Final Makeover Post – Townhouse

before and after, Decorating, House Renovation, House Tour, Renovation

GAH!  So I totally, totally forgot to do a final post about all the work I did in the summer and autumn renovating a city townhouse.  So here is a brief rundown of everything that was done.  New heating, plumbing, electrics, lighting, garden fencing, plastering, decoration, windows, plus a new kitchen roof with skylights and new unforeseen beams (long story that one..).  On top of that it was totally decorated, had bespoke wardrobes made and fitted, a kitchen makeover, new flooring, refurbished original flooring and probably some other things I have forgotten.  It also had plans drawn up for a huge loft conversion to make another bedroom and bathroom.

I was going to move into it once it was finished, and once we had sold our current home we live in.  But priorities changed, as they always do, and we ended up having to get rid of the city house… so it was put on the market and snapped up straight away.

DINING ROOM:

Here is the dining room before, during and after.  It had to have electrics chased, new lighting installed, new plaster, lining paper, decoration, floor renovation and new central heating.

Walls were done in Cookie Crumble, with the Chimney Breast in Railings.

Loved the way it turned out… and it’s a big room with lots of space and light,

SITTING ROOM:

I made a million pounds! Well nearly…

Musings, Property, Ramblings, Renovation

I have spent today writing a business plan for property investors, well I was forced to write one by my husband actually.  I would much rather have spend the day pottering around the house or simply lounging about eating crumpets.

Anyhow, part of the job today was to go back through the years, (it is decades actually), and tot up the profits of buying and selling houses which I have renovated in my life.  The amounts were really quite large, and I was shocked to see the results.

History

I was lucky enough to get onto the property ladder in London in the 1990’s, straight after the big crash and when property dropped to a price that I could afford.  I bought a sweet  flat in Clapham for the incredibly low price of £45K.  It was very tiny, in fact so small that if someone came into the entrance hall they trapped people in the living room as the doors were a bit too close for comfort.  Saying that, the interest rate was 16% so it was the most I have ever paid of a mortgage in my life, and for the smallest one.  Eyes water when I think what my various London properties much be worth now.  But…

Non, je ne regrette rien!

Within weeks off buying my first home I had discovered the joys of decorating and DIY.  I would rush home from work and paint, varnish, strip and build for hours, usually resulting in irate neighbours turning up and asking why I was drilling at 3am.  I became a serial mover, usually lasting in a house for just a year whilst I did a turn around and then moved on.  One friend complained whenever I moved, as I was ruining her address book with crossed out addresses by my name.

It was only having children that slowed me down, my own mother had been a serial house-mover and I hated always having to change schools and make new friends who I knew I would lose in a year or two when we moved again.  So I vowed my own children would have a more constant time at school, and only moved a very few times throughout their education, and in locations so they could stay at the same schools.

But I am rambling…

My point of this blurb is that I added up all of the profit over the years, and I should theoretically be really RICH.  Like close to a million rich.  But I am not-  on each sale the lawyers, surveyors and agents all took a chunk.  Land Registry took some too.  I would then use the remaining profit to upgrade to the next larger house and have some money left over to renovate it.  Then I would sell it straight away for an inflated sum. This all tootled along nicely until I had my first daughter.  I was all set to be a full-time working, part-time property developing, multi-tasking mother.  But I took one look at her when she was born and decided I never wanted us to be parted for more than a minute.  So I sold up, moved out of London and used some of the profit I had made to be able to buy a cheaper house, (it was a beautiful 16th Century barn conversion so I can’t complain at all!).  More importantly it also meant I could stay home for the next few years with her and then her little sister who followed, as there was enough money left over to pay the bills.

If I had stayed in London I would now be in a house worth well over another £1.5 million pounds to add to the previous figures.  In the words of Del Boy I would have been a ‘miwllionaire’.

Am I sad?

No.  The upside to losing my near million, plus the ones I never actually saw, is that I have been able to watch my children grow up PLUS work part-time only when I wanted to.  I think I have been incredibly blessed to have been able to do that.  Now that the children are starting to leave the nest, I am back into renovating houses again.  And I have to get a serious job to help pay for their next steps at University.  But those houses in London decades ago gave me a reward far greater than sitting on an over-inflated,  obscenely priced house in the capital now and having missed out on my girls growing up.

So whenever I am in London and peep into estate agents windows and see earth-shatteringly expensive houses just like the ones I used to own, I just have to remind myself of my beautiful daughters and how I have shared their lives thanks to being on that property ladder as it started growing, so…

Non, je ne regrette rien

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A Quick Kitchen Makeover on a weeny budget

before and after, Decorating, DIY, House Renovation, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover, Property, Renovation, wallpaper

This was a very old kitchen.  It is orange wood, is really tired and the expense of the recent roof-light saga has put a replacement total replacement kitchen on hold.  So I had to do something to make it less hideous for a minimal cost and which was less brutal on the eye.

 

It is amazing what a lick of paint can do to jazz up something in the meantime.  Cue two pots of very dark grey paint – one eggshell version for the cupboards, and another tough kitchen wall paint.  Add some new handles, and nearly done.  New Stainless steel wrapped shelves and hanging rails from Ikea add an industrial vibe to the wall by the sink area.  Total time 2 days, and that was because I was waiting for paint to dry mainly and trying to hand the shelves straight.

But those leaded effect glass doors had to go as they looked so dated – so I took off the doors , (that’s down to my friend Rita who told me to do it – Ta Rita!).  I then painted the interiors of the open units white as they were also lined in garish orange effect wood.  I used a trompe l’oeil metro tile wallpaper on the backs, and marble sticky-backed plastic paper to wrap the shelves.  It looks a TRILLION times better now, and I can relax.  Plus the sticky-backed plastic reminded me of Blue Peter and making things when I was small so I got a nice bit of nostalgia thrown in.

Before…

kitchen 2

After…

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Lamp Black eggshell by Farrow & Ball on the Cabinets

Before…

kitchen sink area wide

After…

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Asphalt by Valspar paint on the walls

Before…

kitchen top right cupboards

After…

 

Total Budget for paint, paper and shelves came in at less than £270.  The handles came from my favourite ironmongery shop Nu-Line in Notting Hill and can be re-used when I get the kitchen of my dreams one day in another house.

Ta Dah!  I am so pleased with the results.  Hope you agree….

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Wallpapering Wardrobes

before and after, Decorating, Flowers, House Renovation, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover, Renovation, wallpaper

It’s raining, in August as usual, and I am sitting looking through a window at a waterlogged garden.  So I have a quick moment of calm to post about the cupboards that I mentioned recently were being built.  They were fitted in a day, have a load of space inside and then it was my turn to get going on them.

GUEST BEDROOM

Here they are going into the alcoves, this is in the room that has one built in wardrobe:

The room also had a horrible and ugly boiler cupboard, and my carpenters very kindly made me a new door and frame for free, (probably as it was so offensive in the room compared to the new one above!).

Once they were in they just needed a lick of paint.  They are going to be very simple and white so I had a plan undercoat applied in the workshop.  I will post more pictures once I have finished them.

MAIN BEDROOM

The main bedroom was due two wardrobes, one in each alcove.  We went right up to the ceiling to maximise space and brought the cornice around the front of the doors. I had already asked for a specific configuration of shelves and rails in advance.

As you my have gathered, I LIKE DARK WALLS!  This room was painted in the inkiest dark blue called ‘Hague Blue’ by Little Greene – it changes from inky blue to almost black depending on the time of day.  I have left the ceiling, cornice and skirting white along with the window woodwork.  The flooring is very pale too, so light can bounce around as I didn’t want it like a dark tomb.  The cupboards were also going to get a coat of Hague Blue, so the undercoat was in a dark grey to help speed things up.

The woodwork paint was the same colour in their new range of dead matt eggshell which is water-based, and which is supposed to have a very low 10% sheen.  It is also supposed to be very workable.  However, to be honest I was not that impressed with it.  I used brushes for detail mouldings and  foam roller for the flat surfaces and it dried really patchy, even after 3 coats.  Next time I am sticking to normal eggshell.

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See the streaky finish in the panel area?

However, my master plan meant that the finish on the flat panels did not really matter.  I have been waiting forever to use some House of Hackney wallpaper, and planned to set it into the panels of the wardrobes.  I had even asked the carpenters to make them exactly the same width of the wallpaper so there was no wastage, how sad am I?!

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Cleaning Up After Renovations

Cleaning, Decorating, House Renovation, Renovation

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Too much mess after renovation? Easy six tricks to clean

House renovation is always a good thing. After everything is done you can’t wait to enjoy the new look of your home. However, the builders dust is something a lot of people struggle with for at least a few weeks after the remodeling of their homes. If you want to take the matter in your own hands, you might want to follow these six easy tricks to clean after a renovation.  These pointers came from Zowie at Charlton Cleaners, and actually will make life much easier, especially washing walls down which people forget to do and then they paint straight onto dirt which can mix into the paint (oops, guilty…)

Cover or Move Away Items

This step is very important to make the cleaning much easier and faster. Before the renovation itself move away as many furniture and items as you can. If there are things you cannot move, cover them well. Putting plastic covers on the floor can also help to decrease the levels of dust spreading around your home.

Clean the Walls First

The first thing you should clean are the walls, this way all the dirt and dust will fall on the floor and you can take care of it later. Starting from the ceiling and walls is the most logical and easy way to make the cleaning as fast as possible. To get rid of the dust on the walls you can use a clean cloth, dampened with water and wipe them carefully with it. If your walls are freshly painted you need to be very careful with this step.

Renovating a House – Part 2

before and after, Decorating, DIY, Makeover, Property, Renovation

Long time since the last post, but I have been working so hard that I just did not have time to write anything.  My hands look like a 90 year olds – all wrinkled and chapped from grafting, but the house is moving along now.

WEEKS 3-6

Since the last post lots has happened at the house.  The electricians have finished their main bulk of work.  They lifted pretty much every floor board in the house, chased cables into walls, drilled through external walls and upgraded the system.  I now have lots of down-lighters, plus where I needed them, extraction for the bathroom and so on.  A new consumer unit comes this week, to generally pump up the power in the house and make it compliant with regulations.

Following their main fix, the plasterer has been back to make good the walls and ceilings where the electricians had been hacking away.  Finally I could get on with decorating, I was hovering about waiting for them all to finish a lot and just made a lot of cups of tea.  We also had a heatwave in the middle of the work, so it got quite steamy especially when hanging off ladders using wallpaper strippers.  At one point it was 29 degrees and I was staring into a steam machine, it was like my very own mini swedish sauna.

Here is the kitchen roof before and after – from wrinkled, uninsulated dark ceiling to new insulation, plaster, roof lights, down-lighters, (oh and the hidden beams which cost a bomb!).

THE KITCHEN

I had a dream, just like Martin Luther King, but mine was more geared towards a shaker bespoke handmade kitchen with industrial leanings.  The kitchen roof saga has delayed this dream, mainly due to my very expensive new beams hidden beneath the plasterboard and the extra time and labour needed.  So the new kitchen can wait, but this was what was left and it offends my design sensibilities!

It is VERY orange.  So I got out my trusty paint pots and started to amend the offending pine with black, grey and white.  Farrow and Ball Lamp Black for the doors, new ironmongery and some industrial steel stainless shelving are creating a transformation that I can live with until we replace it totally next year.  Phew…

The walls are all dark grey, it is called ‘Grey Shingle’ by Valspar.  I removed the cheesy glass doors on two wall units and lined the back of the cupboard in trompe l’oeil wallpaper of metro tiles, then painted any orange wood bits left with white satinwood.  The shelves will be lined in trompe l’oeil marbled paper.

Been a bit busy… renovating a new house Part 1

Decorating, DIY, House Renovation, Renovation

So it seems forever since I last posted.  In fact it is 2 months, which seems shocking….  However, I have had good reason and am in the middle of doing up a new house, working as usual, decluttering, downsizing, my daughters are both in the middle of exams so need chivvying… and generally life is hectic!

The current house we live in was photographed for a magazine coming out towards Christmas, and it is only as I was having to check copy etc that I realised how behind I have become with blogging.  So I am now going to concentrate and lead you through the (stressful) world of renovating a house while living a good hour away and with all of the above going on at the same time.

I finally got the house I am renovating vacated by the tenants (who were model renters by the way and if they are reading this, thank you to them!).   So it is only this week that I could charge in with various helpers and trades and start the work.  I have a 6-8 week window, and this is the current list that needs doing in that time.  It might not seem long, but believe me organising the trades to sit seamlessly and in the right order is not always a smooth task…

  • Replace all Windows with new sash ones
  • Move all radiators and replace with nicer ones in better places
  • Run new cabling, replace the electrical consumer unit and install downlighters and extra plugs in several rooms
  • Strip off hideous lumpy embossed wallpapers
  • Strip off badly applied lining paper
  • Strip off the nightmare that is the dreaded wood chip, and is probably holding up 100 year old plasterwork that will blow the minute I remove it and mean that I probably have to re-plaster acres of walls.
  • Remove garden facing and replace.
  • Remove decrepit shed and replace with a new, dry, insulated one.
  • Clear garden.
  • Remove kitchen roof interior entirely, and replace with a new one with 2 roof lights to bring much needed light into the room.  Include new insulation and plaster.
  • Strip and plaster skim ceilings which have revolting swirly artex patterns
  • Redecorate entirely
  • Stain wooden floors, new carpets to bedroom, and new bathroom floor.

This list was planned to the last detail so that as floorboards went up, each trade could do their bit.  But things always go a bit pear-shaped, and an electrician blew me out at the last minute.  I had planned to get all of that work done when the floorboards were up for the radiator man’s work, killing two birds with one stone.  I even had an excel spreadsheet ready.  But that has all gone to pot a bit now…

Even sadder of me, I made up templates of all my furniture in newspaper, correct to the last millimetre!  This meant I could play with where things would/could fit.  This actually has been really useful, although I got strange looks from the family as I made up the templates.

Removing Garden Decking…

before and after, DIY, garden landscaping, landscaping, Makeover, recycling, Renovation

Or, where big spiders really live…

When we moved to our current house, the prior owner had been a bit of a gardening wizard.  She even opened the garden to the public in the National Garden Scheme whereby money is raised for charity by allowing the public into homeowners private gardens.  No pressure then to try and keep up her good works!

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Fast forward a few years, and I think the garden is not quite what it was – although I do try hard to keep it up.  One area especially had become very tatty, some decking next to the house.  England is just not a good place to have wood as flooring outside; there is just too much water and damp, and it becomes slippery, green and needs a lot of TLC.  So for a few years I have dutifully stripped it back and re-oiled it each year, but even that did not really help it survive.  It started bowing and felt quite unsafe, so the joists below had definitely started to rot.

Here it is already looking quite tired:

Before & After: The house renovation is complete.

before and after, Decorating, garden landscaping, House Renovation, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover, Property, Renovation

Finally, it is done….

For those who have noticed a somewhat silent blog recently, I do have a very valid reason as I have been slogging away 7 days a week over the last couple of months to get this house completed.  My life has been consumed by this project, but I now it is done I think I have enjoyed it…(?!)

I have learnt many new things; how to fit door architraves and skirting, mix plaster, fix windows, mitre corners properly and much more.  I think I have used about 125 litres of white emulsion, and got a sort of snow-blindness by the end of it.  My hands are like a workman’s, and I am exhausted and have spent hours in builders yards and sourcing things online to get the best prices  But it has been worth it, and I am on budget which is a miracle…

In the middle of the job my builders’ firm went bust, which could have been a total disaster and left me up the creek without a paddle so to speak, but we managed to muddle through and finish the renovation.  My builders honoured the contract and worked extra hours unpaid to finish the job, so someone up there was watching out for me I think!  It meant a 3 week delay on the build, and that I had to learn lots of new skills pronto, but circumstances meant that I just had to forge on.

Here come the before, mid-point and after pictures…..

The facade of the house…. from grubby magnolia to zingy blue… I got over vertigo on that scaffolding after a couple of days, and it was a lovely view…

900-8

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The garden…. from rubbish dump to a much more elegant space…

The once small and festering loo… now a wall has been moved to create a spacious shower room…

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A large curved shower

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Simple clean lines

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House Renovation Diary Part 3

before and after, Decorating, garden landscaping, House Renovation, Makeover, Renovation, Upcycling

The renovation continues.  We are more than half way now, with a final push this next month to get it all done. The garden is landscaped and fenced, the kitchen is being fitted, the shower room is half in and tiled, and the bathroom awaits its turn this week.  My hands look appalling, all nails broken, with sugar soap having seeped into my gloves so they have puckered alarmingly.  I am getting through mountains of hand cream to try and repair the damage.

Main receptions and bedrooms are now mainly painted on newly plastered walls and ceilings, I am waiting to do most woodwork like skirting and architraves until the builders are out as the dust is chaotic. New doors are primed, painted and hung.  The main stairwell which winds up through the house has been lined and painted.  We only have two more walls to be plastered in a hallway and a bathroom.  The final job will be laying the flooring throughout.  It has been a 7 day a week job for me, and I am shattered, but I can see the end now.

So, here are some things I have learnt over the past couple of weeks:

  • Plaster can take a long time to dry when you want it to.
  • Plasterers are the MESSIEST people, although the walls and ceilings they work on are smooth perfection, the rest of the room, (especially the floors), look like a plaster bomb has gone off.  I have spent many hours scraping dried hunks off floorboards, windows, skirting and doors.  After some chatting up, I persuaded the plasterers to clean up as they went, but only after we were 6 rooms into the project…
  • When re-plastering walls, you might as well replace all skirting and architrave as the plasterers are also vandals who yank the existing ones off, cracking them in the process.  I have extra hours to do now repairing the damage.
  • New plaster also drinks paint, even with mist coats.  My initial estimate of 30 litres for the whole building is now at 90.  Luckily I have discovered Leyland’s acrylic based emulsion which is a one coat wonder, or I could be into the hundreds in terms of litres.
  • Always make friends with the Builders Yard staff.  I have managed to snitch a couple of free deliveries already, and they are experts at getting me in more paint from the manufacturers pronto when I clear their stock!
  • Chose water based satinwood for spindles and architraves, and oil based satinwood for doors and skirting.  The latter take the hardest knocks so need the 16 hour dry time, whilst the former can take the 4 hour version and get re-coated faster.
  • Builders thrive on a lot of tea, Krispy Creme Donuts and praise.  Apart from one errant Electrician who has vanished on a stag week to Bulgaria, mine are all pretty much present and correct.  We did have a few days to wait on wet plaster, but otherwise they have been pretty good so far.  The electrician returns this week, hopefully not with shaking hands from too much partying as he finishes the 2nd fix.
  • Always make sure you lock your ladders, I have had a couple of spectacular tumbles so far.  The worst day however was when my mum appeared to help paint and slid to the floor as the steps buckled under her.  The guilt was unbelievable, but she was OK if not a bit shaken.
  • Following on from that, invest in a small platform.  Much more comfy than balancing on a step ladder.
  • Invest in a strong metal extending pole for rollers.  Some of the ceilings in this house are 12 foot and the stairwells up to 20 feet, and the pole makes painting a breeze.

Here are some more in progress pictures, remember the crappy garden full of brambles, mattresses and rubbish?

Before:

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And now:

 

We found a patio area and an old lined formal pond under the mess, as well as a lot of bicycle parts!  So we re-used the pond as a formal bed planted with box which will grow into a cute hedge with a Bay tree in the middle, and relaid new stones in the patio area surrounded with Cotswold chippings.  New lawn and a variety of ornamental grasses in the rear beds finished it off.  The garden was also fenced for privacy.  I will add lots of pots of flowering plants when the house is marketed, plus more seating in the front patio area.