Renovation Realities - A Design House Update



There is always a stage when you are renovating your home where you are in too deep to go back and in such chaos that you can barely remember why you began it. Like the longest bridge in Denmark, where you can't see the beginning or the end from the centre.

There is a bridge between Sweden and Denmark, the longest bridge in the world, and as you arrive at the middle point you can no longer see the beginning or the end. Renovating your home can sometimes feel very much like this bridge.


In our own home, we are currently arriving at that middle point and if you see us around you might notice a trace of sawdust or plaster in our hair and a determined but slightly insane look in our eyes. When working with clients we often call this point the wobble and very few brave souls can escape it. The trick is to embrace the chaos and find the joy in each moment, no matter how testing. You must believe and trust in the process as it really will be alright in the end, even if for now your reality is microwave meals, a hose over a bath and a constant layer of dust over everything you own. It's a small price to pay for the joy that awaits you at the finish line. We are totally trying to practice what we preach here as we plow on with the next phase in our ever changing Design House Project.


Floor sanding hell, wall plastering nightmare, endless paint stripping - it's all just a necessary part of the process and if you persevere you will reap the rewards. This is what we keep telling ourselves. One room in particular has been resistant to change with a dark bitumen-like substance painted all over the floor boards. At times it seemed as if the floor sander was multiplying the black tar in a never ending cycle, but slowly the boards revealed their natural beauty.


Every house is different and every project reveals its own challenges, but they only make it more interesting and, if you listen, help to guide the course you take.

We've plastered our walls (well some of them - the hallway, master, lounge and dining room) and sanded our floors. The next decision was what to do with the ceiling roses and windows as they were so caked in years of paint and barely recognisable or functional.


To Renew or restore? That was the question, one that is a constant conundrum for designers and homeowners alike.


At this years BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) Annual Conference this question was on the agenda and ripe for discussion. For us it's important to let the property inform your design choices and to keep the essence of the original architecture, whatever that may be in your case, whilst allowing the new areas and design features to breath. Avoid faking it. Where it's original and can be saved let your heart decide whether it works for you. Don't be hasty and rip everything out as you may be left with a soulless home. But equally don't be a slave to period features. Sometimes you need to be brave and make an authentic statement by renewing.


We had some original ceiling roses and ornate coving in some areas of the house but not all and so we used Stripaway to take off the layers of old paint. It was a bit of a labour of love to get them cleaned back but we love them so much. Where there is no coving we will come up with some alternative contemporary nods to what might have been there without slavish restoration.


Now to stain the floors, wallpaper the walls, pick the curtains, lights, furniture, handles...let the evolution continue. Watch this space for more updates as we tackle the woodwork and wallpaper next!


Jordan and Russell x


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