The Renovation Begins

Just over one year ago we moved into our new house. A beautiful London townhouse, it had been divided into two flats and left empty for between one and three years depending on which neighbour you spoke to.

The top flat, where we intended to living during the renovations, had three bedrooms and had been recently repainted and fitted with a new carpet, so it wasn’t all bad. That is to say it was freshly painted magnolia wood chip and a bright blue carpet. But, as I say “new” is the word we are focusing on here, so it was bearable. For a few months.

The kitchen had some rather alarming lino printed with pebbles and the bathroom was basically unspeakable but, armed with several cans of bleach and my lovely cleaning lady, Valentina, we managed to make it presentable.

Downstairs was another matter. Faded grey carpet, cigarette butts still in the ashtrays and a hole in the floor that I fell through every single time I went down there. Which was quite often as it was the only place for the washing machine.





That kitchen had a bare concrete floor and gave everyone who went in the creeps. My mother-in-law referred to the downstairs as the Edgar Allan Poe room and refused to set foot in it. Which was just as well as she would have fallen through the hole in the floor.

So the plan was to get planning permission as quickly as possible, knock together the downstairs bathroom and kitchen, and push the wall back into the garden by about ten feet to create a large light kitchen with room for an island, our big old art school table and a sofa – a personal kitchen fantasy of mine for many years.

The rest of the house needed a new bathroom and a major redecoration. Oh and a door installing. And a wall creating. And actually a bathroom creating out of a bedroom. Not to mention new windows, new doors and some new flooring. And a new boiler some replumbing. Just about the only thing we didn’t need was a rewire.

So there we were on the 10th December; keys in hand, removal van parked outside. Ready to move in . . .

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.


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