We live in a beautiful house, built in the 1860s. We call it The Gingerbread Cottage because it looks exactly how we imagine the house in the Hansel & Gretel fairytale. In Danish it's called Pandekage Huset (The Pancake House).
It was a 'gatekeepers lodge' to a large house that has long since been demolished. That's where the gentlemen tasked with facilitating the entry of guests on to the estate would have stayed. It probably wasn't his permanent residence, he would have just stayed there while on duty, somewhere to keep dry and warmish and to make himself cups of tea. He probably did grounds keeping tasks as well and would have kept his tools there and perhaps had a straw mattress for overnight stays.
It was made to look beautiful on the outside for guests passing by it on their way to the big house to be suitably impressed, but practicalities to make living inside it pleasant were not really a consideration.
Outside it is chocolate box pretty, but inside it was dark, draughty, cramped and impractical. The stairs are the best example of this, they were so narrow, steep and winding that virtually no furniture could get up them and, call us fussy, but we find having a bed in our bedroom to be an essential! The previous owners removed an upstairs window including the frame and hoisted furniture in and out that way. But we didn't think that was ideal so we decided work was needed.
So we worked, and we saved, and we had dreams and made plans. We approached architects, and then builders. There were a lot of additional costs, delays and stress and we had to move out for nearly a year while the works took place but eventually the day came and we finally got to move home!!!
We didn't have enough budget to get everything done that we wanted so we had to prioritise, and chose to get the bricks and mortar built and we'd then move back and do the decorations, other finishing and outdoor landscaping in our own time. So we have a bit of a shell of house with a moonscape garden and are now busy turning it into a home with virtually no budget.
There was no kitchen, as our budget didn't stretch to one, but we also find eating to be an essential, and kitchens quite important in this process, so our first job had to be getting some sort of kitchen. We had hoped to buy an old kitchen off Facebook but there just didn't seem to be one with the bits we needed.
During the build, the building company asked us to approach local kitchen designers Lime Designs in Dorking to design a kitchen, so that they could put all the utilities in the correct places. Toby at Lime just blew us away with the design he came up with. He really listened and understood what was important to us and the design he produced completely exceeded our expectations. The amazing design mock-ups were the first glimpse we'd had of what our finished home would look like as the architect had never produced these.
So we absolutely loved Toby's proposed design and intend to go with it. But for now we only had a few hundred pounds to get a kitchen to keep us suitably fed and hydrated until we can afford our dream kitchen, so we purchased 3 units off Ikea and built a very basic kitchen which we're extremely happy with.
You can read more about our return to The Gingerbread Cottage in part 2.