In which I share the fruits of our labour


I’ve never really posted much about our house and the epic DIY we did on it, mostly because the majority of the large projects were pretty well finished by February 2009, which is when I started this blog, although painting our hall did make a brief appearance.

When we bought the house in October 2006, it hadn’t been touched for years. It had belonged to an elderly man; after he died his son put in on the market, but not before embarking on a disastrous whirlwind DIY spree, during which he slapped magnolia paint everywhere (and I do mean everywhere, including drips on skirting boards, light switches and the floor) and ripped up the carpets. A lot of the work we did was undoing this shoddy effort.

There were times when washing up was done in the bath, meals were cooked on a camping stove, and our bed was in the living room because there were no floorboards upstairs.

By February 2009 I had had enough of DIY to last me for a lifetime. Sure, I like the end results, and I don’t mind so much the more frippery jobs like painting, but living in dust and chaos and mess, and having to start working on something as soon as you get in the door after a day at the office, and driving to B&Q innumerable times for materials, and then again because there’s something else that’s unexpectedly required – no thanks. Been there, done that, got the (paint spattered) t-shirt.

A house is never really done, though. There’s always something you want to do – a small thing like hanging a new picture or a slightly larger endeavour such as painting the entire outside – so declaring “everything’s done!” is a bit of a misnomer. And it seemed that we couldn’t avoid the roar of the circular saw and the smell of the gloss paint, as after two years off we decided that we wanted to redo our bedroom. Apart from sanding the floor and painting the walls, we never really did much to it and both of us had a nagging sense of dissatisfaction with how it looked, although it took a while for the nagging to become loud enough for us to pick up our tools again. There’s also been the ongoing quest to make our garden and outside space look a little nicer.

Since this month marks three years since we got the house into a livable state, I thought I’d have a little reminisce about all the work we did and celebrate the many changes that we’ve made in order to make our little house that much cosier and nicer. So hello, welcome, come on in, let me make you a cup of virtual tea and show you around.

Firstly, let me give you a flavour of how it was and some of things we did along the way…

Our living and dining room

Destroying the hideous 70s brick fireplace - the very first thing we did

The fireplace we replaced it with! Much more in keeping with our Victorian house

Floorboards in the spare bedroom - indicative of all of the house

The kitchen before S attacked it with a sledgehammer

Midway through the kitchen makeover

If you like black and turquoise grubby tiles, then you would have loved how our bathroom looked when we moved in. We lived with this for 2.5 years

Bathroom midway through its makeover. Confession: we got in a plumber and plasterer to do this

The state of the entrance hall

The wonderful floor sander that made everything pretty

And this is our little house today…

A lot of our house is a juxtaposition of our individual interests - a piano next to surfboards, a bike next to a writing desk - although not from a design aesthetic, but because we don't have a lot of room. Roll on the next house that has a garage!

We're lucky in that all the original coving and plasterwork is still in the living room, albeit now gloss painted which we couldn't remove

Utensils rack that features Seamus, our cafetiere cosy

I always wanted a freestanding bath; good things come to those who wait

At the time, the thought of looking for DIY inspiration on the web didn’t occur to either of us. I remember buying a homes and garden magazine and being really disappointed with its contents, so not bothering again. If we were starting again now I would be much more aware of the treasure troves of wonderful ideas from sites such as Pinterest and Design*Sponge and the like. So I guess we’ll just have to save that for the next house.

Considering, however, that it was mostly done by two people with absolutely no prior DIY experience, I’m pretty pleased with what we achieved.  Yes, there are things I would do differently if we started again, but overall I think we’ve created something to be proud of. And the thought that we never have to pick up another paintbrush unless we want to is very, very sweet.


3 responses »

  1. What a lot of work – and done very well too! You two should be proud of the accomplishment. I love the sky-blue door and your freestanding bath.

    After having painted our entire house prior to the move, I thought, “If I ever pick up a paintbrush again it will be too soon.” D was completely fed up with DIY as well. But as soon as we got over here, D started looking around at properties and admitted recently that he’s been getting the lust again and would consider taking on another project. Oy, vey!

  2. Pingback: In which both goodbyes and hellos are said | Postcards from the Edge (of the West Country)

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