We’ve been in the house for just over three months now. Work is underway, but I must say, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. This will be the third house that we’ve done up in the last 28 years, and although there have been ups and downs with the others, I can’t remember having so many hitches, and we’ve hardly started! I know it’s first world problems, and this is not intended to sound like moaning, but I’m hoping this might be a useful blog to anyone who is undertaking a similar project, so I’m going to air some of the glitches that we’ve had, and hopefully learn some lessons from them, so other people might gain from reading about it too.
This is quite a dramatic ‘before’ shot….
In August, we got three quotes to knock through our two ground floor reception rooms into one large area. We went with the cheapest quote, and we were pleased because the builder said he could fit us in straight away. It was messy (probably messier than it should have been), but the workmen came every day for four days, they were cheery and pleasant, and the job was done in a rough and ready manner. I might not go for the cheapest quote next time. Anyway, it is fine and it was the first tick off a long list. If I was doing it again? I would remove all of the furniture from the room. If that wasn’t possible, I’d seal everything securely with dust sheets and gaffer tape. We did cover everything, but not very thoroughly and the dust went everywhere.
Then it looked a bit like this…a carpenter came and replaced the floorboard. We redecorated the two rooms, top to bottom. And now it looks like this…
We had the floorboards sanded by the best company ever (Youngs Flooring of Oundle, Northamptonshire, we salute you), and then varnished them with a satin varnish ourselves.
It took five goes to get the ceiling lampshades we wanted, I just could not get it right in terms of size, shape, the amount of light. Don’t rush it, I’d tell myself when I do this again. Wait until you’re completely happy, don’t buy something for the sake of it. These shades are from Matalan. I have mainly reused furniture and accessories from our last house, but we did get a new rug, from John Lewis, and curtains, from Dunelm as our previous ones did not fit. We had to YouTube how to fit curtains which is a bit sad, but it’s harder than you think!
We had two sets of shelves built into two alcoves, which has been a great decision. Space saving and you can fit so many books on there.
We have two fireplaces in this room. One I’ve painted the same colour as the walls to make it blend in. The other one, which we’ll be using to light a coal fire, is more of a feature. I decided to find a large mirror to hang over it. I had mirrors from our past house, but they were too small, so I sold those on Facebook marketplace and put the money towards this beauty, which I sourced at a local antiques fair for £100. I painted it dark grey, and we hung it on the wall. Really pleased with the effect, and it bounces so much light around.
It just feels so nice to have a room where we can relax. At the other end is my desk, and my big cupboard, where I store all of my work paraphernalia, so I don’t have to look at it when I’m trying to switch off. Again, this was a vintage find, an old Victorian school cupboard and I’m so pleased with it. I really took my time to find exactly the right piece and it paid off.
The painted fireplace is at this end of the room. Another before shot…
Just too much ginger pine for my liking, so it’s now been painted Ammonite by Farrow and Ball, the same as the walls. I used Pinterest to get ideas for this as I could not work out what to do with it. I think it’s much better now.
Elsewhere in the house, well, we’ve painted all the landings, walls, ceilings, floorboards and bannisters (we have four storeys, even though it is not a big house, it has an attic and a basement), and I’ve made some gallery walls to accommodate our huge collection of pictures.
I loved doing these areas.
Putting my houseplants in place.
What I am finding hard is tracking down reliable people to come in and do work for us. We can paint and decorate, but we don’t have other skills. We’ve had a particularly bad experience recently. It was a very difficult situation (still is, really, but I probably should not say more). Trying to see a positive, for next time, we would always get a reference or an example of past work if we were going to ask someone to embark on a skilled job. Some people want to work for cash, but the problem with that is there is no paperwork, or written proof of any undertaking. I would never, ever do that again. So, it has been a bit stressful of late. I try to stay calm by painting and printing. I did a lovely course, botanical printmaking a few weeks ago, and made some fabric designs which I am going to turn into cushions and journal covers.
They kind of suit the style of the house, too.
And yesterday I went to a country house sale. It was a bit out of my budget, but I did love rummaging…
I wouldn’t have minded those rattan chairs…
…But I will stick to my charity shop jug and leaves.