Fast forward 4 years of cooking in wellies once in a while, and running down the stairs to check the basement every time it rains a lot (in Northern England, you can imagine this gets really old really fast). Actually even when it wasn't underwater, it was a pretty nasty kitchen, always damp and it had no heating so in winter it was whatever temperature it was outdoors. This sums it up: my mother's old dresser, standing on bricks to keep it out of the water
They do house clearances and were even able to take the old gas bottles out of the garage, I was happy to know they would recycle stuff, and they just brought a truck and loaded it all up themselves, I only stopped working long enough to sign the paperwork and write the cheque :)
In real terms, not a whole lot has happened in the house this year. I'm not exactly sure what we did with our time but Kevin changed job twice and I've been pretty busy so home improvements have definitely been getting neglected! One major thing we did, which I absolutely love, is we decorated my office (scroll down to see the "after" photos!). I have spent quite an insane amount of time at this desk over the last few months, between working, writing, preparing talks, and who knows what else, so having a place that suits me so well makes that so much easier! Control over my environment and only the cat to interrupt me most of the time is my idea of a good working environment! I've been working from home for almost 2 and a half years, and still enjoy this as much as ever, which is good news since although Ibuildings now has an office in Sheffield, that's still a commute that is way too crazy to do regularly.
The office looks over the garden and the garden is one part of the house project which is really coming together in a way that I like. Looking at those initial photos of the space, and remembering that we just strimmed the 4-foot-high weeds down to a couple of inches for our housewarming party ... it was a junk yard, really. And now, the flowerbeds I dug out last year have everything just a bit bigger and better this year, and mum has brought me lots of new plants. The climbers I planted along the edge of the nasty garage are getting the idea and growing themselves into beautiful flowery garage-hiding wallpaper (well and they're growing across and onto everything else that gets close to them also, I had to rescue the barbecue from getting assimilated this week!) After laying the lawn about 18 months ago, and the patio last summer, we now have an apple tree growing in the lawn and some furniture for the patio ... all in all its quite a suburban garden:
For me the garden space always had the potential for this, and now I've got my own herb garden, annual flowering things (plus a few pretty weeds that I'm allowing to remain), and rhubarb, it really does feel like home!
For the coming year, we're hoping to sort out our basement/damp problems, once and for all ... if we can afford it!
Thanks to everyone who offered to help with hanging wallpaper in response to us struggling so much to make this happen - it was our first time hanging wallpaper but that wasn't the hard part. This project stalled badly due to a combination of lack of time on my part and the sheer volume of prep needed on a house this age which has been neglected! Thankfully my parents came for lunch last weekend and pushed us in the right direction with a combination of instructions and practical help :)
I think this room is going to be a bit of a mission, I have one wall with half a missing skirting board which has had its fireplace plastered up twice, one where the plaster is falling off much faster than the old wallpaper, and one outside wall which is damp and in such bad shape I actually had to go outside and check it looked OK from there. And this is is the smallest room in the house ...
Kevin's mum Kath was visiting this week and while explaining to her why I couldn't do this task myself, we kind of talked me round. Curtains are just straight lines after all so I dug out some crafty books and considered the task (thanks Kath!)
I had two layers of fabric, one plain sheeting and one floaty gauze - the idea of having floaty curtains but which do actually block the window. I measured the window and found that both were 74 inches high and were 56 and 44 inches across respectively. I do mean inches, our ceilings are 8 and a half feet high so most of our windows are taller than me! This of course makes curtains quite an undertaking, with 60 inch wide fabric and two curtains on the bigger window and one on the other, I had two 60 inch by 80 inch curtains and one 90 inch by 80 inch. By the time you have seamed edges and top, and attached curtain tape, that's more than 30 yards of sewing and you need a LOT of floor to cut things out on. The wrestling was quite worth it though:
For reference, the curtains were quite easy to make (although they're still unhemmed). The recipe goes something like:
- cut fabric, lay out with right sides together
- for the wider curtain, I joined half a width with a full width to get the size I needed
- pin and then stitch down outer edges
- pin and then stitch along the top
- turn right side out (like a duvet cover!)
- pin and then stitch corded curtain tape 5cm from top of curtain, along back
- hang curtains
Wonder how long til I get around to hemming them? My excuse is that curtains are supposed to hang for a while, to allow them to "drop" to their eventual length!
Here's the obligatory before and after shots:
They also came and fitted us a garden gate, ours has always been hopeless and it actually fell off its hinges about 3 months ago. Now I have a shiny new one with a catch that goes "click" when you close it.
(and look, my lavender hedge is getting bigger!)
Its not (such) a disaster now, so I thought I'd share a few more up-to-date pictures.
(more pictures on my flickr set if you are interested, I figured this was enough for one post)
Next up: we've got plans for a patio :) I think I'm starting to realise that a house project is never really finished ...
The garland on the mantlepiece (the mantlepiece that I dismantled, sanded down, and restained earlier in the year) is a bit of a craft project. I'll write a separate post at some point but suffice to say the baubles were in the discounted set that I wanted because it had snowflakes in it. They are attached to a plain garland with cable ties, and a set of lights my sister left behind added in too.
I also have a photo of the Christmas tree, I really like this photo (thanks Kevin!)