Before I go into any detail about this renovation, I just want to first talk about this photo…this was the first time I realised that I might be onto something with renovation and design. I had shared this photo on Pinterest after finishing the house and it then picked up by Apartment Therapy and saved over 40,000 times, which was amazing! I have totally lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked about the Vogue print and where people can get one (it was drawn for me as a commission from a friend) and I guess this was the moment that I decided to confidently share more of my work and start an Instagram account etc. Even though this was taken in 2013, so only six years ago, it feels like a lifetime since then as so much has happened, but I will always adore this photo, this bedroom and this house. It’s probably my favourite of all we’ve done to date as it was the first time I had the chance to test my creativity and so will always have a very special place in my heart.
But for now onto the renovation journey – I left you last time when we have just finished our second cottage in the Shaftesbury Estate (your can also read part 1 in Mallorca here). Meanwhile we had bought this house, a three bedroom Victorian terrace just off Clapham Common, to work on as a renovation project, but also for us to live in.
When we finished our second cottage in the Shaftesbury Estate, the plan was for our team to move straight onto our house, to try and get the loft extended and the work completed before Christmas. However just before we finished work on the second cottage, we had a few issues with our building team. The main builder had been upsetting the others and it turned out that he hadn’t actually been doing much work – he was the main contact and liaised with us as he spoke the best English, but it transpired that as a result he spent all day doing very little, which obviously frustrated the rest of the team. It was as if he felt that he could get away with it as they wouldn’t be able to work without him because of the language barrier. To cut a long story short we called his bluff – we fired him and decided to try and continue with the rest of the team, who were all so hard-working and great people.
And so we ended up in mid-October starting work on our own home, having to mainly communicate with drawings! Not to be totally recommended, but we did get there (our structural engineer happened to also be Polish and speak perfect English, so that definitely helped!) We did spend the best part of the winter living huddled in one bedroom, with bare floorboards and a mattress on the floor. It was so dusty and a bout of flu combined with a major operation for Coco, certainly made it memorable! There was dust everywhere and I’m not sure I would like in another property whilst doing such major works, but you live and learn…
Nevertheless, we got the work done on time and on budget and were absolutely thrilled with the result. It was the loveliest, sunniest home and I still now miss the location – just a stone’s throw from Clapham Common and I have such fond memories of early morning walks in all seasons and coffees by the Victorian Band stand.
Although the plan wasn’t to sell as quickly as we did, we made the mistake of getting some agents around to value the house – we were pleasantly surprised by what they said (and one of them knew a couple who they thought would buy it off market), so the deal was done.
We were sad to leave such a happy home, but found a very sad looking house on the border of Balham and Streatham that needed some serious TLC, so decided to move on to that instead…but more on that in my next instalment.
Images by Patrick Butler-Madden