This summer, my husband and I bought our first home. Having been living in a big flat with high ceilings and sprawling open plan living for the past five years, the reality of what we could afford as our first step on the property ladder hit us like a DIY toolkit in the face. Luckily, we are not short of a little imagination, so when we finally came across a dilapidated, 1950’s terraced house that hadn’t been decorated since the 60’s with a distinct whiff of stale smoke, all we saw was: garden? Tick. 3 beds? Tick. Leafy area with a great school and a decent coffee shop? Tick. It had me at hello.
Of course, the reality of transforming this place on a tight budget during my husband’s summer holidays (he’s a school teacher) has been nothing like the TV renovation shows had promised us. We have spent months covered in dust with the help of some amazing friends, steaming woodchip, learning to plaster, tile, plumb, sand, paint, sew, grout … you name it, we’ve given it a stab. Often remarkably unsuccessfully, but hey, God loves a trier.
We ripped out the old fireplace (along with a back boiler and a whole lot of rubble) to install a cosy wood burning stove (Charnwood, the hearth tiles from Fired Earth), found lovely blonde floorboards lurking under the carpet which we sanded and varnished, and when we pulled the bizarre linoleum flooring off the walls and all the plaster came off with it, we rather liked the exposed brick wall and decided to keep it! Hours of steamy woodchip-scraping and painting later (Shirting by Little Greene), and the room has been given a whole new lease of life.
Our old sofa was far too big for the space, so the bird-print sofa (sofa.com) is new but all the other furniture was inherited with the house or bought secondhand. The retro wall unit was a £15 eBay find!