Friday, 7 September 2012

Kitchen Work Weekend Update (at long last!)

I know it's been a couple of weeks since this actually occurred, but I promise you can have lots of pictures to make up for it.

So, for our first monthly work weekend, we decided to try to make headway on finishing off all of the loose ends in the kitchen. We decided that this included decorating, as the patching of plaster on the walls and ceiling, and general grubbiness of the place, was making all of the good work we'd done look a bit shabby.

In the pursuit of making our decision about a paint colour quicker, I turned to Photoshop. We'd try discussing paint colours before and got absolutely nowhere, but I think that's because when someone says "let's paint it green!", everyone imagines their least favourite shade of green and objects! In anticipation of a long discussion, I decided to go around the co-op and Photoshop the kitchen to each of their favourite colours, so we could usefully compare them in the meeting. The photo on the top left shows the original kitchen, and then there are 7 options which people either chose, or suggested and then let me choose.

When it came to deciding the colour, I showed everyone the images on the right and opinion quickly narrowed it down to the scarlet (bottom left) and the deep orange (top right). It's a dingy room but with lots of pale surfaces, so everyone was keen to inject a bit of personality and colour. In the end we had a majority vote (oo-er!) and it was 4 votes to 3 for the scarlet.

Lloyd and I popped off the the shops and took the laptop with us, and managed to get a paint mixed which, while similar, was not identical. Everyone likes it though, so the process does seem to work, and certainly cut down a lot of discussion time. I think we'll be using it again in the future.

So, onto the picture spam! Many of these photos were taken by Toby, one of our volunteers (along with the beauteous Gemma from Random Camel Housing Co-op).

Hannah and Lloyd working on the recycled futon shelves

Finn gets involved in the DIY :)

That's 7 metres of new shelves for the kitchen!

Other work completed included building epic shelves for our enormous communal spice and food collection, and making some headway on the floor tiling (which has turned into an enormous job, quite out of proportion with how big it should have been). Cassian and Adam also fitted a new light on the basement stairs so we no longer hit our heads on the bulb. Win! It's little jobs like that which make the house feel a lot better.

Rob from The Drive Housing Co-op fitted an extractor for us while he was visiting a few weeks ago, so all in all the kitchen is starting to feel really posh. Once the tiling's done I think some new lighting might be in order, and then it will be amazing. While big jobs like the garden and the roofs rumble on for ages, finishing something that we use loads every day has really helped give us a greater sense of ownership over the house, and it's a great thing to show visitors to demonstrate how different co-op life is from privately rented accommodation.

To demonstrate how awesome we are, here's a before-and-after shot of the kitchen, and some gratuitous shelf pr0n.

Before: so drab! so dull! so institutional!

After: characterful and gorgeous!
Sexy shelves made from a tatted futon.

Glorious from every angle.

The next work weekend is on September 22nd-23rd and will be focussing on turning the upstairs kitchen (what's left of it) into a beautiful spare room for your selves to stay in. Get in touch if you fancy coming along.

- Hannah

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Demolition Day

Just to let you know, I am blogging this all in the wrong order, but today has been so epic, I'm going to forgo chronology and tell you about the kitchen work weekend in a later post.

So today we demolished the garden wall. I say we, but it was actually Lloyd and Joe's dad, the incredible, wonderful, and ridiculously skilled George. Along he and Cherry came, bringing a digger on the back of a truck, and using his truly brilliant diggering skills, he brought the whole wall down without damaging anything around it. Amazing stuff.

I wish I could say we made some fascinating discoveries, but apart from digging out a lot more of the old retaining wall, and seeing that it used to have steps coming down to the road in the centre, nothing new was revealed. I'm rescuing any bits of the old tiles I can find, and we're reclaiming all the whole bricks we can find from the heap in order to build raised beds once the garden is done.

There's not much more to say, except that the issue we have now is that there is too much stuff. Even with a slope running up the garden for about 10 metres, the top of the slope is about 5 metres above street level which is more than a little bit terrifying to look down on from above. It looks like we'll have to get another skip to reduce the volume of stuff enough to make room for building the new wall. In the meantime we need to protect the slope, so on Monday we'll be sorting out securing it with some kind of netting.

I took a huge amount of photos and some videos, but to try to avoid spamming you I've put some into a slideshow, and I'll try to be restrained with the rest.

This is the view from the top of the garden, so you can't quite see how dramatic it is below.

There's a little video below to demonstrate George's artistry when it comes to digger driving. Brilliant work. We're a very lucky co-op to know such skilled people.

I promise to return and blog the kitchen work weekend in the next few days. It looks amazing and everyone worked really hard. I'm off now to eat fish and chips and watch Dr. Who as reward for my part in it all.

- Hannah