Our House: The Living Room…

I  spent yesterday ‘upgrading’ our living room curtains, a job I’ve been putting off for months.  M has never really liked curtains, we have roman blinds in the rest of the house but I persuaded him, some years ago, into allowing flat sheets ‘pegged’ onto a thin wire line (courtesy of Ikea) in the bay window as blinds would have cut out too much light.  He’s grown used to these enough for me to now properly line them, add some buckram and generally upgrade them to proper curtains.  I hate sewing curtains.  Still it’s done now and it helps keep the cold out (and our bills down), but it reminded me of a post I started a couple of years ago and never published.  To add some context to below, we have now completed all the building work in our house, although there is still a fair amount of decorating to do.

Written June 2010

I have been making an attempt to clear through my iphotos as it’s all getting a bit out of control and with the final stages of our house build nearly there I find myself viewing our lovely home through all its stages.  I am amazed how far we have come and actually quite proud of what I am prepared to put up with, without too much moaning, and thought it might be nice to do a photo round-up, perhaps even to dispel any ideas that we live in a pristine home.  As the title suggests, I’m starting with the living room.

Spring 2006.  This is our first house viewing.  I appreciate I look miserable in the middle photo, but we were in fact super happy having realised, whilst sitting outside waiting for the estate agent to arrive, that we knew we were going to live here.  We felt the same way about our last home, even before going inside, it was right.

The house was even more filthy than it looks, empty for months, with rotten windows, no heating and full of insects, both dead and alive; but with the potential for an extension on the side, and into the attic plus it being a non listed building (our last home was Grade II), it was perfect.

August 2006 after we had moved in.  I say ‘we’ but M was conveniently away with work for 2 weeks so I moved us, skipped the carpets and scrubbed the house on my tod with F still only crawling…it was pretty yucky.  As you can see, I washed everything down (woodwork and walls) and laid a temporary lino that we knew we’d have to live with for some time, as it turned out, some years.

Early 2007, removing the wall between the two downstairs rooms.  The back room was very small and had little natural light, the front room had the lovely (sadly rotten!) wide bay window and would eventually have an opening leading into the kitchen on the left.  By now, I am pregnant and we are staying with my sister, having moved to hers for only 6 weeks in the Autumn of 2006 (we had planned to be back home in time for Christmas 2006!), however we stayed for 6 months.  We are still talking.

Spring 2007.  As you can see I am now hugely pregnant (and for some reason wearing shades of khaki – I think I’d given up on my appearance by this point).  We have just moved back in, the walls are still wet from recently being plastered, the front window is boarded up as it had to be re-built with new steel above it and a new window put it and Mr C is soon to make an appearance…what fun!  You may also notice the lino being re-laid thanks to the idiot builders cutting the other ‘temporary’ floor up, despite my telling them repeatedly it was to stay.

When I first came home with Mr C, we had only been back home a few weeks and there was still no glass in the bay window.  Above, the boards finally came down, giving us a glimpse of sun, a truly glorious moment.  As you can see it’s still total mayhem but at least we are back in our own home (C is hanging out in his car seat on the table – where did the time go!!).

The large black plastic area is covering a hole in the wall created to make an entrance to the new extension/kitchen, which at this point is being built, whilst we make do with a narrow temporary kitchen in the back ‘hallway’.  The original staircase, with its dog-leg turn still lands in the back of the room, stopping us from taking any large pieces of furniture upstairs, so our living space is still very crowded.

June 2010 with the new oak floor laid and drying (over a fabulous underfloor heating electric system called Ecofilm, which I highly recommend), finally loosing that cheap plastic ‘lino’.  This was a huge leap in the building work for us.  Although, at this point we had been living in a largely finished home for some time, with most of the upper floors plus new kitchen completed (apart from decorating, which is ever ongoing), we had to wait until the back hallway was re-built, complete with new stairs and the old stairs removed from the living room before we could lay flooring and heating.  We’d made do for some years with an open fire and plug-in heaters.

October 2012.  And this is today.  Actually this is yesterday, today I have a sick child laying on the sofa, or at least the half he hasn’t vomited on…again!

I’ve been putting off publishing this post for so long because I keep forgetting to take photos of the living room when it’s tidy.  I realised that’s never going to happen, and it would feel a bit of a lie anyway, so here is it in its raw state.  As you can see we have one too many sofas, due to getting a new one last winter (from sofa.com) but not actually getting rid of the old leather one.  It serves wonderfully as a place to dump huge piles of ‘stuff’ 😉  We don’t really use the back area of the room, it originally had a large table there for dining, but as we have a smaller table in the kitchen we use daily and I nicked the lovely trestle one for my work desk it has become a space the boys play in.

We had shelving built-in on either side of the fireplace, earlier this year to house some of our large book collection and on the other side, the TV.  The room is painted in my favourite colour, Farrow & Ball ‘Slipper Satin’.

Yet more books under the window.  Oh my Beth, what wonderful curtains….are they lined and everything 😉

As you can see, lurking behind my beloved egg chair (bought as an eternity present) we still have some skirting to put on.

This is my favourite piece of furniture, it was made by my Gran’s family and has followed me around my homes for years.  M used to hate it, he doesn’t like being ‘tied’ to things, especially large furniture style things, where as I am hoarder and love objects of any kind that I can make a connection with.

Apart from some of the boys school projects lurking in the corner, you may notice a huge basket of Brio, this is normally laid out over the floor as the world’s largest train track, complete with lego embellishments (streetlights, houses, bridges, you name it).  In this sense the above photos are a lie, I did take them on a day just after I’d hoovered, hence the tidy floor.  This is very much a family home and C loves to build and we often have drawings, train sets etc cluttering up our floors that have to be stepped over.  I am quite relaxed in that sense, possibly a bit too much so, hence my regular comments re our messy home.

There are lots of ‘in progress’ bits, such as this pouffe, made by my Gran which is waiting to be covered and most of the room already needs re-painting.

We have recently bought quite a bit of furniture from made.com, including this coffee table (the rug is from John Lewis).  I had hoped to show you quite a few details of the room, such as my favourite prints and cushions but I fear this is already a very long post.  I’m not sure how interesting it is to look at someone else’s house, at least not in this detail, but I hope it hasn’t been completely boring.  I just think it gives context to me and my family life.  I love our home, but we went through a lot to create it, nearly 4 years of builders on and off in all, and there’s still plenty to do.  We’re nearly there though so I hope to show you a bit more in time, maybe in shorter posts!!

32 thoughts on “Our House: The Living Room…

  1. It looks fantastic. I am meant to be having a tidy before the estate agent come to value it day but after a busy night shift I am having a ‘he’ll have to look past the mess sort of day’!!

    Your home and work are a joy to see.

    Thank you.

    • Oh, I find house selling quite stressful, all that keeping it tidy in case you get a viewing – we put about a third of our stuff into storgage each time so we can have a ‘tidier’ home! Good luck, hope he gives a good value. Bethx

    • I’m the same – love getting the house tour when I visit friends! I have to get on with the pouffe, it’s only a couple of hours work but I want to enjoy it and never find the time. I have the fabric picked out and everything! Bx

  2. Wow Beth, what a transformation. Fabulous and also reassuring to see the chaos and work behind the ‘fabulous’! So lovely also to hear what a good feeling you had about the house from the outset. We felt that way when we first found our house, too… somehow it just felt friendly 🙂 Jane x

    • Weird isn’t it, how houses can call out to you? It was chaos, I had to try to clean up dust every night before my husband got home as it really stressed him out, sometimes we just had a little spot on the sofa dust free to sit. It all seems a long time ago now, lucky I get on well with builders as I have ‘shared’ my home with a few now! Bethx

    • Hello, thanks for commenting 🙂 We’ve had the chairs for years, I’m pretty sure they came from John Lewis. They are great, the only small downside is they have quite deep seats so for me to sit with my legs bent comfortably, I need a cushion behind my back…as I mostly sit with my legs tucked under me it doesn’t really matter!

  3. Wow Beth what a transformation, it looks amazing. Well done you managing to do it all with two young children. Children have to play and a home with children and no toys about is not a home!
    Vivienne x

    • I agree, it’s just we sometimes have too many toys and all over the place! This is my third house renovation (second with husband) so I’m kind of used to it but not sure we’d do it again, if we ever did we’d probably build from scratch, ideally a nice modern scandi/german kit house, otherwise I am a fan of period properties. Bx

  4. Wow Beth, this must’ve felt like a real achievement to get it all sorted, amazing transformation! I love seeing your sitting room and favourite things 🙂 I can only dream of having somewhere as beautiful to live one day (me dreaming again!) but I think for you and your family very well deserved as it sounded a difficult process to put it mildly! I love as well your grandmothers cabinet, very beautiful 🙂 and with the acorns! And it’s great to see your boys have lots of Lego, keeps them happy 🙂 A lovely post to read, thank you, safxxx

    • I’ve worked my way up to this house, I started with a flat in London (my own, before I met M) renovated it and scaled up and repeated. It’d be different these days, sadly I wouldn’t have even got the mortgage, it’s so very hard for people buying, I think. Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you get the house of your dreams one day, and sooner rather than later. Bx

  5. So lovely to get a feel for your house. It is beautiful, you must have had a lot of vision to spot it’s potential. I’m not sure it would be right if it was always completely tidy – but I do agree with what you said in the last post, I struggle to settle properly if I feel things are getting too much out of control. Juliex

    • I think my background in theatre design helps, I tend to be quite good at seeing a space and imagining how it could be. I get quite frustrated as M isn’t great at visualising things so I had to wait, for instance, quite a few years until he agreed to shelving on either side of the fireplace and he recently said no to a fab desk I found on-line for the boys…’til he saw it in ‘real life’ and not only did we buy the boys one but he got the same desk for himself! A tidy home is a tidy mind – ha ha. Bx

  6. Oh Beth, what a lovely post, I love looking in other peoples houses! It looks such a lovely family home and I can’t wait to see more of it!
    The Santa decoration on my blog was bought in a lovely shop near Ardingly but it’s a Gisela Graham design so you’ll be able to buy one on line I’m sure. He wasn’t cheap but well worth the money! X

    • Oh I’m glad you found it interesting – I was worried it was a bit long and dull.

      I think you’ve mixed me up with bee from thelinencloud re the santa, although I’ve also just seen him you blog and have fallen in love, so the ‘where to buy’ info is very useful. Bethx

  7. Very well done. You have really achieved a fantastic transformation and made a beautiful, liveable family home, looks fabulous. Renovations are certainly a lot of hard work and you must be very pleased with the outcome.
    Love looking at your blog over here in Australia and enjoy your posts whenever I have some quiet time.

    Best wishes Cilla Rule

  8. oh beth it’s so beautiful, well done, and scrolling back to that first picture: what vision!
    i couldn’t have read this at a better time – i’m losing all hope and/or plot with ours at the moment. right. ok, i will simply grit my teeth… what’s a few more years of dust and cold and wet… “vasbyt” as we used to say 🙂

    • It will be so worth it, I do know how hard it is though, you do lose hope at points, I just take it one day at a time and over the years, the ‘bad’ bits have faded in my memory……a bit like giving birth 😉 Bx

  9. Such a lovely room. Though I imagine you must miss that swirly textured carpet. Our home only needs decorating, but realised with shame that we have lived here now for two years this week and so far only the downstairs loo (we don’t even have an upstairs) and P’s bedroom have been done. Oh and the garage and front doors this week!

    • Doesn’t sound too bad! I just need to get back into ‘decorating’ mentality, I’m ok once I get on a roll, but then the paints get put away and I find it very hard to start again. One day, it’ll all be finished 🙂 Good luck with yours and thanks for commenting!

  10. I’m so glad you took “before” pictures. It’s great to see all that you’ve done. I envy the boys, having a heated floor to play on in cold weather. I wish this was standard for homes, I’ve been in a couple and they were wonderful.
    By now, your husband should know to just trust your vision and say, yes dear.
    By the way, tidy is overrated. What are homes, if not to be lived in?

    • I have to admit that I really do love the heated floors. We have them in the living room, the kitchen and my studio/the boys play room and it’s lovely to walk on, and cuts right down on drafts and ‘cold’ spots. I agree, my husband should just say ‘yes’ 😉

  11. What a transformation, it looks fantastic, and so spacious! I love to nose around other people’s houses so I will look forward to your next installment! Well done on the curtains too, I bought the fabric for our new ones at the beginning of the year, it hasn’t been touched yet. *sign* I think it will be a few more months before I get onto it though, as Christmas is on it’s way, you know! 😉

    • I only got swayed into doing the curtains as I sit on ‘that side’ of the sofa and in the evenings there was quite a cool spot coming off the windows. I’m always amazed at how much difference it makes having curtains closed at night, lovely and cosy. Good luck with yours, you’ve got a few weeks yet 😉

  12. I really enjoyed this post. I love a good old nosey round other people’s houses, especially interesting ones with nice things in them (not those super smart but empty and boring ones – no thanks! that’s why I stopped buying interiors magazines). I especially like seeing the before and after photos. You’ve certainly had a lot of work done, time to relax and enjoy…

  13. You’ve got a lovely home 🙂 Seeing how other people live is always interesting, and remember: it’s not really messy if you can still see the floor. 😛 (Or that’s what I like to tell myself, anyway…)

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