We stumbled across this property on Rightmove, it was in an area we were unfamiliar with 20 miles away from home but we just knew that this was the property for us. The house was in a terrible state, needed lots of work doing and it felt like the estate agent was trying to put us off before we had even viewed it, it had been on the market for 3 years with no takers and they probably felt that we would be another optimistic couple that would run a mile as soon as we saw the house.
We knew the house was right for us, it met our needs for location, size and price. Buying a house that has been on the market for a long time that isn’t in good repair does generally come with hefty discount and with great surprise to the estate agent we were not scared of a big project!
The house had no curb appeal, it lacked any character and was very unloved. We spent time exploring many options for the house, some good and many mistakes were made along the way. I’m sure anyone that has done extensive work on a property will be well aware of this and for anyone that is about to embark on a similar project, make sure you take this into account.
We had many different plans for the house, some that we would be able to do straight away and others that would take further planning and finances. It would have been lovely to complete the house in a matter of weeks or months but there’s also something very special about doing the work yourself over a period of time. Working from home was a big concern and this required space for it to happen but the living space was also something that needed looking at.
When we moved in, the downstairs consisted of a lounge with a door that came off the main road, a small kitchen that only had a tap, and a small, cold bathroom. We decided to increase the living space by covering up the front door and moving the entrance to side of the house. This gave us more privacy and made the lounge bigger as there was less entrances to consider when placing furniture. We moved the bathroom upstairs to create to a downstairs WC and utility space which worked better for our family life, we put an extension on the kitchen to allow for another seating area to create a larger kitchen diner space.
The biggest transformation we made was to move the downstairs bathroom into an upstairs bedroom. This was discussed at length for a long time, it would mean sacrificing a bedroom, having a full bathroom fitted and changing the use of the original bathroom. We sought advice from a local estate agent and after lots of research we decided to put this change into place. It was the single biggest project we undertook as so many changes needed to be made.
With the extension added to the kitchen this made the space larger and brighter, we opted for a large sky light in the extension and double glass doors to maximise the light. We looked at many different options for the kitchen units and settled on a bespoke kitchen made by a local carpenter. This was a lovely process to go through, we worked closely with him to develop a design and style that worked with the style of the house. We opted for shelving for our everyday kitchen items, whilst they can be a pain to dust, I do love how they change the feel of the room without having lots of cabinets covering the wall.
The bedrooms did not need any major renovation, they required cosmetic changes such as plastering, decorating and carpets. We chose colours and items that would last and would not clash with a change of furniture or accessories. The windows are large throughout the house and sit close the the floor, this style of window lends itself to shutters as there is no worry about losing light and provides plenty of privacy. Of course we do run a curtain and blinds business so each window required a set of curtains too!
We run a home based business and having the space to do this was a huge priority, having the luxury of working from home but not having the home taken over by the business was the balance we were looking for. The garden was huge and had plenty of room to add in an office and workshop, they are fully insulated with power and lots of space.
We were able to carry out a lot of the work ourselves and this did impact on the cost of the renovation. With both of us having an interest and background in houses we applied our skills when we could. With Ben having experience in the building and landscaping trade and both of us running a successful interiors business, it gave us a good head start. Some of the projects we undertook ourselves were painting, decorating, up-cycling furniture, block paving, curtains, blinds, shutters, tiling, the lounge fire place units and many other projects. We used our experience, trial and error and a lot of You Tube! We weren’t afraid to give it a go but equally we knew when to get the professionals in. We instructed tradesman for projects such as rewiring the house, fitting a central heating system, windows, log burners, bathroom fitting and plastering.
We picked up most of our furniture second hand, with a love for interiors we do have a tendency to spend a lot of time in junk shops and auction houses. These are just some of the examples of the pieces of furniture we have picked up along the way. Just remember to not look for specific items, be open to ideas and always take a tape measure!
- The kitchen sofa was picked up for free from Facebook Market Place, it had some cat scratches on one side but with a dog and a small baby we didn’t mind this. A quick clean and some leather polish and it was good as new
- The lounge sofa was picked up from Facebook Market Place too for £50, it was in Central London but using Shipley we were able to organise someone to collect and deliver it for us – highly recommend
- Harry’s changing table was an eBay find for £50, it was a shiny dark wood but with a quick sand, paint and some new handles, it looks good as new!
- The kitchen table also came from an eBay for £40, it was in Kent but what is life without a couple of adventures
- The kitchen chairs came from a local auction house for £70, if you’ve not been to a homewares auction before they are well worth a visit, the treasures you can pick up are amazing
- And a variety of pictures, ornaments and decorations are from charity shops, auctions and car boot sales
This project has been a lot of fun, we have learnt a lot in the 6 years we have lived here and look forward to our next adventure.
Watch this space…..