Lydia Biersteker, 30, and her husband Luke, 25, bought their home in East Sussex for £ 449,000 in June 2020.
Over the past 16 months, they’ve been doing the graft hard and slowly fixing it piece by piece.
“I had a few items on my list of what I wanted: a driveway and a large garden. This house has both, Lydia says.
“I also wanted a house with character and period features. I don’t like anything built from the 60s because I find it lacks character. Many houses built in the 1970s were very square! I saw so much potential in the property and wanted to restore as much of the original features as possible. ‘
Lydia and Luke saw the project as a restoration, as they wanted to preserve as much of the history of the house as possible while adding their own personal touch.
Work began in the first bedroom where they removed a built-in wardrobe that was placed across the alcoves. Then they added an old cast iron fireplace they found on eBay, sanded the planks and placed a chair rail in the areas where it was removed. In total they spent £ 600 on the room.
In the second bedroom, they lined the alcoves, added new carpet, painted and added new brass lampholders, all while spending around £ 500. Likewise, in the third bedroom, part of the sloping roof was carpeted, a chair rail was attached, and other painting and electrical work was carried out.
For the hallway and landing, they added chic parquet and installed paneling on the walls at the top of the stairs. With additional work the total cost came to £ 1,000.
In what they call the “middle room,” a preserved cast-iron fireplace was polished with a special black iron paste to restore it. Meanwhile, William Morris wallpaper added an extra touch.
Both bathrooms only needed minor updates, with the couple adding paneling and painting the walls and adding a transfer of marble to the laminate surfaces in the downstairs option.
In the conservatory, more storage space was created in the form of recycled scaffold boards to create shelving. They painted and wallpapered the walls, added new lights and two chairs purchased from the Facebook Marketplace. This update only cost £ 100.
The front room currently needs more work and Lydia and Luke also plan to replace the kitchen next summer.
One of the biggest costs outside the main house was in the garden. Here the previous owners left a run down hot tub in need of a serious helping hand.
“We took out all the old rotten decks he was sitting on. We then brought in a company to fix the hot tub that needed a new jet, ”explains Lydia.
“We had a new paving base installed for her to sit on. I bought a new cover and rebuilt a wooden frame and panels for the exterior. My dad then kindly made a pergola on top for us. We love the end results! ”
While repairing the garden, the couple discovered an old well which gave the old house even more character.
At the front of the house, they installed a new driveway with a Victorian-style footpath, which cost £ 10,500.
The pair have spent almost £ 15,050 so far.
And how did they keep their costs low? Watching YouTube videos, of course.
“We had absolutely no experience. We watched a lot of YouTube videos and learned the hard way, ”notes Lydia.
“We also had the help of our family when we needed it. We had a lot of fun learning as we went. Sanding the hardwood floors in our room was a much bigger job than expected and so dusty! I would love to pay a professional when we do the same in the downstairs front room.
For those looking to restore old properties, Lydia has a few tips.
“Don’t rush and plan really well,” she advises.
“If you can, try to live in the house before you make big changes so you can get a feel for where you want things.
‘If you live in a period property, try to restore as many original features as possible. We deliberately wanted to live with the old kitchen for a year before doing it again. We wanted to figure out how we were using the space, what we liked / didn’t like. How we wanted to entertain the guests there and where things would be best placed.
“For all large projects like this, I would advise having it designed correctly by someone who knows what they’re doing!” ”
- Master bedroom – £ 600
- Bedroom 2 – £ 500
- Bedroom 3 – £ 300
- Hallway – £ 1,000
- Middle room – £ 200
- Front room – £ 100
- Conservatory – £ 100
- Bathroom 1 – £ 100
- Bathroom 2 – £ 150
- Driveway – £ 10,500
- Hot tub – £ 1,500
Total – £ 15,050
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