We decided that we needed to put some blinds up in the lounge – partly to keep the sun out on really warm days and partly to keep a bit of privacy when it is dark outside and the lights are on inside the house.
We decided to go for vertical blinds – the sort that you regularly see in offices (which was one of our slight reservations). They were relatively inexpensive (£90 for a very large window) and when open there is no material to get in the way and trip over (unlike curtains). We also went for a very light colour to avoid any problems with the material fading – this is a real problem in the lounge. We worked on the basis that if they were a total disaster, it was only £90 at stake!
The blinds are made to order and were ready in less than a week. They were really easy to install and look great once in place. We have been really impressed with these blinds and I don’t think you can really argue about the price either. It makes a huge difference to the room – during the day, it softens bright sunlight and during the evening, it makes it feel an awful lot cosier. Although the photos of the blinds were taken in the last couple of days, they were in fact put up last September. So you can tell that they are wearing well.
We bought the blinds from here – http://www.vertical-blinds-direct.co.uk/ – another local Yorkshire business!
We have just installed some hi-fi speakers in the lounge. Or rather, we have just installed another pair of hi-fi speakers in the lounge.
We had a set of black Celestion speakers and wall brackets from our previous house. We thought they might work well here. But alas, no. While they sounded great, they looked terrible. Against the almost white walls, these large black speakers just stood out like a sore thumb. The wall brackets didn’t help very much as they just stuck them out into the room even further! They had to go!
After doing a bit of research, we found some white Bose 161 speakers. Unlike most Bose kit, they were very reasonably priced. Just £180 for the pair. They also came with their own integral bracket (in matching white and very unobtrusive).
So there was nothing for it, but to take the old speakers down, fill the holes where the brackets had been, repaint that patch of the wall, and finally install the new speakers.
They have definitely been worth the effort. They look and sound great – plenty powerful enough to fill this large space (both the lounge and the kitchen).
All the timber flooring was finished yesterday and today it was the job of sanding the floors and applying the final coat of varnish. The timber boards had already had a couple of coats of varnish before being laid, but the final coat seals the floor and all the joints between the boards. It takes around four hours to go off, but it is best left overnight.
Once the varnish has set, we will fit the skirting boards. These have already had one coat of paint. They will need a second, but at least one coat speeds up the process. The varnish is a satin matt. It only looks glossy in the photo below as the varnish is still wet!
The timber boards already have a couple of coats of varnish on them before they are installed. Once the boards are laid, they are sanded and then a final coat of varnish (polyurethane based) is applied using a felt pad. The varnish is poured into a plastic bin bag in a crate. This enables them to dip the pad fully into the varnish before applying.
The timber flooring is all done now in the lounge. There are three rooms with timber flooring and we managed to get 1.5 done today. The rest will have to wait until next week. We are now in a position for the skirtings to be put on now that the floor is down. There a few cables left over here and there, but we are almost there.
The new timber floor is down in the lounge. This was all installed in a day (together with making a start in the downstairs study).
Now the carpets are down, it is time to start on the timber flooring. There will be timber flooring in the lounge, hall and study. Since the lounge is on the same heating zone as the kitchen, the underfloor heating has been turned off for the last week or so.
We are using engineered Oak boards. Solid oak boards were shrink and twist with the heat from the underfloor heating. The oak flooring should match the oak in the exposed oak trusses. Once the floor is down, it is sealed using a
The flooring is being installed by CJ Flooring in Huddersfield.
The timber flooring has to be made from engineered boards rather than solid boards. This is due to the underfloor heating. The boards are glued onto the concrete screed. This helps with the heat transmission through the floor.
We have started putting the timber flooring down in the lounge. The underfloor heating in here has been off for the last week or so since it is on the same zone as the kitchen where we have been tiling the floor.
The timber flooring is glued to the cement screed. This helps transmit the heat from the underfloor heating. The glue goes off in about 4 hours, but in practice you can walk on it straight away as long as the boards are tightly fitting.
There are 3 sets of rooflights in the extension (in addition to the Veluxes in the bathrooms). There is one set of rooflights in the kitchen and two sets in the lounge. Each set has 5 panes – 2 of which open. Because of the height of the ceilings, these need to be electrically controlled.
The 3 sets of rooflights cost around £6,000. They came with very cheap plastic rocker switches – a bit disappointing given the cost of the windows. We have replaced these and decided to control them using the Loxone kitchen. This means that they can be controlled via switches in the house or remotely via an iPad/iPhone/PC. This gives us the opportunity to automate the opening/closing of the rooflights – e.g. opening when a set temperature inside the property is reached or closing the rooflights when the burglar alarm is set.
Interestingly, the attention was for the Loxone kit to only control the lights, but since we have installed it we have found a number of other uses for it.
The new fireplace (based on a Spartherm Arte 3RL 100H fire insert) was plastered last week. The plaster has dried out over the weekend and we expect to get the lounge decorated this week (with a bit of luck).
We have had the fire on today as the ground source heat pump still isn’t working! Nibe (the manufacturer of the heat pump) are due out on Wednesday, but in the meantime we have no heating or hot water.
We have just finished plastering in the lounge – including the new fireplace and the ceilings. All of the plastering was completed in two days. All fuelled by Lucozade and coffee!
The guys have done an amazing job and I can’t wait to see it when the plaster has dried out completely. This should only take a couple of days once we have the dehumidifier running.
With the aid of copious amounts of Lucozade and coffee (with milk and 2 sugars), the plasterers have managed to plaster all of the lounge (including the ceilings) in just two days. The days have been long, but their work has been outstanding!
It will take a couple of days for the plaster to dry out completely, but this process can be speeded up a bit by using a dehumidifier. With all the rain we had to do, everyone has been glad to be indoors!
We had made some good progress plastering in the lounge over the last couple of days. With any luck, we should be finished in the lounge by close of play tomorrow. This is amazingly quick and the plasterers are doing a great job.
The new chimney breast is really taking shape and it is starting to look like something now!
The pink plasterboard is fireline board. This is more resistant to heat than normal plasterboard and makes it ideal for using around a fireplace.
It is difficult to see with all the scaffolding in the way, but we have plastered about half of the fireplace. The remaining bits of the lounge (including the ceiling) will be finished off tomorrow.
The firebox for the lounge arrived yesterday. We have a slight problem in that the baffle (butterfly) for the flue seems to be missing. However, we should be able to get the unit into position and build the stone fireplace around it. There will be some “fine tuning” required, but nothing that the builder can’t deal with. The design of the fireplace is covered here. However, re-looking at the pictures, we have significantly changed the design – we are now using a firebox with 3 sides of glass rather than 2. We have also gone for a design that is a little more symmetrical.
We are going to have to wait for the missing flue part before using it, however, we can get on with the job of installing it into the fireplace.
The installers are also going to install the Firebelly stove that we bought a few months ago. So although the Spartherm unit might not be operational this weekend, the Firebelly should be!
It doesn’t look very impressive, does it? But over the next few days the fire place will be built around this Spartherm fire box. This is an Arte 3RL 100h (if anyone is interested!). It weighs in at a massive 300kgs!
And here is what the firebox looks like once it is in position!