This week I’m chatting to Annika and Rachel Overton-Hope from the @victorianadventure, who are living in and renovating an 1875 Victorian Property. If you’ve followed my Instagram for a while you will know I am obsessed with their D.I.Y stories (it’s so much more satisfying to watch someone else do all the hard work!) so I was excited to find out about behind the scenes too.
Tell me a little bit about yourselves and how and when you decided to buy your Victorian property?
We are Annika & Rachel Overton-Hope, I (Annika) am a Senior Quantity Surveyor and Rach is the Head of Business Support. We have been together for 8 years and married for nearly 2. We had been looking for a house to buy together for 2 years and knew that it had to be just right to make it worth moving. Rach stumbled upon our house on a Friday morning and something was just right about it, I booked a viewing on the Saturday, we put an offer in on the Tuesday (Monday was bank holiday and painful to wait!) and by Wednesday it was ours. We had always said we weren’t afraid of a project, and everything seemed to line up, timeline, budget, mortgage. As Rach says, it was obviously meant to be.
Can you talk me through your renovation process, I know you have plans for tasks per time periods and goals and do so much of the work yourself?
We are quite disciplined with setting goals. The room order has mostly happened through chance, like the shower leaking through the lounge ceiling, but we know we can do 3 rooms in a year by working weekends. I am a list obsessive, so I breakdown every task to all the smaller parts and then block weekends out on the diary to get those done. Its so easy to accept every invite you get or thing ‘oooh lets go away’ but by having the work blocked out it kind of focuses your mind. And then we are just driven, we set an end goal and we just blast it. We sometimes work long hours at the weekends and going back to work is a rest, but by doing all the prep work ourselves it means we can work through the house quicker. We could pay someone to do the rooms, but we wouldn’t get it done any quicker because we would have to save up again! I’m also a *bit* of a perfectionist, so I’m not sure I could cope with other people not completing things to my standards!
Were there any rooms in the property that didn’t need completely re-doing?
NO! Oh god how I wish there was! Every single room in the entire property hasn’t been touched since sometime in the mid 1960’s, we had holes in the main roof coming through the spare room ceiling, missing ceilings, showers leaking through the kitchen ceiling and the lounge ceiling, the cellar flooded, the boiler broke and had to be replaced in our first year – you name it, it’s probably happened in our house.
How did you decide where to start on your renovation?
Pure chance. I was showing in the main bathroom in what i called the coffin shower (you couldn’t bend in it, it was that small) and a whole wall of tiles just fell off. The plaster was completely soaked and then we realised it was raining in the lounge. We moved to showering in the other bathroom shower, until it started raining in the kitchen, so we were down to baths and the bucket – so the bathroom was the top priority! The hot water tank also broke at this time so we could only wash by boiling the kettle, adding cold water and pouring it over ourselves with buckets whilst stood in the bath. After that we did the blue room as we call it as we figured it was a good place to try out our DIY skills, we had done bits and pieces in our old house but nothing on this scale, so we watched lots of YouTube and asked questions as we went and it turned out OK I think!
Please can you let me know more about the project you’re working on at the moment, perhaps a little insight into what your plans are for the finished room?
We are currently working on what we call the Study, mainly because that was were we dumped the desk when we moved house, but it will be a kind of guest bedroom overflow when it is done. It’s not got the grand Victorian high ceilings because it would have been the servants living quarters and is the smallest room so I wanted to do something fun and striking with it. I’ve gone for really bold banana palm wallpaper all around and dark woodwork – which I’m equal parts nervous to excited with! We will then be putting a futon int here for now, probably some form of up-cycled furniture and moving onto the next room.
I know you’ve said you think this is your ‘forever home’ but do you think you’d consider renovating other properties perhaps to sell on?
I’ve never thought about this to be fair, fancy it Rach? Rach – I love this house and want to stay here so maybe a small house as an investment once this one has been finished.
Who is better at DIY – You or Rach?!
This is tough! I think we both have our skill set to be honest. When it comes to demolition Rach is a thinker and I will just hit anything that stands still with a lump hammer, so there are pros and cons to that! Rach is chief sander, but I am Queen of Wallpaper. I do a lot of the fiddly things like cutting in and Rach does the big open sections of painting. We work pretty well as a team to be fair (nauseating as that sounds).
What’s each of your favourite room in the house so far?
This is tough!! I think I’m going to have to say the small bathroom, I felt it was the first time I really found my style grove and I was so happy with how it turned out . Rach – Definitely the small bathroom for me. I feel like I’m in a posh hotel.
Can you give me your three best tips for a renovation project?
- DO NOT PANIC. It’s so easy to think the project is to big, or to scary or you have no idea what to do. Just split it up into all the small bits, and you will find it so much easier, one thing at a time, and before you know it, you’ve done a room.
- Make a plan, use lists, stick to one room at a time
- Have fun along the way, don’t take things too seriously
Finally, usually when I take on a DIY (all much smaller scale than yours) there are often times I wonder why on earth I’ve done them, for example leaving a tray of paint of unattended with a kitten… Any DIY Faux-pas’ you wish to share?
I had to think about this one (not because we haven’t had any but because you conveniently forget!) The ceiling rose in the lounge fell on my brothers head when he was doing the electrics, he managed to save it and we put it back up, only for it do come crashing down, light fitting and all 2 days later! We didn’t fully secure the hallway radiator valve after balancing the system and it leaked through the hallway ceiling and just the other day the cat jumped on the freshly painted window sill and left us little paw print presents all over it!
If you don’t already follow the @victorianadventure you should do so immediately, the ladies make you feel like you can do anything when it comes to renovation and the nice side is seeing the progress and the non-insta perfect images. Oh they’re pretty funny too.
All images are credited to The Victorian Adventure