Week 2

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This week I’ve learned that it’s hard to stick to doing just one thing when everything needs done, however, to make effective progress, it’s better to pay attention to one area at a time so for now, downstairs is my main area of focus.

Wallpaper

Week two continued with more wallpaper stripping. The flock wallpaper comes off relatively easily, the surface layer mostly tears off without much effort and there’s just lining paper underneath, so repeated soaking makes that removable.

The built in cupboard is more of a problem. As well as a surface layer of wallpaper, this has many layers of paint and other materials.

I realised that some more substantial tools would be required so I made a trip to B&Q in Perth. I came away with a heat gun, a jigsaw (I reckon I’ll have to develop my wood working skills) and a workbench.

So far, the heat gun has not provided the super-effective removal process I was hoping for but this may be more due to the fact that I haven’t used one in about 25 years so need to develop my confidence and technique a bit.

The plan with this wall is to reline the cupboard with OSB board and demolish and replace the wooden shelving and fireplace.

Kitchen bits

Later in the week I was idly flicking through Gumtree (the upcycler’s best friend) when I came across a collection of Ikea Varde kitchen units located in Anstruther.

I’ve been thinking hard about what to do with the kitchen. It’s very small and U shaped. There’s no scope to expand the width though I can extend the length into the living area. A new, fitted kitchen was never going to be achievable on my limited budget and it didn’t feel like the right thing for me anyway. I’m going for a kind of eclectic/industrial look so free standing units seemed to be a better approach. Ikea’s Varde range are substantial, free standing units with a pro-kitchen look with hefty, butcher’s block surfaces and lots of stainless steel. They were made in the 90’s and early 2000’s but have since been discontinued. There’s a growing cult around these now and I’ve seen them on ebay for several hundred pounds per unit.

There was no doubt these were the right character for my kitchen so I immediately made an offer on them. The big issue was going to be logistics of getting them from Anstruther and into the house.

I rented the first available van which turned out to be a monster LWB Transit (2.5m tall, just under 6m in length!). I thought it was ludicrously oversized but it turned out be very useful indeed.

Having a van for 24 hours was going to be extremely useful in a variety of ways so, on Friday afternoon I set about removing the old kitchen breakfast bar and units so I could get the new unit in (nowhere else to store it) and get rid of some of the debris.

During this I discovered another hidden ‘feature’. An electric heater was situated under the old cooker-top right of pic 2. I had noticed a separate socket for it above the worktop but had assumed it was long removed. Lord knows how this was ever considered safe.

On Saturday morning we began the epic struggle of getting the main unit (hereafter The Beast) to the house. This involved taking the worktop off just to get it out the van. The Beast had to be shifted in small increments down the street. Two of us struggled with this for about 20 minutes before one of my new neighbours (whom I met that morning) took pity on us and offered to assist. The Beast was delivered to the house in a more or less straightforward fashion after that.

This is not the final location for The Beast but it gives some idea of the scale, it takes up an entire wall of the original kitchen.

More wallpaper

After further runs in the van to the dump and storage unit in Perth, it was time to turn my attention back to wallpaper. I mentioned in a previous post that I had resolved to get a steamer to assist with removing the wallpaper. I’ve done a fair bit of research online about the benefits and I’ve yet to find anything which conclusively says that a steamer is better than the manual approach. Luckily my fellow volunteer from Remake offered to lend me his to try out. Having tried it out on several different kinds of wallpaper I can report the following:

A steamer is heavy in the hand so can get a bit tiring to use over a large area.

It seems to be less effective where a fabric is involved – such as felty flock paper.

It is very effective on painted, textured paper. The latter comes off in large sections with very little effort. Good news for me as I have acres of this stuff to deal with.

My final conclusion is you need all the approaches to get wallpaper off particularly if you have a variety of types. Steaming works well on some kinds, others, perhaps those bonded with superglue, still require to be manually scored, soaked again and again and scraped repeatedly.

The second living room wall is now stripped. And the lurid orange colour is paint, so I have another layer to go if I want to see the original plaster!

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