Tag Archives: home improvements

Playroom renovation COMPLETE!

A year ago today – exactly – we moved to Edinburgh. To mark this anniversary, we can FINALLY say our house is finished! The boys have a new playroom and we have a whole new room in our house.


I am SO EXCITED about picking up the Wee Man from school – he’s going to burst. Then we’ll have the best job ever of filling it with toys!

It’s been a fun journey – here it is in pictures.

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So my top tips based on our renovation?

  • Get good tradesmen and pay them promptly – the plumber must have been back and forth five or six times, but he was always very obliging because I transferred the money for his bill the same day each time.
  • Take advice even though you had a pretty fixed idea in your head
  • Shop around online – I ordered the staircase myself and saved hundreds of pounds. Of course, I didn’t tell the joiner until after he’d put it all together. He actually said: “You’ve just risen in my estimations”
  • Make lots and lots of tea and coffee and always buy the good biscuits
  • Make “how could I save a bit of money on that?” your default phrase – even when you’re in CarpetRight and everyone’s listening and the assistant is getting more and more pissed off as their commission shrinks before their eyes
  • If you don’t understand what your tradesman’s on about, say you’ll get back to him and Google it. I had to tell the painter about PVA for sealing brickwork – he thought I’d have to buy a specialist substance at £50 per tub.
  • Use PVA for sealing brickwork
  • Make sure your plasterer wears safety goggles – mine didn’t, even though he was doing ceilings, and had to go to the eye hospital leaving shite all over the place for two extra days
  • Humour people. No matter who you have in, they should have been in before the last guy. Just agree and offer more biscuits.
  • Offer lots of praise and then swiftly remove it when they’re not up to scratch – I’ve found it makes them much more eager to please. Yes I know this is coldly calculating.
  • Order wallpaper online. Never buy it from a shop. Ever.
  • Be prepared to get involved if it keeps everything on schedule. I was painting skirtings the night before the carpets came.
  • Locks. Put locks on as many doors as you can, especially if you have young, curious trouble-making children.
  • Be super nice to your neighbours throughout.
  • Make sure there is a spare key with a neighbour at all times.
  • Save everyone’s mobile number into your phone. Seems simple, but honestly saves your sanity.
  • Don’t let your husband do a dump run in the middle of any renovation, ever.
  • Take photos of every stage
  • Have fun with it – it can be a huge pain in the arse but it’s so worth it!

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Filed under Edinburgh, Edinburgh renovation, Uncategorized

In which we make a new home

It happened in the space of 12 hours.

I viewed it. I chatted to the owner for an hour. I scrutinised the home report. I sent Rod round to view it. He chatted to the owner for an hour. They shook hands.

Thank God for old-fashioned values. “My word is my bond” does still work, you know, otherwise we wouldn’t have our house.

In the crazy, offer-7%-over-the-asking-price-and-be-prepared-to-go-to-closing, property market in Aberdeen we were very very lucky. We are now the proud owners of a three bedroom bungalow in a lovely part of the city. When I picked up the keys in mid-June the overwhelming feeling was relief. We could move out of the shoebox we were renting. We could unpack our boxes.

But first there was a transformation to mastermind.

The house would have been beautiful in 1995. In 2013, however, the cherry skirting boards and round-the-bed storage cupboards had to go. The carpets were gaudy, the walls were marked and the candy stripe curtains reminded me of the Brady Bunch. I called in Marc.

He roared up from Glasgow in his SUV and gleefully started destroying cupboards and ripping down curtains. Then he switched gears and painstakingly filled in holes, sanded and papered. Every day we went to B&Q. People asked his opinion in the paint aisle. Assistants jumped to attention. A young guy was left scarlet and speechless after Marc demanded: “Where are the knobs?”

Marc in action

Marc in action

I was happy to play his assistant. I cleaned things and painted things and made his lunch and dinner. By the end of the five days we’d agreed I’d be his PR consultant. This man needs his own show. Here is what we achieved:

BEFORE: Bedroom

BEFORE: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom (the walls are grey, not pistachio, as they look here!)

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

BEFORE: Living room

BEFORE: Living room

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls "Wishing Well" grey

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls “Wishing Well” grey

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

The trouble with starting is that you have to finish. I now want every piece of wood in the whole house to be painted white. I am tackling this one doorway at a time. I’d quite like a few more carpets to be replaced. We’ve started jet washing the decking (a much bigger job than anticipated) and gardening (we have no idea what we’re doing and keep pulling out plants instead of weeds). But we love it. It’s our home and every brushstroke makes it feel more like ours. If you’re ever in Aberdeen, pop in.


Filed under Aberdeen, home