There's something truly rewarding about doing up a room in your house, working hard on it, and finally sitting back and taking in the beauty... but I have a feeling this only happens in tv makeovers!
Renovating an old house that's been altered and added to over the last two hundred years, I've learnt to expect the unexpected. No 19 is a big house but doesn't have that many usable bedrooms for when I have guests, and the bathrooms are a disaster!! So it's time to make some changes.
I don't have a huge budget and I also want to do the work myself along with the help of friends and professionals where needed, so it's about fitting things in and timing. I'm focusing on doing up an area of the upstairs, making another bedroom, fixing up a living room, rebuilding a bathroom and adding another. It's a huge job and the only way to get through it for me is to have the overall plan, focus on one job at a time, keep the areas I've already done as clean as possible, and most of all, be flexible.
After working on this house over the last 15 years I've realized that every time I've removed something, there's often a surprise waiting and this time is no exception. This happened in the hallway when we discovered flat walls hiding a whole host of archways blocked up over the years.
Above the kitchen is a large room overlooking the garden. It's one of the nicest rooms in the house and would make a lovely living room but has just been a store for old furniture and junk. There's access from the upstairs hall and originally there were also doors in the back of the room going into another space which is now a corridor to the bedrooms.
This doorway has long been blocked up and these bricks are in a bad condition, cracking out and becoming unstable. So after lots of thought I decided to open up this original doorway making this room a living room with access to the bedroom area.
Working with my younger and stronger neighbour and friend, Dušan, who keeps me motivated and going at a good pace, we decided to finally remove the heavy plaster and open up this doorway. Although it's not a supporting wall, I suspected that, over the years, the ceiling had sunk down and become dependent on it. The opposite was actually the case.
The original part of the wall was constructed out of mud bricks which were built on a wooden beam. Once we removed the blocked in modern bricks, it was clear that this wall was being supported by the ceiling and wouldn't take much to be knocked over.
I had no intention of building the doorway now as there is so much to do elsewhere, and I was also thinking about making the opening a little larger, but this was going to be impossible and I didn't want to rebuilt the whole wall. So using light weight but incredibly strong Ytong blocks, I built a new doorway that both supported these original walls, but fitted in with my plans and gave me a look that I wanted for the house. I used the Ytong blocks to provide strength and detail, cutting them in the same way stone might have been used in the past. I've done this before in one of the bedrooms to give a relatively dull room some detail and character.
The walls are now amazingly sturdy and I'm pretty happy with the new doorway. The corridor behind has some natural light, and access to that living room has made this part of the house come to life.
I've still got to make a door to fit this new doorway and there is so much more to do in this project that it's often overwhelming... but facing the unexpected and coming out of it happy with the way things are going is a good feeling. Sometimes in life we just have to take it a day at a time and that way we might just get that sense of satisfaction we're striving for ♥️