Since the layout of my master bedroom is the same as the living room directly below, there should be a chimney breast and two alcoves behind the fitted wardrobes. Possibly some original features like cornicing. Possibly even an original Victorian fireplace. I was curious…
Some of the bedroom’s non-original features include a paper-thin carpet, brown walls, ugly radiator pipes and an out of place modern light fitting. The wall to ceiling fitted wardrobes consisted of a plywood carcass covered by four 2 metre high sliding mirrored doors (that didn’t slide very well) and a plasterboard wall. Overall the room felt dusty and neglected so I was eager to start work in there.
This blog post explains how I took the wardrobes out and what I found behind them!
You can see in the photo above that the ceiling has a been boarded over along the length of wall on the right-hand side. Poking into the plasterboard with a screwdriver revealed that this covers a steel beam which supports the loft conversion above. It’s ugly but there’s not much I can do about it.
Removing the sliding doors
Before getting to work I packed up all non-essential items into plastic crates and bin bags then stored everything upstairs.
Taking the mirrored door panels off was easy enough. They were attached to wheeled brackets which ran along a metal rail.
We* couldn’t lift the doors off the metal rail so we just undid the screws on the brackets behind them.
*’We’ means my partner and I – unfortunately for him dismantling the fitted wardrobes was a two person job!
We got the doors off quite quickly but the hard part was getting them downstairs to put outside. The panels were too big to dispose of ourselves but the council took them all for £15 which was well worth the money.
Here’s what we were left with.
Next we unscrewed the shelving.
The false wall above the doors was a nightmare to get down because the plasterboard had been screwed on top of hardboard which had been nailed to the frame. I had to find the screws first, get the plasterboard down and then lever off the hardboard with the hammer.
I created better access to the shelving by sawing parts of this frame off.
There was only one more panel to remove before I could see what was hidden behind. I’d been waiting a year to find out! Here’s what I found.
There was no fireplace. Sorry to disappoint you, but imagine how I felt! It could have been worse though. The plaster looked sound apart from a couple of surface cracks and there’s no spider-filled fireplace to block off. But the amount of mould was suprising.
Condensation and damp behind fitted wardrobes
This is my best guess at what caused the orangey-yellow mould. Three things can cause condensation: high humidity in the air indoors, lack of ventilation and cold wall surfaces. The plywood panels covered a cold chimney breast and there were no air vents in the panels to help circulate the air. The bathroom is across the landing and has only recently had an extractor fan fitted, plus we often dry clothes in the bedroom (though we do have a dehumidifier on the landing). The chimney stack flashing on the roof was repaired last year, so before then it was probably letting in water which wouldn’t have helped! All these factors will have helped cause condensation between the plywood and the wall which caused the mould to grow.
To get rid of the mould I washed down the walls with bleach but I’ll treat it properly once I’ve done more research. At least this part of the wall is getting ventilated now.
They mostly come at night
I haven’t mentioned the creepy crawlies yet. One evening I turned on the bedroom light and noticed an unusual silver-coloured insect, like a long, slender woodlouse, scurrying across the carpet. I caught it in a glass and had it put outside to continue its insect adventures. About five minutes later I saw another one run along the skirting in the bathroom. A little internet research told me they were silverfish – they’re usually nocturnal and like damp conditions. We’d obviously disturbed their home behind the wardrobe! I didn’t get much sleep that night.
We had to pack the next morning to go away for the weekend but as soon as we got back I sprayed insect killer along the skirting and behind the wardrobe then put down some insect traps. Not seen any since…
A couple of weeks later
We continued to unscrew/saw/hammer/lever off the rest of the plywood panelling and wooden frame. Top tip: wear goggles! A nail head popped off as I was trying to pull a nail out and it would have blinded me if I’d not been wearing eye protection.
This is what it looks like at the moment. The clothes are on a temporary storage rail and we’ve still got the other half of the wardrobe to remove. I predict the damp will be even worse behind the other panels because they’re nearer the outside wall.
No idea what kind of clothes storage I’m putting back in. And I haven’t even thought about colour schemes but it definitely won’t be brown.
More blog posts about the bedroom renovation coming soon!