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Playroom renovation COMPLETE!

A year ago today – exactly – we moved to Edinburgh. To mark this anniversary, we can FINALLY say our house is finished! The boys have a new playroom and we have a whole new room in our house.

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I am SO EXCITED about picking up the Wee Man from school – he’s going to burst. Then we’ll have the best job ever of filling it with toys!

It’s been a fun journey – here it is in pictures.

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So my top tips based on our renovation?

  • Get good tradesmen and pay them promptly – the plumber must have been back and forth five or six times, but he was always very obliging because I transferred the money for his bill the same day each time.
  • Take advice even though you had a pretty fixed idea in your head
  • Shop around online – I ordered the staircase myself and saved hundreds of pounds. Of course, I didn’t tell the joiner until after he’d put it all together. He actually said: “You’ve just risen in my estimations”
  • Make lots and lots of tea and coffee and always buy the good biscuits
  • Make “how could I save a bit of money on that?” your default phrase – even when you’re in CarpetRight and everyone’s listening and the assistant is getting more and more pissed off as their commission shrinks before their eyes
  • If you don’t understand what your tradesman’s on about, say you’ll get back to him and Google it. I had to tell the painter about PVA for sealing brickwork – he thought I’d have to buy a specialist substance at £50 per tub.
  • Use PVA for sealing brickwork
  • Make sure your plasterer wears safety goggles – mine didn’t, even though he was doing ceilings, and had to go to the eye hospital leaving shite all over the place for two extra days
  • Humour people. No matter who you have in, they should have been in before the last guy. Just agree and offer more biscuits.
  • Offer lots of praise and then swiftly remove it when they’re not up to scratch – I’ve found it makes them much more eager to please. Yes I know this is coldly calculating.
  • Order wallpaper online. Never buy it from a shop. Ever.
  • Be prepared to get involved if it keeps everything on schedule. I was painting skirtings the night before the carpets came.
  • Locks. Put locks on as many doors as you can, especially if you have young, curious trouble-making children.
  • Be super nice to your neighbours throughout.
  • Make sure there is a spare key with a neighbour at all times.
  • Save everyone’s mobile number into your phone. Seems simple, but honestly saves your sanity.
  • Don’t let your husband do a dump run in the middle of any renovation, ever.
  • Take photos of every stage
  • Have fun with it – it can be a huge pain in the arse but it’s so worth it!

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Filed under Edinburgh, Edinburgh renovation, Uncategorized

Edinburgh Renovation part 3

Day 11 in the Big Other house…

Many miracles have happened.

I got diamonds for my birthday on Saturday – they were just on the end of the saw that put a perfectly rectangular hole in my wall.

Mummykimmy diamond saw

Another miracle was the boiler getting reconnected and working! Well, apart from the pressure gauge and apparently that’s quite an important bit, so I’m happy to spend £12 on a new one. Other mannas from heaven included finding the exact missing part for the sander attachment hiding at the back of a shelf in B&Q and then, in CarpetRight, discovering an off-cut of black lino that precisely fits my toilet – reduced to a fiver.

Mummykimmy boiler

Mummykimmy fiver lino

Marc, despite breaking down on the bypass at 9.30pm and needing a tow to my house, is in remarkable spirits. He didn’t even mind ripping up the hall carpet which was glued to the underlay which, in turn, was glued to the floor (????)

Mummykimmy stairs before and after

I suspect Andy did most of the graft – he spent much of today pulling out staples from the floorboards so Marc could sand them. He also, incidentally, looked after my boys while Marc and I dashed to the carpet shop. They loved him and he was still smiling when I returned so I think he had fun.

We’re getting to the really good bit where rooms are starting to look finished. The wallpaper is up and I nearly cried when I saw it.

Mummykimmy car walls

Mummykimmy feather walls

He even managed to disconnect the big ugly handrail that ran right down the middle of the driveway.

Mummykimmy railing

I’ll be assisting all day tomorrow and Thursday so that the carpets can get fitted on Friday. I’m excited. I don’t even mind if I just paint skirting boards for eight hours.

Rod, who’s back at work, is shifting as much as he can by evening. Last night it was the contents of the kitchen and tonight it’s half the boxes in the attic. This is a lot of boxes. We’ve effectively been camping out in our present rented pad leaving the majority of our belongings packed from Aberdeen. The boys, of course, got into the one box that contained all their books and squealed with delight when they found Stickman. The poor deprived children who’ve had to make do with only 500 plastic toys instead of 5 million for the past nine months. Just wait boys. Your playroom is taking shape….

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Filed under Edinburgh, Edinburgh renovation

New room for the baby

Our spare room has always annoyed me.

It was originally designed as a garage, although the first owners 25 years ago had no car so it was built as a reception room. They had it as a dining room three steps down from the living room, then the guy we bought the house from put up a partition wall and made it a bedroom. The only thing is, he left the steps and just stuck up some shelves. It always felt a bit unfinished, but was a perfectly usable spare room after a coat of paint.

As a baby’s room though, we knew it needed some TLC.

Finding a joiner in Aberdeen was my first challenge – the first guy came round, spent half an hour advising me – and then never even sent through a quote! Two others scared the beejesus out of me with their figures – and then I found Zsolt. He was recommended by my accountant, who told me he submitted the tidiest books she’d ever seen, so that was a good omen. His quote was very reasonable, he was pleasant, he called and arrived when he said he would, so we were happy to give him the job – and what a gem he turned out to be! Reliable, tidy, and a real perfectionist – I am absolutely delighted with the work he and his assistant carried out.

They pulled back two walls where, as we suspected, we found the insulation was completely inadequate and showing signs of mould. An unexpected concrete column didn’t allow any space for insulation, hence the draft and condensation we always found in that corner. Zsolt built the wall out two inches to allow him to insulate around it, then put up new plasterboard and taped and filled it – no need for plaster and the three-day-drying-out period.

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

Insulation around the window was also woeful - I'm so glad we fixed it!

Insulation around the window was also woeful – I’m so glad we fixed it!

It was the solution to the weird steps-and-shelves arrangement that made me happiest. Turns out Zsolt is a master craftsman and a carpenter to trade – his real passion is building furniture. The wardrobe he fashioned out of the space is just beautiful. He also suggested a hanging rail which could be pulled down for easier access, and gave me lots of options for shelving in the other half. So we went from this:

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to this:

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then this:

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and this:

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How gorgeous is that?

To finish off a great job, they painted the whole room white, including all the woodwork around the window and the skirtings and then, because he had half an hour before he had to leave, Zsolt went round all the doors in my house adjusting hinges and shaving bases so that they all now close silently.

Did I hit the jackpot or what? It was the least I could do to hand him a cheque before he left. As a self-employed person myself I reckon prompt payment is the best way to show your appreciation for a job well done. I am also going to keep in touch so that in the new year, when he finishes a big restoration project, I can get him some press coverage and redesign his website. Rod and I are also now seriously considering building an extension rather than moving – if Zsolt is in charge, it will be a work of art.

The carpet arrived yesterday, the new single bed is coming tomorrow and a blackout blind is being fitted next week. We’ll build the cot and put up some pictures, fill the wardrobe with all the freshly washed and folded baby clothes and see if we can even fit the rocking chair in.

I’m due in three weeks – and I’m more excited than ever to spend lots of time in my beautiful new room.

Complete with new carpet - just some furniture and a blind to come and we're ready for you, baby!

Complete with new carpet – just some furniture and a blind to come and we’re ready for you, baby!

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Filed under Aberdeen, baby kit, home

In which we make a new home

It happened in the space of 12 hours.

I viewed it. I chatted to the owner for an hour. I scrutinised the home report. I sent Rod round to view it. He chatted to the owner for an hour. They shook hands.

Thank God for old-fashioned values. “My word is my bond” does still work, you know, otherwise we wouldn’t have our house.

In the crazy, offer-7%-over-the-asking-price-and-be-prepared-to-go-to-closing, property market in Aberdeen we were very very lucky. We are now the proud owners of a three bedroom bungalow in a lovely part of the city. When I picked up the keys in mid-June the overwhelming feeling was relief. We could move out of the shoebox we were renting. We could unpack our boxes.

But first there was a transformation to mastermind.

The house would have been beautiful in 1995. In 2013, however, the cherry skirting boards and round-the-bed storage cupboards had to go. The carpets were gaudy, the walls were marked and the candy stripe curtains reminded me of the Brady Bunch. I called in Marc.

He roared up from Glasgow in his SUV and gleefully started destroying cupboards and ripping down curtains. Then he switched gears and painstakingly filled in holes, sanded and papered. Every day we went to B&Q. People asked his opinion in the paint aisle. Assistants jumped to attention. A young guy was left scarlet and speechless after Marc demanded: “Where are the knobs?”

Marc in action

Marc in action

I was happy to play his assistant. I cleaned things and painted things and made his lunch and dinner. By the end of the five days we’d agreed I’d be his PR consultant. This man needs his own show. Here is what we achieved:

BEFORE: Bedroom

BEFORE: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom (the walls are grey, not pistachio, as they look here!)

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

BEFORE: Living room

BEFORE: Living room

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls "Wishing Well" grey

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls “Wishing Well” grey

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

The trouble with starting is that you have to finish. I now want every piece of wood in the whole house to be painted white. I am tackling this one doorway at a time. I’d quite like a few more carpets to be replaced. We’ve started jet washing the decking (a much bigger job than anticipated) and gardening (we have no idea what we’re doing and keep pulling out plants instead of weeds). But we love it. It’s our home and every brushstroke makes it feel more like ours. If you’re ever in Aberdeen, pop in.

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Filed under Aberdeen, home