February 05, 2017

We Are Now Homeowners and It Is Terrifying

The master bedroom gets so much light

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE. Over the last week, we've stripped approximately 92758 square metres of woodchip wallpaper and pulled up carpets possibly older than both our ages combined. We are exhausted, have black bogies from all the dust and grazed knuckles from stripping 90% of the woodchip and textured wallpaper, but it's ours. Adulting hard. Pow.

We started looking for a house to buy back in late August/September 2016. It's something we had wanted to do for a long time but didn't have the funds to do so until now. It came at the right time because we currently live on The Street from Hell™ and our letting agents and landlord leave a lot to be desired. Initially, we viewed anything and everything to give us an idea of what we actually wanted and to help us get to grips with our budget and how much deposit we would need in relation to the house price and so on. We were open to where we would buy (Josh is from Harrogate and I'm from Leeds) but settled on Leeds because we've lived here throughout our relationship and our lives are here. It quickly became apparent that the type of house meant more to us than location (within reason!) and we definitely didn't want a new-build lacking in character. I've always loved Victorian and Edwardian properties and I'm lucky that Josh has similar tastes and ideas, so that was decided early on. After viewing A LOT of houses - I stopped counting around the 20 mark - we came to find competition for these type of properties is fierce in today's housing market. We actually made offers on three different houses (all Victorian) before having our offer accepted on the one we now own.

It was pretty gutting to miss out three times. It's hard to not lose perspective and remind yourself that it's just a house and there will be others. I recognise that being able to buy a house is an incredibly privileged position to be in and so many people have much bigger problems - it makes me feel a bit icky to complain. But there was a low point where we felt so despondent and convinced that we wouldn't ever get a house. The whole process moves so fast and I didn't expect that. You view a house, know straightaway if you're going to put in an offer, make the offer and then mentally move in and plan every room, only to then get locked into a bidding war with somebody WHO ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT DESERVE THE HOUSE AS MUCH AS YOU DO AND HOW DARE THEY, or you put your offer in to then be told that the owner has gone with a significantly lower offer because she "has a feeling" about the couple, even though she didn't meet them and we were all shown around the house at the same time by the estate agent and OH MAN DOES THIS SUCK. In the end, we found one that is coincidentally 10 doors down from the first house we didn't get (now forever know as "The Feeling" house).

The day we got the keys to number 82


It is by no means our dream house but, unless you're really rich, it's insane to think that your first step on the housing ladder will be the dream or the so-called "forever home". In saying that, it ticks a lot of our boxes and will be transformed by the end of the year, all being well. It will also work for us for 5-10 years, depending on our circumstances and the market. It's a 3 bedroom through terrace with front and back yard-ens, has an entrance hallway, separate living and dining rooms (we are converting the dining room into a kitchen/diner and the current kitchen is going to be our utility room - I use the word 'kitchen' loosely as it is not a useable or functional space and has no appliances), a dry and functional cellar, high ceilings, sash windows and some original interior features such as ceiling roses and cornicing. It always breaks my heart to see the original fireplaces have been taken out of period properties, but we are putting reclaimed ones back where they would have been in both the living room and master bedroom. I'll refer to the third bedroom as the attic - which we intend to turn into a multi-use space with a desk setup, storage and a guest room. It's one huge room but has awkward sloping ceilings on each side which we are going to try and make the most of by building custom clothes storage and cupboard space.

There is a catch because it was/is not in the best shape, which you can easily figure out from the (extremely poor quality) photos I've included - there's a mix of before/after stripping the walls and taking out carpets. The previous owner lived there since 2002 and has done absolutely nothing to it in those 15 years, including cleaning, judging by the filth we are uncovering. Pretty much every wall was covered in woodchip paper, some ceilings and the attic have artex plastering, the carpets were disintegrating and had horrors sitting underneath them, nearly all of the rooms need replastering, the current kitchen is tiny and condemned with rotting wood panelling from the 70s, there's a hole in the dining room chimney breast, an ancient gas fire in the living room... It's really been neglected over the years so we are taking it back to a blank canvas and starting again. You're really going to have to use your imagination when looking at the photos. Trust me when I say it has potential.

Unless you've done a renovation before, you don't really think about the order in which things need to be done, but that's a whole other headache in itself. The bulk of what we need to do (we're probably missing all sorts) is as follows:

  • Strip all walls and ceilings completely
  • Take out carpets
  • Have windows checked and minor repairs done to frames
  • Replace all radiators throughout (this includes moving some. We plan to go for traditional look column radiators and also utilise space by installing a combination of standard and vertical radiators in some rooms)
  • Have an electrician install more plug sockets and light fittings throughout to suit our needs
  • Plaster kitchen/diner and utility walls/ceilings
  • Sand and finish floorboards (we are going for a light, matte finish)
  • Install new kitchen (this involves plumbing work to create a new water supply/drainage for the sink and dishwasher and gas installation for the hob)
  • Lay a floor in utility (it's a later add-on so has a concrete floor underneath the b&w vinyl)
  • Install utility cabinets, new sink and appliances
  • New boiler installation
  • Plaster other rooms as soon as possible/at the same time/who knows/send help
  • Install Victorian fireplaces in living room and master bedroom
  • Lay carpet runner to stairs and carpet to landing
  • Tile hallway floor with reproduction Victorian tiles
  • Carry out the work in the attic and lay floor/carpet
  • Begin reworking the gardens 
  • Paint front door and exterior window ledges
  • Make a plan for and re-do the bathroom (it's disgusting but functional for now - my dream roll top bath is so close I can almost taste it).

We can't even think about fun stuff like painting right now. Painting and decorating is quite literally the least of our worries and is actually something to look forward to after all the hard, messy and expensive renovations. At this stage, it's difficult to envision how we want the house to look anyway. Although, I do have plans for a super subtle, blush pink coloured wall behind the bed in our bedroom. We are white wall aficionados and like to keep walls and colour minimal, but the rooms are large and well proportioned with high ceilings and can definitely hold their own in terms of colour. If we were to stray from white anywhere in the rest of the house, I like the idea of cool greys, rich blues and mossy greens... but I don't think I could ever do a room an entire colour other than white.

So here we are with a pretty full on renovation on our hands. We've bitten off a huge chunk and I'd be lying if I told you I didn't stand there and say "What have we done?" the day we got the keys and saw the house in unforgiving daylight (there's nothing like the realisation of "Oh crap, this is not a lick of paint type job..."). Despite the state it's in, I love it a little bit more each time I open the front door and we've already made a lot of progress.We should have started work this week and aim to have a kitchen in during the next 6 weeks. We start living there from 21st February.

Starting with this rambling post (sorry about that), I want to share and incorporate the process of making our house a home (cliché klaxon) into my blog, featuring certain projects along the way. I've always loved reading about interiors and home improvement, so it makes sense for me to write about our project as a natural extension of my blog. I also found there was a lack of relatable content in this area and DIY blogs can be quite stuffy - I know, I know, how exciting can sanding a floor really be? Ultimately, I just want to share what I think will be helpful for others in a similar position, as well as documenting the process along the way and having something to reflect back on. I know it's going to be a hard, yet satisfying, journey.

As we've already successfully stripped so much of the awful woodchip from the walls within a week of getting the keys, I'm going to post about that process first and the tools we used etc. because it really could have been a lot harder if we hadn't armed ourselves properly before tackling it. I feel like that's going to be a good starting point. I may also share some tips on the financial side and a break down of becoming "mortgage ready" and things we picked up along the way, nothing super in-depth.

I'm keen to know if me adding this layer to the blog is something you guys will enjoy or if you think it's a terrible idea because BORING? Please do let me know your thoughts below. I welcome any advice or insight from people who have successfully renovated without having a nervous breakdown - or if you did succumb, tips on how to avoid that would be good...


  1. It would be awesome if you kept posting about the process as I am really interested in what you'll do with the house. This post was pretty awesome! Congrats on the house and I wish you both best of luck in redoing it!
    Love, Natalie

  2. Super excited to read more! DIY/interiors and homes are 100% something I love reading. Congrats on buying the house, excited to see what you do with it... from what I've seen your taste of interior design perfect!

    G x

  3. I totally am on board and love seeing the process of turning your house into a home! All I can say is good work guys! You're nailing it (excuse the pun) and that in times of struggle, just remember it's all going to be worth it!

    G x

  4. Hey Katie, Isla here (hi!)...omg I loved reading this. I was going to write a similar one soon (new blog, yay!) as I've moved into my boyfriend's house and it's in a similar state. He bought it nearly two years ago but hasn't been able to do more than basic renovations, and a new kitchen, due to.....well, some unfortunate life events. So I've moved in and said I'll help. It's a beautiful house underneath all the old walls and rough floorboards, so I think we're in a very similar position to you. I'm so determined to help make it lovely, even if he sells it down the line. Can't wait to see how you get on, it looks like an amazing house....good luck, keep going! Xxx


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