Those of you who read my last blog will know we are planning to convert our loft into a bedroom so that our one bedroom Victorian terrace can boast a second bedroom/office. Building regs were tripping us up as we needed to make sure we had a secure escape route from the loft in the event of a fire. The designer had gone away to draw up plans that made the most of the space, and satisfied building control.
Well, we got proposed plans back from our designer last week and were impressed to see how much floor space we could have in the new loft room. The design includes a staircase to the top floor in a sectioned off corridor with a fire door and a first floor means-of-escape window. Brill!
Although we really like the plans, the downside is that this corridor eats into the existing bathroom a fair bit. As I mentioned before, the existing bathroom is much bigger than it really needs to be, but the new design has just the right amount of space for a toilet, basin and shower. This would mean getting rid of our cast iron bath, but I’m a shower person anyway and the enamel coating on the bath is a little worse for wear so a new bath may have been on the cards as it is.
The problem is, re-jigging half of the first floor is going to add considerable cost onto our project — especially since it means buying a shower enclosure and re-routing the plumbing. We are happy to pay for a good job to improve our house, but ultimately, whatever we spend needs to be less than the value added. We are also worried that a teeny bathroom might be fine for us but put off potential buyers in the future.
We’re basically facing the same issue, hundreds of people have before — trying to make an old house suit modern living.
Old homes get poked and prodded, and put down for being inappropriate when it really isn’t their fault. My house was perfect for it’s original owners in the 1840s. My dad did a census search and in the earliest record he could find, there was a woman and her daughter living there. They probably had one of the bedrooms each, and were more than satisfied with the outhouse just twenty feet from the back door and a tub infront of the fire for bathroom needs.
They definitely wouldn’t have had half the stuff we do, nor the trouble of fitting it all in. No time spent deliberating where the best place to put the TV is so that the sofa is not in the way of doors or too near the fireplace. No inching cabinets over to fit the fridge-freezer under the stairs. No squeezing in a small washer-dryer (with insufficient drying capabilities) because there isn’t enough room for airing racks everywhere. No cramming every spare inch of the wardrobe with camping gear, photo albums, mementos and the other ephemera that doesn’t really have a place.
I sound ungrateful, when really I adore our little house. It may be short of space, but it has plenty of character. I just feel bad for trying to adapt the house to our needs rather than the other way round.
We will find a solution. I have seen lots of examples of successful remodels of Victorian terraces and they show the worth of these otherwise well designed homes.
If we can’t make the house suitable, we will give it a little TLC, enjoy it for a couple of years, and move on. I just hope that houses like ours don’t get ripped apart or altered beyond repair because they don’t suit modern life.