Christmas is such a strange but awesome time of year. Strange because it's the only month where spending heaps and heaps of cash is considered totally normal and acceptable. And awesome because there's such a cheery atmosphere everywhere - with carollers on the streets, gatherings and jolly (if a tad annoying) upbeat songs. Everyone's a little happier (OK, not everyone!) but it feels festive and it feels good.
This will be myself and Grant's ninth Christmas together, believe it or not! That makes me sound all kinds of old, although we've been together since I was 18 and lived together since I was 19 - so you can do the math ;) We've spent most of our lives together living in amongst chaotic homes whilst DIY Renovating - so this will only be our third Christmas together in a kitchen that isn't half destroyed or half falling apart. That makes us sound absolutely mad, I know.
Our lives have been very tough at times. Renting at 19 whilst both working minimum wage jobs is nothing school or sixth form prepare you for, and we've worked bloody hard to have what we do now. We're living in our second home and whilst we still don't have central heating (two houses, six years and counting!), we do have ridiculously posh (albeit very budget!) underfloor heating, a log burner and a beyond dreamy kitchen. I would literally never have imaged I would live in a house with little luxuries like this. It's incredibly different from our last house.
This house is obviously very much still unfinished, but we do now have a little area (actually it's quite big!) of bliss away from all the chaos. We have a kitchen; one with an oven, so much storage space I don't know what to do with it all, a dishwasher (thank the lord for our first ever dishwasher!!) and a fridge freezer that's actually big enough to hold food that'll last more than a few days at a time. I'm beyond excited for Christmas this year! And guess what? We have a tree too!
Yes we do! You'll remember last years tree maybe? It was made out of bricks and sticks, literally. We had no counter-space, nowhere to prepare food, nowhere to wash pots - it was a Christmas feast disaster. In fact, we didn't really do Christmas at all. We had a budget each of £5 for one another's gifts and we cooked a frozen ready-meal kinda dinner. We didn't decorate, we didn't watch a single movie - the spirit was well and truly non-existent. So this year is total turnaround!
Having gone from zero pounds, to a little, to a little bit more, to now almost average - I truly appreciate every pound we have and every pound we spend. And as I've got older, I care less for the smaller "stuff" in life. You'll notice our house is fairly minimal in that way! There's such a desire to own stuff and it can really easily end up owning you. The need to buy is addictive and it's so easy to fall into a pattern of constantly needing and wanting more; essentially making you need to work more. Whilst Christmas is fab in so many ways - a lot of it, is about buying stuff. In fact, it kinda demands it of you. The idea of gifting is lovely; a gesture to show you care, spoil someone you love - but let's face it, you end up having to gift to everybody like some of requirement. Distant relatives, colleagues, neighbours, even blooming' teachers, I hear! It's bonkers. The whole giving/receiving cycle literally forces you to spend more and more and quite often, it's either pointless tat or copious amount of chocolate. Or at least, that's my experience.
For the last few years we've realised we'd rather not stress about having to save a wad of cash months in advance for Christmas. I hate the idea of wasting money on stuff for the sake of buying something. And stuff like overpriced chocolates just makes me feel ripped off (sorry!). I'm not saying we don't give - but we budget a very very small amount and we try to keep gifting massively under control. And that does include gifting to one another too! Sometimes, you just gotta tell people not to give! And there's other ways you can give at Christmas, rather than buying stuff too. Can anyone else relate? Do you think gifting has gone a tad OTT? (Obv, I'm talking about adult gifting here - presents for kids is a bit different!)
Our traditions at Christmas are pretty simple. We buy one tree decoration each, every year. (This year we cheated and bought a further two at a Christmas Market in Poland - but I figured we didn't buy any last year, so it was okay!) We have a chicken, not turkey; it's cheaper and there's only two of us anyway! Grant cooks, I drink lots of sparkling wine. We usually play a board game of some kind, watch a couple of movies and then we'll most likely pass out from a food coma around 8pm. It's nothing crazy exciting - but Christmas just has that festive feel that makes it more special. And of course, we get a day or two off - so that's always a bonus!
We haven't gone overboard on the home decorating this year - as always, our money is needed elsewhere on plasterboard and the like - but I did manage to make a couple of DIY decorations instead. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get round to posting about them on here, but maybe I'll do some similar ideas for Valentines/Easter instead with a tutorial. Here's a sneak peak at one though:
With just a few sleeps to go, I wanted to wish you all a super awesome day! If you're in the middle of a renovation and 'not feeling it' this year - firstly I totally get it(!!) and secondly just remember 12 months from now and it'll all have been worth it!! I also wanted to say thanks to every person who has visited this blog over the last year, commented, sent me messages, even followed me on Instagram. I've receive a massive amounts of hits on the blog this year, which is ironic considering this is the year I've written the least amount of content! But there ya go!
In the spirit of 'giving', I also wanted to say, please remember to spend a little and give to those who are in need this Christmas. There are people in the UK still homeless, people still battling illnesses where there isn't a cure, children without parents, and suffering in all other kind of ways. I think it's so important (always - but even more at Christmas!) to show you care to the causes that mean the most to you. It helps real-life people and gives far more joy than just a short-term thrill of a gift at Christmas. When people are literally walking about with pocket-fulls of cash ready to spend and "give", why wouldn't you?
Merry Christmas and have a fabulous day,
I've showed you our new kitchen, but I haven't yet shown you our new dining room and it's certainly changed quite a bit since I last showed it off properly. It's had parts of it re-plastered, a whole new paint job, the floor's been sanded back, we've uncovered some gorgeous victorian cupboard doors and we even built a giant floor-to-ceiling floor stack. Not to mention repairing floor joists, ripping out an old back boiler and knocking a wall down. Basically, it's changed a lot.
This is what the room used to look like. H-i-d-e-o-u-s! You can check out all the updates on the dining room renovation right here, but after a year long battle with the room, it was finally ready for a lick of paint!
I wanted the room to tie-in with the new open-plan kitchen, so for the most part I kept the walls matching in the same colour of 'Strong White' by Farrow and Ball. It's a gorgeous off-white colour with a hint of grey, which really only shows up when it's paired next to bright white, which I've used on the windows and skirting. It was the perfect choice for both of these rooms and I really couldn't be happpier with it. It's cool, calm and being neutral means it allows the items in the room to sing on their own. Our dark kitchen for example, pops out against the contrasting light walls!
However when it came to the chimney breast in the dining room, I wanted to add a punch of darkness. In fact, I had already picked out and bought a different colour 'Downpipe' again by Farrow and Ball, when we installed the Log Burner months and months back, even before deciding to go dark in the kitchen.
Downpipe is dark, moody, modern, sophisticated and drama-tactic! However it also matched massively with our Graphite coloured kitchen - So it took me a while to decide whether to go ahead and use the paint or not. Would it look too matchy matchy? Or would it work?
Well Farrow and Ball paint does not come cheap, so obviously I had to go ahead with it. And I'm reaaaallly glad I did. I'm pleased to say, it works. If anything, it ties the two rooms together even more and whilst it's a bit 'themed' in a way of matching colours - it totally works.
If you haven't used Farrow and Ball paint before, I do recommend giving them a try. Their paints are incredibly rich and pigmented in colour - coverage is amazing (if you apply carefully, you can even get away with one coat!) and I'm a real fan of it being water-based too. I also really like the fact that all their colours are specifically selected, meaning they don't offer 1000s of colours, but only the best ones. And let's face it, their selection of paints are trend-setting - there are no 'wrong' picks.
To the left of the chimney we have a teeny tiny alcove. It's so narrow that you really can't use it for its floor space, it's just far too small. These kind of spaces are completely pointless unless you use them for their wall space, like a cabinet or shelving. But with a new log burner installed and nowhere to keep logs, it made sense to use it for a log stack.
A giant stack of logs is going to be verrrrrryyy heavy - so, much like a bath or a grande piano, you need to make sure your floor is up to the job. We have floorboards in here and whilst our joists are pretty chunky ones (and one is partially resting on a brick pillar beneath), we're Cautious Carols and decided to add additional supports anyway. I really didn't want the logs sat on the floorboards either - obviously with a stack of wood comes insects and other creepy crawlies, and some of which may potentially eat away at wood. Anything eating into floorboards or joists is disaster, so having a good barrier between the two will help to ensure nothing structural is damaged.
So we decided to add a plinth between the floor and stack. It's made from a frame of C16 Structural timber (you can find this at Wickes or any timber merchants) and it's bolted into the walls either side. This provides the additional support - so the stack isn't just resting on the floor and joists, it's being relieved by the support of the walls too. A similar idea to how we repaired the rotten joists earlier in the year here.
We then used plywood to cover the frame, filled the screw holes, caulked the edges and I then painted it to match the wall so it didn't stand out. And voila - we could then begin building the mammoth log stack! If you are going to store wood indoors, do make sure they're properly dried out, otherwise you'll be causing yourselves all kinds of problems. Unseasoned wood can actually take up to 2 years to dry out and if you're buying seasoned wood, I would always check it's fully dried before storing it indoors. You can buy moister meters in local DIY stores - and you'd be looking for less than 20% moisture content.
Alternatively, you can Kiln Dried wood, which is a kind of 'quick dried' log that's been in a kiln, although they do cost a little bit more. We actually buy this kind of wood - so I'm happy to store it indoors, knowing it's been properly dried out.
The alcove is pretty deep so we've been able to build it two logs deep, which means we have a rather large amount of wood on it! It's managed to keep us going for well over a month so far and I'm also pleased to report neither the supports or the floor have caved in yet - so I think we did an acceptable job on that front too ;) I love how the logs pop against the dark wall and it's also added a hint of scandi-style interiors into the room, which makes it feel all the more cool and trendy.
On the other side of the chimney, we have a giant built-in cupboard. Despite this looking absolutely hideous thanks to those doors, it is actual original to the house. Since moving in and inspecting the doors, we realised they had been boarded over (like many things in this house!) and I've been dying to rip the boards off ever since.
We set off removing the boards carefully by scoring a gentle line between the board and original door. You want to be super careful not to gauge the actual wood when doing this! We then used a couple of flat head spanners to get in-between the board and gently pry it off. If you can see where the nails are on the front - you want to be aiming to get the screwdriver into the board, close to nails. We have a few other doors to uncover in the house, so I'll do a more in-depth photo explanation then. But - behold the beautiful original victorian doors!
Whilst it may *look* as though it's in its original raw wood form - don't be fooled. This is actually a weird varnish paint effect that makes it look like raw wood. It's actually varnish over white paint, and rather cleverly done I have to say - from a distance you could certainly have fooled me!
The previous owner left behind a bag full of keys; more keys than the house needs - some old, some new. A quick look through and boom - we found a matching key for the original lock, which was thankfully still attached on the back! Obviously, I couldn't have been more excited about it, which you'll have seen if you follow me on Instagram. I'm still yet to get the lock free from being painted rigid, so it's not quite 'working' yet - but it's a start!
The plan for this cupboard was to go full-on dark to match the rest of the wall, although I did originally think I would want to strip the wood right back it's original raw self. But with a lack of time - I took the easier route and actually having spent a while thinking about it, a whole dark wall was really very appealing.
In order to paint the doors up, I needed to deal with the glossy peeling paint along the sides of the doors, where it had flaked from removing the glossy board. I used a blunt chisel to scrape as much of it off as I could, leaving a smooth transition to the glossy paint on the back of the door. You want to make sure you hold the chisel close to the tip when doing this, for more control and being more gentle. Obviously it's a chisel and we don't actually want to be chiselling anything - hence why you must use a blunt one! A scraper would also be ideal. This removed really quite easily and whilst you could use a heat gun, you may end up removing more than necessary.
I then gave the doors a quick sand and a clean up before going on with the primer. Glossy paint can be hard to paint over and whilst some wood paints have a "built-in" primer, like the one I use on the skirting, the expensive Farrow and Ball one recommended priming first. You all know how expensive F&B is, so I didn't want to be wasting any of it, if all went wrong.
If you intend on painting the cupboards with emulsion (I didn't do this as I wasn't sure how hard-wearing it would be?!) then you'll guaranteed need to use a primer as well. The one I've used is the Zinsser BIN Primer, a brand I've seen HIGHLY recommended from Instagram. And this one in particular one (they have a few!) claimed to offer "unparalleled adhesion to glossy surfaces" very strong words!
And I can definitely confirm it adhered rather well indeed. In fact, I had no less than 20 messages on Instagram from other renovators saying how much they loved this product too! I gave two coats to both the doors and the outer bits before filling the nail holes where the boarding had been attached. I know you might think it makes more sense to do this before painting the primer, BUT I find a full coat of one colour helps to actually display the holes better. If you fill them first and then paint, you'll usually find you missed a few anyway. This way, you can't miss any.
And then on went the Farrow and Ball paint, in the colour 'Downpipe'. I'm using a wood eggshell paint which is a little more shiny/glossy than the matt wall, although I actually think this helps to define the cupboard a little more, rather than completely hiding it into the wall. It took three coats for a full coverage and then I had a couple of spots I had to go over a fourth time. I did however only use a paint brush to apply the paint - a roller would definitely have given a better coverage.
And here we have it - full feature drama wall (as Grant likes to call it!). If you're wondering whether I love it? Yes yes yes! We also have a feature vintage ladder (£7 from eBay) which is actually there for practical reasons in order to reach the top of the giant stack of logs - ha!!
I think the whole thing worked out really very well - I love the pop of colour from the log stack, although I have to admit it does take a bit of work filling it up every time we buy a bag or two of woods. The log burner also looks incredible offset against the dark wall when it's on too. And the cupboard just makes the room feel so much more sophisticated and grand! So yep, I'm darn pleased and now in love with this room.
We'll be building a new dining table in the New Year - if you can't tell those chairs don't actually fit under it properly - but all will be revealed soon ;)
What do you guys think? Is the darkside for you?
Costs(rounded to the nearest pound)
New Tools Purchased:
Plywood - free from previous jobs
C16 Timber - free from previous jobs
Caulk, Filler etc - free from previous jobs
F&B Wall Paint £43
F&B Eggshell Paint £24
(YIKES - I told you that paint was expensive!)
There are so many different chalk paints on the market nowadays, but the one everyone knows about is Annie Sloan. She was the creator of the original Chalk Paint - the paint that requires no sanding, no prep-work and can literally transform furniture within minutes. It's the perfect way to update those tired pieces of furniture and a great way to achieve a 'high end' look on a low cost item.
A couple of months back, the guys over at Team Annie Sloan got in touch and asked if I would help them raise awareness about an exciting collaboration. A collaboration with Oxfam, to raise money and help end poverty. Well obviously I said YES.
So how are they going to do that, you ask? Well Annie Sloan has created a new colour of paint and with every can purchased, a percentage will help to raise money for Oxfam. I was sent a little gift pack to try the new colour out and show it off over on social media. I'm a massive supporter of Oxfam (and the new colour!) so I decided it needed a spot on the blog too.
So this is the new colour; it's called 'Lem Lem' a word that means 'to flourish' in Amharic and is defined as the colour of Hope, which it represents for those it's supporting.
It's a cool green colour inspired by the fields of alliums at the Oxfam Seed Project in Ethiopia. The project supports women farmers, teaching them business skills and giving them the tools they need for independence. This is just one of the projects that this pot of paint is raising money for.
So I'm going to show you the little pot I was sent to get creative with, so you can see the colour in all its glory.
I actually really liked the pot I was sent in its raw rustic form, so I wanted to incorporate some of that into the design I had in mind. I wanted to go for a design that wasn't too complex, but something that also had style. After a few sketch-ups I decided on a geometric 'mountain-style' of triangles and the idea of blending the paint out along the base. I used an artists paint brush to paint on the colour, it has a reeeaaally small tip which is perfect to achieve the look I was after.
The design required a bit of a steady hand and I used two coats to achieve a full coverage of colour. When it came to the blending the paint out along the base, I dipped the brush into a pot of water and dabbed the paint brush along the base. The added water helps to create the 'faded' effect I was going for. I think it gives a little more interest to the design.
And here it is! I planted some Allium seeds straight into the pot and then put it pride of place, on our new window sill. Hopefully I can remember to water it often and the seeds will actually grow!
I think it's a lovely colour; and it's actually something I wouldn't usually have picked out myself. It's definitely inspired me to a bit a more adventurous with colour, that's for sure. I think the natural feel to the colour would look fab paired against other natural materials, such as wood, concrete or even hessian. It has a really calming feel to it, which I would personally use in the bedroom. I didn't use much from the tester pot, so I'm certainly going to be seeking out other things to paint real soon!
So that's the new colour and how you can support Oxfam through Chalk paint. If you're looking for inspiration on how to use the colour, I thoroughly recommend checking out the hashtag #AnnieSloanAndOxfam over on Instagram to see other people's projects and how they've used the paint. From chest of drawers, to canvas print, chairs and much more - there's a ton of inspiration on there and I'm certain you'll fall in love with the colour too.
I love to know what you think to the colour and how you might use it within your home :)
*Products in this post were gifted to me in return for a feature on Instagram. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!
When the temps turn cold, the fireplace springs into action again to keep us warm and cozy as we stare transfixed at the dancing flames. There is something magical about a wood burning fireplace that can quiet rowdy children and encourage those conversations that only happen when the television is off.
So every fall it’s important to inspect and ready your fireplace for the winter ahead. In this article I’ll give you a few steps you should do every year to maintain a fireplace and keep you safe this winter so we can all enjoy one of the great parts of living in an old house.
Inspect the Firebox
The firebox is where the fire is built and it endures the most punishing conditions. Intense heat, soot, and ash all build up here so it’s important to inspect it before your heating season begins. Look for any loose bricks or missing mortar and repoint as necessary with a lime mortar for homes built before the 1930s or so. Follow this tutorial for repointing historic masonry.
In older homes from before the mid-1800s, it wasn’t uncommon to find the firebox bricks plastered over to protect the bricks. The plaster acted as a sacrificial layer that could be replaced as it failed from the heat. If this is the case for your house feel free to touch up the plaster as necessary.
Inspect the Damper
A properly functioning damper is huge and make or break your fireplace’s effectiveness. Some chimneys will have a damper just above the firebox and other designs have the damper at the chimney cap with a wire run down the chimney that allows you to operate it. Whichever kind you have, make sure it is operating properly and can open and close.
If the damper is sticking it’s sometimes just a matter of adding a little high-temp WD-40 or similar lubricant and use a wire brush to clean some of the built up soot and creosote off the moveable parts.
Keep the damper tightly closed when there is no fire going to avoid cold air pouring into your house, and don’t forget to open it before lighting any fires. If you’re one of the folks without a damper and have done the old “insulation in a trash bag stuffed up the chimney” make sure you remove that before lighting a fire as well.
Inspect the Chimney Cap
During the summer storms it’s not uncommon for a chimney cap to get damaged by a tree limb or other debris. If that happens, your fireplace may not draft properly and end up filling your house with smoke. You usually don’t need to go up on the roof to inspect it as a simple visual inspection from the ground will suffice. If you notice any problems then a closer look may be called for.
Clean the Chimney
Yes, you can put on your worst cockney accent and dance to Chim Chim Cher-ee, but cleaning your chimney is best done safely by a professional chimney sweep in just an hour or two for a small price. Cleaning all the built up soot and creosote from the inside of the chimney walls and inspecting the condition of the flue is what they do best and it’s money well spent for a very dirty job.
A clean chimney drafts better, keeping smoke out of your house and also reduces the risk of fire from built up creosote inside the flue.
If you follow these simple steps to maintain a fireplace at the beginning of the season then you’ll be saved from a problematic chimney when the the coldest nights hit. That way you can stay both warm and safe this winter.
That’s why we’ve created something to start the New Year off that I thought you’d love. For a limited time only we are offering the “My Favorite Color is Patina” T-shirt!
Whether you treat yourself or give the gift of old house love to a friend this is the perfect shirt!
Tag us in a photo on Instagram @thecraftsmanblog of you or your loved ones wearing your Patina tee- we’d love to start our 2018 by seeing you show the love!
It would seem winter is well and truly upon us now! With snow storms throughout the UK over the last week (although it seems our town missed out on that) and temperatures going into the minuses, needless to say our log burner has been doing some serious overtime. In fact, I just had to put in another order of wood this morning since we've used so much.
Buying and fitting a log burner was one of the best decisions we've made for the house! With no central heating and not enough dollar to install a full new heating system, we decided to opt for a more old fashioned lifestyle, producing our heat from fire alone. I'd read so much online about how great log burners are and how you don't even need to have the heating on when using one anyway - it seemed like a good choice. 18 months on and I can confirm it was a GREAT choice. The heat output from our log burner is actually amazing and the time it takes to heat a room is pretty darn quick too - and our room is rather large at that. If you're sat on the fence about whether or not to get a stove installed - I would thoroughly recommend just going for it! Or even better, try and win one. ??
Yep you read that right - with Christmas on the horizon, the guys over at CastFireplaces.co.uk (where we actually bought our own log burner from!) are giving you the chance to win a multi-fuel stove (this one to be exact!) to have sat warming your home, just in time for Christmas. All you have to do, is visit this page on their website and hunt down Santa, who's got himself stuck up a chimney. Simply click on him, enter your email and you'll be automatically entered! Easy peasy. The giveaway closes THIS Friday (15th December) so be sure to enter quick!
WIN! A STOVE FAN WORTH £45
And as well as giving away a multi-fuel stove on their website, the guys over at Cast Fireplaces have very kindly also teamed up with me, to giveaway a Stove Fan to one of my readers on here too! If you don't know what one of these is - it's basically a little fan that sits on-top of your stove and as the stove heats up, it automatically starts spinning to help push heat around the room. Heat obviously rises and sometimes that heat can be lost through ceilings or windows before it's reached the other side of the room - this fan basically helps to push that heat in the right direction, speeding up the time a room takes to heat and generally just making it all round toastier. There's loads of great reviews about Stove Fans online and it's something that's absolutely on our wish-list.
So to enter, all you have to do is fill in your details into the widget below. There's a single one-click entry at the top and other bonus entries to gain via social media too, if you'd like. And don't worry, you won't be signed up to any mailing lists either - your email address will only be used if you win the giveaway.
The giveaway is open within the UK only and will run until Midnight on Friday 22nd December. Good Luck!
I've been catching up with blog posts over the last few months and shown you a fair bit of our new kitchen, but I thought I'd do a quick 'reveal' post, sharing appliances, where everything is from and how the room looks as a whole. It's not quite finished just yet; we have shelves to add, a splashback to decide on and of course - we need to do something with those lights! But generally speaking, it's done, it's completely usable and at least 95% finished. So as such, I felt it was about time I did a kitchen reveal!
So I apologise in advance for the lighting in some of these pictures - I was seriously battling the sun going down when taking these photos (it is winter after all!). This is what the room looks like from the front view. It's a galley kitchen, which is now open plan with the dining room adjacent and it also has a conservatory attached to the side, which it overlooks through the window. It's around 6m in length and 2.5m width.
This room was originally divided into two - a kitchen and a downstairs shower room and there was another wall that divided off the dining room too. We've taken two walls out, removed the shower room and opened up the entire space into one. We do however still have two separate areas for the kitchen and dining room, but this post is just going to show you the kitchen, so you'll have to wait a little longer for the dining room reveal I'm afraid!
The kitchen units themselves are from DIY-Kitchens and are from their Linwood range in the colour Graphite. We've kept most of the units as high-line doors as these are the cheapest base units you can buy. Drawers, Pull-Out units and other gadgety base units cost a lot more, so keeping it simple with basic open-close doors really helps keep the cost down. We have however, opted for three 'luxury' units (aka more expensive!); a basket unit, a set of pan drawers and a worktop dresser. Each of these were more than double the cost of the high-line base units, so they did add to the overall cost quite a bit. However I think they add a bit more variety to the kitchen than just a full run of doors and I was prepared to splash a teeeeeny bit more if I really wanted them - which I clearly did!
I personally think one set of drawers is a must in every kitchen. After all - where else are you going to keep cutlery? We've actually opted for some pan-drawers which are really deep and perfect for storing pans in, as the name suggests. Pans in a drawer are much easier to access and are easier to organise too. In fact, generally speaking, drawers are just a much better use of space overall and if I had more money, I would definitely have bought more drawers.
The worktop dresser and basket unit were something I'd always wanted in a kitchen, so we splashed out on those two as well - although yes, they weren't really an "essential". I very nearly almost didn't buy the basket unit, on account of trying to cut costs, but I'm so glad I did in the end. I love how the baskets pop against the dark grey! We use the bottom drawer for vegetables and the top one for bread.
You'll notice we don't have any wall cabinets, this was also a way of keeping costs down - but, I also think helps make the room feel more spacious. Galley kitchens can feel quite narrow and claustrophobic at times and I think having no wall units really helps to avoid this.
The floor is made from these Limestone tiles from eBay (you can read about our DIY installation here) and I think goes really well in this space. It's neutral but also a bit stand out in its different varying tones. We have this electric underfloor heating with it as well, which actually works really well and keeps them nice and toasty! (Again, you can read how we DIY fitted that here) We've gone for a different floor in the dining room and kept the steel beam exposed to help frame and divide the two rooms.
The cooker is a secondhand bargain from eBay at £350 and it had barely been used. By 'barely been used' I mean, one of the ovens had actually never been used. The owner claimed to have bought it 'just for show' and actually hated cooking! It's a Rangemaster Toledo which retails at over £1000 so needless to say, I was pretty chuffed to bits with it. We've paired it with a budget £50 cooker hood, from Appliances-Direct and I quite like how they don't match. There's nothing particularly fancy about this cooker hood - but it does the job and it's energy rated C, which for an extractor fan and particularly a low cost one at that, isn't half bad (most are like E!)
The fridge freezer is from Currys and is a 60/40 Kenwood one. I really wanted a stainless steel one with a water dispenser (pretty specific!) and this was the cheapest one on the market. It was also the only one that would fit in the space underneath the top-box - and it's a pretty darn tight fit at that!! It's a pretty decent fridge freezer, again nothing too fancy about it - but it is a full-size one, unlike our old fridge freezer which was teeeeeeeeny. We've been in desperate need of a new fridge-freezer for a long time and I can't tell you how many drawers I broke in our old one trying to squeeze a shopping load into it. (every single one!)
On the other side of the kitchen we have a new antique chair from a local antiques fair which cost a bargain price of £35. I'm not sure the bin should really live next to it, but for now that's how we're rolling. I may alter one of units on this side of the kitchen to fit a bin in, as I'm not really too keen on bins being on show. DIY-Kitchens do offer bin-units, but our budget was already stretched, so we skipped out on that one.
We have a dishwasher (an actual dishwasher!!) for the first time in my entire life and bloooomin' heck I can't believe people still live without them. Not spending an hour every night washing pots is pretty much the highlight of our new kitchen. It's incredible. It also means we no longer have piles of dirty plates stacking up on the side either. This one is just the Curry's Essential Range Dishwasher, which cost £179. It was the cheapest one I could find and to be fair, it does a pretty good job. I mean it doesn't have that many settings but it cleans the pots. What more can you ask for?
I've always wanted a Belfast sink (as sad as that sounds!) so to finally have one, definitely got me a tad excited. It's super deep, fits all our pots and pans in and is just amazing. In the last properties we lived in, we had half-sized sinks, which meant nothing fitted in it and water would generally get everywhere. Not a problem any more! Our tap of choice is this Satin Nickel Pull-Out tap from Amazon for just £55. Most pull-out taps are in the region of £200+ so I was darn pleased with this one. And I don't even think you can tell that it's a quarter of the price!
The worktops are made from an Ash wood from Worktop-Express. I absolutely love the grain and how light it is - I think it goes perfectly against the dark doors. We also have matching up stands and we created a window sill from some leftover as well. You can read a full post about the worktops , with a review of Worktop-Express here.
To the right of the sink is obviously the washing machine - this was probably the biggest appliance splurge at a slightly pricey tag of £350 - however it was in the sale reduced from around £550. It's a Samsung Eco Bubble and it colour-matches the kitchen (not the only reason I bought it, I swear!). The best thing about this washing machine is how little energy it uses - and I mean a shockingly little amount! Our old washing machine used to go into the red on our energy monitor when it was in use, this one barely uses 1p for a whole wash. Seriously. So worth it!
The roof window is probably my favourite feature in the room. It lets in so much light, which this room seriously needed. It wasn't cheap and it wasn't part of the original plan, but it was so so worth the money. We opened the ceiling up and built the frame for it ourselves (which you can read about here) which saved a bit of cash, but yeah - definitely recommend getting a roof window in any room, if you can! They're amazing at bringing in more light.
The french doors are another worthwhile addition to this room. We actually used to have a frosted window in the downstairs shower-room here, so we had the brickwork cut out beneath and some french doors installed instead. I love having an actual garden view now and more importantly, access to the garden as well! They don't bring in that much light as they're East-facing but they still bring it a whole lot more than they did when they were frosted windows!
Another way we've added a little more light is by swapping the old back door (into the conservatory) for some fully glazed skinny french doors. We actually picked these up from eBay for just £20 secondhand. They fit this room perfectly and the pine even matches the roof window!
The hanging lights in here are yet to sorted out properly, but these were from eBay - they came with glass shades, but I'm quite liking them as they are, just as bulbs. We'll also be having some shelves underneath the lights too, but those are on the New-Year list for now. I quite like a clean simple unfussy kitchen, so I've tried to keep the worktops fairly clutter-free, with just the essentials and a few little extras.
So here's a final view from the other side of the room. We still have a fair bit left to do in the dining room - but I'd say we're about 85% there, so a reveal for that room shouldn't be too far off. I love the exposed beam between the rooms and the red was a bold move, but I really like it. We have a lot of grey going on in the house, so a real punch of rustic colour is definitely welcomed in my eyes!
So that's the kitchen - if I've missed anything out, or you want to know more about anything - do drop me a message! I'll be doing a full kitchen renovation costings post at some point in the future as well as a before and after look. But that's the reveal so far and I hope you like it half as much as I do ;)
If you're interested in seeing more of the kitchen renovation process, you can check out all the posts right here with full costings as well.
One of the most satisfying things about restoring an old house is the night and day transformation when you restore hardware. Years of paint and rust can make you think the hardware isn’t worth saving, but I assure you that saving old hardware is worth it!
Most hardware on homes built before the 1930s or thereabouts is usually high quality solid bronze or steel and can be restored to look incredible in just a few simple steps. Check out the quick 2 minute video below to see how easy it can be!
Before you swap out your old hardware for something new, take a look at what may be hiding underneath and consider restoring first.
Remove the Hardware
You’re not going to be able to restore any hardware unless you can get it off the window or door it’s been attached to for decades first. Be careful to not strip the screw heads when unscrewing them. Cutting the paint from around the screws and around the hardware can make it easier to remove.
Old screws can be real buggers sometimes, so if you find yourself struggling try the 4 Guaranteed Tricks to Remove Stubborn Screws outlined in this post.
Once you’ve got the hardware off it’s time to start restoring! Check out the video below and the rest of the steps afterward to get the specifics.
Remove the Paint
Use an old crock pot (like the awesome retro 1970s one I use in the video) that you don’t plan to cook with ever again. Fill it with water and just a bit of dish soap. Turn it on high and toss the hardware in for about 4 hours or until you see the paint bubbling up on the surface.
Put some gloves on and pull the hardware out one at a time and scrub them with a stiff bristle brush until you’ve removed all the paint. If the paint isn’t coming off with ease it may need another soaking for a couple more hours.
Cleaning and Polishing
There are two schools of thought and the video shows both options. Some people want to clean the hardware and maintain the patina. The best way to accomplish this is by hand polishing the hardware with 000 steel wool or 0000 steel wool until you get the desired appearance.
If you want to go back to the original shine of the bronze then a bronze wire wheel attached to a bench grinder makes short work of things. Crank it up and polish your hardware until you get a high shine. You can also use a cotton polishing disc with a rubbing compound for a very high shine if you desire something even more polished.
Once you have cleaned them up you may have found that you’ve removed too much of the patina on the metal and now they just look too shiny. Or possibly you have a few pieces that needed replacements that don’t look the right color.
If needed you can give them a quick soak in my hardware aging solution called The Patinator to give them that old look again. The solution can take new or old hardware and give it an aged look as dark as you may need.
Now that you’ve learned how to restore hardware the easy way you can make your neighbors jealous with all the shiny bling on your windows and doors!
It's no secret that I love wood. I love our wooden floorboards, I love our solid oak wardrobe, I even love my rustic pallet seating. Wood is the best material to work with, it's totally DIY-able (unlike stone or metal) it can be renovated and refurbished in the years to come, and if looked after properly - it can truly last a lifetime. Just look at our wooden joists and floorboards which are well over 100 years old!
So when it came to buying a kitchen worktop, wood was the obvious choice. If I had all the money in the world, yes I would definitely have loved to have gone for stone quartz. It's sleek, doesn't really require maintenance and I think it makes a kitchen look a little more luxurious. However we're on a budget, so that was well and truly out of the question. As was laminate, which I'm just not a fan of. It just had to be wood.
You may know that we actually purchased our kitchen from DIY-Kitchens, so you may be wondering why we didn't buy our worktops from them? Well truth be told, their variety of wooden worktops was really very slim and to be even more honest, their prices just weren't that competitive either. We used Worktop-Express in our old house to supply the upstands, so we have experience using them before and I knew they had a very large range of different woods and at good value too.
As well as their range of wood, I knew they also offer a bespoke cutting service. This means you can literally send them the diagrams of your kitchen with all the cut-outs required and they will cut everything to size, meaning the worktops can turn up and literally be placed straight into position, no stressing required. It meant we had options as to whether we wanted to DIY cut them ourselves or not. We actually ended up doing both, but I'll get onto that in a bit!
Choosing a Wood
Since deciding to go dark on our kitchen doors, I knew I needed to go light on the worktops. Oak is a lovely wood and something I always thought I would go for - but it has quite a country vibe to it in some ways, and against the dark doors I just wanted something a bit lighter in tone and a bit more modern. I ordered a range of samples from Worktop-Express and Ash stood out to me instantly. It was light and had a gorgeous grain - something I really appreictate in wood. It was also one of the more cheaper woods, unlike a couple of the samples which I didn't like enough to warrant the larger price tags.
Here's a quick look at the samples I ordered but decided against - From Top Left to Bottom Right we have: Beech, Rubberwood, Bamboo, Maple and finally Ash.
Here's a close up of Ash, it's far more lighter that it appears in the top photo. I absolutely love the grain of this wood!
DIY Cutting a Wood Worktop
To save money, we're cutting the worktops along the left-hand side of the kitchen (the cooker side!) ourselves. The reason for just doing this side and not the other one, is because these cuts are all relatively simple - by which I mean they're all straight cuts which can be done with tools we already own. The other side of the kitchen requires a Belfast sink cut-out which needs a special tool we don't own - but I'll explain that later.
We actually cut the wooden worktops in our old house ourselves and there were no disasters, so we knew this was a DIY we were more than capable of. We purchased a 4m length of worktop and using our laser distance measurer we were able to take exact measurements to cut the worktop into the sizes we needed (one either side of the cooker). If you don't have a laser measure, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you get one - you just cannot get a more exact measurement than using a laser measure. It will change your life. Almost. Basically, you hold the laser flat against the edge of the end cabinet (or in our case, cooker) and point the laser at a piece of wood held on the other end (or in our case, the tall end panel) and it will calculate the distance in-between, to the mm.
Now do bear in mind, that if the worktop is at the end of a run, (which I mean, the last cabinet) you'll potentially want to add on an overhang to match any overhang you have at the front. For this piece of worktop, we're sandwiching it between an end panel and the cooker, so we didn't need an overhang. However, for the worktop on the other side of the cooker, we added 25mm to the measurement to account for the overhang at the end. I hope that makes sense?
To cut the worktop, Grant used a Plunge Saw which works on a track so you know you're getting a straight cut every single time. You literally can't go wrong. Unless of course, you measure it wrong. Hence the laser measure - seriously, go get one!
You want to make sure you're using a fine blade and always test on off-cut or sample piece first to ensure the cut isn't going to be rough. We've cut the worktop whilst it's on the ground, but it's being propped up with the use of some spare insulation boards we had leftover from a previous job. This ensures the blade of the saw won't cut into the floor, obviously. And here's the first piece in place! A perfect snug, mm perfect fit! Although we have left a mm gap, to account for wood expansion around the cooker.
The worktop for the other side of the cooker was a little more complex as we had to do one straight cut to get it to size and then another to take the corner off where the worktop will sit around the supporting pillar. We created a cardboard template to make sure the cut was correct and we cut this using a Jigsaw. I say we, Grant was the guy who did all the cutting here, although I was fully responsible for all the measuring. A jigsaw will leave a much rougher cut, but as this is cut will be against the wall - it will be hidden by the upstand.
Easy as 1,2,3!
Bespoke Cutting Service
For the other side of the kitchen (the sink side), we used Worktop-Express's bespoke cutting service. A belfast sink cut out is quite complicated - you need a router, a template and a bit of skill. We don't have any of those and our first ever attempt at using a router definitely was not going to be on a £300+ bit of worktop. Hell no! We also wanted to have draining grooves added to the worktop, which would have been an additional template to buy as well - so, all in all, it worked out much cheaper to get Worktop-Express to do it than buying all the things we needed. Plus, there's no worry about it going wrong!
In order to use the bespoke cutting service, you need to be able to draw up a template. If you've had your kitchen designed for you, you may already have these measurements but if you've designed it yourself, you may not. Depending on the layout of your kitchen and what cuts you're after, this can either be really simple or really complex. However in both cases, it is achieveable - you'll just want to check your measurements about 1000 times before submitting the order - because if you get it wrong and it doesn't fit, well you'll have to pay for a whole new worktop.
Templating A Bespoke Cut Worktop for a Belfast SinkIn our case, we only had a relatively small section of worktop to template, however the process is going to be the same regardless. The first thing you need to establish is the overall length of worktop, which we achieved with the Laser Measure, taking the measurements from one end of the cabinets to the other and then added an additional 5cm. This is cover the overhang there will be on either side (25mm). Draw this up and make sure you label it well.
Next up, we had to position the cut out for the Belfast sink. You'll need to take into consideration any overhang of worktop around the sink as well - which I strongly recommend to ensure any water from the worktop drains into the sink and not onto the edge of it - which could cause you all kind of rot issues. The overhang we've gone for here is 1.5cm. Again, you'll want to measure distance from the edge of the inside of the sink, to the end of the cabinet. Then add on the overhangs. Is this making sense yet?
Repeat this for the other side and again for the back - remembering this time, you'll need to account for any overhang of the worktop at the front as well. You'll see I've circled the important numbers!
If you're looking for a hole for the tap, you'll need to know the diameter of that hole - but luckily you don't need to take measurements for its position, as you can select "align with sink" when you input the diagram online and that will do the job for you. You will however need to specify how far from the back edge of the worktop you'd like it to be. Ours is 10cm down. And finally, if you're looking for drainage grooves too - good news is, these can also be automatically aligned! All you need to specify is their length, which we've gone for 45cm, apparently the recommended amount.
Once you've got all the cuts drawn up, I would then recommend cutting some large sheets of card to size to make a 'mock up' worktop. You'll be able to see exactly how it'll look and check everything's right before submitting the order. You can find giant pieces of card at most supermarkets if you ask nicely. They actually come on most pallets and are sent to be recycled daily, so you can always ask customer services to keep some behind from that day, and collect the next day. It may seem like a strange request, but from someone who works in retail, I can tell you it's actually not that unusual and is a great way to get free card.
So I'm afraid if you have any other cuts I haven't mentioned, I can't help with how to measure those - but generally speaking the process should be pretty much the same. Once you've got it all drawn up you're ready to use the online bespoke tool to input your measurements! Once the order has gone through, you'll then be sent a final drawn-up diagram to reconfirm before the worktop is cut. At this stage you can still make alterations or request any extras.
One thing I added as an extra, which wasn't available from the order page was a drip groove. This is basically a groove on the underside of the worktop, which sits around the perimeter of the sink. It means any water that splashes up whilst the sink is in use, or when the draining grooves are being used, will therefore drip off the worktop once it's run down to the groove. If you don't have them, that water will just run along the underside of the worktop and could just 'sit there' - which is ultimately bad for the worktop. A drip groove, as the name suggests, makes sure that water actually drips off. So our drip groove is 5mm wide, cut in 5mm away from the edge of the sink cut out, and not forgetting to leave a gap from the front of the worktop, otherwise the cut will be shown. Basically, like this.
I actually think this should be something you can select on their online tool, because from everything I researched online - every single carpenter out there recommended putting a drip groove in. It only added £20 extra to the order, so I think - well worth it!
Here's the final diagram they sent for us to confirm. I love that you also get to keep all the off-cuts as well, as I definitely have some DIYs planned for ours.
We had all our fingers and toes crossed for the worktop to fit when it arrived and it did! Perfect to the mm, thank the lord! Although we weren't quite jumping for joy too soon, as annoyingly the drainage grooves had been cut too short. Which yep, meant begrudgingly having to send it back to be re-cut. Customer service was a little slow on this and it seems you can only contact them through email (I did try to phone, but no one ever called me back and I phoned no less than three times!) It did get sorted in the end through email, but it meant going back and forth through emails responses and in my opinion would have been much faster over the phone. Basically, I was being super impatient and just wanted the damn worktop in the kitchen! However once it was recollected, it was back to us within days! So I was pretty pleased about that ;) Here's Grant celebrating the last length of our kitchen renovation!
Getting the tap on was a little awkward as we had to prop the worktop up and work in a tiiiiiiiny space to get it all connected up. With a normal sink, you can get access underneath the sink right to the worktop - but that's not the case with a Belfast sink. Anyway I'm not sure how else you're meant to do it - but this was our solution.
Creating a Window Sill
Because of our wonky walls, we actually had quite a large gap between the back of the worktop and the wall at one end of the kitchen. Having done the measurements for the worktop, we knew this was going to be an issue and we thought long and hard about how to resolve it before placing the order. Eventually we decided to create a window sill from some leftover upstand to hide most of the gap and with the part we couldn't hide with the sill, we screwed a very small section of extra worktop onto the back. Yes it's a little makeshift, but it saved us a fortune doing it this way, rather than ordering an extra wide piece of worktop. Plus, now it's all together - you literally can't tell! I think the window sill sitting on-top of the worktop actually looks quite smart too.
Oiling the Worktops
The bespoke cut worktop comes pre-oiled, but the other worktops don't, so before we could screw them into position, we needed to oil them. We used Rustins Danish Oil on recommendation by Worktop-Express and oiled all four sides of the worktop with two coats using a lint-free cloth to rub it in, making sure to only use a light application each time.
The oil definitely darkened the wood slightly, but it really brought out the grain and gave a beautiful shine to the worktop. Having used the worktops for a while now, I think the oil is really quite good and it lasts a fair amount of time (with the exception of around the sink, which does need a fair amount of upkeep!) so I definitely do recommend it.
Along with our worktop order, we also purchased some matching Ash upstands. I prefer the look of upstands rather than tiles personally, and because upstands are thicker they're also great for covering up any gaps at the back of the worktop between the wall. If you have any large gaps, you may find tiles are just too thin!
We cut the upstands to size using a mitre saw and I then oiled three sides of the up stand (leaving the back un-oiled), prior to fitting. I was worried if I oiled the back, it wouldn't stick the wall properly, hence why I left that side. To fit the upstands, I simply used adhesive with clamps attached to the worktops to hold them into position. This is particularly necessary if you don't have straight walls or the wood has a slight bow to it.
I actually used Screwfix No-Nonsense adhesive for the first upstand I did and it popped straight off the wall a few days later - the horror! So I researched again and switched to a different adhesive, this one by Gripfill which is much stronger and much more potent smelling too. The second time around, I leaved the clamps on for more than 72hours (and no less!) to ensure it was really properly dry before removing them. Since using that, we've had no problems with them and they've been firmly attached for a few months now!
Applying Sealant & CaulkThe last thing to do was caulk any gaps at the top of the up-stands and use a clear sealant between the upstand and the worktop, so that no spillages can run underneath. I also used a flexible nozzle and put some sealant in-between the sink and the worktop too. This just provides a proper seal, so should there be any water splashing - it won't get through there either.
A Few Months On...And that's it! I absolutely love the Ash worktops and I'm so glad with my wood choice. With wooden worktops you do need to be careful not to burn them and also not to leave any spillages that could potentially warp or stain the surface. So far we've thankfully had neither (touch wood!) and I find the worktops generally quite easy to maintain. I try to re-oil around the sink monthly, otherwise I think the rest of the worktops will just be a 6-month or yearly affair.
I will say that the draining grooves aren't actually very good - by which I mean, they don't really drain. The water just kind of sits in the grooves and it doesn't run out properly, so I actually end up having to manually force the water down and into the sink. I don't know whether they just weren't cut properly when we sent the worktop back, but I'm definitely not overly impressed by them and I now use a draining mat instead. Obviously standing water on wood worktops is never a good thing, so if they're not draining correctly then they're likely to warp or even split over time. I'm still glad I went for them, as I do like the look of them - but yes, they're kinda pointless!
Cost-wise, these worktops were still fairly pricey, but a heck less than the cost of stone. We saved a bit of cash by keeping the edge of worktops square (as opposed to being rounded which added additional costs) and of course we saved money by DIY fitting the whole lot too.
So here's some shots of the worktops all nice and finished, in their full beauty!
So I hope this helps anyone thinking about going for wooden worktops and whether you should DIY or not. I would definitely recommend Worktop-Express and especially their bespoke cutting service too. I can't tell you how relieving it was not having to stress out over cutting the Belfast sink - I mean, that's not a DIY you want to get wrong, I can assure you.
I'd love to know what you think - is DIY worktop fitting something you'd consider?
(rounded to the nearest pound)
New Tools Purchased:
Danish Oil £25
Old brick buildings across the country have a tendency to get painted over the years by owners looking to “improve” their look. Whether its just a chimney or the whole building that’s been painted, a lot of us want to go back to that original brick look.
So how do you strip paint from century old brick? Well, the first thought a lot of folks have is sandblasting old brick. There are countless videos and well meaning bloggers who will tell you that sandblasting is the answer, but what they won’t show you is what happens after sandblasted brick is exposed to the elements for a few months.
In this post I’ll show you the dangers of sandblasting old brick and how that can take what would have been a relatively low maintenance brick building and turn it into a crumbling maintenance disaster.
How Old Bricks Were Made
In their simplest form brick are just clumps of clay mixed with varying degrees of shale and sand. Until the mid 1800s, most bricks were formed by hand and set out in a brick yard or in tunnels to dry for a couple weeks until they were ready for the kiln.
The kiln was often built using just these “green” bricks as the walls so as to act as their own kiln. The bricks were cooked at a lower initial temperature slowly to remove any remaining water and then once they were dry enough, the fires were stoked to bring the temps up to around 1800°F before letting them slowly cool down.
Once the bricks had cooled enough, the kiln was disassembled and the bricks were sorted. If only raw bricks were used to build the kiln, the bricks from the outermost walls were kept to be burned again in the next kiln. Some bricks that were closest to the fire received a glaze from the sand that fell into the fires and became vaporized and deposited on the bricks. These less attractive bricks were used in the interior courses of the walls. Bricks that became severely over-burned and cracked or warped were called clinkers and were used less for structural purposes and more for decorative uses like gardens.
This early process of making bricks resulted in much softer and less consistent bricks than what we have today. Today, the bricks are fired evenly and under controlled high temperatures where every brick gets the same amount of heat resulting in much harder bricks.
What Sandblasting Does to Old Brick
Imagine that bricks (especially old bricks) are a loaf of bread, after all they were baked much the same way! Just like how a loaf of bread develops a crust as it is baked in the oven, bricks also develop a protective skin on them from the firing process. That skin keeps them protected from the elements and just like bread, without a crust, they won’t last long without it.
Sandblasting old brick removes paint, yes, but it also removes the outer skin, leaving the brick exposed to the elements and susceptible to an early death. Here are some of the biggest problems sandblasting old brick causes.
Spalling occurs when the brick slowly self-destructs, turning into a powder and falling apart. Spalling can also occur from repointing with a mortar that is too hard which causes the face of the brick to break off exposing the softer interior. Sandblasting causes this en masse as ALL the sandblasted brick is now exposed and weakened. I’ve seen whole walls turned to powder within months of sandblasting depending on the climate.
It’s a big word and it’s as frightening to spell as it is to see. This is not a direct cause of sandblasting, but still an issue because it seems that a lot of people like to sandblast old brick and then apply a sealer to the face to prevent spalling or other damage to the weakened brick. That’s where the problem starts.
Old brick and lime mortar are very breathable building materials that are constantly taking in and expelling water through both sides of the wall. If you seal up one side of the wall, then you prevent that natural breathability from happening.
Moisture builds up within the brick on the underside of the sealer and minerals are deposited just below the surface of the sealer. Eventually this build up can cause the exterior 1/4″ or more of the brick to be forced off the wall and fall to the ground.
Not only does it damage the structural integrity of the brick, but the appearance of sandblasted brick is destroyed too. Any decorative tuckpointing or tooled mortar joints are blasted away along with the face of the bricks, leaving a uniformly rough scarified surface that doesn’t have the same attractive appearance as the original.
An Alternative to Sandblasting
So, what are you to do if you need to remove paint from old brick? Usually the best solution is chemical paint stripping. Using a product like PeelAway1, I have had great success removing decades of old paint from brick.
You brush the paste onto the brick, cover it in a special paper that comes with it, and come back the next day to peel the paper (along with most of the paint) off the wall.
I’ve written an earlier post about some testing I did with this product. It was tested on wood in the post, but works much the same on brick and other masonry.
I’m hoping that by now I have convinced you to skip sandblasting as a method of paint removal. It works well for stripping some metals and concrete, but other than that it usually creates more problems than it solves.
Protect that old brick and keep the sandblaster away.