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If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know we live in a Geddes Taylor Wimpey house type. If you’re a Geddes owner, you’ll know these house types up to a certain point in time didn’t have the option of an open-plan kitchen/diner, and that all Geddes houses have an integral garage.
For us the garage didn’t ever have a use for anything other than storage of accumulated junk. The separate dining room and kitchen was fine but it didn’t take advantage of the south-facing garden and potential space there was on offer, hence why we decided to make some changes to the downstairs of the house by converting the garage and creating an open-plan kitchen/diner.
We had actually decided back in October 2019 that we’d be living at Corby Craig for the next 3-5yrs, which is why we went ahead with the works. Almost 8 months ago to the day in December 2019, we contracted an Architect, Structural Engineer and Builder to get the wheels of project ‘Downstairs Reno’ in motion. The works started in February 2020 and completed in the March.
If you follow my Instagram closely, you’ll know in June 2020 we spontaneously decided to make an offer on a bungalow nearby, which recently got accepted. So yeah, if you’re wondering why the hell we’re moving after just doing the recent works – the works were planned, the move wasn’t! C’est la vie and all that jazz.
The first step was to instruct an Architect to come in and advise on what was possible – we had an idea of what we wanted and knew it was possible (as we’d seen other Geddes owners do the same works as we wanted to do) but it was still essential for the Architect to come in and advise. From there our Architect instructed a local Structural Engineer to come in and provide Structural advice and together, both parties put together a set of drawings for the Garage Conversion and Kitchen/Diner knock-through which were then submitted to our Council Building Standards Department. With the drawings we were able to obtain provisional quotes from various builders for the works required.
It took approximately 7 weeks for the Building Warrant to be approved, bearing in mind our application was submitted on Christmas Eve! Our works didn’t require Planning Permission as we weren’t adding any additional floorspace to the house however we still needed proof of this from our Council – it’s worthwhile having this in case you’re ever asked.
We decided on a local Builder who had previous experience doing the same works in a Geddes nearby, which worked really well. They worked closely with the Architect, Structural Engineer and Building Standards Officer to ensure everything went to plan and I must admit, we had a really smooth experience with everything (thankfully!)
Our wish-list ended up growing arms and legs, so our ‘Garage Conversion’ and ‘Kitchen Knock-through’ quickly turned into ripping out and re-doing the downstairs WC, replacing all downstairs flooring, installing a TV wall in the lounge and redecorating all downstairs rooms – hence calling it the ‘Downstairs Reno’ as it pretty much turned into a full-blown revamp.
The original floorplan looked like this:
The new proposed floorplan looked like this:
You can see just from the plan how big a space the proposed kitchen/diner would be and how the floorplan really benefits from the additional room downstairs. Given that we were sacrificing the garage, we needed storage in some form so we instructed the Architect to add a 90cm deep double cupboard in the new room so we could store Christmas decorations and other bits and bobs! I share more about the cupboard further in the blog post below
Works started in February, beginning with a complete rip out of the downstairs. It was quick (way quicker than we thought it would be!) but extremely messy and DUSTY! Dust. gets. everywhere. That being said, it was amazing seeing old spaces turn into potential new spaces so quickly!
We decided to rip up our lovely gloss tiles – mainly because the kitchen and dining room were separate and had different flooring in each. Getting the floor tiles to match was going to be difficult and I wasn’t keen on the rooms downstairs having contrasting floor covering between rooms.
The wall between the kitchen and dining room came down in under 4 hours and within 48hrs most of the downstairs was like a bare shell – scary when you think about it, how quickly your home can change in such a short space of time!
The Garage Conversion – Bedroom 5/Office
You’ll see from the floorplan above that the Garage Conversion is labelled ‘Bedroom 5’ – formally, this space is actually a fifth bedroom as this is what the Council approved it as however we decided to use the space as a home office. It’s a hugely versatile space which could be used as a snug or playroom too.
In here there’s a huge 3-pane window which allows for floods of natural light all day long, which is really lovely for creating a bright space to work in.
The entrance to the garage conversion leads off the hallway – we had to have a doorway cut through as there was never a door for the garage (which always frustrated us!)
The cupboard was a no-brainer for us, mainly because we had to have our fuse box and boiler boxed in either way. It made sense to extend cupboard space across the width of the room where the boiler/fuse box is and truly maximise the amount of storage. Even with the 90cm deep cupboard, the space still feels big enough for a variety of uses and I’d totally recommend putting in a large cupboard like this if the space you have allows it.
The wall that was knocked down between the kitchen/dining room was considered ‘load-bearing’ by the Structural Engineer, so we had to have a steel beam installed for structural reasons. This sadly meant that we couldn’t make the side walls flush and instead had to have a return on each side, which is where the posts to support the beam are situated. In the end and after we did the coving, we didn’t actually mind the returns as it looks almost like they should be there. The good thing is we managed to get the ceiling flush right through – hoorah!
In the new dining space I was conscious of creating a practical yet aesthetically pleasing space to look at. I knew I wanted panelling in some form downstairs and after being hugely inspired by the beautiful Vivienne Cutler’s kitchen/utility, I decided tongue & groove HAD to be installed in the kitchen/diner space.
I was inspired by another Geddes owner to create a storage bench seat in the dining area (thanks Fee!) to create a practical but pretty seating and storage solution. I asked our Builder if he could make it happen with tongue and groove panelling, drew him a picture and he made my dream a reality using Wickes MDF T&G panels. I opted for a 3/4 height panelled wall on purpose as I knew I wanted the woodwork in a dark colour and didn’t want the full wall to be dark.
The bench has a hinged top so it lifts up and down and makes for a hugely useful storage space. I don’t have exact measurements of the whole set up specifically but the bench itself is approx. 2.8m wide, approx. 50cm depth and approx. 50cm height (we based it on the dining table we were buying for comfortable sitting height)
Lounge – TV Wall
In the lounge I was desperate to add some interest to the room – previously it was just a plain rectangular room without any interesting features. Since we had the Builder in anyway, I asked him about installing a stud TV wall with faux fireplace. He told me it was easy, so I said yes please!
It was really important for our relatively narrow lounge that we didn’t have a TV too high up the wall, so we opted for an eye-level TV height which is just right. I then asked the Builder to ensure the void underneath the TV was wider, purely so the TV didn’t look ‘top-heavy’.
I had to hand it to the Builder – I drew him a picture of what I had in mind and he made it happen. He basically pencilled out the wall and asked if it was to my liking and he built it from there using the stencilled wall.
I don’t have exact measurements of the whole set up but the wall breast is approx 1.55m wide (for a 42in TV) and approx. 30cm depth. For reference, our lounge is now around 5.35m in length and 2.86m wide at TV wall (and 3.16m wide at the sides of the TV wall). We based all the measurements around our TV and the Cantilever TV bracket we bought.
WC aka the Downstairs Loo
As much as I loved our downstairs loo, I really wanted the whole of the downstairs to flow aesthetically. We had to lift the floor tiles anyway and doing this unfortunately damaged some wall tiles anyway, so we decided (on a whim, pretty last minute) to just completely re-do the downstairs loo which included replacing the toilet itself, sink and radiator.
It’s a pretty small room, so it was relatively easy to rip out this room quickly. I opted for the same T&G panelling that was used in the dining area but at half-height just to create some continuity, so the Builder framed out the room and fitted the panelling which I fell absolutely in love with. I was SO glad we continued the panelling in here.
How do we feel?
It’s been a bittersweet past 6 months for us – we completed these works with the intention to stay here and enjoy the changes for the next 3-5yrs (at least) but fate had other plans as we embark on our new home journey from August 2020. I suppose the new owners of Corby Craig will just have to enjoy the changes on our behalf!
We don’t regret doing the works at all, as we truly feel the house works so much better with the changes made and we’re sure the new owners are going to love this house as much as we do.
Probably my most frequently asked question throughout the past 6-8 months of sharing progress on Instagram. I know how helpful it is knowing costs, so I’m happy to share these however please understand that the below costs are specific to our house and requests and consist of: Garage Conversion, Kitchen/Diner knock-through, Dining Bench, WC rip out/refit, TV Wall, New Flooring and other Joinery bits and pieces like cupboard shelving. This was all done at the same time (and therefore all costed as one complete job) – this cost will vary depending on various factors individual to your house/location/job. I’ve listed below anyway so you get an idea:
Architect Drawings / Council Submissions – £690
Structural Engineer – £500
Building Warrant Fee – £380
Building Works (Garage Conversion & Kitchen knock-through – exc decorating) – £8780
Joinery Works (Bench, TV Wall & Cupboard Shelving – exc decorating & electrics) – £2250
Electrician (Install multiple spotlights, wall lights and relocation of multiple power points) – £1210
Flooring (Rip out and install new flooring) – £880
WC (Rip out, purchase and fit sanitary-ware purchases) – £380
Total costs of admin and main works = £15,070*
*Note: these are rough costs that I noted on my spreadsheet but I got lazy with recording stuff, so the costs above may have been slightly lower/higher
The Completed Rooms
Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions about the works we did, drop me a message on Instagram!
Paint (PR Product) – Corby Craig Grey (Walls) and Blue (Panelling) from Decorating Centre Online
Coving – NAYAK from B&Q
Flooring (PR Product) – Classic Oak Beige in Laminate ‘Ultra’ from Quick-Step Floors
T&G Panels – Wickes
Radiator in Kitchen (PR Product) – Milano Windsor – Vertical Triple Column White Traditional Cast Iron Style Radiator – 1800mm x 560mm from BestHeating
Toilet in WC – BetterBathrooms
Sink in WC – Wayfair
Waterfall Tap in WC – BetterBathrooms
Towel Radiator in WC – BestHeating
Dining Table – IKEA
Grey Dining Chairs – Wayfair
Office Cabinets – IKEA (x2)
Office Desk – IKEA