Friday, 30 August 2013

My New ARTHaven–Sink and Shelf Complete

The second of two posts today.

As well as working on the utility room and wrestling with the problems of non-standard kitchen units and missing doors, Andy managed to finish my ARTHaven proper today – there are still shelves to go up in the office section, but these will wait until he returns from holiday.

He has taken a large piece of worktop identical to the worktops around the room, and cut it longitudinally – the remainder will make shelves in the office section. He has fixed a piece of supporting timber on the wall, and screwed the end of the shelf to this. It then rests on top of the tall storage unit, spans the black shelf unit (giving me a useful space underneath) and extends over the black bookcase. He has taken one of my spare pieces of black shelving and cut it down to form two “legs” which are attached to the top of the bookcase and the underside of the shelf with small brackets, again providing some useful space on top of the bookcase. The whole structure is incredibly rigid, and deep enough for storing large flat items. I need my little stepladder to reach it, though!

01 High Shelf

Here is a view of the end, with the “legs” on the bookcase to support the free end of the shelf.

02 High Shelf

I think the addition of this shelf brings the whole rather unattractive storage zone of my ARTHaven together, and making it look much more attractive than it did.

Moving on to the sink, this is now complete. Andy has removed the cupboard doors at my request – it doesn’t look very nice without them, but it is a functional piece of kit and I don’t mind about its appearance – once things are in the cupboard and on the shelf that he’s also made, it won’t look so bad. He’s used some of the same worktop as he used in the annexe kitchen, and will be using for the utility room.

03 Sink

On the shelf in the next photo, you can just see an edging strip of worktop edging lying on the shelf. This will be fixed to the end of the unit. There is also a box of splashback tiles the same as those used everywhere else.

04 Sink Plumbing

If you look carefully under the sink, you can see the flexible pull-out hose of the tap with its spherical weight on it. This came with a bore hole too small for the hose, so longer screws were used to enable the two halves to be further apart, and the way it is now, the weight is actually loose on the hose, which means it always slides to the bottom however much hose is pulled out, and this prevents it tangling with the waste. A very good solution all round.

The next picture shows the hose partially extended. The small basket in the half-sink is one I’ve had for years but never used – it is a bit tatty, but it will be great for cleaning my brushes! It fits perfectly, and the waisted bit in the middle enables me to lift it out with one hand.

05 Pull-Out Tap

The extending part of the tap has a small lug on the underside which locates in a slot in the fixed base of the tap, preventing it turning. The whole monobloc swivels. I am so pleased with this tap, and actually prefer it in many ways to the posh (expensive!) one I chose for the main kitchen – for one particular reason:

06 Pull-Out Tap - Stream

The above photo shows the tap turned on, in “stream” mode. There is a black rubber pad on the top, under which are two buttons. Press one, and the water comes out in a solid stream.

Press the other one:

07 Pull-Out Tap - Spray

and it emerges as a spray! This is so cool, and will be very useful in many aspects of my work. The pull-out tap in the main kitchen does not have this spray facility. I bought that tap fairly early on in this adventure, and I assumed that all pull-out taps featured a spray facility but I was wrong.

The tap for my ARTHaven sink was the ultra-cheap one I got on Ebay. Not only was it cheap, but I got it for a further reduction as I had a Paypal cashback!

Before coming home, my hubby was working in the garden with a friend who had agreed to meet him there at tea time to clear the rubbish from the top of the garden, and while they were doing that, I brought a few more things into my ARTHaven to put on the high shelf.

After bringing in only a few things, I noticed a curious alteration in the acoustics of the room – when it was empty it was quite echoey, but the arrival of different objects with many sound-deflecting and absorbing surfaces, the sound quality is quite different – very muted and entirely echo-free, like those sound-proofed music studio rooms lined with what looks like egg boxes. It’s going to take some getting used to!

The blind should arrive early next week. Not much more to do in either the ARThaven proper, or the office section now. I ordered some stainless steel rods from Ebay and these were waiting for me on our return home – these will be used for hanging various things above my main work area, which is now starting to form in my mind, where I shall arrange things.

Our New House–Kitchen Unit Woes

The first of two posts today.

We went over again today, and my hubby dropped me off fairly early as he had appointments all day. Andy was there on his own today, mostly working on the utility room, and also in my ARTHaven (see my second post).

The main problem today was that the various odd units we had left over from the main kitchen and original annexe kitchen did not have doors, and also the larger unit for the utility room sink was too big for me to get my wheelchair through into the kitchen (see yesterday’s post). Andy had gone to B&Q for some new units yesterday and they didn’t have this basic stock item in stock, much to his disgust.

Today he discovered that the old units were not a standard size, and may have come from Ikea, which is notorious for being non-standard, so the standard doors would not fit, which means we have to have new units. This is a bore when we’ve got perfectly good recyclable old units but no doors…

He went to B&Q again, after I’d told him we’d called in ourselves on the way home and chosen the doors we wanted, which were a reasonable match with the main kitchen. He came back with one wall unit only, and several doors, and also some shelf brackets for my ARTHaven. He bought the utility room sink yesterday.

05 Utility Room Sink

After all this messing about, he did manage to fit the first (larger) wall unit above the worktop in the utility room. I forgot to photograph this but will do so on Monday when I go back. It looks very nice indeed, and now I know the basic layout of the utility room and back passageway, I can begin to plan where my various bits and pieces will fit in. Andy is on holiday all next week and part of the following week so work will stop on the utility room until he returns, by which time hopefully B&Q will have sorted themselves out and restocked on this basic item!

Not only is all this very inconvenient, but it has added another £200-odd onto the budget. There have been a lot of extras (only to be expected on any project) – some of our making, some of our making on Andy’s suggestion (he has such good ideas which are hard to resist – once you’ve heard them, you know you couldn’t live with it as it is!!) and some because of unforeseen problems, like the cowboy wiring and plumbing in the annexe. Fortunately the budget has been robust enough to weather most of these storms, but it does look as if we’ll go a bit over in the end, but hopefully not by too much!

At least Andy has been able to recycle a lot of stuff, moving it from one location to another – we’ve had this with doors and sinks, and with the garage too.

Yesterday I promised I’d photograph the garage foundations, now that the concrete has been poured. It looks absolutely vast, but of course it includes some hard standing in front for off-road parking. The beginning of the garage is marked by the two breeze blocks which indicate where the central timber post will go, between the two doors.

01 Garage Foundations Laid

Andy is recycling the window he took out of the annexe when he replaced it with the smaller window and door. He is always very careful when removing items because it is quite likely they will come in useful somewhere else.

02 Garage Window

This window will be at the back of the garage, over my hubby’s workbench (also made from recycled materials – in this case, the green worktops from the original kitchen – he’s welcome to those as I hate them!!). It will overlook the garden and let in lots of light. Being a double glazed UPVC window it will help keep the garage warm – it will be insulated. He has also saved the side door from the original garage, and this will be installed in the new one.

Yesterday Andy pointed out to me where he’d attempted to make a snow angel (concrete angel?!) in the wet concrete, but unfortunately it had dried too much, and all that was revealed was a slightly discoloured weal in the concrete, which I have tried to photograph – with some enhancement of contrast, it’s just visible:

03 Snow Angel

I wish he’d been able to do a decent one! If he had, his hair and clothes would have been covered in concrete, which might not have been such a clever idea!!

Another problem cropped up when Tim the electrician was there the other day, and that is the power supply to the outhouse for the freezer. True to form, this power supply was done cowboy style – quite illegal – and Tim disconnected it forthwith. We now have to have a new power supply (more expense) probably running back from the garage which will have its own supply and board, with special armoured cable for protection from the elements. I asked Andy whether it wouldn’t be better to take the power for the outhouse from the house as it is nearer than the garage, and he’s going to discuss the options with Tim, and find out his reasoning behind his original suggestion. In the meantime, if the garage isn’t finished by the time we move in, Tim has suggested we use a temporary extension lead, running the cable from the outhouse, winding it round the original cable pipe from the house, round the corner of the house and in through the existing tumble drier vent into the utility room where my washing machine will eventually be – he is going to put a double socket in there for the washing machine and we can use that in the short term. Andy also pointed out the power supply for the water feature in our little patio outside the main kitchen window – it will be nice to get that working.

Yesterday I mentioned the very deep threshold on the back door, which makes wheelchair access impossible without assistance.

04 Deep Threshold

Over the next few days I’ve got to do some research and see if there are any removable threshold ramps available. A new door with a low threshold would be beyond the reach of our budget, but Andy did suggest we replaced the door panel with one with glass at the top – now the glass panel over the door has been replaced with a solid one to allow the boiler vent to pass through it, the back passageway is now very dark with the door closed – the only light comes through the cat flap! It’s something to think about, anyway.

As far as my own activities today were concerned, I was busy unpacking more kitchen boxes. I have finished cleaning out all the kitchen cupboards now (even the new ones needed cleaning as the dust has got everywhere), and I found Andy’s stepladder so I was able to clean the top cupboard in the fitted cupboards to the right of the oven. There’s a lot more stuff in the cupboards now, which pleases me greatly – the more we can get installed before the move, the better – after we’ve moved there will be more than enough to do and it’s great to be able to get on with some of it in advance.

I also took a few more things into my ARTHaven from the spare bedroom after my hubby came back – he was meeting a friend in the late afternoon who helped him clear away some of the rubbish which has accumulated in the garden. My hubby also had the chance once this was done, to continue working on the fence panels. We are definitely making progress on all fronts!

Andy and I sat up at the top of the garden under the apple tree to eat our lunch, and shared 8 or 9 raspberries from the raspberry canes that are growing up there! There are loads more to come. I adore raspberries and I’m so glad we’ve got some growing in our own garden.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

My New ARTHaven–the Sink

The second post for today.

Not a great deal to report on the ARThaven front today, except to say that Andy has plumbed in the sink and we have actual, real water coming out of the tap! He was plumbing in the waste at the end of the afternoon. He has taken the cupboard doors off as I said they would be in the way, and I don’t mind about the sink not being particularly pretty, and he’s going to put a shelf in the unit, and finish it off with a plinth.

In the ARTHaven proper, the deep shelf is ready to install, and at present it is lying on top.

01 Big Shelf Mock-Up

It will be fixed at the left hand end, and will rest on top of the tall storage unit, and be supported with a couple of uprights resting on top of the black bookcase at the right hand end. This shelf should give me more than adequate space to store large flat items such as mountboard, and cutting mats.

I didn’t move anything more into this room today, partly because Andy was working on the sink, and because I was working on installing things in the kitchen cupboards.

Our New House–Completion of the Kitchen

The first of two posts for today.

The kitchen in our new house is complete! I am absolutely delighted with my beautiful new kitchen and can’t wait to move in and start using it properly. Today I spent quite a long time cleaning out some of the cupboards and installing things in them which my hubby brought over – only the tip of the iceberg so far, but I’m hoping to get most of it in before the move. When we moved to our present house, it was horrendous for the first few days because the kitchen was filled with boxes, and I couldn’t find the things I needed, so I thought I would try and get ahead of things with this current move.

Before showing you the most recent kitchen photos, laid out on the worktop was a series of screws which just had to be photographed – Andy told me they were the concrete screws for fixing the handrail by the steps from the annexe door to the patio.

01 Beautiful Concrete Screws

They were all rainbow-coloured and so pretty with their double-helix threads – one thick, one thin. We creative folks spend a fortune on alcohol inks etc. to get this sort of effect! I have no idea how this is done; it may be the result of some sort of hardening process. Shame they are going to be buried forever in concrete. They should be made into jewellery!

In this photo you can see close-up what the worktop is like – almost white, with a beautiful texture and marbled effect. With the light oak effect of the units, it gives the kitchen a beautiful light and airy feel, and very different from what was there before.

My beautiful hob and extractor hood in their full glory, with installation complete at last. Of course, there’s a layer of dust on everything, but hopefully over the coming weeks we’ll gradually get on top of that.

02 Hob and Hood

The hood lights are lovely and bright – two halogens shining down on the hob, with easy-access push-button switches for the lights, and three-speed fan which is a true extractor, taking the cooking fumes through an external vent to the outside, unlike the one that was there before, which merely circulated the air through a paper filter. I am particularly impressed with my hood in that the metal grille that covers the vent on the underside is easily removed by sliding a catch. It can then be washed and replaced easily. These things can get pretty manky after a while.

The hob has no control knobs but is entirely “touch screen.” This should make it much easier to clean. The switch on the right is the main isolator for the hob, with a single socket – not sure what that will be used for as the space to the right of the hob is extremely limited. The oven switch is located in the cupboard above the oven.

03 Hob

The full height units. I am so glad I opted for the peninsula unit in the end, rather than wall units along the wall the other side of the door. This arrangement makes for a lovely compact working area, and provides me with extra storage space, with carousels in the corner unit. As you can see, I have two double power points along the wall, and the two switches on the right control the fridge freezer and the strip light installed under the wall units. I shall keep my Kenwood Chef, toaster and other kitchen appliances on this worktop.

04 Full Height Units

My hubby has started taking boxes full of kitchen stuff over, and today I cleaned out the original fitted cupboards to the right of the oven – all but the very top one which I couldn’t reach without a better stepladder. I have started putting my tins and jars in, so that they are readily accessible. The middle shelf has got a mixture of things just stuffed in for now – these will eventually find their way into the utility room and other cupboards.

05 Original Fitted Cupboards Being Filled

The “Le Mans” carousels in operation. They are called this because they resemble the famous racetrack! I love the way they emerge from the cupboard (top one) and then in a beautiful sinewy motion, come right out (bottom one). As you can see, I’ve started putting my baking things – mixing bowls, measuring jugs etc. – in here.

06 Le Mans Carousels in Operation

Starting to fill the cupboards in the peninsula unit. These particular items filled a whole banana box and I am amazed that they occupy such a small space! I am thinking of getting some of those wire spacers for kitchen cupboards so I can store more stuff on top in each shelf.

07 Filling the Base Units

Even the new units required cleaning before putting anything in – the dust is everywhere! I am trying to wipe everything down with a damp cloth to prevent it dispersing into the air again, but I think it will be a while before we’re dust free. The Venetian blind in the kitchen is filthy and will take a lot of work to get it clean.

Here is a glimpse of our airing-cupboard-to-be. Paul has constructed the dividing panel. It stops short just to the right of the doorway, and half way across the space, leaving the rest of the space for the annexe. He is going to install some slatted shelves on both sides of the divide. I had a long discussion with Andy about the provision of an area for hanging – I have invited him to come to our present house to see what we’ve got here, which I was not able to explain in a way that he grasped it!!

08 Our Airing Cupboard in the Making

The doorway is going to be covered by a bi-fold door which will save space.

As you can see in this next photo, of the new work from the other side, it stops short of the ceiling. The long pendant light has now been removed and replaced with a ceiling mounted one. At the further end, against the back wall, there is a cut away portion to allow for the long heater to project the full width of the space, thus heating both airing cupboards. The switch and timer are just inside the door on our side. Once we get the solar panels installed, the timer will enable the heater to be on only during the daytime.

09 Annexe Airing Cupboard in the Making

The shelves on the right in the annexe airing cupboard will remain, and the rest of the space can be used for storage. As far as I remember, there will not be a door closing off the airing cupboard area at the end, but there is now a door closing the whole thing off from the annexe sitting room – a redundant door from our game of musical doors around the house!

When my hubby called in yesterday, he was concerned that the unit Andy was installing in the utility room would not allow sufficient space for me to get my wheelchair through into the kitchen. Today we brought my newer wheelchair over so we could test it – it is slightly wider than the old one which now lives in the new house. The gap was too small, by about only half an inch! The unit Andy has used is one left over when the old kitchen was taken out, and he is now going to have to get a narrower one, which is a nuisance – we can’t just shove it over towards the left, or there won’t be enough room for the washing machine.

Bringing the wheelchair in was very useful because it threw up another problem. While the ramps that Andy and Chris made for me work perfectly, there is a rather high threshold in the doorway itself. I can manage to do a wheelie to get in, but the anti-tip bars on the back of the wheelchair catch on the threshold as the drive wheels bump down off the threshold, and on the way out, I managed to get the front castors over by doing a wheelie, but was totally unable, even with the power-assisted wheels, to get enough impetus to get the drive wheels over the threshold at all, and Andy had to shove me! I can’t depend on him being there all the time to fulfil this useful function, of course, so we’ve got to think of some sort of temporary ramp that can be stored just outside the back door to enable me to get in and out when I’m using the wheelchair.

Andy took some time out late morning to go to B&Q to get a new base unit for the utility room, the new sink and some doors, and came back muttering, “I hate B&Q!” I said, “I know you do… what’s brought it on this time?” He said they only had one wall unit in stock, and no base units at all! This is supposed to be a stock item, and he should have been able just to pop in and buy what he wanted. He couldn’t be bothered to stay and queue for hours to order what he wanted, and is going back when he returns from his holiday, when they should be back in stock.

In the photo of our airing cupboard, above, you can see two small units on the floor on the right. These are actually wall units from the old kitchen, less deep than conventional floor units, and Andy is going to mount these on plinths to give us a bit of extra storage space in the back passageway. He has enough worktop the same as that in the annexe kitchen for all of this, and needs to get some new doors for the sink unit, these two shallow units, and a further unit which is going on the wall to the left of the washing machine. Space is at a premium in this area of the house and we need as much storage space as possible. The annexe is actually better off for storage per square foot of floor space than this part of the main house, it seems!

10 Work on Utility Room Sink Unit

In the photo above, you can see the offending wide base unit. A smaller one will bring the projecting right-hand side further from the doorway and give enough space to pass through. The corner of the worktop will be trimmed back from the edge of the unit to meet the doorframe.

Armed with a small strip of the light oak effect from the main kitchen, my hubby and I called in at B&Q on our way home, to check out Andy’s suggestion of their maple effect unit doors. It seems he may have missed the beech ones, which are actually a much better colour match with the units in the main kitchen – we are trying to get them more or less the same, as the utility room is visible from the kitchen. We did cost up the option of having further matching Howden’s units in the utility room but the cost was prohibitive, and an unnecessary expense. I also chose some handles similar to those in the main kitchen and noted down the stock numbers of these items so that Andy can get them on his trade account next time he is there.

Since I was last over, Paul (not there today) has resumed work on the bathroom, and has started laying the plywood flooring which will support the floor tiles.

11 Plywood Flooring Going Down in Bathroom

Andy informed me today that there is a problem with the wet room. If I am to have a true wet room, the floor in that area (beyond the arch and to the right) will have to be lowered in order for the water from the shower to drain away, and in this particular case, it would involve removing the tops of the joists, which Andy is extremely reluctant to do, as it would weaken the floor. He suggested getting a large shower tray like the one Paul has installed in the annexe bathroom, which will more or less fill the space, coming practically into contact with the base of the loo. The remaining floor around the loo will be tiled as planned. In the absence of a shower screen or curtain, this will be virtually the equivalent of a wet room anyway, so I have agreed. It will make no difference as far as room for the shower stool is concerned, and there is only a small lip to step over, which is not a problem for me.

My hubby was over at the house with me today, and was extremely busy all day. He’s been continuing to work on the garden fencing. He has finished painting the front door (pillarbox red!!) and was working on repainting the wrought iron gates in front and to the side of the house. The other day he cleaned the whole of the front with a hose and a brush, and painted the tops of the gate posts, and suddenly the whole place is looking a lot cleaner and smarter, brighter and less down-at-heel and unloved in appearance. Once we get our tubs of flowers in the front, it’s going to look absolutely gorgeous!

12 Painting the Gates at the Front

Across the road on the other side from my hubby, you can see Katie, our Kangoo, complete with her butterfly stickers!!

Also outside, they poured the concrete for the garage foundations yesterday and the area is amazing! It looks massive! I went up to look when we first arrived and I didn’t take my camera with me, and later I forgot to photograph it, I’m afraid, but I’m back again tomorrow and will try and remember to do it then. Propped against the garden fence was the old window from the annexe, which Andy is going to recycle in the garage – double-glazed UPVC, and quite large, so it will let in lots of light over my hubby’s workbench which is being created with old worktops from the original kitchen. The old garage is now the hardcore for the foundation of the new, so nothing is going to waste!

My final picture for today shows the completed steps outside the annexe external door. Andy removed the wooden shuttering while we were there; the steps were made yesterday morning and are not fully dry yet, but will be fine in another 24 hours, when he can install the metal hand rail that he has had made for the purpose.

13 Annexe Steps

The annexe kitchen isn’t quite complete – on Monday the last bit of plaster was still not dry enough for Paul to complete the tiling, but this should be done on his return tomorrow. When he’s finished in there, I can get it cleaned up and start moving Mum’s stuff in. She’s got boxes and boxes of kitchen stuff and there may not be room for it all, so some tough decisions may need to be made when she arrives! (We’ve set the date with my sister this evening for her arrival, which will be Saturday 28th September, which will give us just under a fortnight to recover ourselves after our own move on Monday 16th.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Art Deco Dining Room

In preparation for our upcoming house move, we are selling our dining room furniture, as there is no dining room in the new house. We have had to accept a ridiculously small amount for this good quality modern beech suite, but as my hubby says, it’s swings and roundabouts, and we’ve done very well with other aspects of the move, and we haven’t got the time or energy to try and sell the suite privately, and even if we had, we might not do much better, given the current economic climate. A local firm is collecting the furniture today. I am sad to see it go, but you can’t keep everything! It hasn’t had that much use, especially in recent years when I haven’t been well enough to do much entertaining.

It struck me that I’d never really photographed the dining room before. In readiness for the collection to take place, I’ve more or less cleared the room, and everything we want to keep is now packed up, so you can see the decor a bit better now. I wasn’t prepared to remove the stack of packed banana boxes for the photo shoot so please ignore them!

Here are some general views of the room.

01 Gen View, Table and Chairs

02 Sideboard

I managed to find the glass pendant light fitting in the lighting department of a large store in Plymouth when I was first decorating the room, and thoroughly embarrassed my hubby by insisting they get it down from the display – they said it was the last one in the shop and couldn’t sell it as it was a display model. They also made a fuss because it was ten minutes before closing time. I pointed out that they were still open and should therefore still sell things when customers asked for them, and also that they shouldn’t display things that weren’t in stock, and demanded to see the manager! He instructed them to get it down for me, and then they said it didn’t have a box. I asked for a discount, because it was at risk of being broken without proper protection. By this time my hubby was crawling with embarrassment but I got my lamp, and my discount, AND an apology from the manager!! I told my hubby that the customer is always right, and nothing I had demanded was in any way out of order!!! Actually, one of my pet hates is petty officialdom trying to pull a fast one and trying to get away with things, banking on the assumption that their victims won’t make a fuss. Warning: Shoshi always makes a fuss. Lol!

03 Glass Cabinet

04 Hatch

On the cabinet in the corner of the room I used to have my beautiful reproduction Art Deco lamp (now packed) – I can’t find a photo of it in situ so I can’t show you now, but I shall photograph it again one day. It is a heavy black lamp in the shape of a woman holding a white globe. I also have a genuine 1930s electric mantelpiece clock given to me by my dad, which used to sit on the sideboard (unfortunately it doesn’t go, despite his most valiant efforts!) – I have debated over the years whether to put a modern quartz movement in it but I would have to dispense with the gorgeous Westminster chimes.

05 Short Cabinet

It was the blue flowers in the lamp that gave me the idea for blue as the accent colour in the room. I always had blue candles (sometimes gold for Christmas) and made blue table decorations.

2 Place Setting with Starter

Now some detail shots of the art deco panels.

06 Art Deco Corner Left

07 Art Deco Corner Right

08 Single Corner Detail

I created the uplighters from plain white ceramic wall-mounted uplighters which I painted. I attached some black plastic pipe and ran the cable up through this, via a small white push-button switch. The other end of the cable runs along the skirting board to the wall socket in each case. These were hidden by the furniture.

09 Uplighter Detail

Double corner detail.

10 Double Corner Detail

I made a scale drawing of the room and furniture in advance of its delivery, and plotted out the panels. The lines were created with the aid of two whole rolls of masking tape and a lot of patience.

I am hoping to take some photos of the decorative paintwork in the sitting room, too, once most of the stuff has gone – as soon as I painted the panels in there, they got covered up with furniture!

Monday, 26 August 2013

My New ARTHaven–Bringing More Stuff In

The second of two posts for today.

I spent most of today unpacking boxes and putting things in my new ARTHaven. I am unable at this stage to organise things as I go, and am simply offloading things into the relevant zones around the room. There will be plenty of time to sort the finer details and find proper homes for everything, but until it’s all out, I won’t know what I’ve got and how to sort it.

Here is my black shelf unit with some more things on it. I’ve decided (at least for now) to keep things for altering, my Cynch and binding wires, and various other things I don’t use very often. I shall probably change my plan when I discover things that are too big to store anywhere else!

01 Black Shelf Unit

My tall storage unit, left behind by the previous owner of the house, is going to prove invaluable for storing bulky items. I am thrilled with the way my large Really Useful Boxes exactly fill the centre shelves, and in the cupboards I can store bags of knitting and rug yarns and shapeless bags of wadding etc.

I have also decided to store my frames, small canvases and Ikea mirrors in these shelves as they fit nicely.

02 Tall Storage Unit

Moving on around the room, my textile area is beginning to look a bit overwhelming! I will have to unpack all these boxes – some of the larger quantities of stuff like wadding (seen here on the top right shelf of the wall unit) will have to go in the tall storage unit or the black shelf unit.

On the right side of the top shelf of the narrow floor unit you can see my table-top ironing board. This is going to be so useful once I start sewing, but it is covered with rather grubby calico with no padding underneath, so I think it’s in line for a bit of a makeover!

03 Textile Zone

I am thrilled to be unpacking stuff for my display zone. Note particularly on the mantlepiece on the far right, two tiny easels. I bought these on Ebay months ago – the little gold coloured metal one came from America, and the beautiful carved wooden one I bought from an antique dealer – it is hand-carved wood from Bavaria in Germany – I did have to go quite high with my bidding but I’m glad I did, because I am so happy to have it! Almost immediately after its arrival, it was packed up in its box again and not opened again until today. These two small easels will be used to display ATCs and other small art works.

On the left of the mantelpiece you can see my precious little leather album my hubby found for me, which I am using for painted artworks – really a sort of art journal, but not with journalling as most people do it, but on any theme that takes my fancy. I am looking forward to getting back to working on this little book.

04 Display Zone

On the worktop under the mantelpiece you can see my mum’s antique box on the right (empty at present) with a book stand which my dad made – I am not sure what I shall use these for yet. The boxes contain earlier bits of art I’ve done in the past, and artworks sent to me by others – waiting to be unpacked and put on display!

The next picture shows that absolute chaos which constitutes my main work zone. The large space above the worktop has to be organised for storage of small items within easy reach. On top of the red plastic box (which has 2 drawers) is a small chest of drawers from Dad’s workshop – it is extremely dirty and oily and I intend to steam clean it and paint it, and use it for storage of small items.

At the back on the left are my pegboard hooks. I am not sure where (or even if) I shall use my pegboards, and I may cut pieces from some large sheets of hardboard pegboard that my hubby found for me a while back.

In the foreground you can see a portion of my mum’s pine table tucked under the curve of the worktop. This table fits exactly in front of the balcony door, between the sink and the doorway, and once I’ve put castors on it it will be easy to move around where I want. It is a very good size, and very strongly made, but not too heavy, and ideal for my purpose. I’m glad Mum didn’t want to keep it – anyway she wouldn’t have had room for it.

05 Main Work Area

Finally, the mixed media zone. Right on top of the wall unit you can see my clip on lamps. I am intending to rig these up with a DIY photo booth which will be foldable, and able to be stored out of the way when not in use. The lamps have daylight bulbs in them.

06 Mixed Media Zone

The space between the narrow (fixed) floor unit and the doorway is just the right size for my two large wallpaper sample books which our local decorating shop gave me several months ago. On the shelves of the wall unit, along with my gel mediums etc., are stored my Friendly Plastic, glass paints, wooden printing blocks and various other bits and pieces that I was delighted to find when unpacking my boxes.

Moving out of the ARTHaven proper and into the office, this is how it looks now – absolute chaos! The banana boxes on the desk contain ring binders and lever arch files which can’t be stored until I’ve got my shelves up – likewise with the various boxes of papers, thermal binder covers, clear document pockets, acetates, etc. etc. On the shelves of one of the bookcases I’ve dumped a whole lot of small tools from Dad’s workshop which will have to have homes created for them.

07 Office

Boxes of CD cases, photos, wrapping paper, spare stationery etc. under the desk will also have to have new homes. On the bookcase on the right is my pretty blue china wall ornament which I’ve never yet hung (bought years ago in Spain), some small pictures, spare envelopes, etc. etc.

I sometimes wonder whether I dreamt having that major clear out of my old ARTHaven, and the humungous amount of downsizing I did. I’ve got sooo much stuff! There are still loads of boxes waiting to be unpacked, although I have made major inroads into the piles of boxes in the spare bedroom! Watch this space over the coming weeks as all this clutter miraculously disappears into its proper place… (I hope!)

There’s so much sorting to do, and I am keen to get on with it so that I can start creating again in the way I really enjoy – something I haven’t been able to do for many months as everything was packed up for so long.

Our New House–Painting, Grouting and Other Matters

The first of two posts today.

We are definitely in the “pretty phase” with the new house renovations. Gone are the days of hidden work – plumbing, electrics, etc. The finishing touches are being made, which is very photogenic and exciting, as the end result is in sight.

Ashley the painter was there again today, making everything look beautiful! Here he is filling around the doorway from the kitchen into the utility room,in preparation for painting.

01 Ashley Filling around Kitchen Doorway

Here he is painting the doorway.

02 Ashley Painting Kitchen Doorway

The doorway painting completed.

03 Kitchen Doorway Painted

Ashley painting in the utility room.

04 Ashley Painting in Utility Room

General view of the kitchen, showing the painting completed.

05 Kitchen Paintwork Completed

The back passageway painting completed. When I said you’d never know there had ever been a door there, Chris said, “There was never a door there! Was there, Paul!” They insisted that I had dreamt the door!

06 Back Passageway Painting Complete

The panel over the new door into the airing cupboard has now been plastered and painted.

07 Panel above Airing Cupboard Door Painted

At last the hole in the doorway has been filled – I was sure I was going to fall down it one of these days.

08 Hole in Airing Cupboard Doorway Filled

Now some lovely attention to detail. Paul has scribed some mock tiles into the wet concrete, to continue the effect of the tiling in the back passageway. When the concrete is set, he will paint these “tiles” to match the originals. I love this sort of thing.

09 Mock Tiles in Airing Cupboard Doorway

He has even done it with the concrete filling around the base of the new arch.

10 Mock Tiles in Archway

Now that all the debris, tools and materials have been cleared out of the airing cupboard, you can see the heater, running the full width along the skirting board. The airing cupboard will be divided in two, half for us and half for Mum, but they will both be heated by the same heater, with the control on our side, complete with its timer. The timer will come into its own once we have the solar panels fitted some time after the move.

11 Airing Cupboard Heater

There is now a door in the doorway into the airing cupboard from the annexe sitting room. It was clear that there had once been a door there, but it was missing when we bought the house. It has been a case of musical doors around the house – I think this particular one came from between the kitchen and the utility room but it may have come from upstairs… Anyway, we have one redundant door now.

12 Airing Cupboard Door Fitted in Annexe

Here is Paul, unpacking the extractor hood and getting to grips with the fitting instruction manual, and planning how he’s going to fit it.

13 Paul Planning to Fit Extractor Hood

Paul fitting the extractor hood.

14 Paul Fitting Extractor Hood

A detail shot of the extractor hood partially installed. The white covering is a protective film, here shown partly peeled back, revealing a black reverse, and the steel chimney of the extractor.

15 Extractor Hood being Fitted

I love the curved glass hood, with its discreet control panel. It has two halogen lights underneath, and the fan can be “off” or on at three different speeds.

Paul grouting the kitchen tiles.

16 Paul Grouting Kitchen Tiles

The grouting on the other side of the kitchen complete. Tim the electrician is returning tomorrow to finish wiring everything in, and to attend to one or two other details.

17 Kitchen Grouting

The painting in the annexe kitchen is almost complete, and the box containing the ceiling pipes has now been painted. Here it is, with the spotlight turned on. It makes quite a difference to the worktop underneath – a very nice touch, and a good idea of Andy’s.

18 Annexe Kitchen Spotlight

The plaster to the left of the sink is not dry yet, so Paul cannot complete the tiling in the annexe kitchen until later in the week, but he has finished grouting the tiles he has already fixed.

19 Annexe Kitchen Grouting

Now for the outside. Here is Andy working on the foundations of the new garage, building up some block shuttering at the bottom end, ready for the concrete pouring which is taking place tomorrow.

20 Andy Working on Garage Foundations

This next picture shows the preparation for the foundations complete. The whole of the old garage is now broken up and forms the hardcore for the foundations for the new garage. It looks massive! Usually foundations look disappointingly small, so I dread to think how huge the finished garage will look! I hope it will be a suitably impressive Man Cave for my hubby!

21 Garage Foundations

Finally, some fun and games that happened today. Unfortunately I was inside at the time, sorting stuff in my new ARTHaven, so I missed it all, and had to hear about it later. Andy called me over to look at the wheelbarrow which is in a sorry state, having lost its wheel. Andy said that the tone of the area had definitely fallen since our arrival, and no sooner had he brought his beautiful wheelbarrow onto the site than we’d nicked the wheel!!!

22 Somebody's Nicked My Wheel

I was then treated to an explanation of what had actually happened. The handles of the wheelbarrow have smart yellow rubber grips, and Chris (it has to be Chris, didn’t it lol!!) was wheeling the barrow down the sloping path towards the steps, when the grips slipped off the handles, leaving him holding them, while the wheelbarrow careered down the steps, coming to a graceful halt (thankfully!) just short of the back door! We had visions of it crashing into the door and dumping its load of concrete into our back hallway!! (A bit like me with their idea for my wheelchair, and the velcro suit to stick me to the wall at the far end! – in fact, Chris said this was a practice run for that!)

Apparently Ashley was practically wetting himself over this! I wish I’d seen it… The result was a puncture in the wheelbarrow tyre, and my hubby went out and bought a puncture repair kit, and the inner tube was repaired over lunch.