3 years of home ownership

Grimbil as a new home owner, 3 years ago

January marks our 3-year anniversary of owning Old Glory. We’ve come a long way. We’ve knocked down every wall except the external walls, and even some of those went under the hammer. So let’s look at our original plan when we bought the house versus what we’ve actually done:

  • Extension out the back (off the living room)  Done!
  • Knock down all the internal walls on the ground floor to make an open plan kitchen / dining room/ living room Done!
  • New kitchen Done!
  • New bathroom, including knocking down the wall between the water closet and the bath Done!
  • Knock down the wall between the two tiny bedrooms to make one nice bedroom Done!
  • Facelift for the closets Done!
  • Makeover the foyer, getting rid of the ugly glass between it and the living room, and converting the outside storage area to a closet for the foyer.  Done!
  • Move all the meters outside — we were able to move the gas meter outside but not the electric
  • Move the boiler to the kitchen — it’s in the foyer, but it works well there
  • New floors (with underfloor heating!) Done!
  • New paint in all the rooms, maybe exposed brick on the wall with the stairs.  — no exposed brick, but the new paint is Done!
  • Facelift for the incredibly cheap looking staircase Done!
  • Facelift for the facade — we got rid of the plastic below the kitchen windows, but we still want to render and paint the brick
  • New fences in the back garden (both for cosmetic and dog-proofing reasons) Done!
  • Replacing the crazy paving in the back garden with grass Done!
  • Landscape the front garden — that’s  the last big project for 2013
  • Move the loft/attic access to somewhere safer than the top of the stairs (wtf were they thinking?) — We didn’t move it far but do have a much safer hatch and ladder that are easy to access
  • Rewire the electrics Done!
  • Cat5 cable everywhere! And a networking closet somewhere Done! And with even better Cat 6 cable
  • Do something about the water quality in the bathroom (green stains in the sink? ew) — Not neccessary
  • Additional insulation in the loft and the walls — we still plan to add insulation in the loft, but not in the walls
  • Solar power — maybe after the insulation
  • Convert the loft to either a master suite or a man-cave (this one isn’t a definite yet) — this one is definitely not happening. We need the loft for storage more than we need more bedrooms.

Not bad!

 

After: The Bathroom

From this

to this:

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We’ve always known that we would knock down the walls between the toilet and the rest of the bathroom. But the real win came when Grimbil realized we could change the configuration of the stairs and turn some hallway space into more bathroom space. We also got rid of the bathtub and went for just a walk-in shower. And frankly, when you have a lovely rainhead shower, who needs a tub? Even Otto has gotten the hang of it (probably due to all the treats I’ve used to lure him into the shower).

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Before the only storage we had in the bathroom was a tiny medicine cabinet, the windowsill, and a couple of baskets we stacked under the sink. Now we have nice deep drawers under the sink, a large cabinet (that lights up with the wave of a hand), and shelves above the toilet and in the shower. And a big windowsill. Hey, let’s buy more stuff to store!

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Massive storage in the drawers and medicine cabinet…

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…and above the toilet…

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…even in the shower!

We also went from absolutely no heating in the bathroom (what the what?) to having a heated towel rack and underfloor heating. Result!

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Hot towels!

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Hot dog in the shower

First week of renovations

Our builders threw a lot of people at the demolition portion of our build, so by the end of the first week they were able to rip out everything upstairs and frame the new walls.  We stopped by to see how things looked and shot another iPhone video.

I promise, the next post will have some after photos. We’re just finishing up last bits and pieces like bannisters and medicine cabinets…

Before: the upstairs

If you troll through our archives there are pictures of bedrooms 1, 2 and 3,  and the bathroom and water closet,  but it’s hard to get a sense of how small and poorly planned out they are. So after a long day of packing up and moving all the furniture out of the upstairs, Grimbil kindly shot a video of what it looked like before the renovations. It was shot on an iPhone, so please forgive the low quality. And for our non-Anglicized readers, “manky” = gross.

The plan for the bathroom

Our renovations will be starting on Monday, March 5th. Only a little over a week away!

As part of the redo, the current bathroom will be ripped out and we’ll be starting from scratch for a completely new look. We’ve been mulling over designs and fixtures and tiles and I think we’re in pretty good shape.

Just to remind you, this is what our current bathroom looks like:

 

Here is what we have figured out so far:

    • The sink, which we have already bought. I love the rectangular basin (which you can’t really see in the pic) and the big drawers. Yay for storage!
    • Gray tile for the walls and floor.
    • A blue/ green accent tile for the wall with the sink.
    • White fixtures, which will hopefully pop nicely against the gray.
    • 150 x 90 cm walk-in shower with a rain shower head coming out of the ceiling.
    • Niche with shelves on the short end of the shower lined with the blue/green accent tile. Kinda like this one:
Remodel San Francisco contemporary bathroom
    • Shelves over the toilet for extra storage, in a dark wood to match the sink. Like these, but minus the lights
Sophisticated Contemporary contemporary kitchen
  • Heated towel rack and underfloor. I’m sick of having a bathroom with no heating.

We are still shopping for the rest of the fixtures, but I think we nearly have the tiles sorted. We are thinking the 60 x30 cm tile on the right for the floors and walls.  Yes, it’s dark, but our fixtures will be white and we have a big window in the bathroom to help lighten up the space.
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And one of these options as the accent tile.  The gray in both pictures is a sample of the gray tile above.
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Option 1

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Option 2

Phase 2: the upstairs

As I mentioned earlier, we are getting ready to embark on the next major phase of renovations: the upstairs. Here is the current layout:

Yep, that’s three bedrooms and a bathroom in about 400 square feet of space. There are garages in Texas that are bigger than our upstairs.  For those that are confused by why our upstairs is labelled “First Floor” on the map, it’s a European thing. The downstairs is considered the ground floor.

Here is our future layout:

Basically we want to knock down all the interior walls and start from scratch to create two bedrooms that are actually a liveable size (and with a niiice big closet in one), and combine the toilet and bathrooms into one room that you can actually turn around in. The other big change is the staircase. By having the top three stairs wind, we get more space for the bathroom. So far the only deviation from the plan is that we want to switch the toilet and the sink.

We’re still finalizing the budget with our builder, but hopefully the build will be finished by my birthday. So now our free time is spent looking at tiles and toilets. The curtains are on hold til after the build; the last thing we want is to hang the curtains and then have to pack them up again.

 

Before: The bathroom & WC

Nothing says “You’re in Europe!” like a WC. Nothing makes Grimbil want to scream “Wash your hands!” like a WC. Needless to say, we’ll be converting ours into one big(ish) bathroom.  We’re also shower people, not bath people, so the idea of ripping out the tub and putting in a shower stall is really appealing (sorry Des!).  Also, this tub dents if you so much as look at it.

The plan:

Knock down the wall between the bath and the WC. New everything. Shower stall instead of bathtub. Maybe redo the windows, which would allow us to give the bathtub area back to Bedroom 1. Under floor heating?  Alas, all this will have to be part of phase 2.

Something like this for the shower

Our house

After years of renting, we’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a house! Now Grimbil can have everything wired the way he wants, I can have an actual garden instead of sad little pots on a balcony, and our future puppy will have a yard to play in.

We were lucky to find something that met all of our criteria: in Balham, freehold (we own the land instead of renting it), garden/yard, short walk to a park, in our budget, a good size (for London), and not a maze of tiny Victorian rooms and long hallways. Period features are nice and all, but we’d rather have an open plan.

However, one of the reasons it’s in our budget is it needs major renovations. It’s livable, but it was used as a rental property by the previous owners so let’s just say it’s not finished to a high standard. What needs doing? Here’s our list so far, in no particular order:

  • Extension out the back (off the living room)
  • Knock down all the internal walls on the ground floor to make an open plan kitchen / dining room/ living room
  • New kitchen
  • New bathroom, including knocking down the wall between the water closet and the bath
  • Knock down the wall between the two tiny bedrooms to make one nice bedroom
  • Facelift for the closets
  • Makeover the foyer, getting rid of the ugly glass between it and the living room, and converting the outside storage area to a closet for the foyer.
  • Move all the meters outside
  • Move the boiler to the kitchen
  • New floors (with underfloor heating!)
  • New paint in all the rooms, maybe exposed brick on the wall with the stairs
  • Facelift for the incredibly cheap looking staircase
  • Facelift for the facade
  • New fences in the back garden (both for cosmetic and dog-proofing reasons)
  • Replacing the crazy paving in the back garden with grass
  • Landscape the front garden
  • Move the loft/attic access to somewhere safer than the top of the stairs (wtf were they thinking?)
  • Rewire the electrics
  • Cat5 cable everywhere! And a networking closet somewhere
  • Do something about the water quality in the bathroom (green stains in the sink? ew)
  • Additional insulation in the loft and the walls
  • Solar power
  • Convert the loft to either a master suite or a man-cave (this one isn’t a definite yet)

We don’t have the budget to do all of this in one go (wouldn’t that be nice), so it’s going to keep us busy for the next few years!