Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Furnishings, No Budget

With the house done and the boxes unpacked, we realize some of the furniture we have isn't working for us. And with the cost of doing the house and since we're trying to put the pennies away for a renovation, neither of us were keen to spend a lot of money on new furniture.

In the front room, it became apparent that the set-up wasn't working.  The chaise longue faced the wrong way.  The piano's position didn't help with the flow of the room, and the sofa was just a bit too long and didn't quite fit with the house.

We sold the chaise longue.

And then the couch.

And then had nothing.

Which the girls kind of loved.

With the money we made by selling the furniture, we were able to get a very nice second-hand leather Chesterfield sofa, chair and foot stool (including delivery).  Niall has been looking at Chesterfield sofas for years.  We hired some guys to move the furniture for us.

I paid the movers an extra 10 pounds to move the piano out of the living room.  (It had to go on its side and I could not do it myself.  Nor could I convince Niall to move it with me!)  In place of the piano, we added two chairs we had waiting upstairs.  They're both really comfortable.  And the extra seats are just what the room needed!

The piano is now in the kitchen, across from the dining table.  I was worried about having it so close to the wall we share with our neighbors (in the living room), so hopefully the move makes it quieter for them.  With the piano in the kitchen, I play it more.  We FINALLY (after two years and three moves) got it tuned.  We were short on space, so the toy chest doubles as the piano bench.

Sold the piano bench.

Niall wanted a different chair for his desk.  I took one left behind by the previous owners in the loft and sanded and recovered it.

Our kitchen table wasn't working for us.  It was too small.  And having an antique table isn't the greatest with two little kids.  So we're selling it.

And we bought a second hand table that matches our chairs and fits in the space (and our needs) a little better.

Plus we recovered the chairs in laminated fabric and my mom sewed us a cushion for the long bench.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or sell it and use the money to buy something that works.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

George: Converting a Sideboard into a Kitchen Island

Josie, since you asked, this entry is for you...An entry all about how George went from being a wooden   sideboard to a kitchen island.

Once upon a time we (Niall and I) were walking down a street in Cambridge and Niall saw a beautiful sideboard in the back alley of a modern furniture shop. It was ornate, wooden and in excellent condition. It was an antique and definitely out of place with the type of furniture the store carried. Niall talked to the owner and for £15 pounds he (Niall) bought the sideboard and got to borrow a dolly to wheel it home.

Back before we had kids, we had this weird thing about naming furniture. (Well, only two pieces.) So the sideboard got named George and we've called it that ever since. George has moved all around the UK with us, from Cambridge to Cardiff to Glasgow.

He has sat in storage for the past year with the rest of our things.   As we planned where furniture would go in the house, we realized that there was no room for George.  Niall and I were both sad, I guess that happens when you name a piece of furniture.

But wait!  We knew we wanted a kitchen island and since our kitchen is bespoke (and second hand) I knew we wouldn't be able to buy a matching one off the shelf.  (Even if we could, have you seen how much kitchen islands cost?  Answer:  Too much for us.)   We thought about creating our own, and then Niall thought maybe George would work.

George was a little too narrow on his own.  We came up with a plan...buy a countertop from Ikea and put it on top of George.  But the coloring was all off, so we did the unthinkable.  We painted George.  Ugh.  I had so much guilt about it and hummed and hawed.  And then just decided to do it.  First I removed the doors, then sanded.

And then primed and started painting.  I was sure someone would come by and comment on what a shame it was to paint such a beautiful piece of furniture.  Luckily the only comment was about how bright the red color is.

We bought the widest piece of butcher block we could get from Ikea (VĂ„RDE..it's the only one we could find that's 100 cm.)  I wanted to just have the countertop and George underneath, but our joiner said it was too unstable.  So I bought some newel posts from Jewsons (£10 each) and sanded, primed and painted those as well.

The joiner attached the countertop (with fancy biscuit joinery!) and we were very pleased.  I sanded, oiled and varnished the counter three times.  We looked and looked for stools and finally found two that we liked at the Salvation Army.

The girls love the stools.

And the kitchen island as well.

George has become the gathering place of the kitchen.  So, there you have it Josie.  The story of George.  The End.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Then and Now: Outside

The outside of the house is a work in progress.  I loved the storm doors from the first time we saw the house.  (I remember pushing the letter through the door when I leafleted the neighborhood.)

Adding new windows (even if they're UPVC instead of the lovely timber frames), repairing the roof and gutters, painting, clearing the garden and power washing has gone a long way to improve the look of the house.  

The back is where I see the most difference.

Cutting down some of the trees and reclaiming the yard space has made the back garden my favorite 'room' in the house!

We had the back yard cleared the first week we owned the house.   It was a big job.

I think there were chainsaws going for two days solid.  (Sorry neighbors.)

What was left was mature trees and a lawn (if you can call it that) that needed to be replaced. 

  Removing the two big trees on either side of the house let in so much light.

When we looked at the house the back window was decayed and broken.  

One day, before we bought the house, I was surveying the back garden (with permission) and noticed the glass had completely fallen out.  The sellers gave us the okay to board it up.  I drove to the lumber yard, got some ply and drilled it in ASAP.  I was so concerned about squatters or further damage from the elements!

Visually, the new window is not as large or pretty as the former.  We chose function over form here, raising the window to make room for the kitchen sink.  In time we'll tart up the back of the house.  (Render?  Paint?  We haven't decided.)

Believe it or not, this little shed/former coal storage gave me a lot of hope for the garden when we viewed.  I managed to maneuver myself back there and pry it open to get a look inside.  It was full of garden equipment, which seemed to indicate the garden was once well loved, but hadn't been managed for a while.

True to form, as the overgrowth has been cut back we've found all sorts of  different plants, sidewalks and curbing.  And now we have full access to store the garden tools.  (Someplace to store hang the hose is still in the works...)

The downpipes and guttering were rusted beyond repair, leaking straight onto the pavement.

The piping has all been replaced.

There is so much I need to learn about taking care of a yard in Scotland.  (Advice welcome!)  The plants are different, as are the growing seasons and watering cycles.  There's still a lot of work to do.  Like in the area next to the neighbors' garage.  Then...

Now.  (Not much difference.)

We don't know what we're doing with the garage.  Maybe taking it down for an extension?  The back door rotted off, so it's not watertight.  (Hey Robbers:  Things are stored in there, but nothing of value since it isn't secure.)

The front steps were falling apart.

Once we took them down to repair them, I realized how lucky we are that they didn't collapse!

And then we power washed, painted the door and got some greenery.  (Thanks Annette!)

Front bush before and after.  (Don't know if this little guy will make it.)

Best shot I have of before and after for the front doors.

Progress of the front of the house.

We got the wall repointed (so it won't fall apart.)  Once we power washed we discovered the wall was pink!  And the repointing is evident.  I guess it's preferable to falling stone...

Wow.  That was a long post...