Oh my goodness, I've looked forward to this moment for so long. Finally, the project that was only supposed to take "a couple of weeks" is finished, after almost four months and a lot of hard work, a lot, and the kindness and generosity of family who gave up their free time to help us when they could. I always knew that my parents were handy with a paintbrush, but I never knew my brother in law could lay a floor like a professional.
It all started back in August with the removal of the door and window between our hall and porch:
and opening out the enclosed staircase:
This was disruptive, messy work and meant that we had to change the flooring in the hallway and there was a fair amount of plastering, levelling of floors, filling and decorating to be done too. It's basically taken up every free weekend we've had this autumn, but yes if was definitely worth it and we are so glad we did it.
The sense of light and space now is just wonderful. Our hallway is long and dark and needs every bit of brightness it can get, and the new flooring bounces so much more light around. I am in love with the floor (Quick-Step Impressive Soft Oak Natural) and while engineered oak would have been our preferred choice, there wasn't the budget and we are very happy with this. Sometimes you just have to compromise, and that's fine.
John made the most beautiful bench to sit by the front door from a couple of planks of ash from our local wood yard and some hairpin legs from eBay. I'm so proud of what he's achieved in this project, especially the carpentry. He can do so much more than he realises. The bench is part of my on-going quest to stop everyone trying to sit on the bottom step of the stairs when they put their shoes on, myself included, causing no end of traffic jams as we are all trying to get out of the door at the same time.
I thought the removal of the door to the old porch would make the most difference, and it certainly gives us a much bigger space when people are coming and going.
But actually it's the restoration of the original 1960's staircase that has had the most impact. It's the most striking feature in the room and the first thing you see when you open the front door. I love it a little bit more every day.
Once the panelling around the stairs had been removed, we had to remove paint from the metalwork and varnish from the wooden stair treads, and make good the plastering on the wall. We painted the metal a pale blue-grey which works with the warmth of all those wood tones, and gave the stairs two coats of Osmo Polyx-Oil in Transparent. After a lot of research John chose this oil because of it's chalky finish which slightly lightens the wood and is very non-slip. The absolute last thing we wanted was a highly polished surface - mostly for safety but also because I didn't want to see every speck of dust and dog hair every time I climbed the stairs - and I was going to buy non-slip strips to stick on to the stairs, but the finish of this oil is chalky to the point of feeling almost rough when you run your hand over it so there is no need.
I wondered if I would miss the old under-stairs cupboard at all, and I really don't. It was awkward to access and had become a dumping ground for all sorts of things. After a good sort out, I moved various things to either the office (sewing machine), the loft (spare picture frames) or the garage (the vacuum cleaner), and the space now holds our shoe rack, which previously lived in the porch.
We have a good amount of storage in the ground floor of this house, with a large internal garage which acts as my utility room among other things, plus a large coat cupboard in the hall. I hadn't really anticipated doing much to this hall cupboard but while we were ripping out everything else, and while it was all chaos, I looked at the old louvred doors, which for some reason were three-quarters height, so that you always had to duck your head to get in and out of the cupboard, and next thing you know they were in the car boot waiting to go the the tip.
John and my dad built these gorgeous doors from plywood and I adore them. They were, I am told, a pain to fit, but I am so grateful. As they are now normal height doors, we no longer have to duck our heads to get in and out of the coat cupboard. A small thing, yes, but when you use this cupboard multiple times a day, things like this matter. The copper door handles were from here.
Other than things like flooring, paint and building materials, the only items we bought for this space were a new mirror to hang above the console table, and another lampshade for the light in the porch to match the two we already have hanging in the hall. Everything else was moved from another room in the house.
There we have it. Thank you for sharing this particular renovation journey with us. Our house is still very much a work in progress and there is always something to do (our horrible, leaky bathroom!), but this particular project has been more challenging - but also more rewarding - than we ever could have imagined.
Thank you for sharing your favourite traditions with me in the comments on my last post, I really enjoyed reading them. Christmas has well and truly arrived in our house and I will be back with a more festive post soon. Have a lovely week.