The other day I expressed my frustration at not knowing where to start with finishing our house renovation project – the living room, the kitchen or the bathroom- and put it out there for debate as well as sitting together with family.
In prioritising I have gone with which is going to help my sanity the most: sorting our living areas. Decluttering, creating storage and making it more warm and cosy.
Like a lot of the traditional 2 up, 2 down Victorian houses in the UK we have a narrow hallway and have no storage possibilities there. Coats are hung in the door recess to the living room, which is now redundant, but we are forever falling over shoes. I bought a storage box in the spring to try to solve this, but it ends up being a dumping place for bags instead, making it difficult to access the shoes stored in the box; the box is also blocks the flow to the kitchen.
To address shoe storage I want to steal some of the space from the understairs cupboard (currently used as a larder) and install in a large drawer. This would open into the dining room. I would love to do it with most of the wall, but we have nowhere else relocate the radiator.
I’ve always felt the chimney breast in the dining room is a total waste of space. My plan is to open it up, leaving just the side supporting walls. The space would be great for a built-in a bookcase or to relocate the piano here from the playroom. This is a structural element so needs careful planning, but I’m sure the effort is worth it, with the extra 1 square meter that we gain for storage.
In our front room, we have a freestanding bookshelf, but most of our books are still in boxes from two years ago, as we don’t have enough space to display them. I want to create some really nice built-in bookshelves in the chimney alcoves. This would also add much needed insulation to the room on a very cold wall… ha two birds, one stone! My favourite renovation technique!
Taking carpentry further, a built-in window seat under the window could provide seating, with some nice colourful cushions as well as space for storage underneath for the likes of toys or files. Just the added complication of working around the radiator and the electric meter cupboard to overcome.
I like to maximise the use of spaces, so if it is possible in a visually appealing way, I wouldn’t mind including a pull-out or hide-away desk solution in the new bookshelf. This would be my work and blogging space. You see I currently don’t have a dedicated space and slouch on the sofa, with papers strewn around me.
Finally, last winter also highlighted how cold these two rooms are; they are just 9 inch thick, solid brick walls that bleed heat. Therefore as part of making our lives greener (thus heating with renewable resources) and addressing the cold of these rooms we are looking to install a woodburning stove.
In our living room we used to have a gas fireplace which was pretty with the real flames. However we hardly ever used it due to the cost of running it and the inefficiency (as you could feel a lot of the heat outside where it was vented to). A woodburning stove would give out more intense heat that can transfer into the thermal mass of the chimney and, hopefully, provide longer lasting warmth than our current radiator based system.
…and it would satisfy my pyromaniac tendencies and my romantic idealism; I just love the thought of sitting in front of the crackling fire on cold winter evenings once the kids have gone to bed.
We’ve started this last part of the project by taking out the old fire and surround, having a registered GasSafe engineer remove the gas feed and opening up the chimney. There were two big holes to the outside- one where the gas fire was vented and one where an airing brick had been installed- both these are now bricked up. The chimney is swept and given the ok to install a liner.
This is the point at which I somehow got stuck: what woodburner do we choose? Do we want a surround? (We were given an old stone surround which friends removed from their house) Or just a wooden beam at the top as a mantel?
So in my boredom I tried to find inspiration from playing with fire… told you I had pyromaniac tendancies!
Thanks to TOTS100, teamed up with RatedPeople.com*, for an exciting challenge and an opportunity to win up to £2500 towards a project, for inspiring meto find a much safer way to move ahead with decision making; thatis to start using Pinterest to gather my thoughts on design for the project.
Next steps: making the decisions on what we want and getting tradesmen in to give a quote for the bits we can’t do ourselves -structural work, HETAS engineer, carpentry, electrics. (Basically the painting is the only bit I’d do myself.)
Please pop over, I would absolutely LOVE your views on my Pinterest clippings!
Finally, here’s a picture of the fire surround we were given. It somehow doesn’t feel right for the room, but I can’t put my finger on why.
What do you think?
* About 4 years ago we did a loft conversion on our previous house and for that I found our electrician through RatedPeople.com. He was brilliant! And I have since recommended both him and the site to friends when looking for tradesmen.