home improvement

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.



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?