Real Talk House Renovation
Guest blog written by the super lovely Janet (Daffodils and Gin on Instagram)
I have a similar love/hate relationship to house renovation as I do to exercise. I wonder why on earth I am putting myself through it whilst I am doing it but then afterwards I’m so pleased I did.
We’ve been in our house for 4 years and in that time we have renovated every room. We never thought this house was going to be such a project when we bought it but I guess that’s what happens when you buy an old house and when you get totally invested in making it your own.
We both loved the house the first time we looked around it and knew we wanted to live here. It is light and airy with high ceilings and character features and it just felt like home.
The priority when we first moved in was decorating the second bedroom, which included getting the wooden floor sanded and stained, and getting a loft hatch created and the loft boarded. This meant we could move all the sentimental stuff we never looked at, which was in the loft at our old house, into the loft at this house. Never to be looked at…
Once the loft space was in use we could then re-plaster, paint and carpet the third bedroom creating a space to work and a space for guests. We also got rid of a huge hedge that extended across the front of the house and created a new path and front garden.
When we bought the house we knew we wanted to install a downstairs toilet and replace the bathroom upstairs. However, once we’d lived in the house for a bit we realised the bathroom was too cramped upstairs with a bath in it and so the downstairs toilet idea expanded in to an extension for a downstairs bathroom, and a utility room. We talked to our neighbours, submitted a planning application and once that was approved the builders started.
(Bathroom - Before)
I’d say that project was the easiest. Though you’d think an extension would be the hardest you can shut it off from the rest of the house. Over time I’ve found the projects right in the middle of the house to be the hardest as you can’t get away from the disruption.
The extension resulted in our whole garden becoming a building site so the following summer’s plan of sorting out the back garden was brought forward significantly and that was done once the building work was finished.
Once the bathroom downstairs was finished internally we made a start on the upstairs bathroom. Now in this time I’d discovered Instagram and the world of interiors. Suddenly from just painting the second and third bedrooms a nice neutral creamy Summer Jasmine I’d been converted to loving grey walls and statement floor tiles. I’d seen the floor tiles on Instagram and tracked them down and the upstairs bathroom was planned around them. I still love them and I’m so pleased with that room.
(Bathroom - After)
Then it all went a bit crazy and started getting a bit more stressful as we didn’t really take a breather and we started our bedroom. Before every project I have a plan in my head of how it’s going to progress and how long it’s going to take and I have over time realised that every time the plan slips and it takes longer than you expect. Our bedroom exceeded all expectations on this front though.
(Bedroom - Before)
Firstly we had to clear our bedroom of all the oak furniture we’d bought for the room when we moved in. Why we did that when we knew we’d have to decorate, who knows! Anyway we will be eternally grateful to our friend who helped move the furniture down to our dining room. Myself and my partner then booked a week of leave to get the decorating done. In that time I slept in the spare room and he slept on the sofa bed thinking that it wouldn’t be for long. However, it was then 9 weeks before the flooring company could come and so we ended up rebuilding our bed but the three large wardrobes had to remain in the dining room.
The flooring then proved problematic as after sanding it all it was found to not be good enough to restore and so we had to have a hardwood floor laid over the top. More expense and more time. 13 weeks after the project started our kind friend came back round on one of the hottest days of the year and helped us move the wardrobes back up to our bedroom.
(Bedroom - After)
In the meantime, whilst all that was going on, we decided to redecorate the hallway and landing. We got a quote for removing the wallpaper, skimming the walls and painting but to save money my partner decided to remove the wallpaper and do the painting. I dread to think how he managed to get the wallpaper off some of the walls. I’m glad I didn’t witness the precarious leaning across the banister situations that I’m sure he got into. Our amazing plasterers that we always use came and skimmed and then my partner spent a lot of weekends doing all the painting. Do you remember how hot last spring/summer was? He also had to multi task and try and catch the World Cup whilst painting. Sometimes I wonder if we should’ve just taken the decorator’s quote…
(Hallway - Before)
(Hallway - After)
We then had a few weeks off before starting project kitchen in September. By now we’d built up a relationship with some really good tradesmen and we got them all booked in for when they were going to come and do their first fix followed by their second fix. It still took weeks though just because of the amount we had to do. We ripped out the old kitchen, got new lighting fitted, re-plastered, fitted the new kitchen, replaced the floor and a step down to a lower part of the room, replaced the French doors and painted.
(Kitchen - During)
(Kitchen - After)
For weeks our dining room became our make shift kitchen. Luckily we could use the sink in our utility room as in our old house when we replaced the kitchen we had to wash up in the bath. We’re so pleased with the new kitchen but in our typical style we then moved on to the living room and dining room and we still haven’t got any pictures on the wall in there!
LIVING & DINING ROOM
The renovation of the living room and dining room got to me the most because they are slap bang in the middle of the house. You have to walk through them to get to the kitchen as the hallway isn’t wide enough to have an access to the back of the house past the stairs. I also couldn’t switch off from this project as it’s where you spend your evenings too and we didn’t give ourselves a break after the kitchen. We had the old fireplaces (that had been added in the 1980s I’d guess) removed and new fireplaces that were Victorian in character added. We replaced the flooring and had the rooms skimmed. We then got a decorator in to paint as we didn’t want another spring like the year before.
(Lounge - Before)
(Lounge - After)
Now, a couple of weeks short of our four year house anniversary, we have done everything we wanted to bar replace the floor in the hallway (which is due to be done soon).
So what have I learnt. I’ve learnt that I love all things interiors and it’s given me and my partner a new common interest. I’ve discovered Instagram and gained new friends through it and also discovered wonderful independent interior businesses such as Lily Loves Shopping. I’ve learnt that you can not underestimate how much dust spreads, especially the dreaded brick dust. I now pack literally everything away and we put masking tape round all the door edges. I’ve learnt that it is good to live with a space first and I’d always advise someone to do this before starting a renovation project. I’ve learnt that good tradesmen are invaluable. I rate the people we use so highly. I’ve learnt that a problem is always going to crop up and even though there’ll be tears there normally is a solution. And finally I’ve learnt that you can’t control everything and things will always take longer than you expect and it will get on top of you. This doesn’t suit my personality and so if I ever talk about moving house tell me not to do it! But was it worth it in the end? All the disruption, stress, dust. Totally. 100%.
Local to Market Harborough? Here are Janet's recommendations for her trusted local tradesmen!