Following on from my blog post about our garden renovation, I though you might like to see the work we’ve done to our house.
We bought our house in 2005. I had grown up in the area so knew it really well. Richard was moving over from Surrey and it was our first house together.
We love the period detailing and the style of older houses. Our house was built in 1901 and although it retained some original features, many had been removed and only the front door, cornices and original floorboards remained.
We set about taking the house back to the bare bones, which included stripping all the woodwork as the layers-upon-layers of paint had hidden any detail. Even the ceiling roses were stripped of paint and some of the walls taken back to bare brick.
Fortunately the front door hadn’t been removed and we are one of the few houses along our road to have a porch. Although some of the original leaded lights remained, the two panels in the door had been replaced by frosted glass. We commissioned a restoration company to recreate the panels, which were done using some reproduction glass and some original coloured glass too. With a lick of paint, some new hardware and a new pendant porch light, the front door was finished.
The thing that I remember most about entering our house, was the smell of curry. It was overpowering and the only way we could think of trying to get rid of it was to remove the carpet. Now, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t love the bottle green carpet and had no intention of keeping it, but it was going in to the skip a lot sooner than we’d planned. We had the hall, stairs and landing re-plastered, fitted a new dado rail and stair carpet. We re-varnished the banisters and knewl posts and stained the floorboards. The hall is painted in Farrow and Ball’sShaded White, the woodwork in white eggshell and the floorboards are stained in Oak from Sadolin. By the way, on the before picture on the left, you can spot the kitchen through the door. We blocked this off when we knocked the kitchen and dining room together, which I’ll show you a little later.
The living room has a huge bay window to the front but the beautiful old sash window had been replaced by drafty and insecure louvered windows. It also featured an old 60s gas fire and patchy picture rails and skirting. I’ll tell you a story about that fireplace… It was condemned to the skip from the moment we viewed the house, to be replaced with a beautiful working coal fireplace. However when the chimney sweep struggled to clear the chimney we thought we had a problem with the brick work inside. Only to discover that the chimney had been capped off and we had a potentially deadly gas fire with no means of ventilation. Scary stuff!
Fortunately we had that all rectified and a reclaimed marble fire surround fitted. Perfect timing, as just as this was finished, our 25-year-old boiler caught fire and stopped working – in the middle of winter. So the coal fire really kept us warm!
The walls were re-plastered, the floor sanded and varnished in Oak, again by Sadolin and lovely custom-built alcove cupboards were installed by Mr Gooch Snr. Oh, and we got ourselves some new wooden sash windows too. Painted in Clunch by, yes you guessed it, Farrow and Ball.
There was no affection for our plastic avocado bathroom suite. It was the first room we finished. We were lucky as the previous owner had converted the downstairs lean-to into an en-suite bathroom to the dining room (it had been rented out to students so the dining room was used as a bedroom), so we could just get stuck into getting rid of this one without having to worry about having nowhere to wash or go to the loo… And can you believe that you used to reach the loft through a secret staircase in the bathroom cupboard?!
We changed the configuration, as the first thing you saw in the bathroom was the toilet. We knew that we wanted to do some pretty major work to the kitchen/diner downstairs, so the toilet and soil stack had to be moved to the other side of the bathroom to allow for our large sliding garden doors. We turned the bath around too and rather than take up space with a separate shower, we went for one over the bath. A new window, new plaster, a varnished floor and some new tiles later, we were finished (we did keep my Grandmother’s wooden towel stand). The suite and sanitary ware from Aston Matthews and the walls are painted in Farrow and Ball’s Joa’s White.
Whilst renovating the bedrooms, which were either being used as storage or as a carpenters workroom, we camped out on any available floor space. I’m sure sleeping in a bedroom full of MDF dust isn’t good for you… We had all the old blown plaster re-skimmed, restored the woodwork, added an old cast iron fireplace and although it wouldn’t have been original, we installed cornice to the ceilings as we felt it really finished off the rooms and added a bit of character. The two wardrobes in our bedroom (pics below) were built by us and were decorated in Farrow and Ball’s White Tie with their amazing Silvergate wallpaper as a real splurge. By the way, the bed is probably far too big for the room, but it’s the best bed ever! A super king size bed from Newtons Furniture.
Remember I mentioned the curry smell? As you can imagine, it was worse in the kitchen. Even after we took the old floor vinyl up, it was still bad. So as a temporary measure, we took out the kitchen. Drastic, I know! But it did the trick. And anyway, you literally couldn’t open or close the drawers of the one we inherited, and we couldn’t live with it whilst we saved up for the conversion, so out it went.
Our new temporary kitchen was from Ikea with a basic sink and worktop from B&Q. We didn’t change the layout, but just added a few more wall cupboards and some shelves. We used our existing oven and fridge as we knew we were going to change it all. We also planned on using the carcasses of the Ikea kitchen when we did the conversion.
And here’s the dining room. Literally used for storage for most of the time.
You’ll probably think we were mad, but the builders started on the conversion the day I went on maternity leave. But we planned for them to finish before our baby arrived as it would be much worse to have this all going on with a tiny one in the house. Now you can see why the soil stack needed to move to the left. It would be a rather unpleasant blight on the view had it remained where it was!
The pic below, taken from outside, shows the kitchen (to the left) and the dining room (to the right), which were being knocked through. Our garden faces north and we don’t get any direct sunlight into the back of the house, so the idea was that we would install huge doors to the back to get as much light in as possible. We’d also had all the pebble dash removed from the back of the house.
Here’s a before and after view from the dining room. Me checking out the builders work at 8 months pregnant(!) and the finished room to the right.
Our budget wouldn’t stretch to the beautiful custom-made kitchen that I really wanted, so we customised an Ikea one. Using some of the old carcasses from the temporary kitchen along with some new ones we went about creating our dream kitchen. We bought kitchen cupboard doors from Ikea but only because we liked the style. They were oak and good quality but we intended on painting them. We also built a wooden frame around each unit so that it gave the appearance of the doors sitting within the unit, rather than on top. We’re really happy with the result and have been asked on several occassions if it was a handmade kitchen. We almost feel like we can say ‘yes’ too!
The kitchen units are painted in Farrow and Ball’s Pavillion Grey and the walls in Cornforth White.
We’re really thrilled that Ideal Home and Heart Home online magazines have both featured our house recently.Here’s a link to the Ideal Home feature - their pics are a bit better than mine!