Home and garden plans for 2018

We have almost been in our house for almost 3 years now. We knew it would be a long term renovation project when we moved in. However, to be honest, we totally underestimated just how long it would take. At first glance it doesn’t look like we have done much. In fact we have spent this time replacing windows, removing unsafe chimneys and other essential structural work. Now that the important donkey work is finally complete we can continue renovating, safe in the knowledge that the building isn’t going to crash around our heads. So what are our home and garden plans for 2018? They fall broadly into 2 categories. Fantasy and reality!

Home and garden plans for 2018

Home and garden plans for 2018


Loft conversion plans

In an idea world we would do a loft conversion. We had the plans drawn up with a view to doing the work last year. Then disaster struck and although the resulting bathroom is my pride and joy the work was budget busting and I don’t know when we will be able to start the project.

Now that the children are older we always seem to have a house full of their friends. It seems like I blink and an extra child has appeared out of the woodwork. We need extra space so they can spread out (and get from under my feet). The plan is to add 2 rooms in the front loft. 1 will be an extra bedroom and the other will be a study/den for the children. With gcses looming a study space is going to be vital so we need to find a creative alternative in the meantime.


In the absence of a lottery win we have to be realistic. We have a couple of projects on the go that I want to get completely finished before we move on. Does anyone find that they have a house full of 80% done projects and none are complete? Just before Christmas we split our lounge into 2 rooms. The lounge is almost finished. However, the hallway is like something out of a horror film.

Hallway mid renovationEek! The doorway for the new lounge

Hallway renovation front viewSince this photo was taken we have fitted a door and architrave but not a lot else. On the bright side we have found the original tiling under the laminate so we hope to excavate them. The plan is to add panelling to the walls. This means we only have to plaster half of the walls. As an added bonus it will also stop the blasted cat from scratching the wallpaper off!


A much easier project will be our bedroom. Since we renovated it the wood for the architrave and picture rails has moved slightly and needs a little bit of attention. We expected this as new wood will naturally shrink and swell with changes in room temperature and can take a few years to settle. While we are recaulking etc I’m going to give the room a lick of paint.

Previous bedroom makeoverThe bedroom needs a little bit of tlc now

In the garden I need to finally get to grips with our vegetable patch. Vegetable patch is overstating it at the moment. It is really a fenced off area with a few blackberries and strawberries amongst the weeds. Late last year we saw the addition of an apple tree and tayberries (my absolute favourite). I was also recently given a poly tunnel so I now have no excuse to get going on my little plot. I hope to get the children involved and will probably pay them to do the digging until my hip problems ease.

Other plans (if we should ever find the time)

This is of course only half of what we plan. We have 2 of the children’s bedrooms ‘almost’ finished and another waiting to be started. Our giraffe bathroom (don’t ask) needs a complete overhaul and we still haven’t painted the new plaster from last year in the kitchen/diner.

For those of you planning a renovation project take heed from this post. It never finishes! But if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat you will have the time of your life doing it!!

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Our Victorian style bathroom reveal!

It’s been a few weeks since I shared the progress on our bathroom renovation. We’ve been very busy behind the scenes and are now ready to share the finished transformation! We have gone for a traditional Victorian style bathroom as much as possible as a nod towards the age of our lovely old house.

Before I share the finished result, here is a quick reminder of what we had to contend with.

Before the Victorian style bathroom renovationWe  weren’t planning on doing the bathroom this year but a structural issue meant we had to remove the chimney that runs through the middle of the house. When I last updated we were in the throes of the project, we only had half a floor and ceiling and no where to bathe or shower. It really does get worse before it get better but after a long hard slog we are finally there!

Our Victorian style bathroom renovation

Victorian bathroom renovation. Roll top bathMoving the doorway meant that we could have a full length roll top bath. The suite (excluding the shower) is from Better Bathrooms. The flooring is lino since it worked out a fraction of the price of tiles.

Traditional Victorian shower headI decided on tongue and groove rather than tiles. Mr M fitted all the woodwork himself and I think he did a cracking job. I knew I wanted a sage green shade for the woodwork and a warm grey below the picture rail. After a few tester pots that just weren’t right I found Farrow and Ball’s shade Calke Green. It worked out pretty expensive so we go B&Q to mix a dupe and it is exactly what I wanted.

Metro tiles in the shower cubicleThe shower is wonderful and you can use either the traditional shower head or the waterfall shower (or both together). The metro tiles look great but are ridiculously hard to cut in a straight line due to the beveled edges.

Waterfall shower headMr M also fitted the picture rail and coving. He added an extra run of trim on the ceiling (because I’m making him do it in every room we decorate and I want a cohesive look).

Victorian style basinI chose a basin with integral splashback because weren’t using tiles.

Built in cupboard to house the boilerWe hid the ugly boiler with a kitchen larder unit from Ikea. Because it has shelves it doubles up as storage which is an added bonus.

Traditional style towel radiatorWe removed the old radiator (that’s where we put the new doorway) and put a heated towel radiator under the window. It’s fantastic but don’t leave it on for too long or you will melt!

Victorian style bathroom renovation


Thoughts on the project

The job took a whole lot longer than I’d anticipated. The only bonus to being hospitalised halfway through was that I could actually have a shower! Now it’s complete I absolutely adore our new bathroom. If I could change one thing I would have tiles rather than lino because it marks quite easily. Other than that everything is just perfect. When a plumber came to quote the job he said he didn’t really fit traditional bathrooms because noone wants them and it made me doubt myself for a while. However, I think, as long as we like it that’s all that matters.

And we don’t just like it. We love it!


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Ripping out the old bathroom

Since we discovered the issue with the chimney breast we have been busy planning and implementing the big changes that have been somewhat forced upon us. Thankfully Mr M was a carpenter in a previous life. He will be able to undertake a portion of the work to keep the overall costs down. We have split the job into stages. After carefully planning the new layout the next stage was the very messy rip out.

Planning a new layout

The bathroom is a great size, at just short of 9 foot square but the old layout was not ideal. There was a separate shower but the position of the door meant that a corner bath had been installed rather than a full length one. Since we were having to gut the room I really wanted to squeeze a roll top bath in there and to really embrace the period feel of the house.

We had a few companies come and draw up plans but we just weren’t on the same page. Mr M is 6’4″ so a mini 4″ plunge bath was never going to work. After trying every which way to get a full length bath in we realised that moving the door and radiator would give us the much needed square footage.

The other issue we had was that the central heating boiler is in the bathroom. We inquired about moving it but the cost was eye watering. Instead I decided to adapt a tall kitchen larder unit to house the boiler and provide storage into the bargain.

Ripping out the old bathroom. The door will be moved to where the radiator is in the pictureMoving the door will allow us to achieve our dream bathroom

A before shot of the chimney breast we had to removeThe offending chimney breast and awkwardly positioned boiler

Gutting the room

Once we knew what our layout was going to be we set to work in gutting the room. The builders knocked out the chimney quite quickly.

Thr partially removed chimney breast

We then proceeded to remove the tiles and discovered the old lathe and plaster work underneath

Lath and plaster visble due to ripping out the old bathroomJunior was horrified to discover that there was horse hair in the plaster!

There’s a hole in my floor!

For the first 2 weeks of the renovation we kept the corner bath in situ. We needed somewhere to wash off the dust! This was not without problems since we had been left with a big hole in the bathroom floor/ dining room ceiling. This couldn’t be sorted until the downstairs chimney was fully removed and the new steel inserted to support the weight of the rooms above.

You can see straight down into the dining room

On the bright side you could talk to whoever was in the kitchen while you were in the bath!

We currently have a A big hole in the roof and wallOur temporary ‘open plan’ kitchen/bathroom

This stage of the renovations took about a week . I won’t lie, it was very messy and frustrating. I have never seen so much dust in my life! We have moved on from this stage now and things are finally coming together. I am so excited to finish the job and to share it with you. I am even more excited to have a bath and wash my hair.

An unexpected bathroom renovation

We have lived in our house for two years now. It is a beautiful old Victorian property with bags of potential. However, having a large family, we really could benefit from a loft conversion. Last year the plans were drawn up, submitted and approved. We were excited to go ahead with the work this summer. Then disaster stuck. An unforeseen problem means that instead we will have to do an unexpected bathroom renovation.


What happened?

Early in the year we noticed a few tiles in the archway between the kitchen and dining room had buckled. We then found some worrying cracks. After tracing the source we discovered that the chimney that runs through the middle of the house was simply too heavy. It was pulling the adjoining walls down! We had the option of underpinning or removing the chimney entirely. Since it is an internal chimney we would have to dig the kitchen up to do this. This was likely to cost around thirty thousand without accounting for replacing the kitchen.

What was the alternative?

We have opted for the much cheaper option of removing the chimney breast altogether. Luckily we removed the external chimney when we had scaffolding up last year so only had to remove the chimney that ran through the loft, bathroom and dining room. It’s no small feat and will mean an entire bathroom renovation but will still be a great deal cheaper than the alternative.

We would have to renovate our perfectly serviceable bathroom

Safety first

You cannot just go around knocking chimneys out willy nilly. Consideration must be made of the structure above and below and whether steels will be needed to support the weight. We have 2 lofts and the chimney runs through the second, unused one. This had to be removed before we could deal with the rooms below. This work in the loft has actually turned to our advantage because we plan to board it out and leave the front loft empty ready for our eventual conversion.

Who would think that this chimney breast would cause so much trouble?Who would think that this chimney breast could cause so much trouble?

 Bathroom renovation plans

Although not ideal our current bathroom was perfectly adequate for our needs and there were no immediate plans to change it until the issue with the chimney arose. However, removing the chimney will not only make it bigger it will also make it a more usable shape. We decided if we were having to remove it we may as well do a good job and restyle the whole room. Our plans include a roll top bath, vintage sanitary ware, tongue and groove paneling, period radiators and a waterfall shower. I’m planning shades of heritage green and grey, fluffy towels and ornate floor tiling. It is my idea of bathroom heaven.

 In for a penny, in for a pound

Our inital plan had been to just plaster the wall in the dining room after the necessary bricks were removed. Long term I wanted to make the 2 rooms open plan because the diner is quite a dark room. When this was mentioned the structural engineer pointed out that the later installation of steels would cause movement in the bathroom above and ruin our new plaster work. So now we are knocking out the entire wall and adding steels and making good until we are in the position to redo the kitchen. It won’t look great short term but in the long term it will give us a fantastic 27 foot kitchen diner.

A sneaky peak of the work so far! Apologies for picture quality, there is dust everywhere!

A frustrated property developer?

I do wonder if I have watched one too many property programmes because now I have started knocking down walls I cannot seem to stop. I’m sure a little bit of our builders’ soul shrivels up each time I plan a new addition. This week I have already decided to install 3 new doorways, a new wall and 2 new rooms to the house. All I need now is a lottery win or a money tree to fund my ideas!

In the meantime I’d love it if you came back and followed the work as it happens. I cannot promise pretty pictures as the work occurs. What I can promise is dust, rubble and a realistic idea of how to get the best from your renovation projects.

Check out my Instagram stories for snapshots and little videos of the work (that are not pretty enough to go in my main feed 😉 )


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An unexpected issue with a chimney breast has resulted in a major bathroom renovation and a whole new bathroom suite