Essentially we came home to a house that had no bathrooms, no central heating, no hot water, rats nests and a collapsed ceiling in the utility room, every room needed to be redecorated, the wiring was buggered, there wasn’t a floor that wasn’t covered in animals stains and not a wall that hadn’t had assorted liquids thrown up it.
Beloved daughter had dealt with the worst of it – the blood stained mattresses and the abandoned ashes of some relative nobody gave a crap about! – but the whole house needed refurbishing. Fortunately we’re good at this sort of thing, it’s what we do. We build a plan, we follow the plan.
We start with the basics – heating, hot water, electrics and cleaning – and we work from there. And slowly it gets done, with occasional breaks to curse people who do such bizarre things to a home.
In an attempt to turn a really bad situation into a more positive one I decided to radically redesign the interior of the house rather than just replace all the damage. I decided to lay a new travertine floor in the hall, turn our second sitting room into a library, totally redo the utility room and all the bathrooms, aiming for a more cohesive theme and bringing in a lot of the art and textiles we have collected on our travels.
We went into the refurbishment with the attitude of “okay, you trashed my home; now watch me make it better!” Won’t be beaten. Not ever!We’re five months in now and we’re getting there. It hasn’t all been plain sailing because every day we would find new problems – a washing machine hose rammed down the main drain in the utility room meant we had to dig the floor up to get it out, all the wiring to the exterior lights and the internal bathroom fans had been cut in the attic and that took a while to trace – but we have had a lot of help from local workmen who have gone above and beyond and now we’re in the “making it pretty” stage it’s starting to be fun rather than heartbreaking.
The main thing that didn’t work was my decision to use Wickes to supply the utility room units because they had “take away kitchens” so that would make the job quick. Terrible decision! Wickes kitchen suck and our Wickes takeaway kitchen took weeks to arrive and we had to alter and reinforce every single unit because the quality was so poor. Lesson learned – use Howdens in future!
The travertine for the main hall really worked, I adore it and the tiler (Patrick) did an amazing job laying it and the slate floor in the utility room. My daughter thinks I am mad to put rugs on the hall floor, but I have two huge Laura Ashley aubusson rugs and their soft faded rose colours go with the pale gold of the travertine.Framing a couple of old ottoman tapestries has also worked, bringing part of the Turkish life back to Pembrokeshire. The heavy gold thread embroidery against dramatic red and black backgrounds, framed in white wood, injects more colour into the hallway.
I’ve recently rediscovered my love of auctions and bringing old things buried under assorted cast offs back into a home. The small county auctions, no catalogue in advance, cash on the day, are a favourite hunting ground. So far we’re got a lovely little welsh dresser, some beautiful prints, a heavy Turkish rug and an oak library desk and table.
Some online finds have helped the bathroom budget but the walk in showers and the old cast iron bath would have stayed at the other end of the country without our trusty delivery man Don who has driven the length and breath of the UK to collect, at reasonable costs, bargains from afar.So all in all we’re getting there, lots more to do but it’s coming, office done, kitchen done, utility done, three bedrooms done, gallery done, sitting room done, cloakroom done, shower room done, couple of bedrooms, two more bathrooms and the library left to do but the plan is clear and it all pulls together more every day.
Those who helped:-
Plumber – Ian of IRW Plumbing and Heating – 07795 277237 landline 01437 454044
Tiler – Patrick of P Busby Maintenance 0775 916 2122 land line 01646 602 895
Building Supplier – Travis Perkins Fishguard particularly Nick Jones and Danny who searched high and low for specific tiles, including weird ones, and generally went out of their way to help.
Pembrokeshire Picture Framing who have done sterling work framing my (not easy) ottoman tapestries and restoring prints we found at auction.
Carrier – Don of D.F.Couriers – 0779 2073773 – who has been brilliant and cheerful and helpful with whatever we have asked him to fetch, no matter how strange the request!
The Furniture Directory a family run business in Freystrop that have the nicest selection of homewares and furniture in the county, free delivery included and I never go there without coming home with something I love. Daughter has to be physically restrained when entering the premises too. This place is deadly!