Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Barn tales

Good evening folks.
I trust that this finds you all well.
This week I have spent most of the time so far out in the barn. I have justified this by telling myself that it is important to get the barn cleared so that when I begin to remove the skirting boards from the house next week I can store it properly out there as I want to recycle as much as it as possible. The truth is of course that I have been itching to get stuck in there as it is going to be my studio space ultimately.....
This is what it looked like when we bought the place. It had pretty much been used as a dumping ground and a coal store for the last thirty odd years.

Everything covered in a thick layer of dust and Halloween worthy cobwebs.

The first order of the week was to clear and sort everything out into "tip" and "things I want to keep and re use creatively" piles. Not that I was expecting much of the latter to be frank.
I do like these old slate tile pieces. Only one whole but the others will make good bases for some sculpture pieces. Or broken up to add decorative chips to the garden..... not sure yet

Interesting political cartoon piece came to light lol.
 Old windows, and some other interesting pieces came out in the end but more about those in a later post once they have been cleaned.
 As expected, the majority of the contents were trash, Old carpets, straw filled mattresses, piles of twigs and empty containers filled with dirt and twigs, scraps of wood... well you get the picture I'm sure. It took a good few days just to empty and bag everything ready to go to the tip.
Then it was time to begin to sweep the floor. again it took a couple of days and about five protective masks to sweep most of everything up. Believe it or not, this drain was not visible at all under the dirt!

At least there are plenty of hooks in the walls to hang a lantern on for more light.

By the end of yesterday I had filled around a dozen bags of dirt and dust; managed to fill a bucket and a half of coal and got down to the cobbles and the original hard clay floor where there were no cobbles.
Today, I cleared the rest of the barn and began to wash and sort out some of the old windows. pieces of wood etc but forgot to take photos so I'll leave that for another day.
The space looks pretty cool now and you get a real sense of the size of the space. I am full of ideas about the possibilities for the creative use of the space and can't wait to share with you the progress of stage one of the transformation.

Take care.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Back to the basics.

Hi there everyone.
It's been a while since I posted I know but to be fair, I am at that kind of waiting stage in some ways.
After the drama of discovering the cellar it took me a few days to process it and all the implications in my mind. Exciting as it was (and is) it has thrown a bit of a spanner into the process. Still, I guess that is only to be expected.

Of course, there was still wallpaper to strip and other bits to be getting on with.

 I've managed to get rid off all the wallpaper from 1500mm above in most of the rooms that will be chipped back to the stone for the damp course and then re-plastered so I am happy about that.
 This beautiful area came to light at the bottom of the stairs. I think it is just beautiful and it seems a pity to have to cover it all up again.

I've lost count of how many bags I have filled with wallpaper over the last few weeks though I am sure it must be close to forty or so. Still I am almost done at last.
I am still making little discoveries,... I think that there should (hopefully) be no more big surprises but this little selection of tools came to light in a drawer of a unit I was breaking down that didn't look like it was a drawer.

There are some pretty cool things here. I have even been using some of them in the house which makes me feel happy too. It's a bit like the house is helping me bring it back to life. I also have a few ideas about incorporating pieces into some artwork later.

I'd better get off. The sun is shining so I think it's a good time to wander along the river for a bit before I dig the sanders out for some of the woodwork
Take care folks.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Definitely didn't expect this!

Hi there folks.
Our house revealed it's biggest surprise to date yesterday evening and to be honest, I am still trying to process it all.

Now, we all know that old houses have their share of idiosyncrasies. Odd little areas, hidden away nooks and crannies (as discovered in the previous post)

 So I'll be honest, having this little section of wood flooring in the kitchen was just one of those quirks that we didn't really think was too odd. After all it was a logical passage piece from the living area through to the back of the house.
Until last night, that is. While I was chatting to Mark, who was there to discuss the windows, we had a moment of curiosity. Knowing that the flooring had to come out soon anyway when the dampcourse was going to be done we decided to lift a floorboard to check.

Of course, I managed to choose a floorboard that was actually a part of a trapdoor! And what was underneath?

 Yep, stone steps.... we discovered the original cellar.

 At this stage I was like, oh gosh this is freaky but now we have to go down. I wasn't sure what to expect, a small, low, dank and musty unusable space that would just need to be filled in......
Nope, we got a bit more that that!

 A room big enough for me to stand in  comfortably, A stone alcove under the stairs.
 Another stone shelf next to that, with a selection of very cool bottles.

And this absolutely stunning original stone shelving "unit"
 This very unusual space which looks like it could have originally housed a stove as the structure above is actually a chimney.

There is a channel running through the floor with what seems to be a "stream" so we'll have to see what happens when it rains.
 The flooring is original flagstone too. It is an absolutely fascinating space to discover.

 There are also a few rusty hooks around the place too. I would imagine this space would have been a food preparation space.

 I made a start by just clearing some of the debris from the stairs to reveal the stone.

It is funny, we had  joked about finding a cellar but assumed that if there had been one it would have been filled in as the kitchen floor was concreted and though the outside signs were there they had been bricked up and concreted over. Just goes to show, you shouldn't assume!

It's all very exciting but also at the same time it creates it's own set of issues for us to deal with as it needs to be made structurally safe which means the kitchen floor will need to be taken out and new beams put in place. Looking at the "ceiling" of the cellar there appears to be metal sheeting above the joists and possible flags so who knows, we may discover that the concrete kitchen floor may well be covering an original flagstone floor too.

Going back to stripping wallpaper seems rather tame in comparison......

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Expect the unexpected.

Good evening folks.
A few days ago I decided to give myself a bit of a break from wallpaper stripping and began to removes some of the random hooks and bits from the walls. Everything was going pretty normally until I came to remove a piece of wood and hooks from the kitchen wall and a chunk of the wall came off with it. In the dim light I could see what looked like a recess..... so of course I began to pull more away and discovered a covered up shelf.

Complete with a selection of jars. cracked teacups and a few other bits.

In the end I removed the tiles and worktop to reveal the full shelf. I think it's pretty cool to have been able to open up this hidden space even though it now means that I have to redesign my kitchen layout if I want to keep it.

Personally I want to keep it so I'll have to pull out my kitchen designer hat, dust it off and create a space that works around it which will be a bit of a fun challenge.

The folks who did the work were also kind enough to leave a piece of plasterboard inside with a tongue in cheek comment about who did all the work and who "thought" they did, long with the date and a moan about low pay lol (some things never change, do they?) so this little space has not seen the light of day since March 1974. 44 years ago, wow.

Well, now that I've had a few folks over for discussion and quotes, I now know where I need to fully strip off the paper so it's back to the walls again, this time armed with a steamer ......

Wish me luck lol. See you soon. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I'm sick of wallpaper.....

Good evening folks.
Yep, I am now officially over stripping off wallpaper. It seems to be a bit of a never ending story.
Every time I think I have seen everything that a room has to offer I discover another fragment.
Take what will become the Master bedroom for example.
How many different coverings do you think there are in this room, three, four?
Nope, the total is seven!

The bottom one is my favourite but unfortunately it is so delicate I have only been able to salvage very small fragments of it.
I have quite a collection of the different patterns from all the rooms so far with a few creative ideas for them ...

Now I have got rid of all the wall paper that is coming off relatively easily it will be time to haul out the steam stripper for the rest. I have, however, decided to hold on till I have seen one of the builders tomorrow as some of the walls may not need to be totally cleared.
As to be expected in a house this age, some of the plaster has deteriorated and will need to be cleared and redone so I don't see the point of doing unnecessary work lol.

One last discovery which was an un-noticed thing was this

Usually when looking out of the window we were just enjoying the view as you can imagine but a few days ago I was taking a closer look at the barn roof and realised that, what I had assumed was a standard slate tile roof like the house, is in fact made up of stone.  I have to admit that I am in awe of the skill that it must  have taken to shape and split pieces of stone to create tiles. Even more interesting is that yesterday when it was pouring with rain I went into the barn to see how bad it leaks only to discover it is only leaking in two places. Not bad hey?

Well, that;s it for another day so I hope you have a good rest of the evening. I don't want to bore you with picture after picture of wall paper peelings but there's not much more happening at the moment.
Next week I am hoping to begin to clear some of the bits and pieces from the barn so that will make a change lol....

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Three days in.

Good evening folks.
Well, it's been a few days now and I have been spending time doing three things: getting rid of carpets, pulling about a thousand nails and picture hooks from the walls (And I'm still finding them!) and removing carpets and linoleum. Dusty, smelly and grimy work but it certainly makes a difference to the feel of the house.
I think that by removing these quickly it has started to feel more like ours rather than someone else's.

It was important to me to get these jobs done this week and get them off to the tip because my transport left today. Yep, I am now sitting here without a car until my next lot of visitors arrive lol.
The advantage of this of course, is that I cannot get distracted and go off for a little drive to sit by a lake.

Four trips to the tip later we have no flooring in the upstairs and downstairs there is just the lounge to do.
Want to see some pics? This is the room I was working on from the previous post. The original hearth stone is still in place and undamaged. The floors are gorgeous wood and are still in excellent condition with very little signs of replacement work. I love how you can see the light wood where the carpet would have been originally with the wood stained darker around the edges as they did in the "good old days" Most of the wallpaper has been removed though I'm not going to get it all of as the walls will probably have most of the plaster stripped back when the insulation boards go in.

The door to this room was indeed hiding a little secret behind the flat ply. The original door is still there. I definitely have my work cut out to strip it back to the original wood but I'm going to give it a good go as I think this is the only original door left.
Then I got distracted..... Because the stairwell is so dark I thought if I opened it up at the top it would allow a lot more light through. Well, this is still a work in progress so I'll let you know what happens.

Other than that I have been peeling back the wallpapers in the other two bedrooms as well as getting rid of a few spiders along the way. Thankfully not as many as I first thought there would be.
The other interesting thing we noticed that we missed the first time is this. Looking out from the window onto the wall of the barn there is a bunch of cute ferns, beautifully self seeded (as they are around five meters off the ground) into a ?

Tomorrow, being Sunday, I am going to take it easy and perhaps wander off into the hills along the river for a bit so I will start again on the to do list on Monday.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

And so the journey begins!

Good evening folks.
Finally our journey begins in earnest. Yesterday we completed on the house and I was able to pick up the keys.
So, may I introduce you to our new abode, Allerton house, in Brough, Cumbria. This little gem is around 180 years old, built of stone with a rendered front. We also have, included with this, a barn and "garage" and an awful lot of work.....
 It felt like swimming through treacle to get to this stage, though when I really think about it, everything has gone smoothly and quickly in less than seven weeks from viewing to completing so we really can't complain.

Getting ready to open the door for the first time as the homeowner. Such a special feeling.

 You have to toast and celebrate with a spot of bubbly.

 Unfortunately my beautiful wife was not able to join me so, in anticipation we snapped this pic on our last viewing lol. Because we were not really planning on this move in terms of timing Susan will be remaining down South keeping the home fires burning for a while longer.
 I have been tasked with getting the "messy, dirty work" done so that Susan will be able to avoid all the dirt, dust and grime that I am bound to generate.
The first thing on my to do list is to strip back the property to the bare bones. This means stripping off all the wall paper, getting rid of the carpeting etc etc. (and begin the fun job of getting quotes for all the stuff that needs to be done that I can't do.) So, as I go through the process I will be sure to keep you in the loop, with lots of pictures too.
I am trying to avoid the temptation, not always successfully, of wandering through the house pulling bits and pieces off from everywhere and have chosen one room to begin on.

This was the room as we originally saw it. Fitted carpeting plus a rug and then that little funny piece of green rug on top. And walls covered in texture wall paper.  The door also looked like a flat piece of plywood had been pinned to the sides of the original door and I was definitely curious.

It didn't take long to begin to pull the paper off the walls. It was a real snapshot of the eras to see what was beneath - there are four different wall papers in this room.
Left to right is newest to oldest.... I have to say that I do love the earlier ones more. It will be interesting to see what the other rooms have underneath.
Tomorrow I will be getting to grips with the flooring and the door so I will be back.
Have a grand evening folks, I'm off to wander along the streams for a bit...