I have been away and, of course, as soon as I leave, things start picking up speed. Lots of small but important jobs have been done, and Alfredo the plumber has been back again too, meaning that all the water systems are now working, although somewhere along the way, the septic pump appears to have been misplaced – it’s a mystery we hope to solve soon. Anyway, we are now more than half living in the new house. The light fittings are still not what they will be and we have to finish the Japanese room upstairs, and bookshelves downstairs, and we haven’t moved lounge furniture yet, but we are getting there…
Last week, we also made more progress on the kitchen. Alfredo plumbed everything in, and we also finished the countertops, a three stage process involving:
1. Sanding, to level the surface and remove any excess epoxy from the joints;
2. Two coats of Osmo Top Oil, a special oil and wax finish that protects the countertops from staining. Each coat is applied liberally and then the excess wiped off before the rest is rubbed in before it dries, with cloths in both hands. It is then left for 3 hours before the second coat is applied. The Top Oil gives real depth to the Paperstone countertops.
3. Polishing with Original Beeswax Furniture Polish, gives a fingerprint-resistant glossy finish.
We also moved our oven from the old house – and it fit perfectly. We are just waiting for the electricians to come back this week to wire in this and the cooktop. Then there are a couple more drawers to put in and we’re basically finished with the kitchen.
Over the this week, it’s been all about kitchens and bathrooms, and this will continue over the weekend. The weather has taken a turn towards the cold, and the old house is so much colder than the passive house, so we are looking to move in as soon as possible.
The main kitchen business was to cut and fit the Paperstone countertops. Paperstone is a pretty amazing eco-product. It’s made of a mixture of recycled paper and resins, which is laid down in thin layers and then compressed. It ends up like something that is strangely not unlike slate, and although you can get it in an increasingly large range of colours, we decided that the most slate-like colour of all was the one we wanted – and we managed to get exactly what we needed from their outlet site, Green Countertops Direct. It has a lot of advantages over other composite countertops, particularly because it’s the same consistency and colour all the way through, so you can cut it rout out whatever you like and so on. It is, however, very, very hard and even using the recommended carbide drill and router bits, it still ate two router bits and a special jigsaw bit that was supposed to be capable of cutting through thick steel.
It’s all installed now, and this weekend we’ll be sanding, oiling and polishing it ready for use.
The other, related, job was to put together the kitchen island, which we made using the left-ever cross-laminated timber (CLT) we had. I thought this might look over-heavy but it doesn’t, it looks industrial but really great and is a nice reminder of how the house is put together and was made. For now, we’ve even left the lifting straps on, although we may cut those off eventually as we decide what to put under the island. The island is deliberately about two inches lower than the main surfaces in the kitchen, so it’s the right height for kneading bread, making pastry etc.