1930s House Renovation – House Tour – The ‘Before’

After five years of flat and balcony living, we moved house in November to a 1930s end of terrace in south east London with the thing I’d been most missing – a garden.  At the time of writing we are in the middle of a global pandemic, confined to our homes and I feel so grateful that we were able to make the move.

The house and garden need a lot of work and we’ve already done a fair bit but having all this extra time at home has meant I’ve been able to get on with a lot more than I thought I would have by this stage. On the other hand, we had hoped to start work on an extension around now so some things are obviously being put on hold.

I have already shared a fair bit of the house and garden on Instagram but I thought I’d document and share our renovation progress here in a bit more detail. Starting here with the estate agent pictures (which don’t quite show the work that needs doing) and a few before photos.

Estate agent pictures:

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We chose this house because of its potential, south facing garden, the fact that as an end of terrace we only have one adjoining wall to neighbours (and helpfully that’s the wall with the stairs on rather than the living room) and most importantly the garden studio that the previous owners had renovated.

No offence to said owners but the rest of it was pretty dirty and tired. Cleaning and clearing was top of the list. They left a lot (a lot) of stuff including 16 large black planters full of old plants and soil, a 90s iMac, around 200 empty plastic plant pots in the garden, two bookcases we didn’t want, a projector screen, two wardrobes, four tables/desks… the list goes on. We are very grateful for some of these things e.g. the garden table and chairs that I’ve refurbished and the wardrobes, but most of the rest had to go. Oh, and did I mention they also left a cat?! To be fair, we agreed to look after him while they got settled into their new home but we fell in love with him so he has stayed and I am so happy he did.

His name is Martin but I call him Marty.

When we first moved in I overheard our moving guys – who had seen the pristine flat we’d left behind – say: ‘they can’t live here!’. I think they thought we were living somewhere else while we did the work. But no, we don’t have the budget to do that so we made camp on an airbed in the back bedroom and set about cleaning.

Here are a few shots from the early days of moving in and decorating.

Hallway: I actually love the old patterned carpet but it’s seen better days so will have to go at some point.

Sadly these terrible snaps are the only early photos of the living room that I took.

Yes, we were watching The Apprentice.

Dining Room: with the oldest carpet you’ve ever seen. One vacuum and most of it disappeared into the bag!

The 80s conservatory extension is definitely in need of an update.


What’s left of the kitchen.


There were no carpets upstairs and although the floorboards are quite nice it would have been a lot of work to refurbish them so we decided to carpet for now. It was a really busy time at work and I just needed to be able to unpack and find more clothes! Although it did throw up a few sartorial combinations that I hadn’t previously discovered.

Master bedroom: heavily oppressed by wardrobes.

The tiny third bedroom:

Second bedroom:


The bathroom was the only other room that had been recently refurbished – we love the yellow floor and free-standing bath – but every other room in the house needed a full redecorate. All the doors upstairs were full of holes and gaps where other handles or locks had been, the walls were tired, floors unforgiving on bare feet. There’s a lot to do but doing up houses is all I have ever wanted to do so I’m looking forward to it!

For a video tour of the  house that I originally shared on Instagram click here for downstairs and for upstairs.

Next time, a fast and furious hallway refresh.

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