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 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. 

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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.

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Simply The Nest Victorian House Renovation #8 - Render, Roof Lantern and Bifolds

Three of the elements of the build that I was most looking forward to seeing in real life were the bifolds, the roof lantern, and the render. The architectural intention of the extension was to combine old and new in a way that both complemented and energised the original building. So white rendered walls on a reclaimed brick plinth - Mediterranean meets Manchester, if you like, and described poetically by Dan the architect as "a white arm cradling the old building" - and a new set of glass openings including bifold doors, a roof lantern, a glass back door, and a giant kitchen window, all made from anthracite aluminium.

We chose the XPView doors from Express Bifolds in anthracite with a metallic finish (thank you again Sian for your assistance with this). They are sturdy, smooth, slightly sparkly, and both the customer service and installation were impeccable. The lead time for delivery was also very short - no more than 2-3 weeks. Thoroughly recommended. 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Ah, the roof lantern. Tom the builder magicked up a company to create this - it arrived as a flat pack and the builders installed it themselves. I love how it makes you look up at the original chimneys, which otherwise you'd probably never even think to crane your neck and cast your eye over. Old meets new and it's beautiful. 

After the doors and windows went in, the renderers got to work. I am completely in love with how this has turned out. 

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

Review of Express Bifolds by Simply The Nestm, a UK renovation blog

I was less keen on the process of selecting the render at our local building merchant...

Me: Hi, my contractor sent me to look at samples of K-Rend and Weber. 

Bentley's man: We don't have any samples of K-Rend. 

Me: Apparently you said my contractor couldn't take them away and that I would have to come here to look at them. 

Bentley's man, after scratching his head: Here's the book with the K-Rend in it, love. 

Me: What about the Weber samples?

Bentley's man: Weber is the same as K-Rend. 

Me: Well, my contractor asked me to look at both. Is it the same product with two different trading names?

Bentley's man: They're the same thing, love. 

Me, after consulting my text messages: My contractor asked me to speak with Jason. 

Bentley's man: Implacable stare. 

Me: Are you Jason?

Bentley's man: No, love. 

Me: Is Jason here?

Bentley's man, after more head scratching: Yes, he's in the back. 

Me, after a pause, during which it became clear that Jason was not going to materialise: Would you mind getting him, please?

Jason appears. 

Me: I'm here to look at K-Rend and Weber samples. 

Jason: Certainly madame, I see you already have the K-Rend book so I'll just go and get the Weber one for you. 

Me: &*%$£%!!!

Still to come - the deck, the plastering, and the final internal openings and glass. Then we will be finished and can move onto kitchens, tiles, wallpaper and paint, how exciting!

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