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. To see where this blog series started, then please click here. If you would like to be involved then please contact me either through this link or via Instagram.
This week Monelle of @mylittleglassbook has shared her renovating experience. Monelle and her family are just about to embark on their next renovation project and so she has taken the time to reflect on her experience with their current home. Please have a read and show her some love too. That’s enough from me, now over to Monelle:
- Monelle Bryce-Reid and family
- Letchworth, Hertfordshire
- A Grade II listed cottage
I live in leafy Letchworth, in Hertfordshire and we’ve lived here for 6 years. We relocated from my beloved hometown of Muswell Hill in North London.
I am a true North Londoner. I love London though I am in love with being in Hertfordshire – just a 25mins train ride into Central London or a 45mins drive (35mins when I step on the gas!)
I grew up in a nice little hamlet behind Highgate Wood, up the road from Crouch End Broadway at the bottom of Muswell Hill. It was always green surrounded by woodland, parks, and green spots. I love living amongst lush greenery and nature.
My husband and I moved to Letchworth to buy a three-bedroom house we could afford. We found Letchworth lovely and affordable and it was exciting to move out of London. We moved into our little grade-two listed cottage on The Green to renovate it.
The initial plan was to renovate then sell, renovate the next one, then sell on, and keep doing that until we could buy the dream house. Two-years into the cottage renovation we made two babies and now selling the house to move into another renovation, with two toddlers.
Renovating old houses is a mixture of thrilling, exhausting and frustrating for me. I find the budget-restrictions the most frustrating part! I love transforming things and visualise lots! I find it easy to manifest good ideas. I love to restyle and upcycle and overhaul tired things. I’ve not got round to doing that with my mind, wardrobe, or face yet though!
As exhausting as the renovation life can be I honestly cannot wait to get stuck into the next one! My husband still thinks I’m bonkers but he loves me. We are so good together (hope he still feels the same!) We are ying and yang – I’m hyped and excitable, whereas he is calm and totally unfazed by anything. He cools me down! Our toddlers are aged two and four years so we are kept on our toes.
Lockdown has been a blessing. It has freed up so much time for family and creative time.
I work in PR and Marketing for a University. I am currently building a non-profit online gallery (inmyarthouse.com) and publishing a little art/interiors book. To support other creative mums and provide display space for art graduates. This was a lockdown set-up to share talent and fulfil my passions in art and interiors and just for fun!
The cottage was built in 1903 by Garden City architects Parker and Unwin. The cottage is listed in a conservation area so renovations are restricted but we still did a fab job transforming the space. The cottage was repossessed so we got the house way under market value and didn’t need to spend much to make it habitable.
The cottage renovation completed last summer and my husband and I have just sold the cottage now to move into the next project, an 1800s detached house which needs a double-storey extension, loft conversion, groundworks, and general restoration work. It’ll take time. I am incredibly excited to get started on the next renovation. I’m exhausted thinking about doing another renovation, but we have to do this, we have to make this move!
The renovation of the cottage took 3 years to renovate whilst we lived onsite.
Restricted budgets always stretches out the duration of a renovation. I found budgeting frustrating and limiting and daunting! But budgets and spreadsheets taught me to be super resourceful, patient, grateful, and creative with everything – materials and sourcing the best trades became a job!
I began seeking specific specialist work in the house after dealing with some shady trades guys. I remember being most upset when some unprofessional trades would quote for works then when appointed would over charge whilst on the job or they would request more money than what had been agreed in writing upon initially quoting. I found this way of being treated incredibly irritating and very off-putting! We’ve worked with a mixture of fantastic contractors and some straight-up dodgy dudes! The process has definitely made me wiser and much more savvy when seeking trades to tender for reno jobs. It’s always best to go with a brilliant well-recommended tradesmen rather than the most affordable or the one you seem to get along with the most.
The bathroom was probably the trickiest room remodel during the reno. The room needed stripping out back to brick, we needed a leak detector company pop in to find an old led pipe beneath the bath waste [in the rear garden]exploded so we had the floor dug up to replace pipework and stop any further internal damage. The flooring was then screeded to prep for herringbone set and the walls were replastered. We vaulted the ceiling for more airy-ness and light and went nuts on the tiles order. I was around 8mths pregnant at the time. We had to move out for 6wks to allow the bathroom job to be completed. It was unbearable when we moved in now it’s honestly my sanctuary. My mini spa hiding place.
Seeing a finished room after weeks or months of dust, expenditure, and trades in and out of the gaff has been an absolute relief. Transformation feels good and I feel like I’m healing the house with the strip-outs and making-good. It’s made living on the renovation job very satisfying. We love seeing our plans come to life! It’s important to get to know how life works in the house first I think before doing it all up.
Living in a completed renovation is bliss. Saved my sanity! I’d be so angry and upset with myself if we didn’t complete the renovations, especially with toddlers in the house! We have a happy bright clean fresh warm welcoming home now and feeling good at home is complete harmony with our little family. I feel so good at home now the renovation is all done. I remember when I was heavily pregnant thinking this place has to be all done or I’ll run away to Claridges hotel and ask to work there to stay there until my house is finished!
I’ve always wanted to create hospitable pretty calming spaces. Some days though I’m all over the place emotionally usually when work is incredibly demanding on top of managing family and when there’s piles of laundry everywhere and I’m trying to keep up with life!!
Thank you so much to Monelle for her honest chat about ‘renovation fatigue’ and it’s good to know that their experience with their current home hasn’t put them off taking on another renovation!