House Renovation

Our house is a late Victorian terrace house rather similar to what many would refer to as a brownstone in NYC or Boston. The house is directly connected to neighbors on either side through community walls. The house had only one bathroom, six bedrooms plus a living room, kitchen and dining room as purchased. We started working on our house from the moment we moved in. This wasn’t because things were in dreadful condition, but rather to get things the way we wanted them without having to unpack everything first. The main focus of our efforts were in the ground level of the house. Our secondary focus was in updating the décor in the third floor bedrooms. Lastly, we finished off the back courtyard area for some outside dining enjoyment.

On the ground level, the house originally had three different pattern carpets in the hallway, dining room and living room. All were in rough shape and could make you dizzy. The main level of the house also did not have a guest bathroom or half bath as we would call them in the states. The kitchen was dated and needed some modernization in addition to having an incredible hearth/chimney that had been plastered over. There had been a small storage closet for the kitchen under the stairs. We converted this into a half (guest) bathroom by building a wall in place of the original doorway in the kitchen and moving the door into the hallway. The rest of the main floor received a new laminate wood floor. The kitchen was where the majority of the work occurred. We completely gutted the kitchen from the ceiling down to the original floor joists. The original hearth in the kitchen was rebuilt. The sub flooring was completely rotted and was replaced with treated ¾ plywood. While the floor was open, we had to re-route the natural gas main pipe, re-run a high amp electric cable for the oven into a new breaker at the main junction box, move the water pipes and the plumbing for the radiator. After all the services were re-routed, we replaced the floor, cabinets, and countertops. All new Electrolux appliances were installed. The ceiling was replaced after all the necessary electric and plumbing was installed to move the washer and dryer into the bathroom upstairs. A tongue and grove cherry ceiling was installed with halogen lighting. Whew! It took five months and lots of cleaning 100 yr old coal dust everywhere to get it finished.

After this we moved on to the upstairs bedrooms where Gabi had picked out some very nice colors and wallpaper to re-do the rooms. Imagine my surprise when Gabi rented a floor sander and decided to try it herself! She did a great job stripping the floors in one of the bedrooms to give it a nice rustic feel.

Lastly, the back patio took shape with a few concrete tiles and a new outdoor table, patio heater, grill combo that we picked up from the local B&Q (Home Depot equivalent in the UK).

We wouldn’t have been able to do all this if Gabi hadn’t met a very nice couple who live here in Hartlepool through an Ex-pat website. Peter and Sarah were very helpful in getting the entire house accomplished. Peter helped Mike in all aspects of the renovation. Sarah is originally from Mississippi and moved over to the UK to marry Peter. She lives here permanently now. Many thanks Peter and Sarah for all your help.

Our house:

Before: Living Room:

During: Mike & Peter finishing the Living Room floor:

After: Living Room:

Before: Kitchen (Left: Old Hearth behind radiator) :

During: What remained of the old hearth after the plaster was removed

During: Mike cleaning the bricks:

During: Mike & Peter fitting the new cabinets:

During: Sarah & Shep helping Mike & Peter fit the cabinets:

After: Completed Hearth:

After: Our brand new kitchen:

Before: Kitchen Pantry:

After: Our brand new Guest Bathroom:

Before: Guest Bedroom:

During: Gabi sanding the floor:

After: Guest bedroom furnished with bedroom suite purchased at an Antique Market in Belgium:

Before: Back Patio area:

After: Water feature made from original well pump:

After: Looking down at the patio from the 3rd floor:

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