Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cork tiles - the full and frustrating story.

Ok, so there was never any doubt that the floor tiles needed replacement (they're actually particle-board tiles, no longer available, but almost exactly like cork in appearance). 

They were half rotten, no longer stuck down, warped and filthy.  And it was immensely satisfying to pull them out and ditch them out.  After I removed all the no-longer-stuck-down ones, we had to get a fair bit of help with the rest, but persevered and managed to remove them all:

...and then we went a bit further and took up the vinyl on the kitchen floor (see photo above) - "cork will be nicer" we thought gleefully and we ripped up the actually-not-that-bad vinyl. 

Then we (well, the Eastern European boys) ground back the concrete, leaving it smooth and shiny like a baby's bum, ready for the cork tiles:

We were getting 8mm thick tiles, to replace the 8mm thick tiles that we had removed. That way they would sit correctly with the skirtings, doors and bottom window sills. "They're ready to go!" said our builder.  Then he gave me the cost - yikes, SO much more than we thought.

That's fine, we figured. It would look super.  Then yesterday our very sheepish builder phoned. They weren't ready to go, they were actually at customs, and for some reason MAF had declared them unfit for entry. And destroyed the whole shipment.  Another shipment isn't due til after Christmas. And we have no floor. Just smooth, smooth concrete. We're fucked.

I raced around - Bunnings, Mitre 10, Placemakers, the Flooring Centre... blah blah blah blah. Matt started looking at parquetry (even more expensive).  We have had to abandon the 8mm thickness - 6mm is all that is in the country.

This morning I phoned Bunnings stores all around the country - they all have a few square metres - we need about 100.  A lovely lady at the Auckland head office is going to try to collate them all together for me,  our fingers are crossed that there's enough.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Stairs, and the negatives..

When we bought the house, the stairs were carpeted. At the top, there are two small windows, facing each other - one had blue glass, the other yellow.  It meant that there was this weird yellow/purple glow over everything:

Both windows have broken panes, which we will be replacing with clear glass. Anyway, we ripped up the carpet (to reveal rimu), filled the holes:

And spent a couple of days sanding them back, with the help of our trusty power-tool-thingy (is it called a sander? I have no idea about these things...):

Excuse the crazy glow - it's those windows.  They still need a couple of coats of oil, but they're looking way better already, especially with that black negative-detailing up the side:

Speaking of which, that is one of the things we accomplished this weekend (yay for three-day weekends and visitors from Auckland).

Every door and window has a recessed detail surrounding it, painted glossy black. They look great. The ladies at Resene think they are cray-cray and when I tried to get advice about painting them they all suggested I just paint them white, like the walls. But look how cool they are:

...and close up (I think I had sanding dust over my camera lens or something):

And here is an unnamed, bald relative applying his precision skillz to the detailing:

We also spent several hours removing masking tape from the windows - word of advice: pay for decent masking tape. That stuff you buy at Bunnings (5 rolls for $8) is a bitch to remove.

And finally, I cleaned - swept and vacuumed the floor - apparently I may be allowed to seal it tomorrow if our builder thinks it's up to scratch.

In other depressing news, it turns out that cork tiles are much more expensive than we anticipated (although I found out too late that Bunnings had cheap ones - I raced to the store to find some tradie buying the very last of all the Bunnings cork tiles in the country), so we can't afford to pay someone to lay them.  I had really hoped to avoid it, but looks like I may have to lay them myself. Uncool, very uncool.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nice light, a new fence, and online shopping.

Yesterday morning when I showed up, the light in the kitchen was pretty stunning. 

Then the workmen came, and took away the old formica bench top - we're getting a new one, probably black. 

It was a beautiful hot day, and because the European boys were inside grinding the concrete floor, and generally making a huge mess, I got stuck into a bit of gardening, clearing the front fence of ivy to reveal the underlying 'feature' wall.

It looks a bit decrepit, and needs a good scrub and a coat of paint.

We all had a day off today, Matt picked up some wallpaper samples from Resene, but they are truly hideous (all shiny and sparkly, or dull and boring), so after bemoaning the lack of decent wallpaper (or the good stuff costing squizillions - oh how I wish we could afford this Florence Broadhurst paper), we decided to go online and before we knew it I'd added five rolls of paper (designed and produced in Sweden) to my shopping cart and pressed 'checkout now'. Done. Now we just have to cross our fingers it gets here in the next week or so as that's when we need it. Yikes.

Oh yeah, and the builder took one look at how I'd prepared the wallpaper walls (my arduous process of stripping, sanding and sealing) and said it wasn't good enough and he'd need to skim plaster over it all.  Yep, pretty stoked about that.

Oh and our painter broke his foot and is out of action. Not entirely sure of what this means, but suspect it will entail a whole lot more painting from me.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

There's men!

I thought I would appease the tradesperson gods by getting up at sparrow's fart and making chocolate slice for anyone who showed up to help today (our builder has been promising a bit of help for a few days now).  It totally worked, when I turned up I found two helpers waiting at the house (and that's not counting the young man who was taking away a trailer load of old tiles and rubbish).  They had been tasked with going round the house door by door, window by window, and checking for rot, easing frames, and basically fixing stuff. 

The stable doors are all in atrocious condition, few close properly and several obviously leak. The guys are taking them off and fixing them individually - so satisfying to see. 

And then, after lunch, two more young men showed up. They have thick accents and one of them has a rats tail. An actual rats tail! I don't think I've seen one of them since I frequented the Cheviot fish-n-chip shop.  Anyway, these poor latecomers have the very unenviable task of scraping off all the old tile adhesive, so that the concrete can be sanded. 

I offered everyone chocolate slice, and although I think they were keen, they all felt obliged to sneak into the kitchen and surreptitiously grab a piece occasionally, in case they might get in to trouble. 

While this was all happening, I got a second coat of paint on the downstairs frames and sashes, and then moved upstairs.  My poor old mum is helping out too, she gets to make all the doors white again. There is a huge variation in colour, some are blue, some brown, and then there's this:

And these window frames are lavender:

 (Those are the neighbouring Warren & Mahoney townhouses - looking pretty slick and well looked after too).

On Tuesday I also finished the kitchen cupboards, and put them back, but was so pooped that night I couldn't bring myself to post any photos. Apologies for the dirty lens:

In addition to all that happened today, the glazier came to measure the six panes that need replacing, and some guy came and mowed the lawn.

This is what progress feels like.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


Sometime last week, the novelty of this 'buy an amazing mid-century house and make it beautiful again' thing really wore off.  Things seem to look worse and worse each day, and every time I visited I'd find some new task that would take at least another extra day to complete. 

Walking in this morning was also a bit of a downer. So much to bloody do.  It didn't help that we sold the dishwasher to a guy on TradeMe who wanted to collect at we got our sorry arses out of bed and down to the house, only for him not to show up until nearly 11... hurumph. 

Anyway, we have made some progress. The kitchen was originally a cloudy blue colour, but at some stage the peg-board and some of the walls were painted chocolate brown. 

I've rectified that....behold the (blurry) 'before' pic:

...and after:

I've removed all the cupboard doors and made them look shiny and new as well:

And I figured while we had no floor we should take advantage of being able to tidy up the bottom of the walls without having to clean up, so slapped on a really thick glossy layer of black paint - gasp in wonderment at this before and after:

It looks super slick and sharp and clean.  Unlike the rest of the house, which is dirty and dusty and smelly.

Matt spent the day sanding (will it ever end??!), and finally managed to get some primer on the window frames.  I might even be able to paint some of them tomorrow.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Days 3 & 4.

I have hired labour. Child labour. Well, a 15 year old (I think, he may be 16...? They all look so young these days).  There's just too much for me to do, plus I had to get a steroid injection in my wrist on Monday and I'm pretty sure when they said I was to constrain myself to light duties only, that didn't include sanding and stripping wallpaper.

So what have I been doing? Sanding and stripping wallpaper!

In particular, I've been working on this poor old woodwork:

Which was made a lot easier today by the introduction of....power tools!

And I also used the sander to prep the cupboard doors from the kitchen and laundry, ready to be returned to their natural state of pale grey and white. 

It was a super hot day, so got both coats on and they look sweet, but totally forgot to photograph before I left.

I did take another snap of one of the bedroom doors though - these stable doors are so cute, and they let just the right amount of breeze in.

Things are coming along, and with the help of my labourer we may even be able to start painting the internal window frames and sashes.

Tomorrow's a rest day as I have to place two feline oesophagostomy tubes and perform an exploratory laparotomy on a Schnauzer.  Back for a big day on Thursday.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Day two.

So, apparently one way to strip wallpaper is to coat it with fabric softener.  So that's what I did. Smelt really nice, but didn't make it that much easier. 

Got there in the end though:

However, what was more satisfying, was taking home all the handles from the kitchen drawers and various cupboards and getting stuck in with the Brasso.

Kind of crazy how good they came out.

And in the time it took to watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy, followed by the latest episode of Project Runway (wow, Korina is such a bitch):

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Day one.

Followers on instagram will know that yesterday I opened one of the sliding doors in the living area. It wasn't easy, and I only got it open about halfway, but it was great! So lovely to sit in the sun with the fresh air coming in. The door was jammed with dirt grime and took some leverage to get open. 

Today, we got them all open, albeit only about half way. One was actually screwed shut. Why do people do that?

We chose our paint colours.  We're going with the original brown and green colour scheme, but are selecting darker shades of each, to avoid the forest + chocolate look, which I'm not a fan of. 

We have spent a fair amount of time ignoring the obvious water damage to the floor inside every downstairs door.  It's historical, right? It definitely doesn't mean there are leakage issues, right?

And after some sanding (we're taking back all the original wood and then oiling it so it looks spanking new), I got stuck into the floor tiles.

And by the end of the day I'd removed all of the tiles on the floor in the living area. 

I also had a half-hearted attempt at wallpaper removal, but it turns out I need fabric softener to do it properly, so will have to come back to that.

We also managed to lose our dog (temporarily), and Matt waterblasted the exterior, ready for painting.

Tomorrow - more tile lifting, more sanding, and starting to paint the cupboards.