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, the walls were slightly warped and (to my sister’s terror) there were spiders in almost every nook and cranny but 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.

Moving from London to a tiny village on the outskirts of a small town was a decision we made, not only 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 have given us what we craved in our little London flat.

After a very anxious couple of months when our first house was falling through and we were living at my in-laws I thought we’d never find what we were looking for. We looked at all sorts of houses; old, new, finished, unfinished and renovation projects then during our desperate search we noticed a little Grade II listed Victorian cottage in a village that had been on the market for a while. It was fine – the décor was out-dated 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 and it felt like there was the opportunity to really make it our own.

First time renovator. Front of cottage

The Grade II listed three bedroom semi detached was bursting with character features and lots of possibilities

First time renovator. Garden

The setting was a massive selling point for us, with a private driveway at the back of the property and surrounded by farmland and space for the children to play

Inside every wall was papered and all the ceilings were covered in artex. The boiler was from 1984 and the house seemed to have been wired by a baboon (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 this decision; when my two year old is hanging off the crumbling plaster in the living room or the time we had to spend every morning eating our breakfast with our duvets wrapped tightly around us 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, the windows would be sealed tight, we would have more space, our fixtures would be covered by some kind of warranty – but the truth is I love the chaos and the dream of our small yet perfect space, suited to my family and still oozing character (no brown carpets or discoloured artex in sight). I’m ready to become a first time renovator.

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

You may also enjoy: My 10 top tips for a first time renovator

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

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