Taking down walls, breaking down barriers

As a non-DIY expert, I think taking down walls sounds like a really scary thing to do.  While I have full confidence in my husband’s ability to knock on walls and nod, much like Alan Carr in the Location, Location, Location mashup, it’s terrifying to think that one little mistake could mean a spare room coming down into the kitchen.  We could pretend we lived in a studio, I suppose.

Knocking on the living room ceiling and drilling holes into it to fit the spotlights revealed that the joists run a certain way – on the floor plan shown here (which is actually a mirror image of ours, but the only one I could find), they run left to right, and I’ve indicated the walls we’re planning on taking down.

The builder didn’t comment when he came round to quote, so I think that means he was in agreement that they’re not supporting walls.

There is a lot to consider.  These three walls contain quite a few items to move, including plug sockets, light switches, the house’s thermostat and two radiators.  A third radiator needs to be moved from beside the loo.  Everything then needs plastering.  It’s not a small undertaking.

I’ve been advised by Barry (I’ve been told I can now provide my husband’s name, which makes life easier!) that electricity wires are, in theory, put in in straight lines.  That should make moving the switches easier.  Radiators are completely beyond me, but I’ve been told that the pipes come from above, not below, if that means anything to anyone.  I’ll try and get some before shots shortly, but the loo’s currently a holding area for all of the stuff from the living room!  It’s like living in one of those puzzles at the minute where you can only move one bit at a time.

The first thing to tackle in this whole thing is blocking off the sink and toilet.  By removing them, it will give Barry more room to manoeuvre to get the walls surrounding them down.  I’m just thinking about the fluffy towels we’ll have when we can fit a tumble dryer in the kitchen rather than hanging them on chairs or radiators to dry.  Crispy!

And the Lord said go forth and multiply your lights

Or something like that.

My husband seems to have harboured a heretofore unrealised passion for lights.  Our living room previously had two ceiling lights – one over the living area, and one over the dining area.  We now have 13.  I’m not kidding.

As mentioned previously, I fell in love with the Argos lights which we’ve built our room around, and this involved changing a single chandelier-style light to two of those instead, leaving a giant hole gouged in our ceiling.

We replaced our huge red light over the living area with a Belize light from Argos, which is a lot more discreet, and will make guests feel a little less like they’re being questioned when it’s on.

Then the husband decided that he’d quite like spotlights across the back wall.  We went for these inoffensive ones from Wickes, and initially he only wanted to have five or six, but I convinced him he really meant all ten.  As it turned out, joists run across where he was drilling, and he ended up having to drill holes in between every light he put in just so he could carve a notch to hide the wiring.

We spent a weekend plastering these holes, and all of the other various dents in the walls that we hadn’t noticed until now, and I got a brief lesson in grit size of sandpaper.  That may or not have been when I took the Reader’s Digest DIY Manual to bed.

Anyway, we’ve now got the bulk of the painting done, just the edges to tidy up, and we’re pleased as punch with our choices so far.

While all this was going on, we decided to have a mosey on down to B&Q and see what the kitchen situation was.  Over Christmas, we were telling my mother-in-law how we can’t use the downstairs loo as it emits a terrible smell.  Actually, it does that whether we’ve used it or next-door-but-one uses it, I think the pipes haven’t got enough of an angle to clear the waste.  Our house is over three floors, and we currently have a toilet on each floor, but our guests are asked to use the one on the middle floor anyway, due to the building problem (yes, we complained, as have our neighbours; they cleared them once but it’s recurring and we’re wasting our breath).  She made a passing suggestion for us to knock down the walls around the loo, as well as one of the kitchen walls, to make a giant kitchen!

I’ll post separately about the kitchen situation, but the long and short of it is that we’ve bought one, but decided to fit flooring in the living room after we’ve fitted the kitchen so that it doesn’t get wrecked.  RIP to the cream living room carpet, by the way, which now looks like it’s been attacked by paint.

I’ve fallen in love with this first white flooring by Quickstep, called Elina Wenge Passionata.  I’ve seen varying prices between £11 odd and £30 per square metre, and at 24m2, plus all the extras, it’s quite expensive (to us).  Cheapest we saw it at was NCS Flooring.

Ever practical, my husband ordered samples of a similar (but not the same!) flooring, which is Quickstep Girona white chestnut.  It’s got more of a grey tinge, which doesn’t offend me as the walls are grey, but I think the white would have lifted the room more.  We’ll have to see, but I think we’ll have to go with this as it’s almost half the price!