Home, Archive, Stuff, Random thoughts, London, My Rigs, Pictures, Dreams, Links, About, Contact, Search

spikegifted - House Renovation 2006 to...


The idea of this page is go give you an idea the work the Ruler_of_spike and I put into our first house... We acquired our first property in a suburb of London, in the English county of Surrey. It is around 12 miles from the center of London. The acquisition was completed in May 2006, but we didn't move in until early June. The pictures below on the left were taken when we visited the house immediately after becoming the owners of the place. The pictures on the right (if any) were taken after we've completed some of the work of the place. We've spare you of the intermediate mess.


As you can see, it is a semi-detached, Victorian house. According to the deeds of the property, it was built around the 1870s... Typical of the semi-detached houses of that period, the entrance to the building is on the side of the building. You can see that some alterations have been done the building already as a porch has been added where the entrance should be. One of neighbors told us that the previous owner was considering chopping down the tree in the front garden to sell the place... Luckily she managed to convince him that the tree adds to the appeal of the house.

An early spring day and the magnolia was in full bloom! Good job the tree wasn't chopped down by the previous owner. Can you imagine missing such a beautiful sight?

After picking up the keys to the house, the Ruler_of_spike and I went straight over to the house to inspect what we've bought!! She was leading the charge. Notice the color of front door - this slightly off green. There was only one coat of paint on the wood. We later found out that the previous owner changed the door when the porch was built and for three years, left the door untreated. He only painted it on the weekend he put the house on the market. Some serious forward planning he took.

In fact the door was actually falling apart. Also, because it was left untreated for such a long time, the wood expands whenever it was humid. One day, after a lot of rain, the Ruler_of_spike found that she couldn't close the door in the morning. It was time to rid of the darn thing. New door, several coats of paint later... We have a nice new door!

This is the living area of the house. There were a couple of interesting things you'd notice straight away - 1) the floor has been stripped before and it has been dyed to a rather unnatural color; and 2) there was rising damp to the right side of the wall.

Several coats of white paint later the room is now brighter. Although you can't see the corner of the room because of the sofa, but the rising damp has now been fixed. Also, the wooden floor board has been stripped again to return it to a natural look. The horrible curtains were also out, and although we haven't decided what kind of curtains would be best for the room, we installed a mesh roller blind to give us some privacy.

Here is the close-up of the rising damp. It was not exactly subtle. When we went to view the house, there was a shelving unit at this corner and we didn't notice the damp. The more surprising thing was that the surveyor didn't pick up on this. That caused us to pay for an unexpected lump of money to fix.  
Still in the living area - we've the rather alarming color scheme going on here: a mixture of some kind of burnt-orange and brown-gunge with light pastel green. The style-police would have a field day here... (or is this the result of the style-Nazi going mad?)

The old cupboard space has been replaced by some built-in shelves. The horrid colors have also been covered up by our favorite color - white. The fireplace has been scrubbed and cleaned and the mantle piece was stripped of the old dark varnish. The style-Nazi can retire in peace!

You notice that we've also painted the mantelpiece white also. Originally, we merely removed the horrible dark varnish. We were going to either varnish it with a natural varnish or paint it a different color. However, we spent a few months thinking at it and its surrounding, we decided it was best to have it painted white also.

Finally, we acquired and then restored a Victorian mirror over the mantle piece. To complete the new look, we replace the old rice paper lamp shade with something a little more stately.

More photos: 1, 2, 3, 4
A shot from the living area back towards the porch. Shades of unnatural green and brown!

The new picture was the combination of a lot of work. By the time it was taken, we have finished renovating the living room, the dining room, the porch, added various furniture and other bits and piece. It's a good summary of all the hard work we've put in to get the place into shape.

Standing on the porch again, we're looking at the dining area. The burnt-orange theme was continuing here. Also, notice that there was a fire-place which was poorly patched up. The floor boards in this area has also been stripped and dyed. The Ruler_of_spike was beginning to look worried...

There was only one thing you can do to such horror - get rid of it! The horrible coat cupboard is gone, the floor boards were stripped and naturally varnished, the old fire-place was properly covered up and the whole place was given a coat of white paint (actually, I covered the walls with lining paper first before painting it white). The place looks light and airy, that's even with a dark solid oak table. The chandelier added the final touch to the room.

Looking back into the living area from the dining area.

This picture is a good summary of what we've done to the downstairs space. The walls have been painted white throughout. The horrible laminated floor covering on the floor of the porch has been removed and replaced by neutral color tiles. The front door has been replaced and the inside painted white to match the rest of the indoor space. And of course the floor boards have been stripped and varnished.

This shot of under the staircase was taken standing at the entrance of the kitchen. It looked like there was this mini-office under the stairs. The semi-permanent shelving units were an interesting touch.

The old 'office' has been converted to useful storage space. We hired a builder/carpenter (the same one who built the shelves in the living room) to modify the space into a series of cupboards. The theme continues - it's white!

Looking through the French windows from the dining area... With a bit of sunlight, it was evident how ugly the dye on the floor boards was. Also, notice the high-contrast theme going through the house - the orange curtains against the light green walls!

With white walls and neutral color curtains, the place looks less shocking.

Here, we're looking at the kitchen through to the 'utility room'. This was what they sold to us as a kitchen! The place was a wreck! The lino flooring was so dirty that it had a life of its own! The cooker on the extreme right edge of the photo was unsafe to deploy. Also, the tall cupboard was on the verge of collapsing. There was this inch-thick layer of dust on top of the shelving units and cat hair on every surface - horizontal, vertical and even up-side-down!

First of all, we were told by the electrician that the spotlights scattered around the kitchen ceiling (not visible) were not fire-safe, so they were removed and were replaced by a single central spotlight. You will also notice that the lino was taken out and replaced by real floor tiles. Also, various cupboards have been rebuild to make them safe to use. The unit what was next to the unsafe cooker was removed (along with the cooker itself and is now occupied by the new cooker.


More photo
We're now looking back through the kitchen into the dining area from the utility room. It actually didn't look too bad - until you see it close-up. Of course, we can't show you the close up in the photos. You don't know what you're missing. In case you're wondering, the dishwasher was not working.

Aside from painting the whole place white, we have also partly tiled the room with white tiles to allow more light to be reflected off the walls. The broken dishwasher and all the floor level units around that corner have been removed to create a breakfast bar - making the place looks less cluttered. The old dirty door has been replaced with a new one.

More photo
The rather grim- (and grimy-) looking utility room. The partially linoíed floor was just the start. Youíll no doubt notice the beautifully exposed hot water/central heating pipes.  
The utility room from the opposite end of the room. It looked equally grim from either direction. This used to the bathroom of the house. Victorian houses used to have toilets outside and some time in the past, the bathing area was converted to include toilet facilities. More recently, the previous owner moved the bathroom upstairs and converted this space into an utility area but left the toilet facility in place. It was rather inspire of him to have done that but we just wish he had finished the job properly...  
Downstairs toilet... What more can I say? Itís just dirt and grime. The only positive about it was that it worked.  
Weíre done with the ground floor. This is the staircase leading up to the first floor. Notice the Ruler_of_spike didnít look particular impressed. It is not difficult to understand why - the carpet on the stair was horrible, (you canít really see it in the picture) it was covered with rubbish and catís hair.  
Now, this was where the fun really started! On the ground floor, the floor boards in both the living and dining areas have been stripped and polished. However, from the stairs upwards, the boards were covered by carpets. Unless these were near new, we had no intention of keeping them. So, given how they look like, they just have to go, and quickly! This is the master bedroom. Notice, that carpet was almost threadbare. When I eventually removed it prior to moving in, I found newspaper used as lining under the carpet. They were dated from 1993! Also, take note of the beautifully made curtains. The previous owner must have bought them ready made, but could not be bothered to have it finished. So they were just held up by safety pins and dragged along the carpet. Eek!! Anyway, since they had no backing, the light would come right through the curtains even when drawn. Useless.

This room now looks like a different place! The horrible carpet has been ripped out and the floorboards stripped and varnished; the walls have been painted white and we've gotten rid of the horrible so-called curtains were removed and made way for a blacked-out roller blind. The addition of our bed and some bedside cupboards made the place more 'homely'.

Several interesting items here in this picture: 1) On both sides of the chimney breast, clothing storage have been built. However, the front of the 'doors' were merely covered with some cloth material, so you can actually see through the cover to the space behind. Interesting! 2) The walls of room was originally painted in a light yellow. How do we know that? Take a look at the exposed corner above the built-in storage... There. That was the original color. Just goes to show that whoever painted the room just ran out of paint, or enthusiasm, when the room was repainted. 3) What's the deal with those spot lights in front of the chimney breast? 

We decided to reuse the existing walldrop, the fabric was removed and I added some more solid backing to give the door frames a little rigidity. A pair of handles finished the job. The spot lights were removed, not a minute too soon.

The other side of the chimney breast with more grim-looking storage. And more of that 'beautiful' carpet... You can't really see it from the picture. However, the light (the bit of white hanging from the top of the picture) is actually just hanging from a hook-loop. The actual light was hanging off-center relative to the room and the previous owner has merely screwed a hook-loop into the ceiling and 'reposition' it near the center.

The old 'built-in' wardrobe to the left of the chimney breast was removed and the chest of draws added a little more storage to the room. So at least we don't walk into a monster of a 'thing' when we enter the room. Finally, our electrician moved the light to the middle of the room, instead of dangling off a hook.

Even then, the Ruler_of_spike was still smiling... She's a brave gal! The palm tree what is out in the front garden of the house is actually massive - it reaches up to the window of the master bedroom!  
Take one look at this room and you can tell itís a girlís room - lilac and blue. Now you can get a good idea of the state of the place - observe the state of the carpet, which is suppose to be reasonably new! Also, a girl was supposed to live in this place! I canít image how a Ďnormalí girl can live in such a state. Itís a disgrace!! The previous owner was supposed to get rid of all his stuff - we donít want any of it and even if we need any crap, we wouldíve gotten them ourselves. Also, you can see a wooden ladder located in a rather odd position in the room...

This was actually the first room we renovated. This set the tone for the rest of the house - stripped floor boards and white walls and ceiling. Although the wall-mounted shelving units are not ideally positioned, we decided to keep them where they're. Overall, as a first room to be completed, it has gone quite well. We learnt a lot of lessons here which became useful later in our renovation project.

More of that oddly located wooden ladder and the Ďhigh contrastí wall paint.

There was a very good reason for us to tackle this room first - we needed the wardrobe space. Having removed one of the 'built-in' wardrobe in the main bedroom, we were desperately short of storage space. As we've had these units from the last apartment, they came to our rescue.

So, just where does that set of wooden ladder lead to?  
This is where that oddly-located wooden ladder leads to: the smaller of the two loft areas of the house. This one has been converted by the previous owner to some kind of play area for his daughter, whose room was immediately below. This was the best looking room in the whole house, yet despite the fact that it is immediately under the roof, there is no insulation of any description. Also, please donít allow the photo to deceive you; you can barely stand up in this space. If you donít believe me, just take a look at the height of the the electrical sockets on the left wall relative to the rest of the space.  
This is the third bedroom... We call it the 'jungle room', for obvious reason. The carpet actually made a good substitute 'undergrowth'. I'm sure if a biologist was to investigate, new species could have been found living there!

No more 'jungle' in the 'jungle room'!!!! Don't let the picture fool you - the walls are white! Even the radiator has been painted. It was a horrible dirty creamy color.

Look at the art work that was in the room! See the countryside theme and all the details that went into the wall painting. Now, that took a lot of energy, planning, dedication and just plain hard work to get something like this on the wall. What a shame that whoever was painting that room wasn't using the same energy and dedication to renovate the house, or keeping it tidy and clean.

While we have a very definite idea what to use this nice little room for, that is in the future. In the mean time, we're using it as a temporary storage space.


That problem was that with such a small room, that amount of details made the room very cluttered and felt even smaller. While we recognized the hard work that gone into the such a wall painting, it just had to go. And what's the point of those horrible 'camouflage' on the wall? In case you can't see the detail - the wallpaper is 'textured'...

You don't know how much trouble I have had with that wall. After applying 'smooth-over', it still wasn't really smooth. So, we decided to apply lining paper to finish the job. We haven't decided which kind of a door to put there. While the folding door is a good idea owing to the limited space, I'm still convince that a proper door will make the room complete.

This was the upstairs bathroom. As mentioned before, the bathroom used to be downstairs where the utility room is now. In creating this bathroom, the portion of the 'jungle room' was carved up.  
This is our back garden! It was a cross between a field and a vegetable patch. There was more weed than grass in that lawn. Some of the grass was knee-high! The structure you see at the back was originally being marketed as a 'double garage'. However, after been pressed the estate agent back-tracked and said it was just a large shed. The first time I looked inside, there was a dismantled VW Beetle. There is even a pit in the middle so that a car can be worked on...

As the back garden was not a space that we lived in, it was a low priority. We eventually found time to lay a new lawn and plated some trees and some herbs and small plants. (This was how it looked like when I finished laying the turf.) You would not believe how much weed and rubbish there was in the garden. When I used to mow the old lawn, half the stuff collected was soil that was being kicked up from the mower. Now, at least the lawn has good grass and the weed is under control.