Home | Buying our first house

As we now are celebrating being in our home two years (where did that time go!) it got me thinking about the whole buying process. It all seemed so stressful at the time but now that I look back here is the advice I would give my younger self. 

Be prepared to sacrifice 

If you’re starting to save for your first home, like we did, I took a long hard look at my monthly income and outgoings, and this was the daunting start to our process. This allowed me to calculate my bills and my disposal income, shockingly I had more disposable income than I thought, by no means a millionaire, but multiple trips to the shops and online orders seemed to take a large proportion of my salary. That’s the first thing I cut back on, not completely but sacrifices had to be made. 

Save, save and save some more

Although I’ve just said I didn’t completely cut back I was very concise of what I bought, I became more aware of disposable fashion and make up and things had only to be bought for a purpose. There is much more than a deposit, there is solicitors fees, furniture and installation charges. It really racks up so be realistic with the money you can save keep that in mind for your mortgage payments. I went to a mortgage advisor to workout our budget and what were affordable monthly payments. One thing I will say was that with our salaries they were willing to give us more than we originally thought, we could have gone for a higher mortgage with higher monthly payments and probably a bigger house but really we wanted to make it manageable. Only do want you can afford, it’s important to be able to live and enjoy your new home. 

Compromise is key

Whether you’re buying on your own, with your partner or with a friend. Once you have an idea of budget, make a list of things that are ideal. Now go through this list and look through the things that you would compromise on. For us location, south facing garden and car parking were essential. It would have been ideal to have a semi detached, separate dining room, downstairs toilet but unfortunately this was not possible so we had to compromise and what’s important is, for us this is our first home, it’s unlikely we or you will stay there forever and the next house, once you get some time under your belt and maybe a little more saving, you will be able to incorporate these desirable into your essential list. 

Don’t let looks get the better of you

If you walked into a shop that is beautifully decorated and tidy you’re more likely to buy right…it’s the same with houses. The difference is there is only 1 house and lots of buyers. If an estate agent thinks a house has potential they will do an open day. That’s what happened with the first house we bid on. If a house is well decorated, you can see yourself living there. That’s exactly what we thought and although we set a budget there were multiple bidders and we seen ourselves go £12,000 above our budget and £16,000 over the asking price. What were we thinking, we got carried away and I just hope that the other buyers could afford. No matter what, when the furniture is removed and the rooms are bare, it looks completely different and then you will want to reprint walls and change things around. Interiors are not worth blowing your budget, you can and will make improvements as you go along. 

Try not to get emotionally invested 

My dream home is a old house which we can renovate. We viewed multiple houses and fell in love with this one which looking back now was completely impractical, particularly for our first home. We were sale agreed but knew it needed a lot of work and a couple weeks later we got a complete building survey, our dreams were shattered. The house was in such bad disrepair beyond our naive eyes. It need completely rewired, the chimney was about to fall in, repointing on the outside, wood root, a second damp course and to top it all off asbestos. Our surveyor (who was lovely) and we met him at the house while he was doing the survey gave us some pretty good advice. Without £40,000 before we moved in, it would be impossible for us to make the house liveable, all before we even lifted a paintbrush for the internal. This was a tough blow, we were devastated, because we were emotional involved in the house. We were annoyed that we paid £800 for a survey that proved this wasn’t our dream home, really we should have been happy, we identified the problem and saved ourselves a painful and stressful journey but at the time it was difficult not to think that we had wasted that money for a survey. That’s the trick the survey was vital for us to know that was not a sensible investment. 

Don’t be afraid of professional advice

We took advice from anyone who would help and not my mum or dad but professional advice. We went to a mortgage advisor, who proved to give us a better rate on our mortgage than going directly to the banks. We also took advice from our building surveyor on that and the house we eventually bought. Our solicitor who helped us along the way, I called a lot and I’m sure he screened some of our calls but he knows this process inside and out. Other than signing a few documents and giving them a read (I’m probably doing them no justice) but he gave us so much help. Your solicitor works for you and in this case represents you so use their knowledge and expertise. Remember the estate works for the seller of the property so if you have any problems, get advice and help from your solicitor, they are the best person to represent you. 

Be patient

This process takes time. Finding the right house takes time then conveyancing takes even more time. It’s so easy to say this once it’s complete but it’s so important to be patient, you can rush people along, and be sure to keep them on there toes chasing but there will be a lot of back and forth so don’t let that get you down. Once you get the keys and unlock the door of your new home for the first time that feeling is amazing and no one can take that achievement away from you then. 

Lashings of Love, 

K xo


Home | Burn baby burn

From my last post on our wooden floor which we finished back in August, the wood burner seems to be a long way coming. Just picking a stove can be difficult, waiting for it to arrive and then a fitter it’s a well thought through process. It all started last year when there was smoke coming back down from our chimney into our living room, I came back from the gym one night and it was so bad that Chris has all the doors and windows open, it was extremely dangerous. We had chimney sweeps out to clean the chimney and check there was nothing up there so I thought a wood burner was a great solution. Truth be told, this was how I sold it to Chris. After months of reading Country Living, I knew I wanted a wood burner from day one. Our fireplace was deceiving, like many of the fittings in this house, but this is the blog post for that rant. The fireplace was actually a heavy duty plastic, not stone like it would initially have you believe. This made it extremely difficult to clean, the black soot stuck to it, some would say it made it look worn, me, dirty. I cleaned as hard as I could but it just never looked clean. I knew there was so work to be done before we could install it.

Once the wooden floor was done, I went to the Stove Yard, outside Belfast, it came highly recommended from my Auntie who got her stove there a few years back. Thankfully they are open on a Saturday until 12.30pm so we called in on a Saturday morning. They are experts in the burner industry, we wanted a multi-fuel stove as we burn a lot of coal not just wood, without even seeing our room they were able to give us an idea of the size of burner we needed, 5Kw, which is the heat the burner will produce. This is more than enough for our small room, we didn’t even know the energy level of our fire at that time. They arranged for an installer to come out to do a home check to see that we were suitable and give us a price. The fitter called out a few days later, we had no idea of the extensive work that was required. The chimney had to change from 8″ to 6″ and they fitted a lining to that to reduce the width, we also needed a carbon monoxide detector, even though we already had one but it had to be in the room, building regulation changes and not to mention the stove itself. The best part of getting one fitter was that they do everything and I mean everything. Getting this done was going to a two day job, remove the old fireplace, dig out the hole for the new stove, plaster and fitting. We booked it, 6 weeks was all we would have to wait. Now lets talk cost, the cost of the stove was around £550, we didn’t go for a brand name, although a Charnwood would have been right up my street, the one we choose had a good warranty and there was good feedback on it. We would have looked more into the differences in the branded stoves but we don’t intend to stay in this house forever so we wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing but didn’t break the bank. The cost of the remainder of the parts and the labour was £1200 so a total of £1750, of course you can spend more if you want a more expensive stove but for our purpose this was fine.

Six weeks rolled around pretty quickly and we began clearing out the furniture in our living room, apart from the sofas, we just threw some plastic lining over them. I couldn’t wait to come home and see the progress after the first day. I was so pleased to see the old fireplace gone and the hole was prepared for the stove, the stone was laid, it looked good. However there was dust everywhere. It was difficult to understand how every inch of our house had dust in it, I suppose there were parts of our wall coming out so I shouldn’t complain. I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. The day day we came home and it was all done, we were both delighted. The fireplace looked bulky and now the wood burner looked much nicer, it made the area look bigger. Now to start with the clean up. We spent that evening cleaning the floors and hoovering (I’ve never emptied the hoover more in my life). We had to wait a week until we could get it painted so for one week we continued on with minimal furniture in our living room and our spare bedroom completely packed with whatever wasn’t in the hall and living room.

The painter arrived on the Wednesday and we picked our paint that weekend. Because our floor is such a dark wood, we wanted to keep the walls really light so we went for Farrow & Ball Strong White, this did become slight confusing for our painter who has strong white for the walls, white wood paint for the skirting board and white emulsion for our ceiling, there really was a lot of white paint. The colour was It’s the first time we have got a painter and I would highly recommend it, no mess, no fuss, just remove everything and that night we came home and it was all done. Our painter did bring 3 others with him so no wonder it was done so quickly. We began to move the furniture back and then we went to Donegal, living room still not finished, oh well, the fresh air of Donegal will help me forget about the work from home. As we put the furniture back in, we measured up the living room and made the decision on the sofas, that weekend was the last of the Laura Ashley sale so thankfully they are coming on the 8th December, but we’ll take them earlier if you need us too Laura Ashley.

With a long weekend on the cards, the last thing we needed to do for now was to get a mantle piece. As always, I made Chris put his DIY hat on. I had an idea for the mantle and we bought two shelves and we placed the second shelf below so it looked more than just a shelf.

We cut out grooves to make it more interesting and then painted it white. It was done, now just for Chris to put it up. I went up to do one eyelash appointment and to my surprise when I came down Chris has finished it by himself, I couldn’t wait to get it decorated.


Now it’s all done, we are just waiting on our sofas and we also need a new dining table and I’ve promised Chris that is all we are doing to the living room. The next stop is the stairs, which we need painted and then the carpet put down, I’ll maybe wait a few weeks before I mention that. Time to get our current sofas cleaned and sold to make way for what’s new. As I am finishing writing this, I’m currently drying my hair in front of the wood burner on the first night that I have really seen what granny would call as the turn in the evenings (that’s darker evenings) and its bless being nice and warm, in my PJ’s by the stove, my new favourite thing.

Lashings of Love,

K xo

Home | Wooden Floor

It was never my intention to do a complete living room renovation so quickly after we got the kitchen done but when we were off work I seen no better time than to make the most of it and get some stuff done.

It all started with the wooden floor. Last year when we got Piper, everyday when we came home, our cream carpet was scattered with muddy paw prints. It was time for that to change. I thought a wooden floor would be the best option for use. I just love wooden floors and I sold it to Chris that it would be super quick to clean up after the dog. Dad got the plain wood for us and Chris and him laid it over 2 days throughout the living room and hall way. I was so pleased that they did it together and so quickly.

I wanted a reclaimed wooden floor but honestly we couldn’t justify the price of it. At almost double the price of what we paid for our plain wooden floor boards and considering we would have to do significantly more work to prepare the wood before we could even lay it. So I established I wanted long boards with lots of knots in them as we were going to stain the wood dark.

Dad bought the wood from a wood merchant in his local town which had the tongue and groove already in it. We went for a redwood pine, is a lower cost wooden floor but it’s a soft wood, although redwood is a harder version of pine, so high heels can mark it easily so it has to be treated to reduce the amount of marks on it. I love the marks on the wood it makes it look distressed and older than it actually is. Although the wood was sanded, there were knots throughout it with made it, exactly what I wanted.

It all started with a day of preparation. We began removing the tiles for the hallway and the carpet from living room as well as packing away as much furniture that we could. Removing the tiles was so difficult, and when we were disposing of them, they were bloody heavy! We then had to remove the skirting boards, they were cheap chipboard so they came apart when we removed them we just through them away although if you have real wood treat them carefully. Once everything was removed and cleared the floor could be started the next day.

I have to confuse dad has done this before so isn’t completely a novice, Chris on the other hand is new to this so he watched a few YouTube videos to get himself up to speed and with dads experience he caught on to it in no time. Thankfully I have to say, both dad and Chris are measure twice, cut once guys so I left them to it. They glued and nailed the wooden boards to our concrete floor until it was completely covered. Unfortunately for the next two days, every lady who entered the house for eyelashes was greeted with a saw dust haze at the front door. Over the next two days while I was busy lashing, I could hear the chatter between the two of them, working hard to get the job done quickly, renovating a room is hard because you live without that room until it is finished, harder still for us in a tiny house where most of the furniture was then placed in the kitchen which we had to manoeuvre around.

After two days the floor had been laid but the hard work wasn’t over yet. Now to move on to the varnishing. I wanted a dark oak colour, cooler tone than the more popular mahogany teakwood. I journeyed to B&Q to have a look. I picked the colour immediately, I knew exactly what I wanted. While I was there I noticed that there was a new range of ronseal which had a simple varnish pad which claimed to be 5 times faster than a regular application with a normal brush. The problem was that the colour I wanted wasn’t available in this range. I decided to see what I could do about it. I asked one of the painting experts in B&Q who was so helpful and said that it was just the regular ronseal with a new brush included and essentially had a marked up price. She directed me to a a similar sponge brush and I bought it straight away, now to give it a go.

When the floor was complete it was time to prepare it for the varnish. I picked a matt varnish as I don’t like the look of a gloss finish but the best thing about real wood is if you don’t like it you can sand it down and paint it again. We sanded the floor, ever so slightly, hoovered and rubbed white spirit it to remove all of the dust. I then got started with the varnishing with my crafty new mop type brush. I have to admit I’m the beginning I was a little slow. I realised that although it was faster I had to go around the door frames with a small brush. Once this was done, I was quicker. The only problem was moving around the rooms, because our front and back door was being varnished we had to leave some things out the back of the house so we could leave for a few hours and let the floor dry. Our neighbours must have thought we were crazy getting changed in our back garden, hopefully none of them saw! After 6 hours we came back and we were ready for another coat with another brush so this time, two of us would tackle it. The brush was so much quicker this time but we worked in the opposite direction, from back door to front door meaning this time we locked ourselves upstairs, while I put the finishing touches to the hall, Chris heated up dinner and took it upstairs, the glamorous life of renovating. That way we could leave it over night to dry, ready to evaluate in the morning.

I was happy with it then but Chris thought another coat would be good, don’t tell him, but he was right. We added another coat and then headed out for a walk, thankfully we ran into some friends who invited us for dinner so we had an even better excuse to be out of the house for the next 6 hours. When we arrived home we ran quickly upstairs, nothing is more nerve wracking than the first step on a varnished floor. We came down in the morning and it was done. I’m still so delighted how it turned out.

Furniture back in for now until the wood burning stove. Once the room was empty we used the opportunity to rearrange the furniture. Again Chris’ idea and again he was right. The room looks much bigger now and we are really using the space better. Just waiting for the Laura Ashley sale to pick up a new sofa…can I even wait that long!

The wooden floor has helped with the muddy paws for Piper but now I see her fur more than ever…is there ever a perfect solution. I’m trying to convince Chris that a cordless Dyson would be a good idea, he’s not buying it…yet.

Next stop wood burning stove.

Lashing of Love,

K xo