Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The time has come... the waiting is over... The West Wing is finished!!! OK well when I say finished there are a few minor bits of decor to be tackled, but in the main it is done!!

So it is time for the before and afters, I know, I know... I can hear the excitement mounting! Starting with the outside...This was the end of Jan, just before the build started...

And this is the finished article...and yes before you ask we will be painting it white!!!

And so to the rear where once stood a garage which was behind a fence (genius) so couldn't be used to park a car, but was instead a dumping ground for all manner of Doyle paraphernalia...

And now we have a building in it's place!!!

Remember where the old kitchen was? Lime washed units and cream worksurface with a boiler you had to 'thump' to get the pilot light working? No? Well, this was the space mid build....

And this has been transformed into a vestibule! It is still missing a few items of furniture - so imagine there is a glass console table in between the chairs but it is a transition room into the new wing...

And talking of a transition - let's move into the wing. As you do look above your head at the sign!!

Then the main event... the focal point of the wing... the kitchen, a place of loveliness -where Mr Doyle likes to create culinary delights, home to the rotisserie and where my GORGEOUS hob is quite simply nestled in the island and looking rather splendid. Here we sit, eat, drink and cook and generally spend a lot of time.

Then moving away from the kitchen (just under the pocket watch) you will find two more rooms...

Firstly the very small and weirdly shaped utility room - home of cleaning 'stuffs' and the washing machine, I know exciting or what?!? The walls are still bare so we will be adding more interest to this area I promise.

And finally the throne room....where Kings and Queens come to rest. It is still missing my regal wallpaper but it won't be long until jewelled crowns appear on the far wall.

So that my blog fans is that. There were tears, laughter, frustration and excitement and while the build wasn't a walk in the park, it certainly wasn't as bad as we anticipated!!

The West Wing is finished and so the blog comes to an end, but we have to say a huge thank you to Paul and Alpha Builders who we would highly recommend and who held our hands throughout the build and to Madge - journalist extraordinaire - for all her help. We are planning a magazine shoot so watch this space - The West Wing will be famous..

Over and out

Mrs D x 

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Penultimate Post....

Only one week to go until the West Wing is complete. Yes it's nearly the end of the blog. There has been so much progress over the last week and it is all coming together and looking GORGEOUS!

But... I won't be revealing the final 'after' shots until after the official opening of The West Wing. So my penultimate post will instead simply give you a sneaky glimpse into the new space.

So first up the kitchen... oh the kitchen. It is a thing of beauty and as well as double ovens we now have two warming drawers... we still haven't quite got over the rotisserie in the oven but I am sure at some point the novelty will wear off.... in 2025!

The island is in place - at this point it is covered up so you can't see it in all it's glory but it looks amazing and I am envisaging theatre style cooking by the husband in this area!

Here's a cheeky glimpse at the hob... 

.. I said it was cheeky.. I aim to tease. This hob is AMAZING but I am resisting the urge to show it off yet! I am loving my Smeg appliances I just now need to work out how the hell to use them!

We love the tiles - they are yet to be grouted but still look brilliant

Toilet is getting there - we don't have a toilet installed yet but we do have a sink in and rad is on. It will be given a regal feel with the decor but more on that to follow!

Utility room has cupboards and a sink and tiles...

And the vestibule is still sparse but the floor is finished

Then we had the archway into the dining room, which was a tad on the 80s side...

... but we now have corners...

The builders have kept on track and it will have been a 3 month build from start to finish which is exactly what they said, I know it sounds weird but while I won't miss the dust and the drilling I will miss the questions, the company, the trips to plumbing shops and even the tea making. They are a really nice bunch and would thoroughly recommend them!

So as Mr D is limbering up for a marathon, we are nearing the finishing line for the West Wing. Come Easter Weekend we may well be cooking a lovely roast (or maybe a spitroast chicken!) but not before we embark on the job of filling up the cupboards - can't wait! 

My next trick is to try to secure a celebrity to officially open the west wing.... I do like a challenge!

So until next time when there will be a big reveal!
Mrs Dx

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Working Flat Out

So since my last post we have seen a HUGE amount of progress and the end is nigh!! I am pleased to report the doors went in... everyone say Hallelujah! The plywood panels that thought they were doors are no more! Lady Di will be pleased.

Since the doors were officially hung 'we' have been flying! Kris has returned from Poland and we have had lots of the Alpha team on site (soooo many cups of tea!) for the last week and a half as we near the finish line.

The drainage is all done, driveway repaired and back to a better state than it was before we started and the inside is looking good!

The utility and toilet got plastered (NB the sink unit below is just temporary!), and the electrics were pretty much finished off.

The kitchen was cleared in anticipation of a flat packed delivery from IKEA... and the space looked huge.

Just before the kitchen arrived, the walls and ceiling had an initial lick of paint - the right colour! Two walls pale grey and the rest is white and Mr Doyle and I will be attempting to do a second coat later. Hmmmm.

And then the kitchen was delivered...and as I type .... said kitchen is being fitted. I am officially in love with our new smeg ovens, one of which contains a rottiserie!! Oh how Mr Doyle and I will amuse ourselves on a saturday night cooking a chicken on a spit! I am VERY excited now, we are just a couple of weeks away and it is all coming together rather nicely.

The vestibule had it's ceiling plastered and the walls were boarded ready for plaster.

I achieved my goal and sought out and purchased two chairs for the vestibule and bloody lovely chairs at that. Louis and Louis will be the new Doyle Thrones, so meet Louis...

The next post will include that of a finished kitchen - white gloss units, oak worksurfaces and rather lovely tiles... and then we will introduce the island it will be a thing of beauty! Oh yes the West Wing is nearly there, not long now!
Mrs D x

Sunday, 27 March 2011

All is Calm on The West Front

Today I am calm...the stress of last week did not continue, which made for a pleasant few days. No major issues, no sending things back and no problems.

Hmmmmm. Saying that we haven't really had a lot of people on site this week. Mostly it's been me and 'Derek' who is a very nice man, conversation is a bit stilted as his English isn't the best, but we were attempting to select paint colours together!?

No doubt you've been anxiously waiting for news on the doors (God.. this blog is edge of your seat stuff!)... and I am pleased to report they are back! Woo hoo! They have been delivered, but our hopes of having them in place for the weekend were firmly dashed as the fitter can't come back until Monday. Damn!

This coming week, however we are 'thinking' progress will be plentiful. The Saviour that is 'Kris the builder' who is a multi-tasking genius will be back! He has been in Poland for the last three weeks and we are awaiting his return with baited breath.

But still we have progress - we now have a shell of the downstairs loo and utility room complete with floor.

The kitchen had an initial white wash and is starting to take shape until I started trying out paint colours!  The first colour is not good! I hate mushrooms but I wanted a mushroom colour for the wall (work that out!?). Having painted over the plaster, Paul (boss man builder) then got his roller out to try the colour for size, and the looks like it's just been plastered again! Back to the drawing board and to Brewers we go.

We are now opting for a pale grey for two of the kitchen walls, mainly to break up the white mass of cupboards and tiles. Then for the utility room we're thinking bright but not quite sure what and how yet. We've spent most of the week trying to work out how we can get a washing machine, tumble drier and sink into the weirdly shaped room.

Then for the toilet we are going muted, having seen the space we need to go lighter to make it look like the walls aren't closing in on you! So instead will be adding interest using dogs or deer...samples are en route from wallpaperdirect.

Flooring in utility and toilet is coming courtesy of the lovely Forbo flooring company and the even lovelier Madge who is back from illness and probably wishing she was still tucked up in bed able to avoid Mrs Doyle's requests!

ETA for end of build is now end of April, so marathon soiree will take place in a house of publicness instead. But we are hoping this week we might have the plasterer back, a sink and washing machine plumbed into the utility room, the final electrics fix and the doors will be on. We're also going to have a couple of coats of paint before the kitchen arrives which is now next Saturday.

As this week is quite nicely quiet on the work front I have time to continue my search for either a chaise longue or two Louis XV chairs for the 'vestibule'. Ebay here we come!
Mrs Dx

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

An eventful week of the build. We finally, after six years of living here, have a house with a central heating system that works properly and... wait for it.... a thermostat!! Oh thermostat how we adore thee and your controllability!

This weekend we have felt smug in the knowledge that our radiators work, and I, for the first time since we started the build haven't felt cold. In fact I have even been wearing short sleeves in the Doyle household ... (the forearms are out!) something which is unheard of!

Here's where we're at in the kitchen, electrics are in we have spotlights, extractors, sockets and lightswitches (if you notice any additional holes in the ceiling all will be revealed!)

The most loveliest thing at the moment and the reason for us feeling warm and fuzzy is the boiler..

BUT.. forget warm and fuzzy.. I was in fact rather hot under the collar in the week that was, number of reasons for this:

  1. Deliberations with door company continued - five days later the doors eventually got picked up after we spent a lovely Tuesday evening with a roll of clingfilm wrapping them back up again. Apparently they will be re-delivered next Wednesday
  2. My beautifully plastered ceiling was punctured repeatedly in an attempt to 'find' where the electrics for the spotlights had gone, I have never seen so many stressed men in one room in my life
  3. Two different electricians doing two different parts of the job threw up all sorts of problems.. problems... problems
  4. While back in the old kitchen we had holes in ceiling, walls ripped apart, floor ripped up and more dust and dirt than you ever imagine
  5. Boiler we had purchased in good faith was wrong and had to be sent back - it was only B rated and we needed an A rated boiler. Charged a ridiculous £100 to send it back and the new boiler cost an extra £300. NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM PLUMB NATION!
  6. Hot water cylinder didn't fit in the airing cupboard, had to be sent back. New cylinder ordered didn't arrive in time, another cylinder bought in the interim and the second cylinder is being sent back
So it was a tad a stressful, coupled with water leaks, builders accidentally turning the boiler off on Friday night and the need to mop 24-7. BUT I am remaining optimistic and the end is drawing ever near.

I have also been making friends with delivery drivers, I know them all - UPS, Royal Mail, Foldingslidingdoors (coming back this week for a cup of tea!), and I have had more men than I could ever imagine in my understairs cupboard. It certainly hasn't been boring.

Madge has been very poorly this week and no deals to speak of, but we went and bought some rather lovely yet inexpensive floor tiles yesterday, oh and then there's the mirror. I fell in love with a mirror 4 weeks ago and after a luncheon with a certain Ms Foster decided I would purchase and it is gorgeous. Fab interiors shop called Just Interiors in Petts Wood. Only downside is it wouldn't fit in the mini but hey they deliver!

This mirror will be mostly hung in what I am now calling the 'vestibule' which is in fact the old kitchen and will be the 'transition room' into the new wing...

The garden is also in need of a 'bit' of TLC. But the build continues and we are about 4-6 weeks away from the finishing line...and I can't wait.

The kitchen arrives on Saturday by which time we will have doors fitted... we live in hope...Until next time.

Mrs D x

Friday, 11 March 2011

Getting Plastered

This week has been somewhat calmer. No gas disasters, no water leakages, no noise and no men with big drills. Just me, a plasterer, a window fitter, and a kettle = Mrs Doyle behaving just like her alter ego and making ALOT of tea! Go on go on go on...

Despite a distinct lack of 'staff' on site The West Wing is still coming along nicely. Below is how it looks now the windows in place.

The kitchen has had a plasterer working in it for three solid days but the end result is worth it. A huge expanse of space and smooth as you like! Lovely! 

The windows provided a few challenges - the smallest window has the georgian bars in the wrong place so that's going back, one of the kitchen glass panes them cracked but that's been replaced. But the big issue in the Doyle household is the doors.

The window fitter spent two hours scratching his head trying to work out how to fit the doors, because at the moment these are our current doors....

... then the revelation. We thought we ordered doors that opened outwards, in fact the company took the info we gave them, misinterpreted it and we have doors that open inwards. Not ideal but I thought OK we'll just have to deal with it. But it wasn't meant to be.

Paul the builder has OCD and needs clean lines so didn't want there to be a step up to the doors he wanted the doors to be at the same level as the floor so it looks seamless. Can't fault the attention to detail but it means the doors can't physically open inwards and they have to go back.

Well if only it were that simple. Two days dealing with customer services and we have to pay for someone to come and change the doors over. I won't go on and on as my blog will then become even more dull than it already is. But suffice to say if the company doesn't sort the issue I will be naming and shaming next week! Do they know I work in PR!?!?!?

The rest of the building 'team' have been rather elusive this week, but we have had a bloke digging a hole in the garden! Hmmmm....

Anyway next week we need to get the floor finished, electrics are being sorted lights going in. We are also hoping the hot water cylinder currently nestled in our forest AKA lounge will go in and the plumbing will be organised. Then we will no longer have to hit the existing boiler to get the pilot light working. Joy!

Next week the attention also turns to the rather neglected utility room and toilet - they are in dire need of some TLC!!

Over and out until next time when we will have light... I hope!!!

Mrs D x

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hole In The Wall

What a week!! Monday marked the start of a new chapter in Mrs Doyle's life, it also was the start of what was THE noisest and most stressful week of the build so far... it was the week that they knocked through!

This is the inside of the wing before they took a sledgehammer to the house - plasterboard is up, electrics started...

This used to be the kitchen wall and that is a rather scared me standing in what we used to call the garden but now just resembles a non descript muddy area.

Working from home is ordinarily a nice idea, I had visions of me with my feet up in front of This Morning, drinking tea whilst on the laptop. The reality was somewhat different... holed up in a small bedroom surrounded by 'stuff' with just a small desk area and chair. The only untouched rooms by clutter are the bathroom and our bedroom. The rest is amass with objects, contents of understairs cupboards, contents of kitchen cupboards and random items. My 'lunch break' involved making a sandwich on a cardboard box in the spare room and washing up in the bathroom sink...just not what I had in mind for my first week of freelancing.

For two solid days the builders got their BIG drills out, two solid days of crazy noise and dust but there was a real treat when they accidentally drilled through a gas pipe... a short five mins of panic followed before they managed to turn the gas off. Then we breathe again....until that is around 30 minutes later when they accidentally drill through a water pipe... another short panic.... water turned off. Oh what fun we had!! I am pleased to report that we didn't cover every utility and no electric cables were drilled through. And no one was killed on site.

The up shot is the Doyles are now missing a wall. Boarding covers a rather large hole in the wall (where's Anton Du Beke when you need him?!?) and you'll see below our current 'kitchen' which is yet to be plumbed in. So stylish.....!! We now have a very valid reason to eat out.

So this is the part when I normally waffle on about interiors but I am so worn out by all the banging and drilling I haven't had a moment to think about interiors. However do not fear... the rather lovely news is what used to be one of my most coveted items is now officially one of my favourite things. On Friday I bid a sad farewell to lots of fab people at work and as well as being presented with an amazing This Is Your Life book of memories I GOT AN ORLA KIELY RADIO!!!! Woo hoo!!!

Those who know me, know how obsessed I am with Orla and now I have THE radio, something I have longed for since it was launched. It is now going to take pride of place in the West Wing, when it is finally finished!

So that was the week that was...this weekend birthday treats await (I hope!?!) and next week we're going to get plastered!

Mrs D x