AdviceFiona Fullerton

House Restoration Tips From Fiona Fullerton

Life is nothing if not a series of contrasts. After the glamour of strutting my stuff, rather embarrassingly sometimes, on the set of Strictly, I found myself having a day that went a bit like this. Timber merchants, followed by Ikea, (including lunch – fabulous by the way) and then a reclamation yard to source a marble fireplace for our house restoration.

house restoration

Image Source: Erica Cook Design

Restoring our house in Cheltenham has not been without its trials and tribulations. Long house restoration delays due to the Conservation Department have put us seriously behind schedule, but we continue to source items that will be required – eventually.

Timber flooring is to be used throughout the ground floor so we found a place outside Bath that does a vast selection of solid oak as well as the engineered oak. A lot of people seem to think that using engineered timber is the cheaper option. Not true. Solid oak works out cheaper but it’s not as stable. We spent ages looking at the various finishes (rough, smooth, light, dark) until eventually I wanted to just close my eyes and stick a pin in one! Oh the choice! Too much. After about an hour, we narrowed it down to two, and the charming salesman told us how much they were per square metre. Silly me for not asking earlier. It was EYE-WATERINGLY EXPENSIVE. Turned out we were at the Rolls Royce dealership of timber. We are now turning our attention to the Mini Cooper equivalent.

home restoration

Image Source: Pinterest

Next up was Ikea, which is my husband’s idea of hell. I love Ikea and use their products extensively in my Buy-to-Let properties. Someone had told us that their bathroom furniture was really good, and indeed, the sink cabinets with sliding drawers are terrific value. Might be using those. Lunch was a plate of gravadlax for £2.50!

Finding one’s way out of Ikea is quite tricky (there was an unshaven chap shuffling about who looked like he’d been there for three days) but it enables you to scoop up all the things you didn’t think you needed. (Husband starts to roll eyes.) The textiles are brilliant and the kitchen utensils too. I now know how to roll a herring!

restoration house

Image Source: Pinterest

We then made our way to a reclamation place I’d heard about near Bath. We are on the lookout for some original Regency fireplaces and most dealers charge a King’s ransom, so a bit of sleuthing was needed.

restoration home

Image Source: The Decorista

Well, we ended up driving across a farm and then arrived at a level crossing with the gates closed. A sign told us to only cross the tracks when the light is ON. So I opened the gate, ran across the line, opened the other gate and husband drove through, whereupon the light went OFF. In a panic I closed one gate and stood frozen to the spot. A high-speed train came thundering past – and the light came back ON. After convincing myself that this was all a terrific adventure, we made our way to a giant warehouse stuffed to the gunnels with absolutely nothing we wanted. So, after repeating the train-dodging procedure, we arrived at the conclusion that the internet truly is a wonderful thing.

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Fiona Fullerton

Property expert, writer, TV presenter and former actress – Fiona Fullerton’s career is as varied as it is impressive. She has a portfolio of flats, houses and offices in London and Oxford, which she also manages. She shares her extensive knowledge of the property world in your blog posts.

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