Well, we have finally moved into our new house! I worked really hard making my old house a home and although I never quite finished it, I learnt a lot along the way. Here are some of my DIY and renovating mistakes that I’m not going to do this time:
Paint the Floors
I love the look of painted floors but they have such fragile beauty. They look gorgeous when they are first done (here’s how I painted the boards in my son’s room) but no matter how many pads you put under the furniture people just damage them! The children drop stuff off the bunkbeds and chip the paint and you end up screaming at them. The children have friends who are also children so hardwired to be careless with paintwork but you can’t scream at them because they are other people’s children! Then there are the workmen who scrape heavy things (like new windows) across my lovingly painted beauties.
The truth is, painted floors would be wonderful if it was just me in my ballet slippers skipping daintily around but its not and I don’t want to be that person who bans everyone from walking…on a floor! So, in the interests of happiness and general wellbeing the key word for the flooring in my new home is ‘robust’. I may varnish a floor, I may install a hard floor, I am being coerced into looking at carpet by my husband but there will not be a painted floor in my new house.
Have Open Storage
The new house is going to be low dust. I have asthma, my daughter has eczema and I hate cleaning. We had a beautiful 1920’s house which lent itself to a shabby chic style and a lot of books and jars on upcycled shelves. I would pick up wooden furniture from charity shops and markets, give them a coat of Annie Sloan and have the perfect budget friendly way of displaying our possessions. They look lovely but who wants to spend their time on earth dusting books and jars?
Before we moved we decluttered massively and I’m continuing to do so as we unpack but we still have loads of books. I even woke their spirits and tried to Marie Kondo them. But, guess what? So many of them spark joy! It may take a some time to find the right closed storage to replace the old shelves but its high up the list and likely to be second hand mid-century modern. Which brings me to my next no no.
Keep Furniture that Doesn’t Fit
Sofa’s are expensive and we bought a very good quality one when we lived in a 1960’s flat. It never suited our old home but it existed awkwardly in our living room, for 8 years! We also had many wardrobes and draws that had been bought for other houses or passed down, we hung onto them because they were fine but never right. Most of them are not right for this house either along with some random chairs which don’t fit under the table properly and an old double bed. They’ve gone straight out the door – to the charity shop, sold on a local site or to the recycling centre. I love using Facebook marketplace, it’s not great for items you want to make real money out of but often you can pass furniture on to someone who needs it and that feels nice.
Put up with an Ugly Fireplace
When I moved into our old house I said to the big hubby, “That fireplace has to go” but we sold the house with the same brick fireplace. Not this time! We have a late 1970’s monstrosity in our new living room and it’s high on the list of things to be replaced, not just because its ugly, its also unsafe so has been disconnected and utterly useless. I’ve got my eye on a modern looking wood burning stove and if I don’t have one by this time next year I’ll do the whole of ‘Step in Time’ from Mary Poppins in the town centre while convincing passers by to be my fellow chimney sweeps.
Talk to Salesmen (or women)
I love DIY but there are some things I won’t attempt and when it comes to electrics, gas and windows it seems wise and safe to get a qualified person in to fit these things.
The jobs that caused the most unhappiness in the old house were due to the people in sales. They would tell lies to get you to commit and then the actual fitter would turn up and explain which bits weren’t true.
A good example of this was the ‘isospray’ insulation we had installed in the loft. The product was great and made the house warmer. However, the salesman told us we didn’t have to take anything out of the loft and the job would only take one day. Along come the guys to install it and tell us we do need to clear the loft and it will take two days, not ideal when we’ve already invited fifteen 6 year old girls around the next day for my daughter’s birthday party! All this upset could have easily been avoided by being straight with us, we still would have bought it but we would have been less resentful (breathe, breathe let it go)
So, this house has a trades only policy, I’m only discussing work with you if you actually know how to do the job. Anyone wearing a red tie needs to retreat rapidly or risk a rant.
There is a lot to do to make this property right for us but I’ve learnt a lot from my mistakes and I feel really positive about making this 1960’s house into a fun family home. Is there anything you would do differently if you could start again? Let me know in the comments X