Out of all the rooms at La Petite Maison this room was certainly one of the less appealing rooms. A door led from it directly into the kitchen, meaning that it was used primarily as a reception room or lounge.
In one corner was a dilapidated built in cupboard behind which was situated the hot press and cylinder. The ceiling was covered in a dreadful patterned type of polystyrene with a huge yellowy stain where a pipe had burst in the roof space and there was a most unpleasant musty smell present.
An electric fire barely hid a crudely patched up hole in the chimney breast where chunks of plaster were also missing. The window frame was rotten with water leaking in whenever it rained and beneath the window were huge cracks in the wall. All in all the room was in a sorry state. (I know - what on earth possessed me to buy this place? Believe me I have asked myself that almost every day for the past year!)
Unable to resist the temptation, almost immediately after I got the keys to the house and unfortunately not clad in what was to become my work wear, I pulled at a corner of the saggy polystyrene sheeting covering the ceiling. In a rush the entire polystyrene ceiling collapsed on top of me; flakes and years of dust everywhere - in my hair, down my dress and in my shoes. What a mess!
With the polystyrene gone, the ceiling needed scraping free of bits of glue and paint - a truly horrible and dirty job. After removing the grimy old wallpaper as well, my neck and shoulder ached for days from my scraping exertions.
My plan was to move the kitchen into the new extension on the opposite side of the house, so we boarded up the doorway between this room and the existing kitchen fairly early on. Then our attention turned to the cupboard with the hot water cylinder. As a new heating system was being installed, the antiquated equipment in the unsightly cupboard was superfluous to requirements, (thankfully).
The removal of the cupboard and plumbing gear was reasonably straightforward, but I hadn't anticipated the terrible state that would be left when everything was stripped out. Huge holes gaped both in the walls and the floor where the pipes had once been and where there should have been ceiling was simply a void through which could be viewed the rafters above.
To restore the cupboard area took a lot longer than I expected - from dismantling it, to re-plastering the walls, repairing the floor and plaster-boarding and then plastering the ceiling.
The Old Cupboard space after it was restored
Whilst work progressed on the cupboard, the cracks beneath the window were repaired and wire mesh put in before the walls were re-plastered. The walls were tracked and re-plastered for new sockets.
The electric fire was dumped and the chimney breast opened up ready for a new fireplace to be installed. After a long time searching, I located a rather gorgeous fireplace in a reclamation yard, which I had sand-blasted and then I painted.
The old floorboards were in reasonable condition and I resolved to salvage them, repairing with other boards from the back room. However I was warned that uninsulated floors would cause serious heat loss, and at a time when fuel costs are astronomical this was not a good idea.
Okay - so let's insulate under the floors!
To say that it was a major job is an understatement! I won't bore you with the details, save to say that it took about six weeks for both the front room floors to be insulated and then repaired. I confess that I lost interest while this work was underway and spent most of my time at the allotment (and helping with the sourcing of French Furniture for a move Down Under), trying to forget about the painfully slow progress at La Petite Maison.
At last the floors were ready and I could set to work sanding them. Phew, that was a filthy job, but well worth it when I finished and saw the transformation! To treat the floors I had researched a method used by the Danish involving the use of Lye after which the floor is cleaned and then oiled.
The finish is very natural and with the sun streaming in through the window a lovely warm glow flooded the room. Ah yes! The window! Well as I mentioned in my previous post about the bathroom, the new windows took longer than anticipated and installing this window was a considerable headache, especially as one of my Much-Appreciated-Men-Folk was recovering from a hernia operation. Then of course after the window was fitted the reveals had to be re-plastered! More Mess!
Fireplace sand-blasted, primed and undercoated
It took two goes to get the right colour; - the "Old White" that I used first had a distinctly yellowy nicotine tinge to it and I was not overly impressed with the finish;
Fitted and painted with the first colour - definitely not right.
but when I did settle on the final colour (after the purchase of umpteen sample pots and lots of research on the internet) - "Slaked Lime" oil-based eggshell from The Little Greene Paint Company, (in my opinion it is the best oil-based eggshell paint available) I was so taken with it that I decided that all the woodwork throughout the house would also be painted the same colour.
To tile the hearth I chose to use an ivory coloured brickshaped tile,
(Soho Garden from Fired Earth)
For a while I was swamped and frustrated with emulsion colour charts and sample pots, but nothing was quite right, and what looked okay on a colour chart was completely different when applied to the wall; then I found a paint that I deemed suited the look that I wanted. Farrow and Balls "Dimity" has an underlying pink tone and blended beautifully with the Slaked Lime eggshell and my proposed faded floral linen soft furnishings.
Testing "Dimity" emulsion on the Chimney Breast
Finally the room was ready, the new skirtings and architraves on, primed and undercoated, the only remaining hiccup being the ceiling. Nightmare! I won't go on about that again except to say that through gritted teeth I ploughed on until the room was complete and the sockets, which had been hanging sadly for months, could finally be screwed back onto the walls again ready for the finishing touches.
The finished Bedroom (minus the furniture of course)
Walls, ceiling and woodwork freshly painted; curtain pole up, floral linen curtains (borrowed simply for effect from another room)
(Preview of the real curtain fabric)
at the new window and for a final feminine touch - the fireplace filled with dried Hydrangeas!
A slight improvement?