A tale of joinery day 3

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Final day of having joiners on site so this would be the exciting completion of nearly all the work for this phase.

Day two finished with the frame being constructed on the outside kitchen wall. This wall was a nightmare of different finishes (lining paper and painted plaster) and wildly varying levels (the bottom of the wall bulged by several centimeters). I might have considered leaving it raw if I could have achieved the look of this stripped area across the whole wall but it wasn’t feasible so it was more effective to cover the whole thing.

Once again OSB was the material of choice. The rest of the frame was constructed in minutes and the whole wall was faced within an hour. Both the joiner and I were well pleased with the result. We both reckon the kitchen now feels much bigger.

Next the loft wall was completed. It’s not pretty but they did a good job in a very awkward space and it is now safe.

The final part of this phase was to hide the two fireplaces in the bedrooms. The chimney had been removed from the house years ago so there was no value to having any real fires. The fireplace in the living room had been replaced by a giant monstrosity which we demolished on day 1 (more of the plan for that later), in the bedrooms the two cast iron fireplaces had been hidden behind ugly, ribbed hardboard in a delightful shade of salmon pink.

The fireplaces were just about the only original feature of the house worth keeping (and even they had been modified or were replacements as ghost shapes of much bigger fire surrounds were visible after the wallpaper was removed) and I would have been happy to use them if there had been some way of doing so. Removing them wasn’t an option due to time and budget (who knows what the patching and clean up job would have been like had they been taken out) so I decided to hide them with a couple more OSB utility walls.

The idea was to create a feature which would be both interesting and make it easier to add functional stuff like sockets, lights, shelves etc without having to negotiate with the variable quality plaster.

The fireplaces were boxed in and the walls constructed around them so they’re still intact if anyone should want to exhume them in the future. In the front bedroom the OSB box goes right to the ceiling, this will allow for maximum flexibility in adding interesting stuff for Katie.

In the other bedroom there were going to be complications due to the proximity to the coomb of the ceiling and also because there are some original cornices left in this room. The solution was to change the depth of the wall by boxing in the lower half then attaching a single sheet of OSB at the top (thanks Chris for the idea). This reduced the complexity of adjusting for the coomb and removed the requirement to cut a complicated shape to accommodate the cornice. It created a very useful mantle shelf in the middle and reduces the slight ‘tombstone’ effect of the OSB box.

Once again the joiner and I were very pleased with this, though I reckon the joiner was just grateful not have have to do all that scribing.

This completed all the work for the phase of the project. It was a very satisfying but hugely intense week. Keeping up with overseeing multiple workmen, making dozens of decisions and putting up with Radio 1 blaring out at deafening volume for 6-7 hours a day took its toll on me. The final job for me was to remove debris which had accumulated in the garden over the week. Thanks again to Chris for taking particular care over the breaking and clearing up of all the panes of old glass.

I hired a van so I could get rid of it then make a road trip to Ikea in Glasgow the next day for some vital fittings for the kitchen.

One final job which was not completed was the replacement for the living room fireplace. After the demolition, it was clear that a substantial solution would be required and that nothing original could be kept and the wall is so packed with rubble and other material that it will have to be held in with something. Thankfully Mike the contractor came up with an industrial styled solution (involving yet more OSB…) that will do the job. They’ll be back to finish that soon.

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