Sunday, 20 October 2013

Learning to Wallpaper

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have JCH's parents come to stay & the mission had been set to wallpaper the Den.  After finishing the stripping and uncovering the beautiful old fire we were super keen to carry on and complete a room.  It isn't quite finished yet, day jobs have been keeping us both busy of late but we're definitely on our way.

Having never wallpapered before and both being somewhat on the short side, it was great to have 2 experienced bods showing us what to do.  Some people would have had the room plastered but we figure its an old house and the lumps and bumps just add to its character.  Hopefully we won't live to regret it!

Top Tip of the Day!  Get yourself a bright light bulb that you just use for decorating - it makes life a lot easier being able to see what you're doing properly.  The folks brought a 150 watt bulb with them that they've had for years and its been great.

Paste and paper ready we were all set to go.

Wallpapering is a tricky old business that takes a lot more thought than I'd given it credit for.  Which way to hang the paper, where to have the joins, getting the right amount of paste...thankfully we were in good hands.

And now to the painting!  We both agreed that the green had to go, and decided to go for lining paper and paint rather than any snazzy wallpaper.  Our colour inspiration came from Pinterest, where I'd seen a picture of a bright yellow window frame that looked just lovely.  So without too much debate we decided to go for whiteish walls and yellow woodwork - window, skirting boards etc.  Only slightly more boring than light fitting shopping was white paint shopping, and when I say white, I mean one of seemingly hundreds of different colours that basically all look the same when on a wall.  We've just finished painting the wood and are loving the brightness it has brought into our home.

It's so bright but I love it!  Next job, sanding the floor...

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Starting with The Den

What a week of progress it has been!  Unfortunately I can only claim a small hand in it, but am taking great delight in seeing our first room take shape.  After a few weeks of odd jobbing that seemed to take endless time but that didn’t seem to provide any visible results, we decided to go forth and conquer our first real part of the project – The Den (code for our office/3rd bedroom).

Being a project of firsts, and with such a huge challenge ahead of us, we decided (tip of the day) to start on the smallest and seemingly most straightforward room – giving us time to try out the new skills, techniques and tools needed before moving onward and upward.  And so we went to it! 

When we arrived in The Old Post Office, The Den had obviously been a child's bedroom and I'd guess was last decorated in the late 90's, with a Manchester United theme throughout.  There was also lots of green, not unlike the rest of the house, and we were blessed with a green window frame, skirting boards, door frame, cupboard frame and radiator.  

The Den when we first arrived

Manchester Utd borders and wallpaper

The lovely big window looks out onto the land behind

After growing frustration at not feeling like I was contributing anything to the project (JCH seems to have a great ability at just picking up tools and knowing where to use them) I decided to throw caution to the wind, pick up the nearest scraper I could find and just start peeling.

Unfortunately it took about 3 hours before I realised that Mr Sharper Scraper just that bit further away  would have done twice as much in the same time, but we live and learn.  Mr Sharper Scraper was a great find.  In fact our first housewarming present from friends who have just finished their home project, and apparently the one thing they couldn’t have done without.     Of course he's not really called Mr Sharper Scraper, he's a 'Hamilton Heavy Duty Stripper' (available in most good stores blah blah) and so good that we went out and bought a second.   None of that blunt struggle, no no.  After a hard days work I stood back in satisfaction and marvelled at my patchy walls.

2nd Top Tip of the Day - you probably have a friend that likes stripping!  Ha, erm you know what I mean.  Although most friends would rather come and help you paint, if you can persuade them with beers and food to come and do some of the early work then what would be a mindless never ending task soon becomes an excuse to catch up with a friend you haven't seen in a while.  For me that good friend was Suzy C, and we passed by many an hour with scrapers and step ladders and good chats.

It didn't take long to cause chaos
THE most exciting part of the project so far came when me & JCH took the radiator off to strip the paper behind.  Firstly was the discovery of THE most exciting wallpaper I think I've ever seen:

Isn't it fab?!  Such great bold colours.  And it really got me thinking about the history of the house...decades of wallpaper on top of each other, possibly all put there by different people who've lived here before us.  Unfortunately there wasn't enough to justify keeping it up there (and I don't think JCH would have let me) but I'll definitely be saving a small little section.
Decades of wallpaper
 As if that weren't exciting enough, we knew there must be something behind the hardboard...

Ta daa!!!!  An old fireplace, just waiting to be rediscovered after all these years.

I don't know why someone would ever have wanted to hide it, never mind cover it with some crappy hardboard and a green radiator but it'll definitely be taking centre stage in our Den.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

And so it begins...

Welcome to the first blog post of The Old Post Office Project - ramblings and pictures of us renovating the 165 year old former shop we're now calling home.  This is a project of firsts - our first home, our first renovation project and the first time I've even picked up a paint brush.  It's going to be a steep learning curve that's for sure!

Lets start with a guided tour of The Old Post Office
After months and months it was finally ours
The old shop
The shop into the kitchen

Middle floor lounge

Beautiful bay window
Bedroom 2
Bedroom 3
A very orange bathroom
The main bedroom
Lovely staircase
We've been in a couple of months now and it already feels like home, but I can't wait to get stuck in & transform the house bit by bit.  We've had lots of advice from friends and family in recent months, about where to start...some saying start at the top and work your way down, others saying pick the room you'll spend the most time in and do that first.  One thing everyone seems to agree on is that its best to get one room sorted at a time - easier said than done when each room I go in has pealing wallpaper calling to be ripped off.  

So of course listening to everyone's advice I started with the garden.  Probably not the most essential job on the list, but we did move in during the height of summer and it would have just been wrong to spend all that time indoors.  Also, it's a really teeny garden, in fact some might say yard, so it actually felt quite doable.  While JCH worked away taking down shop walls, I got the loppers out and starting clearing. It was in quite a state when we first arrived:

Our teeny garden is in there somewhere
 Our old next door neighbour had chopped back a tree between our gardens and decided our patio was the place to leave it.  It was also all completely overgrown, so I had to be somewhat ruthless with the overbearing bushes and trees.  Bit by bit, the space was cleared and the patio underneath was revealed:

There's a bench in there somewhere

Gradually something resembling a garden was revealed and all in a satisfying day's work.

I rearranged the rocks around the flower bed, dissembled the rotten garden bench, treated ourselves to some new pots and plants, and finished clearing the debris.  

After adding our new friends Owl & Hedgehog, and the garden bench kindly donated by a friend of the family I'm really happy with how our colourful patch of nature is coming along.  Watch this space for some exciting new additions coming soon.