The interior…. What a minefield!!
Don’t get me wrong I absolutely LOVE interiors and have spent a small fortune on magazines (not now though as you can get them FREE through the zinio app if you are a member of your local library… Really do this!!) BUT when you are faced with a grey box there is a LOT of decisions to be made…
I’m going to talk you through as much as I can and hopefully impart a little wisdom to you all!!
Lighting & Electrics: The day we spent with the electrician marking the spots and the sockets etc was fun – not! We basically put a socket in every corner as I wasn’t entirely sure of where furniture was going at this stage. In my opinion put as many sockets as you can (but do make sure how many was included in your price and check how much an extra socket is going to cost). We decided not to go with metal socket covers and light switches, as we were going for white skirting/architrave and because we were going for underfloor heating, there was going to be white thermostats in every room too… So white sockets made sense!
We have spotlights throughout the house, apart from a ceiling light in the living area and in the hallway (we purchased those lights from homelava, if ordering from here, don’t leave it too late as delivery took 2 months as it turned out they were coming from China!!) My advice is not to go overboard with spots!! For example, the plans should 4 spots in each bedroom, we felt at the time that wasn’t going to be enough and put 6 in, retrospectively 4 would have been enough! We also didn’t get dimmer switches for the spotlights, but I would recommend this and we will be changing our switches soon.
Doors/skirting/architrave: I knew right from the start I wanted barn style doors. I had found a picture on Pinterest and had fallen in love. Myself and the joiner sketched out the design and they were sent away to be custom made. I also wanted black door handles, to keep with the country look.
I decided I wanted straight skirting and architrave, and that I wanted the architrave to end sitting on the skirting, not coming to the ground. (The above picture shows what I mean!) I really fried my joiners head, as this was very different to the norm, (I remember I spent an entire afternoon with the joiner looking at different samples of skirting, that literally had mm of differences between them: head melt!)
What I couldn’t work out was how you had to pay MORE for something so simple and plain… But I love it, and it being white means you really do need to keep it clean or you notice it… Praise the Lord for feather dusters!!
Flooring: I really wanted carpet in this house. Our last house had oak flooring downstairs and laminates upstairs and I really wanted a change. I really fell in love with a spot carpet from Brintons, but at £80 per m it was a definite NO! We wanted the whole house finished for moving in, as my hubby works from home, so I opted for a plain cheap carpet (£4.99 from Martin Phillips; the underlay was more expensive than the carpet as you need special underlay for underfloor heating), as I knew we still had the outside to complete and didn’t want expensive carpet ruined. We also went for plain instead of a stripe I loved, because of the spilt levels in the hallway.
For the lower floor where the kitchen/living area is, we went for a lovely grey wooden floor tile. The tiles were so small, it took the poor tiler a week to lay, but I love it and it’s a dream to keep clean. We did opt for a lovely patterned tile for the utility and downstairs loo, as I fell in love and thought it would just add a little colorful touch in an otherwise simple colour scheme! We purchased our tiles from Armatile in Armagh and Lynn was a dream to work with… Highly recommend a visit!
Bathrooms: I think this was the easiest decision we made! A couple of hours in Bassetts in portadown and we had everything chosen.
As we don’t have a main bathroom, we decided on a bath in our ensuite. We went for a freestanding painted bath, with a lovely matching sink unit. We also wanted to see our bath from our bedroom, so we decided on a curved wall instead of a door – was that a good idea? – Probably not, but only because we have our toilet in totally the wrong place… (Let’s just say you need to make sure no one is in the bedroom when you need to pay it a visit!!)
We went for a waterfall fixed head in shower, this looks lovely, but when you are cleaning the shower it’s a real pain, as you’ve no hose to wash down with…. It’s just a jug that you need to keep popping to the sink to refill.
I really love the boys shared ensuite, I’m so happy we did this instead of two separate ones (though check back with me in a few years) It is quite a dark ensuite, with the grey subway tiles and dark floor, but I think it’s perfect for boys and should grow with them as they get older.
The downstairs WC has a lovely Laura Ashley vanity unit, perfect for keeping the extra loo rolls and cleaning products.. Would recommend a wee vanity unit to keep it tidy and streamlined.
Kitchen and utility: I nearly don’t want to talk about the kitchen, as it nearly made me go mad!! From the start I knew I wanted everything to be hidden, as it was an open plan space. I also wanted no clutter and no open shelving as they are just dust traps in my opinion and I really don’t want to spend my life cleaning! We went for a painted kitchen from Make in a very neutral colour, to be honest at the end I just freaked out and decided to play safe instead of a two toned.. I’m boring!!
I didn’t want a kettle on display so we went for a boiling water tap, my advice.. Unless you drink a load of tea/coffee.. DONT get one. The day the plumber was fitting it, he said how expensive they were to run and you can hear it continually boiling, but that’s just my opinion (I pull my old kettle out every morning).
We went for a downdraught fan for our gas hob and I love it… But you do lose all your drawer space below your hob (we have a fake front below our hob… no drawers for saucepans)
The other little luxury I went for was the sliding neff ovens (like the GBBO) I LOVE them and highly recommend them!
We went for a granite worktop instead of wood (which I love so much, but I knew I’d destroy real wood).
In the utility room though I went for a fake wooden top and that made up for it a bit!!
On the day I had finally signed off my kitchen, I was walking out the door when I saw a lady opening a cupboard door that revealed a washing machine, I never knew you couldn’t have a built in washing machine and tumbler dryer… I must live a very sheltered life! Needless to say the plans got changed and now you don’t see any appliances in the utility room either.. And that’s a bonus to me.
Blinds and curtains: THIS WAS AN NIGHTMARE. Ok, so you know those lovely putty windows I got… Well they open INWARDS… on a tilt. Now you would think that this would have been something we would have already known at the time of ordering but NO!! (Well maybe we did but it didn’t register at the time that this would mean we literally had no options for window coverings).
Our only option was for Roman blinds, which I totally love anyway. I went to Blenhiem Fabrics for my blinds and choose from the range of voyage materials. Now 2 weeks before we moved in I found out that they couldn’t make 5 of my blinds due to not enough space above my windows for the blinds….I was devastated (still am to be honest).
So I purchased 2 pairs of plain curtains from ikea (thank God for this place) for 2 of the Windows and the other 3 windows currently have no covering and probably never will!!
So the only place left for curtains is the front door, and I’m saving the pennies to get them made in the same lovely voyage material as the hallway Roman blind… It might be a while!!
So PLEASE check if your windows are tilt and turn as you CAN have recessed blinds put into the head above the window, but this needs to be done BEFORE the plastering stage… Really regret not having this!!
Stove: I have always wanted a charnwood stove (we purchased ours from Portadown Fireplaces). The stone is from Trinity Stone as mentioned before, and our beam came from Wilsons yard. The choice is huge for beams, but if you dont see one you like they will cut and stain one to order, i found the guys extremely helpful!
So there we go…. Sorry if this has been a long one but there was a lot to cover.
Building your own home is so very stressful, and it’s really only now, 8 months after moving in that we are starting to feel like it’s home.
The first few months after moving in, you are still getting over how much money you have ended up spending and wanting to touch everything with cotton gloves because it cost so much!!
If you have any questions about building your own home or about anything I’ve talked about on the last blogs, please just drop me a message and I’ll try to help you out!!