What I’ve learned as a reluctant DIYer

It’s no surprise to long time readers that I’m not the most enthusiastic of home remodellers.  When we bought our house almost 2 years ago I thought we’d be sitting in comfort by now in our completely remodelled house. Unfortunately that is not the case. It takes three times as long to do anything. In our case it’s mainly because we don’t want to spend every moment of our free time working on the house. I have 3 rooms almost done- just need carpeting in two rooms and finishing up the built in shelves in the third.

Right now I’m researching fireplaces. We have 5 that we need to sort out. The most urgent one is in the living room. It had a horrible paneled surround and shelving unit that we removed. At the moment it needs the hearth, surround and mantle sorted. I’ve just won an oak mantle on ebay for £1! Score!  Now some people poo poo ebay and “reclaimed” things but when you have an entire house to remodel you need to pick your battles. I’d rather use the £1000 (prices ranged from £550 t0 £1400) they quoted me for a complete fireplace and buy a top of the line range cooker. It’s all about priorities and compromises.

Another thing I’ve found while doing my research is that you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. I know that sounds like basic information that everyone should know but it’s easy to get caught up in what is in style. If you start looking at fireplaces you’ll see black granite hearths and surrounds w/ cast iron inserts and pine/oak mantals. You  might vary that by going a bit victorian or minimalist modern but it’s all the same. Yesterday while working on the shelves I looked down at the hearth and thought what would happen if we replaced the brown 1930’s tiles with something else. I went down this path because while at a friends house over the weekend we noticed that they’d put wood in their hearth. The fireplace was blocked off and plastered over but the recess for the hearth had remained. What do you do? Put floorboards and you can hardly tell the difference.  Off to the internet I went, it’s amazing what you can find once you know what you’re looking for. In the end it looks like I’m going to tile the hearth and surround. I’m estimating this can be done for under £50. Expected cost of the fireplace now is; £1 mantal, £50 tiles/grout, and the cost of the fuel efficient gas fire (around £300.) Much more palatable when you multiply that by 5!

A few more of my finds, a light fixture for the kitchen and a chandelier for the living-room. The living-room chandelier was from Freecycle.