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.

Before: the back garden (aka yard)

Our back garden is a little bit poor white trash. The ugly paving, the fences that are about to fall down, the tree growing through the paving and the fence, the grill used as a flower pot, and the sad attempt at hiding a chain link fence behind out-of-control bushes.  But then I look at the neighbors to the left and think, now there’s a prime example of the PWT aesthetic. The back fence is also in need of some help if it’s going to keep Otto in.

The plan:

Replace the “crazy paving” with grass, replace the fences and the gate with something attractive AND doxie-proof, plant some nice stuff along the back wall and maybe along the sides. Fortunately the neighbors to the left are replacing their chainlink fence and the neighbors to the right are replacing The Tree That Ate Our Yard with something more appropriate. This will all probably happen in the fall, so in the meantime we will board up the bottom of the back fence with some 2x4s or something.

Before: Exterior

In order to appreciate how far along the exterior has come, let’s revisit how it looked before we moved in.

It’s a combination of red brick and dark brown brick (on purpose!), the windows are double-glazed but surrounded by cheap white plastic, and there are two doors: on the left is the front door, and on the right is the door to an outside storage space. The landscaping consists of gravel and weeds, and some concrete steps down to the sidewalk. Oh, and a ginormous plant with thorns that might be the tallest yet scraggliest rose I’ve ever seen.

The plan, phase 1:

Replace the downstairs window, brick up the area that used to be white plastic. We went for a slightly narrower window in order to improve the kitchen layout. Brick up the door to the storage space (said space is becoming our utility closet, accessed from the foyer). Replace the front door with something more modern and secure. The good news is all except the front door is finished, and the door will be installed on Thursday.

Phase 2:

Stucco the facade, similar to what our neighbors did. It makes the whole thing look much cleaner and more modern. It will also cover up the now three different colors of brick. We’ll also do something about the landscaping, but we’re not sure yet. Maybe we’ll pave the front yard and go with potted plants, maybe we’ll get rid of the gravel and have nice plantings on either side of the path. But we probably have a year or so to figure it out.

Before: Bedrooms 2 & 3


Bedroom 2: view from the door

Bedroom 2: view from the bed

When we first looked at the house, we were amused by these tiny rooms. I mean, how do you change the sheets when the beds are crammed against the walls like that? When we showed our friends the house, they all disagreed, saying these rooms are “a nice size”. Uh huh…

Bedroom 3: view from the door

Bedroom 3: view from the bed

For now these will be our guest bedrooms, and a place for me to do my hair and makeup in the morning without waking up Grimbil, but come Phase 2 of our Master Plan…

The plan:

Knock down the wall between them, making one VERY nice sized room, which will become our room. Improve the closet space (I know, I should be thankful for any closet space).  Redecorate.

Before: Bedroom 1

This room is actually in good shape. It’s a nice size, it has a closet (!!), and even the bedroom furniture is decent quality.  We’ll be using it as a master bedroom until we fix up the other bedrooms.  The  wall to the right of the wardrobe is where the bathtub is.


The plan:

Redecorate (what is it with wallpaper in this country?). Maybe re-claim the bathtub space for this room. Maybe reconfigure the closets to improve the closet space for the other bedroom.  Use this room as our sanctuary while all is around is renovation chaos.

Before: The Stairs

These stairs make the whole living/dining area look significantly cheaper. Before buying this place, I never noticed stairs, but wow, what an effect they can have on a room!

The plan:

Replace the carpeting with something (anything!), depending on what we choose for flooring on the ground floor. Replace the bannister. Maybe add winders at the top  in order to have less hallway and more bathroom.

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

Before: The kitchen

The kitchen after our first party

Granted, this picture is after we made a party game of ripping off the cabinet doors, but this kitchen is CHEAP.  And small. You can definitely tell the house used to be a rental.

The view from the sink
The cheap appliances

The plan:

Rip out everything and knock down the walls to make a lovely open plan area with an island, as seen in this post.

Before: The living room

The view from the back door

This living room is perfectly servicable, if you ignore the ugly staircase, but why not make it bigger?

BTW, the furniture was left behind by the previous owners. We’ll be using it until we’re ready to buy “real” furniture, but it should not be taken as a reflection on our taste!

The plan:

Making the kitchen open plan will win back space currently taken up by ugly walls, but the real winner is the 3-meter extension we’re planning. And of course, redecorating. We’re leaning towards tile floors instead of wood; Grimbil thinks they’ll look more modern, and I think they’ll be warmer underfoot (but underfloor heating helps with that too….)

The wall with the window will move back 9 feet when we add the extension