What To Expect When You're Renovating - Part 2 feat. Come Down To The Woods
It's time for the second instalment of What To Expect When You're Renovating and this wouldn't be much of a renovation series if it didn't include an interview with Katie Woods, the wonder woman behind the blog Come Down To The Woods and Insta-interiors event No House Rules which she runs with lovely Amy from This Style Rocks. Indeed, some of you may still be nursing sore heads from their most recent get-together on Friday. Mum-of-four Katie started her blog just two years ago to chart the reinvention of the "Peach Palace" into a colourful family home for her, husband Chris and children Maxwell & Felix 8, Toby 4 and Daisy Dot, 2.
And she didn't mess about. Despite being a dentist by day, Katie ploughed ahead and renovated 15 rooms in under two years, including possibly the most swoonworthy bathroom on Instagram (see top). So when I came up with this idea for a series, Katie was the first person I knew I had to interview to hear her renovation journey. The only trouble was that when I called to interview her for this post, we ended up nattering away and putting the world to rights for wayyyy too long and by then the smallest peach was getting a bit fed up of waiting for us to finish gassing (fair enough) and so I ended up emailing the questions over to her...#bloggingfail We did have a lovely natter though and we got there in the end! Here's Katie's honest and hilarious account of her experience. Just don't mention Poosuvius!
Hi Katie, tell me a bit about how you came to buy the house you now call home, and how it looked when you took it on?
The imminent arrival of the unexpected sixth member of the family took us on the hunt for a little more space. Space to fill with nappies, noise and toys. We stumbled upon this gem of a house which had been on the market for a while, most likely because it was decorated from head to toe in peach. The bones of the house were perfect but the peach was like nothing you’ve ever seen before, walls, carpets, ceilings, light fittings, the full peachy shebang. Like most period properties, the proportions were great apart from the kitchen which needed to be pimped and super sized. There was space to do it and the determination and drive were there (could have just been the hormones) and thus operation delete the peach began. Little did we know quite just how big a project we’d taken on!
Oh I hear you! How did you approach the renovation in terms of order?
Head first and full of excitement! Kind of like a kid pulling off the wrapping of her Christmas presents. We went steaming ahead with the architects plans then applied the brakes a little once the quotes came in! This gave us a bit of time to prioritise and plan what were needs and what were wants. We ended up canning a second level extension, mostly because we would have had to sell a kid to fund it but also because planning was proving tricky. Dealing with the wallies in the planning office was by far the most stressful part of the whole process. We then found a builder that we adored and who we trusted to hold our hands and lead us the right way through the project.
Did you have any nightmare moments which pushed you to the edge at the time, but you can laugh about them now?
I shall call it Poosuvius, the day the soil pipes burst. We live on a hill, it was a warm day, there were flip flops being worn. I can laugh about it now, but the person who was wearing the flip flops still can’t!
What DIY skills have you learnt? And what have you learnt about yourself throughout the process?
Quite honestly, there is no fear of me giving Handy Andy a run for his money, there has been little to no chance of improving my DIY skills. The one thing I’ve learnt is to step away from the hacksaw, nail gun and drill. The truth is, I’m perfectly capable, I just have four extra heart beats that I need to take care of and they are way more important than saving money doing it myself. We made sure we factored this into our budget.
Very smart move! What is your biggest achievement in the house so far?
We are so glad that we kept the original features that would have been easy to get rid of. There is a fireplace and a set of servant’s stairs in the kitchen, so many lay out problems would have been solved if we’d just got rid of them but I put my foot down and I’m crazy happy that I did. This house tells a 115 year-old story, I couldn’t rip out those pages!
And your biggest disappointment, if any?
The biggest disappointment is running out of budget to sort the garden out. We are really overlooked and the back of the house is now entirely glass. Lack of budget means that we can no longer enjoy our naked cooking sessions...Seriously though, our neighbours can see EVERYTHING! The plan was to plant some pleached trees that would provide us with some screening but that will have to wait.
Is there anything you would do differently now?
Controversially I may have considered ditching the green living roof. I know I shouldn’t say that, it’s great for the environment and I love the environment, I really do, BUT.......it was really bloody expensive and it caused a lot of structural issues. I’m glad it’s there now, we are doing our bit for the planet and it means I feel marginally less guilty if I leave the tap on when I brush my teeth, but I’m not entirely sure it was worth the stress and the cash.
Which is your favourite room and why?
You would think it would be the room with the 30m2 glass wall, you’d be wrong! It’s actually the smallest room in the house, the downstairs toilet. Partly because it retains the original peach marble sink, but mostly because it’s the only room with a working lock. When you’ve got four kids, sometimes you just need to hide!
What advice would you give to anyone about to take on a big renovation project?
1) Make sure your marriage is strong, you’ll want to punch your spouse in the face on more than one occasion!
2) Start at the end, think of the layout of each room, it’s important where the electrics go and first fix happens really early!
3) You need to LOVE your builders, like really love them, there will be highs and lows with them!
4) If it’s less than a grand you’ll think it’s a bargain!
And the big question....Would you do it again?
Abso-freakin-lutely! And I abso-freakin-lutely can’t believe I just said that!!! Six months ago I would have said the only way I was leaving this house would be in a box but it’s a bit like childbirth, you kind of forget the worst bits!
What a hero! And thank you for your time Katie...twice ;-)
I hope you enjoyed Katie's story and I'm looking forward to sharing more stories in this blog series with you in the coming months.