We started our house renovation just shortly after we moved in, in March 2018, and it’s been an on-going project ever since, and it’s still going. Once you own your home with the purpose to renovate it to make it your own, the renovations and interior design ideas never really stop. It’s also become a bit of project of mine, and dare I say it a bit of an obsession. I blame Instagram for that.
As I’ve been a bit quiet with my House Renovation Highlights series I thought that I would reinvigorate it by talking about our own house renovation and answering the questions myself to share our experience of the project.
I’m hoping that this inspires you if you’re thinking about doing your own house renovation or extension, and also provides you with some knowledge and advice at the same time. Here goes, I would love for you to have a read….
A little bit about our home and our renovation project, and what we did.
I think the question here is what haven’t we done. But first a little bit about our home. Our house was built in 1910, it’s Edwardian, not Victorian, and not quite the grand Edwardian that you might expect, although it does have the high ceilings. When we moved in all features (apart from the tiny piece of cornicing above the front door) had been ripped out. We also have the original staircase which is a bit of a blessing as I love the angles of the spindles. When we viewed the house I knew it was the one, it was live-able and needed a lot of love. It had the ability to extend, which is what we wanted, and the loft conversion was relatively new, although somewhat dated.
Since moving in we have transformed the house, and it’s probably easier for me to write this as a list rather than in sentences. Here’s what we did in this order….
- The first job was removing the pebbledash from the front of the house and restoring the bricks. We nearly didn’t do this, but I am so glad that we did. I wrote a blog post all about how we did it and you can have a read here.
- We then replaced all the windows on the front of the house with new UPVC windows in a more traditional style.
- We also had the three bedrooms on the first floor fully decorated with new carpet laid.
- From the get go we were planning our extension and started this in January 2019. This involved punching out the back of the house full width and extending out 3 metres to create our open plan kitchen extension. This was our biggest project on the house.
- During these works, we also fully renovated the living room, hallway and upstairs bathroom.
- Just before lockdown we started the update to our front garden which should have taken a week and instead took eight.
- The last project we did was updating to front door which I absolutely love.
- Next up……loft conversion refurbishment.
What I enjoyed most about our house renovation.
I think all of it. It’s a funny one as I’m pretty sure that some people dislike any renovations happening in their house, but oddly I love it. I love seeing a space transform into a room that you’ve always wanted. I also love the planning process, making it happen, as well as designing the space. I loved watching our home transform last year when our kitchen extension was built. I think that living here too made it (bizarrely) more exciting as I saw every change taking place.
Our biggest challenge, and what I would have done differently.
With any renovation there are always challenges and there are always things that pop up along the way, especially with older houses. One of the things I would have done differently is possibly opted for two big slider doors rather than bi-folds. It’s great to be able to open them up fully in the summer, but sliding doors may have been a little more practical in the British weather with the option to just open the door a little.
I also wonder is if I had been a little more tuned into Instagram and Pinterest when we designed the extension, would I have designed it differently? I love the space and I love how it feels like a completely separate part of the house, helped by the level change. Some things I would consider would be doors that went to the full ceiling height, a raised parapet roofline to avoid the gutter being on display, and more planning as I’ve never been entirely happy with my choice of colour for the hallway and landing.
One of things that could have been our biggest challenge was living here during the renovations. It was actually fine. I don’t look back on it and think it was awful. The kids loved it and it meant that a lot of decisions were made quickly. If you’re planning to do the same I wrote a handy blog post at the time about living at home during a renovation with kids.
My three top tips….
- Plan, plan, plan! This is the Project Manager in me talking now. Spend time planning and working through exactly what you want and what you are hoping to achieve, and make sure that your architect and builder know your vision and your end goal.
- Be upfront with yourself about money, and also don’t be afraid to talk about money. With any project the costs can be quite scary, and often a lot more than what you think they are going to be. Be honest with yourself and your partner about what the renovation with cost, and also have a contingency fund in place for things that crop up, things that you want to change or add to scope, it always happens. Also don’t be afraid to negotiate with your builder too.
- Set your style and have that running through the house. One of the things that I am trying to achieve is having a continuous flow throughout the house. Now that we are working on the loft, every decision that I am making am I asking myself….Am I taking cues from the rest of the house, and does the style fit with the rest of the house.
My best renovation purchase.
So many things….but these stand out as a few of my faves….
- Quooker hot water tap. Totally extravagant, but well worth it for a cup of instant hot tea.
- Sputnik Chandelier from Inscapes Design in our living room. I love it. It’s so heavy and our builders were worried about hanging it. Fortunately a joist sits right above the ceiling rose, so it is screwed into that, but there was talk about having to strengthen the ceiling at one point.
- Bespoke wine rack. We asked our builder to build us a bespoke wine rack for under the island to fill the gap between the wine fridge and the cupboards. I love it and it adds a little feature to the kitchen.
Would I do it again?
Yes! Obviously. You get the bug. I wouldn’t be scared or worried to do another house renovation or extension. I think that all the things I learned from this project and this house would all roll into it.
What’s next for us. Our future renovation plans.
Our renovation journey continues with a full refurbishment of the existing loft conversion to modernise it, even though it was only built 6 years ago it feels dated against the rest of the house now. Our plans are to transform the top floor of the house, making the bathroom bigger, creating a luxury feel to the bedroom with chevron floor, black steel doors, brass, reeded glass and reeded panelling. It’s need to be a place to escape to. I’m so excited to get the project moving very soon. Watch this space.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would love to be featured, drop me an email at email@example.com as I would love to feature your home and renovation journey.