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Building a Library – Part One

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted a library. This has been met with very mixed reactions over the years. For anyone who didn’t see my flat in London the books were quite literally stacked to the ceiling. Sadly I only have photographs from when I was selling it and most of the books had been taken out to make it look less personal.

I’ve had problems with damp twice now – once when my books were in London and my whole house was full of damp (basement flat and two lots of cowboy builders) and then again when they were being stored in my parents’ attic and the roof leaked. The second time was much worse and I lost 130 books at first and just recently found another ruined full bag. I’ve wanted all of my books in one place, where I can see them and read them for a very long time.

Looking at houses was amusing as people (quite naturally) assumed that I wanted a second room for guests or a future nursery. Trying to explain to people that the books were my children was good fun. My new house is perfect for the library – it gets the sun in the morning and is the larger of the two bedrooms with the smaller one having an en-suite.

I had several things that I knew I wanted to have. Two desks, so that visiting writer friends could work in here too. Armchairs so I could read near my books. Dark walls, just feels right for a library. Several lamps so I can have lots of different lighting levels (still working on this). And shelves, obviously.

For once I didn’t take picture while I was painting so you can see the room pre-shelves and post-shelves but the paint is all there! I’m only posting a couple of pictures now and will put the rest up online soon as well as probably a full blog full of pictures of my books.

One half of the library – with a hidden hint to my next poetry project…

The other side of the library

The arrival of the bookcases. Much heavier than they look too!

Almost half way through bookcase construction!

I’ll post pictures of the library as it looks now with all of the books in very soon.




One of the first things that I did when I was exploring the house was to look at the wallpaper in the two upstairs rooms. One was bad – the other was terrible. I knew the wallpaper would have to come off but had no idea what a mess it was underneath (see picture above from the bedroom). My house is over a hundred years old so it’s not a surprise and considering the age of the property the walls were in pretty good shape but they hadn’t been taken care of in recent years. Once we started pulling the paper off about a third came off in huge strips – the other two thirds took almost a week to get off. We also decided to get rid of the cornice because it was so badly put together and seeing as one room had it and the other didn’t upstairs it wasn’t replaced.

Getting hold of plasterers proved really, really difficult. In the end we got someone who had been off work with an injury and he was brilliant. Because of the awful rain, and the fact that he was supposed to be on an outside job we got it done really quickly. And it looks brilliant!

Here’s a few pictures of the nightmare of wallpaper to plaster, starting with the Bedroom.

A few giant strips and then lots of tiny pieces

The corners of the fireplace were in a pretty sad state too

…and some nasty gaps as well

New Plaster! I was so happy when I first saw this

All ready for the paint now.

And the Library:

The original wallpaper

An example of the terrible wallpapering!

This picture still makes me want to run and hide – such a slow process

Almost gone…

…and a new wall! Hurrah!

You can see where the new edges of the chimney breast were put in – all very neat and tidy.

It was wonderful to finally have a canvas I could work with and start putting paint on the walls. They had a watered down coat of white after this and then the final colours. Apologies for the sorry state of a lot of the pictures – they were taken in and around work being done so I couldn’t wait for the light and was usually tired after a day of paper-stripping!


Kitchen Designs #2

A painting update on my kitchen. I had thought I wanted a light blue-grey colour but it just didn’t work in the space so I’ve gone with Crown Slate Grey which is a Kitchen/Bathroom paint and should last okay with all the mega amounts of cooking I’ll be doing in there.

It took a couple of coats to cover properly, the first coat looked really bad, also I had trouble with the sugar soap I was using.

The paint has all been done – I’m not bothering to paint behind the cooker area, partly because it can’t be seen but also the wall is a bit of a mess there. Once it is in place I’ll paint the other side where there will eventually be some sort of side-board I hope.


Kitchen Designs #1

A look at the changing face of my kitchen. We’ve still got a long way to go in there but things are happening.
Most of these pictures are of the day I moved in when there was a lot to do design wise but mainly cleaning!
I apologise in advance – a couple of the pictures here are gross but it’s a good warning to people to clean your kitchen often…

I was going to change the cabinets but they have been put to the bottom of the list for now.

There was a lot of cleaning to do…

Plenty of worksurfaces, although I’m looking at adding more next to the cooker too.

I went through loads of colours before eventually choosing the dark grey

There was quite a bit to do once the butcher’s block had been moved out including some tiling and lots of tidying!

And in the furthest reaches we also have the washing machine bit where there will also be a fridge-freezer and a little freezer as well as all of the saucepan storage etc.

(Due to lots of problems with WordPress and pictures this is a little behind but I’ll try to catch up asap!)

The kitchen is getting there slowly – I’ve got a little more building work to be done but mostly it’s sorted now so there will be an update on this room in the next few weeks.


The First Room

When I moved in there was quite a lot of work to be done on the house, the roof needed work both inside and out, two rooms needed plastering, as well as lots of little things besides. Once I had talked to the joiner I decided that I needed to leave the kitchen alone. I had grand plans which will still happen, just further down the road. Partly cost was an issue but it was mainly that I didn’t want to take on too much all at once.

I knew that it might take a bit of time to get hold of people to do the work, all of the good people are always busy, so I wanted to get started. I was reluctant at first to do too much in case things had to be moved around and work I’d done was damaged but as I realised it might be closer to months rather than weeks I just got going.

I started at the back of the house, in the smallest room – my downstairs WC. I actually really like this room, not only is it handy, especially for guests, but it has a lovely tiled floor like the kitchen and laundry area, a good window and has an extractor to protect it from damp (it’s on my outside wall with the coal store next to it).

There are still things to be fixed in there, the door has twisted and so doesn’t fit the frame, there is a clear gap all the way around it. The door was once a lovely piece of wood but has been painted and then very poorly stained so now it looks terrible, I’m still not sure what I will do with it but if it’s possible to restore the wood I will, it not I’ll just try and give it its dignity back.

I had chosen the colours I wanted to use months before – in fact it was the first room I knew exactly what I wanted to do with and I had largely been inspired by a picture on Pinterest. I wanted two tone walls (unusual for me) with a darker colour on the wall that had the window and faced the window and a lighter shade on the other two walls.

First coat – and you can see how I protected the sink etc. with cling film.

I found the colours using Dulux’s colour mixing system and went for Moon Waves 1 (a dark grey/purple) and Oyster Cove 5 (a very light pinkish grey). Much, much later on I realised that I want to use almost exactly the same colours in the bathroom upstairs. I chose not to get the bathroom paint because I wanted a more Matt finish but it has only been on the walls for a few weeks and already I can see water marks behind the sink. Luckily the paint I am using upstairs in the same shade is a bathroom paint so I can touch up that part later if it does need it. Or possibly add some tiles…

I normally don’t paint pipes, preferring to leave them pipe-ish, but all of the pipes in the house have been painted the colours of the walls so they will all need redoing. Sigh. One of the little things that make you realise that everyone has different ways of doing even the smallest tasks.

This was also the start of my discovering of really bad painting around the house. The window has a huge splotch of magnolia (a colour I really dislike!) on it and there is green on the ceiling as well as paint on the woodwork. Plus there is a very interesting choice of where to stop painting, something that also happened in the living room.

From the Pinterest picture that was acting as my inspiration I knew I wanted to put shelves up on the back wall, that’s still not been done but I should be getting around to it soon. I also still need to touch up the ceiling and find a plant pot for the windowsill. I have lavender soap in the WC and want a lavender plant in a light pink pot. The good news is that I know exactly which pot I want, the bad news is that the garden centre has stopped selling it so I’m on the lookout still. I’ve also got my heart set on a new latch or fingerboard for the door. Lots of finishing touches to be added!

I’ll update when the room is finished, which hopefully won’t be all that long!