Lounge Transformation

My new favourite room in the house – in fact I think I might ban anyone else from using it!

Firstly I want to apologise, as this is the longest blog post I think I have ever written! However, this lounge transformation took us over 8 months to complete, and I’m hoping that in this post there are some tips and advice that we’ve learnt along the way that could save you some time if you are thinking about transforming or renovating your lounge!

I will also be following this post with another one solely dedicated to detailing and linking where everything is from, in case you fancy any of it yourself.

So, let’s get started…

When we first viewed the house, we loved the amount of space the previous owners had gained from their rear extension, giving them in effect, two reception rooms. However, they said themselves that they never used the front living room space, despite it being a great size and much more private – but we knew straight away that we wanted to utilise the room as amore formal ‘adults only’ space, whilst keeping the back lounge for more informal times (and children!).

We couldn’t wait to get our hands on it!

We had planned to renovate the lounge as soon as we moved in, as our first project, and as such had pre-ordered new sofas that had subsequently arrived before we even moved on and thus spent the next eighteen months in storage!

As you all know, nothing ever goes to plan, and it became increasingly apparent that the kitchen was going to need our full attention first, being the room that we spent most of our time.

Fast forward a year, and we were ready to start planning and prepping the lounge.

I had so many ideas for this space, and luckily MrB totally on board! He actually had loads of ideas himself that he had seen online, which really helped make this a space that works for both of us.

However, things didn’t get off to the best start…as soon as we stripped that awful purple wallpaper from the walls we noticed that there were cracks everywhere!

We knew we would have to get a plasterer in, but had hoped that they would just need to skim the walls and ceilings – now we knew it was a lot more serious.

                  

Before we knew it, the old horse-hair plaster that had completely blown from the walls had been ripped off, and we were left with exposed original external brickwork {don’t get me wrong, I love an exposed brick wall, but it was not the look we were going for and definitely not what we had planned}. We also noticed that behind the plaster, the fireplace was completely unsupported and needed bricks replacing before we could even get around to booking the plaster.

Cue MrB and my amazing dad – who both worked tirelessly to repair the walls as best they could. We were suddenly living in a cloud of permanent dust and dirt.

Thank goodness we had managed to find a local plasterer, who managed to fit us in around and after jobs he already had booked, as we lived so close by. It was an horrendously messy job, and it felt like our whole home had been turned upside down – there was plaster everywhere!

But it was such a transformation…

Suddenly the fireplace had a whole new shape, and it started to feel like a room again! MrB had not only cleared the room of the excess rubble, dirt, and random tools, but he had also ripped up the old carpet and we discovered beautiful original wooden floors {we’ll come back to these later!}.

For the first time I could really start to visualise the layout with the space we had created.

Finally time for a first coat! We used a clear trade sealant over all the plaster so that the paint didn’t soak in too much {be warned! It’s very thin, and we found that we had drip marks let on the wall that needed to be rubbed down and re-sealed – super time consuming!}.

Once it was finally prepped, we applied a mist coat, plus a second coat of Dulux white undercoat so that we had an even tone across all the walls and ceilings pre-colour. I fell in love!!! I almost convinced myself that we should leave it white {I salute all of you with pure white walls – I ended up leaving dirty finger prints all over it!}.

Throughout the lounge renovation there were lots of key moments that completely transformed the space – this was definitely one of them – the shelving units! We decided to put a lot of time into designing our own units, making them completely bespoke to us and the room. Our bespoke, fitted units, shelving, and panelling we had handmade by our very close family friend who we trust completely. We had also seen previous work he had done and absolutely loved it ,so felt like we were in safe hands – It was so exciting watching it all come together!

And then the panelling went up…!!

I couldn’t believe the transformation already! Even though there was wood everywhere, I absolutely loved it. The panelling made the wall look so much larger, and gave the room another focal point, which was so important to us when we were designing the room – we wanted to make sure that there were different focal points in each section, that all tied together – it was so exciting seeing our ideas emerge. However, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the amount of work was yet to come!

MrB was determined that we do as much of the work in here ourselves, but it meant that we spent the next couple of months sanding down all of the woodwork, caulking each and every panel, as well as the shelves and shelving unit, and washing down every surface. It’s true when people say that the prep is the hardest part, and it always gets me that it is the one part that no-one sees or appreciates once the room is done. Ah well! We’ve all been there, and MrB and I still have 80% of the house to finish so we will definitely be there again…fun times.

Before we had time to think about the colour, we had to make a decision about the tops of the units. I knew I wanted something a bit different (and more durable) for this room, and after a visit to a friends house, who had a quartz top on a small cabinet, I was obsessed! It definitely isn’t the cheap option for sure, and took me some time to convince MrB it was worth the money, but a couple of weeks later we were having quartz tops installed across the whole of the units both sides of the fire. The difference was incredible. It looked so sleek and stylish and would be so much more durable in the long term, I was just so happy with it! I know most of you will be more used to seeing quartz as a kitchen countertop, but it feels like it was always meant to be.

Once the quartz was fully fitted, it was all systems go on getting the woodwork painted. It was such a relief that we were ready to get the paint back out! As we had decided to do this all ourselves, we made sure we dedicated weekends to get maximum coverage.

First things first, we had to prime and undercoat all of the woodwork that had gone in so that it was at the same stage (and the same colour base) as the walls. I definitely underestimated the amount of work involved – there was so much surface area! Every shelf, panel, surface, had to be cut in and painted (including the inside of every cupboard) and it all needed two coats – it took weeks! It was such a sense of achievement to finally finish this stage, and it was a complete transformation. Again I was tempted to actually leave it white, as it was so clean and fresh, however the thought of messy hands and fingerprints up the walls persuaded me otherwise!

At this point the ceiling and skirtings had also had their top coat of white, and the room felt so clean and fresh (and so spacious!). The panelling felt like it had always been part of the room, and the units didn’t feel so imposing. We had decided that we were going to keep the woodwork of the panelling and fitted units the same colour as the walls, and already I could see that we had made the right choice. They are quite big and imposing, but this way they look fully integrated and less of an obvious intrusion into the space.

Time for colour!

Well…we hadn’t exactly chosen the most thrilling of colours, and despite grey seeming like an obvious and predictable choice, it was the only colour I wanted in this room. However it was so hard to find the right shade! Initially I thought of going really dark – a real statement room, with flashes of colour. However MrB quickly reminded me that that is also my design plan for the study (the room next door to the lounge, and our next mini project) and I completely agreed that sticking to the original concept of ‘timeless classic’ gave this room it’s own identity.

So we started the process of trying to find the perfect light grey. I didn’t realise how fussy I was going to be, until I started looking through every Farrow and Ball and Little Greene grey paint sample, and rejecting every single one. I found all of them were either too blue or too purple in tone, which was far too cold for the room. As the sun only hits this room late in the evening, it was important to find a colour that would give the room a very subtle warmth in the shade. We eventually landed on Dulux Pebble Shore, that we had seen in a friend’s house. The colour shade on the tin looked slightly cream, however in the flesh it had a lovely warm grey finish – perfect!

The real test came when getting it on the walls. It had to cover both the wall itself, as well as the primed woodwork – and luckily it went on beautifully! We decided to do three coats of the colour to get a true match between walls and woodwork, and we were so pleased with the end result (despite it taking forever to finish). The room was starting to come together and we could finally start to get some hardware in!

If you read my previous posts on our kitchen renovation, you would remember the troubles we had with the wiring, and it is fast becoming a recurring theme throughout the house. Luckily we pre-empted this room and had the wiring done right at the beginning – changing every socket, adding in additional sockets, and completely moving our light switch to another wall. Once we were at the point of the colour being finished, our new Buster and Punch sockets and light switch could be installed! We had decided on a smoked bronze and brass finish as a contrast to the light grey walls – and they look beautiful!

We then had to choose the door handles for our units. We knew that we wanted to highlight the brass in the light switches, but wanted a more traditional finish, and found these stunning mushroom knobs from Yester Home. Finding the right brass colour is always difficult, as the antique brass can look quite dark, but sometimes standard brass can look too gold and cheap. Luckily they matched the brass on our light switch, and complimented the grey perfectly.

Then it was radiator time. You know you’re into interiors when the most exciting part of your week is getting your new radiator installed! We found these column radiators about a year ago, and knew we wanted to start replacing every radiator in the house with them. As they are quite an expensive addition, we decided to install them one room at a time as we continue to renovate. We chose the triple column white radiator from Soak.com and couldn’t be happier! They were a lot more affordable than other column radiators, and you could choose from a whole range of colours. We decided on white to compliment the  grey, and upgraded the pipes to a chrome finish, and it really finished off the wall. Radiators are always on show, and ours you see as soon as you walk into he room, so making it a statement feature gave another focal point to the space.

The final (and most exciting) installation of the renovation was the fireplace! MrB and I went back and forth many times over whether we should go for a log burner or proper fire in this room. As much as we love log burners, the room didn’t need that much heat, and I was slightly concerned that one of our sofas would be too close to the heat, so we decided on a timeless and classic fire. We still liked the idea of having it open, so we decided to go for a fire basket, with an ornate surround. The first issue we came across was the size of our chimney breast. It might not look like it in some of the previous photos, but our chimney breast is actually a lot smaller than standard. We had already decided we wanted a limestone surround, but this in itself caused issues as they only come in large sizes (and the smaller ones we completely plain!) – much too large for our chimney breast. Finally we stumbled across Castfireplaces and found a classically ornate limestone surround that was almost exactly what we needed – the mantle was only an inch larger than our breast, and as it was against the fitted units, we decided it would be fine. Anyone would usually advise against this, as it is always much better the get your fireplace and mantle to fit inside the chimney breast, but as we were out of options, we went for it. We also ordered bespoke granite front plates, and hearth, and found a beautiful black fire basket. We found Castfireplaces about a third cheaper than other fireplace companies, and the quality is outstanding – I would definitely recommend them!

Luckily, our neighbour installs fireplaces, and spent an entire day installing the whole fire (including adding addition gas pipes below the floor boards and painting the inside of the fire with fire resistant black paint). It is the first time that I nearly cried when I walked back into the room. Not only did the fire look beautiful, but it completely suited the style of the room, and made the wall look enormous!
{I did manage to sneak in and take photos of the progress…}

The final decision we had to make was the floors, and we just couldn’t agree! I was adamant that I wanted to other keep the exposed wooden floors, sanded and waxed a dark brown as a contrast to the light greys and whites, or add a herringbone parquet floor on top, keeping the contrast in textures. MrB wanted carpet. He wanted this room to be cosy and warm and a contrast to the other rooms downstairs in the house. I knew I had lost this argument – it made complete sense! So I caved and we decided we would go for a carpet (for now), however we now had to find one we liked. I definitely didn’t want anything too plush that felt like bedroom, and decided I liked the natural hessian coloured woven carpets. 30 samples later, we had chosen a Brockway carpet with a beige undertone, 100% wool and completely undyed. I was so worried that the colour would be wrong – I mean how can you make a decision on a whole room when you only have a 3inch sample?!?! Luckily when it arrived and was installed, it wasn’t too overpowering in colour, and warmed the space beautifully. I am surprised to say that I absolutely love it! It feels so soft to walk on, and I just love going in the room and sitting on the floor looking at all the hard work that has gone into everything.

The sofas took all of an hour after the carpet had gone in to be put in place. We had ordered Laura Ashley Lynden sofas over two years ago as we thought this would be the first room we renovated, however as we were delayed by the kitchen, they ended up in storage the whole time. Luckily they had survived the years, and they looked brand new out of the packaging. We ordered brass foot casters from amazon as a subtle nod to the brass accents throughout, and dressed them with additional cushions we had made in the same fabric as the sofa, as well as some beautiful dusty blush velvet cushions from The Cotswold Co. Finally it was a proper living room!!

We still have quite a bit to buy to finish dressing the room – a mirror for above the fire, a footstool, shutters for the windows etc etc, however this was by far the most exciting renovation we have done to date! It took us 8 months to complete, but there were a lot of things that came up that we were just not prepared for (as well as a lot of new skills that we have learnt across the way). Everything that the lounge has taught us, we will be able to use in all future renovations. We will shortly be moving on the main family bathroom that has been neglected by the previous owners for 12 years…wish us luck!

Xx

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