DIY Extreme Makeover: Plans and progress

It’s been a while now since my last update on our makeover, so I thought I’d bring you up to speed. We’ve been looking at kitchens the last couple of weeks, and even attended a large DIY fair in Lillestrøm a late Friday evening, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to a few re-sellers. What I have learned from this is that even the cheapest DIY shops sells the exact same kitchen models as some of the market leaders in the business, high brow at that. Luckily, since I got shotgun on the study/guest room I thought it only appropriate that Lady C gets to decide on how the kitchen’s supposed to look. That and the fact that I can’t tell one kitchen from another unless one is black and the other is white. And there are so many accessories!

We haven’t shared any plans with you yet, so I thought it would be nice to give you the general overview of this 100 square meter apartment which is nicely situated on the far right end of a 1920 building. The neighbourhood is protected by law, since most of the buildings range from 1910-1930s, with large squares in the back and wide cobblestone streets in between. We’re going for something of a 1890s look however, meaning tall ceilings, open white spaces and nice decor, which is what we both want in an apartment. Shamelessly, I should add, because the neighbours upstairs did a futuristic non-ending white surface theme when they remade their own apartment. It’s like a goddamn gallery up there. But I find it nice that people can live like they want to and not have to worry about what the other neighbours did. Here are some drawings based on copies of the original plans:

The original drawing
In this first image you can see how the the original plans intended two apartments in each sector of the building (three sectors totally over three floors). We bought the one to the right.

The sale of one room
In the early years of the building the owner of our flat, could even be the first owner for what we know, bought one of two living rooms from the neighbour and took down the light wall between the two original rooms making it one if not the biggest apartment in the building!

Some recent changes
This last one shows some of the changes we’ve made and the intended use of each room. The pantry was torn down completely in the 70s to make the kitchen bigger, and all that’s left of it is a small closet with access from the hallway. We’ve widened the door to our study (the extra living room) where we’re gonna put double doors with glass windows. The kitchen is not going to have a door at all, we’ve closed up the 2nd entrance into the living room next to the chimney and moved the bathroom walls about 10 centimeters to the left. There’s gonna be a fireplace in the living room, iron oven in the study and a fireplace in the kitchen, making firewood our main source of heat. The fireplaces are a lot more energy efficient these days, even burning up the gas emitted through the process, meaning we will have a neutral impact on the environment.

We made a bargain on the kitchen fireplace, picture and specs here, which has been showcased in the store for about a year and saved almost 15k on the deal. No one will ever know it’s used goods, except you internet people.

A couple of Sundays ago we started to plaster the walls, putting up one entire bedroom wall in less than three hours. It’s fun when you actually start building things again, instead of just tearing down, and this Tuesday we put up 50% of the new ceiling in the study and another wall. It’s hard to make people understand how much work that has to be done in order to get where we are now, because all the stuff we have removed (that’s 6 tons, baby) and transported away is naturally out of sight and out of mind! This is why I dread the thought of taking down the kitchen and driving away all that garbage, fake brick walls etc etc.. On the other hand it’s so reassuring to see how nice and level the new walls are. Gotta say I love the sight of ninety degree angles in the morning!

New plaster walls
Comparison of old and new. The old walls looked cool after we steamed the old wallpaper off, but they are really uneven and crumble easily, meaning that while they are not dangerous to be around in terms of falling down on you they probably pose a serious health hazard if you’ve got bad lungs or asthma.

New ceiling
Here’s the new ceiling coming up in my study, complete with hidden EL installation.

We’re taking it step by step and realize that our initial plans, which included moving in the 15th of August were overly optimistic. When people ask today we just say ‘Sometime before Christmas’ and look the other way. Here’s what happened to the bathroom:

Original bathroom
The bathroom as we bought it

Bathroom by twelfth of September
And this is how it looked 12th of September. The only change to date is that the new walls are up, increasing the length of the room by 10 centimeters

What’s going on with the bathroom? Nothing! What happened? The Swine Flu, apparently. But I can’t go into details about that now. At the moment we’re just happy that we have a toilet we can use whenever we are working on the flat. The plan today is to finish the bedroom and the bathroom, move in, and finish while we begin to live there. Good thing the fireplace in the living room is due this Monday.

Like I said we are taking it step by step, and that is because we both work, and in addition I study at the University every Friday. I’ve managed to get Tuesdays and Fridays off work, and while three-four hours Fridays are lost to studying we try to do as much as possible those two days of the week. Then there are the weekends when we just have to get something done, be it building or transporting, depending on how much and when Lady C is working. Nurses have to work at the most terrible hours I tell you, and get very little in return. But when this flat is finished it’s gonna be the greatest place ever to spend your time, and right now I’m really excited about how things are going. A thought well worth keeping in mind. More to come later!

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