House Renovation Diary Part 1

House Renovation, Interior Design, Makeover

Biting the bullet…

I have been away from the blog of late, and here is the main reason why.  I have gone into partnership with a property developer as the designer and project manager, and we have the following property to turn.  It is a 3 story Victorian house in central Bristol which we purchased at auction.  That in itself was really exciting, I have never been to property auction before, and my business partner had the most rigid arm when it came to our lot!  It seems crazy to buy a house in less than 5 minutes, but it is a lot easier than going the usual protracted route.  Here is the street it is in.

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So, the house.  For years it was owned by the Local Authority, and they are now selling them off.  So it has been structurally looked after, but the interiors are somewhat horrible.  In fact they are really dire.  The only original feature left is a lovely winding staircase.  Everything else has been ripped out over the years, so a lot will need replacing.

The house has 2-3 reception rooms or 3-4 bedrooms depending on how it is configured.  There is also a large kitchen-diner and 2 bathrooms.  It also has a garden, which is a good size are rare for a city center house.

Prepare yourself, this is what it looks like now:

Wallpaper over wallpaper, electrics in conduit on the outside of the walls. layers of cheap flooring.  I am seeing a lot of skips outside to take the debris as we strip it out.  The kitchen and bathrooms are particularly choice!

 

We take possession in early April, and then it will become a whirlwind of activity as we strip. purge, re-wire, re-plumb, move walls and fit new bathrooms and a kitchen.  The garden also needs landscaping, fencing and clearing, at the moment it is a breeding ground for brambles, debris and rotten mattresses.

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I will continue the story as it slowly evolves.  We are looking at a 3-4 month turnaround.  For now, I am trying to juggle other work with planning this renovation, so my other blog posts may fall by the wayside a bit.  Wish me luck!

Has anyone else out there taken on something that looked this bad to start with?

Buying at Auctions

Auctions, Makeover

I went to an antique furniture and effects auction this weekend, where the auctioneers were selling off a mixture of great, semi-great, awful and sometimes bizarre items.  I find auctions fascinating, and spent a fair bit of time milling about looking at items coming up for sale on the preview day.  Where else can you find a stuffed zebra head sitting next to a box of 1960’s Action Men figures, pre-eagle eyes and gripping hands to boot?

In my head I had gone to try and find an good shaped cupboard, chair or armoire to renovate.  However, there was a plethora of quite badly already painted shabby chic items – shabby and not chic to be frank.  It seems that people just attack anything now with chalk paint and muted F&B colours, and I don’t think they always sit well on a 1930’s dresser for example.

Some of the pieces at the auction which had the right shape were beautiful and made from excellent mahogany or maple, and would be ruined by paint, so by the end of the preview I had a huge list of items I liked and wanted to buy and none of which should be painted!  I also seem to pick items which have the highest guide prices, which could be a sign of immaculate taste or just bad luck depending on how you look at it.

I ended up picking 2 items to bid on that were useful and could be upcycled without sacrilege; a pretty little Edwardian wing chair with tapestry/needlepoint upholstery and an old wall cabinet from a railway control box:

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This is going to be turned into either a thread, bathroom or curio cabinet, depending on if I can swipe it from my husband.

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This is a sweet and well-upholstered chair in very good condition.

To make sure I did not end up getting out of control on the auction day, I electronically sent in bids for the two with my maximum price to the saleroom.  I didn’t register to bid live which is possible with a PC, (like bidding on ebay but with way more adrenaline).  This is a really good way to stop splurge buying as I call it.  I tracked the auction on-line on the day, (you can listen live on a laptop), but only as a viewer so I could not start bumping up my bids past my decided top price.  Pat on the back and well controlled, I salute myself!

In the past I made the mistake of going to bid at the auctions on the day which can end in disaster and erratic purchases.  The worst time was when I was selling a lot of furniture at an auction as we were moving from a large house and I had to lose some large pieces of furniture and taxidermy.   At the auction I got totally out of control and came home with more antiques: a table, firescreen, cabinet and more.  I only meant to go and watch my own things sell, but when you see a Georgian table going for a song I find it hard not to stick up my hand.  Therefore this time I was a good girl, and won my items for their estimated guide price.

DO’s:

  • Visit on preview day
  • Take a tape measure and a camera
  • If the item you are looking for is for a specific place in your home, know the space measurements before you visit the auction house so you can work out if it will fit
  • Realistically set a top price, remember that buyers premium is added on plus tax.
  • If possible, bid online to stop impulsive price rising and buys.

DON’TS

  • Do not let yourself get carried past your set price by a fellow bidder.  Adrenaline can get the better of you, it is not a competition!
  • Do not buy anything without seeing it first in the flesh.  Auction photos are usually one picture and can be deceptive.
  • Not all Auction Houses will deliver without prior arrangement, and usually items have to be collected within 4 days of the Auction.  Make sure you have sorted out delivery, especially on large items, before bidding.
  • Finally, never nip out to the pub if it is a long auction and come back to bid after a couple of glasses of wine.  I made this mistake once and still have two enormous stone urns in my garden that a) I am not quite sure if I like, and b) which broke my car suspension when getting them back home which cost a lot more money to boot.

I picked my chair and cabinet up today, and was amazingly gratified to find the original sale price for the chair on the bottom  saying £400- Edwardian Chair.  I bid and paid just £50 for it.  Bargain and such a good feeling!  I am going to attempt to modify it by reupholstering the back in a complimentary fabric to give it a bit of zest.  I saw the below chair with contrasting upholstery in Traditional Homes and I love the result:

8IMZXSince I have never upholstered anything, this will be a interesting challege!