Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House Before and After Pictures

Front porch of renovated 1930's house

I have now compiled ‘before and after’ pictures, with the occasional ‘during’ photo (remember it always gets worse before it gets better) which I hope you’ll enjoy and give you momentum to commence or  finish your projects.

The renovation and restoration of a 1930’s house is finished! Are you ever finished in a home? Probably not.

Front Elevation

Before – Sad and neglected                                        After – Restored and extended


Before - The original 1930s' entrance hall prior to renovations.
Before – The original front entrance hall prior to renovations.
Original 1930's entrance hall
Before – The original hall was dark and poky.
Acro props before steel beam is installed
During an internal hall wall removal.


After - The finished entrance hall in a 1930's house
After – The completed entrance hall

Sitting Room

Before - The sitting room with the original 1930's brick fireplace.
Before – The sitting room with the original 1930s’ brick fireplace.
After - The original 1930's brick fireplace cleaned up
After – The original 1930’s brick fireplace was retained, so too were the original Crittal French doors.
Before Original 1930's sitting room complete with Crittal French doors and brick fireplace
Before – A 1930’s sitting room with original Crittal French doors and brick fireplace.


Before - The original 1930's dining room
Before – The original 1930’s dining room
During - The wall dividing the kitchen and dining room has been removed.
The dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room has been removed, to be re-positioned.
After - the completed new kitchen
After – The completed kitchen
After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.
After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall. Original servants bell box is re-hung – shame no staff though!
Open plan kitchen/diner/day room with bi-fold doors onto garden.
View into dining/ day room area from kitchen
Before- original 1930s' dining room
Before- the original dining room prior extension and renovation work – damp wall is now where clock is hung.

Living Room

Rear Footings 3rd feb 2015
Before – Laying the foundations
Painted Stove and Fireplace
During – Marking the wall for the multi-fuel stove
Trescotte Sitting Room Afer 073
After – The finished sitting room

Family Bathroom

Before- A tired and dated bedroom                         After – A family bathroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom during construction
The first fix electrics in the master bedroom
After - Large master bedroom with Heals four poster bed
After – The finished master bedroom
master bedroom with four poster bed from Heals
After – The large master bedroom complete with a four-poster bed from Heals.

The Loo

Before with original cistern          After – Re-sited and restored cistern

Guest Bedroom

Originally a landing with airing cupboard, bathroom with separate loo. Now a guest bedroom, painted in ‘Setting Plaster’ Farrow and Ball

Rear Elevation

Before – An overgrown garden                           Waiting to mature!

However carefully one plans either a renovation or restoration project, it rarely comes in on budget – it’s usually over budget. This is not just because of unforeseen problems like discovering structural problems once the work has commenced, it can due to adding a few extra plug sockets here and there (it all adds up) or choosing high specification kitchen, bathrooms and fittings. Usually it’s because we’ve under estimated the basic build/renovation costs – raw materials labour plus VAT.  Comparing your projected budget spread sheet to the actual costs spreadsheet, helps analyse where you under budgeted or over spent.

Did we go over budget? Yes, we knew we’d go over budget when we decided to install the Sonas system. However, the original quote was less than the final invoice due to the time-lapse between the first fix and completion – the labour and equipment had increased in price. The quote was valid for 30 days only, lesson learned.  The building material costs were higher too, despite having a breakdown of these costs from the supplier which our budget spreadsheet was based upon. Generally, the majority of people under-estimate their expenditure.

With the uncertainty of property the market, and the impact Brexit may have, many home owners are opting to improve their current home instead of moving. Having had nearly forty years experience in renovating properties, although home values may dip from time to time, they always go up, and on the whole a good investment.

If you think I can be of benefit to you and your project, whether big or small just contact me.

Floor tiles on cloakroom floor and entrance floor

Artwork by Kim Major George



Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (17) What a Load of Rubbish

The Front Porch
The Front Porch
The Front Porch

Although we enjoyed the ideal weather in July ( I warned you I was way behind with progress updates) we were still waiting for the roofers to return to finish off the garage, porch and boiler room rooves. Once completed the render can be applied and then painted. We are also waiting for the electrician to come and complete connecting the light switches and sockets, so we can have light and power. This would certainly help with the tangle of assorted extension leads around the house.

New wiring, along with current supply is the power hub
Electricity Hub and tea making station on what was the pantry shelf


The front of the house is finally being cleared of rubbish and transformed from building site to drive. We hired ‘grab’ lorries to take away the enormous pile of Earth, brick and stones. Although not cheap, these lorries can remove and takeaway far more debris than skips, which is more cost effective in the long run. Our eight yard skip ( one of many to be hired from this company during the whole renovation) was now full to bursting, and I rang the company to collect it and to hire another in exchange. The company I had used had recently been bought by another larger waste management company, who had no record of me, my skip, account number or address, so wouldn’t come and remove it. They asked if I was sure it was their skip, to which I replied, it’s bright red with your company name painted on the side. Despite this, they still insisted that the skip didn’t belong to them. Not sure what to do with a full skip sitting in the drive, I asked for their advice. One man suggested I pay for the skip to be removed and emptied. I had already paid for this service when I first hired the skip, and was not going to pay again. I suggested to them that as I required another skip, and they couldn’t find my account, that I would have to go to another skip hire company for them to collect the full skip and deliver another, and that the new company could keep the skip. I was told that I couldn’t do that, as the skip didn’t belong to me. (Well I had paid for it, and you keep telling me it doesn’t belong to you). Over several weeks phone calls were exchanged, and became a source of amusement to everyone on site. In the meantime, I hired a skip from a different company so we could continue with clearing the site. Eventually they found my account, and came to collect the skip. Quite a cheer went up! I was asked if I wanted another skip, but declined their offer, it was too much like hard work.

Some of the earth left at the front of the house was piled up with a digger to form a raised bed, in front of the hedge, and a retaining barrier was created using sleepers which were bolted together for strength. A stone slab footpath was laid to one side, for ease of wheelie  bin maneuvering on collection days.  Dragging a heavy bin over gravel is no fun. One was poured and spread over the cleared drive area and flattened with a whacker plate to form a base for 20 mm pea shingle to be spread out on top to form a drive. What a difference, the whole front facade was transformed. It actually looked like a drive. We spent another sunny Saturday planting  some herbaceous plants in the rear garden with my mum. Although her gardening days have gone, she enjoyed directing us from her wheelchair, and a day in the garden was enjoyed by all.

A Saturday was spent sorting out numerous stacked boxes, containing, what would be the fitted kitchen. First we separated the unit door fronts from the carcass’s into different piles, and set to constructing the units as per instructions. Each one was labeled on completion with masking tape for identification purposes, and roughly placed as per the kitchen plan. We needed a quiet day, without interruption or people wandering about, so we could concentrate. The cupboard fronts were left packaged and safety stacked until the units had been fitted to the walls. The majority of our kitchen order had arrived as promised, apart from the dishwasher and hob, to which we received no reason for non delivery from the suppliers. The washing machine did arrive, although damaged, so was returned, with the promise to deliver another within the week. Needless to say this didn’t happen, and after several weeks of phone calls I eventually returned to the shop to chase not only the washing machine, but also the hob and dishwasher. Fortunately this did not delay the initial unit fitting. Apparently the washing machine delivery people didn’t think we still wanted the washing machine. Really? Why would we purchase something that we didn’t want? The washing machine finally arrived the following week. The dishwasher was crammed into the rear of my car, but we had to wait another two months for our chosen hob, as there was a manufacturing fault which had to be corrected.

The kitchen at least was beginning to look like a kitchen, albeit with a temporary ply work top and no splash backs. But to have running cold ( still no hot at this stage) water from the sink was luxury indeed. We’re constructing our own central island unit, with a ‘pop up plug’.

Sensio PowerPod 13A 3-Gang & Dual USB Pop-Up Power Socket Black Nickel     This plug can be pushed in and out of the work top when required, comes with a useful USB port,  and has been designed around standard available units. The kitchen cannot be completed with kick boards until the flooring has been laid.

Aperture waiting for screens
Aperture waiting for screens

The kitchen flooring cannot be laid until the glass partitions have been sourced and installed. I have scoured salvage sites, Ebay and  companies specializing in steel framed doors and partitions.The former drew a blank due to available sizes and difficulty in transportation. The latter much too expensive. Discussions with different trades on site on other possibilities was solved by our excellent carpenter Tom, who suggested using Tulip wood and staining it, and put us in touch with a local small family run joinery company called Goodwood  Joinery. We had drawn out a scaled plan, which Tom then re measured which were sent to the joiners. There was an 8- 10 week delivery lead time, and we would need to order and put in our own safety glass, and stain it ourselves, but we had plenty of other work to carry on with, and the partitions only delayed the finished floor being laid. With lots of trades in and out of the house, this was probably fortunate.

The central boarding has been removed and wooden spindles inserted into the original aperture, so we can retain the original oak banister rail. These will be a time consuming job to paint, but has opened the space, and allows for more light through the  hall.

The roofers arrived! They have now completed the tiling on the remaining rooves. The electrician arrived! I shrieked a thrill of excitement when the lights went on, and we could finally boil the kettle from a wall socket, rather than disconnecting someone’s tool, or worse radio!

That’s more like it!


Seaside Rendevous

Coastal or seaside, although is a key trend this season, is always popular, especially in bathrooms, it must be all the water!  Our love affair of glorious summer days spent by the coast. Blue skies and sea, sandy beaches, stripped check chairs and wind breaks (if you’re on the East coast). Fishing, hunting for crabs and collecting shells. Whether your idea of coastal is the pared down natural look, nautical, or  bright deck chair stripes reminding you of Brighton beach, there are products for you.


The coastal style can be introduced successfully into your home ( other than the bathroom) even if most of us aren’t lucky enough to live by the sea. The trick is not to be overly themed, keep it subtle.  Obvious accessories like wooden fish and  boats should be kept to a minimum.  Blue is the first colour which generally springs to mind, sometimes with a dash of red used as an accent colour, on furniture or fabric. Vibrant cobalt and inky indigo give a fresh feel.

Fabrics  Striped, plain  natural linens and clever designs for curtains, cushions and bedding.

Blue is not the only choice of colour. Try using the colour of coral, sea shells, or sand.

Team with grey striped fabric (to echo a cloudy sky).

Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin
Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin

Flooring – Any natural flooring looks great, whether painted in an off white or natural wood. Natural  seagrass carpets or a textured rug all add to the tactile elements required.


Accessories –  Cleverly displays of collections will add impact. Seascape paintings hung on the walls, fisherman’s lamps hung over the dining table. Glass hurricane lamps filled with pebbles to secure a candle, placed on a table. Seashells used as ornaments or displayed in a glass jar. Mismatched tableware add style, using the same colour theme. Lobster pots as ornaments. All major high street stores and supermarkets have a range of goods emanating the trend, to suit all budgets. I was impressed with Matalan’s range for a great selection at great prices. Team up with items found in different shops, to avoid looking contrived.


Furniture – Rough textured wood for furniture to echo driftwood. Reclaimed wooden furniture is perfect for adding a relaxed seaside vibe. Paint dining chairs different shades of blue, or cover with a stripped fabric.



Adding Value to Your Home

Add value from top to bottom
Add value from top to bottom

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will ever make, therefore as well as making it as comfortable as possible for ourselves whilst living in our home, we want to get the maximum return on our investment too. Location is a key element. You can change the property, but not the location. The more desirable the location, generally the higher the price you will have to pay.However the returns should pay dividends when you eventually sell. If you don’t have the necessary funds for the best location, you may decide to buy a house in a popular road, but at the ‘dodgy end’ of the same road, or in an area adjacent to the ‘prefferred’ area in the hope that the area will eventually become more desirable. This can work, but should be viewed as a longer term return on your capital investment. You may have to wait a long time.

Advice The thrill of owning your own home can carry you away on a DIY spree, or with builders quotes for major improvements. Do not be too hasty to knock down walls, live in the house or flat for a while, find out what works and doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle. Long term homes evolve gradually. For shorter term homes used as a step ladder in the property market, think about who your target market will be when you come to sell. Who will want to live in your property, what will they need and want. Then plan any updating and renovations on this basis. immaterial of your goals, do your sums first, do not over do or over develop as this can have a derogatory effect and end up costing you. Recently I have viewed properties which are in need of renovation. The asking price did not particularly make it a bargain to instantly grab. After planning and costing the work necessary to bring the property up to standard, I asked the selling agent what selling price could realistically be achieved. The agent suggested a vague figure. “Oh” I said. “By the time I had bought the property, spent X amount on it, not mentioning the blood, sweat and tears) the house will be worth maybe a little more, or even less than it had actually cost me”. The agent replied that I should look at it as a long term investment. Even so, you at least want to break even, better still make some money for all your efforts, otherwise you might as well go and buy something already completed and lovely, and save yourself all the grief and bother. The same can be said when over developing a property on very expensive and unnecessary improvements. Use the existing values of  houses in the same vicinity as a guide for the ceiling price which could realistically be achieved, and don’t forget to take market fluctuations into account too.

Value Added

Kitchen – Will add up 4-5 % value. A well planned and designed kitchen help sell a property. It will also give you pleasure whilst working in it. Don’t install a very expensive kitchen in a modest house,  your gain will not cover the cost of the kitchen. Likewise a very cheap kitchen could de -value an up market home. Think about which style of kitchen is going to suit your target market. You may love bright orange, but will they?

Bathroom -Will add  will add up 3% to the value. Keep it simple by adding a white suite,  a shower screen (if over the bath) instead of a curtain.  a chrome heated towel rail, nice taps and shower heads.

Conservatories or Orangeries – Will add   up  7% to the value. Create extra square footage by adding a conservatory or orangery.  Always build it as big as you can, but do not compromise your garden. Place furniture in it for it’s intended use i.e. dining or lounging area. Make the space flow from the existing house and not look like an added ‘bolt on’ afterthought.

Loft Conversions – Will add  up to 12.5  %  to the value Use a ‘dead’ space for living space and extra square footage. However be careful not to compromise  the existing accommodation  to fit in the stairs  i.e. by encroaching on small bedrooms or landings. Employ a specialist company to plan and execute the work. Building Regulations will be required.

Converted Cellars and Basements Unless your home is worth £300 per square foot, which is the cost of doing a basement, you will not get a return on your investment, only add extra living space. Though expensive, this is a very popular choice of adding extra living space for kitchens or family rooms. A specialist basement conversion company should be hired to carry out the works.

 Garages –  Not many houses actually use the garage for their car. It is often used for storing stuff. Turn it into living space. The cost will be approximately £10,000. To calculate the added value simply multiply the square footage gained by the local price per square foot of property.

Less is more, it is better to do less very well with good quality fixtures, fittings and finish, than more done badly.

Hall, Stairs and Landings

Hall, stairs and landings are often overlooked and viewed as busy thoroughfares, as a means to get from one room to another or out of the house. These areas are often small, cramped or resemble little more than corridors. The hall is the first impression visitors receive when entering the home and an organized, welcoming space sets the tone for the rest of the home.

Storage – before you even consider wall colour, remember the hall needs to provide instant, accessible organized storage for the items you discard as soon as you walk in through the front door, coats, shoes, keys and umbrellas. The space available will obviously dictate your options of course. If there is room, a built in cloaks cupboard is ideal with a shoe rack. This will hide all the clobber. Failing that, a simple coat hook for everyday wear and visitors coats will suffice. Do not overload the rack as this looks untidy and obstructs the thoroughfare. A shoe rack can be placed below the coat rack, which  will contain shoes which have been kicked off and abandoned in the middle of the hall. A bench with storage  will also provide somewhere to sit down to pull on boots and provide much needed storage for hats and gloves etc. An umbrella stand is useful, and there are some lovely tall pots available which will do the job. A table for keys and mail, however small is useful, or perhaps a slimline shelf if space is at a premium. You may have room for a chest of drawers or armoire providing extra storage for over spill from bedrooms or linen storage. Built in slim line shelves for books or baskets filled with items needed from time to time.

Flooring – Hall floors need to be robust to cope with outdoor footwear. Whatever you choose make sure you have a good foot mat to take off the worst of dirt and grime. Hardwearing floor tiles are easy to clean in a pale neutral colour help the space feel bigger and if laying new, ask your tiler to drop the door mat into the tiles. This prevents the foot mat sliding around the hall. Carpet on stairs and landings is still a popular choice, avoiding the excess noise of feet clumping up and down the stairs. Choose a very hardwearing woven carpet preferably with a high wool content to cope with the heavy traffic, and in a colour to blend with the hall flooring. This gives an illusion of space and merges the spaces together for a cohesive look.

Lighting – This needs to be welcoming and not over powering. The lighting needs to be bright on the stairs for safety reasons, but not so bright it flattens any interesting shadows. Create atmosphere with table lamps, wall lights and add a large decorative pendant light.

Mirrors and lighting have been used to light and add interest to the stair well.
Mirrors and lighting have been used to light and add interest to the stair well.

Fabrics and Colour’s – Hall, stairs and landings need to link with other rooms harmoniously, so colour’s and patterns shouldn’t  be too bold. To disguise the ‘corridor’ effect try painting the doors the same colour as the walls. Use a good quality, spongeable, durable paint which will withstand the wear and tear. Add colour and interest with a runner or rug and a blind or curtains.

Accessories – Well chosen accessories make the functional space feel lived in. Pictures or a framed photograph gallery displayed together, or a clock. Use mirrors to reflect the light and create a feeling of space. Mirrors are also good for the last minute face and hair check before going out of the front door. A vase of flowers or a plant too add finishing touches.

Is It Curtains For You?

When choosing window treatments for a room consider the rooms use, the shape and size of the window and the view from it.

If you have an unpleasant view or are overlooked and have the need for privacy consider:

Wooden Shutters – Choose from those with adjustable slats allowing you to control the amount of light and privacy required. These are available in many colour’s to fit in with your room colour scheme. They are quite expensive, but look great and will last for many years. Uses – any room including conservatories. Intricately carved wooden shutters with bi-fold hinges, enabling them to adjust to your preferences.

Window Film – Is a quick and economical way to gain privacy without blocking out too much light.It is an obscure film which is stuck directly to the glass and is available in patterned options too. Uses – any room.

Venetian Blinds – A practical solution at a reasonable cost. Uses – any room.

Stained Glass – A beautiful stained glass panel allows light to filter through, creating privacy and a focal point. Uses – front doors, cloakroom, bathrooms, hall, stairs or landings.

Cafe Curtain – Made from light weight sheer fabric, which is hung from a pole across the centre of a window. This looks good only if you have a window with a central bar.

Mirror – If natural day light is available from other sources in the room, a mirror which looks like a window can be hung in front of the window obscuring the view. The mirror will reflect the light from other windows in the room.

Room with a View – If you are lucky enough to have a room with a view, bring the view into the room. use simple window dressing with curtains made from light weight or sheer fabric, which infuse the light into the room. If the need for darkness i.e. bedrooms, a black out roller or Roman blind can be added in the recess for night use.

Large Windows – Floor to ceiling curtains make a huge statement to a room, and can be expensive due to the meterage required. Adding a border of fabric in colour’s to match the rooms decor  onto less expensive plain curtain fabric cleverly pulls the scheme together. Braids and trimmings can be used in the same way. Coloured or patterned lining used for plain curtains adds an element of surprise.

Choosing the Style – As well as creating a certain ‘look’, curtains can produce optical illusions, so that the dimensions of the window, even the room can appear to be altered.

Make a Window Look Wider – Extend the track or rod beyond the window frame. This means the curtains don,t overlap the windows when they are pulled back, and lets maximum light in.

Disguising Architectural Irregularities – Treat different shapes and sizes of windows and doors in the same way. If necessary have an entire wall covered with fabric when the curtains are drawn across.

Reducing the Height of a Window – Use a shaped pelmet or valance. This always looks elegant. The deeper the pelmet or ornate the valance, the grander the effect.

Reducing the Width of a Window – Use tie backs and join the curtains at the top in the middle.

To Make a Small Window Look Bigger – Improve the proportions by mounting Cafe curtains which are mounted wider than the window.

Maximize Light on a Dormer Window – Use a right angled, U-shaped track or rod so curtains can be kept clear of the window, even when drawn back.

To Enhance a Beautiful Window – Do not obscure it. if you are lucky enough to have a window which is architecturally pleasing, emphasize it’s shape. Over an arched window use a curved pelmet. For a simpler solution use a rod which is wide enough to clear the window by day.

Setting the Style Decor – Remember as a general rule, full length curtains look elegant and often formal. Sill length curtains look more informal.