Our Flat Renovation – What I’ve Learnt

It’s almost a year since we moved into our three bedroom ex-council flat in south east London. We didn’t have to move in straight away so I spent last summer sanding, filling and painting every room while it was empty, which was so much easier than moving furniture and dust sheets around. We also managed to get the bathroom replaced before we moved in. Here’s an overview of what I did to refresh the flat, I’ll be sharing room by room revamps over the next few weeks.

Living Room

The finished living room. Those pink cushions need to go.

The whole flat had a cheap laminate flooring which we hated so the first thing we did was rip it all out. We also removed everything on the walls: shelves, TV brackets, loose plaster (!).

Room of doom

The Room of Doom (aka bedroom 2): water damage from the bath on the other side of the wall, blackboard paint and old shelves.

Meanwhile we started to formulate our plans and I went crazy on Pinterest. (I don’t know about you but I go through phases with Pinterest either using it five times a day or not for five months.) It’s a decent size three bed flat but no garden means this won’t be our forever home. I therefore had to be really clear about what was going to work for us but what would be easily saleable in the future. So my dreams of an eat-in kitchen or living/dining room had to be shelved right now in favour of keeping three bedrooms.

My last flat was Scandi influenced – white walls and furniture with bright coloured furnishings. I was obsessed with teal and coral. In our new home I wanted a softer colour palette. In the living room here there is an original pale green 1950s fireplace and I wanted everything to compliment it. (My husband wanted to remove it to make room for the TV but luckily I won that battle!)

Living room

Before: orange laminate and a fireplace and door that hadn’t been touched for ten years.

I worked here every Saturday and Sunday from the first of June to almost the day we moved in at the beginning of September. Although we paid a great builder to replace the kitchen and bathroom I did nearly everything else myself. I’ve cleaned, filled, sanded, painted (and cleaned again) every square inch of this flat! It’s still not completely finished – no reason why except now we live here it somehow seems harder to get out a paint brush. I absolutely loved every minute and (don’t tell my husband) am already itching to move and do it again.

Hannah in work clothes

Here are my top tips for refreshing a home:

  1. Rip it all out – if you can, take everything out so you have a blank canvas to begin with. Put your furniture in storage and move out.
  2. Plan an overall look for your home and then plan room by room
  3. Look at what furniture you already have with new eyes
  4. Use Pinterest or a physical mood board
  5. Be prepared for hard work and long hours or to pay contractors lots of money!
  6. Music and radio while you work
  7. Lists, lists and more lists

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