Thursday, June 21, 2018

Watching Paint Dry

I've been in the UK about three weeks now and I've settled in somewhat.  The studio is now completely painted with Cat's Cradle (Earthborn Claypaints) on the walls and Off-Black Estate Eggshell (Farrow and Ball) on all the trim.  I even painted the inside of the little closet over the stairs and picked up some classic clear storage containers to organize it.  
I also finally had a chance to clean the paint off of both sides of this little transom window!  Now even if all the doors are closed the hallway gets some natural light, a welcome change!
 
I love this little room and I can't wait to see it carpeted, which, SURPRISE we are going with wall-to-wall carpet in the studio, the front bedroom, the hall, and the stairs.  We attempted to revive the floorboards but they are just in horrible condition and at this point we really just want the space to feel finished and cozy. 
Next I used Farrow and Ball's Off-Black downstairs on all the new baseboards.  All through the lounge, hall, kitchen and dinning space, we have brand new baseboards (because of the new floor.)  All the screw holes (huge masonry screws) had to be filled and sanded, then a wood primer coat and two coats of Off-Black.  All this took the better part of 3 days.  Long days spent home alone; on the floor, listening to true crime podcasts, I went a little stir crazy.  

I'm so in love with the way it came out, the soft black feels sophisticated and elevates the color of the limestone floors in a way I did not expect.  I'm not 100% happy with my fill job though, when the screw holes were on the curved section of the trim, it was a real struggle to get a seamless fill (whos idea was that!?)

I used Farrow and Ball's Railings for the baseboards in the front bedroom (no pictures of that room yet!), this one is a deep blue-black, though it just feels black in there, maybe that will change once the carpet goes in.

I also painted the woodwork going down into the cellar.  Previously the spookiest space in the house, it is now tidied up and a little more welcoming.  I only had enough paint to do the one wall, but after I added new light bulbs, it made a world of difference.  My next job down there will be to get some new shelving.  I need a place to store all these cans of paint!

Finally, I threw paint at the outer garden gate, it is a POS but the paint helps a little and is a step towards the garden not looking abandoned!

In wedding news: We picked up the succulent favors!  They are cute and now I don't want to give them away...

-Nikki

Monday, June 11, 2018

Moving to the UK and planning a wedding in eight weeks or less.

So lots to cover here.  Matt and I got formally engaged back in September and told all my family when he visited in November, it was a very exciting and happy time.  We then began the visa process so I could move to the UK and we could get married.  Getting a fiancee Visa was an extremely stressful, expensive, and time consuming project, which sucked the fun out of the last several months, so you'll forgive me for not posting about it or wanting to dwell on it now that I am HERE! 
Thats right, LongdistanceDIY will be needing a new name, as I officially moved into the house about two weeks ago!  It was great seeing how much had been done without me, Matt was able to get the baseboards installed downstairs and in our bedroom, finishing the bathroom fixture installation, paint the study, and more, but then I arrived and all hell broke loose.  
What have we been doing for the past two weeks?  We choose a wedding venue and date, less than eight weeks away (I like to be busy, what can I say.)   
(Sneak peak from the venue.)
So I've been sort burning the candle at both ends, doing lots of wedding things and working on the cottage so it will be guest ready before the wedding so that people can stay with us. 
The thing is, because the date we picked is so close, (six weeks now!) all of the last minute details and meetings are supposed to be happening right now, but I'm not really caught up yet.  I collected addresses and sent out invitations, I've made all the appointments we need to make it legal, put together a registry, etc.  But there is of course a long list of things still to do like find a photographer, hotel bags, get my dress hemmed, find shoes, set the menu with the caterer, put together favors, etc, etc, etc   Everything is happening all at once, but its a lot of fun and luckily the venue is all in one, food, music, hotel, etc.

The next post will be all about the cottage I promise. 
-Nikki

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bathroom Tile - And Color Reveal!

The fun part first; Tiling is finished and we painted the bathroom blue!  We ordered a few samples of Earthborn Claypaint for the bathroom and ultimately went with Toy Soldier for a dark midnight blue color.  Which looks amazing and dramatic against the bright shinning tiles!
  Something I like about these specialty paint lines is actually the smaller color selection, so I can't be paralyzed by to much choice (today's theme).  That is not to say they don't have a good selection, its just way more manageable than the thousands of colors and shades to be found at certain big box stores.  I love this color, it came out beautifully rich and dark, it has a sumptuous, luxury feel to it.  
Toy soldier is the dark swatch on the left.
One of the negatives to long distance DIY is having to choose finishes I haven't actually seen or touched.  This is frustrating for both of us, for instance, it took me weeks to choose the wall tiles for the bathroom.  I felt the need to look at every possible tile option online, while trying to envision them in the space (talk about paralyzed by choice!)
Ultimately we went with these beautiful Winchester tiles, handmade in England, in a gorgeous white called Papyrus.  The tiles are actually a few different shades of white, they are an extra long subway tile and we opted to use white grout as well.
Pisa tiles for the floors.
 In stark contrast to the difficulty I had in choosing the wall tiles, are the floor tiles.  Last June when we realized the floor would have to be tiled, Matt and I went together and looked at some options.  In about 20 minutes we picked three samples, brought them home, and in another 10 minutes, we had ordered our favorite, so easy.  
It was a huge relief, to both of us I think, to realize that we were on the same page and that all we needed was to be in the same place at the same time.  After all the delays, and dragging of feet on choosing finishes, this really put things into perspective. 
So the floors were leveled and installation began again, including the shower tray, finally!  Matt sent me lots of progress shots of this, it was an exciting time!  I have tried my hand at tiling on a much smaller scale than this and it still took several hours, I can only imagine that I would still be working on this if I'd taken it on myself.. tricky since I don't live there.  So glad we hired a professional, he did an amazing job.
 In the shower we decided to build in a little shelf/bench, this happened while I was away, but it came out just as I envisioned.  You can see the unfinished shelf here and the pipes before the tiles went up.  We had already grouted the other walls before tiling the shower, (delayed while waiting to install the shower tray, which was delayed by the flooring issues, a tangled web I know) so that by the time the herring bone wall went up we had already committed to white grout. 
Before grout.
I got a little worried about the white on white with the tile and grout.  Before grouting the pattern was in high contrast, afterwards its much more subtle.  I've decided I like it and it opened the way for us to do something really dramatic with the paint color, otherwise I probably would have stuck to "safe" colors, like grays and whites.   
After grout, everything shines like ice and the natural tiles reflect the light in a rippled textured pattern.  As the tiling neared completion, the room looked amazing, it feels so high end, so luxurious.  I can't wait to get in there with a candle and a plant and call it done.      
Gorgeous right?  And a huge space!  There were some side effects to all this luxury though.  Remember the story of When you Give a Mouse a Cookie?  Well when this mouse saw the beautiful tile it made other parts of the room look worse in comparison.  Most notably the trim, which we had to strip, clean, and repaint.  It also lights a fire under me to bring the rest of the house up to par.
Next time, Fixtures!
-Nikki 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bathroom Blues - Delivery Drama

So while the Bathroom Floorboard Mistake was going on last June, we also had some delivery and installation drama. 
All of the beautiful new bathroom fixtures (except the vanity and sink) were delivered together in this neat, not so little, package.  This thing was about 6 feet tall and had every little piece boxed up and in the tub.  
We took the packaging apart and got all the small stuff inside.  The tub was difficult as Matt and I had to bring it into the house on end and then up our tight turning stairs.  We almost didn't make it, with all three of us; Matt, the tub, and I, suffering a few scrapes and bumps.  In the end though, success!  The tub is upstairs! It came with gorgeous chrome claw feet too which you don't get to see until the final reveal.  
The real drama of the delivery was the HUGE glass shower screen, this thing was not going up the stairs, it was to big by several inches.  Oops.  I'm actually quite proud of how we solved this one though....
After we realized that there was no way we could get that piece of glass up the stairs on our own we had a moment of panic (Maybe more than a moment.)  I started calling moving companies who claimed to do sofas, pianos, etc through upstairs windows.  By this point it was rather late on a Friday evening, and we were feeling really stressed and dejected, so when I got a hold of Sofa Assist it was a huge relief. 
 
Sofa Assist came out and expertly dismantled the window, lifted the panel through, and fixed the window.  In fact that window didn't work properly before, now its perfect. The huge shower panel lived in (what will be) my studio for a few weeks before being installed.  
The installation delay was directly related to the shower tray drama.  The tray couldn't be installed because the floors weren't level (this contributed to us scrapping the floorboards and going for tile), plus the pluming had to be finished.  
By pluming I mean the pipes had to be fit into the wall, a plaster and brick wall shared with our neighbor.  She was very sweet about it, but I suspect it is difficult to live next to a renovation when they spend all day hammering into the wall.
Now though the pipes are fitted, the installation is done and the tiler has been able to get in and finish the walls and floors, Spoiler Alert: it looks amazing.
That same week, we ordered the sink and vanity unit from Ikea (see below.)  I usually love Ikea, but in this case Matt had to jump through a lot of hoops for this sink.  I think my advice would be: If you can't see it and take it home day-of from Ikea, don't bother attempting a delivery. 
IKEA HEMNES/RĂ„TTVIKEN wash-stand with 2 drawers
IKEA HEMNES/RĂ„TTVIKEN wash-stand with 2 drawersIt is gorgeous though, a big porcelain top, chrome faucet to match the others and loads of storage in the big drawers.  Stay tuned for the tile and wall color reveal!
-Nikki


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bathroom Blues - Wooden Floor Woes

If it seems like it has been a while since I last posted that is true and directly related to my process of grieving and getting over my failure with the bathroom floors.  I didn't want to discuss it until everything was beautiful and finished..HA.  In case you've forgotten where we started...

Let me preface this by saying that I originally wanted tile on the floors but was woo'd by the desire to preserve as much original character of the house as possible.  Matt really liked the look of the wooden floorboards in bathrooms and eventually won me over (with reservations.)   We went round in circles about water getting under the boards and the poor condition of the boards, but forged ahead anyway.  (I really need to start trusting my gut on these things.)  The plan was to bring some light into the dingy space, I effectively wanted to clean and white wash the boards and go for a sort of Scandinavian-vibe.
Last June, Before and after sanding.
The boards had been stained, painted and heavily damaged over the years.  Seriously, we had some horrid, messed up floor issues.  Woodworm, nails, cracks, unevenness, and more.  This is one of the most telling photos.. some of the worst woodworm damage...
I used Osmo wood filler as an attempt to even things out.   The product itself I like, application is easy and it works as expected, but I think the boards were too far gone. 
Even a liberal application of wood filler didn't seem to help (though I told myself it did), and potentially made the situation even worse, by high-lighting the "character" as we called it.  We were rushed, trying to finish in only a week, but I think I could have spent a month on those floors and still not been happy.  So even though we weren't ready, we moved on to the next step.. long distance diy projects (and relationships) sometimes have a time crunch, deal with it. 
The Osmo oil is fantastic, but it can't work miracles.  Nothing wrong with the product, just our horrible floorboards.  We used a white tinted, water resistant oil recommended for floors.    
Working late into the night... I'm not holding a phone to my ear... You can also see the unfinished shower area.. the real bane of my life as all this was going on last June, during a heat wave.  I think shortly after this the love of my life went out and found pizza and a bottle of wine. 
Over two evenings I painstakingly painted on two coats of the white tinted Osmo oil and a final protective clear sealant.  Look at that gap... come on past me.. you were never going to accept that! This was the result. 
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I tried to love it.  I really did. I never would have admitted I didn't if Matt didn't finally say he didn't really like it.  Then it all came pouring out, I hated them.  They were still rough to the touch, uneven, the color was ok but not what I'd envisioned.  We probably would have been better off just painting them a high gloss white, because I hated these floorboards at this point.  
So then he said the magic words.. "lets go look at floor tile tomorrow" Is there any mystery as to why I love him?
Here is a final before and after of all the work that went in.. top is the unfinished hallway, bottom is the bathroom.  A major difference, too bad it was wasted effort... still I'm glad we tried.  Otherwise we would have always had a nagging feeling that the wood may have been a beautiful and cost saving style.  
While all this was going on, the tiler was working on the walls and we had a major curve ball with the actual bathroom fixtures delivery, tune in next week for that minor catastrophe.

-Nikki


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sealing the floors.

For background on the floors start here, we used a beautiful Aged Heritage Limestone. 
On my last visit the floor installation was finished but not yet sealed.  A lot of time and money had gone into building a vapor permeable floor and sub-floor, which should prevent issues with rising damp.  Naturally, a lot of anxiety went into choosing the right finish to protect the floors while maintaining their vapor permeable properties.    
We cleaned them several times, before applying (by hand) a special vapor-permeable 'damp-look' stone floor sealant called Prevosil. 
Prepping and sealing the floors was a labor of love, I felt like Cinderella on hands and knees scrubbing that floor, worth it though in the end.  There was a rare heatwave during my visit and I have to say I took full advantage of the cool stones, laying on the floor to cool off (it wasn't as weird as it sounds I promise).  Speaking of heat, get a load of the gorgeous cast iron radiator Matt ordered!
Once finished we tried out some rugs!  Both were vintage finds from eBay or Gumtree.  Completely in love with both for very different reasons.  Also on display is our fancy new chair!  
Matt has gotten very good at assembling my Ikea whims..
I'm considering this rug to be one of my better Friday Finds.  I experimented with cleaning it, using diluted dish soap and the garden hose, and learned two things.  First: Rugs are extremely heavy when wet, and Second: wool smells awful when wet.  Luckily it dried well and did come out cleaner. 

See you next week when I'll be back in Tewkesbury!
-Nikki


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Woody

I know its a silly post for August but, just look at this lovely wood burner, hand made in Wales by the Chilli Pengiun company.  They are super efficient, have a sleek modern look, come in a range of sizes and colors, and there is even one with a little pizza oven!  
This style?  Its called the Woody.
  Plus those flagstones going back into the fireplace and the excision of that hideous and dangerous old hearth stone?  A total flooring coo.
The floors are finished and sealed, post coming soon about our living room and rugs!
<3 Nikki