This blog is the second in the series of our Sunday Sanctuary Series.

Bethanie from Northumberland Family Diaries and I are writing about topics we feel in this slower paced window of time that is the summer hols.  Having a deadline of a Sunday evening means I do a little bit of writing each day (usually).

You can check out what my pal Bethanie is writing on exactly the same title over on her website. 

This week, I’m chatting about home renovations, the black money hole of old homes and our most recent project our living room.

I have LOVED learning more about interior design by following some hashtags and accounts on instagram.   I’ll list some of my faves over there in a post if you fancy checking it out.  Interiors is a real creative outlet for me and probably a bit of an expensive hobby!

Making a house a home - teepee and little boy playing

Discovering a room with a view 

It’s always been super important to me to buy a home.  Sure everyone has different goals in life, but for me this and becoming a mum have been burning away as TOP of the list since I was a child.

I’ve said to Dave a few times I honestly don’t think I’ve ever slept as well before living in our current house – I just feel so content here.   Our mortgage payments are affordable and we enjoy working our way through the updates to restore and reinvent our 100 year old beauty of a home!

For me, creating an environment to work, relax, for our son to play, to grow veggies and bee friendly flowers makes a huge difference to how I feel in my every day.  One of the best things is we have this incredible view out to sea and the skyline is like a work of art every time I look out.

The BIG search for our dream home

Back in November 2015, when we were searching for some where to live with a one year old in tow, we didn’t have a tonne of options financially as we were both working part time.  Keeping an open mind really lead us to creating our dream home in a beautiful spot in Northumberland.

If you’ve ever searched for houses on Right Move you’ll know the photos don’t always do a place justice and you have to look for the bright spots.  We didn’t have time or energy to view loads of properties so we viewed one to buy which was AWFUL and one to rent before finding ours.

The view to our apple trees – this is the photo that swung it for me and made us book a viewing.

The house had been on the market over a year and we didn’t have a chain behind us as we were staying at a friend’s place as the sale on my house went through pretty quick so we just went with it.

I wrote a little blog (with pics) about this on Bethanie’s blog earlier in the year.  I could have easily discounted the house as it did need alot of modernising, it only had two bed rooms and on a dreary October day you needed a lot of imagination.

Living Room Revamp – on a budget

We’re getting married later in the year, so we didn’t want to spend a tonne on living room decor but it desperately needed doing this year.  We had holes in the walls and missing skirting boards and were living with a bland cream colour we’d had it decorated when we first moved in.

There were a few options we talked through like pulling the coving down and replacing with something more modern/ in keeping with the house, getting rid of the ceiling rose, replacing the skirting board but in all honesty those are the jobs that cost the most.

What we actually did was;

  • Start a mood board on pinterest and on a pin board – this really helps.  I’ve watched a tonne of interiors programmes and they advise two main colours and a couple of accent colours.
  • Got our original floors sanded and varnished – they came up a treat!
  • Took curtains and doors off (I really disliked the doors because they are those light weight types and don’t close properly).
  • Replace a piece of skirting board with a piece from the woodshed
  • Pull the dado rail off and check the state of the walls (they were fine for being 100 years old)
  • Pulled a few cables into new positions (those old telephone wires)
  • Got a painter in so the walls could be evened out and it would look excellent – would REALLY recommend Northumberland based Shaun Walton.
  • Bring in a plumber to fix the radiators!
  •  I’ve started a macrame door handing for the door in between the kitchen/ living room and utility and when it gets cold in winter we’ll hopefully have tracked down some original doors.


before pic


living room view with 100 year old fire

Money Talks – transparency with costs

We’ve been working on the house since we moved in back in 2015 so alot of the costs have been spread out but from memory here is what everything cost.  I am always interested in this stuff so I share it because I think we are as a nation a little tight lipped about money and actually it’s always helpful to me to understand the true costs;

  • Floor sanding – £400
  • Decorating (twice) – £800
  • TV bench – £45 from antique shop
  • TV – free from a cousin who was upgrading
  • Sofas – £100 each – both second hand from gumtree/ ebay
  • Light fitting and switches – £90 – I would love to upgrade the light but it works ok for now.
  • Soft furnishing – cushions/ rugs – £150 (Ikea/ M&S)
  • Coffee table – FREE from our local buy nothing group
  • Fire place restoration – some labour costs around £200 but we did a lot ourselves (chipping away) and the builder used bricks (you can see them at the back) reclaimed from a wall we knocked down
  • Fireplace tiles and woodburner/ flue- £1500 plus labour costs £300
  • Doors – I’ve budgeted another £300 for doors, the macrame rope has cost £30

So from when we moved in it’s all cost just over £2000.  It could have cost a lot more if we’d got new sofas which we might do eventually but over 4 years that’s £500 per year on making our most used room feel beautiful.

I hope you enjoyed reading all about our living room renovation and it’s given you ideas for any projects you might be doing?  Let me know in the comments or over on the gram.

Next week’s Sunday Sanctuary topic is ‘My favourite Coffee Stops‘ if you fancy joining in and writing with us.

Come say hi over on instagram; @creatively.conscious & @northumberlandfamilydiaries 

Claire x