Hi all! This week I am super excited to be featuring Sally and her beautiful Kent home @sissinghurstlocationhouse as part of my House Renovation Highlights series. I’ve followed Sally for ages on Instagram, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her renovation progress and ideas, and more recently the renovation of her annexe that they are renovating by themselves right now.
Here Sally shares her story of moving into her house that had no heating and barely a roof at the time through to fully renovating it with her trusty team of builders, whilst also some small jobs themselves to save money. The house is listed, meaning that planning and the renovations took a while. Sally you brave lady, it sounds like it was really cold.
I would love you to have a read of Sally’s renovation story below, and her top tips are really valuable for anyone about to start a house renovation of any size.
Tell us about your home and your renovation project. What did you do?
We moved from Dulwich, London to Sissinghurst in 2014. It was originally built in 1530 and has 17th and 18th century additions. It hadn’t been touched for over 70 years. On our first night we had 28 leaks!!! As it is Grade 2 listed the planning process took a year. We literally had to do everything – roof, plumbing, electrics, bathrooms, kitchen, garden etc etc. We lived in the house throughout (it took a year) and spent much of the first 18 months bbq’ing underneath a gazebo. We also had no roof or heating for about the first 18 months too – a very chilly experience!!!
What did you enjoy the most about your house renovation?
I project managed so I absolutely loved the relationship I formed with our incredible builders. I tried to take a job a week off their list to save us money – only small things like taking up carpets, removing wallpaper, sanding floors etc but it was very satisfying and I loved it. I also loved saving money from what they had quoted ie a quote for our front door I would then shop around all of the reclamation yards to find something just as nice but for a fraction of the price. Luckily our builders didn’t mind me doing this.
What was your biggest challenge?
Probably the coldness. There was no heating when we moved in and the roof was in such a bad state so it was freezing. We used to go outside to warm up. We had one room with a working open fire in which we did everything – eat, homework, tv, entertain, etc.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t do anything majorly different, however we renovated before I came onto instagram and I think I would have designed the bathrooms differently if I had my time again.
Tell us your top tips?
- 2nd hand is good. Other than our sofa and bed, pretty much everything in our house is either free or very cheap on Facebook marketplace/ebay etc. It’s so lovely giving furniture a new lease of life and leaves you money to buy the important things like taps, ovens etc
- Never be afraid to speak up if you aren’t happy with something. It’s a lot easier to fix now than in the future.
- Shop around. There’s always a cheaper way to buy something. I bought all of my light fittings from alibaba.com. I bought in bulk so maybe 50 wall lights when I only needed 4. I then sold the 46 that I didn’t need. It meant that I didn’t spend a penny on lighting!
What was your best renovation purchase?
This is a hard question. Probably our boiling hot water tap or the flooring in our kitchen.
Would you do it again?
In a heart beat. I loved every second and would love to do a totally different style house
What’s next? Any future renovation plans?
Andy and I are currently converting an out building into an annexe for us to rent out. We are doing all of the work ourselves and are learning a lot on YouTube. This past weekend we took off all of the weatherboard and replace it. Such a mega job but my word are we proud of ourselves.
Thank you so much Sally! I have loved featuring you and your home on my blog today, it’s been an eye opener hearing your experience and it’s great to hear that you would do it.
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 Let’s Stay Home and Renovate.