design

the neverending story

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I know I said we were taking a sanity break between bathrooms, but it really wasn’t that long, I promise. In fact, we started and finished the en suite well over a year ago. It’s just that we sold the house practically as the last tile was being laid and moved to a cottage in the countryside about three months later. And no, that wasn’t in the plan at all.

So here’s the en suite we waited ten years for and enjoyed for less than three months. It was almost enough to make me think twice about moving. Almost.

P1220098

oops i did it again

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A couple of years ago I mentioned that I may possibly have something of a builder fetish. (No, not like that for goodness sake. Get your mind out of the gutter.) It’s just that we seem to be unable to go more than a year or so without doing something major to the house.

This year it’s the turn of the bathrooms.

Ok, that sounded rather more ominous than I intended. Although it is pretty serious; our family bathroom and en suite are in such a state after ten years of relentless use (and let’s face it, they weren’t great to start with, having apparently been constructed in somewhat of a rush by our house’s previous owners) that we are completely gutting them and starting again. In the case of the family bathroom, this also involves reorganising the (frankly shit) layout to give ourselves enough space to move around in the room and changing the door around so it opens inwards instead of outwards into our very narrow landing, where it blocks access to one of the bedrooms.

Currently we are at the halfway point, having completed the family bathroom and decided to take a sanity break before embarking on the en suite. So I thought I’d show you the progress so far as I’m rather pleased with how it’s turned out, especially as most some of the best ideas were mine.

apart from the lights - they were nick's idea

apparently most people only do it once

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So I may have mentioned a few months ago that I had a little knocking-down project in mind for my house should we decide to stay here. Well, it looks like that decision has been made (for the next ten years or so anyway) as we’re teetering on the brink of we’ve made it across that chasm otherwise known as Getting The Builders In. And we’ve had them in enough times for Alice, when I told her what we were planning, to complain that it would be boring to have them in the house again.

This project then; not a major one compared to our previous undertakings (one of which you can read about here) and definitely on the ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘essential’ list, where it’s languished for several years now. My vision has always been to knock out the wall between the two rooms to open them up and to replace the dining room back wall with bi-fold doors opening out onto the garden, thereby letting more light into both rooms and hopefully making them feel bigger. It would also give us a breakfast bar peninsula to make the space more social; whenever we entertain, everyone seems to end up hanging out in the kitchen or the doorway getting in the way of the cook.

And here’s where my logic kicked in – if we were doing all this work then surely we may as well replace the existing kitchen units, right? I mean, they’re at least eight years old and pretty knackered, not to mention in an oak finish in a dark room where the only sensible choice is white. Yeah, well that was my excuse anyway.

The decision took a few months of talking it through, between ourselves, with the builder and with various kitchen companies, some of which were brilliant, others not so much. But that decision, once made, was scarily quickly put into practice; the builders were ready to start pretty much straight away, so in a bit of a last minute panic we chose and ordered units, worktop, floor tiles and a bigger mortgage. And then the builders arrived.

In one of those kind twists of fate that never fail to amaze me, we managed to time it so that the bulk of the work was done while we were away for two weeks and in hindsight that was one of the best decisions we made. Although the kitchen was still unusable when we returned, to have lived through it for those weeks would have been pretty tough. Of course it took the builders another week and a bit to finish and when they left it was our turn to start on cleaning, reorganising and decorating the rooms.

And this is the result.

As a young family, the way the space flows now really works for us. We all love it; it’s so much more social and really does feel more spacious although the floor area is no larger than before. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen now (and I NEVER thought I’d utter those words), whether cooking, washing up or sitting at the breakfast bar with my the iPad, eating or just talking to Nick.

And no, we’re not doing anything else to the house (this year). Although both bathrooms need redoing in the not too distant future and Nick’s already talking about redecorating our bedroom… is it possible to be addicted to home improvements?

and now for something completely different

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I think I may have mentioned before about the extensive renovation programme we’ve been carrying out on our house. The most recent project was converting the loft to a spare bedroom, which was technically completed around July. I say technically, because as far as the builders were concerned THEY had finished, which usually means there’s at least three months’ worth of work left for us to do.

With this room, due to the nature of the stairs (spiral and ridiculously narrow) we had to plan the task of furnishing it quite carefully; basically anything bigger than the size of a dining chair had to be put in the room BEFORE the stairs went in. God knows how we ever get that king-size bed out of there again. And we’ve had to be selective about the other pieces we buy for the room; the desk was flat packed, although it still took two of us to get it up the stairs, one agonising step at a time. And the super-sized canvas we just had to have for the one vertical wall thankfully fitted through the gap between the banisters and the aperture otherwise it would have found itself being re-sited elsewhere in the house.

Still, I’m very pleased with the way the space has turned out, especially as I got my way over it having dual-use as a work area for my sewing projects. The one remaining item on my wish list is a stool to go with the retro writing desk I sourced for a sewing table. Any ideas?

wherever i lay my hat

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My entire childhood was spent moving house every few years and occasionally more often than that; so much so that to me moving is a natural state and the idea of seeing out the rest of my life in the same house fills me with horror. That said, I’ve been in my current house for just over six years now, the longest I’ve ever spent in one place. Nick, however, had the exact opposite upbringing, where his parents STILL live in the house they bought when they married and apart from a two-year hiatus living abroad he never moved house until he went to university. So when we bought this house, he was more than happy with the idea that we may never move again.

We’ve done quite a lot to this house over the years; extending it sideways and upwards, redecorating inside and out, re-flooring most of the house and practically re-landscaping the garden from scratch, not to mention the new boiler, bay window roof and front door we’ve put in along the way. Only the bathrooms left to go and then who knows? We may get to sit down and enjoy being in the house without thinking about the stuff we should really be doing. Although I do have an urge to open up the kitchen and dining room and knock out the back wall to put in bi-fold doors across the dining room…

So I was totally unprepared when Nick said to me, quite casually, that once we’ve done the bathrooms we should look at the market to decide whether we should move to another area.

Blink. Blink blink.

I’m sorry, was that really my husband speaking? The same man who wanted to move back to his home town when he finished university even though I’d uprooted myself less than two years previously from there to move in with him and took six months of convincing that it was a really bad idea?? Maybe 16 years of being with me has finally knocked some sense into him.

But he has a valid point. No matter how much we do to this house, we can’t change certain things about it that aren’t ideal. The little knocking down project I mentioned (ahem) would only be worth doing if we were planning to stay in this house long term. I mean VERY long term. The sort of long term that sends shivers down my spine, and not in a good way. So it looks like we’ll be coming to a crossroads at some point in the next couple of years. Exciting but scary. Because even if this house isn’t our long term house, the next one would definitely have to be. How grown up is that???