It feels like such a long time since I last wrote properly about any of our home projects. It’s not because we haven’t been doing anything, more because I keep waiting for some kind of definitive finishing point before writing. One of the biggest projects we’ve undertaken this year is now finally done and I’m so excited to share it with you right here. First of all, here is a little reminder of what the house looked like when we bought it:
Some of you may know that back in the summer (which feels like such a long time ago), scaffolding went up around the front and side of our home. When we moved in in February 2014, it was at the end of an exceptionally wet winter. There were huge damp patches under the landing window on the first floor and also on the second floor, caused by structural cracks on the side of the house. There was no denying it was in pretty poor condition.
After spending our first winter here in the coldest conditions, we decided last year to focus on keeping heat in and improving the curb appeal became a by-product. We started with new windows across the front of the house and yes, they are PVC. But I was determined to keep them as sympathetic as I could to the style of the house and coupled with plantation shutters which followed later last year, it’s made all the difference.
Next on the agenda was our front door. Oh, the front door. We replaced the light and number very quickly on moving in because the old ones were hideous but the front door has been the most epic of sagas. To cut a long story short, right after we moved in we found the front door of our dreams but it also came a a price that was well beyond anything we could dream of. Fast forward two years and despite scouring the entire country (or at least, that’s what it felt like), we hadn’t seen a front door that even came close to the one we wanted and so managed to save up enough pennies to go ahead, only to find the company had gone bust.
A narrow escape but back to the drawing board and so we decided to use the money to get the house re-rendered, conscious that the cracks on the side would only hold for so long. A depressingly wet June saw the scaffolding go up, the rendering stripped back and then nothing, not a thing, for 4 long weeks. The rain lashed our unprotected home and the stress felt never-ending.
Eventually though, the sun came out and the rendering completed along with new downpipes and fascias, painted hanging tiles and a beautiful white coat. One of our last remaining projects to be done are replacing the hopper heads and I love the look of cast iron hopper heads. The hanging tiles didn’t go quite to plan as the grey we chose for them was far too light, so armed with a spare weekend and a B&Q at hand, Pete and I scaled the scaffolding and set about repainting the hanging tiles in dark grey and knew as soon as we saw it that it was the right decision.
Finally, all that was left was the front door conundrum. In the end, we decided to tackle a makeover. We replaced the glass in the panel at the side to rid ourselves of the horrible leaded leaf pattern and then began the painstaking process of stripping and sanding, stripping and sanding. This took months of weekends, as it would do when 80 years of paint upon paint upon paint need to be removed. It was a worthwhile project though as we began the painting process and watched our front door transform from one we couldn’t stand to one we now really love. Instead of spending £4,000 on our front door, we spent about £200 for the paint and replacing all the door furniture.
I still can’t quite believe that this is our home, one that looks so very different to the house we bought. There are still little bits and pieces I’d love to tinker with, it would be wonderful to train a plant of some sort up and around the door and eventually try to add a little bit of front garden (all that we have out of the picture is a double car driveway which of course is handy in London but not the most attractive).
For now though, I’m done with the front of our home and so very proud. It’s taken us a while and hasn’t been cheap but in my humble opinion we’ve taken an ugly duckling and turned it into a swan.
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