Demolition and DIY in Suburbia


Bargains Part 1

I know it’s fashionable now to recycle and reuse but my husband and I grew up in families that already did these things in addition to general bargain hunting and skip diving.

1) Second hand kitchen from eBay for £1,600.
This includes white gloss doors, black granite work tops, various appliances including slimline dishwasher and extras such as automatic drawer closures.

2) 1930s dressing table with ‘cloud’ shaped mirror cost £45 from local charity furniture warehouse.

1930s dressing table with 'cloud' mirror

3) Washstand remade from a dressing table bought for £10 (from same place).
Removed mirror (which will be used elsewhere), removed veneer from drawers, sanded whole piece, then primed and painted it to match woodwork in the bathroom. The top of the unit has been replaced with plywood and covered in tiles to match those in the bathroom, and the handles have been removed and replaced with door knobs. Photos to follow.

4) 1920s ‘Mah Jong’ enameled wood burning stove, c£360 from eBay.

I can’t wait to go round some more junk shops to find things for the house.


The Kitchen Round 2: Knocking Walls Down

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Blog name change…

We made an interesting discovery at the weekend… that the house was built in 1927 not 1910. Neither of us remember who gave us the wrong date but a habitation certificate from Croydon Borough Council as was is good evidence!

Find #1: World War 2 Anderson Shelter

Inside - the rungs from the bunks are still intact and spider webs hang like ectoplasm from the roof.



The entrance with an 'antique' steel water tank

Edwardian era inspiration (via

Edwardian era inspiration. I’ve always loved Victorian clothing, homes, and design, but I have to say, in researching the Edwardian period more than I previously had, it’s starting to win me over somewhat. Though the two have a modest amount of differences, the Edwardian clothing and styles have a bit more of a darker, romantic, gothic feel to them. The clothing that I select for myself has more of that same principle to it – I wear a lot of black and white and like to mix … Read More


Initial Research

While the house is Edwardian it never had all the beautiful bells and whistles that you would expect; this isn’t high end London suburbia and it is a builder built and owned house, not a creation from a fashionable architect’s design.  But this is why my husband and I both love the place; it has clean, solid, simple lines and we can add whatever we want (subject to funds…) as we go along.

I have been trawling the internet (but of course!) and some books for inspiration and my grasshopper brain has scatter gunned everything from Edwardian interiors through to reclaim yards, Ikea and ‘mid-century’ design.

1. Edwardian House Style Handbook, Hilary Hickman (David and Charles, 2007)

A very useful, wide ranging resource with beautiful photographs of Edwardian homes in both England and the US. It gives the background to the styles of the era and includes details on door furniture, stained glass windows, front gates and much more.

The photos in here really inspired me for the decoration of the hall – I think it should be welcoming and warm, and a good place to put some period styling. One of my current ideas is to add a narrow dado rail and stencil a design above it, potentially extending this up the stairs.  A large wardrobe would be ideal for coats and shoes, and there will be plenty of those in second hand shops.

2. Ikea Hacker,

This site is an absolute gem and an insight into an international niche of resourceful homemade style using items from our favourite flat pack retailer.  I particularly like the floating Billy shelves (one version  Hours can be spent ‘researching’ here and I think I may be customising a classic 1990s Ikea drawer unit that I’ve had since the age of 12.

3. Freecycle –

There are over one thousand online Freecycle groups set up for the free exchange of unwanted items. We are planning to find a new home for some storage heaters and perhaps obtain a sofa or two to tie us over while we hunt down/ save up for something we like.  When we’ve finished, we can then reintroduce the furniture into the freecycle chain.

4. Architectural Salvage

Perhaps because I am female, I’m not sure, I started looking at architectural salvage sites before we had even exchanged contracts on the house.  Lassco is perhaps the most well known in our area and I intend to go to their warehouse in Vauxhall fairly soon.  Another more local place is Sussex Demolition in Warlingham, Surrey.

Today I found that 4homes have an advice page for using reclaim and architectural salvage yards – and a list of national yards.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; I intend to add to this as much as possible.

The Garden – Clearing an English Jungle

Without going into to too much over explanation, when we bought the house, the garden looked like this:

BEFORE: Garden at the side of the house, looking towards the neighbours

BEFORE: The shed taken from the bathroom

AFTER: The bare shed!

AFTER: Garden at the side of the house looking towards the front

Friends and family helped us one November Sunday to clear the garden. The area at the side of the house has now been cleared of ivy, a fig tree and many other things that had the chance to thrive on the neglect. The front fence has come down and road plainings have been laid and levelled to provide a temporary parking space for us and the builders, eliminating the risk of receiving another parking ticket…