Thursday, 5 May 2011

DIY know-how show-how triumph

Since moving in, it has been my great delight to get stuck into some DIY. It's normal for tenants to provide and fit their own light fittings in Switzerland, so we went to IKEA (IKEA here is just like IKEA everywhere else), and we bought some ceiling roses and lampshades. The first one that I fitted, in the living room, went extremely smoothly. It was a simple case of hooking up the ceiling rose, wiring in the wires, and then hanging the shade from the wire.

The second one in the dining room threw up a problem. The wires were poking out of the ceiling as expected, but there was no hook to attach the ceiling rose to. A quick rifle through our Dorling Kindersly 'DIY Know-how with Show-how' book (highly recommended in general) was not especially helpful on the matter, so armed with optimism and a map, (but fatefully not a dictionary), I set off in search of a hardware store to purchase an appropriate hook widget. I found an extremely helpful and good humoured shop assistant whose English was about equal to my German. Much miming and confusion ensued as we rifled through the shelves of light fittings and fixtures in an elaborate process of elimination. Eventually we agreed that I needed one of these:

As eventually explained by the DIY shop lady's English-speaking teenage son, this terrifying beast must be installed so that the entire clamp part is inserted into a slot in the ceiling. It is then expanded to grip the edges of the hole. One must then fill in the entire hole with polyfiller to create a smooth(ish) finish and leave the hook sticking out of the wall.

I rummaged about a bit in our toolkit, found my electric drill and discovered the plaster saw that we bought to repair the huge hole that Greg knocked into the wall of our last flat in London. It is an ugly-looking piece of equipment and not one to wave about carelessly at head height. I scuttled up the step ladder, donned a makeshift mask and safety glasses (I am all about the safety), and then scuttled down again to switch off the electricity before proceeding.

I drilled, hacked and chiselled a hole about 2 inches by half an inch into the ceiling, bringing down about a kilogram of filthy black plaster dust and ceiling matter. There was a moment when I lost my nerve a bit and had to have a sit down and a cup of tea, but then I got stuck back in again and finished the job. I wedged the hook in, slathered on the poly filler, crossed my fingers and went to have a shower (serious amounts of dust went absolutely everywhere). The result was triumphant, if a bit lumpy:

And three weeks later the light fitting is still up :)

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