Once the Olympics ended he had some spare time. Rather a lot of it, actually, as due to the Olympics he wasn’t able to use most of his holiday time in 2012, and as a reward for working all hours, evenings, weekends, etc his company rewarded him with something called TOIL (time off in lieu) which is basically a thank you/overtime. This, in essence, meant Alastair had about 60 days’ worth of holiday he has to use.
Nice problem to have.
It immediately placed him on DIY status.
He is now working on the chicken coop, which is properly built in with the posts dug in and held with concrete, and the base of the twins’ playhouse (which they no longer fit) is the base of the soon-to-be hen house.
Melissa has promised to paint the hen house like a giant gingerbread house. We have mesh and straw and all the good bits ready to put up on the house, but the weather has been relentless rain, which certainly impacts building.
The twins have a new playhouse, one that their uncle built for their cousins but which was never used. It has arrived in a jumble of boards and windows, but when we get a chance to put it up will look like this:
We’ve also ripped out the hallway and re-built it. We did a quick job of it just before we were married, but we weren’t happy with it. We didn’t have time before the wedding to sort it, so we left it.
This is what it did look like:
And under the stair was a disarray used for wine rack, board games, and the dog’s bed.
It needed a change.
A lot of them.
We started with walls.
We painted them a dove grey and accented with mirrors, photos and lights.
We opted for gothic black chandeliers. As one does.
Not to everyone’s tastes, but we love them.
We moved the cupboard I carefully restored upstairs – we bought it some years ago and it’s been in several different rooms. I love it to bits – it’s a few hundred years old, and when we got it, it needed much work. I swear I will own it until I die. It now houses our travel books and older books/hardback books.
Next to it is a sparkly mirror I bought from a shop for £10 – unbeknownst to me, the shop was going under, and the week after I bought the mirror, the shop was gone. On the other side of it is a sparkly cherry blossom light that we have owned for years and which all of us love. It has sensors on it so during the night if you walk past it, it comes on automatically.
The pink sign above our bedroom door is a sign from the Olympic Park and which they were throwing out, so Alastair brought it home.
On the stairs we have started a wall of family photos. There’s still lots of room to add to it.
The photos follow you down the staircase.
Downstairs we worked hard. New floors, new walls, new design.
And as per my usual, I hid a letter, a newspaper, and a photo under the stairs for future owners and generations to find. I can’t resist.
The hallway has a new floor.
It also has a new cupboard under the stairs –
(Go on. You know you want to say it.)
- which houses the wine rack and cookbooks on one side, all of the shoes in the middle, and at the narrow end there is a door cut under the stairs with a removable panel – a doggy door, for Gorby and his bed.
I got my hand on an old Victorian church pew from a deconsecrated church in Wales. It’s now in the hallway.
I also got my hands on some old school coat hooks from a Victorian school that was torn down. The hooks are numbered, and we all have hooks that correspond with the day of our birthday (the twins have “3″ and “33″, and are hung at their height – you can see them in the pew picture).
We hung our old window from the original build of the house, now stripped down to the bare wood and with a mirror, in the one eye-catching pop of color we have in the hallway.
But the coup de grace is the stairs.
We didn’t know what to do with them – we debated song lyrics per step, but that got tedious. We debated Dr. Seuss or book quotes, but in this house full of philistines I would be the only one who got them. I then realized there could be only one thing that fit perfectly on the stairs.
It was this song.
Josh Groban’s “The Lullaby”.
I had them made into decals which we put on the risers of every stair.
And we love it.
There is more to be done – some major changes are coming (more on that shortly). We have several more things to attend to, but to wrap it up we had two woodburning stoves installed. Winter heating has gone up to near robbery prices, so this helps heat our old house. We chose a traditional Aga for the last remaining original fireplace (the others fell down during the renovation as they were in poor shape).
And in our quirky modern living room we chose a quirky modern woodburning stove, which heats the house nicely.
This house never rests, man. It never rests.