I still remember the dark, wet, grey December day in 2013 when I stood in a very small kitchen in a house in southeast London accompanied by an enormously tall man, wondering to myself why on earth my husband thought this would be a good house for us to buy. I didn’t have a good feeling, I couldn’t see the potential, looking out over an overgrown 100ft garden covered in brambles and waist high grass.
Of course, the rest is history and we did buy the house, Pete promising me that we would build a new kitchen and still have all the garden space we could ever want. He was right because he is very sensible, but when you take two people who are both very laid-back and unendingly patient, it doesn’t make for speedy project managers.
In the beginning, we simply had to just live in the house, completing projects as and when we could, knowing that any ground floor renovation/extension plans were a long way off because we simply couldn’t afford it. Fast forward 4 years and we finally started to think about the future, deciding we would get some architects plans drawn up, only for me to promptly and unexpectedly leave my long-term full-time job and we were back to square one.
The pipedream felt increasingly further and further away so we focused on small budget updates, improving what we could to enjoy the house as much as we could without needing grand renovations.
Now though the pendulum has swung back in our favour and I’m THRILLED to share that we finally have borrowing approved to really plan out our dream home here. In the just over 7 years we’ve been here, the value of the house has increased, we’ve renewed our mortgage so are paying less each month and I’ve gone back to work full-time.
So What ARE the plans?
Well, this is right at the very beginning of our journey and we don’t even fully know what’s affordable within our budget. The main focus of the work is going to be on the ground floor, where we’d either like to reconfigure or extend the space. We don’t really anticipate anything happening until at least autumn 2022 if not into 2023, but hey we’ve waited this long and always said it was a 10 year plan.
Currently on the ground floor, we have a large living room, a large dining room and a quite small kitchen. Our dining room isn’t really used other than where Maddie sleeps and a thoroughfare into the back garden. It feels like wasted space whilst the kitchen where we spend a lot of time doesn’t provide much cooking or storage space.
Our first version of a plan would be to convert our dining room into a kitchen/diner, we rarely entertain at home and so it would be plenty big enough for the two of us, turning our existing kitchen into a downstairs toilet and utility room. This would be the more cost-effective version (we expect), meaning we wouldn’t need to actually extend a great deal if at all, but of course modernising our doors and windows.
The second version is to extend out across our current patio, creating an L-shaped dining room/kitchen/living area and really, truly a show-shopping dream, creative space. Given that we’re hopefully going to be here for keeps, this would probably be the perfect option, again turning the current kitchen into the utility room and downstairs toilet.
If we went for option two, it would mean some more imminent reconfiguration of the garden but we have plenty of space to be able to do that. Our lawn is around 80ft long and again, fairly wasted, uncreative space. We’d like to create a new patio with around a third of it, move the path/steps up the garden into the middle rather than one side, and then also build a lean-to greenhouse against the outbuilding at the top of the garden (the greenhouse will happen regardless of what option we go with for the ground floor).
Away from the ground floor, we’d like to replace the en-suite with a shower room and reconfigure our top-floor bedroom. We’re very lucky to have two full bathrooms but with Pete never taking a bath and me only using them in winter, it makes sense to take out one of the baths and put a proper walk-in shower instead.
If possible, I’d also like to transfer the boiler which is currently in our main bathroom, into the new utility room and therefore create space for a standalone shower. That would only be something we do though depending on whether it makes sense and is affordable – if it was a lot of upheaval and/or architects/builders say it’s not worth it then it wouldn’t be a huge problem.
So there we go, oh my goodness I don’t know if any of this is really sinking in and we’re only just right at the very start of the journey. I’ll of course share everything on here as we go, all my research and things to think about but needless to say I AM EXCITED!!