Tuesday, August 23, 2005


we've started experimenting with ideas for 3 large canvas's to hang in the lounge.... not there yet, but getting close
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lounge lighting

bit later than promised, but here is a piccie of the lounge with one of the banks of lights on. It looks a bit gloomy in the picture, but it's actually very light and airy in reality...

Monday, August 22, 2005

lounge with sofa

and now with the sofa and pool table unwrapped - celebrate good times come on!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Lounge painted

Well... the top coats are now on the lounge :) and in a few hours it'll be dry enough to fit the lights and socket face-plates. Here's some piccies before it gets too dark:






PS: I'll post some pictures of the lights working if we get time before we collapse for the night

Monday, August 15, 2005


mmm....nice flat chimney :)
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Sunday, August 14, 2005


The lounge with its first coat of paint
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Sanding complete

Not had a chance to do anything during the week, but yesterday we spent the day sanding all the plastered surfaces in the lounge. Took a fair while (we finished about 8:30pm), but it means we can wipe down the dust and start painting today .... yay :)

According to the schedule we set ourselves, we wanted the painting finished by next weekend. Looks like we might just make it, assuming we can get the base coats on today and do the top coats on Friday.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


we've just finished constructing and fitting the shelving unit on the side of the chimney breast. We had to fill some of the gaps where the walls weren't quite vertical, but fortunately it's blended well :)
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Rebuilding the fireplace



1. Back when we first bought the house, you can see the hideous fireplace and accompanying gas fire. Also, the delightful brick effect wallpaper and mock tudor (?) wood panelling that was abundant throughout the ground floor of the house. We quickly removed the fire (as the house inspection prior to purchase had revealed it as a fire risk/health hazard - you can see why) and had the gas pipe capped at floor level by a plumber (cost < £30). We later removed the stone blocks forming the surround and discovered the mortar/concrete holding them together had rotted (for lack of a better term) and crumbled to dust.




2. Next step was to remove the innards of the fireplace, including an old fashioned back boiler (big heavy cast iron boiler). The casting that formed the inside of the fireplace was cracked and would also need to be removed/replaced.... so, we set to with a pneumatic chisel, crowbar and sledgehammer.





3. Sometime later.... we were left with a large irregular hole and a lot of rubble.





4. Now for the good stuff, we decided to construct a new surround using breeze blocks, which we will then plaster and paint. The result should suit the simple, minimalist style we have aimed for with the rest of the house. Fortunately, the materials are also very cheap with the total materials cost coming in at under £30. First task was to mark out and set two blocks vertically to form the base of the surround. The blocks are laid on small pads of mortar, and once that has set, the tops of the blocks will be fixed to the wall of the chimney breast using angle brackets for added rigidity.





The diagram above shows how we marked out the position of the first blocks. Due to the uneven surface of the chimney breast, we first placed marks on the floor vertically beneath the front-most surface of the chimney breast using a spirit level (A). Next we marked lines continuing the sides of the chimney breast out into the room (B). We then ruled a line (C) through the bottom of the A lines, extending out to meet the B lines. We then measured in from the B lines 12cm (D) and marked the outer extent of the blocks. These outer marks and line C then form the markings required to position the first two blocks. We drew round the base of these, before preparing a small bed of mortar and setting them square to the marking lines and vertical using a spirit level.





5. Now the first bed of mortar has set, we've fixed angle brackets between the top of the blocks and the front of the chimney breast





6. Next we've cut a breeze block in half and set the two resulting blocks in a thin bed of mortar atop the first blocks. Once the mortar has set, we will again afix angle brackets between the top of the blocks and the chimney breast.



As an aside, the materials we are using are lightweight aircete, or breeze, blocks. The mortar is actually a ready-mixed combination of sand and cement sold by Wickes, called "Patch Repair and Pointing Mortar" that comes in a groovy white and red bag. It's convinient for small jobs like this as you can mix a small quantities at a time with a consistent ratio of cement to sand. It also avoids having to store large quantities of sand/cement.





7. After the addition of the angle brackets to the top of the second set of blocks. We had to recess the brackets into the top of the blocks to make the next stage easier (all will become clear)





8. To reinforce the two blocks needed to span the top of the fire surround, we first screwed two strips of angle iron to the base of the blocks. We recessed the front strip to maintain a flush finish on the completed surround in order to make the final plastering easier.





9. We then placed the whole assembly atop the existing blocks on a bed of mortar.





10. Next we used undercoat plaster to level the front of the chimney breast, fill holes and seal the gaps between the surround and the chimney breast.





11. Then we added corner beading to the chimney breast ready for skimming after the undercoat has set.





12. The skimmed chimney breast and corner beading attached to the surround ready for it's skim.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Capping the Chimney

Just arranged for the chimney to be capped... more details in axfordReviews

New reviews blog

I've just created a new blog focused on reviews of stuff we own.... you can find it here or click on the link under Other Axford Sites

For the DIY side of things, I plan to review tools and materials that we use, as well as any contracted work we have done.