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Party wall foundations Complete

Well, here we are at last… with the foundations for our shared party wall now complete!

As I alluded to in a previous post, the builder accidentally cast the top of the foundation wall too high, so after looking for alternative solutions, and not finding any, he spent two days last week jack-hammering off the top 400mm. (That’s what the massive pile of rubble on the right hand side is!).

Construction starts this week on the wall, and in a week’s time we won’t be able to see our neighbours anymore for breakfast across the way!

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The Nursery

Well, here it is… a complete view of our little nursery!  (Photographed at last)

You will remember the planning stages here,  the day Alex installed the book shelves in our ‘book nook’ here, and when we put up our rabbit hooks.  If you want a reminder of what it looked like before as our study, click here, or as our bathroom when we moved in back in 2014 click here.

Fixtures and fittings:

  • The chair in the book nook is an Eames LCW chair in black stained oak (purchased 4 years ago). It has found a new home in this little corner.
  • The green cushion on the chair is made with vintage house fabric from Habitat, purchased on Etsy store Retro68
  • The pink and coloured throw on the chair is from
  • The book shelves are in fact Mosslanda picture ledges from Ikea
  • The changing station is a standard changing mat that we velcro-fixed to the top of a set of three Nordli drawer units from Ikea to keep it in place.
  • The three little picture frames by the door are Ikea Hovsta picture frames. They are ‘birch effect’ – but are pretty convincing and ideal for inexpensive ‘art’. In our three frames there is a postcard I bought in Amsterdam last year, a photo of Alex and I when I was nine months pregnant, and one of the birth cards we received that had a cute message on it.
  • The Irish Moss seaweed print is a limited edition from Molesworth and Bird. I purchased it in a wonderful little design shop in Lyme Regis called Ryder and Hope where Alex and I went on our last trip away before our little one joined our family.  I got it framed at the Southbank Art Store.
  • The rug is from Wayfair – also available at the easier to navigate Modern Rugs website. I’d already purchased it for our study so used that as a starting point for the black and white and whitewashed with pops of colour colour scheme.
  • The black and white cross fabric is a Robert Kaufmann pattern which I purchased from Etsy store Modes4u. I got my friend Cathy to make a quilt out of some of it.
  • I also got a blackout roller blind made by Crosby Blinds. There you can supply your own custom fabric and so I provided them with more of the same fabric.
  • I hung all our birth cards on a black ribbon which I nailed to one of the ceiling beams to add a splash of colour.
  • Paper swan mobile from The Scandinavian Design Company
  • And lastly, the three little wooden animals on the window sill I picked up at a street market in Prague years and years ago when I first arrived in the UK in 2004.
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Spring Garden Flowers

There were some issues with the foundation concrete pour (mainly it was made too high), so while that is being rectified, here are some spring flowers to brighten your post Easter week.

I ventured into our garden and collected these for the guest room, grand hall and bathroom to give the house a little spring lift for my mom’s visit from Canada.

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Digging in the Trenches

 

I’ll try to spare you all too many pictures of a muddy building site… but here is the progress outside our guest room window.

The trench for the concrete foundation beneath our shared party wall has been dug, our shared manhole to the public sewer has been relocated, and the somewhat complicated underground drainage runs re-modified.

Onwards and upwards!

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A Salvaged Door Knocker

On our street about half of the houses have their original solid wood 4 panel doors with face motif door knockers. The other half have what I recently learnt are called ‘Carolina doors‘ with six panels and an arched window. (You can see the two different doors here when I posted a photo of our holiday wreath). I can only assume that when all of the houses were owned by the one landlord, he decided at some stage to replace all of the more damaged doors on the street with a job lot of these Carolina doors.

In any case, it is our eventual plan to replace the front door with something like the original ones… so I’ve been keeping my eye open for both a wood door with the same profile, and a cast iron knocker that would be true to the original (shown in the image of the green door).

At our summer street party last year, one of my neighbours told me that the face on the knocker was the Roman god Mercury and that she found one on ebay for her front door as they tend to come up for sale from time to time. A six month long ebay watch later,  and two eventually came up for sale!  One was fully refurbished and selling for £70, and one for £35 which needed cleaning up. Well, as you all know by now, I like both a deal and a project, so I bought the one needing a clean up.

And a few more historical notes about our door knocker:

  • The ebay listing noted that this particular knocker is listed in the Kendrick Catalogue of 1876: Decorative Household Metalware – which is right around when our house was built.
  • Mercury is the god ‘of shopkeepers and merchants, travellers and transporters of goods, and thieves and tricksters‘ according to Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
  • Mercury is often portrayed wearing winged sandals, or in the case of our door knocker, a winged hat.

 

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When fences come down…

…People start to talk to each other more…

Last week the fence between our two properties came down and works started on our neighbour’s side extension… and we’ve certainly been talking with them a lot more than we used to!  We originally wanted to build our side extensions at the same time to make a bit of a cost saving (approximately 10-15% apparently), and also to minimise disruption to each other, but we aren’t quite ready to undertake Phase 5: The Side Extension this year.

We have however designed our shared party wall together with a few additional features, (that we are paying for now) so that it suits our purposes later. Little extras that we have included now are:

  • The addition of a concrete footing for our future steel post to sit on.
  • The creation of a notch in the wall for the column mentioned above so it can sit neatly within the wall depth rather than project out of it.
  • Construction of the party wall to its full length now. (Our neighbour’s extension is the permitted development 6.0m long, whereas ours is the full 7.0m). This will minimise the risk of differential settlement and cracking in the wall if the sections were built at different times.
  • Increasing the depth of the foundation by an extra 300mm so that it suits our lowered floor level. (Our neighbours are not dropping their floor level, we are doing this so that we can get a tiny WC under the staircase that works for Alex who is 6′-4″)

Even though its just a small part of Phase 5 – its exciting to be in the middle of a construction site again and see things progress.  These photo show the approx 1m deep excavation along the boundary where the concrete foundation will go.

 

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A serious spring hair cut

As you can see from the above before and after photos, our cedar tree has now been quite dramatically pruned! They took off a little more than I was expecting, but apparently these trees grow 12-18″ a year – so it will become a little more conical again over the course of the year. It took me a day to get used to our tree’s new shape as it was such a big change, but I’m growing to like it. It seems at least more in scale with the rest of the garden, and the gardener did a tidy job.

You will notice that the wonky half dead cedar at the back wall has also been removed…

Now we just need to wait for spring for the gaps to grow in, and so I can think about what to do next… Hmmm…