walls we find something wonderful and something blue.

Victorian blue paint

Crown wallpaper

Old wallpaper nestles beside layers of hardboard covering over original features or floating floorboards that hide what was once a fire hearth. The fire long ago blocked up, the hearth long ago skipped and the roots of it bodged together to allow the floorboards to rock and fall like crashing waves against the skirting board. To discover all this would be more costly if we got builders in, we have done builders, builders do not respect old things and old furniture. In thirty minutes of being here, our original builders from a decade ago had broken a vase we'd had for decades and crushed an entire front garden. We have a handyman now, he's very good, he knows how to tidy up and not to crush our dahlias with a cement mixer. Nowadays, any demolition, stripping of walls, general labouring falls to the two of us, sometimes D helps but he's a child and has an attention span of a lemon. We love him but he does sour quickly when faced with scraping wallpaper. 

Old house

We have a really good plasterer too. This may sound very Chelsea but if you find yourself a good plasterer, do hold onto them because a good plasterer is worth their weight in gold. Our plasterer, like our handyman, knows we have a limited budget and he tells us what he needs us to do to do the job without the need for skips and big burly blokes called Bob who you know was there two years after he left because his footprints are forever forced into the warp and weft of your carpets, floorboards and toilet. It takes eight weeks to get ready for the plasterer, eight weeks of stripping, bagging and taking crap to the tip. Eight weeks of wallpaper archaeology as we photograph paper we like and go off on a wild goose chase to find if we can get it still. Eight weeks of tracking down doors for the bathroom, the bedrooms and being faced with confused merchants who wonder how every door can be a different size. Hell, it's an old house! Bits have been tacked on, room by room. In the end we find the doors we want but have yet to view them because we have been ill, horribly ill, thanks to the changing season. After eight weeks, our plasterer is here two days, two whole days. 

Plaster and tongue and groove


By mid-afternoon of the second day he tells us he's done, he's screwed all the sockets and switches back on to save us a job. He's managed to hide one of the holes in the tongue and groove were a giant nut echoes the one in the bathroom. The nuts are there to stop the house from going north and south. We're officially 'done' upstairs.

Master bedroom

After a few days of drying we decide to say goodbye to the carpet, knife in hand we pull back the layers and find the boards with some graffiti on, an old list that we suspect is the carpet fitters. We have to be grateful because this carpet fitter seemed to have skimped on carpet grips, which is the Devil's scaly claws and always, always manages to stick in some part of you as you get rid of them. We'll sand off the pen marks, the drips and drabs, then we will decide whether to varnish, wax or oil. Let the discussions begin. 

Wooden floorboards

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  1. Well done! I can certainly sympathize with this, "we recover from the shock of it all and wonder where the money has gone." Our renos seem like they will never end.