Tuesday, 25 February 2014


We purchased the floorboards for the first story:

We have been thinking about the upper storeys' flooring for a long time, and finally decided to place massive oak planks over the current conifer floorboards. We bought the boards with no finishing on them. It seems all that is fashionable at the moment is sterile whites and greys, and that will not do.

These floorboards are gorgeous and great value. I love working with wood, and have a lot of fun even though the job of finishing is a little monotonous.

A light sanding is sufficient.
Tinting the oak.

I use a very wide brush which works nicely.
I am using walnut husk dye crystals ("nogalina" in Spanish and "beits walnoot" in Dutch) from which I make my own dye, mixing it with water (I am using distilled water to avoid surprises, unlikely, but who knows), until I get the intensity I want. 

I don't remember where I first learned of this, at art school perhaps. It is an ancient product that has been used to tint wood and make ink for centuries, if not millenia, so I find it a bit strange that I do not find a lot of information about it in English on the net. The crystals, which are very cheap, don't seem to be readily available, or else I do not find the right terms. This is the Spanish wikipedia, which doesn't have any links to other languages. 

I am very glad I could find this in the local drugstore here in Belgium as easily as in Spain. I am pretty sure it was used to colour all of the antique oak furniture I have to a slightly darker and warmer tone. It also goes nicely with our windows. In my opinion it produces the most gorgeous shades.

A batch of tinted floorboards.

Comparing the original and the dyed boards.

A little bit of water shows the colour closer to what the finish will be.
After tinting the switch covers, beech wood, which takes dye badly, it is such a pleasure to work with oak.
Beech is always difficult, but I wonder if I should have given up on propietary dyes and tints and give a go to this natural walnut dye. I know I still had difficulty with it when I dyed my beech workshop desk, though, so perhaps not...

I intensely dislike polyurethane varnishes, so I am testing a waterproof oil finishing treatment. We will place floorboards in the bathroom as well, so I hope it works nicely.

I think the wood is perhaps still too porous after the dye, so I will perhaps seal it a little with shellac. I have to think about it.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Windows &

Much has been worked on since I last posted, but it was mostly more of the same.

Some news though. We got another 4 windows and a skylight placed:

Large window where there used to be a door.
Living room.

Tiny window in the corner were we will install a small toilet.

Large-ish workshop window. Yay.
The plugs and switches and the radiator for this
room are already installed as well.

This used to be the hayloft window in the attic.
It is now a smallish low window in the workshop.
I have window seat thoughts.
Workshop view (windows halfway done here)

Skylight in the living room. 
Skylight from above.
The skylight being blue... that is certainly not an aesthetic choice, I really, really dislike the cold light that it produces. However we didn't know that the skylights with the higher insulating capabilities are blue. We will have to find a way to warm up the light that comes in, with a gel film that we can glue to it or to a glass that we can place from below.

Any suggestions very welcome!

Some more random images:

Aïda working hard in the attic,
placing and finishing plasterboards.
Pim working hard in the driveway, installing
 the copper pin for the grounding wiring.

Pim's dad working hard in the stairwell,
 placing a windowsill.

The neighbours' talkative cat.
Cats don't work very hard at all.