With moving in day finally upon us it’s safe to say that we didn’t know much about renovating before we took on the mammoth task of gutting and extending our little listed cottage in the country. What we did know is that we needed to get ahead with the planning permission, as waiting for this could put the breaks on the project. But first things first, let’s get used to our new décor.
The 70s was commonly known as the “decade style forgot” and it’s not difficult to see why when we step back into our little cottage for the first time since becoming the owners. Lilac wallpaper and brown shag pile carpet, Artex ceilings and walls, and a really dreadful bright blue bathroom were what we had to contend with. But behind all these unfortunate style choices was the period character of the cottage – one of the main reasons I fell in love with the house.
The previous owners had already extended on the ground floor to create a second living space, which they had used as a living room. It is a large space with a fake chimneybreast with a hideous gas fire (this will be one of the first things to go). The kitchen joins to this space with two half-height walls creating a broken plan feel. You can see why the rooms have been configured this way as it allows some much needed light into the otherwise windowless kitchen.
To the front, in the oldest part of the cottage is another room, which was being used as a dining room. As soon as we moved in I knew I wanted this to be a cosy family living room. I can already imagine the log burner I have always dreamed of in the original fireplace. Finally the downstairs bathroom, with no other toilet in the house we will need to make this amazing to compensate for it being on the ground level.
Upstairs was smaller than I remember. We could make it work for the time being but with two growing boys we needed to get started (the eldest is somewhat of a giant: aged 3 and already in age 5 clothes!). The box room that would be for our 1 year old, Lewis, for now, only has space for his cot so let’s hope he doesn’t follow in his brother’s footsteps and stays small a bit longer. Lastly, the master bedroom, in the oldest part of the house is large and, like the rest of the cottage, in need of some TLC. The brown shag pile is really something and I can’t help but pull at a corner of it on moving in day, desperate to see what’s underneath and to my excitement it is the original floorboards.
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With moving in day in full swing we start to move some of our furniture into the house. It feels very temporary and I wonder where to put everything. It dawns on me just how much we have to do, with no experience and two toddlers in tow. In an ideal world we would be project managing the renovation from a dust-free, fully furnished rental property down the road but the budget won’t stretch to this so I set about making the spaces as homely as possible. My mum always says you need to live somewhere for a while before you decide what you want to do with the space so I sit on my hands fighting the urge to grab the scraper and paintbrush.
Read more First Time Renovator blogs in the series.
Featured image: The cottage is surrounded by fields and allotments at the back. We often go up there for the children to see the chickens and what people are growing. Maybe one day we will get an allotment of our own (probably after the renovation!)