Sunday, February 28, 2016

Snail's Progress at the House

This week we didn't see as much progress with the house.  The rooms are being painted and the staircase is getting primed.  The builders installed lighting, plaster coving and the ceiling rose in the reception room / living room.  There was some work accomplished in the garden, but not everything was built according to the drawings (grr).  Things have generally slowed down while the builders wait for the kitchen windows to be delivered - this delay has put us behind schedule.

 The new ceiling rose (waiting for a yet-to-be-selected light fixture)

 Garett is measuring the layout for the bookshelves (notice the new plaster coving near the ceiling)

 There is now a low wall around the back terrace...unfortunately it's the wrong color and not built 100% per the drawings

The planter wall will act as a backrest for the built-in benches

Sunday, February 21, 2016

House Progress

Since my last post we decided to go with the grey marble fireplace surround.  I'm excited to see what it will look like once it's installed.  There are a few things causing schedule delays, but I'll skip the tedious details.  In the meantime, the builders are staying busy with other priorities and Garett is on site almost daily to make decisions.

We have to be out of our flat by April 15, so it's starting to feel like we don't have much time left.

 Ryan's loft bed is coming along.  The wardrobes (closets) are located on either side of his door and the bed is built above.  The ladder will be on the left side with built-in bookshelves on the right.

Garett and Mark are discussing Garett's new fridge.  Compared with our current fridge it's enormous!

As you can see, Ryan was getting bored of discussing house stuff.  Garett's second fridge (ahem) is in the background.

This is the new fireplace in our master bedroom.  Walls are painted Little Greene French Grey Mid.  Love it!

In the master bath we chose Farrow & Ball Mole's Breath for the walls.

 Here is another view of the kitchen.  I'm standing at the back of the kitchen with the windows behind me.  The island hasn't yet been built.  We made a decision this week to raise the height of the utility room door to match the other openings (2.4 meters...almost 8 feet).

 We need to select a new front door.  This isn't the original door and we're unsure of when it was replaced (possibly the 1930's). I'm hoping to save the brass door knob and letter box.

And treasure for the day.  I managed to salvage these bricks from a pile of debris in the back garden.  It's the original London yellow stock that was used to build the house.  It would have come from local London clay that was unearthed on site (or nearby), then shaped and fired into bricks. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bathtub Delivery

Ever since we decided to keep the stairs, Goni and his team have been working quickly to repair, rebuild and prime them.  However, the main news of the week was the bathtub delivery - see the video below.  Our Albanian builders partnered with a Spanish crane operator to get it in through the master bedroom window.  I'm glad neither of us was onsite when it happened.  There would have been a few too many nail-biting moments for me, but it went in smoothly after all.

Now we're contemplating paint colors and the design for the (tiny) front and back gardens.  Two of the fireplaces will get delivered this week.  We decided to keep things simple and opted for wooden fireplace surrounds and Victorian arched gas inserts.  On the ground floor we're planning to replace the original fireplace surround with something similar (antique marble).  There are two options we like - either the white Carrara marble or the grey marble with black veining.

Bathtub delivery (video)

 White Carrara marble

 Grey (I know, British spelling) marble with black veining

 Love the veining!

The master bedroom wardrobes/closets are in - they look great! 

The stairs to the kitchen were finally built this week (no more walking the plank)

Look at the new spindles!

 Choosing colors with Charlotte

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mid-Week House Update

We're on a tight schedule to finish everything by March 20th, so things are moving quickly at the house.  There are still lots of small and large decisions to make. The biggest decision (and longest-running debate) was about the stairs.

Drum roll please...the stairs are staying!  Garett won this one with the compelling argument that if we removed the original stairs it would no longer be a Victorian house - instead it would be an entirely modern house inside the shell of a Victorian facade.  And there was also the cost factor - I would have to promise Garett that I would not buy any furniture for two years.  Um, tough one.  Let's keep the stairs.  The plan is to replace the spindles with reproductions, repair where needed (but not rebuild the steps), paint everything but the handrail, and then strip and sand the handrail back to the original finish.

A trip down memory lane...

 When the builders knocked through the walls in May 2015 you could see the entire staircase and the beauty of the curved handrail.

This is another view from May with the original spindles.

In its current state, the staircase is now missing most of the spindles (these needed replacing anyway).

 A view from the ground floor - Goni needs to shore up the entire staircase so it doesn't list to the left. A coat closet will be built underneath the stairs.

In other news, the scaffolding is down!  We are quickly finalizing the design for the low front wall and the entry. Don't the clean bricks and new windows look nice? You can almost picture the original look of the house from 1875.

As a reminder, here is what the exterior looked like in November 2014 on the day of the open house tour.

The master bath is coming along nicely, with a couple of small issues to sort out.  The tile is marble-effect porcelain tile and not marble slabs (which would have cost a fortune).

Meanwhile, the builders are creating my library niche in the corner of the reception room/living room.  You can see the entry doors to the right, where there will be a glass transom light above the doors. Originally this space was two separate rooms, but we combined them into one and gained some space for the powder and utility room behind the wall (where the bookcase will go).

This is the same view, taken a few steps back so you can see the fireplace.  Garett and I are still finalizing our choices, but we will go with something traditional to maintain the spirit of the house.  Unfortunately, none of the original marble fireplace mantels could be salvaged.

And that's all for now.