Face your demons – If you are lucky enough to own a house (or even a little flat) in London, do not complain excessively. For every blessing, there is a price to pay.
Create a budget
After you meticulously work out your maximum budget, ignore it. Make sure you get a loan, double it and then move out. Put your cherished belongings into storage, rehome the cat and allow twice as long as quoted, for the entire job to be completed and harmony to be re- established.
In all likelihood, even this will not be enough, but it should not be too far off. Moving out may seem a tat extreme, but if you don’t, halfway down the line you will remember my words, while screaming at your husband.
Must have and non negotiable
#Make a list of must haves and non negotiables. Functioning plumbing, a new boiler and any structural changes are non negotiable . These are expensive and no fun at all, but if they are not right, nothing else will be. Big windows allowing natural light, good heating and a powerful eco shower, are the marks of true luxury.
# don’t forget to add things like parking permits for the builders limo. If you live in a listed property contact the council first for any restrictions and an informal consultation. It’s amazing how many people try to get away with illegal alterations.
# choosing reputable contractors, VAT registered etc. Need I say more?
Living with every day quality
#fixtures & fittings best quality we can afford. Few things are worse than flimsy, ugly fixtures falling apart after six months of use. No thank you!
# creativity and some luxury touches: I had some beautiful antiques lights rewired – it was expensive and I pretty much lost the will to live in the process. But I got it done god damn it -and may all electricians who stood in my way, burn in hell.
#Choosing good paint also makes a difference. farrow & ball, paint library, little green offer high quality paints that will last longer. Having said that is all in the prep. A good decorator should prepare the surfaces properly an expensive & time consuming task.
# cabinetry – a well made fitted wardrobe and shoe cabinet, should last a lifetime. Most so called ‘fitted’ wardrobes are not custom made at all. They are just standard sized units customised with doorknobs, veneer and what have you. The sales person will try to maximalist sales and make them fit round the existing space. Our London flat has unusually high ceilings so proper custom made was a must. I have no complaints about the cabinet maker. It is a skilled job and Man was a pro. Everything was delivered on time and on budget. We should put him in charge of Brexit. Teresa, do you hear me?
#Fitted kitchen. Be realistic about how much cooking you are actually going to do in Real life. Buying an extensive gagenau oven to prepare double soufflés seemed tempting at the time, but the truth be said I am more of a ready made bag of salad kind of cook.
# Bathroom. My dream bathroom has spa like serenity, high ceilings, heated towel rails and plush terry cloth upholstered chair. It’s clutter free , (which means storage) and self cleaning. (Not sure how to do that, any tips?) tiling needs to be immaculate and mirrors should have bevelled edges.
# visualise the finished space. Imagine having friends round for tea or cocktails, the dog running amok and a comfy nook for reading your iPad…
# the frou frou. The sofas, the upholstery, the scatter cushions. Everyone loves those finishing details and our inner designer starts to roar. It is a mistake ( which I have made in the past) to pay too much attention to those instead of focusing on the boring stuff. (Plumbing rewiring etc) My little brain became obsessed with the decorative aspects and neglected the boiler issue. Of course at a most critical moment, the boiler packed up and had to be replaced – after everything else was finished leaving a trail of destruction in its path…just like David Cameron.
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