It’s been over two years since my last thread about redecorating. That’s a long time, and the reason for the delay is Brent Council: we began the process of purchasing our loft space from them in January 2011, and because converting our loft will involve dropping the ceilings in the rest of the house, as well as potentially removing two chimney breasts, we decided not to do any more redecorating until after the loft conversion.
We really, really didn’t think it would take the council over two years to complete the matter, but it has and we are still waiting. To say I’m unhappy about this is possibly one of the biggest understatements ever.
Anyway, certain changes are afoot and, although I won’t say any more about that just yet, I have been inspired to just go ahead with the redecorating regardless. What’s the worst case? I’ll have to repaint the top halves of any freshly decorated rooms after the ceilings have been dropped, which is annoying but not really the end of the world. So last week I attacked our sitting room, here’s what it looked like before I started…
Yes, I know it’s a right mess. It hasn’t been repainted in years, and that desk in the corner has been there about twenty years (my dad built it for me when I got my first computer)! Definitely time for decluttering and redecorating.
I wanted to create more storage in this room, and after a lot of thought and discussion we decided to keep the chimney breast and just work around it. I also decided to do the room in stages, so that things could be moved around gradually, so I started with the wall behind the sofa…
I cleared everything out, was briefly horrified to find that my mother hadn’t even bothered to take the picture down last time she repainted the room (I still can’t believe that she just painted round it!), then got to work filling holes, stripping down the skirting board, washing the wall, and generally prepping things. I took down that shelf (built by my dad to hold a mixture of books and records) and replaced the three big shelves with new ones to match the others and reduce the depth of the whole unit.
I then stole the shelves I’d built for the small bedroom…
…and moved them into the sitting room.
In between all this I gave the wall a good couple of coats of a nice light cream/white (Wickes chalky flat matt in Harvest Moon). That was day one of the project, and it was a good start. Of course it meant that we no longer have any shelves in the bedroom, but we’ll get back to that later!
Day two saw me attacking my desk area. It’s served very well over the years, but it’s a bit too bulky and I have a tendency to keep a lot of clutter on my desk as there’s so much room. With the advent of flat screen monitors I haven’t really needed such a deep desk for years, and so I decided to reduce the overall size of the desk, make the plugs less visible, and generally give it a cleaner look.
A while back I was lucky enough to gain a whole load of shop fixtures from Lush when they closed their shop on Portobello Road. Loads of shelves, a trolley (which now lives in my studio) and a couple of tables. Some of the shelves have already been put up in the kitchen, but the rest have been saved very carefully for this very occasion. I used one of the large corner shelves leftover from the kitchen to create a new desk, and then (with the aid of an enormous drill bit and some special supports) turned some others into floating shelves.
The next job was to tackle the chimney breast area… well where to start with that? About 15 years ago we covered up the fireplace with some cladding and shelf units, so that all had to be dismantled and removed…
Isn’t that fireplace VILE? You can see why we covered it up! Time to get rid of it once and for all.
That’s about as far as we’ve got with the fireplace, the rest will be removed hopefully this coming weekend and then we’ll get a plasterer in to cover up the hole and make good. For now we’ve moved the television to sit in front of it (the TV will eventually be mounted on the chimney breast, so we’re taking the opportunity to have the telly there and raise it up on bits of wood until we work out what height we want it at), which suits us well for the time being.
Onto the last corner of the room… which is now also home to some floating shelves, and as there’s now room on the floor we’ve moved some boxes into the space for now. Some of you may remember that I bought a lovely vintage trunk from a boot sale a while ago – it’s currently in storage elsewhere, but eventually it will go into this alcove.
So, it’s about time you saw the final photos!
It looks so much bigger! Despite moving that chest of drawers and the TV in front of the chimney breast there is actually loads more room, and it feels so spacious. Decluttering and throwing out a heap of stuff helped, as did tidying up 😉 We’ve moved one of the tables from Lush in there temporarily (although it’s eventually destined for the kitchen), and the chest of drawers will stay there until the loft is done and we’ve got somewhere else to put it. Aside from finishing off the chimney breast (and recarpeting, but that’s a post-loft job), though, this room is pretty much done (and you’ll note that I left the top 30cm of the room undecorated as that will all be hidden once the ceilings have been dropped!). I love it, mum loves it, and Matt loves it – so it’s a job well done, and despite being absolutely knackered now I am very happy. Can’t wait to start on the rest of the house now! Oh, I suppose you’re wondering what happened to the little bedroom after I stole the shelves? Well, the shelves were replaced with the ones that were in front of the chimney breast.
They look a little high up in that photo, but bear in mind that there’s no actual bed in that room, just a mattress on the floor! We’ll be sorting out a day bed for the little room very soon, at which point the shelves will look more in proportion to everything else 🙂
For those who like to know these things, I set myself a budget of £300 to complete this room and came in just 69 pence over that. Not bad, and it included paint, fixings, and a Hippobag for removal of the waste from the fireplace. The timber for the shelves and my desk was, as mentioned above, obtained for free, and the other shelves were all just moved from one room to another. The wooden chair which has replaced the ghastly office chair was found on the street (I seem to attract chairs, this is the fourth one I’ve found in the past two years!). I do like working with a small budget, the challenge makes the whole process far more interesting for me!