Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not working or taking care of our three adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

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Simply The Nest House Renovation #10 - Partition and Plastering

Shall we get up to date? I'm mostly sharing renovation updates on Instagram these days because it takes me about three hours to write a blog post and three minutes to do an IG post (don't worry, I don't just share pictures of my feet). It's still nice to use my blog for the full record of our renovation adventures though, so let's do this.

When I originally talked to Builder Tom about the need to try and manage the dust as effectively as possible, on account of the fact that we'd be living in the house for the duration of the build with two kids, two dogs and a baby, he told me not to worry. "We'll build a partition", he said. I'd envisaged this would mean dust sheets festooned everywhere, Dexter-style, with ziplock doors for us to wiggle in and out of. Err, not so much. They built a massive, sturdy, floor-to-ceiling partition from timber framing and chipboard right down the middle of the hallway, and sealed it with expanding foam. They also put chipboard on a 2x2 timber frame across all the walls that were going to be opened up, so the brick could be carefully removed from one side of the wall without impacting the room on the other side.

Very clever, those builders of ours. And it meant 98% of the dust stayed on the side of the house where the work was being done, rather than wafting through the rest of the property. It also meant that carrying trays of food up and down from the cellar was a giant faff because we'd come up the cellar stairs wielding said tray, open the door at the top of the cellar stairs, immediately be faced by the chipboard two feet away, have to sidle round the corner, edge sideways along the rest of the chipboard for a few metres, and eventually be released into the main hallway. Phew. I'm really, really, really, really glad that we don't have to do that anymore.

I took this picture of the main partition while standing on the dusty side of the house looking into the hallway. That timber and chipboard structure slicing down the middle of the photograph? That's a cross-sectionof the partition. On the left-hand side of the partition is what used to be the dining room, where part of the dusty renovation work was taking place. On the right-hand side of the partition is the hallway and cellar door, in the clean(ish) part of the house. It looks insane and I'm sure makes no sense to anyone apart from us, but I'm including the picture here for our record anyway.

Here's the builders in the process of demolishing the chipboard between the living room (yes my Christmas decorations were still up when this picture was taken) and what used to be the playroom.

Whoah, there's a giant new space behind there!!

Let's step through that new opening, and look back at the living room...

The main partition was in the hallway. Here's Esa in the process of taking it down. Yes, we also had a massive stack of boxes taking up all the remaining space in the hall for weeks and weeks and weeks.

The chipboard comes down, revealing the timber supporting frame.

Here's a different view from the stairs.

And gone! You can now see the new tall window at the end of the hall with a line of sight from the front door to the garden.

Meanwhile, the plasterers were cracking on. We'd originally planned to do the plastering ourselves, or at a later stage, but fortunately found some spare change in the budget to pay an excellent team of dudes to do it for us.


From this:

To this.

It finally looks like a house! Now we just need to paint, insulate, sand and oil the floors, fit the skirting board and architrave, repair the cornice, repoint the newly discovered fireplace, lay the tiles, install the kitchen... We'd originally hoped it would all be done by Christmas which clearly isn't going to happen, but it doesn't matter, because we love our new space so much.

Read about our whole renovation journey here. And click here to leave a comment, if you like.


Simply The Nest Victorian House Renovation #9 - The Deck

I think the poor builders nearly lost their marbles over the deck. It sounded simple on paper - steps from the house down to the main deck, and then more steps down to the garden, but the combination of multiple steps that all had to comply with building regs, a curved wall necessitating curved planks, brick risers for some of the steps and decking boards for others, a slope to accommodate the Manchester rain, and a fussy client (me) who kept going outside to inspect progress and saying things annoying things like "I don't like those splintery holes" and "why does it slope so much" meant the whole thing took about three times as long as predicted to build - causing Tom the builder to declare that he spent the last week working on it for free. Sorry, Tom!

Anyway, here's how it was built. The curved wall and brick steps went in first. 

Then the joists went in. For the main deck...

And for the steps. 

The boards went down:

Penny approves... 

As do our girls. 

Nearly there...

And done!

And the gorgeous outdoor lighting. 

The plasterers have finished their work inside now, and we're pretty much DONE. We've started moving back into our new space after months of living upstairs in the bedrooms and downstairs in the cellar - the first job was installing yet another temporary kitchen while we save up for the new one. Photos to follow. 

Click here to leave a comment, if you like.  


The Cellar Kitchen

Today I'm have sharing an insight into the darker side of renovation - literally. We have been living in the house during our building works - because the work is taking place entirely on the ground floor, moving out would have added unnecessary cost, and even if we'd wanted to move out, I doubt we'd have found a short-term let locally that allowed dogs.

While the builders were working externally, we were largely unaffected. Even when they knocked down the back of the house, the building site was partitioned off from the part we were living in, so it wasn't too bad, albeit a bit chilly. However, when the time came to rip the old kitchen out, I'd say that's when we started to notice the presence of the builders ;-)

Having lived through a two-month kitchen renovation at our old house with only a microwave and a panini maker, I was adamant that we would not be spending weeks and weeks washing up in the bath and feeding the children takeaways this time round.

Our solution? Move the entire kitchen into the cellar, Victorian style. Behold - we are living underground like moles:

My favourite part of the room is the baby bouncer that lives under the table, air-raid style, to prevent plaster raining down from the ceiling onto baby Elodie's head.

The room used to look like this so we had a lot of clearing to do first!

And how it looks now from the opposite corner:

Actually it's not too bad. We've got a sink, washing machine and tumble-dryer, fridge-freezer (which joy of joys is in the same room as the rest of the working triangle for the first time in four years), electric oven, worktop space, microwave, toaster, kettle, and all our crockery and china; the latter thanks to Andre who painstakingly removed everything from the shelves, dissembled the Ikea unit, took it downstairs, reassembled it, and then took the china and glassware downstairs piece by piece and placed it back on the shelves (meanwhile I rested peacefully upstairs with eight-week old baby Elodie).

The only downsides are the fact that it's absolutely blooming freezing when it's cold outside, to the extent that you need to wear a parka while cooking (although quite pleasantly cool during the occasional scorchio day we've enjoyed recently,) it's a pain carrying trays of food upstairs Victorian-style to the bedrooms where we are mostly living, and our beloved Gaggia doesn't work as well as it should due to the colder ambient temperature. Middle-class problems... :-) We've managed to muster up some fairly decent chop, mind, despite the slightly unpropitious circumstances - including pulled pork (cellarpulledpork), espresso (cellarspresso), pizza (cellarpizza), and so on. Various lovely friends have also taken pity on us and provided delicious homemade meals to be warmed up, or invited us round for Sunday lamb or Spanish-style tapas. Thank you all!

I'm glad I didn't actually live here during the Victorian age, as I'd almost certainly have been a scullerymaid (if I was lucky) and spent most of my waking hours down here.

Mercifully, the plasterers have nearly finished so we're planning to relocate the temporary kitchen into the new kitchen space while we gradually install the new kitchen units.

Click here to leave a comment, if you like.