Renovating + Biting Off More Than I Could Chew


Hello! It feels like forever since I wrote something over here. It’s only been a week and a half {an eternity in blog time} but it’s probably because in that small space of time my life flipped on it’s head as we launched ourselves into a lightening fast renovation, followed swiftly by a move into our new home in the space of two weeks. With our wedding fast approaching, the term ‘renovation’ to us initially meant painting the walls and sanding the floors. Full stop. That was all we had time for anyway before we had to hand over our rental home.

And then, keys in hand and giddy with excitement, we stepped inside for the first time since our first viewing four months ago.

What followed the chinking of champagne glasses and leaps {and admittedly the odd frolic} of excitement was a succession of jobs that we wanted done before the move, including a list of things that we had overlooked with rose tinted glasses in our initial viewing.

home office_before_1

To say I am tired would be a vast understatement. While most logical folks would take time away from work commitments to put their energy into a renovation, I did the complete opposite. In the midst of painting, sanding, dust and debris, I have maintained a busy work schedule. I also committed to a few things that perhaps I shouldn’t have, given the lack of time, energy and internet I’d be faced with during this time. It’s been a stressful juggling act trying to uphold work commitments, be actively involved in the renovation and show my support in the whole process, and also  keep our toddler Lola sufficiently occupied and away from ground zero!

I thought I’d be able to do it all, regardless of the chaos that was unfolding around me. I clearly had no idea how energy and time consuming a renovation would be, particularly given the time constraints we faced. But before I rule myself off as being impractical, unrealistic and slightly mad, I do think it’s common for women to do these things, because we all just want to do it all and please everyone and in the end only end up disappointing ourselves and others, feeling completely and utterly deflated. Right?

It’s been an intense time that has had me jumping with excitement from one moment to crying in a heap out of sheer exhaustion the next.

The dust has settled {I’m connected to the internet again, woohooo!}, and there is much to do, but finally we are settled in our new home, and I am slowly recovering from the sheer shock of it all.


In two weeks this is what we managed to achieve:

  • repainting all three floors white {with the help of 8 amazing friends}
  • sanding window and door frames {because once the walls were painted fresh white, everything else looked yellow} which are yet to be repainted
  • building a new pantry cupboard in an unused area beneath the staircase which was otherwise wasted space when what we needed most was more kitchen storage {Lord, am I lucky to have a handy guy who has handy friends!}
  • sanding the oak floorboards in the living room / kitchen and oiling them {they look fab, but there was a bit nail-biting moment when we realised the idiot at the local hardware store gave us the wrong buffer pads to polish the floors with and they looked patchy and awful for a very stressful moment. Second time lucky and armed with the most brittle pad they had in stock we re-buffed the floors, me sitting on the machine and Dirk angling me and the awkward thing around the room to help the oil seep into the wood!}
  • removing ugly skirting boards {yet to be replaced – have a sneaking suspicion that’ll be a job I’ll be begging the big guy to finish in two years time}
  • ripping up orange vinyl to discover original wooded floors {OK, this only really happened in one bedroom {but still, yay!} – the other two rooms are in really bad condition so they’ll need replacing but will remain in their sorry state of affairs until next month’s pay check comes in
  • having a few walls freshly plastered because, in their original state, if you kicked them {as you do} a section of wall would crumble into a heap of dust at your feet {that can never be a good thing}
  • scrubbing our rental home squeaky clean for the handover {THAT was an intense morning which I’m glad is over!}
  • and finally, moving house, which took two full days and many strong men

It’s not glamorous. Our home is bare, white and empty in places, awkward and ill-fitting in others where our old furniture looks out of place in it’s new surroundings, and outdated and in need of a severe makeover {or axe!} in others. Don’t get me started on the kitchen! While one room is filled to the brim with junk, renovation debris and furniture that needs a makeover, and another room is awaiting a layer of primer and two layers of paint on the floorboards we exposed, we are all sharing a bedroom in what will become {one day, very far away it seems} my home office. But we are getting there, and the blog is a big motivation for me to get organised and settled as soon as possible so I can share my decorating journey with you here!

I came very close to sharing the before photo’s but I decided that they were just too ugly for the blog! So instead I decided that a few semi-before pics would suffice. If you’re keen to see more pics of the process, keep and eye on my Instagram feed. For now, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into our reality.

I hope you don’t mind that I have been MIA for the last little while, and I look forward to being back in action again. I have loads to share with you over the coming weeks, from inspiring interiors to a studio tour, a shop tour, a book tour, a giveaway and snippets of styling work I’ve been working on lately.

See you back here again soon,

Holly x

Photography by Holly Marder

12 Responses to “Renovating + Biting Off More Than I Could Chew”

  1. Well done Holly for doing it all! It might only be in the in-between stage at this point but your house will soon look fabulous!

    • Holly says:

      Thank you Corinne! I’m sure you are feeling much the same way as me at the moment with your new home! Hope your starting to feel settled in Madrid x

  2. Ingrid says:

    Moving and renovation is always a lot of work and can be quite stressful. And then there’s a couple that asks you for your styling advice. 😉 I almost feel guilty. I’m sure your home will look beautiful. Can’t wait to see the after pictures.

    • Holly says:

      Thanks, Ingrid, I’m looking forward to the ‘after’ posts too and don’t feel at all guilty. I LOVE working with you guys and am excited to get things looking gorgeous in your home. My styling projects are always a welcome escape from the madness at home 🙂

  3. Liubou says:

    Hi Holly! It was a pity that i didn’t meet you the other day:) WE have so much in common at the moment. I am doing exactly the same as you, just in Amsterdam. We have just moved last weekend and it was a chaos. One night, because we waxed the floor in the main room, and the rest was full of stuff, we have been sleeping in the hallway. And now only some parts are ready. Plus, i am still having my own apartment, which also requires some work, but we put it on hold! Please, keep strong! One day, i was so tired, full time job, plus studies, blogging, refurbishment, i was nearly crying when i could not hold the paint brush anymore:) But in the end it worth everything ! Hope to see you one day in AMS and have a privilege to have you at my place.

  4. Magda says:

    Renovating is not easy and time consuming (unless you hire a whole crew!). Go, Holly, I am looking forward to seeing your space once it is finished and decorated!

  5. Kristy says:

    Wow Holly you have certainly been a busy bee and made some amazing progress. Took us weeks… Ok months to do all the painting in our house so you’re doing a wonderful job! Looking forward to more progress shots

  6. Yvestown says:

    You may call me crazy! Some people get jealous of somebody’s life or car or clothes or whatever. I get jealous when people buy new homes and get to do them up. I ENVY you Holly … I love the painting, the sanding, the getting new plaster on the walls, dirty people walking in and out … I love, love, love it. I can’t hardly wait to move myself for the same reason!! You are doing something you may consider hell, I consider it heaven and I know I’m totally nuts for that LOL. Good luck, it’s already beautiful. Love the bones and construction of your new home x

  7. mel says:

    Hi Holly! Oh the pressure coming from all areas but how so exciting for you, it’s going to be the best journey and I really can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I understand the trying to do too much and please everyone but honestly, don’t worry about the other people you can’t please, just worry about you, your little family and this happy place you’re in. Congratulations on the next chapter. Mel x

  8. Danielle says:

    I am so excited to come and see it in real life!!!

  9. […] bought our home three years ago and have been slowly sprucing it up ever since. A lot happened in the first few […]

Leave a Reply