Our house renovation dream

The Customised IKEA Wardrobe Odyssey

As many of you are aware, I don’t post on the blog very often (I leave it in the capable hands of Heather). Its not because I don’t want to, its because I’m significantly better at actually doing DIY than I am writing about it (a teeny weeny bit is also because my writing next to Heathers writing makes me feel like a kid with a crayon versus Oscar Wilde).

That said, I’ve just finished my part of what has been one of those unexpected ‘labour of love’ jobs – namely the customised IKEA wardrobe.

I say ‘my part’ as there are still mirrors to add to the door segments and something across the top to tie it all together, but that requires a more cultured eye than mine so I’ll leave it to Heather to post the final image (and a handy guide as to how we achieved it all).

Back to my part….the idea was simple, a full wall length set of wardrobes for the main guest bedroom that will allow us to get our stuff off of the temporary rails and hanging it up like normal people, whilst allowing extra space for some well deserved retail therapy after some hard house renovation.

Looks simple and easy right? Nuh-uh

Looks simple, right?
Nuh-uh

All I can say is that for me, this job has been right up there in terms of annoyance levels with the itchy insulation. I can sum it up all pretty succinctly.

Wrap your house and garden in cling film so you can prime and then lay and spray/roller 3 coats of paint onto 94 pieces of wardrobe, to make it look less straight off the IKEA factory line and more ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’ (yup, we watch a lot of that – fast forwarding through the history bits of course). By my count assuming each piece has a front, back and four edges – that’s 2,256 individual layers of paint!

The above may sound a bit negative, but as with any job that is hard, it is absolutely worth it. The wardrobes look great, give us much needed storage space that we had been struggling without for six months and when they are finished with the mirrors, will really bring the bedroom to life and reflect light all over the place.

Would I change anything with hindsight that might help you in future. I wished we had scratched/sanded the standard melamine surfaces on the units first so that the paint got a better bonding surface that was less likely to chip, but at least we know for next time.

I love our wardrobes and I can’t wait to get them finished now we are on the home stretch, but if you want a sample of how sick I was of them with the endless painting and rushing to get them built in time for Christmas, then just watch the below on repeat for 30 seconds or so ;o)

Wardrobe1

Lets hope this wardrobe post helps me to open up a bit on future posts……. Get it?

Paul

 

2015 – The Year of the Snagging

Happy New Year!

It’s been manic but brilliant over the festive period at A Yorkshire Home. We’ve had all the family over and generally our two years of hard work haven’t been reversed by kids going bananas and destroying the house- resounding success.

The bird

The bird

Christmas Dinner for 15, done!

Christmas Dinner for 15, done!

Last year was a mad dash to actually move in, at this point last year we were wearing 17 layers to stuff insulation into walls and still freezing our respectives off until May. It took a mammoth effort from our family, friends, tradesmen and us to get to where we are now, alongside a hefty credit card bill and bank loan.

When I look at the house now, I can’t really connect all the dots to see how we got from a crumbling ice box to a home that family continually reminded us is bloody boiling.

It’s far from done though. It’s all about the snags. I remember when my family moved into a new build (shudder) and there was a hot line you could call up if you found any snags. As my parents are both Deaf, I spent a lot of time as an 11 year old calling up Ben Bailey Homes to tell them that our gutter wasn’t working properly, or that the security light at the back of the house was wonky, or that they’d missed a bit of sealant on the kitchen window. They’d promptly send round a handyman to fix it. Oh how I wish I had that hotline, had that handyman who’d just come over and fix all the snags that crop up with a new house. Because with a new house there are many, many snags and as we’ve basically built a house within a crumbing structure, we have a ton of snags. Many of them could have been avoided with effective planning but hindsight sucks.

Here are our top 5 snags, problems we’re resolving to fix asap:

1. The Showers

They’re plumbed in wrong. Yep. One of the main reasons I’ve held off on a big bathroom reveal is that we probably need to rip the tiles off the wall to both showers. Unbelievably the hot is plumbed into the cold and vice versa and the pump is having none of it. It means you can either have a boiling hot or freezing cold shower and there’s no middle ground.

This is obviously going to be a big and painful job. Our beautifully tiled bathrooms are going to have a big chunk taken out of them, we’ll have to replumb, put waterproof plasterboard back on and a waterproof membrane added, then they’ll have to be retiled.

Shower ready to be ripped out. Woe.

Shower ready to be ripped out. Woe.

Lesson learned: plumbers mess up even the most basic job too. Don’t tile your bathroom until you’ve checked the hot and cold work, and that they mix properly.

 
2. The Underfloor Heating

You’d think we’d have noticed a bit sooner that the thermostats that control each room are controlling the wrong rooms. Brilliant. Manifolds need rewiring and we need a whole new thermostat for one room because it isn’t working. Thankfully, there’s nothing wrong with the pressure or the pipes under the tons of concrete. That wouldn’t be a snag. It would be the actual end of the world. This job is a fairly small snag but an annoying one as wiring it right in the first place would have done the trick.

Lesson learned: Electricians get things wrong, Underfloor Heating technicians happen to decide to change the plan for where the thermostats go without telling you. Grill them and test that things heat up when they’re supposed to.

Check the flipping manifold.

Check the flipping manifold.

3. The Bathroom Lighting
Our ensuite shower had a sensor in it to detect when to turn the lights on (swish, I know!). I say had, because Paul nearly electrocuted himself (there were sparks and it tripped the whole house off) when he had to rip out the sensor as the weather decided to set off the lights. So with a strong gust of wind or two, the lights were flickering on and off. Not ideal when you currently don’t have a door separating the bathroom from your bedroom and the 90mph winds are on the go outside.

Lesson learned: don’t buy into new fandangled technology that is too sensitive for its own good.

4. Plug Sockets
In the wrong places, so many of them. Total mess-up on our part. Can’t even begin to explain how many need moving and how obvious the mistakes are.

Lesson learned: don’t be a dufus

5. Filling and Painting

Basically every wall needs repainting, because we painted everything before we moved anything in, obvs, and now every wall has been bashed by a piece of flat-pack furniture so has holes and chipped paintwork on it. Some walls have glue on them from the wooden floor, some walls we just couldn’t be arsed to sort out properly in the first place because we were exhausted after 3 weeks of painting so gave up. Back on it.

Painting sucks

Painting sucks

Lesson learned: Houses suck. Snags happen. You won’t only have to paint it once and bask in the Scandi-like glory of brilliant white paint. Especially if you invite small children over for Christmas.

So this year will be the year of the snags, alongside the creation of Pinterest-worthy home too with gorgeous soft furnishings, accent colours (yup, I said it) and perhaps a garden that is no longer a dumping ground…I can dream!

 

Our First Christmas in A Yorkshire Home

When we bought this quivering wreck of a house, we were convinced we’d be in by last Christmas, having all the family over for a huge Christmas Dinner sitting around a table we’d made. The reality of the mess of the house meant that wasn’t so and our deadline of Christmas 2013 was, as my Grandma put it “quietly laughed at” – fair point. Last Christmas the house looked like this:

 

December 2013

December 2013

…And the one before, on Boxing Day, the first day we started work on the house, it looked like this:

 

December 2012

December 2012

But this Christmas, it looks like this!

photo (2)

December 2014

We’re so excited to be having our first Christmas in our own house after year 1 where we lived in the Crack Den and year 2 where we lived with my parents. We’ve finally been able to keep to our promise and have both sides of the family joining us over the festive period, cooking for 16 in our double oven is going to be a doddle, but we still don’t have that table hand-made from the King trusses in the old roof (even I had a quiet laugh at that one, Paul).

I’ve had a go at putting together a list of the main things we’ve done this year, so here goes (deep breath)

  • Gave up on building stud walls after spending 4 months doing it. Got a joiner in to finish the rest, who built some questionably wonky walls to make us feel better about our wonky walls
  •  Installed door frames, mostly wonky. Ripped them out and put them back in again.
  • 3 months of stuffing insulation into walls, floors and ceilings. Followed by foil-backed insulation. Sheer hell, makes a coffee with Lucifer look appealing
  •  2 months of putting up plasterboard
  •  1 month of plastering
  • Full rewire, lights, sockets, loads of which we got wrong, needed to move, left cavernous holes everywhere
  • The most gorgeous woodburner installed. Didn’t cry at The Green Mile but the woodburner nearly broke me when I saw it
  • Preparing 2 bathrooms for tiling. Sounds straightforward, is not. Requires magical “No More Ply” – a great material for waterproofing bathrooms and wetrooms, almost impossible to cut, particularly around flue pipes, waste pipes and all other manner of pipes that get in the way. Break many jigsaw blades. Then whack on some waterproofing paint and get it everywhere
  • 1 month of tiling the ground floor and bathrooms (costs 3 times more than you budget for)
  • 3 bathroom installations
  • 4 months of sleeping on the stone living room floor and having no kitchen except for a microwave and sink, but it WAS summer so we had BBQ’s every day and it felt like camping, so it was pretty bloody brilliant.
  •  Several Paint Parties to make painting a 4 bedroom house all in one colour (white, obvs) really fun. Many bacon sandwiches as bribes.
  •  1 very ruined garden due to dumping building materials out there for 2 years and wondering why the grass won’t grow and Patricia next door growing more resentful of us for ruining her view (Sorry Pat!)
  •  1 kitchen installation. Constantly reassuring Paul of his capabilities despite many near nervous-breakdowns.
  • 4 x Hand-made concrete worktops. Pride and joy.
  • 100 square metres of engineered oak flooring laid in pain by Paul, his brother Lee and Dad Trevor. Laid with the stickiest super adhesive, that floor is never coming up.
  •  1 x plumbed-in super Fridge Freezer and 1 x near miss where Paul stuck his hand inside the ice machine to check it works, not realising that the ice is chopped by bloody blades.
  • 19 internal doors hung and waxed
  •  So much sanding stuff down my hands vibrated for days.
  •  One sideboard painfully sanded, primed, painted and painted again and again and again.
  •  So many eBay local collections to pick up bargainous dressing tables, lamps, bed frames, sinks. Lots of heavy lifting by Paul and much grunting.
  •  4 lots of external doors after a big paint disaster rendered the first two a total waste
  •  A good attempt at fitting skirting board but admitting defeat and pausing that particular project until 2015
  •  1 ostentatious-but-we-don’t-care copper bath installed by Paul. Needed to take the door and door frame off to fit it in the bathroom. That was fun.
  • Utility area built, sink installed, super cheap but very cool taps installed
  • Industrial scale grease trap whacked in under our sink to alleviate Paul’s paranoia about grease blocking up the pipes we can’t access under the concrete.
  •  90 individual pieces of wardrobe primed and painted in the week before Christmas (yep, we’re still on it) To be assembled this week by hook or by crook.
  • 1 baby Isla, given birth to by my gorgeous sister, to put all of the above into perspective.

Despite countless arguments over absolutely nothing we’ve made up many times with a lot of love and laughter at the mistakes, blood, sweat and tears that have made this year so brilliant. We’ve been skint, stressed, tested and very tired but it’s been brilliant and it’s starting to finally look like a home.

Tons on the to do list obvs but it’s Christmas, so when we’ve finished these wardrobes we’ll relax into that dinner for 16!

Happy Christmas,wishing you all a wonderful 2015 x

2014 at a Yorkshire Home

2014 at A Yorkshire Home