6 min read, written by Neil + Fi
Those who follow this blog will know our story, we've told it in short form lots before but perhaps never from this angle…
Where it all began
In 2016 we were living in a 1 bedroom flat and wanted more room (being a blogger and photographer needs a bit of space!)
We originally began our search looking at houses that were already renovated, but as some of you will relate to, there was always something we had to compromise on with every house we viewed – whether it was 1 less bedroom or settling for someone else’s design choices.
Then, an idea was put on the table (probably at the pub!)
How about we use the equity we were to obtain from the impending sale of our flat to renovate a house from scratch?
Interested. Tell me more.
All of this was amidst clinging on for dear life to the sale of our flat in 2016, when our country had voted for Brexit, with a European buyer with seriously cold feet.
Cue Fi having a very stressful call with our prospective buyer, “It’ll be fine, Brexit won’t make a difference.”
Thankfully despite her naive political knowledge, they bought!
Our hunt for a fixer upper
Meanwhile, we started to explore fixer uppers in the area and viewed some seriously dated houses with design choices that would make your grandma's toes curl. Yes, we had the pleasure of enduring the stench of some extreme smelling WCs! It was bad, but also exciting with the possibilities. All the time we were reminding ourselves; what an immense project this will be to do together.
We instantly fell in love with the property we ended up buying, it's 1930's features, beautiful red brick, arched doorway creating serious kerb appeal vibes, and plenty of space for all of our stuff.
I remember walking into the empty house when we first got the keys and couldn’t believe how much more space we had than the 1 bed flat we just said goodbye to.
The interior was dated yes, it had no central heating or gas, every visible surface was covered in decades-old wallpaper and carpet. We knew it was going to be a lot of work, and if we’re completely honest, we probably didn't understand just how difficult the work would be… naivety leads you to some good places.
Renovating the house
The main renovation took two years done in three phases.
The first phase was to make it liveable since we had to preserve our sanity over the next couple of years. In this phase we sorted out all of the structural, and critical repair issues – recommended since you shouldn't tackle a renovation with a leaky roof (for obvious reasons). We also set about making the living room and one of the bedrooms lovely so that we could feel at home (and not in an old people's home!).
The next phase was the biggest and most expensive of all and this was the kitchen diner, utility room and hallway remodel. Fi was working from home at the time and I remember her calling me on the phone one day because there was no escape from the hammer drill! This remodel phase took about 10 weeks and it was one of the most disruptive of all, the dust and noise was unbelievable.
Then the third phase, we did our bathroom and landing and it was surprisingly the trickiest in terms of getting the design right. Who’d have thought it, being such a small space?
Where we’re at now
We're not quite finished, we still have the main bedroom left to do but we actually decided that we'd take a few months off renovating! We learned it can get a bit much being in constant disruption mode and so we have grand travelling plans for later this year as a reward for how hard we've worked.
In this 'downtime' (although there's not much of that when you both have full time jobs and side hustles) we had time to reflect on our successes. We were so proud of what we had achieved, granted we hadn't changed the world here but for the first time in our lives we had taken a risk and it had really paid off.
With all of this work and all of the blogging that went along with it, we confess we'd taken our eyes off the ball on something. This blog.
It's only when I took a look into Fi’s website traffic for this blog, that we realised - wow, in the midst of dust and renovation, the blog has really taken off.
There was clearly something about our story, or the way that we told it, that was resonating with our readers and people were finding the content we produced to be providing real value for their renovations.
If we haven’t properly thanked you yet, thank you so much for reading this blog, by the way!
A business is born
Our experience throughout the renovation was now really helping people and in January we began selling the planners that got us through our renovation successfully in our shop.
The feedback we’re getting from selling these planners has been incredible. Buoyed by the sales/feedback of these products, we now have grander plans to help even more people get the support they need when they’re renovating a house for the first time.
There’s not much in the line of help out there for first time renovators, but armed with 2 years of dust, sweat and tears, we’ve learned it all. We’re in a position to start helping even more people through our upcoming How to Renovate a House online course.
So far it has taken around three months of graft to meticulously plan and create a course that can fulfil our promise of making first time renovations simpler, again sacrificing our evenings and weekends. But with such an amazing opportunity to help renovators like us, and to turn a blog into a business, we have been jumping at the challenge.
Getting the balance right with our informative and friendly blog, our particular sense of style, photography, and brand we hope to set ourselves apart and become the friendly go-to resource for home life improvement and inspiration.
The most exciting part is being able to work towards something that has a lot of meaning and purpose. We’re passionate about helping people build happy homes.
It’s just the start…
Some of the key things we have learned since beginning this renovation and business journey:
We work amazingly as a team, compensating for each others weaknesses.
Fi just chimed in saying “what weaknesses do I have?!” *eye rolls*
Nothing comes easily, sacrifices have to be made.
Through adversity comes skills and strength.
Sometimes risks are worth taking.
Short term pain, long term gain.
Always challenge your choices.
Just keep showing up.
We spotted this the other day and it resonated so much that we have since stuck it on the wall of our office.
The online course is due for release in June 2019. If you’re renovating or know someone who is, point them in our direction, sign up to get notified of its release.
Life throws you some very fun challenges and we’re so excited to see where this takes us.
Thanks for reading,
Neil & Fi