Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Evolving Interior Design; The dining room

Or maybe I should call it the slightly-more-than-two-year-saga-of-removing-a-fireplace... Yes folks, that is honestly how long it took! I know because of the wonder and sometimes sadness that is timehop.

Do I feel ashamed? A little. Does my husband feel ashamed. No, speed doesn't matter to him at all and the fact that I'm always after INSTANT GRATIFICATION does drive him a little bit mad. Same for all the people I know really, I don't get it. Why not want things done yesterday now!

The dining room was pretty much the worst in the whole house. It's hard to remember exactly how grim it was, but looking at this picture I'm sure the point comes across.
The wallpaper was hanging off, and an ugly used-to-be-green-but-is-now-nicotine-yellow. The carpet was one of those exceptionally good quality yet exceptionally ugly patterns. The curtains were filthy and disgusting. Although, after a wash, they now are exceptionally good painting cloths so every cloud...

The fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. Strange stone, exposed and ugly-shade-of-beige concrete, painted black bricks, random gold fire-hood-type-thing, a semi-decent fire surround and then a gap above the fireplace with a strange and badly fixed strip of wood across it.

On a side note though - look at that original pantry cupboard. Stunning! We even found some left over crystal glasses in it, surely from the days of glamour and before anyone installed the monstrosity to the right.

Here is a more recent picture. Just so you know, I kept the beautiful pantry and managed to uncover a gem! That is the best thing about old houses (ours is around 110- 125 years old).

Back to the beginning. We had to live with it for a while. This must have been a very early picture as I took the curtains down very quickly indeed. (Wearing gloves). I love the way I've photographed a feather duster on the table, as if, yeah I dust regularly! (I don't.)

After much persuading, I convinced the chap to tackle removing the bricks to see what was underneath. I had a good feeling, but even I was surprised by how good it turned out to be.
Above you can see husband in the act of removing concrete and a close up of that strange fire hood thing.

After about two hours.
Doubts and feelings-of-omg-how-long-is-this-going-to-take started here.

A mere 4 billion hours later we were here. Ok, it might have been more like 15, but it felt a lot looonger.

And then another 4 billion later we got to this. I stopped taking pictures of the bits in between due to the general despondency and tiredness.
It's hard to get a sense of scale but the bottom of the lintel rests on my shoulder. It's about 5 foot high. The removal of bricks was just neverending. But look at the lintel. It's mahoosive and sandy-coloured-stone and just overall gorgeous!
We saved all the good bricks though, for the garden. The fire surround was painted matt black and put to good use too. Waste not, want not and all.
But then, we didn't really know what to do.

We lived with the whole room like this for a long time. I stripped the wallpaper and painted the whole room white.
As you can probably tell from the pictures the light in this room is wonderful and it's also very private. Nobody overlooks this space.
I cleaned and repainted the pantry cupboard too and sprayed the handles black.
Then very little happened.

We looked into the soot blackened hole every day and stopped noticing it.
We had had the chimney swept so it wasn't a dirt or soot problem. It was just ugly.

I restored a beautiful 1950's kitchen cupboard to match the gap where presumably a second pantry cupboard would have been. On this piece of furniture I cleaned it and sanded it and replaced the handles and sprayed them black. It had these stunning three vents though, so I painted them purple so they stood out slightly more. It was one of those serendipitous moments as it fitted so perfectly.
Then we finally hired a plasterer, the lovely Steve, who is a friend of ours and also supremely talented and he made it look amazing.
There was a lot of cleaning prior to that, but, you know, cleaning isn't the most exciting thing to discuss. Basically hot water, spray bleach, wire brush, repeat ad infinitum!

Here was the first moment I started to love this room. I knew it had potential and could be beautiful but at this point I sort of fell for it.
The window is huge and looks out over my garden, it isn't overlooked and the light is fantastic. I started spending a lot of time in here.
It's the room where I blog, where I journal and where I talk to my friends and where I read.
Recently I also got rid of the carpet and my brother-in-law and husband fitted some beading around the wood floor. I sanded and then painted the floor and it's now a lovely space.

And after all that, I think that concludes the saga of removing a fireplace.
It was worth it.
Yes, I wish it had been quicker.
Honestly, it's just the way things happened. I've moved on from ashamed to proud! Happy days.