Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Good, the Bad and the bordering on Ugly.

I've done an assortment of bits and bobs the last couple of days some of which is lovely, some OK and some I'd rather hide.  

Firstly - the lights.  Other than Ray Storey's wonderful lights which sadly I can't afford,  I haven't been able to find any (or not many) which look like gas lights.  I ended up buying various chandeliers (with some sort of a stem) hanging on chain links which really wouldn't be much use in terms of gas lights.  Gas doesn't tend to flow through chains!  I am surprised as to how many of them are described as gas lights when clearly they could only be oil lamps or (retro style) electric. A bit of adaptation was needed and planned.

The two main lights (for the shop and salon) were duly dismantled.  I was then left with an odd construction on the top of the stem which didn't lend itself to sticking it on to the ceiling.  I had read that  some plaster roses were still being used in this period to hide the gas connections in the ceiling so that seemed a legitimate idea to hide mine.  The roses are plaster and stuck up with wood glue and the lights themselves are super-glued in place.

I found a couple of references in dolls house chatter about not using any glue with lights other than the foam tabs they come with, but no explanation as to why.  I can see that some glues won't be happy with the heat when the lights are on but, hopefully, super-glue isn't one of them (????).  Actually my lights in the Wentworth which were all attached with their little white pads are endlessly falling off the ceilings.  I have been thinking about re-doing those practically from day one.  Anyone have any comments/ideas?

So here is the salon light in place.....

 and here's the one in the shop.

They both look a bit wonky here but, honestly, they aren't.

The other advantage to removing the chain is that they are also a better height above the floor.  All my lights have a six foot (six inch) space beneath them so my little people can actually walk under them.  

The sitting room light was cobbled together in the same way.  The piece attached to the ceiling was separate from the stem and just linked with a chain.  I snipped out the chain and shoved the two pieces together and glued it to the ceiling - now it looks like a gas light.

The kitchen light came like this, other than the foam sticky thing which, by now, I decided could just go.  I don't like the looks of them, even when they are working part-time.

I am still waiting for the delivery of one of my upstairs lights and I also have to cut a channel in the roof to take the wiring so they are a long way off being installed.

I guess the lighting makes it to the good category.

The floors are pretty good too.

Handy tip - if you know at the beginning, before the build, that you will be laying some flooring on any awkward bits - do it then or, at least, make templates for later.  Not being a contortionist, I found it a bit of a challenge wiggling about at the back of the house, between floors trying to cover the landings with paper and drawing round the shapes and then sticking the wood down accurately.  Double-sided carpet tape is very unforgiving if you get it wrong. This photo is at the template stage.

Spot the before and after.  One coat of satin varnish brings out the walnut beautifully.  DO
rub down gently before varnishing and, if you are going for two coats (I did) do the same again between coats.  In fact, I even lightly sanded after the final coat.  It is a lovely silky finish and not super shiny (like in this picture).

I weight down all the flooring for a day after I have put it in just to be sure it lies flat.  As you can see a bit of heavy reading is never wasted.  In fact Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is backed up behind with (appropriately) The Victorians by A. N. Wilson.  

This is the completely nutty item in the 'good' category .  I drilled/filed out the overflow so it was more realistic.  Yes, I know, totally crackpot as no-one can see it or care, but I like it better.

It also gave me a chance to play with my new little rotary gizmo - such fun.

Now for the bad - the evil shanks on the door knobs were slightly too long.  If you tried to stick them into the door on each side they met in the middle and stuck out.  You might just be able to see that I had to nip a bit off one of each pair (the one on the right) with some pliers.  It was such a teeny bit to demand such an effort.  Big jobs always seem worth doing, but spending time snipping bits off door knobs don't.

It is also pretty bad when you drill two holes in a door!  Hole number one was on the wrong side!  Door knobs generally go on the side of the door which opens, rather than on the hinged side, methinks.  Pretty fundamental error.

I've actually managed to fill the bad hole with a couple of minute blobs of paint as the prospect of using wood filler in such a teeny hole on an already painted door filled me with terror.

This leads me to the 'bordering on ugly'.

If you look at the paintwork on the door you can see that I have had a rotten time with the silk emulsion.  It is gloopy and refuses to be pushed around easily.  I finally realised that it is non-drip.  I didn't choose it for that property (and, indeed, hadn't even noticed that's what it says on the tin!)  I chose it because it was slightly cream rather than a bright white, silk finish and the cheapest.

Because I was getting such a poor finish I rubbed it down viciously between coats with wire wool.  Every coat I put on went on grey and streaky. Eventually the penny dropped - it was the wire wool!!  It leaves a sort of metallic smudge behind - like faint rubbed in pencil marks that kept leaching through the paint which led to more rubbing down and applying more paint. You will gather I'm not thrilled with the doors.

The other issue with them is they are too small all round for the holes which were precut in the Lyddinton but no doors supplied!  A careful person would work out how she could fill those gaps successfully.  Me, I just partially plugged one side of the door jamb with some off cuts of wood I had and glued them in.  This resulted in a load of gaps.  Even the gaps would have been improved by remembering to paint inside the cut-out door spaces.  Not my best days work.  Admittedly this photo is before the trims are put on, they don't look as bad as this.

[Today, when painting the trims,  I have discovered the answer to the gloopy paint and I could kick myself.  All I had to do was let it down a little with some water.  So simple]

Fitting the floors isn't as easy as it promises either.  The gaps in front of the doors (on one side only) need to be addressed.  Basically it means cutting teeny strips of flooring to shove into a very small gap.  A most annoying job as they are fiddly to cut and even more difficult to get the exact shape needed.  I did OK with it though in the end so maybe they can leave the ugly section?  

I did a poor job laying the lino though.  I was so focussed on getting it lined up at the back of the room (Why???) that when it got to the front it was skewed and left a small gap.  It isn't possible to lift it and refit as it would just tear it to bits if I tried.

Overall though, the end result was OK  and I am fairly happy with it all, so far.

I think the stair landings, floors and walls look good.  

Please ignore the flooring in the attic in this photo.  It is just loose laid and needs painting before it goes in.  

It was commonplace to have very nice narrow walnut or oak floorboards through the good part of a house or shop, which I've done; but the attic room would have just had simple, wide,  cheap pine floorboards that would have been painted or stained.  

White painted floorboards in bedrooms were very fashionable at this time and Ellen will have those.

The kitchen came in for a bit of a tweak.  All along I had planned on the sink unit going into the left hand corner, facing forward and I tiled the space accordingly.  I then realised that the skirting board was going to look a bit odd running up to it and why would the back edge of the draining board be going against an un-tiled wall.  I nudged it over a foot (an inch).  There is still enough room for the cooker and I can shove a dustpan , brush and broom into the gap if I can find good ones (!).  This meant I had to do a bit of re-tiling without any tiles, so I pulled some off from an area which wouldn't now be seen and moved them to the newly visible strip of wall. Here's hoping I don't change my mind again.

I do remember sinks and cooker always being near each other - maybe because of boiling a kettle for the washing up (?).  A cooker near the back door wasn't unusual either even though it meant that if the gas was tuned down low it sometimes got blown out by the ensuing draft from the opening or closing of the back door.

I have just done a load of boring painting of trims today.  That isn't worth recording either visually or  in writing.  I'll get back to you when most of them are in place.

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