Two weeks to carpets

Time is sliding by remarkably fast.  My wonderful mother has solved the curtain problem by reminding me about John Lewis.  The pair I absolutely loved for the living room turned out not to be suitable for a window of that width, because the material is too heavy for that long a curtain pole, but they’ve got some plain grey ones that will be fine, plus plain pale blue ones in the same style for the kitchen.  Price?  Just £75 a pair.  I need to double-check the length of curtain pole and then I’ll get those ordered.

Other than that, it’s really been landing, landing and more landing.  The first job was to take the old coat hooks off the wall.  I was going to keep this until I realised that it had been made by sawing off the tops of double coat hooks and could easily slice your fingers open.

Mick carefully filled in all the gaps in the panelling and then ran the big orbital sander over it, to take the top layer of varnish off ready for painting.

I got to work base coating the landing in white and couldn’t believe what a difference it made to the amount of light up there.

First coat of primer on the panelling.

I finally finished sanding the bannisters.

Working my way down the stairs.

The problem is that even after THREE coats of undercoat, it still looks as if someone’s been chainsmoking there.

So I’ve taken an executive decision and that wall is going to be pale apple green instead of milk white!  I went into town today to see if the paint shop had the colour I wanted, but they don’t stock the Crown Hall and Stairs range and I didn’t have time to go over to Wick, so that’ll have to wait until Saturday.

Mick has been brave and started tiling the bathroom.  It’s not a job he likes doing, but he’s better at it than me, so he gets lumbered with it.

The carpet fitters came over last week to measure up.  They were kindly fitting me in after a long day on two jobs roughly in my direction and even more kindly they drove round the village looking for me when they called at my house and found I was out.  I didn’t mean to be out, but my neighbour’s ram had escaped and I was helping her find it before it got anywhere near the ewe hoggs (this year’s lambs, which all roam loose around the village over winter) and we had some unwanted teenage pregnancies!  They called me back with a quote 48 hours later, which I agreed to, and they’re coming to lay them on Wednesday 29th November.

This gives me quite a tight timetable to work to.  If all goes to plan, it should work like this:

  • I finish decorating the landing, hall and bannisters
  • David comes back to lower the lip on the top step of the staircase and fit the downstairs doors
  • Dougie gets all the electrics finished
  • Pete fits the woodburner
  • Mick finishes bathroom
  • Carpets are laid (Wed 29th November)
  • David fits the upstairs doors (Thu 30th November)
  • Furniture is delivered (Fri 1st December)
  • Curtains, blinds, bed linen, kitchen equipment, etc. etc. put into house (weekend 2nd/3rd December)
  • Parking area scraped and gravelled, garden scraped (4th-6th December)
  • Snagging (w/c 4th December)
  • Scottish Cottages rep visits to take the initial photographs and get us on their website pre-Christmas (w/c 11th December)

I’ve been leafing through the Howdens catalogue this evening, choosing doors and door handles, and realised I have no clue whether I need to order 12 x the handle part number for 6 doors or whether they come in pairs!  I think this is the point where I just hand over the details of what I want to David and let him work out the quantities.  Next job: choose the fabric for the two Roman blinds for the dormer windows.

Cracking on

So, what does a house need to be mortgageable?  A roof – check.  A working kitchen and bathroom.  Er…

Doing a bit of digging, it seems that the definition of ‘working’ is fairly lax and as long as you’ve got a loo and a sink hooked up in the bathroom and a sink and somewhere to stick a microwave in the kitchen, you’re more or less okay.  Mick donned his Mario overalls and set to work on the plumbing.

New loo – this cost £55 from the local branch of William Wilson.  The seat is absolute rubbish, but the rest of it is absolutely fine and I was always intending to put a wooden seat on it anyway, so not a problem.  We have a small issue in that the pedestal for the sink isn’t deep enough to cover the outlet pipe, but Mick reckons he has a solution to that, though he hasn’t told me what yet!

The kitchen sink is also plumbed in and looking good.  I am SO glad I went for ceramic rather than the composite one, though we were slightly nervous when the time came to whack it with a hammer to knock out the disc for the tap hole!  Fortunately nothing cracked.

There’s some slightly complex pipework underneath – feeds and outflows for the dishwasher to the left and the washing machine to the right.

As for me, I’ve been ploughing on upstairs with the painting.  Second coat of primer on the woodwork today, so the aim is to get the white top coat on the woodwork tomorrow and then paint the wall on Friday, meaning that I mask off the white wood rather than the colour, as it seems less prone to peeling off with the masking tape!

I sent David a text yesterday to find out how he was getting on with his new build, and to my delight he finished last Friday.  He’s off to his sister-in-law’s wedding and then has a lamb sale to go to, but will be back with us after that, so that’s either a week today or two weeks today, depending on whether he’s going to Dingwall or Lairg to sell.  I also messaged Dougie, who is off on holiday for three weeks on Saturday, but will be back with us when he returns.  It does feel like the beginning of the end now!

Sun, sea and sanding

It’s been a gorgeous week up here (well, apart from a bit of rain yesterday) – and we’ve been mainly stuck inside with sanding blocks!

So what have we been up to?  David got started with the cupboard on the landing, but Rembrand didn’t have all the wood he needed to finish it, so he had to order some of it for delivery on Thursday, and then Rembrand’s lorry broke down, so we didn’t get delivery until Friday, when he wasn’t here.  In some ways that’s not a bad thing, as what we didn’t realise is that the heating manifold does generate a fair bit of warmth and the first set of doors he’s made have warped – so that’s his first issue to sort out when he’s back next week.  The size is perfect though, I was worried it was going to make the landing too cramped, but I don’t even notice it’s there when I’m walking through.

The skirting boards and dado rails are all on and I can’t believe what a huge difference it’s made to the bedrooms in terms of them looking closer to being finished.

Door surrounds are going on.

David’s attention to detail is wonderful.  Like these little blocks the door frames are sitting on (photo makes it look wonky, it isn’t!) and the way the return for the fireplace has been cut to follow the outline of the stone.

While David’s been doing wonderful things with wood, Mick and I have been turning ourselves into a pair of gargoyles sanding and skimming the plastering.

I’ve also attacked the stairs again.  I think I’m on my 6th sheet for the big orbital sander now, but the wood is slowly coming through.  I love the wear on the top of the newel post from all the years of hands on it.

I gritted my teeth today and plastered the landing.  I’d been putting it off because the coombed ceiling means that I have to lean forwards or backwards slightly to get my head under the sloped bit.  That means leaning over the stairs and my legs start shaking because I don’t do heights!  So Mick put the platform he’d used to get the plasterboard up back together and knowing that was there to stop me taking the express route to the bottom of the stairs if I lost my balance meant I could do the rest of it fine.

However, there was one join that needed doing over the stairs themselves.  I had it all set up ready to go and then Mick called up the stairs, ‘Remember, step off sideways, not forwards or back!’ and my nerve went and I wimped out!!  He’s going to do it tomorrow.

Why didn’t he do it straight away?  Because he was PAINTING!  Yes, we finally have some paint on the kitchen wall.  Only a diluted undercoat (the plasterboard soaks up a lot, so the first layer is 50:50 paint and water), but it feels like we’ve finally moved onto a new stage.  While Mick got busy with the roller, I took the leaflets I’d been given by Riverside Replicas when I was in there looking at furniture on Wednesday, plus a pile of newspapers and magazines, and started to lay out the furniture sizes on the floor.  It quickly became apparent that of the two ranges I liked, only one was going to work for the bedrooms, as the headboards for the beds on the other were too tall to go against the wall on the coombed sides!

Double bedroom – the ‘bed’ is a bit off-centre here, but I couldn’t be bothered to move it all again.  5’0 double bed and two bedside tables, small wardrobe on the fireplace wall, 2-over-3 chest of drawers by the door, mirror will probably go on the wall opposite the fireplace.

Single room – 3’0 single bed, bedside table, 2-over-3 chest of drawers, mirror on end wall by door.  I’ve checked and an average-sized adult should be able to get out of bed without banging their head.  I’ve messed up a bit here, I should have put the power socket and TV/ethernet connection on the other side so I could put the bed under the coomb.  However, it’s likely to be a child sleeping in here when it’s used.

Twin room – this is the one where I was really worried about it all fitting in, but I think I’ve managed it.  Two 3’0 beds, two bedside tables, small wardrobe, 3-drawer chest of drawers and a full-length cheval mirror will go where the black bag is.  (Must take that toilet to the tip – we’ve decided to start fresh).