Living in a renovation: a survival guide
We have lived in Ivy Cottage for 4 years in August and for a lot of that we have been doing work on it. We have changed every room in it's layout and décor. For the past two years we have lived in the house whilst building work has been going on. It took over a year for the planning permission to be granted for the extension so in the meantime we started some internal jobs. Living in a building site can take it's toll on your patience, health and stress levels so here is my guide on surviving it and remaining sane.
1. Don't rush
We all set ourselves deadlines for projects, usually it's Christmas. There's nothing wrong with this but if it's putting too much pressure on you then let it go. Christmas will not be any worse because your painting isn't finished or the floor is not done. I know this because I have had the odd tantrum because something hasn't been ready for Christmas (the log burner wasn't fitted one year and last year because the plastering wouldn't be finished) and you know what, the day was still as lovely. I just felt silly for having a tantrum in the first place! So learn from my mistakes and don't worry. The work will be done eventually. The other thing I would advise about not rushing is to take your time with decisions. Research your ideas and suppliers. I love Pinterest and have used it lots for ideas. I keep revisiting my boards to remind me of the aesthetic I want. I don't want to get carried away buying items that we don't need. My husband does have to remind me that we can't buy anything yet as there's nowhere to put it and this has helped me to slow down and consider items far more carefully. Hopefully this result in the final effect being far more considered and purposeful.
2. Embrace the dirt
There will be dust. Face it. There's nothing you can do about it and as soon as you clean the dust up it just resettles. Your house is not going to look like a show home whilst the work is going on so don't worry about it. Don't feel you have to apologise for this fact when people visit. They understand. I've given up trying to clean our kitchen floor now. It gets vacuumed so that there aren't lots of bits under foot but the stains can stay. It's almost liberating relaxing about the cleaning a bit. Walk on the carpets with your shoes on and don't worry about spillages. Enjoy the freedom because once the work is finished you will feel much more precious about everything.
3. Make the most of it.
Just because your room is half plastered doesn't mean that it can't be pretty. At Christmas I still dressed the house and hung fairy lights. I still like to buy flowers and make the most of the house.
4. Have a sanctuary
Before the extension was started we decorated the bathroom, bedrooms and snug room. They are still not completely finished but are good enough to relax in. It was important to have this space to escape from the mess. Having an extension involves moving your stuff around the house to make room so it's so nice to have a clutter free space.
5. Something's got to give
Building work takes up your time. Everything seems to take longer so you need to make sure you don't try to do too much. I love cooking from scratch and spending time in the kitchen but when you get home from work and the kitchen is thick with dust it takes ages to clean it before you even start dinner. I soon realised that dinner had got to be simpler and quicker for my own sanity. I make the most of the weekends and try to cook something special for the family seeing as we are having more take away and beige meals than I would care for. It won't kill us and it's not forever. It will be worth it in the end.
6. Be grateful
When you're tired, the house is a mess and feels like it's all on top of you stop for a moment. Try not to get stressed about it all and think about why you are doing all of this. Be grateful that you are in the position to be able to improve your home. Not everyone has the opportunity and remind yourself what you are grateful for. Sometimes we all need to rethink things and take stock of the good things in our life. It's too easy to get swept up with the negativity.
Well that's my guide. Let me know what got you through your extension/ building work. We aren't quite finished with ours yet so any more advice and tips will be gratefully received!!