Today, Friday 31st May, we completed the purchase of our new house. After collecting the keys from the agents, we opened up and entered under our own steam for the first time! We have visited several times while the previous owner was there and had become quite familiar with it, but using the key to let ourselves in, it has suddenly become real, and our own new home! Seeing it quite empty, one could appreciate the beautiful proportions of the rooms, and mentally fill it with our own things. My hubby said he thought it looked very bare, but I said it wouldn’t stay that way for long, with all the stuff we’ve got!
The house was built in 1925 and has many of its original features. The previous owner had half of the downstairs converted to a self-contained annexe, and this was one of the main attractions of the house for us, because this is where my mother will live, while we occupy the rest of the house. There is a small lean-to extension at the back containing a tiny utility room with no sink, and plumbing for a washing machine, a small back hall leading to the back door, and a toilet at the end, and the other side of the back hall, the annexe kitchen. This part of the house needs major remodelling to make it serviceable.
We are also having the kitchen redone, partially adapted for seated use so that I can cook again from my wheelchair – recently my hubby has been cooking our main meals, and because he is so busy, these have been mostly ready meals, but in our new kitchen I am looking forward to taking on this task again.
Upstairs there are two bathrooms, one with a separate loo, and this is going to be converted into a modern en-suite connecting with the master bedroom.
Also upstairs, one room is going to be converted into my new ARTHaven. As this is such an important project for me, I shall be doing separate posts about that.
The other major work required to be done is the complete replacement of the roof, which is in a bad state.
As I describe the house and share the photos I took today (the “Before” photos – watch this space for the “During” and “After” ones!), I shall endeavour not to sound like an estate agent conducting a viewing for clients!
Inside the front door is quite a large entrance lobby where we are going to put Mum’s pine dresser. There is a glass door leading into the main hall which is quite spacious.
There’s a massive cupboard under the stairs, and the previous owner has been kind enough to leave all the lovely shelving in there! Believe me, we shall need the storage space!
The sitting room has a bay window at the front of the house. The floor is almost exactly the same as our sitting room floor in our present house, only a shade lighter. You can see a lamp on the mantelpiece – today we brought over several, to put on time switches to make the house look occupied in the evenings, for security.
The fireplace is an original mahogany Art Deco one. While I adore most Art Deco, I have distinct reservations about this fireplace and had already decided it had to go, to be replaced by a modern one in a traditional style, but looking at it today with the room empty, I’m starting to have second thoughts. Our builder is all geared up to replace it for us, but we’ve got plenty of time to make up our minds.
The kitchen as it is currently. This will look quite different by the time we’ve finished with it!
The original units will go into the remodelled utility room and annexe kitchen. The next picture shows the door into the utility room.
Out the back, in the utility room and beyond, it is incredibly cramped and unfit for purpose – our purpose, anyway!
The utility room has plumbing for a washing machine but no sink.
The next picture was taken from the utility room doorway, looking across the back hall into the annexe kitchen.
On the left is an internal glass window with sliding panels, and up on the wall is the fuse box and electricity meter. We are retaining this window (more later – one of Shoshi’s more brilliant ideas lol!). The door into the annexe kitchen is going to be blocked off.
The annexe kitchen:
You can see that there is an old porcelain sink in the corner, but it is very inaccessible and impractical. (Laid out on the work top are all the instructions for various things like the boiler etc., spare keys, and standing upright, a lovely little “Welcome to your New Home” card from the previous owner.)
Facing towards the window, you can see how awkwardly placed the sink is, and how cramped everything is, and this is certainly not helped by the arrangement on the right hand side – enclosed in the cupboard beneath is the boiler, above which is the hot water tank. This is wasting a huge amount of space in an already tiny kitchen, and it is all going. We are having a new combination boiler the other side of that wall, which requires no tank, and with the door to the right of the existing boiler being blocked off, there can be units from the window to the opposite wall, and around the corner.
Looking through this door which is going to be blocked off, you can see across the back hall into the utility room. The wall with the utility room door in it is going to come down, so that the utility room extends up to the annexe kitchen wall, and will have units across the blocked-off door. There is really no need for a separate hallway at the back; the back door can just as easily exit from the enlarged utility room. With the utility room being bigger we can have a sink, more storage space, and a place for feeding the kitties. (There is a cat flap in the back door.)
The above picture shows the back hall as seen from the back door, with the door into the utility room on the left, the sliding internal window ahead with the fuse box above, and to the right, the existing entrance into the annexe kitchen. With that door blocked off, and the wall on the left removed, the utility room will be much more spacious and practical.
The next picture shows what is beyond the sliding glass window.
My original plan was to knock down the wall on the left and extend the utility room right up to the wall on the right with the shelves on it, but the builder said for the small amount of gain, it was not worth the expense, because the wall on the left is the original outside (load-bearing) wall of the house – everything to the left is the lean-to extension – and it would be prohibitively expensive to remove it as it would involve the insertion of RSJs to stop the upstairs collapsing! I agreed with this, and put my thinking cap on.
One of the drawbacks of this house is the absence of an airing cupboard. Many people feel they don’t need one these days, but I’ve always loved to have one, not just for airing clothes, but for drying art!! My plan for this small space (called the annexe study in the agents’ particulars) is to create an airing cupboard with slatted shelves at the further end, divided into two-thirds on the left (for the occupiers of the main part of the house), and one-third on the right (for the occupier of the annexe), with access to the smaller portion being from the standpoint of this photograph. Access to the larger portion will be from the utility room, through the sliding windows! We plan to have an electric airing cupboard heater installed underneath both sections, with a timer switch so that when we eventually get solar panels fitted, this can be heated during daylight hours only. The airing cupboard needs an independent source of heat because with the combination boiler there is no tank.
The airing cupboard would not extend the whole depth of the space, but would stop at the edge of the window. The rest of the space would be used for storage for the annexe. For some reason the door has been removed, and I propose asking the builder to replace this with the one he will be removing from the annexe kitchen.
Going on beyond this space, we come into the annexe sitting room, with its two original tall storage cupboards. The window on the right is quite large. The builder is going to replace this with a smaller one, and put in a glass door to the right side, giving direct access to the outside. At present, the annexe occupier can only get into the back garden by coming through the door into the back hall, and leaving by the back door. With that door being blocked off, the annexe needs independent access, and this will be essential when the time comes for us to let the annexe after my mum dies. There is also access through into the hall of the main house, but there need to be two exits from the annexe in case of fire, and this seems the ideal solution. It will also be lovely for Mum to be able to potter out into her patio direct from her sitting room, or to sit by the open door if she wants. There is a wall sticking out at right angles outside and we are going to fix up her bird feeders there so she can enjoy watching them.
The next picture shows the doorway from the annexe sitting room into the bedroom. There is a step down, but there are grab rails on the doorway.
On the right, off the bedroom, you can see the door into the en-suite bathroom.
This room was probably the original dining room of the main house before the annexe conversion; its bay window matches that of the main sitting room, either side of the front door. The en-suite bathroom does rather stick out into that space, but there is room in the alcove for Mum’s dressing table, and a wardrobe beyond.
The annexe en-suite bathroom:
This was another thing that attracted us about this house. So many granny flats only have a shower, and I am sure that my mum isn’t the only elderly lady who prefers a bath to a shower! There is a shower unit on the bath if she wants to use it, though.
This is the adjoining door between the annexe sitting room and the hall of the main house. It is rather a curious arrangement with a double door, maybe for sound-proofing purposes?
Back into the main house now, and time to go upstairs.
Most of the interior decorating is fine, but this large floral wallpaper is not to our taste, so it’s got to go. I am planning on a pale neutral shade – magnolia, perhaps? We have some nice pictures we’d like to hang. In about ten days, an engineer is coming out from one of the stairlift companies to give me an estimate for having one fitted. It’s a straight staircase so it shouldn’t be a problem, but the adjoining door to the annexe is right at the bottom, and we may have to have a retracting track at the bottom, for when the stairlift is not in use.
This is the room we have chosen to be the master bedroom. It has lovely mirrored sliding doors with lots of hanging and storage space, and the shallower-depth central part will be ideal for books and ornaments. This is obviously across the original chimney-breast.
The mirrored doors make the room look even bigger! This room overlooks the garden at the back (more or less south facing).
In the next picture, you can see the door onto the landing on the right. The washbasin is going, and in the wall, the builders will make the new doorway into the en-suite bathroom.
The spare bedroom (the original master) is at the front of the house, and has access onto the balcony.
The two doors onto the balconies are extremely clever – turn the handle one way, and the door hinges from the bottom inwards, like a large window, allowing fresh air to circulate. Turn the handle the other way and the side hinges engage, turning it into a conventional door! At first I thought it was broken!
Also at the back of the house overlooking the garden, is this lovely room – the previous owner used it as her study, and my hubby is going to do the same. There will be plenty of room for all his books and things.
As I said before, I am not going to show you my new ARThaven this time – that deserves a whole series of posts of its own, to show its development from bare room to fully-fitted studio!
I will close with a few shots of the outside. There are two small patios; this one is for the main house, accessed via the back door. The window you can see is the kitchen, and the door at the side is lockable, and leads to the front of the house. This gives level access from the front, if I am coming or going using my wheelchair, and avoiding the front steps.
The other patio is for the annexe (which will be accessed directly through the new door):
There is a little rockery on the left, and this extends to a low wall further round on the right, which is topped by a grassy bank with the main garden above; Mum will be able to put pots on the wall, and we noticed that the bank is planted with ferns and lots of primroses! It will be lovely in the early spring.
Moving on further around, almost to the main house patio, there are steps leading up to the main garden, and a path giving access to the garage, which opens onto the other road at the back. I shall be keeping my mobility scooter in the garage so I can get out easily. Beyond these steps, to the right, are two small outhouses, one for garden tools, and the other (with a power supply) for a small chest freezer.
I will be posting more photos as the building work begins, so that you can see the transformation of our new house! We have been told the work will take at least 8 weeks so we don’t anticipate the final move taking place before August, but in the meantime we will be taking stuff over in advance, so that the final move won’t be too traumatic, hopefully! Watch this space!