Hi all! This week on my House Renovation Highlights series I’m delighted to be featuring the very lovely Katie and her newly renovated 1930s terraced home. Katie has been sharing her renovation story on her Instagram @katie_at_the_crescent_ and I’ve been following her journey since the beginning.
She has completely renovated her home, creating a beautiful open plan kitchen, living room and dining area, that’s perfect for her children, whilst at the same time oozing style with crittall style doors and windows, and a unique kitchen that colour matched to Farrow and Ball Pigeon that sits at the rear of the property.
Here Katie shares her journey about why they decided not to extend and instead open up all the ground floor rooms. In addition to this Katie shares some really valuable advice and tips for anyone thinking renovating their home including thinking all the little details, to having a good relationship with your builder from the get go, and thinking about how the whole house flows from one room to the next to create cohesion.
Next up on Katie’s hit list is the loft, so watch this space, have a read of her story and head over to Instagram @katie_at_the_crescent_ to see more.
Tell us about your home and your renovation project. What did you do?
Our home is in leafy north London. I live with my two little girls and husband, in a 1930’s terrace on a pretty street. We have been living here for just over 18 months and it was the location that made us decide to purchase the house. The house itself has been a complete project, labour of love and not at all a dream house, but it has good bones, period features and most of all, where we dreamed of living. We initially planned to extend the back of the house under permitted development, to create a large kitchen/diner and add an additional bedroom and bathroom by adding a loft dorma.
With a global pandemic and furlough, for me, being thrown into the mix, we made the difficult decision not to extend and instead, as phase 1 to knock the three downstairs rooms (lounge, kitchen and diner) and create one large open plan space. The loft dorma is phase 2.
The house has undergone the following: all new windows, re-wire, re-plaster of all rooms, refurbishing of original floor boards in all rooms, re-instating all period features, adding a downstairs WC and a closet for our shoes and coats. We have also added a large patio area to the back of the house and a joiner has made a bespoke porch, which is a replica of other 1930’s houses in our area.
What did you enjoy the most about your house renovation?
For me, it’s getting into the detail and not the build itself. I love picking paint colours, tiles, rugs, prints and the personal pieces that make the house feel unique and like your home. This is the most exciting part for me, as well as seeing the transformation from what it used to be to how it looks now. I like seeing these often neglected, ugly duckling houses become something beautiful and now desirable.
What was your biggest challenge?
This was a hard question, as there were many. My husband and I have undertaken a renovation like this in our last house, but not with two small children. This made it far more difficult. The biggest challenge for us would be the timescale of the building works. Due to a global pandemic and the scale of the work to the house, we had to move out for 2 months. This put us and the builders under quite a lot of pressure to turn things around quickly, as we were having to pay quite a lot in rent to be close by to keep an eye on the house and to be close to my daughter’s school in case it opened during lockdown.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
Although, we were left happy with the quality of our build, we found the building company very difficult to deal with, in terms of contracts, admin, schedule of work and the overall sign off the work. If we were to ever do this again, I would be firmer on this element and ensure we were clear and happy before the build started. I think this was made difficult, as our build was meant to start in March 2020, but all building work got cancelled due to the pandemic. When the building company called to confirm they were able to start in May 2020, we were quite desperate to get started, as the house was in a poor state and was a bit depressing, being in three small and dark rooms on the ground floor 24/7. My advice would be, to make sure all paperwork is ready and all parties are happy with the plan moving forward.
Tell us your top tips?
1. If your budget allows, spend up on key items such as radiators, brassware, light switches. These elements that you use every day give a quality feel to the end finish and give a more overall high end look.
2. If you do need to take out any of the original features, such as architrave, replace them with the same/ something that is in keeping with the age of your property. This immediately adds character.
3. Think of the house as one big room and ask yourself. Does it flow? Could you see each room and know it’s part of the same house? There needs to be a cohesion to the house, not a theme but the aesthetic needs to run fluidly. I think this comes from only buying pieces that you truly love.
4. No matter the scale of the renovation project, always think about light and how you can get maximum light into the room/building with physical light, by means of windows, lighting and props such as mirrors to bounce light around the room.
What was your best renovation purchase?
Hands down, it would be our alitherm heritage aluminium doors at the back of the house (crittall style). As we didn’t extend in the end, this was something that I was not willing to compromise on. They span the whole width of our house, flood the house front to back with light and make me feel happy looking outside, even on a grey, rainy London day.
Would you do it again?
We would do it again but would hope that the circumstances would be different next time round. My husband and I on a smaller scale have renovated period flats, a loft conversion and full Victorian house renovation and this is our first 1930’s house, so we are learning lots of new skills as we go. Ed, my husband is the designer and planner of the layout of the space and I take the main responsibility of the decor and furnishings, but luckily, we have pretty similar tastes. The future dream for both would be a Georgian house. Here’s hoping.
What’s next? Any future renovation plans?
There are lots of these. On a larger scale, we are planning a full loft dorma and getting lots of inspiration from the cosmetic renovation of yours. It looks amazing. For our loft conversion, we will be building a bedroom and bathroom on the second floor and would hope to tie the back of the house in with the crittal style kitchen doors.
On a smaller scale, it’s getting the garden summer ready with additional patio areas and some landscaping, so we can finally have friends and family over. There is also the completion of the front of the house. This is some repointing of brick work and rendering of the porch, which is now a lovely feature of the house. The previous owners had put a really poorly made and ugly porch on that also blocked the flu. To put right, this has been a lot of work and is ongoing, but it will be worth it and will definitely add curb appeal.
Thank you so much Katie for sharing your renovation story and tips with us! I have loved featuring you and your home on my blog today.
You can see more of Katie’s beautiful home on her Instagram @katie_at_the_crescent_
If you would love to have your your home featured as part of my series, do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and take a nose at my last renovations highlight post featuring Waiting for Florence.