🏠 Renovating The New House

A photo diary

Sean Handley
8 min readOct 3, 2021

Back in Summer 2020 we took the plunge and bought this fixer-upper town house!


We loved the area with the gorgeous hills, trees and river right on our door step ❤

But it needed some serious love! Flimsy built in wardrobes, peach porcelain, threadbare carpets, pervasive cat smell, small rooms, weird layout, and very dated decoration.

It had belonged to a lady who bought it in 1988 and retired. I’m sure it was perfect for her but definitely not for our family of four!

Making Our Changes

The first phase of the work took around 3 months and involved gutting the whole house. We started in October with an ambitious plan to move in before Christmas.

Here’s the original layout.

The Kitchen

We love to cook and bake so the kitchen was the absolute highest priority for us. Our old house had a tiny, dingy kitchen with very little surface space and so we wanted something spacious, clean and modern.

Here’s the kitchen as it was when we got the keys at the end of September 2020:

Besides the tired tiles and faded units, the room itself was pretty tiny! Luckily, right next to it was a similarly boxy dining room:

We’ve wanted a “proper” kitchen for ages, and the dining room is barely big enough for a table… so the plan is clear! Let’s pull that wall out and make space for a modern kitchen diner with an island.

We consulted with a bespoke kitchen design company and got some mock-ups.

Cheesecake not included.

We went with a handle-less design in charcoal grey with an island unit topped with white quartz composite and wood laminate surfaces and shelves. We also got a ton of storage built into the island itself as well as some massive pull out larder cupboards and space for a double fridge-freezer.

Time to get to work

Bomb site!

We pulled out the stud wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Also there was a corridor with a cloakroom toilet tucked in the corner so we pulled all that out as well to get a bit more kitchen space. We also pulled out the old units and cooker, moved the conservatory door and widened the doorway leading to the living room.

Immediately we felt nervous and excited — we’d bought a house and now (for the time being) we’d made it totally uninhabitable. No pressure but we need to get it right!

While the kitchen was being built we also had to ensure the new boiler was fitted, plumbing and electrics done and re-plastering. Everything had to be in place for our designated fitting week.

Fitting week came and the kitchen team came down and began fitting units, getting the oven, sink and dishwasher installed. Weirdly, the room felt bigger once it had the units in!

Once the bulk of the kitchen was installed, it started to feel like it was becoming a house again.

Checking out the new sink with Oscar!


As well as all the kitchen, we had the living room, bedrooms and bathroom still to do!

Clockwise: Master Bedroom, Oscar’s Room, Bathroom, Living Room

We stripped out the carpets and wallpaper and ripped out the peach porcelain.

More carnage! Bye bye peach porcelain 🍑

We also took out the old gas fireplace in the living room, ripped out all that flimsy built-in storage, knocked a wall down between the master bedroom and a puzzlingly tiny “dressing room”. We also made the bathroom bigger so we could fit a large free-standing bath 🛀

Fitting the bathroom

Carpets and Moving In

Once the plastering was done and the skirting boards went on, it was time to get the carpets and floors installed.

Starting to feel like home…

At this point we hadn’t started the garage conversion but we were pretty much ready to move in!

Looking nicer with paint on the walls!
A delighted Oscar!

The Garage Conversion

Once we were in, we had a break to settle and gave some thought to the layout of our garage conversion. The garage was the size of the whole floor-plan of the house so we had a lot of options.

When we bought it!
Preparing to insulate the floor and put up stud walls.

We decided to put a new living room at the front (replacing the garage doors with french windows), a utility/storage room to the side, a shower room at the back, and a small office/study room on the other side.

Meanwhile through the Winter I was holed up in the conservatory as my temporary office.

The Finished House

In July, around 10 months after getting the keys, we were finally finished!

In the end we replaced the floor in the kitchen with the same wooden laminate we used in the garage — the vinyl tile floor we had installed originally was really poor and started to warp and bubble almost immediately!

The Kitchen & Living Room

Clockwise: Kitchen x 3, Living Room, View, Sideboards, Sofa

The Bathroom and Bedrooms

Clockwise: Bath, Toilet, Master Bedroom, View, Oscar’s room

The Garage Conversion

Clockwise: Living room, Units/Piano, French Doors, Office/Study, Shower Room, Utility Room


So here we are almost a year later and we’re all done. There were times in the process we wondered whether we’d ever get the place liveable but it was so worth it — now we have the house exactly as we want it 😁