An Insight Into Our House Renovation Project

I thought the best way to share our  house renovation story would be to answer the most common questions that we have been asked about the work undertaken to make our house a home. 

What we renovated

Our house renovation project consisted of us 

  • Fitting a new kitchen
  • Hanging all new internal doors
  • Fitting new architraves and skirting boards
  • Having new carpets fitted throughout
  • Plastering the kitchen, living room, porch and landing
  • A new tarmac drive and removal of conifer trees
  • Painting or wallpapering every room
  • General modernisation of decor
  • Re grouting the bathroom tiles
  • New blinds in every room 
  • Landscaping the back garden with fake grass and building a pergola
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How we prepared for the house renovation project

  • Gathered decor ideas-

We were both so excited to buy our first home together so when the time finally came, we already had quite a few decor ideas in mind. I created a board on Pinterest for my house ideas and we began to speak about colour schemes for each room and think about how we imagined the room layouts to look. We would visit kitchen showrooms such as BNQ, Wickes and other local stores for inspiration. 

  • Created a want list-

Below is the list we hoped our first house would have…

  • a island in the centre of the kitchen 
  • a cosy living room 
  • a dog friendly secure garden 
  • an alcohol cabinet in the living room 
Luckily and to our disbelief we have managed to achieve all of these things since our renovation project which we didn’t think realistically we would. As well as this we gathered a separate list of household items that we required, as we had a few family and friends asking for house moving in gift ideas to buy us. 
  • Researched cost estimates and set a budget-

From the moment we knew the house was going to be ours, that’s when the research began. We had been to visit the house a couple of times and even taken photos and measurements of the rooms etc. We began to really think about what we wanted to change and how much things would cost. We set a budget as we had a set amount that we had saved to spend on home improvements. Before we got the keys, we shopped around to get rough estimates and even went to a kitchen shop and got a quote for the kitchen that we wanted.  We decided on what was the biggest priority to renovate first and which projects would be left until the end when we knew if we had any money left.  As well as this we thought of ways we could cut costs by doing jobs ourselves and we were money savvy by keeping certain items that were left in the house and freshening them up by painting/cleaning them instead of buying new.

kitchen renovation
kitchen with island

Where we started

With Tom being a Joiner, we did most of the work ourselves or if we wasn’t able to, Tom knew someone who could help. To start with, we stripped everything back by taking the wallpaper off the walls and ripping the whole kitchen units out so we were left with a shell. We also knocked an arch way wall out of the kitchen to open the kitchen up so obviously the kitchen needed plastering and we took the dado rail from the living room and landing so that also needed plastering. We had the living room, porch, kitchen, and landing plastered. 

As we had family and friends helping, there were sometimes a few rooms being tackled at the same time. We didn’t really have a set plan, we all worked around each other doing the jobs that needed doing, in order to tie in with the next steps. At one point there were Tom and his dad downstairs fitting the kitchen, Toms mum and sister painting the banister and me, my mum and my brother wallpapering a bedroom upstairs all at the same time. 

By contacting the tradesmen that we needed early before we got the keys, we were able to get them to come pretty much straight away when we needed them, so we wasn’t held up waiting around with nothing else to crack on with.  We had a tarmacing company pull down our massive conifer trees and fit us a new red tarmac drive. An electrician fitted us 3 lights as we wanted the kitchen light moving to above the middle of the kitchen island, a light fitting in the porch and an outside light. As I have mentioned above, we had a plasterer in too. 

We went around painting every wall and ceiling in the house white and even painted all the wood too including the wooden banister and spindles. Wallpaper was added to 1 or 2 of the walls in each room as a feature.  Tom fitted the skirting boards, architraves and doors, as well as fitting the full kitchen and all new blinds throughout. 

One of the final jobs  to complete our project was having the carpets/flooring fitted. This meant we could focus on getting the furniture in place and finishing touches such as ornaments positioned.  

Since the renovation project, we have saved up and now landscaped the garden by levelling the garden off and fitted artificial grass. We also decided to build a pergola with wooden seating underneath for us to socialise under. We fitted a perspex roof on this and have hung fairy lights around the top. 

garden renovation
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How long the house renovation project took us

We got the keys for our house on 15th March 2019 and literally started the work that day ripping the kitchen out and steaming wallpaper off the walls. By the end of June 2019 we had completely transformed our house. The only project we had not done at that point was the landscaping of the garden which has been done during lock down (March 2020).

It roughly took us three months and that is with us both working full time and spending every evening and weekend decorating and a lot of help from family and friends helping every chance they could.

living room renovation
living room decor

How we managed to live in the house & do it up at the same time

As we were excited to move out from our parents house into our own place, we decided to move in the day we picked the keys up.  The way we managed to do this was by keeping 1 room in the house that we didn’t do any work in, which was our bedroom and we had a working bath/shower and toilet in the bathroom. Luckily for us we were only moving from our parents houses who literally live  around the corner,  so we only brought our essentials to the house, which we kept in the bedroom we didn’t decorate to start with.  As I mentioned in my kitchen blog post, we set up a station in the living room with the essentials such as tea, coffee, sugar. We borrowed a mini fridge for milk and cold drinks,  borrowed some fold out chairs and bought a cheap kettle to put us on.  The bath became the sink for a while as we had to wash any pots we had in there due to no kitchen or sink downstairs.  Our parents helped with our clothes washing, which wasn’t actually that much, as unless we were at work, we had our decorating clothes on. 

kitchen renovation
kitchen decor

How much we spent on the full house renovation

As the plan for our house renovation project was for us to live in, we did spend more money to modernise to our taste as opposed to us doing it up pretty basic to sell. 

Breakdown of the costs

  • Kitchen – £4000
  • Tarmac drive – £5000 as I wanted red tarmac, it would have been £3500 for black tarmac
  • Doors – £250 for 5 upstairs doors and £300 for glazed double doors between kitchen and living room 
  • Architraves and skirting boards- £150
  • Carpets- £1000 fitted
  • Plastering- £1000 
  • General decor e.g. wallpaper, paint, blinds, light fittings – £1000
  • Artificial grass – £1000
ROUGH TOTAL COST – £12,700
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Unexpected projects/costs that occurred during our renovation

Below are any hidden costs or surprises that we come across during our renovation project. 

  • Wasp nest in the porch ceiling- this was only found when the electrician came to fit us a new ceiling light. Luckily their were no live wasps up there. Obviously we had to pull the ceiling down and clean away the nest, board up the ceiling and have this plastered which wasn’t in the original plan. 
  •  New internal doors- our first idea was to paint the pine doors that were already in white , however this didn’t turn out very well as no matter what we did, the paint still dried patchy and uneven. We made a joint decision to buy new doors and go for oak instead. Looking back this was the best decision to do, as the oak doors look really effective against the white walls and frames. 
Overall our project went really well and met our expectations. Although it was hard work and we put in a lot of hours and effort, we have managed to get the outcome that we hoped for and added value to our home.
Here’s to saving up for the next project!! 
House before picture
House after picture
modernise your house with paint

6 ways to modernise your house at a low cost

The cost to modernise your house can soon add up to more than originally expected.  Below are 6 ways that we found to saved us money when we transformed our house.  

DIY - Do it yourself where possible

There is a lot of money to be saved by doing projects yourself rather than paying for a job to be done. Don’t be afraid to give something a go as long as you know what is involved to complete the job and you’ve weighed up the risk- there is nearly always a tutorial on YouTube to watch that can talk you through what you need and how to undertake the task step by step.  It is certainly more rewarding to decorate yourself and can be personal to you as you decide how the job is done and the standard the job is completed to. You don’t necessarily need to be highly skilled at some house jobs such as wallpaper stripping, holding something in place or painting which are some of the jobs that I did during our renovation project.  The only jobs that we didn’t take on ourselves were electrics and plastering.
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Accept help from family and friends

As The Beatles once said ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’, that was definitely true with our renovation journey. 

Although it isn’t easy accepting help from people, if someone is willing to offer to help you, be grateful for the extra pair of hands. With more help, the job can be done a lot faster and in our experience it makes the job not seem as daunting and over facing as the moral support encourages motivation. There may even be a few tips you can pick up along the way or an idea thrown in the mix that you may not have thought of. 

With all the extra support, we managed to complete our renovation project in around 4 months from getting the keys, which for the amount of work that was done and the fact that we both continued to work full time during this period is unbelievable. 

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Shop around to modernise your house

Shop around for the best deals as prices can vary so much from shop to shop.  The beauty of the internet means that you can search for an item and find the cheapest place to order from the comfort of your living room. Look for deals or coupons when you spend so much money or even make the most of the cashback sites if ordering online (I use ‘Top Cashback’).  

  • Most shops have a 28 day return policy so take a risk and buy something if you think it could be right for your home and you can always return if necessary (obviously item size depending as I am guessing its not so easy to return something huge like a sofa)  
  • If you are trying to match up an ornament or piece of furniture to the colour scheme at home, take a little wallpaper sample or paint a piece of paper and take this with you to hold next to items in the shop. 
  • Buy second hand furniture- a few online shops that you can buy or sell second hand furniture include Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook  marketplace. 
  • Charity shops can have some lovely furniture that is sometimes like new. The British Heart Foundation and Age UK have furniture stores and the money goes to a great cause. 
  • Visit a local furniture warehouse – our local warehouse offered such a great service. We managed to get 2 good quality mattresses for a lot cheaper than we found elsewhere and they were so accommodating with the delivery date as we wanted them delivering on the day that we moved in which they sorted without any fuss.  Sometimes they may even come down on the original price if you barter like we did!!
  • Don’t always assume you have to buy your full kitchen or bathroom set from the same shop, you can get quotes from different shops and like we did buy our kitchen units from one place,  unit doors/worktops from another and appliances from somewhere totally different. This partly helped us to save money but also gave us a bigger variety of appliance brands not just what the one shop sold where we got our kitchen from.
modernise your house with paint

Re-use, recover or refresh something old

Below are 5 ways we have reused, recovered or refreshed our home without spending a large amount of money

  1. We transformed something old into something new to match our new scheme when decorating- We painted two storage boxes from cream to a beige/brown using the bedroom wall paint leftover.                                  
  2. We bought a big rug that covers a large area of laminate floor instead of purchasing a new carpet- As you can see from the picture below, this idea works quite well in our spare bedroom                                                                           
  3.  A cheaper alternative to having new tiles in our bathroom – Instead we re-grouted the tiles to freshen the bathroom up at a small cost                                                                                                              
  4. We made our own house accessories – Visit the small house projects section of this website to view the creations we have made. A few examples include a bath shelf made of wood, a high heel rail in my dressing room and a heart decoration made of twigs                                     
  5. Change the layout of a room – Moving the furniture around can create a different look without any cost at all. We did this around Christmas time in order to make room for the Christmas tree in the living room by moving the settees into a different position.
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Tradesman Tips To Help Modernise Your House

  • Get a quote from someone you know and trust
  • Ask around family and friends for tradesmen they know or have used as word of mouth is a great recommendation 
  • Get a couple of different quotes to compare the price to avoid being overcharged.
  • Trustatrader.com and Checkatrade.com are fabulous websites to find a reputable tradesman. 
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use a tradesman to modernise your house

Go bold with a feature wall

If you are wanting the wow factor, bold is the way to go. Go for something different, unusual, unique and personal to you. Maybe even set a colour scheme or just wing it as you go along. In the world of house decor… its your house, your rules.  Deciding on the design is the best part of decorating for me. Whether its choosing paint or wallpaper there is a lot of choice out there. Have a shop around and grab as many testers as you can carry to help sway your decision. Hold the wallpaper against different parts of the ‘potential’ wall to see what it looks like in different light and especially to the edge of the wall that it would be going next to, to see how well it blends and matches.  You certainly have to have an element of imagination when it comes to making a decision to picture in your mind how the finished project will look.  

The worse case scenario, it is only a tin of paint or a roll of wallpaper and your time that you have wasted if you really do not like the finished project as the wallpaper or paint will always strip off or paint over so its not the end of the world, that’s how I look at it. 

wallpaper to modernise your house
chanel print

10 things I have accomplished in Isolation

We are now on week 8 of lock down and I thought it would be a good idea to write a post of 10 projects that have kept us occupied so far during isolation as this has been the perfect opportunity to get on top of those jobs that always get postponed or to take the time to feel good and refresh. Even though me and Tom have continued to work due to both being key workers, we have still found ourselves having a lot of spare time.  This has allowed us to take a step back and appreciate the little things in life. 

No.1 Becoming Better Puppy Parents

For Ralph, this isolation lark hasn’t been all bad!! We have discovered a new woodland walk within minutes of our house that we never knew existed, which Ralph is extremely pleased about as a daily walk is more than he is used to.  This has also been a great opportunity for us to train Ralph especially on this walk where we have been able to let him off the lead and teach recall to benefit not only Ralph but us too. It is so nice to see how free he looks when he’s off the lead but is a relief to know that he will come back to us when we call.  

We have had no choice but to learn how to groom which is definitely harder than it looks. To groom we used clippers,  scissors and a lot of bribery in treats to get those nasty knots out and be able to see his cute face again.

grooming in isolation

No.2 Garden Renovation In Isolation

Our garden was desperate for renovating so we have used isolation and the nice weather we have had to completely transform our back garden. We started by demolishing the rotting decking which was quite fun. Then we turned over the grass and chopped it up into loose soil and spread this across the full garden to make the garden level at all points, lowering the high parts to fill in the low parts if that makes sense. 

We had 5 ton of hard core and 4 ton of sand delivered and we covered the full garden first with hardcore and whackered this down until it was solid and then added sand on top. The fake grass was delivered and Tom fitted this one morning whilst I was at work which was a nice surprise to come home to.  We decided the garden was crying out for a seating area, so chose a corner we thought would be best and built a decking  platform to put our table and chairs on. Eventually I would like Tom to build some seating area out of wood too but I will let him have a rest first! 

garden renovation
garden renovation in isolation

No.3 Exercise In Isolation

As all of the gyms are now closed and we have been staying in the house a lot more, our healthy diets began to slip and instead of going to the gym we started getting settled on the sofa with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream watching Netflix most nights.  

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling quite sluggish and lethargic so got my act together and started to do some small daily exercises in the hope of having more energy. I have been doing 2 sets of 30 second planks, squats, sit ups and I run up and down stairs as many times as I can to get my heart racing, as well as the daily woodland walk with Ralph which is the best half an hour of the day. 

I was nominated for the Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5. I ran 5K, Donated £5 to Captain Tom Moore’s Just Giving page for the NHS and nominated 5 people to do the same. On the sunnier days me and Tom have played a few games of badminton but this never lasts long as the shuttlecock either goes over the neighbours fence or Ralph runs off with it hanging out of his mouth.

exercise in isolation
exercise

No.4 Organise The Loft

From the day we moved in, everything we wanted to save was placed up in the loft in no sort of order. As our loft isn’t very big, there wasn’t a lot of storage space with only a thin board across the middle and the rest as insulation. Tom decided isolation was the perfect time to board a bigger section of the loft by pushing the insulation back and boarding more  of the floor so there is a bigger area to stand on and he even fitted a cheap lino flooring on top of the floor boards as well.  It made sense to shelf both sides of the loft across the trusses for storage and leave the middle to walk along so that is what we have done.  

During this process, we have sorted through everything that we were storing and cleared out quite a lot, we have recycled a few empty cardboard boxes of things we no longer have or need that were taking up a lot of space and filled our shelves in an order so we know exactly where to find everything up there. 

organise loft
organise loft in isolation

No.5 Self Pamper In Isolation

Some of the pampering I have enjoyed in the last few weeks have been

  • Painting my nails 
  • Using a face mask
  • Using a hair treatment 
  • Having a relaxing bath  with bubbles and a bath bomb 
  • Moisturising my skin 
  • Having a break from false eyelashes and makeup
pamper in isolation
bath shelf

No.6 Touch Up Of Painting

I feel there is something so satisfying and relaxing about painting, especially in a quiet house listening to my favourite music.  Even though it is only 12 months since we renovated and painted most places in the house, some areas required a refresh especially some of the woodwork. Due to having some white wood paint leftover we have managed to touch these areas up. We have also painted the shelves in our landing towel cupboard white as we never got around to doing this and before these shelves were natural wood. 

painting in isolation
painting

No.7 Donating To Charity

Charities need our help now more than ever. The charities that I have donated to in the last 3 months  are… 

  • MQ which is a mental health research charity – www.mqmentalhealth.org
    I donated to this charity through an app called ‘Hold’. This free app is great at rewarding you for not going on your phone, as for every 20 minutes you ‘hold’ on the app and do not use your phone you earn 10 points.  Once you have reached 150 points, you can spend this on donating £3 to the MQ charity. 
  •  Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Charity,  I found this on their facebook page where I sent a text to the number mentioned and this donated £5 which was taken out  of my bank with my phone bill. 
  • NHS through Captain Tom Moore’s Just Giving page, this was part of the run 5, donate 5 nominate 5 that I mentioned above.
donate to charity in isolation
donate to charity in isolation

No.8 Socialising and Baking

As we cannot see our family and friends at the moment, we have been taking part in weekly family quizzes on either the ‘Zoom’ and ‘House party’ apps. Each week, one of us takes it in turns to be the quizzer and ask 40 questions. This usually lasts around an hour and is a nice way of staying in touch and lifts spirits all around. It also gives us all a laugh when we read out some of the funny wrong answers at the end.  

This weekend me and Tom baked Gooey salted caramel brownies together. We bought a cake mix from the Asda with our weekly food shop and although we didn’t make the cake from scratch we still had fun and enjoyed getting stuck in to something different. Baking these brownies took me back to my happy childhood memories and I even licked the bowl like I used to growing up.  It was the first time that me and Tom have baked in our house which will be a great memory. The brownies even tasted good as well which is always a bonus!!

bake in isolation
baking

No.9 Various Small House Projects

Quite recently I have been inspired by Mrs Hinch and Stacey Soloman’s small house projects. Some of the small house projects that I have completed are 

  • Spice shelf transformation – to do this we bought jars and labels and transferred our herbs and spices over 
  • Wallpaper prints – this was done by cutting sections of leftover wallpaper and sticking them in photo frames.
  • Shoe rail – this involved screwing a rail up and hanging my going out heels onto the rail with clips
  • Wooden bath shelf – this was done by cutting and shaping a piece a wood to the bath shape and staining it with oil
  • Make up brush holder – this was created using a empty can of peas that I sanded down and spray painted gold 
  • Twig heart wall art- we made this by collecting twigs, cutting a heart out of wood and gluing the twigs to the heart
 

You can see some of these transformations on the Small Projects section which I will be updating as soon as I get the chance with more ideas and step by step guides on how to undertake these projects.

isolation projects
isolation projects

No.10 Spring Clean And Sort Out

Throughout spring this year I have had a thorough clean in the house. I have zoflora’d the door handles, the stair case and all the rooms from top to bottom. I have cleaned under the beds, dusted surfaces including skirting boards and even cleaned the glass mirrored wardrobe doors and windows as these were well overdue. 

I have sorted my clothes out using the theory of if I haven’t worn an item in the last 6 months  or it doesn’t fit then it goes, as I am quite a hoarder when it comes to keeping clothes. My winter clothing have been put away under the bed and swapped for my summer clothes which I have brought out and organised into my wardrobes in sections of types of clothing. I still have accessories to sort out but at least I have made a big start.

sort out in isolation
sort out
kitchen units

Our Kitchen from Dull to Desirable

'Happy Kitchen, Happy Home'

When we moved into our house, the kitchen was liveable but we wanted  to modernise it to our taste and change the layout. Me and Tom had always dreamed of having a social kitchen to invite family and friends around and host gatherings. When we were searching for the right property, we wanted a kitchen that had room for an island in the middle but never expected we would get this in our first home.

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painting in isolation

Lets Talk White Paint

Lets talk white paint...

One of the most noticeable transformations that we did when getting our house was painting everything white. The walls, ceiling, skirting boards, architraves,  door frames, staircase and porch door all had a fresh coat of white paint. This totally freshened the house up and made the rooms seem a lot brighter at a small cost as we did all the painting ourselves with the help from family and friends.

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