Friday [Bridesmaid] Frock O’clock

Last weekend was Jessica’s wedding and I missed sharing a friday frock with you all as I was running around like a headless chicken, picking up last minute items, decorating the marquee, practicing my walk down the aisle and preening Jess, (In another life I should have been a nail technician…) I hope I can make it up to you all today by sharing my outfit.

Fortunately Jess and I agreed that something grown up and elegant was what she wanted her bridesmaids in. All three of us are married ladies (and two are mummies,) so it seemed more appropriate to look for a thoroughly grown up dress. We’re all pretty different shapes and sizes too so it needed to be flattering for everyone (the usual bridesmaids issue,) and I was really hoping for comfortable, for eating and dancing.


Dreamy photography by the lovely Julia West of Julia and You, my hair (which I loved) by Cassandra Rizzuto

In the end, once Jess decided on peach as her colour scheme, I spotted this. Luckily we all loved it, including Jess, as it was the first and the last dress I saw in an appropriate shade and style all summer. I ended up accessorising with a beaded sparkling headband, crystal deco style earrings, a matching bag and a grey enamel floral cuff that I can’t find a picture of online anywhere. Unusually, I went for sandals, as a full shoe wouldn’t have been appropriate with the dress and managed to keep my almost 5 inch heels on all night.

When Jess is back from honeymoon I’ll share all the details – I can’t wait. But for now, you can see a sneak peek of the wedding on Julia’s blog. I hope you liked it – I loved every minute.

Have a fabulous weekend readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

A Secret Friday Frock

20130830-095521.jpg

Good morning readers!

I’m sorry there’s no Friday Frock today! There’s only one frock for me this week and that’s a wedding dress, and I can’t show you yet! For the last 2 days I have been down south getting ready for Jessica’s wedding which is finally happening! Today will be all about finishing the Marquee decor, making the table arrangements, the wedding rehearsal, then chillaxing for that golden hour before bed with a chick flick and some bubbles.

You can follow along on Instagram behind the scenes and I’ll see you on Monday!

How did you spend the night before your wedding? Any last advice for Jess?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Jessica’s Hen: Movie Night

I’m so excited to share Jess’s hen do with you all so I thought I would start straight away with the first part, Friday night. The hen took place in Bath and we rented a large house to accomodate us all. The house was beautiful and came with a cinema room in the basement, which pretty much gave me the idea for theming the first night around the screening of Mr and Mrs that I had planned. We were staying in that night and for ease I planned pizzas and salad for dinner that I could do with the minimum of fuss, but I wanted to make the screening extra special, so set about theming a mini-dessert table. Here are some of the images I pinned as inspiration.



Movie Night printable // Popcorn boxes // Popcorn cupcakes // Retro sign diy // Donut dessert table // Rocky Road marshmallow pops

No hen do is complete without a little bit of something to get the party started, so I did a bit of research on some easy cocktails too. Unfortunately the jelly shots were an epic fail – despite me using extra gelatine they failed to set and didn’t make it to the party. (I think the cups I used were perhaps larger than American cups in the recipe so the ratios weren’t right.)


Glitter cocktails // Hanging streamers // Mojito jelly wedges // Mojito recipe

I also decided as the weather heated up that I would do as much as possible outside, particularly the welcome drinks, so needed to decorate. The brief was cheap easy and effective – the main thing about going somewhere you don’t know and decorating is that you don’t know where you’ll be able to attach things or what to stick things to and I settled on using Paper Streamers in my Pinterest board inspired pink, red and mint. We made hanging curtains as a backdrop across two windows using a simple strip of sellotape and random colours of the streamer cut to size, then tied them along the decking rail too.

For the Bellinis I bought Metallic Gold Edible Sparkling Sugar Crystals (I read somewhere that edible glitter ends up all over your faces!) and we used honey to rim the glasses before dipping them to create the sparkling rim effect. (Be careful not to use too much honey as it can end up running away with the sugar!) We then used a dollop of Funkin Peach white peach puree topped with Prosecco and a raspberry to complete the look.

After drinks (during which mojitos followed the bellinis) we headed inside for a late dinner once everyone had arrived, then into the cinema room. I had put together a ‘Who knows the Bride best’ quiz (like this one) and in the background we screened ‘Cocktail’ quiz – a favourite teen movie of Jess’s. My sister made the popcorn cupcakes and marshmallow pops (using these Lollipop Sticks for Cake Pops) and I bought the Popcorn Boxes from Amazon.

After doing the quiz I put on the DVD and we all laughed and cooed over Dan’s hilarious and sweet answers to the questions. Jess was terrified she would get them all wrong but in fact answered nearly every question exactly as Dan had.

We all fell into bed happy and relaxed which was my main objective – nobody wants to ruin the main event and big night out on Saturday by over-doing it on Friday so I felt our activities struck a balance and were also pretty cost effective, with just dinner and drinks to pay for which came out of the money I requested in advance and via a Tesco delivery.

I hope you enjoyed the little sneak peek and I’ll share more next week 😉 I think the movie night theme would make an excellent birthday party or other celebration too if you have something to plan.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Real Renovations: Bedroom Update

Hello readers! This afternoon, Jess is back to share the progress of her house with a huge update. I’ve been watching this room come together for the best part of a year now and I cannot tell you how big the change has been – I think the pictures tell the story best however, so let’s get on with the show…

After last months dilemmas about my bedroom, I thought today I would update you all with the progress so far.

Now it may not seem all that exciting to some people, but let me tell you, after living for over a year with just a couple of hanging rails and an old chest of drawers, this week saw some real progress with the arrival of the wardrobes, which is just about the best thing I have spent money on so far for the house. We deliberated for quite some time over what kind of wardrobes to go for, either freestanding or fitted. Initially I was looking at freestanding wardrobes because I like the look of them and there is so much more choice. Dan was dragged around a few furniture stores but we quickly realised that we would struggle to use the full height of our room as most wardrobes wouldn’t even reach the picture rail, let alone go the foot and half above that up to the ceiling. I wanted to be able to hide away all my bags and shoes etc, and really wanted enough storage space so that I wouldn’t have to have things on top of the wardrobes.

We then came across a very pushy saleswoman from a company that sold fitted wardrobes and were cleverly led in to a ‘free design visit’. Now, although there was no way in the world that we would buy off this company (you know the type- ‘buy it now, we’ve got a special sale on that ends tomorrow’, or ‘if you make a decision today we will give you an extra 10% off’), we did let them draw up some fancy images on their computers which gave us a good idea of what we would be able to do if we went with the fitted wardrobe option. And so, after a bit more research, we decided that fitted was the way forward for us and set about looking for a smaller local company that could make what we wanted, and quote us the ‘real’ price at the first time of asking. We found a company we trusted and put in our order…


The bedroom walls were in a pretty poor state due to some dodgy DIY over the years, and the chimney breast has been widened at some point, presumably to fit a double bed across it. We also had some damage to the plaster in the bay due to a leaky window. So before ordering the wardrobes, the chimney breast was knocked back to its original width and the whole room was re-plastered. I had no idea just what a messy job this would be, and would really think hard about doing it to any other rooms unless absolutely necessary. I think the picture explains better than I can! The carpet was ruined, there was a lot of cleaning up to do afterwards. But, the end result was good and gave Dan some lovely smooth walls to paint!

We had to wait several weeks for the custom built units to be made and that process couldn’t be started until all the plastering had been done. So despite the fact that I had been up all night at work and normally would have gone straight to bed, the arrival of the wardrobes this Monday morning was something I was prepared to stay awake and sacrifice my sleep for. Before the afternoon was over the wardrobes were in! I’d seen a similar design with the wardrobes fitted around a chimney breast when we were looking at houses so had an good idea of how it would look when all done, but the result was better that I had expected.

I decided to use my own choice of door knob rather than those supplied with the wardrobes to give the room an extra detail. Zara Home is a fairly recent discovery for me and has been a complete revelation; it didn’t let me down when I found the ceramic flower ‘Julie’ knobs that even Dan managed to describe as ‘nice’. I’d say thats a positive reaction from him, so you can expect to see a lot more of Zara Home products cropping up in my home from now on. It’s just a shame (or maybe a blessing given that we are also trying to save up for a wedding,) that there isn’t a store in Manchester!

The new carpet was put down the next day, and the ‘Bourbon’ bedside tables from Made.com have arrived too. So now I get to enjoy moving my clothes to their new home (I doubt it will stay looking quite so orderly), and when the windows have some kind of covering (the venetian blinds are on order) Dan and I can move in to our new bedroom at last, I cannot wait!…

Love,
Jess x

Real Renovations: Is White Alright?

Good afternoon readers! Jess has got a brilliant post for us all this afternoon with another update to her house renovation – this time she needs your help. Do leave a comment and share your thoughts on her selections and tell us what your bedroom is like…

The renovation of our bedroom was not at the top of our priority list when we first moved house. But, after over a year now of living with lumpy walls, old carpet, and perhaps most frustratingly no wardrobes, we have now taken it on as our latest project. The room has two alcoves either side of a chimney breast, although unfortunately the original fireplace has been removed by a past owner. There is also a big bay window, and the obligatory picture rail to add to the rooms features. It is a big room, yet it has been the room that I have struggled to find a vision for more than any other we have done. I don’t know if its because of the size of the room, or because its the bedroom and I want to get the mood and feel of it just right. I have found it hard to picture the end result in my mind, which makes making any decisions, from wardrobes to paint colour to soft furnishings, a very long and drawn out process!

One interior trend I really like at the moment is the military or ‘campaign’ furniture. I like the mix of wood, leather and metal (sounds a bit kinky but thats not what I mean!), with an antique kind of look, that reminds me of a romantic bye-gone era where people travelled on steam trains or ships, with huge trunks of luggage (before you had to pay excess baggage charges no doubt!). I’m just not sure if I can translate that style into my own bedroom.


LV luggage side table // Pale blue campaign desk/dressing table

Another look I like in bedrooms is the ‘Americana’ or typical Ralph Lauren style bedroom with lots of rich blues and navy, multiple stripes, tartans and mismatched layers of fabrics. Its quite a masculine look, but there is something about those big wooden sleigh beds covered in duvets and throws that make me want one myself! 


Blue paisley bedding // Navy and stripe bedding // Sleigh bed

The bedroom style that I have deliberated over most is the all white look, with lots of different textures; wools and chunky knits alongside cottons and silks but with a very limited colour palette. My only worry with this look is will it look too sterile? Can I soften it enough to make it relaxing and luxurious, rather than reming me of the operating theatre in which I work every day. Or maybe that’s why I like white? Dr Freud would probably have something to say about that…




White with grey headboard // White and neutrals // White cosy room

We have just had the walls re-plastered, and so more out of indecision than any great vision we have repainted them… white. I mean white white. Not a fancy named slightly grey or slightly beige or cream-white. White. Brilliant white. Matt white. White. I’m nervous about it, can you tell?!?! Its a big room, and very white. But, I have ordered some bedside tables in a muted turquoise/blue color that I hope will be the statement of colour that the room will need. I’ll share the final result with you all when the room is finished. Because at the moment, with no furniture and only freshly painted walls to look at, it is just a very daunting shade of… white.

Jess x

Real Renovations: Garden Rescue!

Good afternoon readers! This afternoon we have to long awaited return of Jess, continuing her Real Renovations series… if you missed the first 4 instalments, you can catch up here. Jess has been absent whilst studying for her final postgraduate exams and because she hasn’t tooted her own trumpet enough here, I want to say a huge Congratulations to her for passing and finally having an exam free future! Thats not the only thing congratulations are in order for here as you’ll read… so I’ll hand you over to see what really is a real (and budget) makeover that I think you’ll all identify with.

So, it’s been quite a few months since my last post on Florence Finds, and Dan and I have been pretty busy, although I have to confess that not all of it has included DIY and house renovation. In November Dan and I got engaged while we were on holiday, and since then, instead of planning a wedding, I’ve been working and studying for postgraduate exams. So work on the house hasn’t been as extensive as I would have liked, although we have taken the opportunity to do some of the easier room makeovers which I’ll share over the next few months.

However, there is a ‘room’ that has changed dramatically in the last year, and that is the garden. Before we moved to the house, we lived in a flat with no outside space, and I really longed for a garden. Even as a child I have always enjoyed gardening, and it was always me, rather than my brother or sister, who wanted to help my parents in the garden or the allotment. I learnt then the satisfaction from seeing something grow that you have looked after, and I remember being especially, if not a bit inappropriately, proud when I grew cacti from seeds when I was about 7 years old!

But as is so often the case, the reality has been a little bit different from our expectations! We knew when we bought the house that the garden had been neglected and was quite overgrown, but hadn’t appreciated just how much work would be involved in sorting it out. There were two ancient ivy plants at the back of the garden that had been left to run wild, as well as a honeysuckle that had become so overgrown that it was taking up about a third of the garden and had ripped a fence panel down. To add to that was a strange raised gravel area and a thorny pyracantha bush with its inch long spikes that was out of control.

So last summer, I took a week off work and enlisted the help of my mum to tackle the jungle that was our back garden. I don’t know how many bags we filled, or how many trips to the local rubbish tip we made, but it was a lot! We snipped, chipped, pruned, sawed and dug out just about everything that week. The pyrancantha didn’t give up without a fight either, as its parting shot was a thorn through my foot reminding me that real gardeners don’t wear flip flops whilst digging! Dan spent most evenings for the rest of the summer digging out sand and gravel from the raised area in order to level it with the rest of the lawn. The ivy was about the only survivor that week, but its time came too and Dan has been tackling it in stages over the last few months.

By the time October came we were looking out over a very bare garden, and just about the only pretty thing in it was a David Austin rose called ‘Darcy Bussell’ that friend had bought us as a housewarming gift, and I had planted in a big pot. So with winter approaching, we decided to go with a quick fix and sow grass seed across the bare soil. We hoped it would avoid the garden becoming a mud pit over the winter. I think the neighbours all thought we were mad at this point because the garden looked more like an agricultural field than a suburban garden. And when we returned from our holiday in mid november and saw a greenish tinge over the soil, we had to look closely to see if it was moss growing on the boggy soil, or actually tiny grass shoots. Thankfully it was the latter and we were just as surprised as the neighbours that our thrifty B&Q value lawn seed had actually grown!

We didn’t really touch the garden over winter, instead watching anxiously as those little green shoots grew taller and thicker. As spring arrived we started to make some changes and I was eventually able to start planting. Dan was keen to have a vegetable patch so we took up the grass along one side of the garden and prepared the ground ready for some vegetables. In march I bought lots of vegetable seeds, and raised some in seed trays in the kitchen, and put others straight out in to the soil. Our mini allotment has now got peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroots, courgettes and squash. It would also have lots of cabbages and broccoli if it wasn’t for the nicely fattened up wood pigeon that has been having dinner parties with all his wood pigeon friends in my vegetable patch!

It is expensive starting garden from scratch, so to save money I’ve bought smaller plants for the borders from supermarkets as well as garden centres, and friends and neighbours have given us cuttings too. I’ve grown some flowers from seeds and its been really satisfying seeing them now are in full bloom! We also haven’t changed much of the hard landscaping, instead working with what we already had. It means that we have to be a bit more patient and there is no instant garden makeover, but it has been worth the hours we have spent on it. And over the last few months it has been a great break from revision/revision avoidance tactic to go into the garden and titivate!

I’m a self confessed novice when it comes to gardening, and just because you can grow a cactus aged 7 does not mean you will make all the right choices when it comes to planting your own garden aged 30! But I love the anticipation of seeing what thrives and grows and what doesn’t. Despite never normally eating radishes, I loved eating one that had been grown in my own garden, and I’m patiently awaiting the taste of one of my home grown tomatoes too. I have made plenty of mistakes in the garden this year (like leaving my cabbages uncovered for the wood pigeon!), and I’m pretty sure I’ll make many more. But all in all, I got exactly what I wanted from my garden this year, which is a space where I can sit when the sun shines (or even when it doesn’t), and a relaxing outside space where we can entertain family and friends. A home grown tomato that actually tastes good will just be a bonus!

Jessica
x

Real Renovations: If eyes are the windows to our soul…

This afternoon Jessica is back with more from her Real Renovation. Having grown up in period houses I think I have somewhat taken for granted the beautiful large windows that come with older properties and so it has been a revelation for me to see the care which Jess has poured into returning the ones in her home to their former glory. Looking at the images here, they’re also such a focal point for a room, so I hope this is both a useful and inspiring post for those renovators amongst you!

Well, I can tell you that the windows at the front of our house were in need of laser correction and serious cosmetic surgery! Part of what attracted us to the house were the original big sash windows. And unusually, many of our neighbours also had their original windows, making what I think is quite uniform and attractive street, (there is an edge of OCD in all of us!) So despite the structural survey recommending a window overhaul, we weren’t put off buying it. We moved house in July, which I think might have affected our judgement somewhat. It was quite warm, no frost, reasonable amounts of sunshine, and we spent quite a lot of time outdoors. But as the days shortened and temperatures dropped, we realised just what a problem the windows were going to be.

The first problem was their lack of insulating properties. The three box sashes in the bays take up most of the wall which is a big surface area from which we were losing a lot of heat (and money). The next problem was the lack of sound insulation, which after moving from a modern flat was particularly noticeable. Anyone walking past the house whilst talking sounded like they were in the living room with us and I can only presume the opposite was also true! Another big problem was the safety and security issue, because glass making over a hundred years ago was not up to modern standards and our paper thin glass would smash with just the slightest of knocks. Add to that the horrible condensation that would build up every day and even drip down the walls causing damp patches, it really was something we needed to fix.


Image Credit: Sofa.com

Our options were ranging from a bit of light titivation, maybe the Botox equivalent for windows, to a simple eye lift, right through to the full facelift option. We had three realistic options. The first was to renovate the existing boxes and sashes, sanding the paint work and repainting, adding some beading strips to help insulate but keeping the original glass. This was an appealing option because it was the cheapest and would give a good cosmetic result. But it wouldn’t address the issue of the thin original glass and lack of sound and heat insulation.

Our second option was to keep and restore the original boxes and replace the sashes with new hardwood double glazed sash panels. This would keep the appearance of the windows and help to insulate the house, but would never be quite as good at insulating as modern uPVC windows. The downside of this option is that it was the most expensive, and wooden windows require more maintenance than uPVC. And so the third option was to completely replace the windows with modern uPVC windows, which can be made to look very similar to original sash windows although many open outwards rather than slide up to open. This would provide the best insulation with some compromise on aesthetics.

So after a lot of number crunching we decided to go with option two, the eye lift! We really wanted to keep the original windows, and we found a really enthusiastic team of carpenters who were as keen as we were to maintain as much original wood as possible. They came and measured our windows and after about 4 weeks they came back for just two days to restore the original boxes and insert the new double glazed sashes… and we were thrilled with the work they did. We are now much warmer, the house looks much smarter from both inside and out, and the condensation is gone. I am now looking forward to some warm summer days when I can happily slide the sashes open and be reminded of the great craftsmanship that went in to making the windows in the first place.



Image Credit and Credit.

With the windows looking good we now need to decide on some suitable window dressings, instead of the flimsy temporary solution we have at the moment, and I hope to bring you our progress on that in a future post. But for now, with new 21st century double glazed sashes sitting happily in 19th century hardwood boxes, we think we have done the right thing by our home, giving it back the good looks of its youth, and allowing it to see clearly again at last!

Jessica
x

Real Renovation… Sofa Deliberations

This afternoon, we’re back to Jessica’s Real Renovation and she’s sharing the dilemmas of one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Jess and I have spent many an hour on my sofa, the two of us enjoying the super comfy cushions and a glass of vino, so I knew the hunt for her very own take on this essential would be epic…

When I’m buying clothes, I like to justify an expensive item with the old ‘cost-per-wear’ argument. So if budget allows, I think the same rationale can be applied to sofas. After all, you will sit on them nearly every day that you own them, so why shouldn’t you splash out?! Having said that, there are some great sofas that will fulfill all your interior design fantasies as well as being comfortable, without needing a fantasy sized bank account.

A sofa has to be a considered purchase and I think them so important even, that I have just bought new sofas yet still don’t have any wardrobes! I have lost count of how many sofas Dan and I sat on before we found the right one. If I had been doing an equivalent number of squats at the gym in a bums, legs and tums class I would’ve thrown in the towel long before I found my perfect perch!

We had one major specification and that was comfort. Having said that, as we now have a new fairly large living room we needed something that would suit an Edwardian house and its proportions, and of course look good. In the past we lived in a small, modern open plan flat and we had leather sofas which we really liked and so initially considered leather for the new house too. But, for the past few months we have been borrowing a friends leather sofa, and we soon realised that this was not a practical option in our cold and poorly insulated house! Fabric is the way forward for us…


*Chesterfield from Habitat, via Home Shopping Spy

So, if we are going to talk about sofas, we can no further without talking about the classic Chesterfield. Over the 200 or so years it has been around, it has been a staple of English design, often furnishing a traditional study or living room. Now it is having a huge revival, as its original shape with rounded arms and stud detailed back is combined with modern fabrics and sumptuous colours. It is now a key piece of furniture design that can look great in both period and modern homes. So if you feel like making a statement without compromising on comfort, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Chesterfield. Maybe go for a classic leather version (if you have a nice warm house!) and go all out Victoriana style, or as alternative maybe this luxe fabric version from John Lewis.


*Pale Blue Chesterfield – John Lewis

For the daring amongst you, this yellow sofa has curves in all the right places and will definitely make a statement any room. I was seriously tempted by this one but just couldn’t quite be brave enough.


*Arighi Bianchi Hepburn Sofa

Fashion has gone retro and so why shouldn’t your sofa? I love the simplicity of this green beauty from Couch Design which fits the bill perfectly, and Marks and Spencers new Conran range has some beautiful chairs and sofas that epitomise the smooth clean lines of the retro look. Personally I love with the teal velvet, its the fabric I think that makes this sofa so good. (Rebecca has already posted about the entire Conran for M&S collection if you want a peek at the rest of the range.) Although there are plenty of rooms that successfully combine retro shapes and period features, it just wasn’t right for our home.


*Retro Sofa, Not On the High Street


*Conran sofa for Marks and Spencers

So, by this point I had pretty well narrowed down the style of the sofa that I wanted, something quite traditional in shape, but with a modern fabric and super comfortable. Our living room is reasonably big, but just because it could fit two large sofas doesn’t mean it should. Too much furniture can make a big room feel smaller than it really is.

One of the things that attracted me to our house was the bay windows and a love seat seemed the ideal way to utilise the often difficult to use space. So, along with one large sofa we could have seating for at least 5 or 6 people (I can still feel a statement chair coming on though). I figured that many more people than that in the room and it becomes a standing up kind of a party anyway.


*Sofa – Tamarisk Designs

The sofa style we chose was something fairly classic by Tamarisk Designs but we chose a deep grey/blue slate chenille fabric that really adds to the luxury feel I want to achieve. There is also an almost identical to this one from Baileys in a linen weave.


*Sofa – Baileys Home and Garden

Above all though, I think it is one of the most comfortable sofa I have ever sat on, and it was sheer luck that it was in just the style I had been looking for. Luckily for me this time, Dan needed no convincing that this was the right sofa for us. Unfortunately it was not the cheapest option but when they arrived last week it felt like Christmas! The rest of the room is still a work in progress (as you can see by the bare white walls and paint samples below), but at least I will be comfortable whilst researching my next purchase!

Thanks Jessica!

What a search – but I have to say, it’s a great choice 🙂 I can’t wait to see the room finished…

Have you bought a new sofa? Are you desperate for one of the above? Or did you too have an epic sofa hunt?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

A Tale of Two Houses… Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of Jess’s Real Renovation and the tale of two houses. If you missed part one, make sure you go back and read that first as it’s a real cliffhanger and a great story. Plus it’s setting the scene for all of Jess’s posts to come – sharing the ups and downs of a house renovation, from pointing to painting and pretty.

My partner saw the look on my face and I think it was only then that he realised how much I wanted that house. It was probably only then that I realised how much I wanted it. It wasn’t rational, it wasn’t the sensible option to buy that house. We both have busy day jobs and aren’t very good at DIY, and it wasn’t the most financially sound option either, there was probably 15-20k of work to do on the house. But I had fallen for it, and now I had lost it.

The next week was fraught, as we tried to get the estate agent back on our side. We went back to our original offer. We were ready to sign contracts, so we put forward our best case for selling the house to us instead of the new buyers. But the vendor kept us hanging for days, so long in fact that the surveyors for the other buyers were phoning the estate agents to book a time to do their own survey of the house. This was crazy, to have another buyer pay for a survey if he wasn’t actually going to sell it to them. So the estate agent had to push the vendor to make a decision on who exactly he was going to sell to. In the end he re-accepted our offer, as I think he wanted to complete the sale as quickly as possible. If that were all a game (and I suppose in a way it is), I think we had just been out maneuvered at every turn. But did we win or did we lose? Well, we got the house…

I never thought buying a house would be so emotional, and when everyone told me it was one of the most stressful things I would ever do, I didn’t really understand what they meant. Unfortunately the buying process for us was anything but a smooth ride, and so I now know exactly what they were talking about. At times we thought we would have to walk away from the whole thing, and if we had, I am pretty sure the house hunting would’ve gone on hold for several months until we had recovered from the stress of it all. We were totally drained and utterly fed up if the whole thing.

When we finally got the keys to our house, it had been months since we had actually been inside it. In those months it was as if we had fallen out of love with it for putting us through all that. But crazy as it may sound, I knew it wasn’t the house itself that was to blame, and we couldn’t hold a grudge against it. So I don’t regret for one second our decision, and now, after just four months in our new (but over a century old) house, we are gradually putting back the character, the features, and hopefully the love that it deserves in order to make it a fabulous home.

I’m really excited about my new home and garden (hopefully more on the garden in future posts too), and over the coming months I hope to share with you some of the ideas and projects that we take on, and more importantly I hope you enjoy reading about them.

Oh and if you’re wondering what ever happened to the house across the road? Well, in the middle of all the turmoil with our house, a sold sign went up on that one too. A month or so ago we saw the removal vans outside and I’m sure the new owners are happily enjoying their evenings and weekends relaxing without builders, brick dust, cold drafts and rickety stairs! Good luck to them, they are obviously very sensible people!

Jessica
x

I saw Jess through every last phone call (or it felt like it at the time 😉 ) of this purchase and I had my heart in my mouth reading this account of all the heartache. It’s such a stressful time buying a house and often the decisions we make aren’t that rational, heart wins over head, but I’m so happy she got the one they wanted!

I can’t wait to see what else Jess has in store for you all.

Have you had a similar experience to Jess? Do tell!

Love,
Rebecca.
xo

A Tale of Two Houses… Part 1

This morning I’m excited to be introducing another regular feature… Real Renovations. For this one, we’ve got a new home owner who is renovating an older property. That real home owner is my best friend, Jessica 🙂

I will still be sharing my own home don’t worry, but it’s largely done and in need of a decor face lift here and there. Whilst not completely ridiculous, Jess’s house has some general building repair work and a complete cosmetic overhaul to be done, alongside some sympathetic restoration of it’s period charm and I think you’re all going to love seeing the developments.

So I hope you’ll all give a very warm welcome to Jess and share your trials, tribulations and tips with her as she embarks on this journey with her beloved.

Over to Jess…

Hello Readers!

So you dream of buying a house, and making it in to a home, but dreaming is the easy bit. When my partner and I started looking for a house I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew what he was looking for too. Perhaps more importantly, I thought they would be the same thing…

My dream was of a period home with original features, big rooms and dramatic high ceilings. But of course these kind of things come at a price, and as many of you will know from your own experiences, a compromise has to be made somewhere along the line.

The dilemma was deciding between the house with the potential for all of the above, but in need of decoration and some renovation (or as I preferred to call it, ‘love’), or the slightly smaller house that had only some of these features but was pretty much the finished article. Our decision was made even harder by the fact that these two houses were on the same road, virtually opposite each other, so if we ever regretted our decision, we would have to look across the road to ‘the house we should’ve bought’. To be honest though, I always knew which one was for me, but convincing the DIY-shy other half was a challenge. He even made his screen saver on his laptop a picture of the other house! For him, the proposition of a ready made home was a very tempting one and although I could see his point, my heart just wasn’t in it. So we submitted an offer on the house that needed some work (…the girls usually win on these kind of decisions!) After a bit of negotiating on price and fending off another potential buyer with our good ‘position to proceed’, our offer was accepted, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves. For the following few days or weeks (its all a bit of a blur now), I thought the house was ours and I started imagining what it would be like living there. I was so naive…!

The next step was to get a survey, and with it being an old house, we knew that getting a full structural survey was a must. After a week or so the survey report arrived and I remember the nervous feeling I had as I read through it, hoping that it wouldn’t turn up anything major. In fact, the survey confirmed a lot of what we knew, but just quantified to what extent the house was needing repairs. There were no huge problems, it wasn’t built on a coal mine and wasn’t suffering from an horrendous case of damp. Phew! But it was far from perfect. The original windows that I loved so much (huge wooden box sashes) were rotten and had the same insulating properties as a piece of cling film. The stairs to the cellar were like playing Russian roulette every time they were walked on and needed totally replacing. The roof guttering was cracked and broken and needed an overhaul. And the external brick work needed so much ‘patch’ pointing that the patches seemed to merge to cover the entire exterior surface of the house. It had taken a lot to convince the other half that we should go for this house and not the one across the road that looked immaculate, so I was dreading what he would say about the survey. His reaction… “we need to negotiate again on the price”.

It was at this point that things started to fall apart. Our solicitor discussed the results of the survey with the vendors solicitor, the vendors solicitor spoke to the vendor, the vendor went ballistic at the estate agent because we were asking to renegotiate, the estate agent went ballistic at us…. and I cried! We thought we were genuinely asking if there was any way the price could be altered to reflect the survey results, but it was as if we had declared war. The vendor was adamant that the price wouldn’t change so we had some really tough decisions to make. I knew that I would still pay the original price we had offered, but the other half had never been 100% convinced that the do-er up-er was the way to go, so he was determined to renegotiate the price. At this point we thought we had nothing to lose, either our lower offer would be accepted and if not we would go back to our original offer and get the house. I know this was a hard decision for my partner, because he felt like he was giving in. I knew he was doing this for me, but that just piled on the pressure for it to all work out, for it to really be the house of our dreams. The next day we put that offer forward, no more negotiating. And then the lines of communication between us, the estate agent and the vendor seemed to go dead.

I had signed up to a few property websites during our house search, and lots of them will send you regular emails to tell you what has just been put on the market. I vividly remember a Friday evening checking my emails and I saw one from Rightmove, I opened it, and the latest house for sale was the one we were trying to buy. I check the websites too, yep there it is for sale again. The vendor really had dug his heels in and put the property back on the market. I desperately wanted to phone the estate agents and say “ok, we’ll pay it, we want the house”, but it was a Friday night and maybe we just needed to stand our ground, he wasn’t going to sell it again in one weekend? All I could think about that weekend was the house and what we would do if it all fell through. So on the Sunday, I checked the property websites again, just to check if there was a house out there that we had rejected unnecessarily. But the first thing I saw was a sold banner across the picture of ‘our house’. My heart sank, I had that sick feeling that you get when you’re a kid and you’ve done something really naughty. I knew we had pushed too far, he had sold it to someone else…

Nothing like a cliff-hanger eh? Do they get it? Do they go for the other house? I know what happened and I’m still on the edge of my seat!

Well folks, the story was just too good for one part, and so I’m splitting this first post into two and I hope you’ll join me in coming back tomorrow morning for part deux! In the mean time, I hope you’ll join me in giving Jess a warm welcome to the Florence Finds community (She’s a blog novice!) and share your house buying dramas? I’m pretty sure Jess isn’t the only one to have had a traumatic time buying a house.

Love,
Rebecca (& Jessica)

xo

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...