Rule number one: Always take the before photos.
I know this and I still forgot.
So bear with me as I use the terrible photos I do have to talk you through what we actually started with.
Before I start, let’s get this out of the way straight away: we hate how our house looks! We bought it because we believe that it has potential (I have definitely overused this word talking to people about our house and it’s become one of those words that I am starting to despise). We had a fairly long wish list in looking for a house:
- Rural location
- Nice views
- Outbuildings (or scope to build our own)
- A good sized garden
- Minimum of three bedrooms, preferably four
- Off road parking
- En-suite (or room to add one)
- Downstairs toilet (or room to add one)
- Two reception rooms
- Large kitchen
- ‘Character’ (another over used word!)
Not an unrealistic list, but we didn’t have the largest budget so after around 12 months of searching on right move, we still hadn’t found anything that had managed to tick all of the boxes. This house was the first house we saw where we felt that we could, eventually, have everything on our wish-list, and since we were so picky, it was definitely worth a look!
There were undoubtably some negatives about the house:
- Small ceilings (we loved the spacious ones we were living with in our 1910’s terrace)
- No attic (our first floor is essentially in the roof) and therefore a lack of storage
- Low windows (see the last point!)
- An area we didn’t know of (but have grown to love)
- Uncertainties about planning permission on the adjacent plot
- A ridiculous layout that made no sense (fixable)
- Terrible, dated decor (also fixable)
After writing a pro’s and con’s list (I was suffering from pregnancy induced anxiety and sickness which meant making the decision to move felt much scarier than it should!) we bit the bullet, made an offer and three months later got the keys!
This is what we started with:
Where to start?
The house was empty for around seven years as the owners had passed away. Their estate was being sold by their sons, one of which actually lives on the same street, so it’s been lovely finding out more about the family who lived there before us, and the history of the building.
The house (it’s an old farmhouse) was previously used to run a very successful business from. Decor certainly wasn’t their priority: don’t get me started on the pointy windows; the random placement of them; the waste pipe that runs down the front of the building; the horribly placed external vents; the horrific half height extension (with no front window! Seriously, it has a sky light instead!) or the lack of front door.
The good news is the workshop is lovely:
Rustic brick, and a great size. It needs some work (including extending it – mainly so that the garage and workshop are all part of one building) but on the whole we really like it. In fact, it sold the house to us (Lee in particular!).
The plan is to extend the workshop and then knock down the existing garage. This will mean we have a bigger drive way too.
We also have a lovely sized garden (which our dog Harvey adores – he only had a little back yard at our last house!) which will take some work to make it beautiful, but right now is brilliantly low maintenance.
And here you have the back of the house. That conservatory is pointless. It doesn’t have an internal wall which means the living room that it’s attached too will be too hot in summer, and too cold in winter. It’s also tiny, which means it’s not the most practical room to add a door too. As well as that, the wood is completely rotten. So that needs to come down.
The door to the left of the patio door is the door to our outside toilet… needless to say that is also going. As is the *delightful* skylight. In fact, the whole original extension is going to change as we’re going to take it up to full height to get a good master bedroom and en-suite too.
What you can’t really tell from these photos is the state of the render. In places it’s bubbled and flaking, so that needs to come off too.
The good news here is that bits had been done to try and sell the house. It was all painted neutrally in magnolia, a new beige carpet had been fitted, and a small kitchenette had been installed. Not the most inspiring decorating, but it meant that we moved into something (fairly!) clean and comfortable.
Not the prettiest though…
Again, I was useless and didn’t get the before pictures, so this is the tiny one from the estate agents brochure.
We have this 70’s sauna look for our living room/conservatory. This is where our mains electricity consumer unit for the house is (the wall on the right of this photo), which means there is no window on the front of the house (see the external photos).
Instead there’s that skylight right next to that *lovely* wooden paneling. You can see the lack of wall between the living and conservatory and also the interesting mixture of carpet and lino (lino to the right of the the carpet and in the conservatory) and there are ceiling roses in various places over the ceiling.
This is the room in the middle of the house. The two windows at the front don’t match, and the stairs are at the back of the room. There are two (yes two!) doors through to the living room, one on either side of the fireplace. The other door through to the kitchen is on the right of this photo. Essentially although this room is huge, it acts as a corridor for the house which makes it quite difficult to be a functioning living space.
What I don’t have a picture of is the internal window between the two living rooms. Because the sauna style room is an extension – there is a external window which was never bricked up. Not only is it a bit weird it means we can’t use that wall space for shelving etc, so that needs to go too.
The kitchen is equally difficult. Although there has been a kitchenette added, there are a lot of windows and too many doors which means there aren’t enough units for us to fit everything we need in.
We have a larder, which we adored until we realised that neither of us could actually fit in it (we have to turn sidewards and duck) and because we’re both so used to a fridge we’re not really taking advantage of it so currently it’s a bit of a waste of space.
The doorway to the larder on the left.
We also have a utility, which houses the downstairs toilet. Ideally we’ll split these off so that they’re in two separate rooms, but we haven’t quite figured out the ideal layout yet.
Obviously the plan with both the kitchen and utility is to rip them out and start them from scratch but we just need to work out how best to do this. At the moment, they’re bottom of the priority because they’re fairly new units and we have more important things to do to the house.
It’s a similar story upstairs with the bathroom:
Again, it needs ripping out and replacing, but we just need to work out the ideal layout for the new one. We want to add in a bath and keep a shower but as we have the hot water tank, and a very low window in the room we’ll need to have a serious think about how best to do that. As we’re adding in an en-suite with the extension, we’re not going to touch this bathroom until we have another one finished.
We currently have two good sized bedrooms .The third bedroom will become corridor for the new master bedroom, and there is a fourth bedroom which currently acts as a corridor to the bathroom. This will need partitioning off so that it becomes a room in it’s own right.
All of the bedrooms have external walls. As we have no cavity in the wall upstairs (it’s an old house so it was just built without) we need to insulate all of the external walls to keep the house warm and damp away. We’ll then need to re-plaster them.Other than that they don’t need too much work.
So there you have it: A blank canvas. Can you see the potential (eew!) too? Or do you just think we’re crazy?