A conservatory update

Autumn has stopped knocking on the door, it has now turned the key, flung up the latch and wrenched the door open.  All season have their beauty and the Stewartia is being as flamboyantly autumnal as any plant could muster.  Its display this year is impressive and is one of the plants in my Courtyard Garden just by side of my conservatory. 

I have written previously about how my conservatory has needed work and this has taken place over the last few months so that I could start to use it as a home office.  To date the conservatory has not been well used.  I have never spent a lot of time in there and its main function has been to overwinter plants that were too big to go into the greenhouse.  In the summer I like having the doors open and I sometimes sit in there and read, but not very frequently.  It has been a wasted space.
When I first moved into the house the conservatory was fine, but over the years the floor has become damp particularly in one corner and the floor was cheap old wood laminate and it had gone curly.  So I removed it.
To keep the damp out I painted the bricks with sealant.  This sealed the bricks (hurrah) but not the floor where the water continued to seep in (boo).
I have put down a waterproof membrane - this was at the work in progress stage, I was letting it settle.
Then down went the new lino and I used some stick-on tiles to be the edging.  I had never heard of stick-on tiles but they look ok from a distance and they were cheap.  I needed cheap as I had no idea if any of this was going to work.  The lino was the most expensive part of this project and even that I waited for a good discount and it is by no means top of the range.  I know really the conservatory needs to be rebuilt properly but that is not going to happen any time soon so this is to keep me going until I have to think about it again.
Of course there is no point in just working on the inside if outside is where the problem is happening.  I needed to do more than handle the symptoms.  Outside at ground level it was mossy and you can see that the bricks are damp and the mortar almost gone at ground level.  I decided this was probably how the water damp was still getting in.  So I clumsily re-mortared (I am not showing you that you will laugh far too much!) and also applied a stone sealant.  
I was sent a small bottle of LTP External Stone Sealer to try.  I have not paid for this, but my opinions of it are of course my own. This is water-based and it impregnates the stone to seal it.  This bottle was just enough to do the lower course of bricks where the problem occurs.  I have waited a week or so until we have had some goodly amounts of rain (and we have had goodly amounts) and it seems to have done the trick.  I also think that part of the problem is that the rain does not drain away from the conservatory, my neighbour who has hung his head over the fence and had many a chat with me about this, is of the opinion that I need to have some way of draining the water away from the conservatory.  I think this is beyond my skill-less abilities.  I am keeping it in mind.
Back then to the inside: I then started to put the inside back together and I needed curtains of some sort.  The conservatory still had the beige vertical blinds that were there when I moved in over 10 years ago, it really was time I replaced them.  I thought about it and pondered it and decided to buy some 'dupattas' which I had seen on sale from a company in India I sometimes buy fabric from.  They were cheap and cheerful so I bought a few.  Then I had to work out how to put them up.  I took down the blinds but left the track up as, well, I am lazy and it was something I would probably get around to another day.  


like lightening,

inspiration struck....
I bought some edging lace and sewed it to the top of the scarves.  Then I fitted the lace into the blind-track-hooks (they may have a more technical name....)  and voila!
I have working curtains in the conservatory!  I confess to being hugely smug about this, I can hardly believe that it actually worked.

I already had an old writing bureau in the conservatory so that is now being used as my desk.  I have got a proper office chair and set it all up properly so I am not getting neck/back ache that I was having from working from the kitchen table.
Now that I am in the conservatory more I have put a bird feeder where I can see it whilst I work; much to the delight of the squirrels and Esme who now likes to watch them from a warm cosy spot.
and Trevor,
and Flossy keep me company all day whilst I am working (Bruce stays upstairs, he a curmudgeon at the best of times).
and Bear holds up the plants carefully in a helpful way.

It is gets too cold in the winter I may have to rethink, but so far so good.  I am not working from home every day anymore as I now do go into the office a couple of days a week.  Having somewhere I can work regularly that is not the kitchen table any more is good.

I am keeping and eye on the damp to see if it reappears but I am pleased with how the room looks and that I now have the inside of my house more connected with the garden.
The large plants are still outside, but I have already moved some of the overwintering tenders indoors.  I think I shall soon be seen in virtual meetings with a jungle background....... something to look forward to.


  1. I love your fabric curtains to replace the vertical blinds. I'm the (not so) proud owner of a rather tatty Victorian style conservatory tacked on the back of my 1950s semi. It's hot as Hades in summer, and like the Arctic in winter. It's also got those depressing vertical blinds and I might have to pinch your idea to replace them. I'd toyed with the idea of bamboo cane blinds (too much fuss to fit them) or net curtains (yikes!) but your solution's much more stylish.

  2. Thanks- it took me ages to work out what to do with the blinds. I thought about bamboo too and was going down that route - I think they will look good.


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