Thursday, 22 August 2013

Our Forever House

by Roz

I am so excited to be sharing this post with you all!  We finally got the keys to our new home on the 8th August.  It's a beautiful Georgian Townhouse that was built in 1870, or it will be beautiful once we put in some hard work!  We bought the property from a PR company that used it as their office with 60 or so employees based in the building every day.  Whilst a number of the original features were in great condition, it's fair to say that certain aspects of the property were not as well looked after such as the roof or the windows.

As you enter the house the hallway is rather impressive even if I do say so myself.  There's not too much work needed here, I want to change the office downlight to a chandelier, paint the walls grey and can't decide between floor tiles or a herringbone wooden floor, and that space under the stairs is crying out for a chaise lounge, right?  The hall will be one of the last places we decorate though as we need to wait until there will be no more tradesmen coming in and out and no more jobs that might damage any of the finishes.

We have so many plans for the house, it currently doesn't have a kitchen at all and no proper bathrooms, so it's lovely to be able to design these spaces exactly how we want them.  Well, as exactly as the budget will allow!!  Where possible we will be doing a lot of the work ourselves to save on labour costs and ensure that there is money in the budget to pay for the big jobs, such as the roof, and the furniture.  Our current flat has built in wardrobes in every bedroom, so we don't actually own much furniture at the moment.  Gumtree, ebay and freecycle are becoming my must check websites to look for period furniture at bargain prices.

To make a dent in the endless list of jobs, both B and I took two weeks off work to strip out as much of the house as possible before getting in some proper tradesmen to help with the knock-through work and other skilled jobs.  I thought sharing a few before and after shots would help show you what we have achieved so far.  The main jobs have been: removing the carpets from all the rooms (a pretty heavy duty task as the majority of them were simply glued to the plywood underneath!); removing the plywood as we need access to the ceilings below each floor to install the sprinkler system; removing shelving, fire door signs and rubbish left behind (why do people ever think that is okay??); stripping wallpaper; opening all the (painted shut) shutters; and removing all the cabling.

Here is some evidence of our hard work!

Some of the carpets from the basement

Excess cabling removed from ONE room in the basement - nearly every room in the house has this much that we need to remove! 

Anyway enough of the mess, I thought I would start with a tour of some of my favourite rooms, I really hope you like them.  The room below is the on the first floor and will be our formal living room.  We call it the L-shaped room as, well, it's L-shaped and the name has kind of stuck!  It's a really big room and those three large windows are simply amazing.  We want to reinstate a fireplace on the left hand wall and have already had someone round to take a look at the practicality of it with our existing chimneys and give us a quote to do the work.  We have been advised to fit a wood burner, given the size of the room.  Do any of you have one and would you recommend them?

There are currently two doors into this room, but we intend to block off the one on the left in the picture below to let us really use that space.  I want to have a large dining table in this room (there will also be one in the kitchen for informal eating) and plan to organise the decor and furnishing to establish the dual purpose of the room.  I also want to create a giant gallery wall (the wall on the left in the picture below) that we can keep adding to over the years as I love how the one in our current flat has turned out.

After a few days of work, the L-shaped room now looks like this...

The floor boards in here are not the wide boards that are in the rest of the house, so we think that the floor may have been replaced at some point.  It's also been hacked to pieces and is very uneven underfoot, so we don't plan on renovating the existing floor.  It will probably be fitted with plywood and then we will put a herringbone or other type of parquet floor in this room and add a large sumptuous rug between two chesterfield type sofas.... Oh it's lovely to dream; finishing touches like that are way off!

B has already opened all the shutters in this room too and these ones look like they have never even been painted.  We also took delivery of our scaffold tower this week to finish off the wallpaper scraping in a couple of the rooms.  My arms ache from it already, especially as this room had up to 6 layers of wallpaper in places, but it's so satisfying to see the progress we are making with it. 


This next room is going to be our kitchen.  It's on the ground floor and I love the fact that it literally has a wall of windows looking out to our garden.  Originally I had wanted a nice big window seat but it might not actually happen now, due to how we have decided to lay out the kitchen.  I'm not going to share too much about the plans for this room yet (that's for another post!) but we intend to knock through the wall between the kitchen and living room at the front of the house but keep a set of glazed doors to give us some flexibility with the space.  B wants an island, I need quartz worktops and there will be a pantry....I cannot wait to share our plans for this room with you soon.  

Where the grey square is on the wall above is where we will put the double doors to the living room.

The shutters work here now too!

This room below is going to be our bedroom. 

It's on the second floor and once it's finished it will take up half the square footage of this level of the house as we plan on turning the small bedroom at the front of the house into a large walk in wardrobe complete with a dressing table for me under the window!

This is the walk in wardrobe, amazing no?? 

We also have to knock through a supporting wall to create an en suite for this room.  We are lucky that there's already one of the office toilets there so the plumbing etc is all in place and there are two large cupboards that we can use as well to create a large en suite that will fit a bath and wet-room shower area.  The wallpaper was easy to strip in this room!

Our new superking bed is going to go between the windows :)  It's hard to tell from the photos but the space between the windows would pretty much fit a king size bed, so because of the angle of the wood around the windows, the bed will not actually cover any of the window.  All the carpet and wallpaper has already been removed from this room, so I can't wait till the walls are opened up to see the space with the en suite and dressing room. 

The wall where the en suite will be.

Like a number of rooms in the house, our bedroom has a fireplace, probably my least favourite fireplace in the whole house.  The tiles are easy to change as they are not original anyway and a number are cracked or missing, but that's not really my issue, just look at the marble surround.  It's cracked in a number of places, hasn't aged well (or hasn't been well looked after) and I just don't think it's going to look good against the wallpaper I have already chosen for the wall around the fireplace.  I think we should simply install a wooden surround over the existing marble one but B isn't sold on this idea, I'm hoping I get my way on this one!

This is B cutting open the shutters in one of the bedrooms at the rear of the house.  All the shutters were either nailed or painted shut, why do people do that??  These are the only ones in the house that are split shutters and I love them.  They need a really good clean and a coat of paint (what colour?) but it means we don't need to buy blackout blinds or curtains for any of our rooms :)

I am so very excited about this next room.... it's going to be the library! Or more accurately MY library :) I won't bore you with the before shots (more of the same dull carpets and wood chip wallpaper) but here is the room gutted back to a shell. It has a fireplace, currently hiding behind a wooden board, a dormer window which is perfect for a window seat / daybed for mooching on whilst reading and beautiful floorboards.

The back wall is going to have a horseshoe shape of floor to ceiling bookshelves(!!!), we are going to move the radiator under the window out the way, and I am going to remove the skirting boards and fit them on top of the shelves to make them look built in and part of the room. I cannot wait to start sanding the floor to see how they come up.   I am, in fact, grinning like a loon just typing about this!!

View from the library window

I'll leave you will one last shot, it's the view from the back of our house standing at the top of the fire escape, which we also have to remove.  I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to heights I've realised, so this is the view looking down to the left at our neighbour's gardens because I couldn't bring myself to walk to the end of the fire escape and look down to our garden!  The little bit of greenery you see in the bottom right of the picture is our garden, which also needs some work :) 

I really wish there was some way to speed up the work we need to complete, as I really want to actually move in, but I know that all the time and effort will be worth it for our forever home.

I hoped you've enjoyed seeing the first pictures of our house as I can't wait to share more as the work continues :)

Roz xx


Rach (rachiepoppet) said...

I'm actually in awe of your new home. It's. INCREDIBLE! seriously green-faced over here. Looks like you've done some amazing work so far, well done! I remember pulling up all the carpets and stripping the wallpaper etc etc in the whole of our house when we moved in
(Aggressive 50's decor, ick) but its so worth it to save some pennies and her tha satisfaction from doing it all yourself. Oh, and we have a log burner. We bought one for our last house and managed to being it to this one and they are so awesome. Get one! I even use the top of ours to prove bread! Can't wait for more forever home posts :) xxx

M-J said...

Oh my word! It's HUGE! I love all the rooms, and the big windows are amazing, they let in so much light. It's a bit of a fixerupper but you are going to have so much fun choosing things and doing it all together. It will be incredible when it's finished. My parents have a huge old farmhouse, and they installed a woodburner 5 years ago and have never looked back. Before, you could sit on the sofa burning your legs from the heat of the fire, whilst having a howling gale whipping round the edge of the sofa. When they replaced the traditional fire with the stove, the heat just seems more even somehow. It's also a lot less messy than an open fire (no coal dust), and it is a lot hotter. We now sometimes have to sit with the door open it gets so hot, which would have been unthinkable with the traditional fire.

I can't wait to see the progress posts on the house, it will be amazing. x

Ashleigh said...

Omg amazing! How did you find it? I don't think I would think to look at old office buildings? Looks like you have a lot of work to do but it is so rewarding when you have a home that's completely you! Xox

Andrea Marie said...

Oh my! What an amazing project- it's like something you'd see on Grand Designs! How exciting to be able to shape your forever home from scratch. I once lived in a flat with those shutters, they're such a beautiful feature. You're a lucky lady! Good luck with it all and I look forward to seeing updates x

Amanda said...

It is beautiful! And it looks huge too. Wow! It is going to be such a nice house. And being able to choose your own kitchen is great!

Zan said...

Just WOW! Seriously impressive, it'll look amazing when it's done!

Lynky said...

Roz, this is so going to be worth waiting for. Can't wait to see it for real in a few weeks time - pretty please??? Congratulations.

Linsey said...

Looks amazing Roz, I thought my ceilings were high but those are giant!

Unknown said...

It looks incredible. I am so happy you found an amazing home and can make it exactly (ish) how you want it. Those shutters are amazing too (side note though, you may possibly want curtains for warmth in some rooms depending on insulation/windows etc but I would choose shutters over curtains any day, we had them at my old school and I adored them.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the comments ladies :)

And thanks for the info on the wood burner, sounds like it will be perfect for the winter.

Roz xx

steff said...

Roz, oh my word, I'm literally dying over here. Gorgeous!! Those windows! *sigh*

Wood burners are fab. We have one in our living room and I practically lived on the floor snuggled up beside it this winter. Can't remember the name of it though, will check when I get home.

amy said...

I'm so in love with those shutters! (And admittedly a tad green eyed that my whole flat would fit in that living room - oh what I wouldn't do for a walk in wardrobe!)

Really looking forward to seeing it progress and hopefully in real soon too! :)

Penny said...

I can't believe how much you've achieved already...and how bloody beautiful this house is, I want to cry! I can't wait to see more progress pictures. Well done you, what a phenomenally exciting time. As we can't move to a forever house for a good few years I shall be living each delicious housey second through you. And coming to visit, natch.


Amanda M said...

OH MY FREAKING GOD! It's AMAZING! I think you need to restrict me to exclamation marks because esseuntially I just want to fill the page with them. A pantry! A walk in wardrobe! A dressing table under the window! Shutters! A HALL WITH PILLARS! A library! I need to go and sit somewhere quiet and calm down. I don't know how you haven't COMBUSTED with excitement (possibly wallpaper stripping keeps it manageable!).

Unknown said...

Everyone's comments have made me smile today :) It's been another tough day of wallpaper stripping, plywood removal and cable removal....but it's going to be worth it in the end.

You are all more than welcome to come see the house in person and of course there will be a house some point in the future!!!

Roz xx

Leyla [Thisdayilove] said...

Your house is beautiful I wish you all the best turning it into your home

Gwen - TheFoodieHistorian said...

It's going to be so beautiful! Wow! And I am in awe of you guys doing such a massive renovation project. Can't wait to see the finished pictures.

Victoria said...


Well jell.

That is all.

Sarah said...

Wow! What an amazing forever home this will be! x

Vics said...

Umm, wow, your new house is ah-maz-ing!
We are currently house hunting for our forever home too and basically if I could pick yours up and pop it down over here in the South of France, then I would stop searching :)
I think my favourite part is the library, so so excited to see it once you get it all set up!!

kpsays said...

The windows are absolutely gorgeous! I love all things home decor/renovation so am looking forward to seeing your updates! Just WOW!!!

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