Everyone, I have exciting news to share. This week we have received planning permission to build and renovate our new home. I have rewritten this introduction so many times in a bid to convey my excitement yet nothing works. It’s a huge understatement to say we are excited however, it will just have to do. We are now set to renovate extensively and build the home we have spent so many years dreaming of, in a spot we never dared think we would. Since we received this news, I have woken each morning with such a feeling in my tummy which is akin only to how I feel, each and every Christmas morning. We have so much to do to get ready for the build and renovation early next year. Before then however, I’d like to take you on a little trip back in time…
To build and renovate houses and homes is not new to us. It’s a world we’ve lived in for our children’s entire lives. They know nothing different from building, renovating, moving, renting, repeat. Each time we have moved, it has been my personal goal to achieve a home for us all, even when there was often more dust inside the house than out.
In the early days when we began, I ran a small (and totally unrelated) business. There was a whole heap more money then and no time at all, so John Lewis and Laura Ashley took most of the credit for our interior decor. It wasn’t until our world took a huge change in direction (I announced I wanted to stay at home with little people and Mr M was made redundant within days of my announcement) that changes to the way we lived our lives needed to happen. That’s when I discovered a joy for making pretties out of bits I already owned. Recycling, up-cycling, being thrifty, call it what you will, I found I enjoyed it.
We lived in our last home for eleven years; nine years longer than Mr M had suggested we would when we moved in. At the time, life’s curve balls and adventures took us on many a different path to the one we had planned for ourselves. We rebuilt, extended and carried out a total renovation of our pretty Victorian cottage. I don’t have on-line photos from before we began to renovate: The early 1900’s derelict cottage had families of rats living there the day I viewed it and I do recall saying a firm ‘no’ at the prospect of living there myself. I dug these old photos out to give you a flavour of the task we faced…
In time however, the rats moved out and we moved in and we made our mark. We were very happy in our home although we always hoped there would be more projects to renovate along the way. The cottage was considerably smaller in square footage than our previous home yet with just as many rooms. So with smaller spaces and a lot less money, careful consideration was given to layout and tons of imagination for was applied to decor.
I visited lots of junk and charity shops, car boots and local fairs and picked up sad and neglected items to reinvent. In the photo below on the left, the central coffee table was found at a junk shop for very little and painted in Farrow and Balls Old White to give it a new lease of life. And the table under the window was a fabulous eBay find which needed very little attention to blend well with my existing pieces and decor.
And in our affectionately named spare ‘oom, I picked up this damaged and ready for firewood bedside cabinet for a song and spruced it up a little with the same colour paint.
And I also began to get creative. We converted the shed at the end of the garden into a craft room for me (at one time it also served as Legoland for Master M) and Mr M bought me a fancy saw gadget which I used to make gifts and decorations for both my home and friends. The sewing machine was put to good use and I taught myself how to make bunting, bags and cushions. I learnt too how to insert zips (though not very well) and instead of chucking items away, I re-purposed where I could. I decided charity shops were full of other peoples treasures and not always junk. (It remains a personal mission of mine to make the inside of all charity shops smell nice and to ‘style’ them better than most do now.) You can see for yourself my love of charity shops here. And the photo below shows a few home-made cushions mixed with inexpensive high street purchases.
We turned the unused bottom of our garden into a glorious fruit and vegetable patch, providing us and many a friend and neighbour with plenty of home-grown goodies.
From inexpensive seeds we created a beautiful wildflower garden which attracted beneficial bees to do their clever work. From May to the first frost we enjoyed countless vases of free flowers every day.
And a particularly favourite memory of mine is the day Mr M said yes to sweet chickens to join our tiny homestead. Quick as a flash we were in that car and off to purchase Martha, Winnie and Ava with Mr M announcing on the way home, he felt quite sure he had only agreed to two. In time three turned into six, all with names and all very loved. And with only the best food and treats given, we enjoyed delicious eggs with the most golden of yolks. An old blackboard placed outside our picket fence told passers-by excess eggs were for sale and it was not uncommon to find locals at my front door asking if perhaps I had forgotten to put the eggs out and could I please look again since they had house guests to feed.
Above all I recalled my wonderful Grandmothers thrifty approach to life and decided to apply a few of those lessons myself. It wasn’t always plain sailing: I got a bit fed up at times covering jam pots with Mr M’s old shirts, yet more often than not I enjoyed making and baking. I continue to forage now throughout autumn and concoct a vitamin C syrup to rival any processed tablet. The mere hint of a sore throat and its out with my secret potion and begone with the lurgy.
We tried twice to buy the bungalow we now call home. I offer snippets of our life here in my blog and through my Instagram feed. Yet as I so often remind myself whilst I’m drooling over the many beautiful interiors I follow on Instagram, the snippets we offer are simply small squares of our lives. They are not the whole sum. Believe me, if you had seen the bungalow and its gardens when we moved in, you would know what I mean.
And now our thoughts turn to what we will build here and how we will renovate and style this home. And as each new adventure unfolds and each milestone is achieved, I will offer the stories to you here on my blog. So if you don’t want to miss a thing, do sign up using one of the two forms, top or bottom of this page.
Next week Belle will be the star of the show as we prepare for colder months and take a closer look at her cosy decoration. Until then enjoy your week and as always, thank you for being here x