A room of one’s own: finishing touches and the big reveal (part 2)

Sunday, April 19, 2015 9 , , , Permalink 0

In my previous blog post I’d started to prep the study ready for decorating, so I’ll continue where I left off…

Step 5: add a new radiator

The old radiator was in an awkward position at the entrance to the room so there wasn’t much clearance to open the door. When the fire doors were installed I had the new door frame moved across a couple of inches to help solve this problem.

You can just about see in the photo below that the pipes came out through the skirting too, rather than up through the floorboards. Keeping the pipes like this would have caused problems when fitting the skirting.

Old single panel radiator underneath low window in study, bare floorboards and tools everywhere

Old single panel radiator

I wanted a radiator slim enough to fit next to the door, that was traditional in style and that had enough output to heat the room.

First I had to calculate how much radiator power was needed in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Factors that affect the BTU output needed include the size of the room, the number of windows and if the room is insulated. After a quick Google I found several online BTU calculators but each one I tried asked different questions and resulted in figures ranging from 1470 BTUs to 3110 BTUs. That’s a considerable difference and meant I might spend £100 more than necessary. Local plumbers also gave differing results. I decided to take the average of these figures – seemed sensible enough!

I ended up buying the Acova 2-column traditional style radiator along with a Pegler thermostatic radiator valve from Screwfix.

I also had to deal with this little problem…

Exposed brickwork underneath window where the plaster has fallen off

Some of the wall fell off!

The plaster had probably weakened due to the weight of the old radiator and perhaps some damp had penetrated the brickwork underneath the windowsill (it’s on my to-do list to get drips cut into the stone windowsills outside to stop water running down the exterior wall). I had to remove all the loose plaster otherwise the new radiator brackets wouldn’t have had a solid fixing. Luckily the plasterer who did the ceiling was still available to patch this up.

Step 6: the boring part

I spent a couple of days of mixing up powdered filler, filling holes, caulking skirting and sanding down woodwork. Finally the prep was finished!

Step 7: the exciting part

After months of reading interior design magazines, gathering wallpaper samples and collecting paint brochures I was ready to start decorating! I wanted a study that was bright enough for me to read and write comfortably so I had to make the most of the limited light from the east-facing window. I also wanted something a bit creepy and eclectic (because I like creepy and eclectic) and I wasn’t sure how to pull this off without using dark paint and flocked Gothic wallpaper.

My inspiration for the room can be summed up in this photo of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in New York. The eclectic items on display are a little creepy but the pale colours are warm, light and natural and would compliment my light oak shelves (IKEA bookcases, but that’s for a future blog post). Insect specimens, phrenological heads, stuffed ravens and the like have been fashionable in interior design for a while, but I’m genuinely fascinated by the macabre. My study may look bare at first, but it’s blank canvas that will develop over several years as I collect more books, bric-a-brac and artwork.

Cabinet filled with trinkets, insects, glass bottles and other curios.

Cabinet of curiosities at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York

Back to wallpaper….after taping several wallpaper samples to the room, I decided on a design called ‘Ornithology’. The delicate pencil-like drawings of twisted branches provide perches for unusual birds which look like they’ve been hand painted in watercolour. Silver tinted tree branches disappear as the light changes in the room which gives the wallpaper design movement. The branches also reminded me of an old-fashioned anatomical sketch of veins.

Coral paint and bird design wallapaper with coral flowers

Coral paint and delicate flowers

I picked out a B&Q matt emulsion called ‘Mai Tai’ which highlighted the coral coloured flowers in the wallpaper – a modern take on Victorian terracotta interior walls.

Step 8: finally decorating the room!

First I undercoated the window frame, architrave and skirting then painted in B&Q Colours One Coat gloss in Antique White. I was disappointed it needed two coats and I would have done a third if I’d had enough paint left. This could have been the because of the unforgiving MDF surface rather than the paint though.

Tin of antique white gloss

Tin of antique white gloss

I then lined the walls with 1000 grade lining paper to cover up any lumps and bumps. This only took a weekend because there weren’t any awkward alcoves or window recesses to deal with.

The ‘one coat’ emulsion didn’t cover well at all – I had to go over with three coats in some areas. Coverage was particularly streaky where I had used a brush in the corners and edges.

One coat emulsion 'Mai Tai'

One coat emulsion ‘Mai Tai’

And the result?

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Take a look at all the before and after photos on my Pinterest board.

The finished room with carpet

The finished room with carpet

Next steps…

There are bookcases to move in, something’s needed to dress the window and there’s accessorising to be done. Updates to come in future blog posts – subscribe to this blog by email so you don’t miss out.

  • Jan
    February 28, 2016

    Oh, hope I am not spam lol

  • Jan
    January 28, 2016

    Love the paper, thinking of using it to decoupage an old cabinet.

    • Jennifer
      January 28, 2016

      It’s a really delicate design with great colours. Go for it! 🙂


      • Jan
        February 28, 2016

        I got a sample, might do the wall in my planned extension, but need to find curtain fabric to match, don’t really want them plain tho.

        • Jennifer
          March 7, 2016

          You’re not spam 🙂

          Finding a fabric pattern that compliments rather than clashes might be difficult with this paper. Maybe use a solid colour that has a subtle pattern in the stitching/weave?

          I didn’t put up curtains, I’ve since added window film to the lower window.


  • Anna
    April 20, 2015

    So impressed with the work you’ve done. I’d meant to say in person on Friday but in between choking I barely said hi (sorry). Keep the blog up – can’t wait till I’m doing up a place of my own!

    • Jennifer
      April 20, 2015

      Thanks Anna! Hope you’re feeling better now 🙂


  • Jennie Hillyard
    April 20, 2015

    Great to see it coming together! Our wall dropped off too behind radiator under window….
    I hate B&Q paint, never found a good one yet. Wickes is better, especially for undercoats etc. They also do a premixed filler in a huge tub which I’ve been using a lot of…. We decided we didn’t want lining paper so that means more wall prep.
    I think you’ve definitely pulled it off. Eclectic without being too dark!

    • Jennifer
      April 20, 2015

      Thank you! I’m a massive fan of lining paper, makes the walls look clean and new again. Very satisfying to put up.

      You’re also my first non-spam commenter 🙂


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