I‘VE never been one to make life easy.
Which is why when I was heavily pregnant with Elsie, I – together with my husband – decided it would be a really good idea to buy a house that needed tons of work doing on it.
A project home. Something we could both get our teeth into.
At the time it was a brilliant idea. So we put in our offer on a very run down 1920’s house in a very lovely area and happily had it accepted. And we moved in when Elsie was just six weeks old.
I love our home. Really I do. But three and a half years on, our project is still only about a third or so finished. And we still have masses and masses to do.
It has been exhausting. It has been expensive. It has been non stop. But it’s a fabulous feeling watching it come to life.
Would I recommend taking on a project house to anyone? Yes absolutely. (However I would say if you’re moving in with a newborn baby, it may not be the best idea.)
Here are my five top home improvement tips that I’ve learned along the way.
Plus your chance to win a whopping £3,000 to spend on doing up your gaff with home insurer Legal & General. (Who wouldn’t love that?!)
Plan, plan, plan
Before you commit to any idea, plan things out.
And by that I mean, not just planning a layout or a design of a room, but also the mechanics of the work.
We for instance decided to have our walls replastered in the dining room before we put in a wood burner and before my husband decided he wanted a projector on the wall (boys and their toys huh?).
Big mistake, not only did we have to have our newly painted walls ruined to get both of these things put in, we then had to have them re-done and painted once the work was complete. It cost us money, made more mess and took up more of our time.
Motto of the story? Always plan ahead.
Do one room at a time
Wherever possible. We’ve had quite a bit of work done to the downstairs of our property, knocking down walls and putting in french doors to open up the rooms, so admittedly one room at a time isn’t always do-able.
But when you can, just stick to one room. Put your energy, time and money into it, make it come alive and then move onto the next.
It’s much easier to handle not to mention a hell of a lot more motivating when you see a room totally finished.
Improving your house and making it into your ideal pad is wonderful, but it’s not worth getting yourself into a financial pickle over.
So budget and be honest with your finances. Ask relatives and friends to help you with the painting if you can’t afford to pay a decorator. Get creative and up-cycle old pieces of furniture by giving them a lick of paint. Buy a large rug to cover an old carpet if you can’t afford to replace it.
And my top tip? Visit charity shops and pound shops for cheap but lovely accessories and bits and bobs.
I bought some stunning ceramic tea light holders just the other day for a few pounds that I am actually going to use to house mini succulents.
It is amazing what you can find if you look about and think creatively.
Have a go at DIY
My husband put up some shelves for me the other week and a curtain rail. You may be thinking so what…but let me tell you in our house, this is a BIG deal!
He has become a whizz at DIY recently and I’m sure he’d agree with me, that he can’t believe it either. He’s researched, he’s watched videos on YouTube and he’s had a go himself, which much to his delight has worked.
I think most of us, myself included, are a little scared of DIY, but having a go and ‘doing it yourself’ is a great feeling. Plus it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and convenient too.
And don’t worry, although I’ll happily leave the shelves to my husband, I’m all for women doing their share too and can happily report I’ve become a bit of a whizz at wall papering over the past few years. *winks*
Get recommendations from people you trust
Makes sense doesn’t it? When you need to bring in an expert, ask those you trust first and don’t be afraid to shop around either. Your relatives, mates, work colleagues or even your pals on social media are great sources of contacts.
Or alternatively ask a tradesperson you trust. When we moved in, we found our electrician through our plumber for example. The best people tend to know each other.
So there you have it. My top home improvement tips. No doubt there will be many more in the years to come! ;-)
And now, if your home could do with a spruce up, here’s your chance to win a whopping sum to help!
Win £3,000 to spend on your home with our fantastic furnishing package prize draw, brought to you by award-winning home insurer, *Legal & General.
One lucky home-owner will receive £3,000 in shopping vouchers to spend on their home, from the following stores (in any combination): Homebase, Made, A&O, M&S, House of Fraser and Argos.
Just think what you could do with that money? I know I would definitely spend that on having a new bathroom suite put in…with a contemporary white suite, art deco tiles, orchids, his & her sinks…*daydreams*
Simply enter here for your chance to win. And best of luck!
Ts & Cs apply, enter by 14th June. Best Online Home Insurance provider 2015 as voted for by Your Money readers
Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Legal & General.