Let’s Start Here…
Hello friends, today I thought I would stop by and share a few thoughts I had on our house, our airbnb and our big old project that we have been working on for the past 3 years… well, 4 if you include the time we spent house hunting! Or maybe 10 years if you include the years we saved up for before that… anyway! Today I’m talking about our house, our airbnb and how we did it. Shall we dive in?!
In a previous life, our house has been everything from a tobacconists, a family home, bedsits and even a social club. It’s hard to describe quite what a wreak it was if I’m honest, it was a much bigger project than we anticipated. However, we used our imaginations and put all our money into it and viola! Here we are! Anyway, my point is, we didn’t buy a beautifully maintained house with an airbnb ready to decorate and host. Instead, we bought a house with an annex / extension / weird extra part of the house which used to be a social club and created this whole thing… from scratch! I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the bathroom you see today, was male / female toilets when we moved in! It was also one big room rather than two and there was bars up at the window. Because all the best houses are boarded up with bars at the window, am I right?! However, we saw the potential for an airbnb space and hopefully in the long run, we’ll have a a nice little business we could run together!
As I mentioned above, the space was originally one big room, with a private street-front entrance and male/female toilets at the back. We split the main room in half with a stud wall and knocked through the walls of the toilet cubicles into one mid-size bathroom. The apartment doesn’t have a kitchen, but we do have tea and coffee making facilities as well as plenty of snacks. We knew we wanted to make it a really fun space, with lots of colour, cute details and generally somewhere to stay to make your holiday a little happier. We also knew we wanted it not to feel too ‘off the shelf’ so we avoided getting everything from Primark and Ikea (although we did get a fair bit from Ikea, just not everything!) and instead we hunted around for quirky bits and bobs from vintage stores, Etsy, independent shops and then we splashed out on a £3,000 Multiyork sofa and a £1,500 bed and mattress from Feather & Black. The space also had a skylight which is giant and amazing, as it let’s in SO much natural light, however, in the summer months, the sun woke out guests up at 4am, so we spent a further £2,000 having a bespoke remote control blind made for the skylight. It was an unforeseen cost and a big spend, but it was our only option and actually, we were lucky to find a company to make it for that price We had quotes for similar blinds close to the £10,000 mark. No joke!
OK, so let’s be real here. We spent a LOT on this place and if I’m honest, I’m not even sure if we’ve broken even yet. The bathroom cost over £5,000, which you could argue we would have done regardless. The flooring cost around £2,000 which again, we would have done anyway and we spent a good few thousand on the sideboards, accessories, paint, windows, doors, wardrobe, bedroom chair, rugs… blah blah bah. Plus don’t forget about the sofa, bed and skylight blind we mentioned before, as well as the builders costs for the stud wall, re-plastering, re-wiring and new doors. These things cost, but at the end of the day, we didn’t want to live in a house with male/female toilets, airbnb or not! Oh and all these costs are of course, on top of the price of the the house, stamp duty, solicitors fees…. need I go on?!
How We Afforded It
My boyfriend and I go halves on everything and some months, it was a real struggle and I’m not sure how we did it if I’m honest. I didn’t have a car, we didn’t go drinking or out with my friends much and we kept our spending to an absolute minimum. We spent our evenings and weekends painting walls, knocking down ceilings and stripping paint off 150 year old wood panelling. Sure we could have hired workmen to do that stuff, but we had to save pennies where we could and instead of paying someone to paint a wall, we payed them to re-wire, because that’s something we couldn’t do. We had to stagger the work, we did a little bit every month, we saved every penny we could, drained our savings, bought no treats, we didn’t go drinking, we don’t smoke and even sold some of my handbags. Oh and we didn’t have a fridge. I laughed when people asked if we lived off take-out… OMG! I WISH! Instead we used to eat room temperature salad and keep a carton of veggie soup chilled in a bucket of cold water. You think I’m kidding right?! I’m not! When we did finally get a fridge, it was WIERD for me having chilled drinks, my mouth didn’t really know what to do with a glass of cold juice, it felt somewhere between a luxury and an odd cold sensation that I just wasn’t used to. I promise, this is all real! Anyway, my point is, we spent EVERYTHING we had getting this place ship-shape, but it’s what you’ve gotta do. Does Beyonce just walk on stage at Coachella and hope for the best? Hell no! I’m no Queen Bey, but ladies, we gotta WORK for what we want and if that includes pouring your life savings into a project, living without a fridge and basically being sober and saying ‘no’ to things you want to say ‘yes’ to for YEARS, then that’s you have to do. Instagram might tell us that other peoples lives are fun filled and fabulous, Pinterest might tell us that all you need is an Inspo quote an a pink hammer, but in reality, you have to work. Work . Work. Work.. REALLY hard!
My point is, Rome wasn’t built in a day, big projects are HARD, starting a business is even HARDER and even though my insta-grid is filled with colourful photos of my rather snazzy (can I say that?!) home, I promise, it was HARD AF work and it left us BROKE AF. Please don’t get disillusioned when you scroll other peoples’ grids, just know that your dreams will come true and sacrifices are usually worth it!