Category Archives: Rock n Renovation

Rock n Renovation Homewear Haul: Things I’ve Bought & Things I Want!

Shell de Mar Photography

Things have been moving very slowwwwwly for the past few weeks. I have a pathological need to always be doing something productive, so it’s been quite frustrating to not feel like we’ve made any progress. But I keep telling myself that a) we’re really, really busy with work stuff right now and b) there is literally no rush. We are perfectly happy with the house as it is (although it’s a little rough around the edges!) and we’re going to be here FOREVER. I also know that if we got everything done really quickly, in five years time I’d want to change it all again anyway!

So I don’t really have any proper updates or developments for you this week so instead I thought I’d focus on something fun – SHOPPING.

I am suddenly OBSESSED with all things interiors. Our old place was so small that even though I wanted to fill it with knick knacks, trinkets and about 76 pink chairs, it was an impossibility (which made my husband very happy – ha!) But, sorry Gareth, now we have space to spare I am on a mission to buy All. The. Pretty. Things.

And because sharing is caring, here are some things I’ve bought for the house recently.

Copper Pans: Lakeland, from £63.99.

I’ve been dreaming about owning copper pans forever and these were the best priced (for really good quality) that I found. We got the 16 and 20 inch saucepans and we also plan to get the frying pan and stockpot when funds allow. The only thing is, they do tarnish with heat. I quite like the patina of an over-used copper pot, but if anyone has any tips on how to polish them up to keep them looking their best please let me know!

Storage Pots: Zoella Lifestyle, £6 each.

I might not be her target audience, but I actually love watching Zoella’s videos, and when she launched her new lifestyle range these immediately spoke to me! I actually use mine as mini plant pots and I have them sat beside my desk. They are super cute and at only £6 each you really can’t go wrong.

Pink Sand, Rose Quartz and Pastel Waves Art Prints: Society 6, from £19.

My office is coming along really nicely (just a sofabed, big mirror, neon sign and rug to go!) but the walls are very WHITE. I needed something to brighten them up and so many of you recommended Society 6 that I went and checked them out. The prices are really affordable for unframed prints (I’ll buy some simple frames from IKEA) and I love the mix of different, independent artists.

Candlestick: IKEA, £10.

A neon pink candlestick! I mean, this one doesn’t really need much explanation does it?

Sheepskin Rug: IKEA, £30.

This is one of the first things I picked up when we moved in. We currently don’t have any carpets and although they look lovely, I’m not a massive fan of the coldness of wooden floors. I bought this to put right by my side of the bed so my toes have something soft underfoot when I first get up in the morning.

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Rock n Renovation: How to Buy a Project House

I’ve had so many messages since I started this series from people who are either buying their first house, or buying a renovation project, and are wondering if I have any advice. If you read my first post in this series you will already know that we had a DOOZY of a time trying to secure this place (I’ll tell you all about it over something alcoholic one day) so actually, I do have quite a few words of wisdom/ warning (delete as appropriate) for you!

I’m going to focus on buying a renovation project home here, as there is so much advice out there for first time buyers already, a quick Google session should set you right.

Do your research

Once you’ve found your dream home, ask the estate agent lots of questions such as how long it’s been up for sale, it’s history and if any previous sales have fallen through (and why). This will help you when it comes to negotiating. If the property has been on the market for a while it could mean the owner will take a lower offer, however if there’s been lots of interest it might end up going to sealed bids.

It’s also important to work out if you’re getting a good deal so look into house prices in the area (you can find what things have sold for in the past on Rightmove). Our house was on the market for at least £200,000 LESS than similar sized houses on the street. When we looked around inside we could tell why (because of the level of work) but another house went up a little after ours for nearly £800,000 and still had to be completely gutted. Funnily enough that one is still on the market now!

Get a builder’s estimate

The price of the house is one thing, but if a lot of work needs doing it’s important to figure out how much all that is going to set you back too. We’ve decided to go down the rather unconventional route of doing almost everything ourselves, but that didn’t stop us getting estimates from contractors to work out how much they’d be charging us if we were to hire them. This has really helped us figure out if a job is worth DIYing.

For example, replacing the joists in the ground floor was going to set us back around £5000 to get a professional in but when Gareth priced up the materials they came to less than £600 (including buying some new tools he needed!) Gareth is brilliant at figuring out how to do things like that himself (lots of forum and YouTube research) so for us, doing it as a DIY was a no-brainer. Yes it takes longer (wayyy longer!) but for us anyway, the huge saving made it worth it (one room down, two to go – ha!)

Be realistic

Gareth and I were very much driven by our hearts with this purchase. It was the only house we saw that even came close to being what we were looking for and as soon as we walked through the front door we were both smitten. However, having never taken a project of this scale on before we had to be realistic about a) What we could afford b) How long it was going to take and c) If we actually had the time to do it.

In the end we decided the risk was worth it. Luckily the house was perfectly liveable as is, so we were happy to take the leap! The electrics were old but functional, the heating turned on and warmed up whole house, and having a working kitchen and two perfectly functional bathrooms meant we would at least be able to eat and bathe properly during all the work.

Look beyond the decor

If you’re buying a project it stands to reason that you’ll be looking past the terrible wallpaper and dodgy carpet, but be sure to also look beyond that. What state are the walls in? Are there lots of cracks everywhere? Do the floors need replacing? Will knocking down walls solve any layout issues (and if so are they structural)? What about the electrics or the water? Is it connected to all the utilities? Is there excess damp?

Not only will sorting any of these things be an expense, but if you’re living in the place too you have to be sure that it’s going to be safe.

Get a full structural survey

After you’ve had your offer accepted it’s time to get a structural building survey (if its an older property your mortgage company may insist on one in fact). This will give an idea of the condition of the house, the extent of any necessary repairs and the likely cost. A survey may also highlight issues that you weren’t aware of that can be used to negotiate before you exchange.

Your mortgage company will do their own valuation too, but this literally just means someone will go in and have a quick look to check whether they think the price you’re paying is reasonable (so that if you default and they have to resell it they think they can get their money back). It does not replace a structural builder’s survey. A full structural survey will cost you somewhere between £600-£1000 but it’s vital! You could end up making a very expensive mistake if problems crop up that you could have known about before you bought.

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Rock n Renovation: The Greenhouse

When we viewed the house and spotted the weird 1960s, curved, brown greenhouse stuck to the back of it, the first thing we said was “Well that’s gotta go right away!” It had broken panes of glass everywhere, you have to walk through it to get out to the garden, and carpet… YES CARPET on the ground. I didn’t think there was ever anything worse than carpet on a bathroom floor, but apparently I was wrong.

When we moved in, we realised the washer/dryer that came with the house was actually just a washing machine and with no extra funds right now to buy a new one, we decided to turn the greenhouse into a makeshift drying room. It actually works really well because, oh sweet baby Jesus, does it get hot in there.

Our cats have also now completely and utterly adopted it as their new Catio. Our two Maine Coons are indoor cats (although we take them around the garden on leads once a week – yes, I know, we’re those kind of crazy cat people) but when they discovered that space, and that sitting in it was almost, almost like sunning themselves outside, well, we basically can’t get them out of it.

So the plans to knock the thing down almost immediately have fallen to the wayside, at least until we extend the kitchen in a few years time. But what to do with it? It’s not massive, only about 2.5 metres squared, which does limit things somewhat.

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What Renovating Our House Has Taught Me About Body Positivity

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram lately, being inspired by beautiful homes, swooning over their effortless style and knack for putting a room together, trying to soak up as much inspiration for our own renovation as possible.

In fact, there’s so many dream homes and #housegoals to soak in that they’ve almost become normal to me. Bloggers and publishers obviously want to show beautifully styled homes, and why not? Although we all know they’re probably pretty staged (Hell, we all shove the clutter behind us when we’re taking a photo to post on social media right?) our brains still continue to take these images at face value, as a depiction of reality. While I’m sure some of the people posting these photos may really live like that (I have friends whose homes are always amazingly clean and tidy!) I’d wager that most are kicking their dirty kickers out of the way before clicking the shutter. The fact of the matter is that there’s no need to show us “normal” homes – we can look around us to see that. They’re appealing instead to our desire for perfection.

Who doesn’t like looking at a perfectly designed and furnished home? At the upper end of the spectrum it can literally be looked at as art. But unlike a painting in a gallery, looking at beautiful homes on Instagram (homes fundamentally like yours or mine) while slouching on a slightly past-its-best sofa surrounded by half-finished mugs of tea and dodgy stains on the carpet where the cat was once sick, means we end up playing the comparison game.

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Rock n Renovation: The Instagram Obsessions

Laurie Lee via The Pink House

This week I was going to write about drains. Yes, drains. And then I realised how fucking boring that would be so I checked myself and went on an Instagram binge instead.

If anyone is interest in said drain problems the (very short) version is that the drains at the front of the house are blocked (we’re not sure with what yet but Gareth suspects its roots from some of our trees) meaning the garage and driveway flooded pretty badly a few weeks ago. FUN!

Anyway, instead of making you switch off faster than when an episode of Songs of Praise comes on TV, I thought instead I’d share some of the interior bloggers/ instagramers that I’ve become obsessed with since we started this project. Interiors blogging is a whole new world for me. It’s exciting to be discovering new people to follow!

Pink House Living

Emily was one of the first interiors people I started following on Instagram and I love her colourful feed and reading her weekly blog. She and her family have just moved to London from Edinburgh so it’ll be great to follow along as she renovates a new house at the same time as us!

Lisa Dawson

I want to be friends with Lisa Dawson. Her style is colourful and over the top, and her posts are funny but also super informative. I’ve learnt a lot about colour, pattern and being brave enough to hang your own wallpaper from her already. She posts on her blog every Sunday too and I look forward to reading them every week (first thing in the morning while still in bed of course).

Come Down to the Woods

Can you say HOME GOALS? A dark blue living room with hot pink chairs and a neon sign…. Palm print and pink wallpaper… A freakin’ pink bathtub!? I think it’s safe to say that Katie’s house (which they’ve renovated top to bottom) is everything I dream about and more.

Artynads

When it comes to decor ideas, Gareth and I rarely agree. However one of the things we both love equally, is the idea of painting the snug a dark, dark grey. Nadia’s home is ALL dark grey, and although we’d never go all-out like she has, I am OBSESSED with her feed. As a teenager I always wanted, but was never allowed, a black bedroom. Now I will live out a 16 year old’s fantasy by finally doing it. Knowing how to dress and accessorise a room like that is tricky though and this feed has really been helping me visualise it. All the green plants! Gallery walls! Textured accessories! Lots of lamps and string lights!

So excited to do this OMG.

Elsie Larson

I’m sure you know who Elsie is already as her blog. A Beautiful Mess, is one of the biggest on the entire internet. While her interiors style may be a bit more mid century modern than my own, I LOVE her use of white walls with pops of colour (and plenty of pink!)

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Rock n Renovation: The Plans

Thank you for all your enthusiasm about this new series! My Instagram especially has BLOWN up ever since I started posting about the house and I don’t think I’ve ever had as many messages as I did when I asked if I should start blogging about the renovation.

Today I thought I’d talk you through our overall plans for the house.  Obviously there’s about a billion decor things I want to do (rainbow front door, pink sofa, fabulous wallpaper), but this post is about the more major plans. Build in 1906, it’s pretty damn old, and our survey brought up quite a few things that needed fixing immediately. Namely the joists on the ground floor that all need replacing (most of them are quite rotten) and the sagging lintel above the bay window in the snug which is making it look like it’s about to detach from the house. There are two slightly terrifying cracks next to it, one on either side. FUN!

We’ve already rewired downstairs, and the electrician who came to install the new consumer unit and smoke detectors said our upstairs wiring is actually really good. We’ll still replace it as it is old but its good to know that it’s not urgent.

We’ve also had some drain problems since we moved in. A few weeks ago there was a massive storm and the garage flooded, ARGH! Luckily we didn’t lose anything important, but its just another big job that Gareth now needs to figure out!

The ground floor


Apart from the things I’ve mentioned above our main plans for the ground floor are:

Knock a door (or maybe the entire wall) through from the dining room to the kitchen.

I really want to replace the window in the dining room with patio doors, but Gareth isn’t convinced because…

 Eventually we want to get rid of the lean to and extend out the back and create a huge kitchen/ diner. As you can see the kitchen is pretty small for the size of the house which isn’t ideal. We are planning to rip out and redo the current kitchen (on the cheap) as soon as because it’s incredibly ugly and badly laid out. In all honestly, I don’t think we’ll be able to afford any major building work for a good few years but there’s no way I can live with the kitchen as it is for longer then a few months (fingers crossed!)

Seriously, WTF

Get rid of the avocado bathroom under the stairs, replace with just a loo and knock through to the garage so we can access it from the house.

  Re-do the driveway, generally tidy up and repaint outside. Get into gardening.

The first floor

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