Since I’ve just spent 6 months holed up in a four-square-metre passage, I think you all owe me 6 minutes to read all about it in its painstaking detail.
Oh yes this blog has arrived at help-me-pick-my-tiles and let-me-talk-you-through-the-completely-boring-minutiae-of-my-DIY-renovation-fix-up-dream-home wank.
Excellent! Let’s go!
First, I’ll disappoint the reader by saying it’s actually not finished yet. That’s right, because DIY Dream Home House Project Fantasies never are. I was saving a bit of the budget for a big fat shiny new digital TV, me being news deprived for four years now, but dang world events! the hallway comes first! Useful ikea cupboard instead. Haven’t bought it yet so here’s some dodgy photoshop work. Time to phone in with your votes!
The Floor. Fabulous darlings isn’t it? This floor was first laid by our dear woofers, with flagstones found under the cement floor in a lean-to which houses the stone oven. But then we ripped it up again because the grading wasn’t right and laid it anew and in doing so stuffed up the entrance to the bathroom, and now The One can’t fit through the door without using his hands and knees. Yay.
Just so you know everything, beneath the floor is some hideous blue board and a chunky layer of limecrete with maltesers. Oh and probably a damp proof course. It was so long ago I can’t remember. Anyway, after being laid the floor subsequently endured splashes of cement render, lime render, limewash, plaster, paint, cat vomit, a smashed jar of pesto and a whole lot of dirty doggy footprints. So last week I spent three days and two bottles of ácido muriático (which doesn’t sound nearly as bad as hydrochloric acid) scrubbing it all off.
Also during those wire brush days I cleaned up this nice bit above the door which got roughed up when Penfold replaced the roof, last year sometime. So it’s been re-pointed in lime and the stone faces revealed using the Michelle Obama / Linda Hamilton arm workout video. While high on hydro gases I cleaned the timber with acid too and made the new pointing all dirty. The One didn’t know this was actually a mistake, and he complimented this accidental aging patina effect. And he’s right, it’s bloody lovely.
The Walls. I quite realise that six months seems a rather long time to spend on 4m2 (extrapolated this means the house will take another 5 years to finish) but there were these problems with the walls not being straight. This wall on the right is a brick wall I built myself, leaving me mystified why one face can be perfectly flush and the other not. Some time in the early months of year were dedicated to cement rendering both sides, the top bit being a bit fiddly as it been broken down and re-mortared a few times in the pursuit of electricity. I love rendering almost as much as plastering, although it does something weird to your brain. So fixated you become on smoothness that even one tiny rumple possesses me to do another coat. It’s not a job that manic perfectionists should be doing. It’s a bit like crack. Almost as soon as you’ve downed your tools you get the urge for more.
The entranceway needed radical rendering. It’s the doorway to the oldest part of the house, built in rough stone, a bit settled and as wavy as praia das rocas. It wasn’t working well for my obsessive compulsive need for straight lines and geometry. But after four weeks and 17 coats of lime render she’s lovely. Not sharp, but vertical and with all the nougat-ness that lime brings. Limewash over lime render looks dense and soft. I love it.
The entrance also needed a step so I knocked that up with leftover floorboards. Something went wrong with our new floor. We decided on oiling it with linseed but it never sealed properly and now we have a very dirty floor, which going by the 4:6 formula it will take three weeks to clean. So we’ve decided to stain and varnish it. Controversial, certainly, but one dog two cats building site practical. And this is the colour. No, there’s nothing to vote on here. Don’t phone in. It’s done.
The other wall wasn’t a big deal. So in between blogging, feeding the people, putting out the washing and taking pictures of cake I put up a timber frame, insulation and plasterboard and then plastered my way to bliss.
Picked up a dandy shoe cupboard from the Swedes and knocked that up in world record time, another thing I totally love. These days budget ikea may be as disposable as ever but the middle class stuff is superb. It fits, it works and in outback Portugal no one has seen it before.
The ceiling had been put up last year but still needed several weeks of plastering sanding painting filling sanding and painting. Bloody ceilings, we should just dispense with them altogether. Only where would the possums live, possums?
Bathroom door. The magnificent bathroom door has been covered in earlier publications but I still had to frame it up and hang the bitch. Never have I had so much agony as I have hanging every door and window in this house. It’s primarily the fault of the age of the doors and not being perfectly straight but I swear there is something wrong with the hinges I’m buying. Finally, after umpteen minor adjustments she swings and shuts. Mao just can’t get enough of it. He cries to be let in and then cries to be let out. I think he thinks there’s a very handsome burmese on the other side.
And finally, the front door. This was the original internal door from the hall to the living area. Fortunately protected from the elements and the neighbour’s pissing dog, it’s heavy and straight and not too eaten by woodworm. While sanding through layers of paint, including an insane turquoise, I found something written on the door in pencil. The words were illegible but the markings were obviously that of child’s height.
Old houses are so like people, don’t you think? So full of surprises.