Three Years Ago Today…

A bit of a delay on this post, but three years ago on August 8th, 2014 Alex and I moved into our home.  I can still remember how happy we were on that day, and how excited we were to walk together through our new front door…

I think its always fun to look back and remember what things were like, and to see what we’ve accomplished, so here is a reminder of what we did in the first year, and then in the second year.

A year ago today our high level plan was to do the master bedroom ‘over the winter months’, and to figure out some curtains for the living room. We hadn’t planned on anything major in order to save our money for the larger side extension project.  However, late winter, our un-expected chimney re-build set us back somewhat, and I’m afraid to report that the master bedroom room is still a work in progress.

Although we made some progress with the curtains,  we need to sort out the bay window curtain rod (nothing is ever simple!),  but the year certainly hasn’t been a complete write off and we’ve been keeping busy with lots of bits and pieces.

This year we discovered an original fireplace surround hiding behind the gas one in our master bedroom. We moved the bedroom door, replaced it with a fire rated one, and are nearly finished that room.  We also re-built our staircase, which isn’t quite finished either, bought a few pieces of furniture, and have been liaising with our neighbours about their side return extension.

For next year (and mostly in the immediate future) I’d like to:

  • Sort out the living room curtain track
  • Find wardrobes for the master bedroom
  • Sort out wispy curtains for the master bedroom windows
  • Sand the floors upstairs
  • Collaborate with our neighbours to successfully build the party wall (as they will be undertaking their side return extension first)
  • Spend some time planning the garden


Before and In Progress of our new staircase


Before and In progress of our Master Bedroom



Before and After proper length curtains are installed in our living room…



Voile & Net Curtain Measuring Up

After a bit of internet searching I found a few companies that sell custom sized sheer and voile curtains: Net Curtains Direct, and Sheer Designs and have ordered a few fabric samples prior to ordering the actual drapes.

While waiting for those to arrive, I went and ordered the Kvadrat Ready Made curtain ‘rod’ in white with oak end brackets, which you will remember from my post here.   Next up in my curtain learning exercise – figuring out where to mount the rod (so I can calculate out how long and how wide the curtains need to be)

I had originally thought I’d mount the rod just above the top of the window architrave, directly beside the frame on the existing wood pattresses from the original curtain rods (image on the left). But then I thought that maybe the windows would look taller and wider if I mounted the rod on the ceiling, and a little further from the edge of the window frame.

To test out my theory, I did a quick photo-shop mock up. Sure enough the ceiling, wider spaced mounting looks a lot better!  (Excuse the lurid red curtains – I used red so they’d be easy to see in front of the roman blinds!)

In addition to a gut instinct about where to hang the curtains, I of course did a bit of internet research into the matter to see what the professionals suggest. (I don’t tend to deal with curtains in my day to day job much so this is all quite a learning curve for me!)

Net Curtains Direct’s website offers really handy tips on how to measure up the size for your sheer, net or voile curtains, and therefore indirectly where to position the curtain rod.  Their guide helpfully suggests that in order for the curtains to stack neatly beside the window (rather than blocking the glass) you should allow 15cm on either side of the glazing for ‘stack back’.   They also recommend that for wispy sheer curtains, you allow 2.5x the window width for the fabric for sufficient gather. The website also has some really helpful images of what the different gathers look like if you want to go up to 3x or down to 1.5x.


Stair Re-build Progress

Here is an in progress shot of our staircase re-build.  I’m really please with how closely he has matched the existing tread and riser profile so far. The joints are carefully mitred, and everything is really neat.

Its amazing how much extra head room we have under the staircase too now that the stair has been moved forward one tread, and more simply constructed. All of the additional supports that were added to hold up the cracked risers have been removed, and its 190mm taller. Eventually when we do the side extension, this area will be turned into a WC, but for now it holds all of our paint, DIY tools and hoover!

The builder has in fact now installed the uprights and handrail, but the unfortunately spacing wasn’t right so I am waiting for him to come back to sort that out before the final photo shoot. I also need to arrange for a plasterer to come in and sort out the edge where the new stringer was installed (you can see the gap in the background).




Staircase Re-build Plan

In order to fit both a bathtub and a 2m sized third ‘bedroom’ in when we did our bathroom and study refurbishment project, we needed to relocate the access corridor from the top of the existing flat landing in the middle of the plan, to the side of the plan next to the party wall off of the stair winders.  (You can see the floor plan here as a reminder as its a bit difficult to explain!)

Our plan was that if my somewhat unconventional staircase configuration was uncomfortable or awkward, we’d re-build the staircase at a later date (when cash flow permitted).  As expected, if you are walking all the way up or down the stairs along the existing staircase route from the ground floor to the master bedroom, it is perfectly fine, you don’t notice, or aren’t bothered by the new hallway position to the study. If you walk directly from the ground floor up to the bathroom and study, that’s fine too. The problem with this configuration is that when in the middle of the night, you walk from the master bedroom to the bathroom,  its a little but awkward.  Instead of stepping down onto a winder, which isnt quite big enough, we tend to take a wide step over it (not exactly particularly safe).

As a temporary ‘safety’ fix we added some motion sensor battery operated lights on the steps so you can see where you are going when its dark. Well, the time had finally come to sort it out.

As you can see from the photos, our staircase treads are in very poor condition. Many of them are cracked, and seem to be filled in with a sort of cement based filler. Our original plan was to get them sanded and leave the wood exposed, but as they are so cracked they’d never look great as you’d be able to see the wood filler.   So, although I generally don’t like to remove historic fabric, we’ve decided to have the stairs re-built.

We are going to re-use the handrail and newel post, and rather than build something modern, we are going to keep the design simple and cost effective and match the existing nosing and tread details.

Re-building the stair gives us the opportunity to move it one step forward so we can have a larger landing at the top to avoid that awkward half winder. It also has the added benefit of improving the head height beneath. (Not important now, but eventually when we pop a downstairs loo under there, it will make a 200mm difference – very important if your other half is 6′-4″!)

So, after two quotes, and a bit of a lead time run in, we are having our staircase re-built tomorrow! Exciting times!