Hello! Hope that you’re well and that you’re ready for another instalment in the blog series An Honest Chat About ‘Renovation Fatigue’.
Through this blog series I have been able to open up the discussion about the reality of taking on a renovation project – the highs and the lows, the stresses and strains and the effort it takes to transform a house into a home. If you would like to be involved then please contact me either through this link or via Instagram.
This week Hannah and Josh of @43bythesea have shared their renovating experience. Hannah and Josh are creating an incredible home and it is so wonderful to see their ideas come together. Please have a read and show them some love too. That’s enough from me, now over to Hannah (and Josh!):
- Hannah And Josh
- Victorian Terrace in Margate built 1885
- Bought August 2019, ETA Reno completion… 20someday
Hey there people! Hannah and Josh here from @43bythesea_ and we’ve taken some time out of our endless DIY reno to talk to you guys a bit more about our project but also more importantly about that tricksy subject of mental health while live-in renovating (never mind through a pandemic…but hey lets get to that later)!
I’m a Knitwear Designer and Josh is a Lighting Designer, and although Josh is well versed in electrics, we came into this renovation world with nothing but a passion for period properties and a hunger to restore and create a unique home with our own fair hands.
As you will know if you follow us, we’ve taken on a 4 storey 4 bedroom monster of a project in Margate- the town we fell in love down with by the sea. We were keen to keep the mortgage low so we can live more freely and creatively later on, and to do so we took on a real doer upper!
We have vowed to take the slow and steady route, learning as we go undertaking every task ourselves. That includes structural work such as new walls and ceilings, wiring, plumbing… you name it. Just to add to the wild ride, we’ve also made a pact to ourselves to push our ideas as big as they can go. Currently this involves morphing the top floor of two standard double bedrooms and a dark loft into a double height master bedroom complete with mezzanine cinema room… all by ourselves! Why of course!
‘You’re crazy’ I hear you yelp and well… sometimes I think you wouldn’t be far wrong. We’re essentially one of those couples you see on Grand Designs who take on a huge project, absent-mindedly appointing themselves as the clueless Project Managers, and shrugging off the suggestion of using an Architect. In a bid to learn, and make slow creative decisions without rush, we also decided to play the role of ALL the trades people too. On a daily basis we are juggling this Reno only in our spare time like a one (luckily two) man band with about 15 instruments.
As you can see we’ve gone to new heights with this house already (quite literally) but there’s a long way to go. We hope the top room will be finished this year!
But of course, we don’t plan to stop there. Every room in this house needs a makeover, and if this top rooms anything to go by its gonna be dramatic. The next phase after this top room, is probably the front of the house as we plan to tackle it this summer. It’s already had a temporary face lift but new windows and a new front door are in order. We also plan to cover it in Wisteria!
Renovation is a roller coaster of emotions. For us, the highs have been when we make creative breakthroughs and build something big such as our arch in the top room 🙂 The joy of learning a new skill and realising you really can DIY is just the best!
Another huge high is the love and support we receive from our Instagram following. The renovation community on there are so encouraging and inspiring, and somehow we’ve amassed a huge following who are as invested in our journey as we are! It means the world to us, and they really keep us going strong. For us, there is something thrilling about not knowing exactly how a project will turn out, and just trying out our crazy ideas from one day to the next… and it turns out there’s excitement to be had in watching that too which is incredible.
The lows… now this is the part people don’t talk about so much. There are many, from downright filthy jobs (see chaos below), to the unexpected surprises that taking on a period home can throw at you. Our biggest shock was when we took down the ceiling in the top room, and we wondered why on earth they’d overboarded it not once but twice. Puzzled faces all round until it rained and I start hearing not one… but many dripping sounds! We soon realised the previous owners had decided to mask the many gaping holes in the roof felt and for years every time it rained outside, it had also did inside!!! Oh the Joy!
The other real low for me that totally didn’t occur to me pre starting the work, is the reality of the state of the house during the renovation- which if you’re taking the slow route like us then it can go on much longer than you’d like it to. I can tell you first hand that watching the home you fell in love with – although in need of improvement absolutely liveable and clean – turn into a place filthier than your local public loo pre its hourly clean is … erm… bloody terrible! EEK!
So let’s get to the point I am so keen to discuss… How does renovating affect your mental health? And what impact does it have on the other areas of your life? Because I know this is why Lydia created this blog and I think it’s so important to talk about. It’s something I’ll openly admit I vastly underestimated before taking on our project!
The reality is, when a project is on such a large scale and you are living in it, it can feel never ending and all encompassing. You live, sleep and breathe it and it can be really hard to keep a good balance. Not just metaphorically, but also physically… when you’re tip toeing post shower through the colossally dusty hallway to your only clean room to get dressed! Haha. But seriously, it’s tough, and I would say full self-build renovations are not for the faint hearted. You’re working flat out juggling full time jobs, while working on the house as much as you can and importantly – still continuing to try live your lives as normal. Feed yourselves, keep your sanity and maintain relationships with family and friends. So I guess the question is…
Why do it?
It’s an adventure like no other. Growing up I could never picture myself living in a ‘conventional house’ that others had designed… even layout wise. So I knew no matter what I bought, a dramatic change was a foot. Luckily, Josh is much the same! Neither of us have ever been known to do things by halves… so I guess there’s no change there!!
HAVE FUN WITH IT! One day we will look back on this and say, yeah we did that! And even now, sitting on these dusty floorboards and trying to work in an empty void… I can tell you it’ll all be worthwhile.
Mental health top tips:
Remember to take time out! I cannot stress this enough. With a task list so long you’d get through an office pack of A4 before you’d scratched the surface of what’s next, it’s tempting to spend every single second of your spare time on renovations. But if you’re doing that AND working the rest of the time, you’ll burn yourself out. So step back, and take some time away every now and again. Josh and I take weekends and even a week off the renovations (social media aspect included) from time to time, and it’s what keeps us revived.
Don’t compare. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’. It’s something I repeat to myself all the time. In the world of Instagram where people have completely different levels of help and finance, transformations can seemingly appear overnight, making it hard keep perspective on timescales when you’re doing the work yourselves. Everyone is on their own journey and it’s important to remember that.
Use Calm or mindfulness pre or post a day of Reno. I practice calm every day and it really puts things into perspective and helps me chill out.
Don’t set endless deadlines. We get asked all the time when the top room will be finished, and our answer is simply… someday!
It’s okay. It’s okay to not want to do the house somedays. It’s okay to spend days and weeks deliberating over which tiles to put in the ensuite. It’s okay to not want to think about which tiles you want in the ensuite… you get the drift.
We have launched a giveaway on our page today to celebrate reaching 10,000 followers and wanted to use this opportunity to raise awareness of mental health and support the wonderful work of @Mindcharity which is more important than ever throughout the pandemic. Please take a look and enter, share it with your family and friends… and remember to keep that balance when taking on a renovation!
Thank you so much to Hannah and Josh for their honest chat about ‘renovation fatigue’ and I particularly liked the mental health top tips they shared. Please head to Mind for more information about the services that they offer as it’s a fantastic charity that provides so much support and advice.
Head over and follow @43bythesea to see them continue their renovation and don’t forget to enter their giveaway while it’s still live!