First Time Renovator: starting out

first time renovator cottage

I love old houses. The one I grew up in was 500 years old. The heating creaked the floorboards at night and the walls were slightly warped. Also (to my sister’s terror) there were spiders in almost every nook and cranny. However, each wonderful imperfection has somehow rooted itself in my childhood memories. My parents have always lived in old houses so it’s no wonder I have followed down the same path. Share my journey as a first time renovator.

First time renovator? Me too. This role came about when we moved from London to a tiny village on the outskirts of a small town. It was a decision we made for ourselves but also for the children. With two energetic boys (aged two and four) we wanted space around us to run and play. The countryside setting, allotments, playing fields and village community provide what we craved in our London flat.

After an anxious few months when our first house fell through and we were living at my in-laws, I thought we’d never find our perfect house. We looked at all sorts: old, new, finished, unfinished and renovation projects. Then, during our desperate search, we noticed a little Grade II listed Victorian cottage. It was in a village and had been on the market for a while. It was fine – the décor was outdated and the space hadn’t been utilised very well. But the feeling we got when we went to look around sold it to us. I could immediately see what I wanted to do with it. It also felt as though there was the opportunity to really make it our own.

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First time renovator. Front of cottage
Hannah became a first time renovator after buying this house. The Grade II listed three bedroom semi detached was bursting with character features and lots of possibilities.
First time renovator. Garden
Hannah was ready to become a first time renovator after falling in love with this village. The setting was a massive selling point for her, with a private driveway at the back of the property. Farmland surrounded the house and there was space for the children to play.

Making the house our own

Inside, they’d papered every wall and covered all the ceilings in Artex. The boiler dated from 1984 and a baboon seemed to have wired the house (our electrician’s words not mine!)

But even so, we could see our dream home in these four walls, so we made an offer.

There have been many times I have questioned my decision to become a first time renovator. For example, when my two year old is hanging off the crumbling plaster in the living room. Oh, or the time we had to spend every morning eating our breakfast with our duvets wrapped tightly around us. That was because the ancient oil boiler had packed up for the third (and final) time that week. Somehow, life with little ones would be easier in a new build. We’d have sealed-tight windows, we’d have more space, our fixtures would be under warranty. But the truth is I love the chaos and the dream of our small yet perfect space. It’s suited to my family and still oozes character (no brown carpets or discoloured Artex in sight). I’m ready to become a first time renovator.

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So with the keys in my hand and the architect’s number on speed dial… here we go!

Featured image: We could see lots of potential, especially on the back of the property where the previous owners had already extended on the ground floor.

So, did you love this feature? Then you’ll also enjoy my 10 top tips for a first time renovator.

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