Although outdated and needing work, Lesley Blair saw boundless potential in this project property, even if her other half didn’t. Here, she shares her home makeover story…
I first saw this property on Rightmove at a time when my husband Colin and I weren’t actually looking to move house. Although I had only stumbled upon it online during a routine scroll, there was just something about it that piqued my interest.
I arranged a viewing and, reluctantly, Colin accompanied me to check it out. It was an old property and quite clearly hadn’t been updated in a very long time. Colin dismissed it, saying it needed too much work, and we left – him thinking it was a no-go.
I, on the other hand, am never one to turn down a challenge. I had a good feeling about the property so, unbeknown to Colin, I put in an offer on a whim, and it was accepted!
I then had a very difficult telephone conversation with Colin explaining that I had, in fact, bought the house. There was silence on his end of the line for an uncomfortable minute, before he said, ‘you’re unbelievable’, and I knew that he was – finally – on board.
Welcome to my home…
A bit about me I’m Lesley Blair, 50 (@lesley_at_home). I live here with my husband Colin, 53, and our dogs Diesel and Lucy.
Where I live My home is a three-bedroom Victorian semi in Glasgow, built in 1902. I’ve lived here for five years.
The house hadn’t been touched since the 1970s so it needed a lot of love.
The central heating system and electrics needed upgrading, and all of the single-glazed windows needed replacing too. That was just the beginning – doors, facings, skirtings and just about everything else needed work.
On the day we moved in we began removing wallpaper and old carpets. Our new Smeg cooker and fridge-freezer wouldn’t fit into the kitchen among all of the fitted units, so I called family around to remove the whole thing. Colin returned from work that day to find that we had no kitchen at all.
We had a joiner, electrician and a plasterer here for the best part of a year working to get the house finished.
A bit more about my home…
What I wanted to change Every room needed work, but my priorities were upgrading the central heating system and electrics, as well as replacing the original single-glazed windows.
How I made it my own Art plays a huge part in making a house feel like home to me, so I’ve hung pieces I’m drawn to throughout the house to personalise the space.
My favourite part It’s close to the city and the countryside, plus it’s comfortable, homely and excellent for entertaining. It’s everything I dreamt of!
In different circumstances, we might have tackled the renovation a room at a time, but there was so much to do that we thought it better to take on as much of it as we could so it could be completed as soon as possible.
I won’t lie, juggling long hours at work while managing an entire house renovation was horrendous. But the satisfaction and pride of having achieved everything we have on a limited budget and within a very narrow time frame was worth the struggle.
‘Originally, the dining area in here had an arch, which we squared off to increase the height. We removed the back boiler from inside the wall cavity (the grey wall is actually a false wall) and the water tank, which is now the alcove to the left of the fireplace.
‘We had the room replastered and repainted white, for a fresh feel, and grey on the faux chimney breast, which made the space so much brighter. This room is where we spend most of our time – dining, watching TV and just hanging out together – so comfort was key.’
‘After ripping out the entire kitchen on the day that we moved in, we ended up being without a kitchen for 14 months.
‘I didn’t want to compromise on quality but, equally, we needed to make our new home liveable relatively quickly and on a fairly tight budget.
‘I’m used to managing budgets for work projects, so I’m quite well-practised at operating within my means, which most certainly helped. The kitchen, untouched since the ’70s, had an Artex ceiling and was damp with a horrible odour.
‘When we eventually got around to renovating, I chose simple white units teamed with grey metro kitchen tiles that were a bargain buy at £12 per sq m at Homebase. It was such a happy moment when, finally, my Smeg oven was fitted.’
‘I had to remove the fireplace and reposition the radiator in the master bedroom, which left a huge hole in the wall and was a nightmare to do. But doing the less technical jobs ourselves saved us a lot of money in the end, even if it did ruin my nails. The wall had to be bonded and then plastered again, and it was painted white.
‘One day, I decided that my artwork would look better against a dark wall so, on a whim, I painted it in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe. The flooring is solid oak and is the same as the rest of the house. I had it all fitted at the same time so there aren’t any joins.’
‘Just like in the master bedroom, we removed the fireplace and had to bond and replaster the walls. We repositioned the radiator to under the window and painted the walls in Farrow & Ball’s Manor House Gray, which is an exact match to the Feather & Black bed frame.
‘This room receives a lot of natural sunlight and is very bright, so I fitted blackout Roman blinds to allow overnight visitors a little extra sleep in the mornings.’
‘The bathroom was really spacious, which I loved, but I didn’t like being met with the loo as soon as I opened the door, so
I had it repositioned and placed in a corner. We removed the original tiles only to discover another layer of tiles, which we subsequently removed.
‘We replastered and painted the walls white, just like the rest of the house. I couldn’t resist the black Porcelanosa terrazzo tiles for the floor and bath edge. They cost me half my budget and took four months to arrive, but they were worth waiting for.’
What I learned…
If you can, go and live somewhere else during a home renovation. It’s not practical and is very stressful living on a building site. Ideally, live somewhere close by to the renovation, so you can easily call in and check on the progress of the project.
If budget allows, hire a project manager. Ultimately, it will save you time and money.
Accept that these things take time and patience, but are almost always worth it in the end. Also, make sure you do your research to find the best bargains – your purse will thank you in the end.