I recently took a week off to work on my flat. There is so much to be done, but I’m gradually chipping away at the list (literally, in some cases) and progress is being made, albeit at a very slow pace.
One thing I really wanted to finish last week was stripping the living room wallpaper. I’ve stripped many rooms in my time, and it’s never taken longer than a day before. This room, however: this room is my nemesis. I thought I’d somehow lost the ability to strip paper, until a builder came over, took one look at the walls and said “This must be hell to strip.” Yep, it is.
You see, at some point in its life the living room was painted with an especially sticky kind of paint. I don’t really understand how it works, but it makes it much more difficult than normal to remove wallpaper. If you’ve ever stripped a wall before, you’ll probably have reached a spot where someone’s put polyfiller in a hole, and the wallpaper sort of sticks to it, so you have to do some extra scraping around that area to set it free. Know what I mean? Yeah, that’s what the whole fucking wall is like. All bar one of them, anyway.
Alongside that problem, there’s also the problem of some bright spark deciding to put up to four layers of woodchip on each wall. Yes, you read that right. There’s a single wall over by the door which just has one layer of woodchip and no sticky paint, and when I stripped that one I nearly cried with relief. It was so easy! The wallpaper was coming off in giant strips like it’s meant to! But see the walls in the picture? Each section takes HOURS. Hours, I tell you.
Dampening the walls with a wet cloth beforehand helps, and so does running two steamers at once, but other than that there’s not much you can do beyond just keeping going. I got most of the room done during my week off; there are now only two half-wall patches left to do. I’m not looking forward to doing them, but I am looking forward to it being finished. Unfortunately I have a horrible feeling that I might also need to strip the sticky paint off from underneath, and I have no idea how to even begin that, but one step at a time.
But anyway, I did get some other stuff done from the flat list.
I’ve decided what I’m doing about heating. My decision will shunt back the finish date by probably at least a couple of months, but at this point I’ve been living in a building site for so long that an extra few weeks is hardly going to make a difference.
I’ve removed the final bits of the manky secondary glazing that’s been littering the window frames since long before I moved in. Seriously, this stuff is disgusting. I have no idea why people get it installed.
I’ve worked out what I’m doing about lighting, which essentially boils down to “as little as possible”, so I’m going to call my friendly electrician and get him to install a light fitting pronto. (If you need a good electrician in West London, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.)
Another thing that got knocked off the list was ‘lay the new floor’, not because I’ve already done it but because – joy of joys! – I found I don’t have to. When I pulled up the floor in the hallway I discovered that the original floorboards are still there! So I can just make them shiny or paint them and that’ll save me time and cash.
As you’ve probably guessed from the picture, ‘rip up the floor in the hallway’ has also been crossed off the list. I haven’t ripped up the whole living room floor yet though, because as soon as I saw the floorboards I decided it’d be wiser to finish everything else before taking them up, so I don’t make a mess on the nice old floor.
And so far, that’s all I’ve done. The bedroom and kitchen still need work, but they’re after the living room and hallway. I’ve also cleared the rubbish from behind the little wall outside, so at least I’ll be able to put some plants in there and make it look less like a dumping ground and more like a nice place to walk past.