Archive for Georgian house restoration

Of visitations and kitchen islands.

Posted in Georgian houses, kitchen, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 31, 2013 by pimpmybricks

In just over 6 hours Mr P and I will be toddling off to the UK, for the visitation of parents (and the buying of sofas).  Lawdy.  All the manifold house balls hovering precariously in the air  will somehow have to be brought in to land before then. The current crises (colour for the stairs, treatment for the floors) will have to be parked on little piles of crossed fingers in the hope that they’ll magically resolve themselves while we’re away.

Our run up to departure has been an interesting one.  You know, interesting in the manner of the Chinese proverb.

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Mr P’s car has developed a mysterious, and possibly fatal, illness.   Yesterday, while bailing out his old wooden boat, which was sinking, Mr Pimp managed also to drown his phone.  While he was busy drowning his phone, his tender slipped its tether and bobbed off down the harbour, leaving him stranded.  When he got home, his new computer blew up. Miss P developed a stomach bug.  And I sprained my ankle on those lovely flagstones in the basement and am hobbling round now like a cartoon crone with one ankle the size of a small watermelon. But you know what? There’s something almost relieving when the outside universe so closely mirrors the chaos of the internal.  It renders it all quite funny, in a perverse sort of way.  You just set your course and steer straight ahead.  Battle on girls, battle on.

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m a tad overwhelmed by things that need resolving, my mind tends to scuttle into one small corner of the chaos and concentrate on that.  The corner du jour (du? de? Oh, who knows or cares?!) is the question of what colour to paint the kitchen island.  Sadly, we’ve had to jettison my plans for a bronze island – rapidly diminishing piles of moolah for one thing, and for another the big black steel doors who commanded me not to introduce anything else dramatic into that space.  And so it is this question of kitchen islands which comes in a rescue boat at 3 in the morning when I’m stranded on my island of wakeful lunacy and steers me off to saner waters.  Though having said that, I’m contemplating pink. Is that utterly bonkers barmy, do you think?

Plain English

So anyway, off we toddle in a few short hours.  To say we’re unprepared for the trip is an understatement – packing so far is a pile of clothes plucked distractedly from their hangers and dumped unceremoniously on a chest of drawers.  I do, however, know the whereabouts of my passport this time.  Someone asked me to let them know in a post whether I found it, and if so where.  So for the record,  I did indeed find it (or rather, the redoubtable Mr Pimp did).  At the farm.  In, of all places, a filing cabinet.  A filing cabinet!  Who in their right minds would keep a passport in such an obvious place?  Mine should have been in the glove drawer where it’s always been.

I’m hearing tales of frigid weather awaiting us in the UK and (apologies to all who’ve had a long hard Winter there) I’m relishing it with utter glee.  Snow?  Oh, yes please.  Rain?  Pure bliss.  I can’t tell you how much I love English weather, especially the rain.  This poem by Hone Tuwhare gets pretty close to explaining why

Rain

I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence
rain

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see
you

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me
rain

Hone Tuwhare 1922-2008

(found on http://likeafieldmouse.com)

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Tooraloo.

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That was the year, that was.

Posted in bathrooms, Renovation with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by pimpmybricks

So, 2012 was the year of Supreme Folly.  The year when we started work on pretty much the worst house in the area and discovered it was even more dire than we’d imagined!  It was the year when whole rooms were mere piles of sand and lumber, when floors collapsed, when walls revealed themselves to be nothing more than giant honeycombs of termites’ nests.  It was the year of the Long Dark Night of the (restoration) Soul when more and more and yet more damage was pulled out of a hat by some malevolent magician until it became difficult to see how the house had not collapsed internally into a pile of steaming rubble. We were stretched further than we ever have been with a restoration (and there have been seven of them) –  mentally, financially, and most of all, emotionally.  Looking back at the end of the year, we had to ask ourselves the inevitable question – would we have done it if we’d known?  And the honest answer?  Probably not.  Maybe not.

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But the fact remains that we have started, and having started, we must continue. (And besides which, we still love that bloody house).  So armed with our one solitary New Year’s Resolution, the only one we could logically make – to survive! – and with pith helmets firmly clamped on, stiff uppers in place, our hysterical gibbering selves closeted once more in the….closet?… we’re ready for the final onslaught. May it not be too bloody. At least not after the floors have been laid.

So ladies, gents and mint juleps, I think it’s time for another little snapshot of progress.

Please allow me to introduce to you the Jungle Lav.  So named because Esteemed Architect originally conceived of it as a sort of high-up, diminutive conservatory, a verdant eerie where we could take tea of a Sunday afternoon and have a natter. You know – our ears nuzzled by potted palms, our cake dusted with fern spores; that kind of thing.  All of which was a wonderfully evocative idea until the humdrum clamour of waterworks started up and it was decided the room should retain its waterclosetory function as a guest bathroom.  As they say, you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many bathrooms. Especially if you might need to sell the house in a hurry on your way to the debtors’ gaol or the insane asylum.

Here is how we found it – an utter joy to behold.

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It had a sheet lead floor which, in our enthusiasm, we thought we’d seal and keep until OH&S and the builder intervened and it was escorted from the premises under armed guard.  It also had a polystyrene ceiling.  With nary a stretch you could reach up and inscribe your name or football team with a fingernail – imagine!

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But what you can’t see from these pictures  is  that when enthroned you gaze out onto this:

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Nice, innit?

When the conservatory idea was set aside the idea of its glass roof remained, which has had an unexpected boon.  On the landing outside there is this rather handsome window which lost the bottom section of itself when the Jungle Lav was originally built (the JL being an early extension).

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You can see how it relates to the JL:

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Somehow, the exact manner yet to be determined, the new glass roof will free the window from its truncated state and allow the bottom portion to be re-instated.

And here is the jungle lav as it now is, in all its transitional glory.  We put in a black and white stone floor.  Thuper cheap.  The border is not a border but water proofing, bee tee dubs.  The hound, however, is a hound:

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The glass roof (above). And ditto the yellow – it too is water-proofing.

Here are the tiles.  I’m not so sure I like them. In fact I’m quite sure I don’t much like them. I don’t think they sing from the same song sheet as the floor tiles.  They were a decision made very quickly, in the sense of ‘let me out of here’, at the end of a verrrrrrrry long session in the tile shop.  I always meant to cancel them and think again, but didn’t because I got buried under a mountain of other decisions that needed to be made at the same time.  Lesson to self – if everyone’s screaming at you for tile choices and you haven’t made one – get a pair of noise cancelling headphones and carry on thinking.

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But that being said, I have hopes the basin might bring them together:

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It’s a little bit Biedermeier. It’s a little bit cast iron.  And it was a little bit cheap –  ten per cent of its original price.  So obviously, it was a done deal, innit?

And that, said John, is that (for today).  I need to gather myself for the onslaught of the weather – we are promised bush fires and temperatures of 40/104 degrees.  And I need to attend to my other  New Year’s Ressie (I lied) – which was to make the bed before lunch time.  Every single day.  Toodlepip.