At a time when many are looking forwards…planning (and subsequently forgetting?) their New Year Resolutions, we here at the Pebbledashed Pad can’t help but look back.
Exactly a year ago and only weeks after enduring a loss almost too complex to explain we, feeling gutted inside, set about doing the same to our house. A year later I sit here writing in a space which is barely recognisable as the one it once was. The journey to get here I barely remember but suffice to say that at times the unpalatable cocktail of grief, frustration, discomfort and worry has challenged us in ways we never expected. But while the ‘House’..spoken of regularly this year through clenched teeth….has oft been the cause of our stress it has also provided the best part of a solution. Having employed our ‘new’ house over Christmas in the ways we always hoped we would….with friends and family gathered, glasses filled and pans on the stove bubbling….we are, I think, emerging from the tunnel that 2013 has been.
So whilst I never really get my act together in time for resolutions I will be joining those who are peering hopefully into the enticing unknown of 2014. Cocooned in a space I now love, surrounded by family I have always loved and inspired and energised by what is left to do here in the house as opposed to feeling paralysed by it ….I’m feeling ready (I think) for what the new year has in store.
This is what we did last year…..
The kitchen….a garishly tiled, awkwardly designed space lined with two rows of dark wood cabinets with drawers which sagged and doors which caught. Several visits from pest control later it transpired that the cabinet kick boards shielded a rodent tradesmen’s entrance through which mice frequented with the cocksure gait of Downton’s Thomas Barrow. When the clock struck six I would cease entering, the nocturnal (humph…that’s a myth) creatures already having started their nightly occupation of our eating space.
To this…..one of our favourite places to be, admittedly still needing some tweaking…..sofa corner an example. And alas, still with a mouse in residence albeit restricted to noisily chomping underneath the floorboards as opposed to above. If I have one resolution its to get rid of him.….
A miserably depressing room which I hated. Mouldy wallpaper, grotty, damp carpet and nicotine stained plasterwork.
Now it’s another favourite space of mine with coveted stag lamp reigning supreme (bought Christmas Eve in a frenzied purchase when I found it not just finally back onsale but on sale. The tall box awaiting me Christmas morning made my heart stop momentarily….but I think probably the ice cream laced with fudge pieces and chocolate chips made within the machine I found within it are more likely to do that job.)
Admittedly there’s a bit still yet to do…frames to go up (you’ll notice the templates…!), their contents yet to be decided and perhaps the space calls for a rug….? But already it feels cosy and grown up…..
Without sharing the plans…..I think they are long gone….its hard to show you how the layout downstairs has changed but these photos give you an inkling. The bathroom covered in a hotchpotch of pink, navy and black tiles and boasting perhaps the last pink shell suite in existence has been demolished, the space now part of our kitchen. The filthy carpet has gone to be replaced with Fired Earth tiles I browbeat S into agreeing we could have. The hall walls stole hours of our lives as we stripped first that crispy beige stuff away and then, beneath it, brown Victorian wallpaper which came away in stubborn pencil shavings. It was then painted several times (an extra one caused by the dropping of a coffee cup from the top of the stairs which spiralled like a fairground ride down to the bottom sending its contents every which way…..a definite low point) with Earthborn claypaint with which we developed a love/hate relationship….tricky to work with but, when its right, a beautiful finish. A gallery wall is planned….look closely and you’ll see piles of charity shop frames stacked next to the linen cupboard alongside a rolled bundle of templates. And proof that these pictures show the house as January finds us….a ladder is stacked ready and waiting to be hefted back into the loft.
We’ll say no more….enough has been said on this blog already…about the replacement of an original feature with Scandinavian flatpack but whilst the room is still not quite rocking any kind of wow factor I think it’ll get there. Frames went up this week….badly as I decided to take charge of the hammer myself. It would have been a better job had I waited for S to do it (hooks and the mirrors still do…) but as he was occupied with a ton of other chores I thought I’d spare him the nagging for just one weekend. Contents are yet to be decided but boxes have been retrieved from the loft…..within them I hope to find pictures, notes and cards from our ‘courting’ years. So yes…it’s still a painted box. But its a painted box with storage. For now I can live with that.
One of the first to be decorated and probably the one which has had most re-configurations….once about every two months O finds his bed has moved. So this is the current layout complete with homemade ‘planets’ fastened to the lampshade…hanging objects which require deftly skilled footwork (which this dancer doesn’t always remember to execute) to avoid being clocked by them as you make your way to the bookcase. Also in need, I think, of a rug and maybe a chair it’s probably not yet ‘finished’ but then which room ever will be with me as a resident?
Migraine inducing carpet now gone, fireplace moved and a chunk bitten out of the space for the bathroom this room is still perfectly big enough and looking, I like to think, quite cosy. Skirting is yet to go on and some kind of solution to mask a chunk of crumbling concrete hearth peeping out from beneath the stud work is still needed. Check in with us again next year….I’ll bet you it still won’t have been done! Out of sight out of mind….
We live in hope that its function may change….
Repulsive, I think you’ll agree. But will you believe me when I say it got worse before it got better?
Again, a room which is probably almost finished but not quite. Now S’s woodworking skills have come to light a bathroom shelf made out of leftover maple flooring to replace the patio stone we are temporarily using has been ordered…. It still needs pictures or objects…we’ve a Plaster of Paris head which might find its way onto the wall in here. And I continuously wonder if the walls might look better in either a creamier shade or even my current (overused?) favourite hue grey. Changing wall colour in here is one of those jobs, a bit like the master bedroom, that will have to be done with no disruption to S if I value my marriage. I think the mere mention of it might tip him over the edge…..
Much has been written about the purpose of this room which for the best part of this year has been a workshop. Boxing Day saw it being called into action as a playroom and, whilst still undecorated and with damp repair work yet to be (messily) conducted, its not yet anywhere near its finished state. That said, discovering through its organic use what its purpose might be is a revelation. Even the word ‘snug’ is being discarded in favour of playroom. Oh. And the marram has been too. A swatch of Farrow and Ball’s Light Blue is current flavour of choice. (Mine anyway…and I’m not sure that approach will change in 2014!)