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  • Inspired by Bare Necessities' famous 'shed thread' and banana skid's seemingly unfinished - but potentially very impressive - bike shed I've decided to share my own project, which involves turning our manky cellar into a pleasant place for bike storage/a workshop/man things.

    When I bought our flat in Hackney with my other half back in the summer of 2012 one of the things I was most excited about was that it came with a cellar. This was one of the reasons we dashed to an early viewing, the prospect of secure bike parking and a workshop was too much to resist. The flat turned out to be perfect and after the usual stressful few days our offer had been accepted.

    We did a lot of work on upstairs, knocked down a wall, completely redecorated, that sort of thing, but it took a while to get onto the cellar as it wasn't really as high priority as our living space.

    The previous tenants had been here a long time and had built a strange wooden box 'for storage' which occupied most of the cellar. It had a raised floor and side walls going up to the roof and was actually very solid and well built. Strangely they'd put a lot of effort into it. They were definitely using it for storage when we looked round, it was rammed, so we didn't really know what we were buying cellar wise, it was so full of stuff.

    It left a gap of about half a foot between the brick walls and the wooden side walls though, and seemed a bit pointless really - neither horse nor mule. So it had to go.

    I don't have a picture of it as it originally was, but I do have a picture of it shortly after I started taking it apart. It involved unscrewing a LOT of wood screws with my drill and clawing the pieces of wood apart with a crow bar. It was quite hard work because they'd built it so solidly.

    By this point I'd fixed the light socket, when we first moved in that was broken and the only light was a small plug in strip lamp on a long cord.

    It was pretty manky, dingy and uninviting at that point really.

    Especially as the wood came down to reveal the horrors beneath: the walls behind weren't a pretty sight.

    That's the original coal shute you can see below, full of about 150 years worth of dirt and debris. Yuck.

    Not only were the walls pretty disgusting, but the mortar was crumbling away and poking a finger in made it come away as dust. The walls had obviously been treated with something at some point (still not sure what) and the bits that had been treated weren't as bad, but still had 'bloom' or efflorescence, where the mineral salts in water which had slowly pushed through the wall had been deposited. This isn't bad, it was just the wall doing its job over 150 years, but it was very dry and crumbly.

    So I concluded the cellar needed repointing and the walls sorting out.

    That's the original lead water pipe above by the way, feeding the water supply to both flats, so that was going to need replacing too as we figured we didn't fancy lead poisoning.


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