What to Expect When You're Renovating
This is Part 1 in a series of blog posts which I'll be running over the next few weeks about What to Expect When You're Renovating. I've interviewed some of Instagram's most notable and experienced renovators, including the lovely Katie from Come Down to the Woods and the ever inspiring Alex from The Frugality, for the series about the good, the bad and the downright ugly side of transforming your home. I'll warn you now, it's a rollercoaster of emotions. Literally, all the feels.
I have been waiting to launch this new blog feature for a few weeks and given that our house is currently on the brink of collapse with leaky roofs and pipes, dodgy electrics and a boiler which is older then me (this may be an exaggeration) it seems appropriate to do it now. The title, inspired by a very famous American guide to pregnancy that you may have heard of, seems equally appropriate as, in my experience, renovating a house is akin to raising a baby. Mind-bloggling, extremely stress-inducing, exhausting and yet, ultimately one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do....at least that's what I'm clinging on to right now.
But before I get to the others, I thought I'd begin by sharing some of my own thoughts and experiences of renovating a house. I know it will work out and it WILL all be worth it! But sometimes it's tough! I've included before and after pics of the Gold is a Neutral house to show what we have achieved so far, which was a very useful exercise for me at a time when I really needed a boost. So without further ado, here's my what to expect when you're renovating...
1) You'll quickly realise that all the fun stuff comes later
So here's the thing. As an interiors blogger I feel obliged to regularly share photographs of my home, styled up little corners, or vignettes to use a fancy term. And this is easier to do if you've got something new to show off. And as an interiors blogger I'm always buying new cushions, candles, plant pots, prints etc right? Wrong! Why? Because I'm an interiors blogger with a house renovation on the go and so it's hard to justify £30 on a cushion when our kitchen and bathroom turn into sieves every time it rains. I'm at the stage where I'm actively avoiding H&M Home because I can't leave without buying something. But all that fun stuff will come, and when it does it will be even more satisfying.
2) One thing will set off a clusterfuck of other unwanted problems
For example, one of the spotlights went in the kitchen and we got an electrician round to look at it. Within about 20 minutes we had discovered we needed a new fuse box and probably the whole house rewiring. FML. If you're really unlucky this will keep happening. The good news is that when you're done, your house will be good as new.
3) Everything costs three times what you think it costs
This is particularly true if you live in London, where finding a decent, reliable tradesman is like searching for Donald Trump's off button. Otherwise it's £5k flat rate whether you want a light switch fitting, or a new sink. Finding someone you trust, and then keeping them is the holy grail. Because if they're good then everyone else will want them too!
4) You will consider jacking it all in
There will be times when you get so fed up and exhausted with it all that you consider jacking it in. Because, what's so great about original features anyway? I have to admit that we both had a fleeting wobble fairly recently. An email came through from The Modern House with details of a design led new-build property coming on the market. I forwarded it to David, half-joking. He replied: "Book us in for a viewing?" And I very nearly did. I think because I have really big ideas about how I want this house to look but sometimes it feels like we will never get there. In the end though we didn't, because this house is our home and we're going to see it through.
It's all sounded a bit negative so far, right? But don't worry because here's the good stuff...
1) You will learn so much
Both from a practical point of view and about yourself. You'll learn about plumbing terminology (or at least enough to nod sagely when talking to your plumber) and you'll get better at DIY (because it's a lot cheaper. See my blog post on this topic here). And you will develop the vital skills of patience and positivity, if you didn't have them already. Don't get me wrong, you'll probably still lose your shit from time to time, but you'll learn to take smaller setbacks on the chin and focus on the bigger picture.
2) You'll get really good at decision making
This may not apply to you as you might already be good at this. Personally, I've always been a terrible one for indecision and self-doubt. But life is so much simpler if you can make quick, but well thought out, decisions and then things happen faster. I want things to happen faster in this house, therefore I know I need to trust my instinct and go for it. The orange window frame in Raf's bedroom was a very quick decision and one of my better ideas, if I do say so myself.
3) You'll discover your personal style
Renovating can be a slow and drawn out process and I've found that as we've gone along I've found I've developed a better sense of my style. I can lose hours on Pinterest, ooh-ing and aah-ing at so many different interiors styles. I love the look of some Scandi set-ups and I can totally appreciate the appeal. But when it comes to my own house, I'm all about colour, those luxe textures and a sprinkling of eclecticism.
4) You will be so proud of yourself
A hard fought victory is so much more satisfying than an easy win. You made it! Now go and buy that House of Hackney cushion you've been coveting. You deserve it!
You can see full details of all the Gold is A Neutral Before & Afters so far here