You may remember that at the end of last year we moved into our new house; the one we’d searched high and low for for a couple of years. The overwhelming feeling of relief when we got those keys last November was immense, but little did we truly realise that the hard work was only about to start.
We’d never really intended on buying a house that required lots of work; I’m the kind of person that would much prefer to move into somewhere finished, all shiny and new but realistically, in order to get the space we so desperately wanted, we need to buy somewhere a little older and take the time to do it up ourselves. A project!
A big responsibility and challenge that we were willing to take on once we saw the house we wanted and to be honest the renovation is pretty small compared to some people’s ‘projects’ but knocking down walls and gutting kitchens and bathrooms, as well as the usual re-decorating throughout, was a project enough for us. Especially with two under 5 in tow!
First Things First
Opening the doors on completion day was less daunting than we’d expected. The previous owners had given the house a rough and ready once over with a paint brush, so the ghastly wall colours that we were expecting were no longer in existence. This was a major bonus, saving us time in ‘whiting’ everything out so we could live with it whilst we renovated. A big bonus.
Walking into the separate kitchen and dining room across the back of the house with an outlook onto the south facing garden, was our first priority. Since viewing the house the first time, we knew that the separating wall between the two rooms had to go, to give us that open plan space we’d been dreaming of. When seeing the space again, with keys in hand, Ross and I looked at each other with anticipation, excitement and some amount of dread too. Now the work had to start…. and where to start!
Short Timescales, Big Headache
Knocking down the dividing wall and pulling out the kitchen ourselves was really satisfying and pretty filthy too, but with a coffee station set up in the conservatory and long weekends planned out where family could chip in and help too, we were determined to get it done as quickly as possible. We needed the kitchen fitter to come in early December to start fitting if we wanted to be in before Christmas, so PM’ing the electrician, plumber and plasterer was certainly challenging. And, as we knew it would, the jobs just kept adding up, the more that we got stuck into it and time was starting to disappear.
We wanted to make sure to get the job done as quickly as possible but without scrimping on quality and getting this all tied together with other people’s work schedules and availability was hard work. Ross took on the challenge for the most part as at the beginning stages I was ‘in charge’ of keeping our other house running and the girls clothed and fed; just as important. But I did feel a little helpless at times. I couldn’t be onsite as much as I wanted but there wasn’t a great deal I could do when there were 3/4 tradesmen all fighting for space in the one room. And, what do I know about electrics or plumbing after all!
Once the electrics, plumbing and plastering was sorted, it was time to paint the kitchen and get it ready for the kitchen fitter. Picking a colour was a laborious task! We must have chosen about 15 samples, with most looking totally different when we tried them on the walls, as always!
We wanted a light apple green to compliment the white kitchen units and the warm wooden work surfaces. Being a south facing space, we want to keep it light and bright. We got there eventually, choosing Dulux Nordic Spa and we’re thrilled with the outcome.
Once the room was painted, the kitchen started to really take shape. It didn’t take long at all for it to actually start looking like a proper kitchen/diner, which was so exciting. It finally felt like we were getting somewhere. Somehow even though we’d put in a months worth of work before the fitting, nothing felt quite as satisfying as seeing the kitchen appear before our eyes.
With the kitchen in and flooring down, it was now time to make sure the rest of the house was in order for us to move in. We’d been sanding and painting the woodwork throughout the house whilst the tradesmen were working on the kitchen, so we’d got most of it up to scratch around the same time. Incredible how long it took to sand, prep, prime and satin all the skirting boards and door frames. Total nightmare, but so worth it. So now we needed to make sure each room was finished, with just paint on the walls in the girls bedrooms and wallpaper in ours and then it was time for the carpet.
So much was happening and yet there was still so much to do and with Christmas so close we couldn’t decide whether to wait to move in until after Christmas, as the pressure was getting a bit out of control. A lot of sleepless nights later and we finally made it, deciding to just ‘get in’, even if it wasn’t 100% as we’d like. Perfection is just impossible to live up to some times!
Five Months On
So the kitchen went in 90% back before we moved in at Christmas but it’s not quite finished yet, due to a few issues with our kitchen fitters availability. The important basics are done; wall knocked down, flooring in, kitchen units and appliances fitted and worktops on (and beautiful they look too; we went for real oak in the end, despite everyone warning us about the work they’d involve)! So it’s just some silicon, the cooker hood and a few shelves to sort in the cupboards and then it’s onto the real fun stuff; accessorising!
The kettle and toaster we’ve got for example are quite tired and in need of an update and I can’t wait to sort our little coffee area and possible a blackboard wall for the girls. So much to think about but it’s exciting to see the hard work we’ve achieved every morning when I walk into the kitchen for breakfast and still have lots of exciting decisions to make.
So far, although being pretty knackered, we feel that we definitely made the right decision about buying this house. Loads of work to do still but we’re really getting there five months on. What an exciting project it’s been so far and I’ll be sure to share before and after photos when we’re 100% there. Here’s to the next 5 months!
- Kitchen Units – Burford White, Howdens Joinery
- Kitchen Unit Handles – Chrome Square Bar, Howdens Joinery
- Kitchen worktops – Oak, Worktop Express
- Appliances – Hotpoint, AO
- Bar Stools – Drift Oak & White, Atlantic Shopping
- Flooring – Oak Laminate, Howdens Joinery
- Tiles – Underground White, Tile Mountain
- Paint – Dulux Nordic Spa, Homebase