New House Tour: Part 1

The truth is, I don’t know where to start with this post. There’s so much to show and so much to tell that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve decided to divide the house into 2 halves and then I’m going to do a few room specific posts with mood boards and tell you about our plans. I can’t count the number of people who have said ‘You’ve got mood boards right?’ and in all honesty, I haven’t! Ok, I have vague overall ideas and themes in mind but the detail is only just becoming clearer in my mind. It’s amazing how living in a house changes your ideas and plans and in the mere week that we’ve been in so much has changed in my mind already.

*Please bear with the photo’s – I can’t find my camera cable yet and these were all taken on my iPhone the weekend we moved in.

So, lets get the basics out there. The house is old, a true Victorian house, built in 1898. Super old. And it’s big. Remember my dream house post a few weeks back? Well one of the things we wanted in the new house was space for people to stay – namely our families. Neither of our families are local and we’d like a chance at hosting Christmas without people driving one year, and the ability to have both sets of grandparents at once for example when we have a family. The new house has 3 floors, 4 if you count the cellars, and hence a few bedrooms. It has Pete’s stipulations of a drive and a garage (a monstrosity of a double one actually, soon to meet the sledge hammer.)

It doesn’t have everything though, and I’ll talk you through that as we go around, but we’re very happy already – it almost feels like we have always been here. We’re planning on being here for 10ish years – right now the only thing we can see making us move is schooling decisions, as the secondary schools locally are currently not great, but I’m not a fan of the idea of private schooling, so we’ll see.

Let’s start with the ground floor…

There’s a lovely wide hall and the original stained glass door, after the open porch. The hall is an L-shape, turning 90 degrees to the left when you walk further in. That left turn takes you up the stairs or alongside them towards the kitchen, but we’ll get there in a second.

At the front of the house, there are 2 equal sized rooms off the hall. We’ve chosen one as the living room, with a big bay window and what they call an ‘oriel window’ with more stained glass to the side. It looks pretty murky from outside, but inside it reveals it’s true colours, all sorts of gorgeous pastel shades. So pretty.


The other front room is going to be the dining room. The window is different here, with 2 large flat windows in a kind of slight rectangular bay. it juts out a bit but is flat with no side windows if that makes sense.

Sadly neither room has any original fireplaces, but the cornice, picture rails, skirtings and doors are all original, as is the stained glass. Both the rooms are fairly recently carpeted and neutrally decorated, so whilst the cream is driving me mad, it’s also a lot less offensive than it potentially could be. Over-all the house is all very well kept and we’re fortunate in that everything that has been done, has been done properly. As you can see we were also lucky in that the previous owners left the curtains and light fittings, so we’re not dealing with bare bulbs or scrambling for ‘in the mean time’ curtains.

Also off the hall is the downstairs toilet (I know, how exciting is that?) which is lovely. There’s room for coats (behind the door) in built-in frosted glass floor to ceiling cupboards, a new toilet and sink and the walls are half clad in tongue and groove wood, with cream damask wallpaper above. On a practical level, it’s great to have somewhere to hide away the cats litter tray too!

Lastly, we have the kitchen – source of much angst in the exchange process and hampered by our monster pipe. Because of the awkward layout, the previous owners described the tiny back room as the kitchen and it’s where the oven, hob, half size dishwasher and sink are all squeezed into.

The larger space is billed as ‘the breakfast room’ and has a run of units, some original built in cupboards and the fridge/freezer is concealed under the worktops here. All the appliances and the lack of cupboards makes for a serious lack of storage and we were quite lucky in the old house having a galley kitchen lined with cupboards both sides top and bottom. There’s also a lack of worktop space, or maybe we just have too many gadgets?

We bought a little dresser from the previous owners, (amongst other things) which we’re using for extra storage and I intend to paint and pretty up. The windows look out the the garden and there’s a back door (which is a stable door) and I actually quite love, plus it’s handy for keeping the cats in whilst getting some air in.

So that’s one quarter of the house, and another whole quarter is below ground in the cellars. I’ve never been a fan of cellars or coveted them, although a lot of people seem quite in love with the idea (men particularly.)

Ours match the entire footprint of the house so there are two empty chambers at the front, space where the hall would be, a workshop beneath the downstairs loo and another empty chamber under the kitchen. To the far rear in the area beneath our strange tiny kitchen, there’s plumbing for the washer (and a dryer which we don’t currently have,) as a pseudo utility room. And under the hall, shelving makes for an extension of the kitchen in a dry store come pantry area.

I don’t have any cellar pictures as yet. What I will say is that it’s fab to have space to store things that isn’t a dusty loft and there will be plenty of space to do diy projects in winter without messing up the house.

I’ll leave it there for now and come back next week with the first and second floors, it’s a warren up there! I hope you like it 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Real Rooms: An Edwardian Home

This afternoon, I have a real treat for you, in the form of Hannah’s home, which she shares with her husband and son Oliver. Hannah is the owner of Ebury Home and Garden, so it’s no wonder her home is impeccably styled, and it was recently featured in both Ideal Home and Heart Home magazine who have been kind enough to share their images here.

Enjoy!


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

Our house is an Edwardian terrace but had been ‘renovated’ in 60s and 70s, which resulted in all the fireplaces being removed and louvered windows being installed. We also had loads of wood chip wallpaper and polystyrene tiles on the ceilings. We stripped it back to bare wood and plaster, replaced the old louvered windows with beautiful wooden sashes and put reclaimed fireplaces back in, along with dado rails and reclaimed doors.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

We had to have the boiler replaced too as little did we know, it had become dangerous. We restored the beautiful stained glass front door panels and stained the floorboards. A period style bathroom replaced the plastic avocado suite and a new kitchen/diner was created with large oak sliding doors to the newly landscaped garden.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

Most of the work was done ourselves to try and save money. My father-in-law built alcove cupboards in the living room, which were designed by me, but also inspired us to build our own fitted wardrobes in the bedroom.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

We really wanted a hand-built painted wooden kitchen, but this was out of our budget, so we chose a kitchen door style that we liked from Ikea, built a wooden frame around each unit and painted the whole thing, including the Ikea doors.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

With the addition of a solid oak worktop, the kitchen could easily pass as the bespoke one we really wanted! We decorated the house in calm, neutral tones from shades if grey, stone and off-whites and splashed out on beautiful Farrow and Ball wallpaper for our bedroom.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

We also had pebble dash removed from the back of the house, which completely transformed it.


Images credit throughout: Heart Home magazine and all none watermarked images are Hannah’s own.

We have both thoroughly enjoyed making our house what it is today. It took us 5 years, but was worth the wait.

Thank you so much Hannah!

Do leave us a comment if you have been inspired by Hannah’s Home – I know I’ll be stealing some styling tips 😉

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! PLEASE do send in your own home decoration projects – be it a room, a piece of furniture you have up-cycled or a whole house. I’d love to receive any of them at hello@florencefinds.com

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 Rooms: A modern Edwardian kitchen

This morning, I hope you are all feeling suitably excited as I have got a real corker of a Real Room to share with you all. Anna sent in her beautiful Kitchen renovation to me before Christmas and I saved it up to inspire you all in January – I’m considering a kitchen re-do myself and Anna’s period meets modern style really works for me. I hope it inspires you all too and thank you Anna!

In a fit of desperation that we would indeed find the House of Our Dreams before Christmas 2010, I instructed Mr. R to make an offer on ‘the one with the sunken bath’.
It ticked all the boxes (mostly). Perfect location twixt high street (jammed full of kitsch boutiques, organic fooderies and gastropubs) and the park; west-facing (stamp-sized) garden; right price (give or take); nice front door (very important).
It needed a little work. But we were more than happy to take this on, quite excited in fact at a) having a project and b) getting to chose exactly what we wanted in the new kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms etc.

So, from February to July we planned, sketched, looked at magazines, measured, and argued about discussed how our house was going to look. With electric and damp issues to resolve and new floors throughout, no room was to be spared. Without a doubt, however, the biggest changes were going to be going on in the kitchen.

Previously this was a pokey little number that could only be accessed through a pretty pointless long corridor from the front door and equally useless dining area. We knew from the start that we wanted to knock through to make one great big kitchen/diner.

The false ceiling (which housed the bottom of the sunken bath) was the first casualty. Just removing this and restoring the ceiling to its original height instantly made the room feel much bigger. After hastily arranging a party wall agreement with our neighbours (by phone from Boston – note, don’t leave admin until the very last minute, it’s not ideal to be doing it on holiday) the builders knocked down the original archway and doorway et voilà, goodbye small Edwardian rooms, hello brand spanking new kitchen/diner.

White gloss units and black granite worktops give the room a contemporary feel alongside the period features. We developed a hankering for classic wood furniture in our previous house which we would have to make fit (in both literal and decorative senses). Installing a solid oak floor not only added a touch of timeless elegance but also pulled together the sleek modern kitchen area with the wooden dining furniture.

Then we added lights, and lots of them.

Of course, we put a great deal of thought into our juxtaposition of contemporary and classic furniture. But most of our decisions we based on choosing things we liked and putting them together, hoping they’d work. We think they do.

Please do drop a comment in the box below if you are planning a kitchen make-over or just love this one… 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS If you’d like to see more real rooms on Florence Finds, then please send yours in – you can find out more information on the Submissions page.

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