Friday, 27 February 2009

Feeling blue... and green

Still twiddling our thumbs while waiting for the last bit of phase one to happen. Apparently we should see some action next week. In the meantime, here are a couple of pics to show how we're slumming it on the top floor. This our bedroom. I feel like I should say something like "... this is where the magic happens" as per Cribs, but uh, I won't. Our king size bed at least has matching drawers now (pictured top), so that's a bit of an improvement on our last bedroom. We have Kartell bedside tables (and bigger versions for storage in the TV room) and a cheap Ikea rug is keeping us off the laminate flooring until it's time to lay some carpet. I guess it doesn't look too bad in the photo, but you can't see the ye olde panel cut doors, linen curtains and awful light shade.

I've just borrowed a couple of books on how to design a garden which will be really useful as neither Rob nor I has ever got to grips with anything garden related. We haven't even mown the lawn yet. It feels like spring is here - the weather's been mild, the sky is blue - so it's definitely time to start thinking about planting something.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Downstairs panorama

Curses to Blogger's image compression and apologies for the quality on this photo. The good news is, if you click on it, you'll see it in a high quality rendition. A friend who came round said the house looked quite different from the photos in the blog because it was bigger in real life. So here's a wide shot taken from the sofa in the dining room showing the length of the room from the front door to the sliding doors. This was taken late in the afternoon hence the blueness of the light. Excuse the pile of weird stuff in the corner there, no, it's not normal to have a BBQ inside.

Kids room

We've got two girls and you can imagine their main decorating concern revolves around when we're going to paint their room pink. I was almost going to cave in and do it, as it would be a temporary colour scheme anyway (Phase 2 would mean their room would be stripped back and re-done... in white). Then I remembered that I know next to nothing about preparing walls and that it would potentially be really messy and difficult.

I've been perusing kids decorating ideas for a while now. There are some fabulous wall stickers out there, like these ones from - I particularly liked the butterflies and flowers motif, but heck, £28? Then I found who had retro flower stickers for £7.95. Bargain. It was so ridiculously cheap that I got the girls a pink chandelier (£14) from the same place. Photos to come (the one at the top is pre-girly update...)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Clearing the way

On February 11th 2008 we got the keys to our house. Yep, it's one year and one week since we officially took possession... this time last year we were enjoying a sunny holiday in Florida with friends and musing over how long the building work would take. Little did we know it would take seven long months before a builder would even cross the threshold.

We've been living in the house for almost three months now, and I was thrilled to leave for work this morning and bump into Teia in the driveway. It was his first trip to the house since Christmas, and he'd came over today to clear out the building debris. A massive pile of miscellaneous rubbish had been leaning against the fence and was beginning to annoy the neighbours (as well as providing a home for local vermin). I'm looking forward to giving the good news to my neighbour who popped over to complain on Saturday morning.

Teia's still tied up on his other job(s) but said he can bring round a crew and that three workmen should take no more than three days to do the snagging and final jobs. Hopefully this will happen in the next few weeks as we have a series of house guests arriving next month.

These photos show the landing on our top floor or "phase 2" as I call it. Phase 2 probably won't start for a year or more. What you see is the space as it was when we took it over, complete with balustrades, curtains and nasty laminate flooring - ick! We're still surrounded by boxes but every week we try and unpack three or four, it's a slow slog but we're getting there.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Life with snow

Two weeks ago London was hidden under a severe dusting of snow (8 inches, apparently) and as it was so difficult to get around loads of people stayed in and had a "snow day". Here are some snaps showing ours...

Monday, 9 February 2009

Sunfold resolution

A week ago the whole of London was submerged in the heaviest snowfall in 18 years. You'd think it was the beginning of the ice age the way the media carried on. It is winter (duh) so we do expect a bit of inclement weather. And as we were tucked up in our doubled-glazed house with the central heating ticking away I felt quite cosy and happy. The kids made a wonky snowman and we had a snowball fight in the garden (oh bliss to have a garden!).

Late in the afternoon I ended up speaking by phone to the General Manager of Sunfold and we had a discussion for 17 minutes. He was keen to find out what the issues were and was surprised that his team were slow to install given that they have targets and bonuses to work to. I wanted to convey that a six week wait in sorting out issues was a bit on the slow side and to express our irritation about having to pay out extra days for the builder.

I suppose building angst is a bit like giving birth - at the time you think that you'd rather do anything than go through that again, but once it's over you take a step back and think "the results were worth it in the end". As I chatted to the GM I noticed the 8 inches of snow piled up on top of the extension and was thrilled to see it wasn't leaking. Eventually, we came to an amicable compromise based on the fact that ultimately, we are very happy with the actual extension and as the installation was six weeks ago, our frustration over how long it took had evaporated somewhat.

I'm sure Sunfold will change the small print on their contracts and/or motivate their installation staff, and hopefully they'll respond to any complaints in a more timely fashion. In hindsight, I would say they are worth getting a quote from (their prices were far more agreeable than most other glass manufacturers) but do the work in summer to avoid camping out in the freezing cold, incase the installation takes longer than expected.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Builder gone AWOL

We've been waiting for Teia-the-builder to come back and do the snagging for a few weeks. On top of stuff like sorting out new cracks in the plaster and generally finishing things off there's the splash-back in the kitchen, the bespoke cabinet and the deck to sort. Once that's all done I'm looking forward to clearing the mountain of miscellaneous building debris that's piling up in our driveway, the garden and the garage.

Rob must've rung Teia more than a dozen times trying to find out when he was hoping to make it back. After a while we started to get worried as it was really out of character for him to go completely AWOL. Rob thought that maybe there'd been a crisis in New Zealand and Teia had jumped on a plane. I thought maybe his band had been given a spontaneous gig or tour or something, and he'd had to fly off at a moment's notice. As it happened, we went to 333 (a Shoreditch nightclub) for the first time in maybe four or five years, and there was Teia on the dancefloor (pictured above, with Rob). London really is a village. It turns out there'd been a holdup on one of his other jobs and he didn't take our calls as he's a man who can't say no. Hopefully he'll be back to do the snagging next week...