I wasn't really sure what to write for our first ever blog post. It's hard trying to think of something to write about that would be relevant or even interesting when you aren't quite up and running yet. It occurred to me that many of our local customers will have been watching the goings on outside 102 with interest, so I thought I would share the hellish DIY journey Jon and I embarked on when we tried to completely refurbish our little studio. We had no budget to speak of and pretty much idiotic levels of incompetence when it came to DIY.
We have never been ones to be frightened by the unknown we are very much doers rather than planners. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not!
So let me take you back, way way back to 2008. We own 104, a rather odd little house spanning the top floors of two terraces and half the ground floor of one. It was kind of wrapped around the Post Office. We bought it as a starter home when we were first married and had never intended staying long. Funny thing about buildings is they kind of get under your skin and this one is our home. I couldn't possibly live anywhere else. I love Sheriff Hill and love the community I am part of both up hill and down in Low Fell. Anyway, I am waffling here. Let me get back to the story.
It's 2008, spring, I have a jokey conversation with Mr Kumar our lovely neighbour and the Post-Master of Sheriff Hill Post Office.
"Ha ha, Laura you are getting big! (I was pregnant with twins at the time) fancy buying the post office?"
"Ha ha, yes sure I would rock being a Post-Master!"
It went on like this for a few weeks until it became apparent that he actually meant it. So to cut a long story short we bought it, I had twins, we moved my jewellery/womenswear business into it and did nothing to the building for 7 years.
2016 we decided to replace the whole front window as it seemed to be collapsing. We had a heated discussion about what to do with the interior, as it was probably a good time to get it sorted out.
In the end, we decided we would figure it out as we went along and that is exactly what happened.
First the outside...The external woodwork was overseen by two extremely skilled joiners called Jake and Mark. The two of them have done so much work for us over the years that we now class them as our friends and we love the way they work with us to create things. They always listen to our ideas no matter how odd and have their own input that really helps the design process. We love working with them and they are great to have around.
The original design for the window was based on old photographs of the property. We wanted it to be as true to the original window design as possible. Jake suggested building it out of a relatively new material called Accoya, a wood that has been treated to completely repel water. The panelling was Triccoya, the 'MDF' version of Accoya.
The beginning of the process involved ripping out the old window and replacing the sagging wooden beam holding up our house with a massive steel one.
The main body of the window in place.
Here is the window going in with total interference from our three kids. Another reason why Jake and Mark flipping rock!
We weren't sure what to do with regards to detailing. Jake suggested using timber from some reclaimed church pews he had in his workshop. I loved this idea and I loved that something with some history was making up our new window.
Once all the details were on it was time to decide on paint colour. Jake had saved a piece of trim from the original window, hidden under the post office sign. The top layer of paint was black, when I scraped away the black paint I found the most beautiful teal colour. It was this that we colour matched to the front.
The inside was a bit of a job. We did most of it ourselves. We began by ripping out all of the panelling from the original post office and dismantling the lowered ceiling.
When we tore down the ceiling we discovered two beautiful original ceiling roses.
We pulled up several layers of hardboard and vinyl tiles to reveal the original floor, which we sanded. I watched a few youtube videos of how to plaster and patched up the original ceiling, a couple of the walls and the area over the counter. We moved all the lighting cables so they fed through the original ceiling roses and panelled the walls with pegboard.
I used a kids colouring-in app on my phone to plan the doorway mosaic then spent 6 hours shouting obscenities trying to lay the tiles.
We built a partition to separate my print area from the main shop.
I created a light fitting from some plumbing pipe and a bunch of wires I bought online. More swearing and general radge behaviour from me!
We added Vinyl signage as we can make that ourselves. Yes, you guessed it, more swearing was involved putting that up!
Now it is all finished I am so excited to fill it with what we make. We will be opening early October and I cant wait to open our doors to you all so you can have a good snoop!
I am so proud of what we have achieved on a shoestring budget. It has been a true labour of love and we have literally put our hearts and souls into it. And big thanks to Jake and Mark at Dovetail Woodwork for being on hand to offer advice when things went wrong and just being generally awesome.