This week I’m excited to introduce Trish @interiorspickle to my House Renovation Highlights series. Trish lives in South East London (like me) and it has been great to read her renovation story and share it with you all.
The entire house had to be renovated – it was derelict and some of the rooms upstairs were individual bedsits. So it was quite a project that Trish was taking on including digging out the raised garden to add more light to the kitchen and create an outside garden area. It looks amazing now! Well done.
I would love for you to have a read of Trish’s house renovation story and admire her stunning home, where she shares three amazing tips for any future house renovators. Plus the colour pops in all the rooms tie the house together. Keep reading and have a snoop….
Tell us about your home and your renovation project. What did you do?
We bought a 3-storey Victorian house in South East London, most of which was last decorated in the 1970s. The upper floors had also been divided into bedsits, so there were multiple defunct kitchenettes which even had their own separate electricity supply, powered by a coin meter! It was pretty much derelict – there was even an outdoor loo, so literally every space had to be renovated. The whole house also had to be re-plumbed and re-wired. I’ll never forget the look on our electrician’s face when he checked out the existing DIY wiring – he couldn’t believe it hadn’t burned down already!
We’ve basically tackled the work over three years in different phases to allow ourselves some mental and financial recovery time in between. First we spent about 3 months doing all the demolition ourselves – ripping out of unnecessary walls, removing the polystyrene tiles that covered about 70% of the ceilings, removing layers and layers of old wallpaper and wall tiles and under that – crumbling plaster – and ripping up carpets and lino to get back to the original shell.
Then after several false starts with builders who didn’t bother to turn up, we managed to find a brilliant team of builders who were renovating a house across the street. They worked with us over around 12-18 months to re-plaster pretty much every wall and ceiling and put in a new kitchen, two new bathrooms and a utility room plus new radiators throughout the house. We worked with them to create a more open plan feel and restore all the period features.
What did you enjoy the most about your house renovation?
The sense of achievement for the things we did ourselves like restoring the lovely staircase. We also did all the painting and decorating ourselves which I think has made us much more confident about how we use colour and especially how to achieve coherence throughout a whole house while still allowing each room to look individual.
What was your biggest challenge? Is there anything that you would have done differently?
We have a raised back garden and previously at the back of the house on the ground floor there was a tiny kitchen that opened directly onto a 5ft brick wall and a narrow alleyway leading to a steep set of stairs to get to the garden. It was dark, damp and very depressing. Our builders excavated around 17 skips of earth from the garden to create what is now a lovely sunny terrace at ground level and put in a wide central staircase up to the garden. They also knocked through the small dark rooms at the back to create the new kitchen. To let more light in we replaced the back wall with full width sliding glass doors to bring in as much uninterrupted light as possible.
I guess the biggest challenge was living on site during the build, but we had to do this to save money. It was so dusty that at one point even the white bits on our cat turned grey! I think we had lived here for over 12 months before we could walk around with our shoes off.
I wish I had properly researched the implications of renovating when you live in a conservation area and the cost of buying new sash windows. The previous owners had replaced all the original sash windows with ugly aluminium double glazing in the 1980s. We wanted to bring back the sash windows but then realised we had to go through full planning to do this. We also have some unusual double arched windows which had to be recreated exactly. The cost was eye-watering and we hadn’t budgeted for it properly so it meant some of our other plans had to be shelved to pay for this.
Tell us your top tips?
1. If you’re moving into a new place I’d suggest living in it for a while before you make decisions about configuration of rooms and the decor – if you can wait. I think you’ll make much better decisions after 6-12 months when you understand the way the sun moves and changes the light in different rooms and you’ve started to get a feel for how you use the space.
2. Don’t follow fashion when it comes to interior decor – pick the colours, textures and finishes that you like and always use paint samples before you commit to painting the whole room. I got caught in the whole pink paint craze and totally regretted it because while it looks fantastic in some people’s houses, it just didn’t work with the rest of our colour scheme.
3. If you’re doing a kitchen renovation or extension with a sizeable wall of glass, don’t forget to budget for also renovating the space outside that your kitchen looks onto. In our previous renovation we hadn’t considered this. We put in these beautiful big glass doors and then had to look out onto a mud heap of a back garden for about 6 months until we’d saved up enough cash to tackle this!
What was your best renovation purchase?
I love eBay and have found so many great pieces of reclaimed furniture at great prices there. I think the best find was a set of Victorian pitch pine double doors that we installed in our lounge. They only cost £45! We did have to strip them which was very hard work but well worth it!
Would you do it again?
Yes absolutely – I probably wouldn’t have said that 18 months ago when we were still in the thick of it, but now we’re in the honeymoon period! I hope the next one will be a new build/self build, I’ve seen so many inspiring examples of what people are doing with these on Insta and Pinterest. And hopefully we will be able to budget for living off site so it won’t be quite as painful.
What’s next? Any future renovation plans?
Yes, next up is the back garden. It looks lovely from the kitchen but it’s actually still a disaster up there once you get to the top of the terrace stairs. We’re saving up now and hope to tackle this next spring. We’re both very keen gardeners so this one will be a real pleasure. Also my husband hasn’t had a man shed since we moved in here so he’ll be getting a new one of these as part of the plan – which he’s very happy about!
Thank you so much Trish, I have absolutely loved reading this and hearing all about your renovation journey. Do all go and check out Trish’s house @interiorspickle on Instagram.
If you would love to have your your home featured as part of my series, do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org