Small children grow up, and as they do, they occupy more and more space.
We are lucky to have a good sized house, though sometimes it has felt that the space available hasn’t been put to the best use. A case in point was the design of the middle bedroom, and the inclusion of fitted wardrobes.
Our main bedroom has always felt quite luxurious. It is very large, with windows to front and back. It also had a huge, fitted wardrobe that gave acres of space for clothes, shoes and other accumulated stuff. The middle bedroom too had a fitted wardrobe, that sat alongside the main bedroom’s one. Ostensibly, this was nice thing for the room to have, but in practice it was a problem.
The middle bedroom was quite long but not very wide, meaning there wasn’t room for a bed to fit across the width – It had to go in length-ways. Then, the radiator was across the middle of the back wall of the room, and the door was in the middle of the front wall. These things all combined to prevent us from being able to fit in a double bed, so we couldn’t use this as the guest bedroom. Lastly, thanks to that fitted wardrobe, a single bed would only fit down one side of the room.
When our son was in a cot bed, this room was just fine. Later though, he needed a bigger bed, and a desk at which to do things. We bought him a Cabin-Bed, with good storage and a desk that folded out from underneath. This all worked well enough, but only just fitted in the room.
The cabin bed revealed a problem; you couldn’t open or close the wardrobe when the desk was out. So, he had to pack work away in order to be able to get dressed. Not a great situation.
Looking at the house plans, and thinking again about the wardrobes for this and the master bedroom, I decided it was time to try some building work. I realised that by taking out the back wall of the fitted wardrobes, and buying a few free-standing cupboards as replacements, we could gain almost a metre of extra room down the length of the chap’s bedroom – room for all sorts of things, like a new desk and a bookshelf.
The Chap was packed off to the guest bedroom for a while, and his stuff covered in plastic sheets. It was time I got busy with the SDS Drill…
First to go were the wooden shelves of both cupboards, and the doors and frame of his side. That wood, in particular the floorboards that had been used for shelves, would come in handy sometime.
Then came the plaster from the walls of the wardrobe. Actually, this wasn’t the intended next step. The house had been hand-plastered, and there was obviously a presumption that the insides of wardrobes didn’t necessarily need as good a quality of work as elsewhere. The plaster here literally fell off the bricks!
Before I could remove anything else, I had some electrical issues to resolve. There was a socket in the wall I was removing, and I wanted there to be sockets in the new wall of the room. In addition, there were wires running down from the loft to the living room below; one carried power, the other was a coaxial cable for the TV aerial (yep, old-fashioned here. Happily using Freeview!) On lifting a few sections of floorboard, and digging around in the loft, I could see how the wires ran, and I decided to relocate these wires in the new corners of the expanded room.
So, I got busy with the chisel, and made a place for a new socket in the wall to replace the existing one. I put in one channel for the socket’s wires, and a separate channel for the power lead that ran floor to ceiling. These were given metal armour to protect the wires, which would then be covered up when the new plaster was fitted. (N.B. the metal armour won’t prevent a misguided drill from going through the cable. The best prevention against this is to push wires close into corners where people are less likely to drill in the first place. The armour will, however, show the wire up clearly if a metal detector is used before attempting to drill. I thoroughly recommend having something like this thing below, to wave over walls before attempting to drill in them.)
So now I can start taking out the bricks. First to come out is the sill and the bricks that were above the old wardrobe door…
Then the wall could come down, bit by bit…
Until all that was left was a pile of rubble…
It was so tempting to just wallop this wall with a lump-hammer. Actually though, I did my absolute best to make sure there wasn’t a pile of rubble resulting. I would need some of these bricks to fill the hole that would be left where the master bedroom’s wardrobe doors were. I found that the cement that had been used to secure these bricks was pretty poor, and zipping the drill across the lines of cement would weaken it enough to let me lift bricks off whole. They were then carried outside (one by one – they were really, really heavy!) and the best ones cleaned of plaster and cement and made ready for re-use.
The last bits to be removed were the master bedroom’s wardrobe doors and frame. I nailed up a temporary curtain rail and hung an old set of curtains to cover the gap and keep the dust out as much as possible while I prepared to lay bricks.
On that note, with a big hole in the wall, I shall finish up this post. I’ll plug that hole next time.