Sunday, 12 January 2014

Mews News Part 4 - House renovations

I can't even remember where I last left off.

To summarize and cut a long story short - we are behind schedule.
I should have been home 6 weeks ago.

We are now in my brother's flat who is graciously hosting us.

We have slowed down due to the holiday season and...

I am sure I will laugh about this in a few years and it will make great cocktail party chatter but we are not a-mews-ed. ( Sorry but it is our local pun.)

About a week before Xmas my main builder was 
packing up at lunch time to leave.
I don't even pretend to be civil anymore and questioned 
where he was going.
He replied, "Charing Cross."

I assumed he meant the hospital and it was a follow up appointment regarding the fall he suffered back in September.

"No, Charing Cross Police Station."

"Why the heck are you going there?"

"Road rage. You see...."
 I can't do his accent so I shall translate for you.
He got nearly assaulted by someone at a traffic light but in the 
brutal white man van's world, the first person to hit is the winner so he pre-empted a hit and head-butted the other guy first.

Police investigated and the other man had a previous record but so did my builder. He has an alibi and defense to why he did it but we won't get into it here.

So then he had to take another half day for a lawyer's appointment, another day for the court date.
He got charged but no time - just a very big fine.

But this incident is not wholly to blame for the delay.

I committed the cardinal sin of not 
choosing every detail ahead of time.  
We hadn't decided on what to pick for the new bathroom.
So when we did finally make it to our quarry 
there was so much choice.


Plus Mr CSW and I had to mutually agree.
Then we had to see what was readily available.
Interestingly enough, our stone guy in North London says a lot of stone that was readily available is now harder to source and that the business is changing a lot.  Like jewellry, what used to be considered semi-precious apparently is in the upper leagues now.



I wanted something classic and durable but 
I also wanted something visually graphic.
I would have liked wallpaper but in the end the issues with condensation just became too much of an issue.
So the stone to tick all the boxes was Marmara marble 
which is naturally striped.



The stone had to be finished off and edges polished inside.


Will show you the room when it is completely done.

Remember the outdoor decking?


It's finally in.
Nothing fancy but I am just pleased a section of the house is done.


It's south facing so gets lots of natural light - well for Britain.


The perspective to the new floor is basically this.
Balcony and room with bathroom ( behind shelves).
Some shelves will have doors and some will be exposed.


We are having wooden floors and 
we had to air them for two days before installing them.
I wanted individual planks and getting the perfect compromise 
of budget and quality was time consuming.  
I was excited to check after the first day of installation but...


It seemed there were issues with quality control.  There were random rogue planks that were much darker than the rest.

So Mr CSW and the builder went back to the yard and chose another batch but went through each box to pick out any irregular ones which took half a day.  
They found twenty bad ones.
Then we had to wait another two days of airing the wood 
before we could install it.

Below is what used to be and will might be our bedroom.
( We have three bedrooms, two viable ones to choose from.)
Our headboard was on the right and cupboards to the left.
But the door is where I took the picture and I just never felt the flow.
It isn't a feng shui thing but I like looking at the foot of the bed 
and headboard as I enter the bedroom.



But that would have meant that due to storage issue we would have had to do the bridge storage cupboards.  This means closet on either side of the bed and then overhead cupboards. So I am sticking to the old arrangement and having wall to wall cupboards on the left.

This is my third bedroom that rarely gets any usage except my storeroom. I thought we were almost ready to paint but there was a damp patch that kept coming through.


We had to rip up the wall as 
we have to re-render as water is seeping through.
So after it is fixed, we need to replaster etc.
We are doing a lot of the jobs twice.

As I mentioned I am at my brother's house as the flat in 
South London was only temporary and had to be relet just 
before Xmas so all the boxes that were with us 
there are back in the house. 


So since Xmas I have become even more minimalist and 
am living out of a weekend bag as I can't be bothered sorting even through the temporary stuff.
Oh well.  
I hope I get to do another update for you soon!

PS Could readers TonKath and Grace please email me with your address because you won the giveaway! 

66 comments:

  1. Oh Naomi! What a horror! There is a book in there, for sure! I like what I am seeing, though...

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    1. Thanks Wendy! It is trying my patience a bit.Om...........

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  2. What a nuffer (the builder)
    You can always come visit me in Melb. Plenty of light here. Also temps of 40 degrees all week.

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    1. Ta doll! although been here too long that 40 degrees would push me over the edge!!x

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  3. OMG...you live in East Tennessee!!! What happened to your builder is commonplace. Our latest is a guy got shot in the head with his own cross bow. Hmmm. What a long f&$@?ing road you have been on. Feel for ya baby.

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    1. Yep - I am convinced he is part Gypsy! He does live in another world for sure but he is one luck b*st*rd. But I gotta say cross bow is cra cray!! Some Smoky Mountain action eh? :)

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  4. Oh no! Poor you! I echo Cilla - come and visit us here!
    The desk is looking fantastic, though.

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  5. OMG. i am stressed just reading this!

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    1. It is making me very zen to compensage Meg!

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  6. This takes profound stamina. My sympathies, but it will be glorious to live somewhere which reflects all your choices.

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    1. Thanks but I am afraid my choices haven't been that great due to rushing it and sacrificing look for speed...

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  7. Urgh. Sounds like you don't want to sack your builder if he's a thug?! Interesting comment with the marble. Traditionally the marble you wanted wasn't too heavily veined (well, not like the black one in your picture at the yard with the one big white vein running through it). But that is all the rage now, as all the designers like the heavy veining, less so the consistent less veiny marble. I love your choice though, I think it will look stunning. As for the floors... I know your pain. We've had multitudes of problems with all sorts of things you wouldn't expect. And the same thing on the last house. Unfortunately natural materials aren't that uniform...! It's looking good though, and like it's actually pretty close xx

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    1. I already have plainish stone in my other two bathrooms and I just wanted one bathroom where it was a bit more fun. I wanted some blue marble but the prices have skyrocketed soooo much due to lack of stock and increased demand in newer economies. Yeah I keep thinking we are close too but it seems everything seems to be done twice!! xx

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  8. I can so feel your pain. We did a large renovation/addition to our home five years ago and as you are describing it was a total nightmare. Just know that it does eventually end. And while I really enjoy the new spaces, I still wonder if it was worth the trouble. Hopefully you will be delighted with the outcome and be thrilled with your beautiful "new" home!

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    1. It's funny because I love renovations normally but I will say this is the one that has been the most stressful out of all I have done. I hope I will be thrilled but I am getting quite detached. But thanks for the encouraging words!

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  9. Sorry to hear that your renovations are being delayed... but what a story about your builder!! And he has a previous record??? It's like something out of a gangster movie! Well, the deck looks great, and it looks like everything else is coming along nicely. Hang in there!!

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    1. Yes he does but he has had a odd upbringing and childhood. He is an odd one because he means well but has ADD. Hopefully I can do another update soon!

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  10. Oh How I would love your shelves! Do hope you will be 'home' soon. Perhaps in time to enjoy spring on your new balcony.

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    1. Yes I hope we get a nice spring so we can sit out there and enjoy it a little! As you can tell I love shelves too!

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  11. Naomi, I think my last comment was deleted .. so you may get 2 from me.

    I had no idea you were in the midst of a home renovation project and living with family. We've put in hard wood floors in two homes and it's a pain in the A** .. There is always issues with the wood and I remember having to unload it all in the house so it could acclimate to the temperature.

    Unexpected issues always pop up and so does the cost. With both kids gone now, we are considering selling and renovating a smaller home that we have been renting out. It will be a huge pain but it would be a smart move for us to get out from under the high mortgage. The thought of dealing with builders, contractors and makes me hyperventilate.

    Hang in there. I am sure it will be worth it when it's done but it IS stressful. xxleslie

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    1. Sorry it got deleted! So annoying when that happens so thanks for persisting Leslie! Yes - we have started since August but more like one year from start of planning permission. To be honest I think the home will be too big and a bit of a luxury to have all that space and I would like to rent it out and move to a smaller place as well but Mr CSW wants to enjoy it for a bit whereas I just want to find a new place...But it has helped my mindset in an odd way and I have detached from "stuff" so I must look at the positive!

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  12. According to every remodeling job I've ever heard about your's sound perfectly normal.
    The end will come, and you will find it all worthwhile. xx's

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    1. You are right Marsha - it is par for the course but I had been smug because most jobs I have been involved with went pretty smoothly and this is the longest one I have been involved with! xx

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  13. Oh my gosh that is quite the trying continuing saga, isn't it? But I can just about see your balcony sun room and that is going to be absolutely wonderful! Picking out the planks reminds me of stained glass lamp makers who go through sheets of glass. Your builder ... he'd make a good character for a TV sitcom. Hang in there, I hope you get to another update soon. :)

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    1. I would have let that go if it was just a slightly bit darker but I couldn't accept that. It delayed us a good week but it had to be done...It is funny you say that because everyone says he should have his own reality show. I haven't even told you about his love life yet!!

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  14. Love that room at the back, that's where I'd spend most of most of my time sucking up any available light.
    Phew what a stress for you, this is why I could never even begin a process like this, the post burglary redo of two rooms nearly put me over the edge.

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    1. More and more I wish I had learned a trade. I guess it is that I am just so beholden. Plus if I was a builder I would be paid for all my tea breaks!

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  15. Oh it's going to look lovely! I especially like all the bookshelves in the sunny room!

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    1. Half the shelves will have doors and the main two will be bookshelves. I wanted flexible storage. Hope it will be nice but at this rate I just want things to be water tight and functioning!!

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  16. We are trying to renovate an old house here... I could entertain you for months with many different stories... Yes surprises when you really would like no more to come out... Dealing with issue that could not have been planed for different reasons. We are living in a temporary state for the past ten years for many reasons. Even if it is painful now, I think you did the right choice. Leaving the house for a period of time and get everything done at once... The result looks very promising. Wishing you all the best.

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    1. I didn't see the renos on your blog so I must go back and check it out! Wow - ten years. Although I can believe it especially with an old house! I hope yours finishes soon as well :)

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    2. I don't talk about the renos on the blog as it makes me cry all the time... I should consider starting sharing... Our house is from 1903 and all the work the previous owner did (he was a carpenter) are just terrible work!!! I am not sure we will ever finish :-( It is such a huge topic...

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    3. Oh no!! Soo sorry to hear that - but sometimes sharing it makes it therapeutic I think. I know the blog has helped me take my mind off things and writing it out always lets out the stress in a way...

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  17. The builder is like a character in a tv show, like "Sons of Anarchy" maybe. I have been in the early planning stages of a kitchen reno and a complete do-over of the wooden floors in our house, which turns 100 next year (with original floors). Just last week I decided to lump the whole thing, I mean it's fine the way it is and if the floors are a bit creaky who cares? The house functions well and I'd rather use that money towards a vacation house.
    I think it is interesting that you have had this long period of time without your things and it seems to have had a mind shift to detachment from stuff, it's like the ultimate de-clutter exercise to just live out of weekend bags! What do you miss most? What will it be like when you unpack all of the boxes?
    Oh and I love that stripey marble!

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    1. He truly is! I think you have made the right decision Dani - honestly if it works then just leave it I say! Even now I am only doing this on a need to basis which has been a lot as the first time we did our house about 6 years ago we didn't do the kitchen and I just painted it white but it is about 35 years old and literally on its last legs so we had to redo otherwise believe me I would not be touching my kitchen either. It is funny because it has made me bipolar so I dont miss stuff but when I get it back I will actually use it!! Books and I miss my jewellry funny enough and my scarves. I miss playing with my scarves...That sounds odd I know!

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  18. It's always so long and difficult to have new things made in your home :( Bt as you say you'll laugh about it in a few days and drink a glass of champagne with all your friends to celebrate!
    xoxo

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    1. I can't wait to have my first dinner party!! x

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  19. Nice to see progress is being made.

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    1. Yes it is progress - slow but progress nevertheless.

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  20. oh good luck though I bet you're on the way to completion , though the more tales I read like this the more frightened I am of starting my renovations .

    i have been advised to pick out everything such as tiles before I start ,as you say . Glad you're not going with the bride cupboard arrangement ..cupboards over your head whilst in bed ...ah ? No

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    1. Thanks smr but I would pick out every last detail and then also get it ordered as well. It seems most things are 8 weeks to deliver. Plus I would get a back up choice if something gets discontinued suddenly. It will save you a lot of time, energy and arguments!! I kept putting it off because i was told we didnt have time to store things anywhere. I had to compromise either way with the bedroom storage but that is very common in the UK as it is sometimes the only way to get storage. As they say may the sun shine and the wind be behind your back on your renos!

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    2. my god was just thinking of that "Irish" saying earlier this morning ..thanks for your good advice

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    3. oh smr - cheeky of me to ask but I am sure you will get suggestsed this a lot but you should do a blog on the renos! who doesn't love a reno? well...others, eh? :)

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  21. It's really coming along nicely though.. love the decking.. it's gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Dawna! I hope the weather allows me to enjoy it though ;)

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  22. Oh my gosh I feel for you, that is mind boggling with all the choices, yet you know if you make the wrong one you have to live with it. The views from you place look stunning, lucky you to have some outdoor partaying space - love the decking - that's a luxury in London! I remember living in the Square around the corner from you, we took turns on the balcony

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    1. It is south facing so we get light considering. But I think it will be nice as it is considered a proper outdoor space in London! I bet we must have queued next to each other back in the day at the shops?

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  23. Hey girl ! Sounds horrible ! It's crazy no one can have ONE positive story about their builder. They all do crap ! I hope the house will be the one you dreamed of, at least !
    http://www.melolimparfaite.com

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    1. You are right - I rarely hear that they have an amazing builder! Unless they are your own family or they charge a fortune. OH well here is hoping!

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  24. ... remembering the day the TileSetter apologized for the previous days' no-show, no-call: the paparazzi were blocking his driveway and the chief of police had blocked phone transmissions in retaliation, but things were settling down now... and it turned out that in fact he lived with the local police chief who was his brother-in-law and a rather famous person had been caught in fragrante with the tilesetter's teenage niece...
    ... and the time a girlfriend called in a panic, could I help, hadn't I had Russian in college, she couldn't communicate with the demolition team, they were about to take down the wrong wall -- rushed over ready to confuse demo men with discussion of Chekov and Gogol but the strange accent she couldn't pierce turned out to be West Belfast... my advice: if it were me, I wouldn't argue with these guys...
    ... and the time ...

    I hope you can hold on until all of this horror is an anecdote.

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  25. Oh wow, what an ordeal! It does look like it's going to be amazing when it's finished though :)

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    1. I hope it will although I don't know if the amount of ordeal will reflect the end result!

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  26. First I have to say - You are hysterical! I love the way you write and I love your way of sharing your life. I think your mews looks amazing, and how did I never know about that striped stone when I was doing all my renos-it's fantastic! Can't wait to see the finished home, and I hope you are home soon. It stinks being displaced.

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    1. Julie - I am missing your blog but then you must be so busy adjusting to the UK etc. I always thought that the marble was used mainly for the chevron design but I thought I would tire of it so I kept it simple. But of course even that is not straightforward...Happy new year Julie!

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  27. eeek so you were expecting to be in your newly renovated home for Christmas. I'm so sorry to hear that you weren't, but it's all looking good; I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel because I can. That outside area is spectacular, can't wait to see what you do with it in the summer. I love looking around homes. Whenever there are new homes being built around our area I go and take a peek pretending I want to buy, but really I just want to snoop around the show-home and pretend I live there (oops have I just said that in public) or sometimes just for inspiration. Where do you get most of your inspiration from, is it mainly the home and decor magazines or........? xx

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    1. Me too I love it and find it soo much fun - at least i am a cheap date!

      I get inspiration everywhere but funny enough less so with mags - I really go for coffee table books because the best design seems reserved for those as the mags are always buy buy buy montages. Plus I just go for what i like and what i think will last long. Walls are harder to change than a shirt right? xx

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  28. Hi There - Tonkath here. Thrilled to be a winner in your giveaway! Sweltering in 40 plus degrees here so your deck with it's gorgeous view looks very appealing! Love your sunroom and the shelves. It will be a gorgeous space to relax in. Our son warned us that lead times for all things can take up to three months and he wasn't wrong!! Tiles, tap ware, light fittings - virtually everything took ages. Still waiting for new dining chairs which were ordered on September 14th!! Everything is looking great in your reno - don't worry about hasty decisions, sometimes they are the best ones quite surprisingly and usually you are only deciding between things you have already been thinking about anyway. Love the stone - its divine. Good you took the time with the floorboards though- that would have annoyed me no end to live with such mismatched boards. As another post said, progress is being made. Despite your builder with ADD!! Love the updates - Tonkath.

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  29. Are you going to put some seating out on the balcony? Wondering what you are thinking of getting for there? It would need to be quite weather resistant would it?? Can just imagine a G & T out there in sunny weather or a nice cup of tea in cold. - Tonkath

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    1. Yay!! I was worried you might never know!
      Sunroom is a bit generous but it is a room that will swallow whatever light it can! Lead times skew things just when you think you are done and dusted eh? I have been a bit lax about certain things but the floorboards is where I drew the line even with the delay. I have a set my neighbour left me when they moved to HK and I also got a deck chair for Mr CSW to sit on but I can't wait to have my first GT out there Tonkath!! xx

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  30. Naomi, Wow, I love the room with the balcony. So bright and what a terrific open terrace to have in London. I love your view too. Ah such a pain to go through all this.. Will be worth it though.

    We had the same issues when we put wood in our other home. I had chosen these lovely wide plank floors from Belgium and came home one day to see the most hideous plank in the center of the main room. Apparently, they never even gave it a thought. Of course I had them pull it out, but these floors floated and they had to rip all the floor after it too and destroyed a quarter of the boards. Idiots. Took forever to get it right, but came out lovely. You so have to micro-manage the wood flooring install. Of course someone else is enjoying that lovely floor and I'm in an older home now with horrendous floors, but someday..

    The best part of this Naomi is you learn to roll with the punches and get more easy-going about it as time goes on!

    Take care and you are so right you'll laugh about it...Also too funny about the white van man. We have them by the droves in my hood and they are dangerous drivers!

    xx Kim

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    1. P.S. LOVE that marble!! Absolutely gorgeous and so unique! Cannot wait to see it all done!
      xx

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    2. Thanks Kim! But that must have been just like what we did. A pain but I knew i wouldnt be able to live with it. But ironically I have done wooden floors before many times but I have never had this issue so this one has had so many learning curves! If I didn't laugh I would cry you know?!! :) xx

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  31. I love the marble choice.. it's very smart and so interesting! Poor you... I promise things will improve and I am so impressed by your indomitable spirit! You will be laughing at this whole process ... but not just yet! xxx

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    1. Ta Jenny! I just wanted something graphic bc my other two bathrooms are just plain. I hope I will be laughing - next year?? hehe xxx

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