Banquing the Old Bird: Wk 4 – Day Two

Today a wall came out with me stood upstairs above it which was disconcerting but progress nonetheless. The hole at the back of the house was open most of the day with the bricklayer smartening it up ready for the doors so, on the few occasions I ventured down into the builders workspace, I started to get a real sense of our new room. There’s one more wall to come out, left behind only as some copper piping is still attached to it, but with K the plumber arriving tomorrow to finish off downstairs and reroute the plumbing upstairs, that bit off the wall will be out and we’ll finally have our space. For now there’s a lone toilet sat in the middle of the room which, rather than looking forlorn and ashamed of its shell shaped lid, looks confidently pleased with itself as if it is in some way standing up for extreme beliefs about open plan living.

This evening S and I shuffled about in the rubble mapping the kitchen plans roughly onto the walls. A friend who works in construction cleverly suggested using spray paint to mark out where everything needs to go and I’m finding it hard to curb the urge to get spraying right now…but ill hang on until we have that complete open space and everything is final. My main concern was ensuring the kitchen run didn’t encroach too far down the room as we want to make space for a corner banquette (love that word) for dining, a sofa and perhaps a chair near the doors. We think it will all fit in as planned and its hugely exciting to be able to look from plan to space and back again, though it does still require a huge dollop of imagination.

The banquette idea we saw in a magazine and S recently came up with a rather good idea for it. You will remember his role in this project…technology, finance and also chief negotiator (deal just sealed on the bifold doors) but creative ideas have a tendency to be a bit left of field and for that reason are not actively encouraged. Think ‘magnetic wall for saucepans’ and more recently ‘sticking a bit of worktop on the ceiling to provide a wipe clean surface to negate the need for an extractor fan’ for which kitchen and bathroom paint can probably achieve the same thing. However increasingly I’m finding he’s coming up with some gems so I do need to get better at encouraging these. Perhaps I’ll furnish him with the title of ‘ideas generator’ and just adopt a better technique at monitoring the wayward ones. Current procedure is to remain silent whilst rummaging around for a suitably diplomatic reply…perhaps a “hmmmmmm…” before S exits the room muttering “no…another idea of mine for the bin”.
“But darling…” Ill call out after him “think of the space it would take up and the power of the magnets needed…You’d find me stuck to the wall by my hairpins…”
A head will pop back round the door. “Just thinking outside the box, pet, just thinking outside the box”

However…this was (in my opinion…perhaps not in our carpenters…) pretty insightful. The idea is to use some of the reclaimed wood not suitable for the floor itself as a backrest…sanded very lightly to make it smooth but keeping as much of the character, colour and markings as possible intact. The seats themselves he thought could be covered in salvaged leather from an old sofa. What’s so brilliant about this idea is it adds another item to my vintiquing list and so a valid reason to visit an antiques fair…something I have never yet done but am aching to do. I have caught, as have so many others, the Kirsty’s Vintage Home bug. I have no doubt that, following the broadcast of that programme, sellers inflated their prices by no less than 50%.

Regarding the rest of the house, we decided over the weekend it was just a stretch too far to be thinking about the front as well as the middle and back of the house and so for now we will concentrate instead on the inside and the garden. This old girl will have to wait for her face lift. (I did refer to the house as an ugly duckling originally but that implies being youthful and cute which is way off the mark. The more we are in this house the more I think of it as a cantankerous, wretched old bird).

Meanwhile I made some progress on the wallpaper removal. I think I got a bit in the swing, plus I was given a tip by one of the builders to use neat Fairy Liquid on it, leave overnight and then attack again. So walls are now primed with Fairy and S has upgraded the scraper with a new blade so I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll be whizzing through it.

My decision to continue with the wallpaper as opposed to any other of the myriad of half finished jobs I’ve started in the house was to keep an ear out for the guy from the National Grid who was booked to move a gas meter out of the way of our new WC. The booking was made for between 8am and 1pm and at 2pm I rang the energy company and was sent round the houses at 14p a minute to be finally told he was running late and would be with me in twenty minutes. At 4pm I rang again and this time was told he had attempted to visit three times and received no reply. To prove this they could tell me the colour of my door and that my bell isn’t working, both of which are blatently apparent from the road which is about as near as I think he got. If he had got any nearer he would have discovered that said door was on the latch for half the day, I was stood in clear view of it for the rest and had the engineer peered through the patterned glass (ug) he would have seen me. The bell admittedly does not work but he could have tried the oft practiced technique of knocking or perhaps, considering he must have been frustrated at visiting three times, phoning. Accompanied all day by nothing but my thoughts and the sound of the steamer, ‘livid’ does not go anywhere near to describing how I felt being told in a patronising tone that the next possible appointment would be in a months time. I came to the conclusion that call centres are in cahoots with manufacturers as by incensing the general public on a daily basis they ensure the need for replacement household items. Certainly the vacuum cleaner which entwined its tuby tentacles around my ankles as I huffed past didn’t come out of the encounter very well…..
pic from my scrapbook…the banquette!

The lone loo

Progress on the wallpaper

Progress on the banister

Banquette inspiration


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