Confession time… I have done a bad. I have been lax and I missed a bi-weekly renovation blog update at week 6…!!

But to make up for it, this post is going to be an extra special one and we will cover off a whole month in one go…

Although, in all honestly, I need to work out what has actually happened over the last 4 weeks… so much has changed that it is all a bit of a blur.

What I do know is that these last 4 weeks have been more challenging than the first. We have had upset neighbours, snow and freezing temperatures to contend with and truth be told it’s not been all that easy.

The weather is what it is, what can you do. I mean no one would have predicted that we would have had snow and -8 temps on 1st March would they!?!? So consequently, all of the tools went down and Mr Weather delayed us by a week in week 7.  Such is life though and given that we started the build mid January, I think we are doing very well to have only had one weeks set back so far… I will take that!!

Living in Santana the static through that weather however was really tough. I am sure I have mentioned before, but we don’t have any central heating in Santana, so we rely soley on oil heaters.

In normal circumstances, the oil heaters do actually pack a punch but they clearly weren’t designed for heating up a tin can when it is -8 outside… it was cold!! Then all of our water froze… no shower, no toilet, no sinks. So at that point we gave up and bailed out. We went to stay with my parents and friends for 5 days… it was bliss being back in an actual house… you actually forget what it’s like!!

On to the neighbours… well this one is more of a challenge. I suppose given what we are doing to the house, it is understandable that we wouldn’t be flavour of the month on our road… dealing with it though is hard.

That said, I am just trying to keep smiling and do my best to keep the peace. The build is noisy and visually quite alarming if you aren’t used to seeing houses with no walls, floors and ceilings. However, in a couple of weeks most of the house externally will be put back together and the work will then move inside, which will be a lot easier for everyone. So, I basically just hope that we can get through it and that once it is done we can all move forward… amicably.

Anyway, enough negative nancy from me… it’s not my style to dwell on the rubbish, so onwards and upwards to everything great that’s happened over the last month…

We have now built the whole of the extension (woo hoo)… both the ground floor and first floor, which is absolutely epic!! It was a real moment when we saw the space completed for the first time. We have literally been planning and talking about this for over a year now, so to see it in reality was an amazing feeling.

We have also put the attic floor back in, which we lowered to get a little more head height in the attic. We had originally asked for planning permission to put a dormer window in the attic, which would have made a humongous difference but unfortunately it got rejected. So, it still isn’t the biggest space in the world but it has helped and it has now taken the house from a 2 bed to a 3 bed… which is great for our end value!!

The main roof has also come off and all of roof joists have been re-fitted. The roof joists over the new first floor extension have also been fitted and we are now ready for the roofers to start putting the slate back on.

We had very thick Welsh slate on our roof before and the plan is to try and salvage as much of it as possible to put in back on. It is expensive stuff, so the less we need to buy the better!!

The garage has been semi demolished, ready to be transformed into a little garden room/ maybe a gym if we have any money left at the end of this (highly unlikely)!! Although, one of the builders suggested we put a sauna in there the other day… now there is an idea!!

We have also now ordered the windows, bi-folding doors and the roof lantern for the extension… all should be with us in a few weeks, which is great, as as soon as we get those we will be able to make the house fully water tight and secure again!!


The windows however to come with a bit of a story and they have caused us a bit of jip over the last few weeks… thats to put in mildly…

In a nutshell, when we got our planning permission approved, it came with a condition that all of our windows has to be wooden windows.

However, we didn’t really want to put in wooden windows (all of our neighbours have plastic upvc windows) and we wanted to put in conservation approved composite windows that are made to look like painted wood.  

So we appealed. Two weeks ago our appeal was rejected. 

Given our whole street has white plastic windows, we thought we had a strong case and we hadn’t planned on being rejected. So, the race was then on to find a wooden window manufacturer that could make us our windows in a couple of weeks… not an easy task!!

But we did it and I have actually just had a call to say that some of them might even be ready this week!! EEEEK!!

Over the last few weeks, Doug and I have also spent hours and hours and hours pouring over Pinterest, Instagram and house magazines to plan every inch of the house. We have been planning everything… layouts of stud walls and furniture, electrics, flooring, tiling, finishes, bathrooms, kitchen… the list is endless and my head is actually spinning most of the time!!

We have been focusing on the kitchen a lot, as finding the right layout for it is proving to be a bit of a pain in the bum… it’s caused a few sleepless nights!!

As they say though, the kitchen is the heart of the home… so it getting it right is definitely critical.

When it comes to designing, we are basically our own worst enemy because we are so particular and so blumming fussy!! Two traits that make any decision making a proper ordeal!! It’s fine when it’s not our house, I can make design decisions easy peasy… but as soon as it’s ours I get carried away and I over analyse every tiny detail.

I am also a really visual person… so layout wise I have to physically see something before I can decide if it’s right… drawing it on a bit of paper doesn’t cut the mustard for me… so hence the hours pouring over photos of other people’s houses!!

We will get there though (because we have too) and as much as much as my head spins, I do absolutely love this part. It’s such a privilege to have the opportunity to lay out every inch of your home and it is so exciting.

I can’t wait to see it all come together… which is essentially what the next few weeks are going to bring. All these ideas in my head are going to come to life!!

This week the roofers are with us putting the main roof and first floor roof on and then next week we put the flat roof on the extension and we start to put all of the stud walls up internally. At that point I always think a house starts to feel more like a home… you can see your rooms and visualise things a lot easier, so I am really excited for that.

Although that does also mean I need to nail the kitchen plan this week… no pressure at all.

That’s probably about it for the story of the last few weeks… a mixed bag but even despite a few set backs it’s still absolutely amazing and I am loving every second.

Thank you for sticking with me and sharing this journey with me… it definitely makes it all that more exciting having you along for the ride.

Until next time…

Gem xx


Another 2 weeks down… how is time going so fast!!

So, weeks 3 & 4 have been just as busy and productive as weeks 1 & 2…

In a nutshell we have:

– Poured the concrete to form the foundations of the extension

– Built the brick work for the extension up to damp proof course level

– Fitted the internal waste pipes for the drainage of the bathrooms and kitchen

– Blocked up some of the walls inside

– Put in the majority of the steel

– Taken down the whole back of the house to the ground floor level

– And finally… last thing on Friday we laid the new concrete slab floor downstairs!!

I am pretty sure that the above list is everything and that I haven’t missed anything off, but my memory is garbage, so it is possible!!

Either way, it is crazy when I look at it all in a list like that… and I think all of that it’s pretty damn good going for 2 weeks work!!

I can’t believe how quickly it’s all happening… EEEEK!! 

In my last blog I said that I would share with you our time schedule of all of the work we are doing and our estimated break down of costs.

So instead of dwelling too much about the build this week, I thought that I would do that instead.

However if you do just want an update on the renovation , then you can follow the full story over on my vlog here.

So here we go… below is everything that we are ‘ESTIMATING’ in terms of time and cost.

I say estimating because as I am sure you already know, as much as you plan these things, things do go wrong and budgets are most definitely ‘fluid’ shall we say!!


In total we are estimating that the build will take around 18/19 weeks and below is a break down of our time plan…

Weeks 1 & 2 (the strip out)

1. Make electrics safe

2. Remove old plumbing and create temporary water feed

3. Knock down rear utility room and chimney

4. Knock off plaster throughout the property

5. Take down 1st floor ceiling completely and all of the boarding from the other ceilings

6. Dig new footings for extension

7. Install and move drainage

8. Install new concrete footings

Weeks 3-4-5-6

1. Install steelwork

2. Start brickwork for extension

3. Install new attic floor

4. Lay new insulated slab

5. Block up openings downstairs

6. Build extension brickwork

7. Build new block wall off steel beam on 1st floor

Week 7-8-9-10

1. Complete extension brickwork

2. Fit new flat roof to extension using a warm roof system

3. Install new roof lantern

4. Install windows and doors

5. Build new stud work for bathroom and bedroom layouts

Week 11-12-13-14

1. 1st fix electrics

2. 1st fix plumbing

3. Insulate all walls and ceilings

4. Complete plastering

5. Complete bathroom tiling

6. Fit bathrooms

7. 2nd fix joinery – doors, skirting, architrave

Week 15-16-17-18-19

1. Decorating

2. 2nd fix Electrics

3. Fit kitchen

4. Lay all flooring

So there you have it, our schedule… or fingers crossed!!

We have however decided to do the build in January… that was stupid.

(As I am writing this we are actually having a snow day because it is just far too cold and snowy to be laying any bricks today!!)

We really couldn’t have picked a worse time of year for the weather, so to be honest, I am expecting some delays…

However, if all goes well, then we started on Jan 15th, which means we would be due to be complete mid-end May!!

I am being realistic though and to be perfectly honest I would just really like to be in for my birthday in June.

That would be absolutely epic… I keep picturing us being sat at the kitchen island on my birthday having a Mr Gin… or two… or three!!

Pretty please your fingers crossed for us!!

Anyway, on to the more interesting part (in my opinion)… the dreaded budget!!


We are estimating the build of the house is going to cost just over £110,000. That doesn’t include the garage/ car port or any landscaping.

Thinking about spending that amount of money does make me feel a bit sick… but it (hopefully) will be absolutely worth it!!

I have broken down the budget below… it will be interesting to see how close we get once we are all done!!

General site costs – scaffolding, toilet, machinery – £1500

Skips – £3000

General Labour – £15,000

Drainage – £2000

Bricks and build materials – £7500

Brickwork – £5000

Concrete footings and slab – £1500

Steel – £2700

New rubber roof for extension – £1000

New main roof and first floor roof (inc £1300 for slate) – £4600

Doors, skirting, arcs – £1200

Joinery labour – £12,000

Bi Folding doors – £2500

Extension roof light – £1500

Windows and doors – £5000

New heating system including boiler – £4000

Bathroom fitting – £2000

Plumbing for kitchen and utility – £500

Bathroom suites – £5000

Electrics – £4500

Plastering – £5000

Decoration – £3000

Paint – £1500

Flooring – £5,000

Kitchen – £7,000

Tiling – £4,000

Fire and woodburner – £3,000

Again… don’t hold us to that.

Already 4 weeks in we have had some design ideas, that undoubtedly are going to creep up the costs (typical)!!

It is exciting though and as much as I love getting carried away with ideas, I do also like the challenge of trying to stick pretty much to the budget… so let’s see how I do!!

Anyway, loads of facts and figures today, so I will leave it there but I am really open to sharing anything. So if anyone has any questions about any of that then please just ask away!!

Until next time…



Wow, I can’t believe week 2 is over already, it’s going so fast (which is a really great thing!)… the faster it goes, the faster we can get out of Santana and get back to some normality!!

I am not going to sugar coat it, the first few weeks in the caravan have been tough. I have had a few ‘moments’ shall we say, but it has also been an adventure and a huge learning curve.

I am one of those people who have sat there so many times watching Grand Designs thinking ‘these people who live in caravans while they renovate their homes are completely crazy and totally nuts’.

Never in a million years did I think that would be me. Never.

That said, I am actually very glad that we are doing this. I think it’s quite character building and I know I am going to appreciate the house so much more when we move back in.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway!!

The last 2 weeks have thrown absolutely everything at us weather wise… thunderstorms, hail, snow, rain, gale force winds, freezing temps…

But I am pleased to say that we have not only have we survived the caravan (apart from the one night that we aborted and ran to my mums at 3.30am because the wind was so bad) but we have also managed to keep on track with the build!!

A lot has happened at the house in the first few weeks and there have been some major changes. It looks completely different already.

We have stripped the house out completely, so pretty much everything that is being removed, replaced or changed has now gone.

That includes ceilings, plaster, electrics, plumbing, one of the chimneys, some of the walls… you name it and it has probably gone!

We have also very excitingly started on the ground floor extension. The diggers came on Wednesday of week 2 and dug out the foundations.

It feels like we have been talking about ‘the extension’ for ever… so it really is amazing to finally see it happening and to be able to see the the space for real.

No longer is it a figment of our imagination. We can actually see it and it is so so cool!!

We have also had to do some drainage work because the existing drains were sat exactly where the extension needed to go.

Luckily, as we are still having a passage way down the side of the extension which will lead to the backdoor, we have been able to just shift the drains to the side slightly to sit in the passage!!

Being able to do that has made life a lot easier as finding homes for drains  and man holes can be an absolute nightmare!!

So far, thankfully, we haven’t had any major set backs or uncovered anything disastrous.

The strip out and the digging of the foundations are always the most nervy bit, because until you start exposing things you are never quite sure what you are going to find.

About the worst thing that we have found so far, has been some pretty dodgy brick work behind the plaster.

Although I suppose when you are working on a house that was built in 1864, that is to be expected. It is also nothing that can’t be fixed, it is just going to involve re-doing some of the brick work internally to strengthen the walls.

Although I have done a few house renovations now, I have actually never renovated a house quite as old as this one before.

So, it has been really interesting to see some of the techniques that they used to use when building houses… we even found straw in the roof that was being used as insulation!! How times have changed…!!

The next few weeks are going to see the start of the brick work for the ground floor extension and also some of the steel work on the ground floor, so we can start to make some of the openings to create the ‘open plan’ space.

We are also going to be starting to put the floors back in in the attic and taking the roof off, to make a start on our new roof!!

I know I talked you through the plans on the vlog and I don’t want to bore you but I thought I would also just pop a copy of the existing layout and the new layout that we are creating on here too.

They kind of speak for themselves, in terms of what we are doing but essentially we are extending out on the first floor and second floor and also doing an attic conversion.

Along with completely renovating the whole rest of the house… electrics, plumbing, plastering, bathrooms, kitchen, windows, roof, flooring, tiling, decorating.

The lot.

We will be taking the house from 2 bedrooms, 2 reception rooms and 1 bathroom to 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 reception rooms, plus a utility and downstairs toilet.

In terms of project time and cost… We are estimating the build will take 5-6 months (keep your fingers crossed) and cost circa £100,000 (give or take a few… probably give)!!

I will maybe breakdown the schedule and costs for you next time… that is if anyone would be interested in that, let me know if you would 🙂

Anyway, that’s about all from me for today!

I will report back again in 2 weeks when we will hopefully have some brick work up for the extension. Eeek!!

I will also keep going with the vlog, which so far has been scary but amazing at the same time.

On the note of the vlog, I just wanted to say another massive thank you for all of the lovely messages that I have had… I was pretty apprehensive about it, so all of your support just means so much!!

So as always, thank you.

Until next time…

Gems x


So here we go again..!! YAY!!

Weare officially living in Santana the static caravan and it is officially day 1 of our house renovation.

It feels AMAZING to have started… (I wonder how long that feeling will last!!)


Firstly, I just want to say that yet again, I have to admit that I have been rubbish with the blog. No excuses, just life. 

BBUUUTTT after asking you guys on insta poll if you would be keen to hear progress updates about the build, it would appear that you would, which is absolutely incredible 🙂 

On that note, I would like to say the BIGGEST THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all of the support and kind words that have been sent to us from IG. I am so humbled and blown away by it all and I find it completely unbelievable that I get to share this journey with so many of you. So thank you so much. 


From this day forward, I am going to be better and you heard it hear first. 

I am intending to blog bi-weekly about the build and I am seriously hoping that that isn’t too much to ask of myself. If it is, then I promise I will just give up for good. 


AAANNND… very excitingly *drum roll please* I have not only decided to blog about the build I have also decided to Vlog about the whole thing too!! 

I know, I should maybe nail the bi-weekly blog before I decide to take on a whole other medium that I know nothing about… but hey ho… I like a challenge and I am hoping that video will bring it all to life a bit more!! 


So, a shameless plug but if you want to follow my video updates then head over to my new you tube channel ‘athomewithgem’ where you can subscribe to see all!! If it fails miserably, then I apologise in advance!! 



Day 1:

I am extremely pleased to tell anyone who will listen, that after what has felt like an eternity, today, we have finally taken a sledge hammer to the house and the strip out has begun. I can not actually believe we have started!!

The plan for this week is to strip the whole house out completely… wallpaper (!!), plaster, flooring, plumbing, electrics, kitchen, bathroom, walls… you name it it’s all going. 

Our builder tells me he has budgeted for 18 skips on this build… no joke!! 

Hopefully they will get everything stripped in a week and then next week the real fun begins… in will come the diggers and (fingers crossed) the foundations will be dug out for the extension! EEEEK!!!

I am so excited for the extension to start. I always think you can visualise a space until you are blue in the face (see what u did there, I am a poet and I didn’t know it) but until you actually see it all dug out, I find that it is really hard to actually get sense of it all. 

Next time I write (in 2 weeks!!), I will go into a bit more detail on design of the build etc.

However, I thought seeing as I have been rubbish with updates thus far, that today, I would just give recap of everything that has gone on to get us up to this point…

Drawings/ Planning/ Party Wall:

What a total nightmare, pain in the arse and general headache that has all been.

I am not going to dwell on it too much because I have conveniently forgotten about it all but it was hard going. 

Pretty much everyone on our road objected to our plans, the conservation officer wasn’t happy with some of the designs, it took forever to get planning, we had party wall disputes… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But we made it and although it was stressful and horrendous, it is done now and just before Christmas we finally got all of the paperwork we need to start the build!! That was a good day!! 

If anyone out there is currently going through any of that, then I really feel for you. But keep going and don’t give up… you will get there in the end and it will be worth it!!  

Finding a builder:

As you may know, I renovate houses for a living and I have a great team that I work with all of the time. 

The way that I work with them is that everyone has responsibility for their own bit and I then oversee the build as a whole… project manage if you like. 

For our house though, I wanted to use a main contractor to do the project management alongside me.

The reason for this is because the build is quite complicated structurally and although I know a little bit about house building, I am not a builder and I definitely don’t want the house to fall down!! 

Finding a main contractor was tough. I probably had 8/9 different builders over and non of them cut the mustard… until we met Martin!! 

Martin was like a breath of fresh air when he walked into the house. He was so approachable and professional and and I knew instantly he was the one… price dependant of course!! 

I think it is such an emotional decision choosing someone to build your home for you… you need to be able to trust them implicitly and most importantly for me you need to feel like you can talk openly and honestly with them.

I am no expert but having just been through it and realising how hard it can be, I thought I would put down a few of my top tips for planning, party wall agreements and for finding a builder…

1.Planning – Make sure you have an open line of communication with your planning officer. It is really really important your plans don’t get rejected, so an open line of comms with your Planning Officer is vital… ask what they like/ what they don’t. It’s so important you know this info during your application. That then gives you the chance to amend the drawings as you go along, so when it comes to decision day, you know you have submitted drawings they will pass and you don’t have any shocks or rejections.

2.Party wall – Plan ahead for party wall agreements as they take some time to sort out and can severely delay your start if you don’t think about them soon enough. If you are doing building work that affects your party wall, then in most cases it is a legal requirement to inform all neighbours that are within a certain proximity of that party wall. Your neighbour can then agree to the work and your start date (which is great and you can just carry on) or they can dispute it, which is what happened to us. If you enter into a dispute then surveyors need to be involved to draw up agreements and this can take some time to sort out… or it did for us!!

3.Builders – it’s hard to pick just one tip here, but I think the most important part of the process for me is going to see projects that the builder has already completed and ones that they are currently working on. You can learn a lot from seeing the site… Is it tidy? What is the finish like? Does everyone working there seem friendly and happy etc? As part of that process I also think it’s important to speak to previous clients of the builder to get their feedback on their experiences and if possible I find it really important to do that independently of the builder being there. You literally can not get better than recommendations from previous clients!!

So there you have it, day 1 is done!!! What a great day for our little family… 

15.01.18… the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel!!

Hopefully I will see you over on the Vlog soon and again here in a few weeks butfor now, Ciao and thank you for sharing this journey with us.

All my love, 

Gem xx

P.S. The first few photos are of Santana the static and all of the others are the ‘before’ snaps of the house (with a couple from today!!)


I have chosen a ‘thrilling’ topic this week… so drum roll please…

This weeks little ramble is going to be all about my WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK!!!

Since starting ‘at home with gem’, I have been asked quite a few times about what I do for ‘werk’ and also how I have ended up doing what I do…

Unfortunately for all of you, they are two questions with rather plain answers but I thought I would do my best to try and elaborate a bit more for you…



So, here it goes…


Put simply I…

  1. Renovate houses
  2. Try and be a good landlady

Now for the more elaborate version…

On the main, the houses that I renovate belong to Dougie and I…

We try and buy houses that need some work doing to them and then typically we convert them into ‘HMO’s’.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of that one before, a HMO is a house of multiple occupation… which essentially just means a shared house rented out room by room.




We don’t have any students rentals, only professionals and we try to make sure that the house renovations appeal to the professional market by making the houses (in our opinion) pretty nice…

Keeping them nice on the other hand is another story!!




The houses typically have 5-6 people living in them and each person rents a bedroom.

The houses we look to buy are normally 3 bedroom terraced houses, that have 2 reception rooms, a big kitchen and possibly sometimes the opportunity to extend or do an attic conversion.

We then turn the two reception rooms into bedrooms and this gives us our 5 bedrooms (or 6 with an attic conversion or extension).




Aside from continuing to buy houses and continuing to manage the renovations, I also have the very important job of looking after all of our tenants, the maintenance of the houses and the running of the business.

So I guess day to day you could also call me Maintenance Director, Sales Director, Marketing Director, Finance Director… general sh!t shoveller… the list goes on!!




Then in between all of that, I also project manage house renovations for other people…

These can either be HMO renovations, where I will source suitable ‘HMO’ houses for people to purchase. Then I will also project manage the renovation to convert the house into a HMO for them.




Or… I also project manage residential renovations and extensions for people wanting to improve their own homes… basically I will PM anything anyone wants me to help with!!

No two days look the same for me… some days I am fixing washing machines and unblocking toilets… some I am terrorising the builders… some I’m looking round ex crack den houses… some I am knee deep in paperwork… and some I am extremely lazy and do a whole heap of not a lot!!

It is an eclectic mix!!




I am very very hands on with all of the projects and I am normally down on site most days.

Every single day is a school day… but that is the way I like it. There is so much to know and every house throws up something (or multiple things) that I haven’t come across before…

Working with property, definitely keeps me on our toes!!





By accident!!

No, I joke, that’s a total lie…

I know I have mentioned to you before that my parents have been building houses my whole life, so they have well and truly given me the property bug!!




But I haven’t however always worked with property… I did used to have a corporate job working as a Recruiter for Kellogg’s and I absolutely loved it.

But as much as I loved it, property was still always in the background and whilst working for K, Dougie and I also renovated a few houses on the side…

That, was very very tough.

Leaving work after a long day and then going to strip wall paper was hell.





Back in the old days we used to do a lot of the work ourselves, but thankfully not any more…

Don’t get me wrong, when we are up against it, I will occasionally pick up a paintbrush to ‘help out’. 

But now we work with an amazing team of builders and I happily let them take control… they are most definitely the experts after all.

The hard work at the beginning was however, very much all worth it because it saved us a lot of £££ and allowed us to make a decent profit on the houses that we renovated.




That profit has essentially been the stepping stone that has allowed me to leave my ‘job’ and allowed us to start investing in property full time.

Leaving the corporate world was a very tough and scary decision…

We had days, weeks, months of sleepless nights. Back and forth with whether it was the ‘right’ thing to do.
Thankfully, so far, it does seem to have been a good leap of faith to have taken… as not only are we doing alright but it is safe to say that I absolutely LOVE what I do.

Growing up there was only ever one job that was for me and it was to work with property… so I guess you could say I am living my dream.




I literally don’t think I could ever get bored of nosing round houses and then transforming them into something better than they were before.

I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea being on mucky building sites most days and it can be super stressful at times. 

But for me it’s perfect.
It allows me to manage my own time, be my own boss, get creative and the best part is the pride I get to feel every time I finish a project.

In my eyes I am definitely a very lucky girl…

Until next time.




I can’t actually believe it… but it’s been 2 and a half months since we moved into the new house.

Time has quite literally flown…

And… I have to apologise because I have been an utterly TERRIBLE ‘blogger’. (‘Blogger’ in inverted commas, because it still seems a bit bonkers that I have my own blog and clearly I’m not that great at keeping up to date with it!!)

Anyway, its time to rectify my wrongs… so here is a little run down of the new house and where we are up to with planning, the renovation etc.




Where to begin…

Well we now live in the countryside… and that’s a bit different!!

Mainly it’s very very very good different… but there are also a few ‘adjustment’ differences, that we are still working on…

Namely, the fact that it is currently the crack of dawn and I am wide awake thanks to Mr Owl, Mr Birdies and every other Fathingwood animal that feels like it’s appropriate to have a party in my garden at 5.05am.




The other is the spidey spiders who are absolutely EVERYWHERE… but lets face it, they are totally awesome and are obviously a real asset to the house. NOT.

However… I will not complain, because we are absolutely loving living here and I am sure I will become at one with nature… eventually.

The spiders… maybe not so much!!

We have moved to a beautiful little rural village just outside of Manchester. It’s not too far from the old house but it feels worlds apart in terms of way of life.

We live on a gorgeous little road and there is such an amazing community spirit here, which is something that we just didn’t have so much of in Hale.




Everyone is so lovely and friendly and I am total a social monkey, so for me this community life is a complete dream.

And… the best bit about the whole thing is we have three amazing pubs all within a few minutes walk from the house. I am absolutely LOVING it.

MR GIN here I come…




The house it’s self is a very very old, beautiful terraced cottage. It literally has so much charm that it doesn’t know what to do with itself.

It actually used to be a mid terrace back in the day, but the cottages to the right of it were sadly knocked down in the 60’s, so now it is propping up the end.




The moment I walked through the door I fell in love and even though we haven’t put our own stamp on it yet, it already feels completely like home.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few ‘challenging’ days and we are absolutely desperate to get going with the renovation.

But hopefully good things come to those who wait and we really need to keep our fingers crossed that the planners like our plans.


Hallbank 2


After LOTS of back and forth with the architect (he hates me)… we finally submitted our planning application a month ago.

So for now we sit tight and wait out the gruelling 8-12 weeks until they tell us a yay or a nay.

It is fairly safe to say that in terms of planning we haven’t picked the easiest route…

The house sits in a conservation area and in green belt land… so there is no permitted development allowed here. Unfortunately, you need planning permission to so much as chop down a tree…




But… we love a challenge and it wouldn’t be quite right if we didn’t complicate things for ourselves.

So for now I will stay optimistic and hope that we get told a YAY!!

As it stands the house has two receptions rooms, a kitchen, utility room, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom… plus an attic room but it doesn’t have proper stairs up to it and it isn’t properly converted.




We have asked to create 3 reception rooms (although 2 will be open plan), a kitchen, utility room, downstairs toilet, 3 bedrooms (one ensuite), a dressing room and a master bathroom.

We would be gaining the extra space through doing an attic conversion, a double storey extension to square off the back of the house and then another single storey box extension on the back of that.

IF we get planning permission, it is safe to say that the builders (and I) will be veeeeerrrrryyyyy busy.




The house is currently very quirky.

There are quite literally bits of walls everywhere…

And we also have multiple different floor levels, which is far from ideal when you are trying to create and open plan space.

It has most definitely NOT been every architects dream house to design!!




In terms of the design for the interior and internal layout of the house, we are not quite there yet.

I have of course spent hours on Insta and Pinterest swooning over beautiful homes.

I have ideas… in fact I have too many of them…

Obviously the house will be grey. Thats a given.

But unfortunately for me, I am one of these people who loves lots of different styles and it takes me months and months to make any decisions in the fear of getting it ‘wrong’!!

That said… my flavour of the month at the moment is a white company/ Neptune type feel... with a scandi influence. 

But I change my mind like the wind, so next week it will be something else… there leith another problem!!




However, I am told that before I can get too carried away with the interior ‘stuff’… I do have to deal with the fairly important task of trying to work out where we are going to live while we do the work…

We have batted many ideas around but the plan at the moment is to live on site… in a caravan… for probably 4/5 months… over Winter!!

I actually can’t work out if its a genius idea or just plain bonkers. But either way… we are currently on the hunt for a caravan to either rent or maybe even buy!!

We are complete caravan novices and totally out of our depth… so if there are any experts out there, then all advice is very much welcomed… (yes this is a PLEA!!)




I will of course keep you updated on our renovation journey and I will write again when we hopefully have some (good) news to tell…!!

Before I go I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been so kind and messaged about our new home.

It has been so overwhelming and I am really grateful that I get to share this journey with so many amazing and inspiring people…

All my love

Gem xxx


It’s no secret that I love looking at people’s houses… either in a series of pictures, or even better in real life.

It’s true, I am a nosy parker.

But the real reason is that I just get so much inspiration from seeing other people’s amazing homes and now I have our new home to start designing.

Our new home is another top to toe renovation, so, its safe to say, that the inspiration definitely needs to keep coming my way and it needs to keep coming in bucket loads.

While I have been procrastinating through photos of lovely homes and trying to pull a plan together for our new home, it has got me thinking…

There is always one common denominator that catches my eye and that common denominator is ‘open plan living’.




From an interiors perspective, I aesthetically just love the look of an open plan space, I love the versatility it gives you to lay out a room and how the same space could be designed in a million different ways.

When we bought our current home, it wasn’t open plan. So, we took the decision to create an open plan living space between the kitchen, dining room and lounge and I am really glad that we did.

It has changed the way that we live in the space and for me, it has made our house so much more social.

The plan for the new house will be to try and achieve exactly the same, or thats the hope anyway… so please keep your fingers crossed for us that the planners let us extend!!




Its not just the aesthetics of open plan space that I love, it is also the practicalities…

The biggest factor for me, is that I don’t really enjoy cooking all that much and to be quite honest I’m really terrible at it. BUT I do really love to host dinner parties. So, the idea of being stuck in the kitchen, while everyone else is having fun in the rest of the house just does not work for me what so ever.  

The other reason, (which granted may only be applicable to our household), is that Dougie has very very VERY ‘selective’ man hearing…

Quite often if we are in separate rooms (or sometimes even the same room) he magically won’t hear a word I say. He tells me I talk too quietly… I say he doesn’t listen… I will leave you to work out who you think is telling the porkies on that one!!




So, anyway, all in all, an open plan space is a must for us, as if we didn’t have one, I would A) never be heard and B) spend my evenings boring myself with my own company and missing out on all the fun. 

When we created our open plan space, we were already pulling our house to pieces, so luckily it was very easy to do.

A few visits from the building inspector and a couple of steels later, we were cooking on gas. Once the messy work was done, the fun part began… how to design and furnish the space.

As fun as it was, for us, this was the hardest part and we spent hours and hours deliberating over decision after decision.




So, with that in mind, I have popped together my 5 top tips for creating an open plan space…

1. Choose your furniture and the layout of your space before you start any building work

This is without doubt the biggest learning that we had on the whole project, ‘plan the space before you lift a finger’. You need to know what furniture you want and the dimensions of it before you can plan your layout. Then you need to know where it is all going to go so you can design the space. Think sockets, TV, sofa, side tables, lamps, radiators, internet, basically just think about everything… plan it all and draw it all out. 

2. Zone your space

Split your open plan space up into zones. Although our space is one large area, we have always tried to keep a clear divide between what is the lounge, what is the dining room and what is the kitchen. If you don’t have natural breaks in your walls to help you zone, then you can use furniture to do this. I think zoning helps to keep large spaces feeling homely and cosy. For me, it also makes things feel more organised and less cluttered.

3. Flooring is a key decision

Flooring is key for two reasons, it hugely affects the look and feel of the room and it also affects how noise travels. Carpet will without doubt suck up the noise more than a hard floor. For us though, noise isn’t an issue, as the buzz of an open plan space is one of the things we love the most. Our issue was that we wanted carpet in the lounge, laminate in the dinning room and tiles in the kitchen. I know, it sounds like a total car crash. But, thankfully, ‘I think’ we have just about pulled it off and it looks ok. So, the moral of my flooring story is that you don’t have to have the same flooring throughout and don’t be afraid to experiment with it. 

4. Think about heating and fireplaces

Open plan spaces are typically bigger spaces, so think about heating. For a lot of people underfloor heating is a good option… it heats the space evenly and it also removes the issue of fitting furniture around radiators. That said, its expensive and we are yet to have underfloor heating in our own home. So, linking back to my earlier point, we have always had to meticulously plan where to put our radiators and fires, so that we haven’t ended up blocking out any heat with furniture… especially big pieces of furniture, like sofas.

5. The use of colour

We have always used the same colour throughout our open plan spaces, but there certainly is no right or wrong way of doing it. I would say, that I find the use of one main colour does help the space to flow. My style is definitely more light and airy (and very grey), as I think it tends to make the space look bigger and more open. I do like using the same paint families in an open plan space, so in our house, we have Farrow and Ball Purbeck Stone on our walls and then Farrow and Ball Ammonite on the cupboard in the lounge. Ammonite is slightly lighter and I find that it gives the cupboard its own identity, without overpowering or changing the feel of the room.




So there you have it, my little ramble on open plan living…

I am all giddy and excited about designing the new house after writing this post, so now I am off to do some more picture gazing and inspo stealing…
Only 2 more sleeps to go…!! Eeeeek!!

All my love



P.S. We have recently had the privilege of being asked to share our open plan space with Keepmoat Homes, as they have created an amazing online Home Inspiration Gallery. So, if you want to see some more photos of our open plan space or photos of other peoples amazing homes, then head over to



Anyone who knows me, will know that’s it’s no secret that I just can’t sit still… I have a huge case of ‘itchy feet’ and I always have to be doing something.

The same can be said when it comes to renovating houses…

My friends think that I am a bit bonkers and when I met Dougie, so did he. But ultimately, renovating property is my love and like with any love in life, I want to keep doing it better and also I want to keep experimenting with new interiors and new designs.




It obviously just isn’t feasible to keep moving house every year (surely no one can be that bonkers?!), so when I started working in property full time, I had hoped that renovating other peoples houses would curb my constant desire to keep packing up boxes and renovating our own home…

It was a nice try, but I don’t know who I was kidding!!

As much as I love renovating houses for other people, it just isn’t the same.




So… after much deliberation, it is with a very heavy heart that we have made the decision to move on and to sell our lovely home.

Yikes, that really isn’t easy to say.


Dining Room


We really do love our home. We have made some amazing memories here and we will be extremely sad to say goodbye.

But… 3 years in, I think we feel ready to move, or as ready as I think we will ever be.




We have been talking about selling our home for a little while now, but circumstances (mainly me leaving my corporate job) and that fact that we just love it here, have kept us in our house for longer than we had originally planned.

That said, I really am a huge believer in ‘good things come to those who wait’, which is totally and utterly ironic considering I’m one of the most impatient people around!!

So with that mantra in mind, I am hoping that the timing is right for us now and that we will love our next house just as much as this one… or maybe even more.




Since Dougie and I met and he started to join me with my crazy love for house moving, we have spent hours talking about that ‘dream home’…

Admittedly, I do get carried away and aspirations like the hot tub in the garden  just probably aren’t realistic for right now… but a girl has to dream and hopefully, maybe, we will get there one day!!




Like many people, we formulated a ‘plan’ on how to get to our dream home and our plan was to keep renovating and to keep moving house.

I hear you… it’s not the most innovative plan in the world and there is certainly no right or wrong way of doing it. But it’s a plan that we hope we can achieve and it’s one that we also think we will really enjoy.

Or that was the case until we realised we were completely and utterly emotionally attached to our house…




Truth be told, it was easy to sit there 6 years ago, with no ties or emotions to any houses and formulate a plan to keep moving house, but in reality when attachments and emotions get involved, it makes it much much harder.

That said, to get to that dream home, we know we need keep moving and thats why we have finally made the decision that it’s time for our beautiful little home to look after a new family.




As much as I have ‘itchy feet’ and love moving and renovating, it’s not a decision that was easy to make. 

We have spent hours and hours talking about what to do and we have gone back and forth a million, trillion times.

I’m sad, excited, scared and anxious all in one…

We are really hoping that we have made the right decision but that will never take away from the fact that we will miss our little home so so much.




I have no doubt that there are going to be a few (a lot) of tears over the next few weeks… especially when we close that front door for the last time.

But ultimately, it would be easy, safe and comfortable to stay where we are and ‘what is life for if it doesn’t involve a few risks?!’

Plus, I’m ready for that hot tub in the garden!!!

All my love



P.s. Over the next few weeks, I will endeavour to pop up a post about the new house and all of our grand plans for it…

In my Dads words… here we go again!!


Just incase you hadn’t heard, last week Dougie and I packed our bags and off we flew to France for a long weekend. 

I have to say, we both absolutely love travelling and we do try our best to get away as often as we can. Travelling is without doubt what we live for and my bank manager (Dougie) also tells me its where most of our money goes… no comment!!

But this weekend was no ordinary weekend away… we were wedding venue viewing!!

EEEEEK. To say we were excited would be a total understatement. I was buzzing.

Seeing as I plastered it all over Instagram, I am fairly confident that our little trip to France won’t be new news to some of you…




But just when you thought it had all ended, I figured I would bore you some more… so here goes a whole blog post dedicated to the momentous event!! 

I will start at the beginning…

Dougie and I met back in May 2008 while we were both at Loughborough Uni.

We were on the same course, lived across the road from each other, could see into each others bedrooms, yet we never met until our third year when we were both on placement. 

After a long 18 months of Dougie chasing me about… we eventually got together at Halloween in 2009!! 

Since then we have been inseparable, we are the jam to each others toast, the gin to each others tonic and the cheese to each others macaroni. You get the idea… 




In November last year, Dougie sat me down one Wednesday night and told me to pack a bag.

Obviously like a girl possessed I asked a million questions… but very frustratingly I was told nada, other than ‘be ready for Saturday morning and bring a bikini’.

When Saturday came, I was driven to Manchester airport and a few hours later I found myself sipping champagne… on a plane to Thailand.

Nothing like this ever happens to me… 




Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…

On Tuesday 14th November, I was told to get ready for dinner, to wear flat shoes and to be ready for 7.

At 7, I was handed a glass of champagne (there is a running theme here), put into a car and taken into the Thai rain forest.

When we got there, all I can remember seeing was a sea of light. 

The whole place was lit up with hundreds of candles…

It was incredible.




Then, in a moment of madness, Dougie got down on one knee and he asked me to marry him… 

For once in my life, I was speechless. 

I of course managed a ‘yes’, although I think I probably think I mumbled it… and there you have it, we became Mr and Mrs Perry ‘to be’.




I always thought I would be the type to get engaged and jump straight in to wedding planning.

I am a normally a crazy kid when it comes to organisation but by some miracle, I have managed to keep very chilled, very calm and I haven’t jumped into anything… apart from reading every wedding magazine going!!




We always knew that when the time came that we would want to get married in France.

We love France and everything about it. Plus it has a lot of meaning to both of us…

When I was growing up my parents had a holiday home in the most beautiful village on the water in the South of France, called Port Grimaud.

The majority of my childhood memories are held there, so to me it is extremely special and one of my happy places.

Port Grimaud and France have also stolen Dougie’s heart and in our 7 years together, we have spent lots of holidays there, mucking about and having fun in the sun. 




Aside, from the meaning that a wedding in France would give us, we would also really love to have an outdoor wedding. Picture… trees, fairy lights, lanterns, candles, greys… 

Clearly, you can’ t guarantee the weather anywhere in the world but we figured we have a better chance of making an outside wedding happen in France VS the UK.

So, before we went to France, we spoke to quite a lot of wedding planners.

We told them all about our love of Port Grimaud and the French Riviera and specifically about how we wanted to get married there. 

We also told them our wedding budget, well, Mr Bank Manager did…

Like with everything I seem to want in life, it became apparent very quickly that a wedding on the French Riviera was not going to be a cheap affair. 

So in an effort to try and save some pennies, we decided that we would forget the Riviera (for now) and start our search in the beautiful Provence region…




In total we saw 6 venues ALL OVER provence.

It was a road trip and a half and D tells me we (he) drove 1000 miles in 3 days.

Im pleased to say, we successfully avoided any car crashes or wrong side of the road driving and we had an absolute blast!!

The venues were stunning. All of them.

We saw two castles, a few chateaus and a vineyard and there is no doubt that a wedding in any one of them would be a beautiful day.




Everyone told us before we went that we would get a ‘feeling’ when we found the one… but as much as we loved every single venue… neither of us got ‘that feeling’. 

We have chatted and chatted and chatted some more and eventually, we concluded, that as amazing as the venues were, for us they were missing ‘something’.

As cheesy as it sounds, we decided that that ‘something’ was that none of them were in the part of France that we feel is ‘home’.

We weren’t ready for that.

We really didn’t expect that the area of France would be a deal breaker for us. It wasn’t until we were in Provence, that it just didn’t feel right.

It almost felt like we were cheating on our beloved Port Grimaud…




On our trip, we had always planned to drive down to Port Grimaud for our final night, as we knew we couldn’t go all that way and not say hello.

So after the final venue, we jumped in the car, giddy as hell and drove the 3 hours to Port Grimaud…

As soon as we got there, we knew, I burst into tears and D proceeded to laugh at me.

He laughed… but I know he felt it too!! 

So in all in all, I guess we haven’t found ‘the venue’ but we have nailed down a single small bay in the South of France where we know we want to say ‘I do’.




With all of that in mind, I am happy to announce that it looks like another trip to France (Port Grimaud) is on the cards and that as a result D will have to up the wedding budget!!

There are no complainers in my camp… any excuse for another wedding weekend away!!

All my love





Firstly, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all of the love and kindness that I have received for my first ever blog post.

It is safe to say that I was pretty blumming scared before I pressed ‘publish’, but the support has been truly amazing. T H A N K  Y O U  S O  M U C H.

So, here we go again…

For today’s action, I thought I would share the story of our home with you.

Like all renovation stories, its been a hell of a ride, so maybe grab a brew (or if you’re like me a gin) and we can get through this one together.




Doug and I bought our home back in May 2014, which actually feels like an eternity ago now.

We aren’t the most decisive people in the world… so right up until the exchange date we were back and forth, weighing up pros and cons, still trying to decide if it was the ‘right’ move for us…

Needless to say, we talked ourselves into it, exchanged, completed and like kids in a playground, we picked up the keys.




We were moving from our beloved ‘first’ home, which without question had stolen our hearts.

We could have stayed there forever but unfortunately it was a case of having to move as we had quite simply ‘outgrown’ our lovely home and we needed more space.

Actually, I will rephrase that… it was a case of ‘Dougie and his numerous drum kits’ had outgrown our lovely home and THEY needed more space… I know you feel my pain!!

The move was tough, emotional and long.

That said, after a few cries and numerous glasses of champagne… you will be relieved to know that I had forgotten all about house number 1 and was totally in love and ready to rip apart house number 2.



Our house is in a picturesque little village called Hale, which is just outside of Manchester. It’s a very traditional Victorian terrace and came with everything you would expect from a Victorian 2 up, 2 down… damp, damp and guess what… some more damp!!

In fact from head to toe it was generally just pretty run down, tired and unloved… picture yellow walls, bodge job kitchen, stained brown carpets, mouldy bathroom… the list goes on.

It had previously been tenanted, so admittedly it was in live-able condition, but there was no chance that I would have actually slept a night in it as it was.

I really wish I was one of these people that could just sleep anywhere, but what can I say, I have never been a camper or one to ‘slum’ it. It’s one of the many things Dougie has had to learn to love about me… I’m a ‘diva’.



Over the next 6 months we took apart our home and pieced her back together bit by bit.

We did a lot of the work ourselves and at the time we were both still working in the corporate world… so it was tough. Really tough.

We left the office at 6pm, came straight to the house, changed into our ‘scruffs’ and spent the rest of our evenings covered in dust. It was a case of work, eat, renovate, sleep, repeat.

There was hardly anything that we didn’t renew or change, we literally gutted the whole house and started again.

To cut a very long story short, the job sheet looked a bit like this… new kitchen, new bathroom, creating an open plan living space on the ground floor, new windows, new external doors, plastering, decorating, flooring, tiling, cellar conversion, electrics, new boiler, damp proofing, roof repairs, new internal doors and changing fireplaces.



There was quite literally blood, sweat and many many tears (all from me). We were lucky in that the build itself did go pretty smoothly, the worst part of the whole process by far was the one thing I know we all hold dear to our hearts…. woodchip.

We had 6 layers of the stuff. This is where the tears came in.

It took us 3 weeks of solid wallpaper stripping to be rid of the wattle and daube that was lining our walls. Those 3 weeks have left me permanently scarred and I will never be the same again.

But here is the best bit…

Once the woodchip came off… the walls fell down.

Yup. You got that right, the walls, they quite literally fell down. It would appear that the wallpaper was in fact glueing the walls together and quite literally holding everything in place. BAD BAD BAD times.




It was so bad that I really can’t dwell on that extremely painful memory for too long.

So, I will take us on to happier times…

In September, on Dougie’s Birthday, we spent our first night in our new home. What an amazing moment that was. There were times when we didn’t think we would make it, but we did. To say I was proud of us would be an understatement.




That said, the house was far from finished… We had put a lot of our furniture in storage, well when I say storage, I mean my Nana’s garage. Needless to say, it got wet and damaged and ultimately it was only destined for the tip.

On one hand, I was gutted, we lost a lot of furniture we loved, but on the other, it meant I got to go house shopping. WINNER.

Dwell, Ikea, Homesense, John Lewis… you name it, I was there. Like every interior lover, I didn’t need telling twice!!




Typically, I’m an impatient soul and I like to jump straight in things. Once I am on a mission, I am like a bull in a china shop. Nothing can stop me.

Nothing except from perhaps not having any money left to actually buy anything… or so I was being told by my trusted bank manager… (also known as Dougie).

Surprisingly, I acted very maturely and I took the news of the lack of remaining budget quite well.

I actually embraced and enjoyed the time that I had and I used it to really get to understand the house and how we utilised the space.

Or thats what I told myself anyway. Every cloud and all that.




Over the next 6-9 months I designed every inch of how I wanted the space to look in terms of furnishings and slowly we started to make the vision I had in my head a reality.

Truth be told I am actually really glad that I didn’t run in all guns blazing like I normally would. If I had, I’m fairly certain that the house would probably look quite different to how it looks today.


IMG_5549 2


They say that you should always reflect on your actions and learn from everything you do.

So drum roll please…

My single biggest take away from the renovation of our house is to not to make rash decisions and to really understand how I intend to utilise space before running out to buy everything and anything.

Lets hope I remember that for next time!!




So there you have it, the painful but extremely rewarding story of our home and her restoration to glory. What a journey it was and it is one that we will never ever forget.

I suppose we have Dougie’s drum kits to thank…

All my love


P.S. I hope you enjoyed your gin… or 5!!