Hi all! This week I’m featuring Lauren @hedgeonthecorner on my House Renovation Highlights series. Lauren is a fellow Brockley resident who lives locally to me, and it’s nice to have a little snoop in her home and to see all the renovations that she has completed.
Lauren has had a renovation project on the go since she moved in and hasn’t really stopped. Does this sound familiar? The whole house has been renovated including a double height side extension providing space for a larger kitchen and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom.
It’s great to read Lauren’s tips and advice that are valuable for all future renovations including allowing yourself a contingency budget and being prepared to spend more on the renovation of older houses as often there are things hiding beneath the surface that need to be resolved, and taking on some of the DIY challenges yourself can help save money and give you something to feel proud of.
Do have a read of Lauren’s renovation journey below and follow her on Instagram to see her home office renovation progress.
Tell us about your home and your renovation project. What did you do?
We bought our house in 2012 and we have constantly had a project on the go ever since. It is a 1930’s intra-war house and when we initially viewed it we could see the potential as the rooms are very large – it was just really dated and hadn’t been updated since the 1970’s. There was a pink and black bathroom, bright red and purple carpets and a lovely green and brown kitchen with polystyrene tiles on the ceiling and carpet on the floor. During the first two years my husband and I renovated room by room ourselves on evenings after work and on weekends to bring it into the 21st century!
Finally in 2017 before our first son was born we decided to do an extension, opening up the whole back of the house for a new kitchen/dining/family room and building down the side of the house which was previously unused space. We also built an upstairs bedroom and bathroom.
What did you enjoy the most about your house renovation?
The most enjoyable part of the whole process for me was when the extension project started and we could finally see what we had designed and planned for years come together. Actually getting to have the space in the way we wanted to live it in was so exciting. Rather than us fitting around the house, it was great that the house would finally fit around us.
What was your biggest challenge?
Whenever we have started on a new project it has always ended up being a bigger job than what we had planned it to be. Being an old house that hadn’t been updated for a long time we have found all sorts of horrors over the years – crumbling walls masked under wallpaper, rising damp, uneven floors, uneven walls, large movement cracks and the list goes on. We would get to a point on a job where we would wonder how much further we wanted to go for fear of what we might find – one thing we have learnt with an old house it always takes more time and more money than you were hoping when you start a job.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
When we decided to build the extension down the side of the house we settled on building it in blockwork and rendering over the top of it. We also decided we would remove all of the pebble dash and render the existing house at the same time so it was all consistent. I wish before starting we had checked what was underneath the peddle dash as there were beautiful London stock bricks under there. When we realised it was too late as we had already started to build the new part of the house in the blockwork. If we had known what was underneath the pebble dash we would definitely have tried to restore the bricks to their former glory and build the new extension in the same London stock bricks.
If I was doing it again the other thing I would have done differently is the bath in our extension bathroom – it’s a freestanding bath which I love but the bathroom is a long and narrow space and I just don’t think it really works well in the space or has the effect that a freestanding bath should do.
Tell us your top tips?
- Always save a little bit in the budget as a contingency for those unexpected issues that may arise – and if they don’t then you have more to spend on décor and furnishings!
- Do your research and then give things a go yourself. In a lot of cases you can up skill and do a bit of diy rather than always getting trades in. A lot of the work (bar the big structural work etc) we have done ourselves and we feel like we really know our house and are proud of what we have managed to achieve.
- If you are going to do things yourself invest in good quality tools – it makes any job much easier and less daunting if you have the right equipment.
What was your best renovation purchase?
The bifold doors are definitely my favourite purchase. I love the indoors/outdoors living that they provide and I cannot imagine the space without them. We have also continued the same tiles that are inside to the outside so when the doors are open it feels like one huge space. We have recently complemented the bifolds with a large awning (which is probably my second favourite purchase!) that expands the whole length of the bifolds to provide much needed shade on the patio and as we have a south facing garden it keeps the kitchen/dining/family room nice and cool too.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely! We definitely have the renovation bug and although there have been a lot of challenges along the way we would love to be able to take on another project someday.
What’s next? Any future renovation plans?
We are now moving onto creating a home office – we have just moved our youngest son out of the nursery which is the smallest bedroom and into a larger room so that we can create a dedicated work space now that we are working from home the majority of the time. Over the past year my husband and I have moved around many of the rooms in the house whilst working so it will be really exciting to finally have a proper office.
Thank you so much Lauren for sharing your renovation story, I have loved reading this and hearing your top tips and learnings for next time. And, I hope that the renovation of your home office goes well.
You can see more of Lauren’s beautiful home on her Instagram @hedgeonthecorner.
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 Awesomes Tower.