5 Must-Haves Buying Our First Home

HOME RENOVATION

I recently posted a list of things that I would want a new house to have if we were to move again and it got me thinking back to the must haves that I wanted our now house to include. We were first time buyers so had a lot to learn (we still do) and we were set on a certain radius as we wanted to be close to family and friends. This in itself narrows the options down a fair bit as in a suburban area with a budget we find ourself set within limitations. We just had to find the diamond in the rough so to speak. or even better: the worst house on the best street. Even with certain limitations there were still compromises I wouldn’t make and I thought I would jot them down.

If we hadn’t have found the right house we were in a comfortable position renting a nice cottage and simply wouldn’t have moved at the time but kept looking. We simply wanted to start putting money into our own house and we were in a position to do so. When we moved in our house needed quite a lot of work so I’ve added some pictures to give you a feel of what it was like after just after we’d started but more on that later.

A Garden. We knew we were going to get a dog as soon as we moved in so a reasonable size garden was a must. We hit the jackpot when we bought our house as the garden is a good size and south facing. We haven’t done much to the garden since moving in and we keep saying ‘next year’ and one year will be the right time but for now the majority of it is laid to lawn with an apple tree. (The apples get given to friends and family to make pies – have you seen me bake?)

A Hallway. Another item on my wish list was a hallway so that we wouldn’t be walking straight into the living room. For me I like to get in and have somewhere to take my coat off and have a little buffer to pick up the dirt before heading into the rest of the house. Saying this we don’t take our shoes off when getting in the house and used the back door leading straight into the kitchen for 3 and a half years of the 5 so this point did fall a little to the wayside but I still appreciate having a hallway.

A Project House. Yep it had to be a do-er upper. I wanted a renovation project and boy did we get one. Some times have been harder than others and it’s not cheap but when you stand back from a room and see the changes that you’ve made (with help of course) and know that you’ve learnt new skills doing so, well, I love that feeling. When we need a tradesperson to do a particular job I don’t mind getting quotes and enjoy knowing I’ve done the research to getting the best quote – and quality. I may be weird but I would do it time and time again without hesitation and if anything you can only get better at things you repeat right?

Off street parking. This one doesn’t need much explaining. I wanted to park in front of my house, who doesn’t.

A Good Location. After all it’s all about the location. I know it sound cheesy or cliche or whatever but when we saw our house, we knew. We were only driving round and had 2-3 more to check out afterwards but after seeing one other from the outside I didn’t want to see anymore. I just wanted to get that one, our house now. It was in a quiet location but close to amenities and was the worst house on the best street due to the work that needed doing to it. It was in a good location in regards to family and work and automatically I had set my heart on it. Something I wouldn’t recommend but do we ever follow our own advice? No. Exactly.

Now, call me spoilt or call it simply impossible but if we were to buy again I would want the same as above ADDED ON to the list of things I recently wrote about in my future home post. Compromise? Pffft.

5 *Different* Places to Shop for Homeware

HOME RENOVATION

Sometimes we can find treasures in the unlikeliest of places. Where we are used to going into a shop and getting exactly what we want sometimes furniture and home wares – often being bigger purchases – can be a little pricier than our budget allows. I’m not a stranger to a few bargain buys from various places other than the highstreet and believe in the saying ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’.

I do still love the highstreet and there are some homeware brands that I will always purchase from because once you’ve found your favourites it’s hard not to, but over the years have found some great prices in unexpected places and I thought I’d go into a little detail about some of the other places I’ve made homeware purchases from.

1. The car boot. I have found some absolute treasures in the car boot and during summer I like nothing more than to head head out on a Sunday morning looking for a bargain. My favourite car boot find probably has to be my Fortnum & Mason large hamper for £4. It was half hidden and covered in blankets but I managed to see half of the print and had to have it. Car boots can be hit and miss and sometimes the only thing we’ll purchase is a cup of tea but other times I have been known to have left with 2-3 things, including a 20p Paris print in my living room. I tend to look for stalls that are clearly someone just having a spring clean, as I would, and have items that look well cared for.

Bargain Fortnum & Mason Hamper

2. Facebook marketplace. Another place I have previously purchased from. Now handed to my mum, I bought an IKEA cabinet from Facebook marketplace that sat in my hallway for shoes storage. I will say here that if you’re looking for something in particular going online can be a bit difficult. In relation to the cupboard in the hallway this is the old design unit and wasn’t the same as the one in the living room, even though they are both IKEA and technically the same product the style was updated at some point. Luckily they weren’t side by side but there is a requirement to potentially look at avoiding this in the future if I was ever to buy again to purchase another one or something similar to a product I already had.

3. Friends and family. When we first purchased our house hardly anything in it was new. The dining room table was one that my in-laws had in their garage. My bedroom chair was one that my mum wasn’t using and we covered to match our decor. Our bedside tables and wardrobe at the time were from friends that were having a house clearance. I’m sure I could go round the whole house and pick up furniture with a similar story and we are very grateful that we had the opportunity to save money when we first moved in with help from friends and family.

4. Charity shops. Much like with clothes there can be some absolute bargains to be found in local charity shops and some dedicated to just furniture. In here there is anything from coffee tables to three-piece suites and wardrobes at low prices. Sometimes these items may not be classed as modern however with a little paint the shabby chic style isn’t hard to achieve. I’ve done this myself with a few pieces of furniture including a previous wooden armchair and bedside tables that were previously my mother-in-law’s which I painted up to match our colour scheme in the bedroom at the time. More recently my sister purchased a classic cabinet and beautifully renovated it to match her new flat.

For number 5 I have to give an honourable mention to the bargain corner in IKEA. Although it is technically brand new and straight from the shop they have regular deals on ex-display furniture only found in store. These items can vary but sometimes you can find just what you were looking for as I did. I had been wanting Hermes bedside tables for a couple of months and at the time I couldn’t afford them. I then found them in bargain corner at £35 each saving around £50 off the usual RRP at the time because they were ex-display. They were in great condition and just needed the fixings removing. Similarly I was looking for a white gloss kitchen table but couldn’t see it on the shop floor. Lo and behold there it was, the exact one I wanted, fresh from display and marked down to £105.

It is always a good feeling when what you wanted goes into down in price at the right time and when you’re spending that little bit more on big items like furniture the more saving the better right?

Have you found bargain homewares at any of the places mentioned or have any other ideas on where to look?

5 Things On My Wishlist If We Moved House

HOME RENOVATION

Right now we have no intention of moving house. I know we probably will in the future but at this moment there are a few renovation projects that need finishing before I even look at a potential property purchase. That doesnt stop me from dreaming though and checking out Rightmove and on having lived in our home for a few years there are some things on the wishlist that if we were to move I would love the new place to have. All being said I love our home and the progress we’ve made from moving in to what it is now. It has a roof and walls and does everything it needs to do so we are incredibly grateful. We’re also on the property ladder whereas I understand that’s hard for many people at the minute so I’m very lucky to be having a wishlist for our theoretical ‘next’ home.

This is also a wishlist if money was no object and what I would look for in another property if we are lucky enough to purchase again in the future. I need a bigger house anyway, I need room for all the dogs I’m going to have.

  1. A downstairs loo. It would be great for parties and when having friends round as they wouldn’t need to go upstairs. We’re not a ‘shoes off’ kind of house (we have a dog and she doesn’t take off hers) but it would be nice if our future house was and we could lessen the carpet wear just slightly. It would also solve the issue of one of us in the bath (mainly me) and one of us needing the loo (mainly him). It’s a bit of a relaxation spoiler I’ll be honest and you can tell me its my own fault for having suuuuuper long baths but hey it is a ‘wishlist’.
  2. This is similar with the above but a bigger family bathroom would be a dream. At the moment our bathroom is on the small side and although we are lucky it completely functions as it should you can’t have two people brushing their teeth at the same time, there’s just not enough floor space (I know, problems). An ideal bathroom would have a separate bath and walk in shower and if we were going all out I would have enough room for a roll top bath but we could leave that to the 3rd house if need be.
  3. A utility room – Upstairs. Yeah I said it. I want my washing machine upstairs like the American houses have them. Please tell me why I bring my clothes downstairs, wash them, and then take them back upstairs. It makes no sense to me. I get that it is closer to the water supply but the toilet went from outside to inside and upstairs so I reckon we can arrange the washer to do the same.
  4. A working log fire in the living room. We could definitely fit one in this house but the amount of mess that it would include, the fact that the tv is on the wall and how small the living room is it just wouldn’t be worth the disruption in this house. It would be great to have a larger living space though one day and have a roaring, cosy log burner to curl up in front of. The dog I mean. Ok maybe myself too.
  5. A blank canvas. If we bought again I would take the house back to its bare bones and start completely from scratch. We weren’t too far off that when we bought our current home however now I know better and more of what/not to do I know more of what I would do and how I would want it to look.
Me stood in the renovated kitchen

And that’s only 5 things! I don’t ask for much do I? I am sure if I was to step foot in another house that was a potential future home I would decide on another set of criteria but that’s where compromise comes in (unless you build your own house I guess) and where decisions have to be made. Let me know what your dream home would have either here or on Instagram @lorenjessica_

An image of me showing off the new bedroom colour scheme, green and white

Bedroom Renovation Update

Bedroom Renovation, HOME RENOVATION

We have a bed! And by that I mean we have a bed base still packaged in the room, without a mattress. It is still very exciting though.

This room has been freshly plastered and painted and I love the green that we finally chose after much deliberation. I have so many ideas for rooms (I blame Pinterest) that the final say goes to my husband to choose between two ideas and/or colour schemes. Funnily enough the bed was purchased first after my parents spotted it in a store. What I can not wait to see is the ottoman storage that the bed has. We can never have too much storage in our house.

If you want to have a little taster of what it looks like just before the bed arrived check out my YouTube video.