Making space in the (22ft) wardrobe…

Apologies to everyone who’s been missing my updates. Life has been a little bit on the hectic side just lately. Work (as in that nasty 9-5 stuff that pays the bills) has been a bit crazy. It’s silly season in the FS industry – as organisations start to worry about what their Half Year results are going to look like to the sharks in the City. So anybody who can count past 10 without removing shoes and socks is press-ganged into service to help come up with a good explanation of why the company is so good at spending money but not so good at making it.

As a rule, I try to leave my work in the office when I leave on a Friday night, not least because I don’t have any broadband or wifi at the barn. And though it is improving slowly, even trying to make a phone call still occasionally means walking up the hill to sit on a fencepost just to get a signal. So there you have it. It’s a real shame, but I simply can’t work at weekends! Unfortunately, at certain times of the year even the ‘Sorry-would-love-to-help-but-I’m-totally-off-the-grid-in-Scotland’ excuse doesn’t work. Which is why, a couple of weekends ago, I had to drive 30 miles to a Garden Centre to find a Wi-fi signal strong enough to allow me to long on to the office server. (I can recommend a Dobbie’s bacon sarnie while trying to figure out the best way to explain a multi-million dollar IT budget. A G&T would probably have made it easier, but might be frowned upon at 9am on a Sunday morning…)

And believe me, a weekend of playing with numbers on a spreadsheet would not make for a very interesting blog. So I didn’t. Sorry!

And last weekend I was moving house. Not the barn I hasten to add – I’m not giving that up after 15 years hard graft. Nope. I’ve given up my rented flat in London and moved all my stuff up to Scotland because I’m going to work in India. (There’s a logic in there somewhere…)

So after a horribly long week at work, I joined the madness of the Bank Holiday Getaway traffic, and spent 11 hours in the car overnight – finally arriving at the barn at 3am on Saturday.

To be woken at 5.30am by the b***** dive-bombing birds and brilliant sunshine.

Hey-ho. No rest for the wicked. Conscious that I had a lot to do and not much time, I got up and unpacked the car.

It’s really quite remarkable how much stuff you can cram into the back of a hatchback….

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Since the majority of this lot was clothes, I decided this might be a good time to finish off the dressing room.

Last time I wrote about the dressing room, it was the trials and tribulations of manhandling a 3m length of worktop up the stairs.

What I didn’t mention was that having coerced my Dad into putting up some battens for the last bit of worktop, I never actually got round to putting it up.

(Attention span problems again – I got bored with the routing, so I couldn’t be bothered to cut and rout the last post that I needed.) So the worktop sat there on it’s side, trying to make me feel guilty every time I entered the room. But since I hadn’t actually put any clothes in there, it was easy to avoid.

No longer. I have a whole car full of suitcases in need of a home. Time to focus the mind and get the room finished. At this point I have to say how relieved I am that Dad had already done the difficult bit. If I’d had to put the battens on the wall in my sleep-deprived state, they’d have been as straight as a politician’s expense sheet.

Fortunately I just had to cut a post to the right height and route a couple of edges.

So there you go Mum. I’ve finally built you your very own sewing table. Maybe you could make a bedspread or something……

So now it was time to unpack. And it has to be said, there is something utterly hedonistic about given a girl an empty 22ft x 14ft wardrobe….

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I finally got round to unpacking some of the boxes of clothes that had been in my shipment back from India 4 years ago! (Well I might be needing those saris again…) In total 6 large black sacks of clothes and 1 sackful of shoes were carted off to the charity shop or the skip. (In girl talk that actually translates as ‘Hey look, loads of space freed up in the wardrobe – time to go shopping!!)

But eventually there was order from all the chaos, and I now have a dressing room to enjoy. (Well, when I get a sofa in there, and perhaps a wine-rack, and an internet based whirligig clothes rail that picks out my outfits for me (No I haven’t been drinking, I really have seen it, and one day – if I can ever get more than a 0.0000000002 MGB broadband – I am going to get one)).

So that was my weekend. A bit of carpentry and lots of unpacking.

And then I got back in the car and drove overnight 500 miles back down the road, arriving home at 3am. Got up at 6am because I needed to clean the flat up a bit (just in case anybody wants to view it – would have been a bit off-putting leaving it in a state of total chaos). Dropped off hire car at 8am, on to Heathrow. To get on a plane at 2pm. Landing in India at 4am. In the office by 9am. Pretty much 36 hours travelling and straight into the office. Oh the glamorous life of the business traveller…

It’s taken me this long to actually work out where I am and what time of day it is. But now I’m sitting in the hotel bar with my G&T, finally writing up my barn blog, and contemplating setting up another blog on the life of an expat in India. (Because I don’t have enough to keep me occupied…)

Cheers!

An experiment with flatpack…

Having thrown out Mr Shiny Shoes and his unimaginative ideas, I was left in need of a solution for my dressing room.

I suppose I could follow my usual route of dump the clothes on the end of the bed or over the back of the nearest available chair, and scatter the shoes all over the house, but that sort of defeats the object of having a dressing room really. At that point I came to the conclusion that it was going to have to be a DIY job, which really only left me two options:

  1. I could either get creative with some flatpack, or
  2. I would have to build something completely from scratch.

Since I take great delight in complicating everything I do in the barn, I decided to try a combination of both.

Using bog-standard flatpack furniture was not an option – for the same reason I’d let Mr Shiny Shoes in to have a go at designing something; the shape of the room wouldn’t accommodate standard size wardrobes and it would have to be something bespoke. In addition to that, I didn’t really want just a room full of cupboards. I was aiming more for an open ‘designer showroom’ type look (not that I’ve spent that much time in designer showrooms to know what that look really is!)

My brilliant solution? Build myself a bespoke wood frame, then sneak off to IKEA and by a load of their fixtures and fittings to kit it out. Simple!

So I worked out a design for my frame and did my usual trawling of the internet to find a timber merchant  who would supply the timber to build it. I came across a company that promised precision-machine-cut-to-size oak – perfect for what I wanted. So I drew up my design, worked out my requirements and sent my order in.

IMG_0388Unfortunately their machine wasn’t feeling very precise on the day it cut my order. Or perhaps they had lost their tape measure.

All the wood in the picture is apparently precision machine cut to 50mm……

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Equally unhelpfully they decided to scribble all over the wood in thick black marker pen – which meant that I spent several hours with a sander, trying to get the wood in a decent state to use.

I should probably have complained, but given the issues I’d had with actually getting it delivered, I really wasn’t in the mood to send it all back and start again, so I decided I would have to make do with what I had. I just won’t be using that particular timber merchant again…

IMG_0394Having cleaned and sanded it all down, I also decided that I could make it all look a whole lot more professional if I could add some kind of decorative effect to the wood.

So I went out a bought myself a new toy – because every girl needs a router….

(And before anybody asks, no, I’d never used a router before – but how hard could it be?)

Right. That’s it, all set to build a dressing room!

I started by routing a number oak posts and fixing them into the floor. I have to admit, it was with a fair degree of nervousness that I put the first one in place – because fixing these posts in place required me to drill through my lovely solid oak floor (Ouch!)

Hey ho – no going back once a couple of dozen posts were drilled into the floor. So then I added all the beams between the posts so I could fix the internal fixtures such as drawer runners or shelves.

After that, even the hell of an IKEA flatpack holds no fears – apart from the usual incomprehensibility of the instructions, and the worry of why you always have two screws left over that you’re sure you should have used somewhere….

And you have to admit, the routing does add a certain professional finishing touch to any DIY carpentry:

The real beauty of designing your own wardrobe arrangements is that you can make sure it is built to meet exactly your own requirements. Because let’s face it, every girl needs a home for at least 50 pairs of shoes…..

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All there is left to do now is figure out what kind of work surface I’m going to install.