Friday, April 05, 2024

Brunswick Road 14 - Living Room

Penrith, Cumbria. February-2024. Money Pit II, Season 2, Episode 2 - Living Room.

It has been a month of frenetic DIY that had to be crammed in between Money Pit II, Season 2, Episode 1 - Yard Work, and flying off to Italy. We had decided to have the plaster in our living room stripped and replaced for several reasons:

  • In winter the room was freezing as the front wall gets most of the weather and the central heating was insufficient. The advice was to put in 50 mm insulating plasterboard and replace the radiator with a new, more efficient one.
  • We were hoping there might be a lovely stone chimney breast and fireplace hidden behind the plaster, as there was in Benson Row.
  • The plaster on the corridor wall had blown. You could tell by tapping it that the skim plaster was coming away from the backing plaster.

We were able to organise it such that we were away from home when most of the destruction took place. The dust sadly will take longer to clear.

Alas, the chimney breast was a hodgepodge of old bricks and stones with no lovely lintel. So our builder put in a new concrete lintel and covered the wall up with 20 mm insulating plasterboard.

When the plaster was removed the wall against the entrance hall turned out to be a stud wall with a cavity between the two sides of lath and plaster. In the bottom left corner, in the freezing lobby, there wasn't even lath and plaster just a piece of hardboard. As part of the reinstatement, the void was packed with insulation and then covered with 20 mm insulating plasterboard.

I had wanted to recycle the original Victorian skirting boards with their elaborate profile. We found a local, proper old-school sawmill that could re-create this for us as we needed a short section to make up a shortfall. When I came to bash out all the old nails, it did so much damage to the original timber that we decided to abandon that idea and go with all new skirting board.

As soon as the plaster work was complete and dry, I had to emulsion the ceiling (one coat), and all the walls (two coats). As we were putting in a new picture rail I had to be very careful to paint down to the laser guided line that marked where it would go, brilliant white above, white mist below. I also had to prime the picture rail with a couple of coats and prime and paint the section of skirting board that would go behind the new radiator so they were ready for the carpenter to install them. The plumber came the same day as the carpenter and replaced all three downstairs radiators so the house was a bit busy.

After the skirting boards and picture rail were in place, I had to finish off the woodwork painting: top coat on the picture rail, primer times two and topcoat on the skirting boards. It was vital to get those done before the carpet was fitted!

As the fireplace was disappointing, we went for an original Victorian fireplace insert from a large selection at Cumbria Architectural Salvage. 

None of the fireplace / stonemasons in town could quote and supply a hearthstone in time so we cheated. We bought a piece of wood from B&Q, cut it to shape, and painted it matt black. Since we won’t be using the fireplace as a real fire (the chimney is capped off and would need lining) a wooden hearth is not a problem. It does mean that the carpet fitters could do their thing working up to the “hearthstone”. We could replace it at some point but we suspect it’ll be there for at least 10 years!

We had chosen a higher tog underlay and carpet which the carpet fitters installed in under an hour! After they left, we could reinstate the room as it should be. New curtains and sofa to follow...

Looking all very wonderful. We now have insulated walls and floor and a new radiator that is no longer under the window sill so we expect to be very toasty in there from now on. 

No comments: