Elldrew Exhales, Planet Elldrew

Grand Designs; Elldrew Style

28th October 2012
home renovations week 1


Planet Elldrewers you are in for a treat! As some of you know, the house renovations that we have been holding back from blogging too much about have finally started, so here goes our first update of life in Planet Elldrew construction hell – we promise to give some renovation advice and tips in future posts… 

Week One began abruptly and ahead of schedule! You see, Week One should really have been starting this coming Monday which, according to our robust and detailed schedule, allowed Elldrew two full weekends to pack our life into organised boxes, thus giving the builders room to work and us the ability to still live in the house. So imagine our amazement when Mr Builder called last Saturday to announce he wanted to start early and would be arriving at 9am that Sunday!

Surprise at Mr Builder using his phone on a weekend (rare in the construction world) which turned to shock that he worked Sundays (exceptional) followed by horror at the realisation that within 24hrs our entire life had to boxed into cardboard.

Plans were quickly altered and temporary sleeping arrangements on the floor were agreed, subject to Mr Builder promising that whilst we packed he would paint Guest Suite so that by Monday night it could become our temporary living space for the next 6 weeks of refurbishments.

Fast forward to Monday night when Elldrew stumbled home after a busy day at work, exhausted from Sunday’s 8hr packing marathon, and is Guest Suite finished? No, of course not. And as an added bonus, Mr Builder had taken the initiative to start painting the room we were sleeping in, which left the house as two lovely half painted empty rooms smelling of paint and plaster and featuring plastic protective flooring. Our two other rooms were now crammed floor to ceiling with our lives, the remaining living spaces barren with neither curtains nor carpets. To summarise; nowhere to lay a mattress. A brief moment of hysteria, and some reshuffling of our worldly possessions, Elldrew spent the night on the floor squished between wall, cupboard, ironing board and various boxes.

For the sake of brevity, let’s fast forward three more days to Thursday evening. Over the intervening period there has been at least 1 heated conversation with Mr Builder, 3 nights of camping between various white goods and large furniture and 3 mornings of lifting the camp bed just so we could get clothes from the wardrobes.

Finally, we unlock the doors and find that both Guest Suite and what shall now be known as Storage Room (will eventually be renamed Study) are both painted. Of course there is some minor snagging – Mr Builder got creative and the “White Lace” Guest Suite had acquired unplanned “Polished Pebble” doors with some odd hand drawn framing. And the “Polished Pebble” Storage Room has “Frosted Dawn” radiators (future blogs will address this colour selection). But hey, that’s just snagging, at least we now had living space.

Thursday night was spent shuffling boxes from various temporary holding spaces into Storage Room and moving and assembling the bed in Guest Suite (careful not to mark the newly painted walls). At last we were able to get a good night’s sleep, on a real bed, ready for the heavy construction to begin in earnest.

Friday proceeds like any normal working day, coming home expecting that perhaps another room’s been painted or maybe some kitchen cupboards are off the wall, only to find that Mr Builder has been a very busy beaver and our once semi-pristine hallway and kitchen are now mostly rubble.

The kitchen had been stripped back to its original 1930’s mint green walls and under three layers of tiles we find what must have been its original glass tiles (although cracked and chipped their hand-made beauty is still there) and for a moment we can imagine the original owners, him in a three-piece suit, her in a floral bias cut dress, crossing the threshold and looking proudly at their chic new art deco green kitchen. Amongst their faded beauty we almost regret not trying to salvage the original historic decorations, although unlikely we would ever have got to them from under the subsequent 80 years of bad decoration. The positive side is that we have gained at least an extra inch of precious floor space by pulling off layer after layer of tiling and plaster!

And that leads us to Saturday, a lie-in was dashed as apart from the Arctic wind chill that seems to have spread across London, we had to be up bright and early as Mr Builder and his team of mini-builders were back in. Elldrew left them hacking away at walls whilst we scurried off to collect an array of carefully chosen cabinet and door handles. Being the particular souls that Elldrew are we had to be difficult and select handles from a variety of ranges, all of which therefore needed to be polished to match…a job done excellently by Elldrew’s lovely ironmonger.

From ironmonger we met Mr Carpet (but soft furnishings are not on today’s blog agenda) finally returning to Elldrew Manor to discover a house neatly wrapped in protective plastic and excavations well under-way to ascertain the level of construction and support required. Mr Builder launches into descriptions of support walls, jacks and foundations which are brought to an abrupt end when mini-builder pulls up a floor board to announce that the support wall is not a support wall, in fact only a suspended floor, and therefore carries no load. I hope you’re all keeping up because now we’re pseudo-experts in billy beams, joists and sub-foundations!

So that brings you all pretty much up-to-date. As of 6pm Saturday evening Storage Room is officially locked down with more layers of dust protection than your average bio-hazard unit, Guest Suite is now a miniature self-contained living space complete with microwave-kitchen and TV, and Elldrew are carefully settling onto a plastic clad sofa and will likely post this blog on Sunday, having now drained our energy writing it.

In the coming weeks expect updates on 50 shades of grey, framed vs unframed kitchens, satin nickel door furniture, balustrades, bannisters and spindles…not to mention the current dilemma re what to do with the original wood flooring found in the hall and kitchen!

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