When we last visited the ongoing renovation saga, we were waiting for an electrician to visit. This visit was promised by the electrician who had fixed the blown fuse that had defused our Thanksgiving Dinner, and who had been appalled by the state of the electrics. This had happened before, and no promised visit had occurred, so my wife and I set out to find suitable tiles for the half-finished kitchen.
|This is what we have been living with since November
We brought the tiles home and I contacted the Kitchen Guy to come and finish the job. Then an amazing thing happened: an electrician came to the flat to prepare an estimate for the landlord to upgrade the fuse box.
We were astonished by this. The landlord had, heretofore, shown no interest in fixing the the fuse-box, despite it having been repeatedly reported as A) antiquated and B) dangerous. Apparently, he got tired of being told and figured he’d at least see how much it would cost to stop electricians chuntering on about it.
The electrician fiddled a bit, wrote up a quote (nowhere near as much as what we had already spent on the kitchen) and then set about unscrewing a switch-plate so he could see what the wiring behind it looked like. I told him he could see all the electrics he wanted to in the kitchen, where the walls were still nothing but plaster and wires, and he thought that was a grand idea, until he saw it.
When he entered the kitchen, he literally groaned and said, “I wish you hadn’t shown me this.”
Apparently, the wiring in our kitchen was not only dangerous, it was illegal, and to remain true to his electrician’s oath, he was duty-bound to report it. This meant the landlord would have to have the kitchen rewired, which did not make me happy. Causing the landlord to spend money had not been the plan. In fact, the entire project had been conceived so he wouldn’t have to spend any money, and here he was being forced to shell out God knows how much to rectify illegal wiring. This was not going to endear us to him, and I could see our nice, new kitchen being enjoyed by someone else while we lived under a bridge. (Revenge evictions are like a competitive sport among landlords here.)
|Apparently, this isn\’t the done thing.
And so, the electrician left, and we called the Kitchen Guy and told him to stand down because it would do little good for him to tile the kitchen only to have it torn apart for the wring to be done. And we waited.
The holidays came and went, a new year arrived, and another birthday eased me into an era that, as Paul McCartney notes, finds me losing my hair and wondering if someone will still send me a valentine, birthday greeting or bottle of wine.
And, still, we waited.
Then, in mid-February, the electrician arrived, and we had to move everything out of the kitchen and stack it in the living room while, for two days, he fiddled with wires and left us sitting in the dark for extended periods. When he left, we cleaned up, moved all the stuff back into the kitchen and called the Kitchen Guy. I expected to spend a week or so chasing him around, but he called straight back and told us he’d send a guy to do the plastering the next day.
So, we took everything out of the kitchen, again, and re-stacked it in the living room.
The plastering took only one day, but it needed five days to dry.
It also took me into an arena I am unfamiliar with. I can put up sheet rock, but plastering, to me, is a dark art. And seeing the plaster go on is a stark reminder that rooms in British houses are really little more than squared off caves. Plaster also has properties I was unaware of. Before the Plaster Guy left, he told me I needed to put a mist coat on it (after it dried, of course). I was grateful for this information, because it was news to me. When would I have ever painted raw plaster?
The Plaster Guy told me to mix equal amounts of paint and water, put it on and let it dry, after which I could do the real painting.
Then the Kitchen Guy came to inspect the work. He mentioned the Mist-Coat, as well, and I told him I was going to mix the paint 50/50 with water, as if I had known this all along. He said a 10 percent solution would do, and it depended on the paint, anyway. Not to worry, though, he told me, the directions for mixing a Mist-Coat were on the side of every paint can.
Google suggested a seven to three ratio, and since that was between 10 percent and 50/50, I went with that.
Two days and three coats of paint later, the walls were painted.
We moved all the stuff back into the kitchen and called the Kitchen Guy to tell him he could start the tiling. I expected to spend a week or so chasing him around, but he called straight back and told us he’d send a guy to do the tiling the next day.
So, we took everything out of the kitchen, again, and re-stacked it in the living room. Again.
The next two days saw the Kitchen Guy and his minions tiling, grouting and siliconeing and, when it was all over, we finally had our renovated kitchen—three months to the day after the work began.
The following morning, we took all the kitchen stuff piled in the living room, put it back in the kitchen and life, at last, returned to normal.
Whatever that is.
|What it used to look like.
|What it looks like now.