Monday, December 3, 2018

Making space.

Good morning.

This morning's tale takes place in the kitchen so pop the kettle on and let's make some room.
Part of what we've been doing is looking through some of the areas that have been added over time and them deciding whether they are going to still be beneficial to us or whether we can strip them back.
One such area is this inner hallway (on the right) where they took a corner off the kitchen area and had put in a door leading from the lounge and a door leading into the kitchen.

As we could appreciate that it was primarily added to keep warmth in the living space as there is no central heating, double glazing etc we had to consider the impact of removing it versus opening it up and getting rid of the dark lobby.

In the end we decided that we wanted to open the space again.
 Time to get to work.

 Once the basics were removed it was clear to see that it was going to have a big impact on the space visually.

 Looking from the lounge area they had cut the original door frame away in places to add a smaller door so once that is removed it will give a pretty large opening and already it brings a lot more light through.

 Giving the space back to the kitchen has also made a huge difference making the space feel so much more spacious. The other advantage is that the original stone staircase down to the cellar starts in line with the wall making it easier for us to open it up for better access later
Looking down the stairs there is much more light too which is a massive plus point in our book too.
At a later stage, if we feel that we are losing too much heat up the stairs we can put a door in at the bottom. Time will tell though I feel that with the new windows and thermal insulation on the walls and a decent stove the house will be a lot more toasty and it may not be necessary.

One more change done. It is really beginning to feel that we are putting our mark on the place. Slowly but surely giving shape to our vision.....
There are a couple more changes to do. Once they are done we can begin the process of putting everything back together for the first stage of the project...

Have a lovely day folks and I'll be back later in the week, this time in the utility area (which is not going to be a utility room anymore.)

Til then, take care.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Making more holes.

Good morning folks.
There is a recurring theme to the last few posts; fireplaces and chimneys. Today is no exception as it is time to share the saga of the lounge fireplace.
This was when we viewed the house. The signs were there of a much larger opening originally which we were keen to explore and the old back boiler had to be removed. Of course the dream is to discover original lintels, all intact.....
 So the first discovery was that yes, there were original stone lintels, two in fact. However they were both cracked and they were not actually supporting anything as they were too skinny anyway.

 plaster stripped and fireplace removed it was clear to see the size of the original opening.
 Time to start making even more of a mess

 Don't think this chimney has been cleaned for a good few years as there is a thick build up of soot.
 Making progress. Obviously we had to be a bit careful as we were not sure what was holding what to begin with and I didn't think the neighbours wanted to see our house from theirs.
 Almost there. As we thought, there was a substantial opening originally and after a bit of thought and discussion we decided to keep it open rather than close it up again.

Time to play chimney sweep and get rid of the soot before re lining the chimney.

 Once relatively clear the fun and games began. Getting this new lining up there!
 Luckily it decided to co operate and play nice. It was nice to have something work easily for a change I must say.
 A brief reprise then it was back to chaos and dust cutting away the stone for the new lintel.
 Better hold everything up, just in case, though it all seemed stable
Sorted! thank heavens, everything in place. Everything above the lintel is to be filled in and we can start looking for a wood burning stove. We are going to use some of the original flagstones from the cellar to create the hearth which I think will be lovely.

After another think and discussion we have decided to clean up, re-point and leave the stone exposed in the fireplace aperture. It just seems such a shame to plaster over everything again and as this is really the only bit of the house we can leave the stone showing it seemed appropriate to keep this bit of originality without compromising on the ability to insulate and maintain the efficiency of the building too much.

That's all the fireplaces decided. All the other fireplaces are remaining sealed. Romantic as it may seem to have a fireplace in the bedroom the reality is draughty rooms and lots of dust. No thanks....

Next time I'll be back with another tale of breaking down. It seems that that is all I am doing at the moment, just destroying things but hey, it will get better. That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

Till next time, take care everyone and thanks for sharing this journey with us.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Going up....

Good morning folks.
Continuing the saga of the chimneys today, this time it's all about what is outside. More accurately I should say what's not outside.

 When we got up onto the roof we discovered that pretty much all the chimney openings were exposed. Nothing in place to stop water or birds from getting in.

 The top stones were loose, the stone "overhangs were in poor condition too as well as the pointing.
 The other chimney is just as bad.

So, though we were hoping to avoid the expense, there was just too much work needed so it was time to make the phone call.....

Yep, scaffolding required up to the chimneys. All I can say is that I'm glad it isn't me putting it up!

At least now it is safe to work up there now and for the last couple of weeks the builder has taken advantage of the few dry weather days.
 Eight of these slabs had to be carried up which was no fun.

New chimney pots ready to go (along with cap pieces to stop water and birds)

 reinforcing mesh to support where needed.
Not forgetting, copious amounts of cement and concrete....
At least when it's done all the issues internally with water ingress should be solved and we'll be all good for the next twenty years......

Next step will be sorting the lounge fireplace out so I'll catch you all later for another "smashing" episode. One day we might get round to building things up again. At the moment all we seem to be doing is breaking things down.....

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Good afternoon folks.
It's been a bit of a crazy time recently, from things going slowly everything then seemed to begin to happen at once.
At least it means I have a few things stored up to be able to share with you all which can only be a good thing right?

Let's start with this; time to say goodbye to the 1930's fireplace in the dining room.....

Now, some of you may like this but to frank, we didn't.

 so off it goes....
 and out came a ton of rubble, remnants of birds nests, soot and dust. You would not believe the amount of stuff that came out, this is just the start.
This is towards the end. It won't be long before we need to get a skip to begin to clear away all the rubbish. Now it is time to think about a replacement.
 While we were starting our search, this little gem popped up on Marketplace. Originally in a pub close to where we were we decided to go and have a closer look. It was lovely, all the tiles were intact and the detail is delightful so it was popped into the boot of the car and came home with us.

 Being cast iron, it weighs a ton but isn't this canopy beautiful?

 And the tiles are sweet with a good mix of subtle colours.

We are very excited to see it in place later. Firstly we need to have the chimney lined and some work done on the outside(That is a tale for tomorrow though!) I love it though and think it will give a bit of elegant style to the room.

Luckily we are nearing the end of the breaking down and stripping back of the house and soon it will be time to slowly begin to rebuild the fabric of the spaces. The damp-course will be started and a lot of the mess will disappear. I can't wait. We've still got months, if not years, of work ahead of us but it is still extremely exciting.

Till later, enjoy your evening.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Horse hair and plaster dust.

Good morning everyone.
It's been a busy old week at Allerton House. After what seems like an awful long time of nothing much seeming to change (other than removing wallpaper) everything has now started with a vengeance. Now I have to work out what to share with you first.
From my last post where I was removing skirting boards you will remember that I discovered what appeared to be an original lathe and plaster wall. After discussions with the builder we came to the conclusion that the side in the bedroom would  have to come down to allow for re-boarding as the doorway was butting right up to the wall.
 It was pretty slow going, because instead of just smashing everything with a hammer (tempting as that was!) I couldn't take the chance of  going through the other side.  I had to strip back the plaster first.
 It is pretty amazing to see how previous folks worked. building something that has held up pretty well all things considered. Pieces of all sorts of strips of wood, lime plaster and horse hair and it was still standing, well, sort of....if we didn't replace it half the plaster would probably have fallen down the first time I tried to hang a picture on it.

Naturally, I came across a fair bit of horse hair in the plaster too.

 It makes a bit of a mess and lots of dust. I think I have gone through around half a dozen masks this week alone!
 Then it was time to remove the lathes. This wall has provided my cousin with three bags of perfect kindling for this winter.....
 An "arty" pic of the mess, sort of .

This is why I had to remove the side wall. No, not my wife lol, the door. It's the only original door left in the house, we have been unable to date it as we can't find a similar looking door anywhere but it has definitely got some age on it. (Gone back as far as the Georgian Period) Even the joiner says he's never seen one like it.
All done and ready for the next stage which is to rebuild it. Now I am off to find something else to smash......
See you soon for the next installment.
Take care