Thursday, 30 October 2008

London snow

This is the kitchen from a couple of weeks ago, apologies for not having any recent photos but I spent last weekend in bed with a nasty bug. Imagine it without the plastic covering the fridge and oven and this is pretty much how it'll look until January. There'll be no natural light as the back wall is completely boxed in and covered with a tarpaulin. It's going to be dark and cold - and how about that unseasonal snow fall this week? The first time snow has fallen in London in October since 1934. I have a feeling this is going to be a very cold winter. I guess it's good to be thinking about wrapping up warm and not running the central heating, from an environmental perspective but also a cost one. I hope my kids understand why we're being so "mean"… heck, when I was a kid we didn't even have central heating!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Phone at home

I finally bought something for the house which wasn't an 'essential' part of the interior scheme. It's a phone. Not just any phone, but a Columbo Two designed by Chauhan Studio. I got ours in white, which I guess means it'll be hard to find in our kitchen.

We haven't had a cordless phone before as I was paranoid about electrical pollution and vulnerable children's brains... but we've had wireless broadband for an eternity now so it seemed silly to keep up the pretence. Now that we've got a garden it makes sense to have a phone which we can wander around with. Besides, even though it's a designer bit of kit, it only cost £39.99, from Selfridges.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

More kitchen progress

The concrete counter top is proving to be a big hit - Rob loves it. And it'll look even better once it's been given a high shine laquer and been buffed up. I'll reserve judgement until it's finished... it's hard to tell what kind of impact it'll have when most of it is covered with building equipment.

As you can see from this pic the double oven is in, and so is the extractor fan. The fan sits quite a bit lower than we're used to, but maybe this will be better at extracting cooking smells as the one in our current flat doesn't seem to do much.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Boxed in

Here's the back of the house (featuring my friend Kate walking like a moon patroller) which has been boxed in until further notice. The extra beam will go between the two exterior walls at some point, then the roof and glass panels will slot in perfectly (WE HOPE) which, at the time of writing is still 9 to 12 weeks away. London gets pretty darn cold in January. Yippee.

Once the glass and framing is in the internal ceiling and walls will be 'made good' and the bamboo flooring laid. The last bit of Phase One will be the installation of pre-made bespoke cabinetry to house all our miscellaneous junk and a flatscreen TV. There's talk of just the skeleton of the cabinets being made, with the cupboard doors to come a bit later, depending on finances. We've cut corners on pretty much everything, so it would be beyond depressing to live with exposed shelves. I feel like we've chosen the cheapest option every step of the way and if we still can't eke out enough to get those cabinets finished I know I'll curse the budget light switches, doors, handles, lighting roses and halogen surrounds for eternity.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Knob's knobs

The appliances were all delivered exactly when they were meant to and the builders immediately slotted everything into its rightful place. I was a bit peeved when I clapped eyes on our Smeg hob for the first time as it has 'Mickey Mouse' style knobs. Rob complained that the photo on the website he ordered from was tiny and he couldn't make out the details. I asked why he hadn't searched for a bigger photo on a different website, and was met with "Why don't you order everything yourself then?". Actually, I like shopping online - I prefer it to shopping In Real Life so I don't know why he took it upon himself to order up all the fun stuff.

To Rob's credit, he's since found a website that sells Smeg knobs, so we can switch them over for £32 plus P&P. We'll put up with the wingnuts for now and get around to replacing them eventually..

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Girders and camping

The new steel girder (the correct size this time, hopefully) should be at the house any day now and the boys will be able to put it in relatively quickly. I have no idea how they're going to do it as it weighs a tonne (usually that's an exaggeration, but in this case, I really do think it weighs a tonne). The second support steel that this attaches to will go in this week too. We're waiting to hear back about whether the glass and door manufacturers are OK with our new wall height and can order the glass based on the new measurements, without having to send back another surveyor (which would take time, and cost another £275 or thereabouts). The third beam that needs to go right at the end of the extension is coming as well, but with the builders off soon I'm not sure who's going to install it - and it definitely needs to be in before the glass and framework can be fitted!

The builders are finishing up in one week to go and work on another job, they would've been doing our renovation for ten weeks. It's incredible how much they've achieved - even with all the delays. The house will be 'habitable' but clearly unfinished. We've decided to move in anyway as we can't afford to sit it out for another 12 weeks. The downstairs won't be the warmest of places given that the back of it is being boxed in by thin panels of wood. The bamboo flooring on the ground floor won't be laid until after the extension is finished.

We'll have to "camp" out on the top two floors until Christmas, or even January. The builders will be back for a week after the glass has gone in to finish off what they can and do some snagging. I'm still optimistic about winning the Lottery sometime soon so we can press on with Phase Two (the top floor) in 2009...

Monday, 13 October 2008

Another support beam problem

There must be something in the stars relating to support beams. First, the girder that arrived last week was the wrong size and needs replacing. Secondly, the surveyor from the glass manufacturer has said that we need another support beam for the roof, because our span is too wide. The original sales guy had told us that our span was fine and that we should be OK without a beam.

Not only is this expensive but the walls were built up and finished off to match the angle of the neighbour's roof. The beam sits right across the width of the extension above the folding doors, so it'll help support the weight of our new glass roof. Once it had been boxed in the ceiling height would've been 1.8m high. The brickies had to come back and add more breeze blocks to accommodate the beam, otherwise people over 1.8m tall would have to duck when they went outside. This photo shows where they've added another one and half rows of blocks, which is a pretty fast turnaround considering they'd already packed up all their stuff and gone to the next job. The extra brickwork, the new beam and the installation of the beam has added another £1,200 onto the already non-existent contingency fund...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Supporting beam

Here's what the house looked like on Friday. The downstairs back wall has been demolished and the boys are putting up a temporary wooden enclosure to keep everything secure until the glass and framework can be delivered from Germany.

You might be able to see a massive steel girder in the bottom of the photo. This is the support beam that needs to run the length of the house. Unfortunately it's 5cm too wide and won't slot into the space without making a nasty 'lip' down the length of the room. This would drive Rob and I potty as the whole advantage of having a streamlined look is to avoid unnecessary visual distractions. There's no way round it - the girder has to go back and the correct size one sent instead. Another holdup due to plain ol' human error - the manufacturers didn't read the engineers notes correctly.

On the plus side, the girder can apparently be replaced early next week...

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Wall uplighters

These are some splendid crystal uplighters from Alfies Antiques Market. I think they're from the 1960s or 1970s. Unfortunately, neither of them were particularly cheap. Also, as the rest of the house is so "new" would having two sole retro uplighters seem weird? Would we then regret having halogens everywhere? Possibly.

So I guess it's kind of fortuitous that a few weeks ago I was emailed a press release about a new online boutique interiors 'marketplace' called Bouf. Whilst perusing the site I discovered these quirky uplighters made from playing marbles. You could get them in various sizes and could specify the kind of marble used. Rob wasn't keen to buy sight unseen but Alex from Bouf sorted out a visit to the designer's studio in North London and viola, we're in business. We ordered two large ones (300mm diameter) in clear 'soap bubble' marbles and they're ready for collection tomorrow (£300 for both). I haven't seen them in real life so am trusting Rob's judgement on this. Fingers crossed they look as good on the wall as they do in these photos...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The walls are up

Here are the new walls for the extension (taken a week ago) - Anthony-the-Architect was enthusing over this space when he popped round last weekend. He reiterated that it's best to build out as much as you can to improve the size of the house, and that in our case it's great that this means we can still have a good sized garden (rare-ish in central London). After looking at the back of the house for so long, it's weird to see it with these new walls protruding. It'll be even weirder this week when the back of it gets knocked out. Of course, the fantastic late summer we've been enjoying has just ended and now it's raining, good timing huh?

Kitchen comes together

Here's the Ikea cabinetry coming together. The drawers in this photo are upside down, the finger grooves should be aligned to the counter rather than the cupboard underneath. It looks like Ikea has drilled the holes in the wrong place. All reference material shows these drawers up the other way. The actual size of the kitchen is marginally smaller than our current place, which is up for rent in the next 8-10 weeks (mid November, hopefully. If anyone would like more details please leave your contact details in a comment.)

We'd been told by numerous experts that Ikea base cabinets are as good as the ones in high spec kitchens, and that to add value you can replace the doors, counter top and appliances with more expensive versions.

I mentioned in an earlier post that we ended up with a nasty cheap laminate counter top from Ikea as it had accidentally been included in our order - which we'd put through at nearly 10pm on a Friday night (just as the store was closing and Rob wasn't being overly conscientious with his checking). Unfortunately we can't get it back to Ikea due to the length, but as it only cost £70 we're going to reuse it, maybe as shelving in the store room or something.