9 October 2014

Choosing paint

It was really important to us that the materials we use "inside the envelope" are as healthy and environmentally friendly as possible. This is always a difficult choice as there is always a axis with these things and everyone will take a different position as to what they feel is 'green'.  The paints are marketed variously as eco, natural, green, and organic each implying a different viewpoint and ethos and the trick is discovering what that means, what you think is important and which direction you are going to go in...!






6 October 2014

Bathroom tiles - Sourcing

Early in the bathroom design process I had moaned about how cleaning the grout on bathroom tiles has to one of the most miserable domestic jobs, second only to cleaning the oven. I looked for ages for an alternative to a tiled wall.  

Charlie and I discussed a morrocan style of lime plaster called Tadelakt. Very elegant and calm looking.  You can go on courses to learn how to do it yourself. 



Tadelakt lime plaster ©MikeWye.co.uk

16 September 2014

On Technology

Dimitri writes. This is not an article about the technology that will become part of the house. There is remarkably little of that in the sense of gadgetry and gizmos; of course, the materials involved are all technology of one sort or another, as are things like windows, doors, lighting and heating, but it's all fairly conventional stuff. The only thing in that department that stands out is the MVHR unit which ventilates the house while retaining the house's heat.

We decided not to go for the clich├ęd self build tech such as

28 August 2014

Sneaky Peak

We are preparing to leave our current home and shed all the superfluous stuff we have accumulated over the last 3.5yrs.  I love the feeling of relief and lightness I get when I drop off huge bags to the charity shop or recycling.  We have no choice as our new house is smaller than our current one.  We've also had to shed a lot of furniture as it won't fit/isn't needed.  But I am not sad about this, in fact I'm really looking forward to having fewer things and keeping on top of it all, more space often just means more dumping and clutter...

At the same time work is non-stop at the house as we try to get as much done before we move in.  We are moving before it is ready or finished, a couple more weeks would have made things a lot easier for the work schedule.  But needs must.  We promised we would leave our current house by the end of the summer and the children are starting at their new school.  Enough already.

As I really can't prioritise the blog at this critical time, I thought I'd share a few photos to preview everything that I will detail soon.  It has been very exciting to finally get to this moment... I can't believe that we are actually going to be living there.
































23 August 2014

Kitchen progression

The chaps at Sustainable Kitchens have been busy and I popped into their workshop to get some previews!

This beautiful Dinesen box is going to house my extractor fan.  It looks amazing!






The carcass is constructed from birch ply and is rock solid.  Even without the fronts it looks fantastic.






I can't tell you how beautiful these drawers are.  They are dovetail jointed at the corners and they feel like they will last forever.






I got to open the box and have a first look at my sink, Kohler Vault Offset Double.  It was chosen over the internet as I couldn't find anywhere locally to look at it in person, but I'm not disappointed. This was one of the first things I chose for the kitchen, and you know what i'm like about sinks and taps!  The decision for the countertop material was one of the last choices.  I was very nervous about having a sink and countertop in the same material, I was worried that the sink would lose it's impact.  Also I prefer inset sinks to under-mounting and I worried about how the edge would look. Below I was looking at how the a wobble-sanded stainless steel finish would look.  This way of finishing the steel has many advantages as it shows less smearing and fingerprints and also allows you to sand out any scratches yourself relatively easily.





And finally my moveable island.  WOW!




21 August 2014

So, so, behind with updates

Hello, I am still here!  I am so sorry for the lack of updates.  I thought that my deadline of the build finishing sometime during the Summer Holidays was really clever.  After all, instead of the normal Xmas deadline with the focus all leading towards one day, this time there were 6 whole weeks.  However the sheer craziness of the 2nd fix, with so many decisions to be made and items to be ordered, coinciding with school holidays and trying to find time to enjoy with my three children has been HECTIC! I'm exhausted, mentally and physically. There is NO spare time, and I don't have time to write about it all now.  But I will and soon - before I forget it all!  

3 August 2014

The Dinesen arrives!

The day arrived for the Dinesen Douglas delivery from Denmark.  The boards arrived on huge pallets, which would have taken hours to unload by hand.  Ali was quickly sent off to get a tele-lifter to get the crates out of the truck.














We unwrapped them straight off the truck.  So full of character.  Beautiful.








Within an hour and a half of arriving on site the floor was already being laid.  Andrew reported that it was the best floor that he had ever put down.  The planks were perfect and went down very quickly.












We had a four day hiatus before it was sanded in preparation for finishing. 














I had convinced Andrew that he and I would be able to do the finishing ourselves.  He would do the sanding and I would do the applying of products and polishing of the floor.  I had spent hours pouring over the Dinesen post installation booklet and watching the Dinesen videos.  First job was to apply the lye solution.  This lightens the planks and prevents the colour deepening over time.  Using the provided roller, I applied the lye solution and already we were in unknown territory as it didn't behave like in the video.  We were finishing the floor on a hot summer evening, and who knows what difference that made.  The lye was absorbed by the planks very quickly.  I was left wondering whether I should go over it all again...







In the morning we could see that the planks had been lightened by the lye.  The instructions said that we needed to lightly sand the planks before applying the oil.  We were really unsure how much to sand as there was a cloudy white layer on the top of the planks and we could either leave it mostly there or sand a bit more and let the grain come up.  It was our bad luck that the morning we were doing this the Dinesen office was closed for annual holiday (they had been brilliant about talking me through the process the previous week), so we had to just decide for ourselves.  We were applying a white oil next so we were worried that if we left too much pigment on the boards then the floor would be really white and the grain obscured.  






Then came the white oil application, saturating the floor with the oil twice in quick succession and then polishing the excess oil away.







No photos of this part of the job as it was extremely time pressured and busy.  Applying the fluids was simple but we quickly realised that I was not strong enough to operate the floor polishing machine- an enormous brute that had a mind of it's own.  With the oil on the floor it was like a skating rink and even Andrew struggled to control it.  But eventually he wrestled it into submission and I became a builders mate, constantly changing the floor cloths.  If you decide to do a similar thing my tip is buy a LOT of floor cloths.  I bought 50, thinking it would loads more than I would need and I'd be using them for the next 5 years.  I could have got 100. An hour or so later we were admiring the floor.  The grain was now being fully expressed and it was a gorgeously rich colour.  The oil seemed to have dissolved any lye pigment and had brought out the colour of the floor.  In retrospect we wondered whether we should have not sanded as much after the lye coat, but seeing as we have nothing to compare it too we're none the wiser!








After 48 hours we applied the second, single, coat of white oil and that has given the floor a subtly lightened effect.

  








I love it!  And I loved being involved with finishing it!  It feels like it's ours now and I know it's story.  Things have been incredibly stressful recently (it's money/mortgage related - I haven't been able to write about it as it's been too much like an open wound, there will be a post soon) so this process of getting closer to the final finishes and creating our family home has been so positive and energising.

It really is a beautiful floor!