A great summer to enjoy our redecorated conservatory

Looking back it seems a long time ago that we started to empty our conservatory in readiness for the work ahead, and it was - I can’t quite believe that was the end of April, and while the work hasn’t taken all that time, a great summer got in the way of my blog posts!

There was the newspaper discovered behind the architrave, as according to our builders there’s always newspaper, and the start of the dust. You’ll remember the week we went grey, and the one where the doors were on we had new flooring too, and then like any building project there was the final push.

Which only left the bill to pay, and get the conservatory furnished again and enjoy it with the beautiful summer we’ve had. This project hasn’t been without a mishap or two, and we’re sorting those out with our builders and are confident they’ll be resolved, but that final payment really is your negotiating bargain so my advice is to only pay that when you’re happy.  Our final payment is partially paid and the remaining amount reflects a price for what’s outstanding, because after all money’s tight in the building trade (and local businesses generally) and because everyone has bills to pay and mouths to feed.

So onto the reloading  

We were lucky that our builders were helpful and willing to do over and above, and they won’t know quite how grateful I was that they moved the dresser and bookcase back into our new space. Had I known I would have emptied the bookcase, as that would have made it much easier for them. But with the furniture back in place it was great to see how it would look with our new bifold doors at each end of the space. 

the internal bifold doors
external bifold doors and view to the garden

And yes, it looks completely different. Much more modern and distinctively less wood on show.  We can’t believe how this simple change had altered the look of our conservatory, and we’re already wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.  

Reloading the dresser and bookshelves following work in our conservatory

It’s changed how we use the space too, no longer is it a temporary store for everything from MOHs bikes and cycle gear to anything that doesn’t have a real home. It’s become another space to sit and unwind and we’ve spent many any evening as darkness falls sitting and enjoying the space. 

grouping objects in threes

It’s become the space to grab some chill time when we come home from work, for that cuppa catching up on the day, or the place for early evening cocktails when we need to escape the heat for a bit. And it’s been great to come home and throw open the doors to the garden, although this year our gardening has fallen behind what we’d like. 

The bifold doors really open up the back of the house

And now that the temperatures are starting to dip overnight we’re benefiting from the internal bifold doors too, which are a much better fit than the wooden doors they replaced. I’ve a feeling that our conservatory will no longer just be a corridor to the garden or a room for a few days of the year, I think we’re going to get a lot more use out of it, and from our drinks trolley which was a treat to ourselves, but more on that in another post.


The final push

In the last update - Week 4: Doors and a new floor - it was self explanatory what took place, this week was the week where it got worse before it got better.  Funny how that happens isn't it?  But in the final push there were more people here than before and while it's not a small space, when you're sharing it with other tradesmen it must be like cooking a seven course meal with MOH who somehow has the knack of standing exactly where I want to be.  Not that I cook many seven course meals, it must be said.

The main wall was painted and while it looks very grey here, it's one of those could it be grey could it be beige colour, depending on the light. And is way nicer than I'm making it sound.  Before it was a yellowy-cream which although I chose, I wasn't so keen on once it was on the wall, so it's nice to have the same colour in there that we have throughout our downstairs.

paint on the walls and filler too
Starting to see the end in sight

Looking at the walls it looks quite clear, almost finished but that's not the case as when you turn round you see all the tools.  Even though it's been good weather - and we can't believe how lucky we've been with that - I wouldn't risk having the tools in our back garden either, exposed to the elements.  Plus it's meant that unlike when we've had work done before the detritus is restricted to one room, and we get the garden mostly to ourselves.

Still a lot of builders detritus in sight though

We're really pleased with how the finish on the inside is.  The doors still have their protective white plastic, and you don't know how patient I've been keeping that there.  All I've wanted to do is rip it off to see the final effect, but it's protective for a reason isn't it?

sharp lines in the kitchen too

Originally we were going to add a two inch plain architrave around the opening, however our plans have changed because it no longer needs it.  It's strange though as the internal bifold doors were one of our gambles, but they've really made it work, and somehow not only does it look more modern, and more in keeping with the rest of our downstairs space, but it also looks as if it was built that way (and clearly it wasn't).  That's a sign of a job well done, I think.

Remember the floor, where the internal doors met the parquet flooring, that I wasn't happy with.  Well we arrived home to this note and patched in 'spare' parquet.

A note from the builders

Already it looked so much better.  The extra parquet strips were taken from underneath the mat in the porch, which isn't as temporary as it sounds.  The mat covers the small space and having taken them from the edges it's not noticeable they're not there.  We later discovered that they'd cut hardboard to make sure it didn't notice, now that's what I call taking pride in your work.

looking more finished
or maybe not!

Even with the painting finished, there was still that illusion of done-ness.  But I knew it wouldn't be long now, and instead of focusing on the centre of the room, I had my grey on grey radiator and wall to admire.

Grey on grey

You wouldn't know it was the same radiator, would you?

As well as the radiator, the other space that I'm pleased with is the floor, although when it looked like this I was beginning to have my doubts.

where the parquet flooring was matched

But then it was sanded and varnished and looked like this. It's slightly lighter than the rest of the floor, but way better to have matched this rather than adding a wide strip of wood in front of the step, don't you think?

And after the sanding and varnish

Which just left the floor of the conservatory to be finished.

A newly sanded and varnished floor

And doesn't it look great?  In five weeks our builders have transformed this space, there's been a few small hiccups along the way, but this building project has been completed with professionalism and good humour, and we're really pleased about that.  Having been burnt before, it's always nerve wracking to hand over your home in this way.

Next up, getting all (or some of) our furniture and content back into the space and keeping it's airy and modern look and feel.  That's quite some challenge and we're not totally there yet, but for the first time since we've lived here we're really using our conservatory as a proper room, rather than just as a corridor to the garden.

What do you think, so far?


Week 4: Doors and a new floor

In the last of my conservatory update we were going grey, but we were still exposed to the elements after a mix up of when the doors and windows would be delivered.  Needless to say I'm glad the weather had been good, but also I was pleased to see they'd arrived on the second attempt. 

The doors and new window have arrived
And door frames too

The glass was leant against the inside wall and the frames were scattered around the garden, which had become a hive of activity.  I think our builders were also pleased they'd arrived, as I think they were running out of things to do.

The garden became a hive of activity again - thankfully no rain

It was quite sad though to see the interior doors, which for the past few weeks had doubled as our exterior doors, discarded by the bins waiting for collection.  They'd served us well, and replacing them with bifold doors was a bit of a gamble, and one we still weren't sure if it'd pay off or not, but there was no going back now.

The old internal doors have been discarded

We were starting to get an idea though, and it was starting to look very different, despite the builder's work area and the misplaced furniture.

Doors looking from the inside

Already we were benefitting from the additional light, and with the sun reflecting the trees on the new glass it seemed too good an opportunity to miss out on an arty shot, new glass labels and all.

Testing their bifold-ness.jpg

Although it was hard to imagine exactly the end result with the white protective strip.  And as much as we wanted to rip that off and see, we knew we should wait.

External doors again - yay

Now we have glass, the corner I keep revisiting was also looking different. 

And glass in the window too


Making good indoors

Filler in the floor, but I'm not happy with it

A few days later and now we were watertight and with lockable external doors - yay! - work had moved inside. 

The dark strip in the photo on the right is where our higher-than-we-wanted-step had been removed.  The step, we discovered was a row of bricks, and a row of bricks that are now in the garden ready to be put to use in the border to distinguish the slate bed from the border proper. 

At the moment though, digging these into the garden isn't going to happen, some softer soil would be preferable!

But anyway back to the dark strip, we came home to this and while I tried to like it, I just couldn't.  The plan was to cover this with a piece of wood, but I thought this would draw attention to a space we were keen to disguise. 

Not only that it wasn't a uniform strip as it tapered one end.  I did try to like it, really I did, but I wasn't happy.  So the next morning we had a chat with the builders and aired our concerns, and a possible solution. While they weren't too happy about having to undo this, they did understand why and liked our solution. 

The other job was some plastering to make the internal walls good again.  They were well aware of how important to us our glass splashback was.  And you know how messy plastering is, don't you?

preparation for plastering

Well, they did a good job.  And a good job clearing up too.

Plastering done and drying

Well, almost. 

Plaster in more places than I'd hoped

I came close to cleaning the radiator, but resisted.

Outside the original windowsill was being filled and painted and given a new lease of life now that the window was in.  To try and prevent similar damage the window was installed a few inches back (it was previously where the filler is) and, along with the guttering, we hope that it'll extend its life.

A look at the exterior of the corner

Next up was the floor in the conservatory.  We weren't sure of the quality of the floor, if it was wood or just a veneer.  It turned out to be solid oak, so we struck lucky.  The photo below shows how it was, what it looks like sanded and the dark strip was the colour we'd chosen off the sample chart.  

choosing a floor colour

Luckily MOH was at home and the floor man had the good sense to check if this was right.  MOH wasn't sure it was and a photo was soon on its way to me for a third opinion.  He knows me well, as I wouldn't have been happy to come home to a floor of the darker colour.  Given how long it had taken us to choose the "linen" colour, and for it to be so wrong, it was easy for us both to decide on the more natural approach, and so clear varnish was added to what is a beautiful floor.

The sanded floor

A complete save, weren't we lucky?

the internal bifold doors

It took a few days for the new plaster to dry out, and I caught the shadow of the dining room light one evening. Surely it wouldn't be long now before we could be, at the very least, almost straight again.

shadows on the drying plasterwork

And it wasn't really, and this was one of the better building or redecoration project we've ever had, so that really is a blessing.  As building projects gone wrong really are painful, and sadly we know from first-hand experience.

stripes on the grass circles

As I was looking through the photos for this post this one stood out.  Mostly because our grass was still green - it's a kind of straw colour right now - and to think, we were slightly concerned about the stripes and if they'd grow out.  Now, we're just hoping we'll see the grass green again!

We're not far away from completing this work, and then we'd get to see if the double bifold door gamble paid off...

More soon.