Saturday, 19 April 2014

Not quite finished!

Looks like I inadvertently jinxed our building project in my last post when I had hoped all would be done and dusted by today. I'm just going to say that I hope it is finished soon! We have received our completion certificate from the building regulations office so we just have a few odds and ends to do. The water butt has been installed (the wooden reel underneath is just temporary, we'll be replacing it with a brick base later). I had bought an old galvanised dolly tub to use as a water butt but it was vetoed by the building regs officer who said that it didn't have a proper overflow so couldn't be used. I managed to find this wood effect water butt instead, which isn't exactly what I had in mind but is a bit more subtle that the ubiquitous green or black plastic ones.

Our external lights have also been fitted, we decided to go with the Barn Lamp in Clay by Garden Trading. We have this outside the stable door on our kitchen extension so it made sense to use the same here. I think they look quite good, we have one on the corner of the garden room (above the water butt) and two either side of the door (which is accessed down the side of the garden boundary fence). Another job for later is to paint the garden fence panels all the same colour - I'm thinking a sagey green colour. The large MDF panel was just there to project the door way while we were waiting for our door to be fitted and won't be a permanent feature! The paving stones will be covered with gravel.

The stable door that I bought back in December has now been fitted. It will be painted white on the inside and Sandtex Bay Tree on the outside (the same colour we have used on our our front door).
The built in shelving has also been painted the same colour as the walls and the floor has been cleaned and cleared in preparation for the carpet fitters next weekend.

I'm really pleased with the bathroom tiles, especially the floor tiles. They are the Sucre 1 tiles from the Patisserie range by Fired Earth and were a bit of an extravagance! I actually think they make the space seem larger. I just wish we could have found some slimline bathroom fittings that had a bit more character. But all the "period" style sinks and toilets were so large, it would have made the space very uncomfortable!

At least I managed to source this small radiator/towel heater which has a bit more period charm! I've spent the last few days digging up bags and bags of heavy clay which the builders had very thoughtfully dumped in my flower bed (having removed the lovely top soil first to fill up the skip!) My poor garden really has been ravaged but at least the majority of my band of battle weary plants are back in the soil, enriched with a heavy dose of manure! And it would seem that after the flower bed enlarging that we have planned, I have not lost quite as much growing space as I had first feared so I feel a little bit lighter in my heart about that.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Nearing the end

We've had some beautiful weather lately, I'm desperately hoping that it will last out until the Easter weekend. The dry weather has enabled us to get the garden room clapboard undercoated and painted with the off-white shade that we had mixed up in Dulux Weathershield Satin. In the end we had some difficulty colour matching to F&B's Pointing so we plumped for Dulux Cameo Silk 3 instead.

The glass has now been fixed into the window frames and I'm sure we'll have lots of fun trying to peel those stickers off the glass and remove the horrible sticky residue that will inevitably be left! The birds have also had a mini version of our garden room installed on the wall above the climbing roses, safely out of reach of Holly and Ivy!

We placed the order for our carpet this weekend. I was hoping to have either a sisal or jute woven carpet but after some research it looked like they were quite prone to staining even with spilt water! I did find a coir alternative but it is a bit more scratchy that the sisal and jute and as this room is going to be an occasional guest bedroom as well as an office it didn't seem to be the right choice. So as a compromise we decided on a berber style carpet in a natural sandy colour which still has the natural looking texture but will be much easier to keep clean and is considerably softer.

The reclaimed bathroom door has now been hung and the brass door knobs and rim locks have been added. I really like the natural wood so I plan on treating the door with beeswax to nourish the wood (it has been stripped so is quite dry) and bring out the colour and grain. The built in shelves have been installed and we will be painting these the same colour as the wall. We plan on making this our own mini-library! You can see the towel rail/radiator propped against the right-hand wall that will be installed in the W.C/shower room next week.

I love the rim lock detail on the inside of the bathroom door. We have a bit more work to do; tiling the bathroom, painting, and remodelling my flower beds that we demolished during the build. Hopefully it will be finished before Easter! We're all starting to feel a bit like Holly in the photo below, with the garden room work having dragged on from the original 2.5-3 week estimate to a whopping 6 weeks!

Sunday, 6 April 2014


This week definitely had it's ups and downs. The paint went on inside, two coats of Linen Wash by Little Greene which looks really nice. I'm very pleased with my choice and can't wait to see how this looks in the dining room too. The bathroom plumbing is all working (despite some very fiddly pipework!) And the electrics are also all functioning.

The cladding was put up on one side of the garden room while I was at work. I came back expecting Kentish cottage style clapboard cladding. I was greeted by the sight of 1960s static caravan style cladding; not exactly what I had in mind! After some discussion, our builder replaced it with the rustic plank cladding we had initially talked about which look a million times better. These will be painted an off-white colour along with the window frames.

It's quite difficult to take a good photo of the bathroom. The toilet is out of shot to the left. We decided to use Wet Wall panels in the shower alcove rather than tiles as it is much easier to keep clean and maintain. I'm hoping that the Fired Earth tile floor and sink splash back as well as the reclaimed bathroom door will add a bit more character to the bathroom. We'll also be having a cupboard built under the sink to cover up the pipes and to add a bit of storage.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Ivy has been taking refuge from the building work in my old sewing basket, once I'd padded the bottom with a bit of old quilt she now has to be surgically removed from it! In the garden room the insulation and plasterboard has gone up and now there is a smooth salmon pink layer of plaster drying on the walls. The shower tray has been fitted in the bathroom and the subfloor and pipework has also been fitted.

Every time I see the windows and the cast iron monkey tail catches, I feel really pleased that we decided on this style of windows. They add so much character, UPVC just wouldn't look the same! I'm really pleased with the depth of the window sills, perfect for little vases of posies, a small lamp or a line of sea green vintage bottles.

We still have a lot of finishing off inside, and the plan is also to cover the exterior with weatherboarding. We thought about just painting the rendering but decided that this finish would look too crisp and new.
We'll be painting the outside, the window frames and weatherboarding will be Dulux colour matched to Farrow & Ball's Pointing.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Slates and paint

Finally, after a week longer than planned we have a roof! Which is just as well as the evening after it was finished we had rain and then the next day rain and hail showers! The outside rendering has also been finished off and the insulation is almost finished.  Then we can get on with plasterboarding, plastering and then the more exciting work can begin! I took some semi-aerial view shots of our reclaimed slate roof from the second bedroom window.

This prolonged work has given me ample time to dither over paint colours. I've finally settled on Linen Wash for the dining room and garden room and Hollyhock for the sitting room. It's funny how much tastes can change over a few years. We've lived in our cottage for 4 years this August and when we first decorated I was very keen on having a different colour for each room, although they were still quite soft pastel colours. I went for Acorn in the sitting room, Linnet in the dining room, Teresa's Green in the second bedroom and Starling's Egg in the main bedroom and Stock in the kitchen. Out of all of these choices, I really think that the main bedroom and the kitchen are the ones we got 100% right. Now I find that I am drawn much more to more neutral colours for decorating as it means that you aren't quite so limited when it comes to upholstery and accessory colours.
The bathroom remained Dulux white, but we are suffering from a bit of paint bubbling due to the condensation (despite having a bathroom fan fitted). So, we're going to try out the Clay paint by Earthborn which is supposed to be ideal for bathrooms as it is breathable and hygroscopic (moisture absorbing), which reduces the occurrence of condensation. We're going for White in the cottage bathroom and garden room bathroom.

ETA: Just a quick explanation, as my photos are a bit puzzling if you don't live here! The shots of the garden room above were taken from our second bedroom window, so you can see the roof of our kitchen extension directly below. The red brick building that our garden room has been built next to is an old Victorian warehouse which backs on to our garden. The entrance to our garden room is down the opposite side of the garden room (past the wheelbarrow!)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Raising the roof

Quite literally! After a visit from the local council building regulations officer, we were informed that the reclaimed slates we planned to use on the roof could not be installed at the current roof angle. He suggested a couple of very expensive alternatives and after consultation with our builder we decided to increase the height of the roof by a few degrees in order to be able to use the lovely reclaimed Welsh slate tiles that we had sourced back in December.

So much for getting the roof sorted! We had to take off all the rafters and insulation and start all over again! This project is starting to feel like it is taking forever! Apologies for anyone who was hoping to see some pretty pictures, it's going to be rubble and brieze blocks for a while yet!

I always forget how stressful building work can be, we were in the fortunate position of not having to live in the cottage when we did our first set of home improvements.
The build never runs to schedule, or budget! Layers of dust and dirt covers everything, even things covered by dust sheets and my house cleaning regime has become a distant memory!

But, I do still find it an exciting process - seeing something new most evenings when I come home from work. And at least it is spring; my daffodils - transplanted and a bit dusty are doing their best to bring a little bit of nature back to the building site that was my garden.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The difference a week makes!

The build seemed to whizz away this week, with the walls quickly going up and the windows going in. It finally is starting to look like a garden room! It's been really exciting coming home to see the progress each evening.

The walls are almost complete here, and my project manager Ivy is keen to give me a quick tour and update on what has been happening while I've been at work!

I'm so pleased with the cottage windows we chose. They were one of the most expensive items, but I really think they were worth the money. It was such a relief to see this on Friday evening, as I'd been quite worried that the garden room wasn't look right. But, although we are still quite a way from the finished project, it's starting to look quite promising! In the coming week we're hoping to get the wooden roof structure built and get the reclaimed roof slates up.