Like many of these Knock Knock's, I already had a good nosy around these houses. But being a curious person, I want to get under the bonnet of those houses. In this case, I pity Jessie Cutts as I have forced her to do an extra lot of work on top of an already packed schedule. But as ever, I am chuffed that she did as I have long loved the photographs Jessie shares on her Instagram. The house is full of love, and her collecting helps it become the perfect backdrop for Jessie's exquisite textiles and screenshots.
When we moved into our house, it was a week before Christmas in 2018, from London to the Kent coast. Both my partner, Ivo, and I had very demanding jobs and two nursery age kids nursery and realised it wasn't the life we wanted, so we decided that I would quit, and hopefully, we could change the way we lived to a more manageable pace. We knew we wanted to be by the sea and needed to be within commuting distance but hadn't decided where that would be, but by chance came to the area and fell in love with the architecture and beaches.
After the first viewing, I was adamant we wouldn't buy the house. My thoughts were that it was too big, too much work and more than we wanted to pay. On the first look around, the owner said, "well, you can see what state it's in, " which said everything about how it was. On the other hand, my partner loved it and quietly bided his time, convincing me to take another look a few months later. Miraculously it hadn't sold (possibly because of the aforementioned reasons!). The second time around, I started to come around to it and took in the sea views, huge rooms with beautiful Georgian proportions, and the potential to resurrect it. The previous owners had done a lot of work in some of the spaces. But in parts had just been left for years without being touched. The top floor was pretty bad and came with a bucket for the leaks in the roof. All four of us slept in one room for the first six months. On a big, live in renovation like this, we have been very grateful for the work the previous owners did in the kitchen and dining room - especially for their installation of the huge, beautiful dresser, which I must have asked 5 or 6 times about it staying.
Since we moved in, we haven't added much to the house. Most of the work has been about restoring the spaces and making them usable again. The previous owners left two sets of French doors from a neighbouring house on the terrace they had pulled out of a skip. We stripped, fixed and painted them and had them installed to replace the awful aluminium ones that must have been leftover from the days it was an NHS building.
Two of the rooms at the back of the house took a year to finish, as they were in such a bad state. The further the scaffolding went up, the more problems we encountered. All of that work was also in COVID, so it took even longer. We had to make way for a new hot water system in one of the rooms. My partner built a beautiful cupboard around it out of a Victorian wardrobe, and it looks like it was always there. I think that's the best thing we've added so far.
Looking for antiques and artwork has been a passion for all of my adult life (and something I grew up doing) so having a big house to furnish is like catnip for someone like me. I've found a few wonderful things. The best bargain has probably been the striped chaise longue in our dining room. It was already upholstered in a striped fabric, which was what I wanted. It brings a lovely softness to the room and is the best spot to sit in the whole house.
I bought a beautiful little painting in the dining room for $2.50 in a charity shop in Australia. More boring things like curtains I've found on eBay and at boot fairs and adjusted myself to fit the windows. A few weeks ago, I found a set of 3 onyx lamps on FB Marketplace for a song. But my list of favourite things bought for very little is quite long! I spend a lot of time searching, and aside from a few boring IKEA storage bits for the kids, we've bought almost everything in here second hand.
We still have a lot of work to do on the house. It's a very slow process, even though we are by no means attempting to do it all ourselves. The following two jobs we are doing are the bathroom and the hallway. The house is five stories high, so the hall is an enormous job. There's also the slightly daunting work of restoring the staircase bannister and spindles. The thing that seems to take the most time for us is figuring out what the minimum amount of work is to be done and what we can leave as it is. When the list of work is so long, you really do start to learn to just live with things.
We are trying to work out a way to keep the slightly dilapidated feel of the bathroom but make it a bit more livable. A shower would be a start! I'm on the hunt for a great sink and am determined not to buy a new one, but I haven't had much luck so far.
There are years of work still to do. We are incredibly grateful to live in such a wonderful house and have taken care of it for a few years. Living here has made us slow down and embrace a different way of life. And even though it's stressful and challenging work, it's enriched our lives in ways we hadn't imagined.