Abi Rule Country Life Country Style

Renovating A Country Cottage – My Top Tips

February 13, 2018

Renovating A Country Cottage – My Top Tips

Over the past 18 months my partner and I have been renovating a Cornish cottage.  Most people thought we were a little bit mad, and we probably were, but its actually been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.  Don’t get me wrong it was super tough but watching an old sorry cottage come back to life has been really special.

Given my experience, and whilst I am no professional, I wanted to share the keys things I’ve learnt for people who may be thinking about embarking on a similar journey.

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Here’s what I learn’t:

1.Quality is key (for certain things) – Obviously it depends on your budget and your intentions for the house (i.e is it to do up and sell, or are you planning to make it your longer-term home) but one thing I would recommend is that for certain things, quality is going to be key. We made the mistake of buying a second-hand wood burner, without doing our research. It turned out to be a completed waste of time and money trying to get it to work. In the end I spent hours doing research and we ended up purchasing a Clearview stove. The lovely team at Kernow Fires supplied us with a Clearview Pioneer 400 and it’s absolutely perfect.  My advice, do your research, pay for quality.

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2.Don’t go crazy on expensive paint – I was the worst offender for this, heading straight for the Farrow & Ball aisle as soon as I entered a paint shop. You can spend so much on paint and if you are not careful it can really eat into your budget. My recommendation would be only spend on the expensive stuff where is it really necessary – for example, on staircases, beams and cupboards.

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3.Functionality first, interior design second – firstly design a room/layout that works for you practically. You can worry about interior design later. You can change the paint but you can’t as easily change the layout of the kitchen, the positioning of the cupboards etc when they are in. Design a home that caters to your lifestyle. If you need more inbuilt storage etc make sure you factor that in at an early stage.

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4.You can do more jobs than you think – One thing I was surprised about was my ability to do what I perceived as ‘specialist jobs’. There’s so much work you can do yourself, all you need is someone to show you the basics, and if you don’t have that, look at YouTube, you’ll be surprised at what you can find on there.

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5.Be savvy  – If you are going to use a builder/specialist trades-person, make sure you obtain a quote up-front if possible. That way, you’ll minimize your chances of ending up with a huge and unexpected bill. Also, make sure you get recommendations. We were very lucky with the help we had. Sam from S.W Build was fantastic, as well as being a good friend of ours, Sam is a hugely talented builder.

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6.You don’t need that £1,000 bed…– It’s so easy to pick up an interiors mag, look at the rooms within it and think “I want my room to look just like that”.  Personally, I could have spent £1,000’s on expensive furniture and I could have easily convinced myself I needed it too.  But the truth is you can often recreate it yourself for a fraction of the cost! Buy second hand, up-cycle, re-upholster – you’ll be surprised what you can do.

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Things I wish I had done on hindsight:

1. Thought about the house as a whole, instead of thinking room by room.

2.Factored more in-built storage so that things could have been nicely tucked away instead of needed lots of free standing storage.


I hope this post of use to those of you taking on a house project. 
Good luck!

Abi xx

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