2014 – Happy New Year!

IMG_4592Our first lesson in home renovation has been that everything always takes about twice as long as you think it is going to take. It’s early January (Happy New Year!) and Mark and I thought we would probably have builders signed up by now but we are, in fact, still in the planning stage. We spoke to some neighbours recently about the work they had done and it appears that it’s nothing out of the ordinary for architects to take several months to get to the stage of tendering, so we have stopped panicking about it. Instead I have been taking the opportunity to do some archive work to record the house before the renovation. 183 photos of door knobs so far, for instance. The door handle above is the one on the ledge and brace timber door to the coal store outside. This is where our future utility room and toilet will be…one day.


The benefits of a long planning stage are that you have plenty of time to think things through and make refinements. For instance, we only recently decided to knock through the wall, pictured above, between the entrance hall and the breakfast room. We were originally planning to leave the breakfast room door where it was, to the left under the staircase, but this change will open up the whole space and provide a sight-line all the way to the rear of the house. I was wary for a while about such an idea because it would fundamentally alter the architecture, unifying what were meant to be very separate spaces between the servants’ part of the house and the family’s. The breakfast room was originally the kitchen. Beyond were the scullery, larder, privy and coal store as well as the servants’ staircase leading up to the servants’ bedroom. It made sense though to update the layout and make the house more amenable to modern living. Our architect was also in favour of it and he has a lot of experience with building conservation, so we didn’t feel too bad in the end making such a drastic change. It will also make a great ‘before and after’ photo!

We have also decided to do away completely with the planned sun-room at the back of the house. Over time the planned room was getting smaller and smaller until one day Mark and I mapped out the room with a tape measure and concluded that it was just going to be too small to be of much use. There wasn’t going to be enough new living space to justify the cost. What we plan to do instead is to add an ‘orangery’ in the future. It’s more substantial than a glass conservatory and can be used year-round.

Meanwhile, we continue to rip up carpet and dismantle old shelving units and so on. I have been working with kitchen designers and also planning bathrooms and en suites. I am continuing to work with our architect on services plans (electricity etc.), door and window schedules and the builder’s specification document. Hopefully it will be going out to tender next week, which means it will probably actually go out in two week’s time…

There were also great post-Christmas sales at the House of Fraser and John Lewis so I saved a fortune on lights!


5 thoughts on “2014 – Happy New Year!

  1. having watched a lot of Kevin’s renovators on Grand Designs I have seen all the delays. May I suggest PINterest for comparing ideas. Put ‘bathrooms’ into their searchbox, or ‘reading alcoves’ and get 40 images on your screen simultaneously. It’s like a free subscription to every exotic real-estate glossy magazine. Copperwitch puts “amazing real fairy cottages” in a lot, and there are some beauties. there’s RICH people Out There. I have been wanting to lift one of your divine cat images for my board of beauty and wondered if you’d mind a non-identifying publish? I have put blue kitties and there is nothing as lovely as your furfamily.
    back soon, keep at it, I am excited for you too.
    Highriser will be here soon and say I am just an excitable girl. x x

      • oh I was lost for Hourz at Houzz thanks. Ruby, Rose and Oliver are the only real cats on my catboard.
        Anything you prefer taken down can be edited out easily. PINterest is a shocking addiction but useful for when the temperature immobilises one. Tomorrow is our 3rd 40-degree day. x x

    • oh yes I did. In the swapcard milieu these are called ‘cutes’ and I used to have a lot, in the spirit of Gillo Dorflies whose 1970 book KITSCH was a hoot.
      apparently when he was unhappy Henry VIII used to roar “bring me a box of kittens!”

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