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Learn How to DIY Renovate

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Our 5 Year House Anniversary (+ Some Before and Afters!)

5 Year Renovation House Anniversary

As I write this, today will be our fifth year living and renovating in this house. Five whole years. How bonkers is that?! I have no clue where the time has gone, but it's gone fast. I moved in as a 23-year old feeling ridiculously excited and proud of our new home and I'm now a 28-year old feeling somewhat tired and disheartened at the fact we've lived here for so long and not done quite as much as I would have hoped. Ha! Does it ever end, I wonder?

2019 has been absolutely crazy busy and I'm not sure if it's been an entirely good thing either. It's now July and so far the only house update we've made in the last 7 months has been one new window (cos we couldn't afford the rest) and that's it! Absolutely nothing else.

I've been working on 'secret' projects, Grants mums kitchen has taken up so much time, Todd (the dog) has been ill, we've travelled (twice!) and the night shifts have felt more dragging and draining than ever before. I definitely feel that juggling everything has been quite difficult this year, and as a result, the house has really taken the hit in terms of getting anything done.

I see so many people on Instagram complete whole house renovations in a matter of months, a wad of cash under their belt, an entire family on hand to help (physically, financially, emotionally...), the reality of our renovation often feels a world away from others. It can be depressing at times and sometimes feels like we have to work 10x harder to achieve the same. Five years in, doing it all ourselves and still so far from the end. In some ways, it makes me want to cry.

Girl DIYer in dust mask

I love DIY and renovating, but I also hate it. It's a weird collision of emotions. When I'm DIYing and working towards achieving actual progress, I love it. The physical hard work doesn't bother me (my job of 11+ years involves non-stop lifting/moving - it's a normal part of working to me) but it's definitely hard work and work that isn't always very rewarding. Half the job of renovating is doing stuff that once done, will never be seen/appreciated. Like plumbing, or electrics, or the hours of prep-work. It's hours and hours of work that doesn't punch an impact on the overall progress of a room.

I remember how it took us 2 weeks to repair the joists in our dining room. Two freaking weeks. I was bricklaying at 2am on one occasion - and you know what? Nobody would ever know. That work is hidden away, never to be seen or noticed ever again. You have to do it, but each step almost takes you further away from the end result. There's more dust, more dirt, the whole thing looks worse and you feel like you're moving backwards rather than forwards. Living in that kind of environment is not very fun and there's very little about the house that feels like an actual 'home' during those stages.

Lifting floorboards with a lifting bar

Figuring everything out and doing-it-all yourself is stressful too. From the outside, it may look like we know exactly what we're doing - and sometimes we do - once you've done something enough times, you're far more confident and can foresee the problems ahead. But when it's the first time doing a specific job, it's bloody freaking stressful let me tell you. Am I using the right blade for this material? Will it work? Is that right? I put hours of research into everything we do. There's no one here telling us how to do stuff, nobody giving on-hand advice, nobody to call in a crisis, we just have to put the effort in ourselves. Figure it out ourselves. It's time-consuming.

Then there's the whole money aspect. Every month for the last five years, a part of our paycheque has been budgeted towards the house in order to renovate, it's like an ongoing bill with no end. We don't have a big wad of upfront cash and we don't have big paycheques in general. It's not easy and it means the lives we live week-to-week are quite restricted. From food shopping to life's general essentials. Meals out are virtually non-existent, we don't take fancy day trips and there's definitely no fancy Instagram coffee shop stops. That shit is our renovation fund. Renovating is a big sacrifice on actually living. Well, if you don't have bags of money to do both, at least!

Victorian House Kitchen Renovation

Ranting aside, I equally love it all. I love the challenge. Being able to say we've created our house totally on our own. Learning new skills, feeling like you've achieved something. Knowing our house is more than just shop-bought items, it's memories. And we worked bloody hard to make our house a home. I think it makes you appreciate it all 10x more.

Those are the parts of renovating I love. Being creative, coming up with designs, plans, the endless potential and possibility of rooms. Pinning late at night, drawing terrible sketches of ideas I have, realising I have too many ideas and not enough house. DIY is, I think, inspiring. Endless ideas and bringing them to life - it's fab! But it's not all fab. And I think the mix of the two emotions is incredibly hard to get your head around sometimes. I love it, but I equally hate it. Where do you go from there?

People often ask me how I stay so motivated and how we just keep going. It's not easy, especially with mixed emotions about it all. I'd just say it's a mind-over-matter thing. It needs doing, so it's got to be done. It's like turning up for work. I 100% don't want to be there, but it's just the way life is. I need money, it's got to be done. I need a home, a cooker, a kitchen, it's gotta be done.

Renovation man in ceiling

Over the last five years, we've smashed up lath-and-plaster ceilings, we've re-plumbed, moved nearly every electrical cable we've come across, we've drilled big ass holes, had walls removed, tiled, plastered, fitted a kitchen, spent a stupid amount of money, the list could go on. We've done around 95% of the work ourselves, we've spent hours researching, finding secondhand materials, scrimping and saving. It's literally consumed my life. I'm constantly plotting the next move, researching the next thing to buy, making endless lists, keeping track of money. It's just bloody constant.

It's been a long journey for sure. Renovating this house has been a laugh, an adventure, a misery and a drain. We've learnt a bloody ton of new skills and I can definitely say I'm a better DIYer today than I was five years ago. Despite everything, I wouldn't have changed anything, except maybe winning the lottery(!!!). This house has 100% been worth the effort. It's taught us perseverance, what hard work is, and how to appreciate life's small wins.

So in case you haven't been following our renovation journey from the start, I thought I'd share some before and afters from how the house looked back in 2014, five whole years ago when we bought it, and how it looks now. I have to admit, I always think before and after photos only tell half the story. They show a change in decor, not hours of work, especially in areas never to be seen. so I hope you don't judge us too much on what little progress it may look like we've made!

Anyway - here's to five years and probably to five more *cheers!*...

Front of House

20% Complete (See all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £300+

Jobs Completed: DIY-installed one new sash window.
Jobs Left: Replace last two windows, replace the door, add window boxes!

front of house renovation before and after


0% Complete
Approx Reno Spend: £0

Jobs Completed: Half-removed the carpet for a gas pipe
Jobs Left: Everything! Strip wallpaper, sand floorboards, electrics...

hallway renovation before and after 5 years

Living Room

50% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £100 (wallpaper was gifted)

Jobs Completed: Stripped wallpaper, sanded floorboards, half-decorated, opened up the fireplace.
Jobs Left: Alcove units, restore shutters, electrics...

living room renovation before and after 5 years

Dining Room

90% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £2000+ (Log Burner, mainly)

Jobs Completed: Installed Log Burner, Uncovered Original Victorian Cupboard, sanded floorboards, decorated.
Jobs Left: Finish inside the cupboard, sort ceiling electrics, door...

dining room renovation before and after 5 years


96% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £5000+

Jobs Completed: Removed 2x walls, removed shower-room, installed french doors, a roof window, added electric underfloor heating, limestone tiles and DIY-fitted a kitchen.
Jobs Left: Finish the hanging lights!!

kitchen renovation before and after 5 years


80% Complete (See all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £400+ (Roof, mainly)

Jobs Completed: Replaced the roof, insulated the wall, painted the floor, built pallet seating!
Jobs Left: Replace external door!

conservatory renovation before and after 5 years


0% Complete
Approx Reno Spend: £0

Jobs Completed: NADA.
Jobs Left: Everything! Strip wallpaper, sand floorboards, electrics...

landing renovation before and after 5 years


80% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £1700+

Jobs Completed: Complete bathroom install, DIY-plumbing, added a separate shower.
Jobs Left: Finish 'hidden' cupboard, new sink unit, re-paint...

bathroom renovation before and after 5 years

Smallest Bedroom

80% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £200+

Jobs Completed: Stripped wallpaper, opened fireplace, electrics, sanded floors, decorated.
Jobs Left: Electrics, cupboard with water tank...

small bedroom renovation before and after 5 years

Master Bedroom

0% Complete
Approx Reno Spend: £0

Jobs Completed: NADA.
Jobs Left: Everything! Strip wallpaper, electrics, floorboards...

master bedroom renovation before and after 5 years


0% Complete
Approx Reno Spend: £0

Jobs Completed: NADA.
Jobs Left: Everything! New roof window, electrics, floorboards...

attic bedroom renovation before and after 5 years


0% Complete
Approx Reno Spend: £0

Jobs Completed: NADA.
Jobs Left: Everything! Too much to write, LOL.

basement renovation before and after 5 years


90% Complete (see all renovation posts here!)
Approx Reno Spend: £800+

Jobs Completed: Removed everything, grew grass, built some pallet seating, added scaffold decking,  added pallet fencing, built a DIY bike shed/log store.
Jobs Left: Remove concrete, the path to the gate...

garden renovation before and after 5 years

So that's it! We've come a long way for sure, although there's certainly still quite a journey ahead. I'm sure by the time we finish the house, we'll end up having to start all over again. I always said I didn't believe in "forever homes" and I still don't - forever is a long time, but I do think we'll be here for many years to come.

I think when it is done, I'll be ready to give up the DIY life for a bit and spend time doing something else. That's not to say I'll never DIY again, but a change is always good. And I definitely feel like this house has consumed a large part of my life already.

I'm sure some of you can relate to all this! How do you survive your long-haul renovations?

(If you have any questions about our renovation/house, let me know below - I'll be doing a Q&A post real soon!)

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House Renovation 5 Year Update


  1. I so love following you not only because you and Grant are ace, but because you're also doing your house completely yourselves and as and when you can afford it/have the time, exactly like us, and we've been here 4 years now and have similar still-to-do lists! I adore the fact that we have created something beautiful that is totally us, in the rooms we have finished (or almost finished!), but I hate that we still have tools and boxes and stuff piled up everywhere because we still have rooms and spaces that are not even started yet really, and it just gets a bit old after a while! I would love a spotless, finished house for a change! It has also got even harder since we added a daughter into the mix - renovating plus kids is twice as hard because the only time you get to work is when they're asleep, and guess what? They don't stay asleep if you start with the powertools! We will get there though, and be all the more smug for staying the distance. xx

  2. This post fully demonstrates that home renovation is a difficult but worthwhile process. It's amazing to see how far you've come over these past five years, and I can't wait to see the final result. Good luck with your future tasks!


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