I moved into my house in Spring 2016, expecting that I’d spend the first few years getting it how I wanted it. It was liveable, but the space wasn’t best used. The past few months threw somewhat of a curveball with the cancer diagnosis, and my first panic was how I was going to keep paying my mortgage (and every episode of scanxiety comes with that too), but work have enabled me to continue working mostly from home, even though I’ve lost most of my ‘extra work’ via my own consultancy. In the first year in the house, I’d replaced the garage roof, mended a leak in the main roof, fitted an alarm, new boiler (Jeff Douglas), basic electrics, painted 3 rooms (one with extensive wallpaper stripping, including on the ceiling), custom built bookcases, decluttered a lot, put some pictures up… and there was a question of ‘what next’.
A legacy from my Great-Aunty Audrey meant that, with some careful juggling, a new kitchen was possible, as I went from this tiny galley kitchen:
To this stylish ‘showroom’ kitchen/diner:
Kitchen design by Rachel at Howden’s kitchens (and despite the loss of 2 walls, I have more storage space AND dishwasher), patio door/window by Peter Jay, electrics by Mark Wood (Bright Spark Electrics), fitting by Mark Forster and Daz Cheetham and various other trades they called on!
I also pottered around the garden, with various cheap and cheerful experiments, and you’ll note not much in the way of holidays. Having got quotes, I decided I could just about afford to have a fireplace put in by Complete Fireplace Services (advice was really simple and to the point, price was clear, and the job was done whilst I was away):
Plastering undertaken by Danny:
I then got given a good quote for stripping/decorating the large lounge. Job kept getting delayed, and price kept increasing, so ended up finishing off the painting myself, but finally had my ‘Redcurrant Glory’ fireplace wall (same colour as my Durham house feature wall), with the rest of the room all ‘brilliant white’ – lots of reds, browns, greys scattered around:
I still need skirting boards fitted to the feature wall, a small piece of coving above the patio doors, a carpet, and a large painting with room colours in it for above my sofa.
There are two big rooms still need doing – the bathroom, and the hallway:
Bathroom: Discussed with Jeff Douglas a design that I like (that he did in his own house), providing more neat STORAGE, for which he says I’d need to allow around 10-12 days, could re-use the shower as it’s a good one. Mark Wood would need to fit an extractor fan (which I already have), and fit my choice of bathroom safe light (playing with ideas on Pinterest). We have to hope the floorboards are in good condition underneath, and I’d finish the painting (I’ve already painted the ceiling with proper bathroom paint a couple of times).
Hallway: Strip back the wallpaper (including on the ceiling), fill in many holes/gashes (could be replastered, but I grew up in a 16th century house, and despite loving my newly plastered walls, I don’t really notice walls!), paint (have brown for lower half, and a ‘bright’ pale colour for top (what do you call the wood in the middle – might change that), finish sorting out the attic access, mend light (unlikely, probably cheaper to just find a more solid one), and I want one of these:
- Add a front doorstep (others have problems, and so now do I, getting up the high step)
- Strip & repaint column/pillar
- Replace back fence and gate (with a lock I can access both sides)
- Replace guttering/fascia – back of house
- Repointing, mostly front
- Advice on gardening
- Pressure wash back patio *I’ve had offers for this
- New upstairs radiators
- New blinds, and master bedroom curtains
- Hang pictures (what/where)
- Repaint office ceiling (and milk splashes on kitchen ceiling)
- Change some/all internal doors
Having spent so long in my own house, working at home 4/5 days a week, it makes such a difference! I stared at that lounge for months on end, which is why I stretched myself to get it (almost) done this winter!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.