Yesterday we said goodbye to our house in Brighton for the last time. We’d had a “Friends” moment collecting all our keys from local friends and it was finally time to go.
The removals men arrived (after a slight ‘really, gas company, you are choosing this moment to park a huge truck directly over our driveway?’ moment) and made short work of packing our belongings into their van.
It still feels very odd that we aren’t going back to that house, particularly as we can’t unpack everything as the house is still a building site. Having been up and down to the new house so much over the last year is enhancing the feeling of ‘we are only up here for a week, we’ll be back in Brighton soon’. Hopefully we will be able to start living at the house soon, even if fully unpacking is a little way off.
Spot where our oil lamp was…
At least the guinea pigs seem to be settling in to their new home well!
The major work upstairs has started in the last week – parts of the roof have been taken out and the wall that will split the bedroom and landing has been started. Our fabulous builders are reusing as much of the original material as they can, so this wall is mostly being built out of chimney.
Inside the gable end.
We were there briefly during the week this week, so were able to meet with the electrician and talk through the rewiring as well as seeing recent progress. The electrics are a bit of a mixed set at the moment (“Have you got an outside socket?” “Well, there’s a socket outside.” “Umm, that’s just an extension lead.” “Ah.”) so we are having the whole house rewired to modern standards. This also includes moving most of the light switches as we have moved some doorways and, because we’ve changed the use of rooms, will be changing which way doors open. Apparently we don’t need a shower pull in the middle of the kitchen either. It has been an interesting challenge trying to decide where we want plug sockets and lighting, especially with sockets in the kitchen, but we now have a plan to start with, even if it gets adjusted nearer the time.
With the demolition started we’re beginning to get a feel of what the space in the kitchen will be like. This combined with a trip to a potential kitchen supplier has got us starting to think about the specifics of what it might look like. Any excuse for me to play with sketchup will do, so at the weekend we sat together in my office and got to work modelling it out.
We’ve got as far as choosing the colours and the placement of the tall units, but we don’t yet know how we’ll arrange the other units in-between.
The tall unit on the far right will house the fridge-freezer, the next one will house the oven and likely a microwave in the cupboard underneath (Sarah prefers it to not be visible) and the far left unit will be cupboard space, probably for things such as the vacuum and ironing board.
For the wall units in between we will most likely include some open shelves for glasses, but we are unsure whether we’ll split them all into two rows of vertical doors, or have standard cupboard doors.
There’ll be a dishwasher under the sink’s draining board, probably bins under the sink itself and then deep pan drawers below the hob.
The built in seating area and table were Sarah’s idea. She’d like us to eat together in the kitchen both for some evening meals (to get us off the sofa and away from the TV!) and for breakfasts at the weekends. It also gives me somewhere to sit and keep her company when she’s in the mood for baking. I suspect we’ll use the dining room occasionally too, but it will probably mostly be for when we are entertaining.
Part of the importance of removing the chimney stack has been to allow us to turn the big room upstairs into a usable double bedroom, but the extension plans don’t stop there.
We wanted to be able to make the most of the fabulous views from the back of the house, so we (Rob, mostly, with Sarah making encouraging noises) designed a full width extension to the back of the house. Rob’s proficiency on Sketch Up meant that it was easy to show our architect what we wanted when it came to him drawing up the plans.
Almost inevitably, we had to make some compromises in order to secure planning permission – this felt frustrating at the time, especially given the reasons the planning officer gave for the initial rejection – but we have essentially come out with what we wanted.
The biggest differences between the first and second planning drafts was that the extension now looks (from the outside) like a big dormer extension, rather than the initial asymmetrical roof we had planned. The planning officer also asked that we changed our originally-planned timber cladding for a tiled finish. What difference this makes, we don’t know, but she requested it, so we did it!
The other change to upstairs is that the bathroom is moving up there from downstairs, into one quarter of the upstairs space. The other available quarter will be a “landing” (so called so it doesn’t have to have a door to meet building regulations), leading on to a small balcony.
All this is yet to come – it looks very much like a building site up there at the moment. The lining of the ceiling is gone, as have the previous walls that gave storage in the eaves, so the next big step is for the roof to be taken off, but that requires scaffolding, so the builders are doing all the interior prep work in advance.
Work really feels like it has started now – the wall of the kitchen is gone (or, rather, is piled around the room waiting for the skip to be replaced) and as a result we’ve got a much clearer idea of the space.
The door that used to lead from the bathroom in to the hall is staying where it is, but will be enlarged slightly to meet modern door measurements. To fit a basin into the downstairs loo (you can just about see it the toilet in the “after” picture above), the width of the room is being increased slightly, but as the wall is load-bearing, our fabulous builder has suggested an alternative that means that they don’t need to replace the wall entirely. Instead, they are going to cut a notch in the brickwork (you can see the pencil line on the wall) and adjust the spacing of the partition wall to allow for a basin.
When the house was originally built, the toilet was in a room on its own (as was the done thing at the time, apparently), but as fashions changed, the bathroom was knocked into one and the original toilet doorway blocked up and a cupboard built in opposite the toilet. The parquet flooring was left in place, making an interesting base for the cupboard!
Having been up to the house during Sarah’s half term means that we have been able to take these photos, but also gave us the chance to think more seriously about kitchen planning, which is quite exciting. Here is a sketch of our current thoughts, which will probably evolve somewhat before we order the final kitchen!
We have now visited a few kitchen showrooms too, so have a good idea about the style of unit and worktop that we want, but are holding off ordering anything until we’ve got the final measurements when the new walls are up. Hopefully we’ll be able to put in our order at Easter – until then, the tea and kettle have been relegated to the cellar!