The Rainy Day Project… Part 1

You know what I mean by “dead spaces” in the house? Every home has at least one; those little corners that aren’t quite big enough to take a proper piece of furniture, or do anything much in. We’ve had one since we moved in here; the understair cupboard was just exactly big enough for everything to get hopelessly lost & jumbled in, but not big enough for me to get into to find things again. So it got ripped out in the interests of sanity; it’s been curtained off ever since.

Our hallway is long & narrow; it runs the full length of the house from front to back door, straight through the middle, and is very much a passageway in continual use. The stairs run straight up from outside the living room door, near the front door, with no turns. So the area under there is quite a good size, but obviously long & thin, low at one and and high at the other. For many years we had a tall freezer at the high end, near the kitchen door, but some months ago I worked out that half the stuff we were expending electricity on keeping frozen was actually junk. So I replaced it with a worktop-height one; there’s also a big chest freezer out in the garage, so all we needed was a bit of cold storage for frozen veg & ice cream indoors. This opened up some intriguing possibilities; if we could just work out how, the space could probably be put to better use. The rest of it had some freestanding shelves & no obvious function, so had filled up with fairly random & long-forgotten clutter.

There were three possibilities; food storage, laundry sorting & storage, or an office area. All three functions can be carried out elsewhere, to be honest, but the one that really needed a dedicated area of its own was the home-office. We now have a much-improved utility room with a worktop for laundry-sorting, there’s plenty of storage in my kitchen cupboards which just isn’t being used effectively at the moment, and cool storage out in the garage, but at present the official “desk” is shared with the electric sewing machine, working fabric & the dyestuffs, so it doesn’t stand much of a chance!

I sat down & made a list; it turns out that we actually already own virtually everything we need to turn this rather-dispiriting “dead space” into a quirky vintage-style officette. We had a run of worktop left over from the utility room revamp, which is just about exactly the right length. It can sit across the top of the freezer and the top of a useful cupboard “stolen” from DS3’s room. I won two rolls of delightful vintage wallpaper on Ebay some time ago, to finish a project which only took a few inches in the end; there’s plenty for this space there, and I have several rolls of lining paper. When I gave up the shop, the new owner didn’t need the wall-hung shelves from the kitchen, so I have those in there already, and a nicely OTT vintage lamp. There’s still some laminate flooring to match the hallway, and some underlay that turned up with something else. I thought I might need to buy a gang-plug, but it turns out I already had an appropriate one, also left over from the shop. Primer & paint, if we don’t have anything appropriate, can usually be sourced for free at the Tip in smallish quantities, and that’s all I’ll need. And my beloved kneeling chair, which had been banished from the living room as it doesn’t fit in with the look of it at all, slides neatly under the worktop.

But there’s quite a lot of work to do. I need to sand down, prime & paint the underside of the stairs. Then clean, size & line the walls, hang the paper, and lay the flooring. It’s not a big area; each job will probably only take a few hours, but will get in everyone’s way mightily as I’ll have to haul everything out of the space in order to work in it! So in my mind it’s become The Rainy Day project; I will start each “phase” at a time when I’m likely to be able to finish it without being distracted or dragged out to do something more interesting. I’ll be taking photos along the way to document my progress, and my ambition for this project is for it to be 100% “re-purposed” i.e. using stuff that we already have, or other people don’t want, and to complete it without spending any money at all!

There are lots of little details to sort out too; I’ll need to find & install a sliding keyboard shelf as the worktop is a little too high for comfortable typing. A broken computer desk should provide one without too much trouble. I can get quite carried away with vintage fabric & lace, making up a suitable pinboard, not to mention a clipboard, and other useful accessories. I already have some quirky magazine files, but may need to lighten them up a bit. It would be good to run the phone over there too, but how to do that without having dangling cables, OR spending any money?

Anyway, one way or another, I’ll be busy for the next week or two, provided the weather continues in its current gloomy vein. It’s nice to be able to look forward to rainy days! Leave me a comment & tell me what projects you have lined up…

Free paint!

Just passing the word around – if you need paint or woodstain, and don’t want to shell out loads of money, or want to use something that would otherwise be wasted, get down to your local Tip now! At ours and others nearby, paint is FREE and most of the time they have a huge choice, from almost-full giant tubs to tiny sample pots in a vast range of colours; we picked up a virtually-full large tin of Farrow & Ball a couple of weeks ago. And most of the paint we found to use in our kitchen is low-VOC, so you may well find suitable paint for households with asthmatics/young children too. If you only need a little, it saves you having to buy a bigger pot than you need. There’s woodstain too; my bantam hutch is done out in a fetching shade of Woodland Green, having found a half-pot down there, which was all I needed, so the only thing that cost me any money at all was the hinges. They can’t advertise, for commercial reasons, so please make it your first port-of-call when you’re looking for paint; then tell all your friends, and point out that it’s the environmentally-sound thing to do!