Renovating period property

As you know I absolutely love old houses. The charm, character and details are something that you struggle to recreate in a newer property. Yet buying a period property can be a daunting process. Damp, damming building surveys and finding asbestos in your period property, can put a serious downer on buying the home you’ve fallen in love with.

When we first bought our house, an Edwardian property from around 1910, it was a condition of the mortgage offer that we have a building survey. Obviously this is something we would have wanted to undertake anyway, to rule out any serious potential problems that would cost a lot of money to fix later down the line.

Terrifying building surveys

When we received the results of the building survey we were shocked. I’m not actually joking when I say pretty much everything that could be wrong with a house was listed in the building report. It was a very, very long list dotted with terrifying words like… leaking, damp, woodworm, asbestos. Initially reading through the report made our hearts ache, how could we take on this sinking ship?

After a stiff drink we decided to calmly read the report again. It seemed that rather than clarifying that the house had all these issues, the company who carried out the survey had basically created a list of all the things that ‘could’ be wrong with a period property, to cover themselves. Sure the house could have rising damp (but it doesn’t), it could have a leaking roof (but it doesn’t) and it could have woodworm (again, it definitely doesn’t!).

There are plenty of issues that could have potentially been wrong with the house. But none of the problems flagged up were actual problems present in OUR house. All apart from asbestos.

Finding asbestos in your period property

We had heard of asbestos. It’s a type of insulation that was used in construction throughout the 20th century until it was eventually banned in 1999. It was discovered that inhalation of asbestos fibres could cause serious and potentially fatal health issues such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. For more information about asbestos and asbestos related illnesses please visit http://www.yourlegalfriend.com

It wasn’t something we were going to leave to chance. We’d heard of people removing the asbestos themselves, burying it in the garden and such stories. With small children it was just not something we were prepared to risk.

We got an expert asbestos removal company to come, before we moved in, and assess the house. They also identified a few places where asbestos was lurking. These were mainly in the outbuildings (like the garage roof), which is very common. We booked in a removal date and the team came and removed the asbestos, taking it with them to dispose of correctly.

We moved in about a month later, knowing that there were no nasty surprises waiting for us. Well apart from twenty layers of wallpaper and small spider armies!

This post was written in collaboration with My Legal Friend. Thank you for supporting Lish Concepts.

 


We’ve nearly finished decorating upstairs, although a few last finishing touches seem to be lingering. I blame Love Island!

In my mind I’ve already moved on to thinking about decorating the living room. I’m so excited to get started in there as it’s the first room you arrive at in the house. I will feel really proud to have a completed, cosy room to welcome people into instead of offering excuses as to why it looks like it does.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s already a gorgeous period room, it just hasn’t been decorated…. yet! A large five paned bay window lets in loads of sunlight and we are planning on having shutters put up to match upstairs. A period fireplace sits grandly between two alcoves and we’ve uncovered the wooden floors which will be sanded back. The whole look and feel of the room lends itself to a classic look but we will want to add a slight modern twist.

We’ve been talking about having dark blue or even black as the wall colour. Although I’m normally one for lighter colours like grey and white, we fancy a bit of a change and think it will work well in the space.

I’ve been working on creating a mood board for the kind of look we want to pull together. I find it is a really good way to get an impression of the entire room, acting as a useful guide when hitting the shops for accessories and soft furnishings.

The sofa is of course the central point for the living room so we need to get that choice right. Our sofa has really seen better days although we’ve only had it for two years!! It’s a kind of woven oatmeal colour fabric and although I thought it would be forgiving, between the dog, two adults and two children, we’ve managed to destroy it.

I’m desperate to find a sofa that is going to be able to withstand the wear and tear of two children a little better than this one has. I’m thinking leather is the way to go and as I’ve always loved brown leather sofas I think this will be what we settle on. Classic, timeless and durable, I think they work in period rooms as well as in a more modern setting. Perfect for us!

Currently we are undecided as to whether we would want a brown leather corner sofa or a leather sofa and an armchair combination. I’ve been looking on Darlings of Chelsea who have some exquisite luxurious leather sofas in a range of shapes that I really like. I’ve opted to use their Kingly sofa as the basis of my mood board design as I think it combines the classic robust luxury of a leather sofa with a modern twist which is the way I’d like the room design to go.

I don’t know about you but I’m a little bit in love with this moodboard. The mix of the leather, washed out navy and black and white looks stylish, crisp and modern. I’d love to add some Moroccan accents like a Beni Ourain rug and some cushions as a nod to global fusion / travel inspiration and I’ve always had a love of cool black and white photography. Now just to run it past my beloved!

This post is written in collaboration with Darlings of Chelsea. Thank you for supporting Lish Concepts!

home safe homeLast summer, before we moved all of our things into our new home, we came to visit it one last time. I was taking my mum to proudly show her the house our family would be calling home. I was so excited to move into a period property that was in need of total restoration. As a child, I often dreamt of exploring abandoned houses and finding the treasures that belonged to them and this adventure certainly felt like a dream come true.

The house was special, we knew instantly that it felt like home to us. Embracing us with warm open arms, it welcomed us to make it our own. It definitely needed awakening after sleeping for 50 or more years, with dirty moth-eaten carpets and armies of spiders taking up residence in every corner of every room. But it was also spacious, light and beautiful and needed our love.

Walking to the back door, we noticed that the glass in the (then) conservatory lean to was smashed and the house had been burgled. Stopped in my tracks, I felt sick to my stomach, shocked and sad. Sad for my house even though none of our contents or possessions were even inside. For a home is so much more than a place to live or the material things inside it. It was our special place, a manifestation (to be) of our love, hopes and dreams for our family.

One great thing came out of being burgled that day. It meant the first thing we looked at when we moved in was the security of our new home. New doors, windows, locks and safety devices were added so that now the house we are living in, complete with all our possessions is safe and secure.

Having your house broken into does make you suddenly more aware of the do’s and don’ts for security, especially over the holiday period when you are leaving your house empty and unattended. So when Chill insurance got in touch with me to show me their new  study into home safety and tops tips on how to keep your home secure while you are away, I was pleased to see that we definitely did most of these things.

We often joke that anyone breaking into our house would take one look around our living room, strewn with abandoned debris and conclude that in fact the house had already been burgled. So we try to leave the house as messy as possible when we go away as a deterrent! I’m joking of course… But in all seriousness, what do you do to keep your house safe? Do you have any top tips to share when it comes to keeping your home safe while you are on holiday? Here are a few of ours…

We always draw our bedroom curtains. Because you may forget or choose not to undraw your curtains but you would never not draw them at night time, so we hope it looks like someone is in.

We always leave one car on the driveway. But then we have 2 cars… If you don’t you could always ask a neighbour to park on your drive.

We always make sure the side / back gate is locked. Make it harder to get in!

Move your valuables out of sight or even better, lock them away!

Let your neighbours know you are on holiday and get family or friends to look in on the house.

And last but not least don’t forget to get some good cover for your home and contents, check out Chill home insurance for peace of mind.

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