Our house, for us.

Today I want to talk about something that has changed our lives, it’s not a new concept, but it’s given us more freedom, more choice and more comfort. The decision to commit to our home, to where we are, to make it the best house it can be for us, without being dictated by the house value or how a future owner may view the details within.

I’ve touched on this in the past, in other posts, but I haven’t talked about it directly. It’s definitely not a straightforward subject, we are all in very different positions when it comes to our homes. I hope by talking about our experiences and choices, you may be able to relate in some way, perhaps not now, maybe a little way off into the future, but I think it’s something worth writing about.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared a full photo of the front of our house, so here you go, is it what you were expecting? I’m guessing not! Our place is on the left, with the blue/grey door. It’s safe to say it’s not my dream building, but it’s home.

Image – Rightmove
Image – Rightmove
The front, before the new wood door.
The back, before the extension.

As I’ve said in the past, there came a time where it felt as though our family had outgrown this house. I was desperate to move, I started to look around at our options, but it soon became obvious that we would have to spend at least another £70k to make a move worthwhile, probably more like £100k+ and that was something we just weren’t willing or able to do. We’d had our house valued at this time, so I was well aware of what our home was ‘worth’ on the market, but then I started thinking, what is it worth to us?

My for and against lists looked something like this –

Want to move for –

  • More space.
  • A house with period details (50s or older)
  • Detached house.
  • Bigger rooms – not necessarily more rooms.
  • High ceilings.
  • Bigger garden.
  • Nicer looking frontage.

Stay put –

  • Financial freedom, sooner.
  • More freedom to explore my own career options, without pressure to be bringing in a certain amount of £.
  • Light – we have so much light here, a very important thing to me.
  • Play – the grass square at the front has formed an integral part of our children’s childhood so far, they spend hours out there, bike riding, hanging with friends, it’s a very important parenting tool for us.
  • Location – whilst the house itself isn’t my ideal, I wouldn’t want to move from this area at the moment, partly due to…
  • Proximity to school.
  • Proximity to town/country
  • Outlook – it feels as though we’re in the country when you look out from the back of the house.

Most of the issues in my reasons to move list weren’t remotely important to my husband, he has no interest in living in a period house, he has no problem with our ceiling heights, to be honest he was more than happy existing as we were, despite the struggles, the cramp, chaotic feeling. So there was another big reason for staying put, only one of us wanted to move!!

It took some convincing to get Stu to agree to the extension, he doesn’t really like change, at least initially, he clearly married the wrong gal as my need to change things is something I can’t control! But once he realised the benefits to our lives, vs the cost of moving, he was fully onboard. We were both in agreement that the fact an extension would take us above the property’s ceiling value just wasn’t an issue for us. We were investing in our quality of life as a family, for now, not the value if sold. And anyway, who knows what will happen in the next 5-10 years?!

Now that it’s done, the difference it has made to our lives is invaluable, the connection it has given us with the garden, I love the way it has lifted the rooms around it and taken our kind of ugly, late 60s end of terrace and given it the modern twist it so desperately needed. We haven’t had the house valued since the extension, I want to, purely for curiosities sake, but my guess is we’re at least £15k over the top end. Am I worried? No, could we have moved house and gained what we have, for the same cost? Absolutely not. Everything is relative.

I won’t lie and say I am completely at peace with our situation, there is still that voice inside me that knows my need to change things all the time is actually the fact this house fundamentally isn’t the home picture I have in my mind. My entire style aesthetic craves a bigger scale, simple period details, less ‘stuff’ but within more space…

Image credits – Luxxe, Remodelista, Bloglovin’, bycocoon, Light Locations

But I am also learning to be more grateful for what we have, which is a lot more then many. I think it’s just the nature of an interior design enthusiast to keep thinking bigger and better.

Things I still want to do that will take us further over the ‘value’ of our house, but which will add value to our home…

Jazz up the front of the house, externally insulate and clad the porch and cover the weird roof tile feature thing under Eula’s bedroom window – Ugly House to Lovely House style.

As I’ve mentioned before, our bathroom is on the to-do list, but as it functions and we have zero funds, there’s little hope of it going through a transformation this year. However, this doesnt stop me planning and scheming, it’s good to be prepared!

This leads me to what really inspired this post…

One of my ideas, as it’s so small in there, is to get rid of the bath and just have a walk in shower. I never bath (due to the fact I can only fit half my body under water at any one given time, small bath/big person issues) and the girls only have one bath a week. When discussing this idea on Housfolk, a few people expressed their concern that removing the bath would affect the resale value and for a split second I thought, that’s a point. But it’s actually not the point, is it? The point is we live here, we’re living here every day, should a decision like that be made based on a hypothetical ‘one day’? Personally I think not, this is how my mindset has changed, this is our position. This said I am also very Japanese plunge bath curious, have you seen them before? A.mazing!

In the Summer the house doesn’t feel quite so small, as we spend our spare moments doing this.

So I feel I should round things up as you may well be asleep by now, well done if you got this far! I hope this post helps to give a little more context to our world and to the decisions I share with you. This is my take on our home ownership and how we are choosing to live our life, I hope you find aspects that you can relate to and find helpful. Or perhaps you’re a serial house flipper, renter, saving to buy your first home, there’s no right or wrong, good decision, bad decision. I’d love to hear what drives you, how you make things work for you and your world.

50 Comments Add yours

  1. piavibeke says:

    Such an interesting read Alice ….. we are serial movers, buy, titivate, sell, repeat. And I’m always craving the perfect house ….. no neighbours, in the middle of the country, views, open spacious rooms and light, lots of light. But realistically we can’t afford all of this in this area. I’m constantly on Rightmove (I need to delete the app) ! Friends ask if we ever really feel at home in our houses, and yes we do as we always make them a home (they sell very quickly so we’re doing something right !). Not sure what I’m rambling on about or where I’m going with this but I admire you’re decision !! And yes to the wet room, we’ve done that and it didn’t steer anyone who viewed the house.
    Good luck !
    Pia xxxx

    1. Hi lovely, thank you for your words, I think if Stu had any interest in renovations then I could end up like you, but doing anything like that with him sends chills down my spine 😂

  2. Millie Freeman on FB) says:

    Alice what an amazingly honest article, one that I can completely relate to for different reasons! I started life again after divorce and am in. 3 bed semi in Newquay….at first I thought this is as good as its going to get , I’d had a much grander home previously. Now little by little, bit by bit, I’m achieving the home that I want and a home that I love. It will never be quite as I want because there is a limit to what I’m prepared to spend and can afford and justify . But I love my home, it’s me. I’d have liked to have got that Ercol Windsor that you sold and am still looking… but I’ll find one 😉😉😉😉. Thank you for your article it’s lovely and heartfelt xxx

    1. Hi Millie, thank you for your kind words. I’m glad to hear you are building a new home for yourself, one that you can love. I love me some Ercol, but there’s only so much furniture I can comfortably fit in our size house!

  3. Anna says:

    Your house is beautiful and perfectly proportioned and you are so right about spending money on what makes your home best for you. For some reason we seem obsessed about treating our homes like a business.
    Much love xxx

    1. Thank you for your kind words ❤

  4. Polly Long says:

    We moved into a new build over 4 years ago.. we had an 18 month old daughter and I was just pregnant with our second.. we always new it was a “stepping stone” house so it was never a home for me.. the walls are the same magnolia, there are no photos or personal touches to show we live here.. mind set is a huge thing!

    We are ready to exchange (just waiting on final papers) on a 1960’s chalet/bungalow and we know it’s a home already.. it’s everything we want, ticks every box and know our kids are going to grow up and is finally enjoy a home! Our home.. one that people will visit and it says it’s ours!

    Home vs house.. big difference!

    1. How exciting Polly, good luck with what lies ahead 😊❤

  5. Heather says:

    I love this post, it reminds me to be grateful for what we have. I can relate to always wanting to improve things, being creative myself, my inner monologue drives me round the bend! But more because I want it to be a relaxing, and enjoyable place to be! We came from a tiny house with no parking and I had to search for my car every morning having forgotten where I had put it the night before, lugging the baby round! Now we have a small drive and have to tell myself off when I get cross with the bush I crawl out of when I get out the car, it’s better than it was!! And I should be grateful!! I will however plan for a bigger drive, just for ease of life more than anything. Thanks for being honest, it helps me feel more normal x

    1. Hahaha at the bush! The internal monologue is a killer isn’t it!

  6. Sonya says:

    Great read! We too are in the ugly 1960 house, but have a great size garden and good neighbours….just trying to decide cost effective way to get a table in kitchen whilst also allowing me to work less and spend more time with little one- not too hard 😂
    Love your house, have followed you for a while, and we too have a love of ercol!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sonya, I think a big garden and good neighbours are great assets to have. Good luck with the bigger table!

  7. Gemma says:

    Have you thought about persuading your neighbours to renovate the fronts of their houses too, in the same style? And all of you appearing on Channel 4?!
    Getting rid of too much stuff always makes me like our house again.

    1. That’s a lovely idea Gemma, but there is just no way our neighbours would be interested!

  8. Amy Y says:

    We are almost in a flip situation. In a beautiful 30s house packed full of original features. We are planning to knock some walls down soon as it doesn’t suit our family to be running from the kitchen at the back to formal dining at the front at every meal time.
    We talk a LOT about selling up to get the country / coastal life. Having grown up spitting distance from the beach I find being landlocked very strange!
    But it would be a real wrench to leave this place and buy something less traditional. You’ve inspired me to keep pressing the issue 😊

    1. Such a tricky one Amy, your home sounds beautiful ❤❤❤

  9. llyoungster says:

    Beautiful home, happy life, healthy family -you have got it all. I love the front of your home, angular and retro! We have a shower only and have never looked back! X

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I’m going to keep pushing to sort the bathroom.

  10. cheryllumley says:

    Love this post. I think we’re all guilty of wanting bigger, better and nicer etc, but we should assess what we do have before we jump into something new. The relief when you realise you’re happy as you are is huge. 😘 x

    1. Thank you lovely. I still have my ups and my downs, but less financial pressure is a huge bonus.

  11. Mel Robinson says:

    Alice I’ve always had envy over your amazing extension! It is exactly what I would like to do to my house but am worried about the cost and all the myths about being able to keep it all warm.
    You should be super proud of your house it’s beautiful!
    Could you recommend some where for me to look at getting a similar extension maybe one day I will take the plunge

    1. Hi Mel, thank you for your kind words ❤ have you read my blog about the extension?

      I would ask for recommendations of local glazers, as opposed to going with the big ‘known’ companies x

  12. Eugenie Ryan says:

    Thank you Alice for sharing your truth/front of the house pictures. We came to an exactly the same decision only last week, when we decided not to upgrade our small not pretty looking terraced house (looks like yours byt no second window- 2 bedrioms) to a fantastic sea view new house at the cost of a new mortgage. Starting face lift jobs on the house shortly… keeping my fingers crossed it was the right decision. Was so important to read your story.. thank you!!! Would love to know more about your extension- was it expensive? Is it warm enough with so much glass?

    1. Hi Eugenie, I’m so glad you found this helpful.
      Here’s the blog i wrote about the extension…hopefully it answers your questions, if not just ask xx

      1. Eugenie Ryan says:

        Thank you for the link- read it all!
        Think your builder will be blessed with new orders niw- the house is so popular online! 😃

      2. Hahaha, I’ve seen him a few times, I sent him a link when I first wrote it and he’s never said a thing about it!

  13. ashboogie says:

    I think our generation is terrible for always wanting more and for thinking the bigger the better.
    Making your home right for you and your family is so important.
    No home is perfect but like you say, of it gives you peace of mind financially and means you can have more freedom with your career then it’s a no brainier! The Lagom way of life 🙂

    1. Thank you lovely, I’m not always 100% happy with the decision, but that’s human nature I guess. Overall it’s good to feel the pressure is off.

  14. jlbscott says:

    It looks like you have everything you could possibly need in your lovely home. You have done a fantastic job with it!

    1. Thank you very much ♡♡

  15. Sandra says:

    I can completely relate to this post. We have come to much the same conclusion after looking for a new place for about 6 months. We simply can not afford the cost of moving to somewhere that I would consider an improvement on what we have now. In fact, due to the style of our house and the street we are on, although not remotely a bad place to be, it would take quite a chunk of money for us to get the same thing elsewhere, let alone something bigger. It’s frustrating but there it is. We’ve basically come to the same conclusion, that we could get what we need here for an affordable amount. We’d never get that money back in terms of resale value but it doesn’t really matter because we are investing in something for us and that we will benefit from for years to come. We’ve just got to do it now!
    I love your solution and the way your home looks, it’s definitely very inspiring great post too, thanks for writing and sharing it.
    Sandra x

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sandra. It sounds like you have things sussed, good luck with your plans to stay put and improve ♡

  16. Gillian Roe says:

    Alice what a great post! I totally understand your reasoning. We did a similar thing, choosing a sixties house for less cash (less mortgage repayments!), and plan to stay even though it’s not for a second my dream home. But the more time and energy and love you invest in a property the more you come to love it – I’m hoping it’s the same for you. We’ll also be ripping out our bath and installing a huge shower as soon as funds allow because we’re not bathers and the kids are at an age where they shower daily now – I’ll look forward to seeing your plans and ideas. Xx

    1. Thank you Gillian, I’ve had such an amazingly positive response to this post. I think I am fortunate that the house does have many things about it that gives it a bit more of an edge, compared to a new build for example. And I need to focus on those things.

  17. Lucy says:

    Love this article. Love your home! I discovered your Insta at Christmas and I’ve never read a blog before let alone commented but I had to. I bought a 1970s 3 bed semi with very similar roof tile under window ‘feature’ 4 years ago thinking ‘beauty lies within’ and it’s taken me a while but now I love it. I even love the tiles. I live buying new bits of furniture – generally new to me or from Ikea. I’ve spent years thinking we need an extension, my son’s bedroom is too small, I wish I had a hallway. But over the past few months I’ve realised that actually, it’s perfect just as it is. It’s got a wonderful homely feeling. The bedroom is fine. It’s affordable and beautiful in its own way and a few compromises mean on space means less compromise on family time – we’re not working all hours to pay off a massive mortgage. Love this blog post. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks so much for commenting and for your kind words. It means a lot. It sounds as though you have your home sussed out ❤❤❤

  18. Emma Williams says:

    Wow this article just encapsulates my thoughts. We always think of home renovations to be about adding monetary value when it should be (in my opinion) about the value it adds to your life.

    1. ❤❤❤ thanks Emma, glad it struck a chord with you x

  19. Amanda says:

    As Socrates said…
    ‘The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.’
    You are on that path xx

    1. Fantastic, thank you Amanda ❤

  20. KW says:

    We have lived in our house (a pre war semi) for almost 40 years! During that time we have tried to move several times but could never find exactly what we wanted in this very expensive area. We have extended twice and literally made a house to suit our lives. Not having a huge mortgage enabled us to enjoy family holidays abroad when the children were still young enough to want to come with us and continue to do this on our own when they left home. It also gave us more retirement options. We use the house differently now and we still continue to update our home, ensuring it stays modern and works well for two people getting a bit older but also for when we have visitors. The children enjoy coming back to their childhood home which now feels like another member of the family! It was never our ‘dream’ house but we have had a happy, fulfilled life within it which is surely a key purpose of any home.

    1. Beautiful, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It sounds like you have created a true ‘home’ ❤

  21. Ellustar says:

    Reblogged this on SEO.

    1. Thank you xxx

  22. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for this post, which has helped me organise my thoughts on this. I would like more space and financially we could make a move work, but my parents moved house when I was six, and as a child I really missed our old house. I remember my old bedroom so clearly, and our new house (which was bigger), never felt as much like home. My mum still lives in the “new” house and I’m 30 now, so it has been 24 years, but our first house is the one that holds the special place in my heart. So, although we could move for more space (and I am tempted to), I also don’t want to move my children unless we have to.

    I read in another of your posts that you have given birth in your house. That’s truly special. Memories are so much more important than things (and high ceilings). It’s a good decision to stay.

    1. Hi Laura, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading and it has struck a chord with you. It’s a juggle of emotions isn’t it. I’m so in love with our home at the moment, warts and all, the sunshine really helps.
      I’m actually sat where I gave birth to Eula, right now, which is a strange and amazing thought!
      Good luck with your home, whether you chose to move or not x

  23. Tori says:

    I have just come to your blog Alice, having been directed from Pinterest. I’ve seen your photos loads on Pinterest but I had dismissed them thinking ‘Just another pretty looking house and garden, not relevant to me and my ugly 1970s renovation’
    It’s so refreshing an unbelievably helpful to hear your thoughts here, even though they’re from 2 years ago! We bought our house in September 2018 when I was 6 months pregnant and very unwell. When we moved in, I immediately regretted my decision. I was vomiting every day with the smells of damp and simply the mental idea of ‘Why did we buy this house, this is not what I wanted, was I mad when we put the offer in’. Even the months after my son was born I’d spend looking on Rightmove thinking we should have bought a different house, one with character that wasn’t ugly, one with pretty windows, one that wouldn’t always look like a cheap 1970s red brick house. My internal monologue was haywire.
    I wish I’d read your post then!
    I’ve come to recognise what really matters, and you articulate them so well in your post (I love your pros and cons- my husband and I do them too!). The reason we bought the house is that it’s detached and has a big garden, and the fact it’s an ugly 1970s meant that we could get it 100k cheaper than anything else with those two qualities in this area. 100k! That’s a huge amount of money to think we could have financially burdened ourselves for the sake of a pretty frontage!!
    We are now in the midst of a planning application for an extension and I’m using your blog to help renovate the garden. I’m so glad I’ve read your thoughts because it’s so reassuring to find someone else who has thought like me!

    1. Hello Tori, I’m so pleased this piece struck a chord with you. I spend so much of my time creating beautiful images, but I like to be open and honest too. Our home is nothing like my dream home, but really that’s not the be all and end all, is it.
      Wishing you well with your house plans x

  24. Sarah says:

    We’re currently selling our period property that we have called home for the last 8 years to move to a new build. Sounds crazy I know and initially I wondered if we’d gone mad. What we will be gaining though outweighs what we are leaving. We’ll have a garden, my husband will have an office and we’ll be able to walk to the sea instead of climbing 3 flights of stairs and living right in the city centre. I’ve been reading all your extension posts and loving the ideas and I’m keep to do something like that. I’ll definitely miss our heigh ceilings and original fireplaces but to see my daughter playing in the garden or with friends on the street will make those things seem a bit silly. Definitely grateful to have lived in this beautiful home but sometimes compromises need to be made for a better quality of life. Also can’t wait to decorate with loads from your store my husband already bought me a print for my birthday and the quality is spectacular 😊

    1. Hello Sarah, I’m so sorry, I’m only just seeing this now. Wishing you all the best with your sale and move, it sounds like a really positive step for you and your family overall x

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