Monday Musings

If there was space behind the sofa from which to write this that is where I would be. For here the madness starts. For two weeks. So I will drop in when I can to share updates with you and in the meantime I’m sharing pictures of the old house to remind myself that out of the chaos will come the calm.

As things stand – we are sleeping in the loft – the 19yo’s bedroom – fortunately he is in halls of residence two miles down the road. The room is full of all his stuff and our stuff and there is just about space between the boxes for us to find the (his) bed and climb in.

The builders are going full steam ahead in our bedroom and aim to finish the joinery and painting thereof this week. They will then move into the spare room/office which, until yesterday was completely rammed full of boxes. Some of those have now been unpacked and/or moved up into the loft to make space for them to start joinery and painting in there.

It’s downstairs, however where things get slightly complicated. On Wednesday the heating engineer arrives to do the first fix of all the radiators – upstairs and down. This meant pulling out the cupboards in the alcoves yesterday – well one of them. It was too noisy for a Sunday so the other one will have to be done before then.

On Thursday the new floorboards arrive and we must find space for them to acclimatise for the rest of the week. Then the following Monday they will be fitted in the sitting room and hall. Fortunately, they are pre-stained and pre-aged and pre-sealed which means that one half of the room can be laid and then all the boxes can be shoved over to the other side on top of two sofas, two armchairs and a desk, so the other half can be laid. Alternatively if all the builders agree to stay the night everything can block the hall.

Once the floors have been fitted, the heating engineer can return to fix the radiators onto the pipes he has already moved/installed/cleaned. That’s on 12 December. At some point during that week the windows upstairs are also due to be fitted so the wallpaper and painting can be finished in those two bedrooms.

That leaves us with the sisal flooring in two bedrooms to be done in the New Year. And means the joinery for the sitting room can start so the 47 boxes of books can be unpacked.

And I’ve got two features to write, two podcasts to record and am attending a reels workshop all before Wednesday. So, as I say, if there was room to hide behind the sofa that’s where you would find me and is why posts may be a little intermittent over the next couple of weeks.

Like the children’s story A Squash and A Squeeze however, by Christmas we may be in the happy position of being able to unpack most of the boxes. Just don’t ask me where the decorations are.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Ooh Kate! JanuarybCountry Living Magazine and your excellent article! I love the green into blue into green first photo. Made my day.

  2. Tetris was created by Soviet software programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. For a variety of platforms, it has been made available by a number of companies, most notably in the late 1980s during a court struggle over the ownership of the rights. Before Pajitnov and Henk Rogers co-founded the Tetris Company in 1996 to handle licensing, Nintendo released Tetris for a substantial period of time.

  3. Oh my. Your chaos just made me feel a little calmer about my own. I’m starting a new job next Monday, and we’re moving into a new apartment between now and then (just up three floors from our current one), and holiday planning will just have to wait till after that. Good luck with all your projects– I know it will turn out gorgeous and your site will continue to be the oasis of calm it always has been for me.

  4. I feel your pain! We moved into our house a few years ago in September – unpacked just the basics, and I mean the basics, two mugs, plates, glasses, knives, forks, spoons, the sofa, TV and the minimum of clothes, towels etc. Everything else was put in the box room. We moved out on 2nd January until end of February as we had no kitchen or bathroom, and were lucky enough to be able to stay in a holiday rental on a friends farm at this time (taking a minimum amount of clothes for work, home and taking laundry back to the house. We moved back in during February (the building work was almost done but not quite). We had no heating, the dust was quite something and we ate meals on our laps sitting on two dining room chairs (the table was still packed away and we had sold the sofa!) We finally unpacked in the March. Just remember the renovators mantra “It will be worth it in the end….. it will be worth it in the end…..”

  5. I deeply feel this post!
    My husband & I are finishing a 1.5 yr restoration of an 1870s house (we did most of the work). Everything we’d bought during those 18 months was stored in my dining room – sofas to lighting to towels. It all got moved to the other house on Saturday, which gives me 5 more days to stage and decorate the house for a Christmas Tour of Homes his weekend. Thank goodness for ToDo lists, the help of friends, and lots of wine.

    I agree with the others – move your stuff to a Pod….then plan a January holiday to Italy. Sending good vibes your way from Mississippi!

    1. You can do this! You know what you’re doing, and you’ll get through it and come out with a beautiful home – not a perfect one – but one you will enjoy. You’ll be so glad you downsized. We just did. The remodel was painful, but it’s DONE. Kinda. Finishing touches to come when we catch our breath. We’re just grateful we could do it.. I remember early in our marriage just trying to find the funds to buy an old chair I could eventually recover. You do beautiful work, and we can’t wait to see it! We’ll wait while you take the time to breathe.

  6. Is it worth moving boxes of books and other non-essentials into a storage unit? In and out once rather than around and around the house. Also gives you more breathing space in the house. Most storage places offer a very good deal for the first month. I did this earlier this year when I moved back into my place before building works had completely finished (books, camping equipment, ski gear, rugs, suitcases…) and it was worth every penny! I also used EasyStorage for my main storage: they rock up with containers on a van and two/three people to do the lifting and shifting. They take it away and bring it back when you’re ready. You could book one/two containers and all you need to do is direct which boxes they should fill the container unit with. Keep filling until there’s no space left!!

    1. Looking at how packed things are now and listening to what needs to be done, I cannot agree with Jo more. Just put most of this in a pod until the work is done. Your workers will appreciate it and be able to work faster, less will be ruined, and you have a greater chance at retaining your sanity. Either way, I wish you the best!

  7. Lovely to see Edith seems happy with the new arrangements!! Aren’t cats fab 😆
    Where did you buy your checkerboard rug please? I’m looking for one for my family room.

  8. I feel your pain. We are in the midst of renovations and quite frankly I have run out of enthusiasm! Good luck with it all and cant wait to see your progress. I LOVE the bronze fireplace. Did you find it this colour? I want one just like this.

  9. Good luck, it’s going to be manic! It’ll all be worth it in the end. We’re moving house on Dec 7 but luckily don’t need to do any work on the house.

  10. Whew! I don’t envy you the stress and upheaval but of course it will be worth it when it’s done. You’ll be able to sit back in your lovely home and be proud, as will all of us, your avid readers. Good luck, we’re all cheering you on and wishing we’d been as brave, instead of wishing we’d done this, that and the other when we’d got the chance!

  11. A few years ago we had builders move out on the 23rd December after a five week renovation – I cannot tell you how good it was to sit down with a glass of wine after reinstatng the furniture and putting up a last minute tree. It’ll be so worth it!

  12. This brings back memories of doing the same thing countless times Kate- making me feel anxious just reading it! Good Luck!! x

  13. That’s exhausting to read let alone experience. Good luck with it all. Can’t wait to see the final result. We’re exchanging today, due to complete in July! I’m already planning on splitting up our bedroom for the walk- in wardrobe!

  14. Moving house plus a total redecoration is major stressful – and just before Christmas to boot! It is not like childbirth – you never forget the pain.

    Best of luck with the next phase. Make sure you don’t mistake a paintbrush for a hairy parsnip at Christmas.

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