New build to Victorian Terrace

I thought it would be good to do a little post on my musings on moving from a new build to a Victorian terrace as they are stark contrasts in size and we have learnt a lot along the way. I will also admit that new build’s sometimes do have an advantage over an old house (soundproofing is one of them) so this may turn into some sort of series comparing the two styles of houses, we will see.

Before moving into our lovely 3 bed Victorian terrace at the end of April 2016 we lived for about 8 years in a 3 bed (technically 2.5 bed) semi-detached new build house (the design of it was called “Brandon”) and that was our first house together and for that reason I will have much fondness for it, however we were so pleased to move out of it for numerous reasons of which I will expand on.

Now I must say after trawling through a bunch of photos I can’t find any interior style pics from our old house, I thought I had some so I will have to have a look properly and that may turn into another post.

Anyway digressing slightly, I have had the following musings on moving from a new build to an old house.


Our new build house as stated above was a 3 bed semi, but really the “3rd” bedroom was tiny and could only be used for either an office or nursery as it wasn’t large enough to fit a single bed in. So really my first thought is that you get so much more space in an old house compared to a new one for the same amount of bedrooms. We moved technically like for like from one 3 bed to another 3 bed but our Victorian terrace is huge compared to our old new build.



In a new build our furniture was dictated to by the size of the rooms, and to be honest the same can be said at times for this house too, we did spent ages looking for a small enough tv cabinet to fit in the fire place alcove. However sofa size, dining room table sizes all had to be small for a new build and when you then move them into a bigger space look ridiculously small. I remember when we were looking for a sofa for the old house and we could only find two designs small enough for the space and being told that we needed to look for “cottage’ size! Taking that into account and also since moving into this house that we are discovering our style mojo we basically have replaced most of the furniture that we had in the old house for bigger pieces and also pieces with style and character.



I don’t care what anyone says, to me and this is my opinion only, you cannot get character in a new build house, yes you can buy nice furniture and make it “show home” style and have everything looking nice and smart but to me there is just no character to the rooms and therefore anything you try to put in with character looks out of place. Character to me is features, whether that be period features or quirky sized rooms, large rooms, beams in ceilings etc and you can only get that from an old house or say a barn conversion not a new build.



We were young when we bought our old house, early 20’s, and I think looking back we rushed into it without thinking properly about what we wanted from a house. We didn’t have much advice as to what was best for us and I think we just got excited at owning our own house and didn’t think much about it until a few years later when you start to outgrow the house and wish that you had bought a bigger house sooner than we eventually did. So I would say to anyone looking to buy their first home to really think about what you want from a house, whether that be size, character, location and also look around at all of the options available before jumping in that goes for both new and old houses.



You will get problems in whatever house you buy, whether that be an old house or a new build. We have had issues in both houses that we have owned, so yes they may be different in the scale of the problems but you will get them and to be prepared for that.




Floorboard and Skirting Restoration

Those of you who may follow us over on Instagram (@middleoftherow) will know that we had some floorboards and skirting board restored towards the end of last year.  I thought I would show you some before and after’s on here as well as talking about why we decided on what to restore.

First up, skirting boards.

In the living room and dining room there are some pieces of mismatched skirting board, we think from when the rooms were knocked through and whoever did it just decided to make do with whatever they could find. Well to us we want to make sure as we are renovating that we are true to the period features of the house (as best that we can) as well as modernising and making it our own, therefore this mismatched skirting needs to be restored to match the rest. The first part of this to be done has been the living room, mainly because of the stove installation and the need to get new skirting board on the fire place wall.

The skirting is 11″ skirting and it was not an easy task to source someone to do it. We tried  website that claimed to do any skirting  (who told us they had never seen any skirting like it!!?), to a local wood merchant who only did up to 9″ skirting (period feature problems). We managed eventually to find a joiner who could get some made to the exact design and also fit it for us, which was brilliant and as you can see from the pictures below has done an amazing job.

*On the left is the old skirting board that didn’t match and on the right is the new one which matches the rest of the room perfectly.*

Second up, floorboard restoration.

Deciding what to restore floorboards wise has been something that has gone round in a circle for a long time, however we finally settled on restoring the hallway and the office for now.  We used a local company who came and sanded the floor down, filled the gaps and then used three layers of a clear lacquer to seal them.

I have to say I am so happy with how they have turned out and with the addition of the column radiators in both of these spaces it looks totally transformed!




Wood Burning Stove Installation

If you follow us on Instagram (@middleoftherow) you will already be aware that we have recently changed the fireplace in the living room from a gas fire to a wood burning stove. Let me tell you it was a decision that took well over a year but it has been well worth the wait and one of the best decisions we have made because boy does it heat the room up nice and cosy!

This was the gas fire place that was in the living room when we moved in. Everyone who has come into the house gushed about how lovely it looked. It did look lovely and very in keeping with the period of the house, however the hearth was absolutely massive and intrusive into the room and we never found the Gas fire very cosy or very efficient at heating up the entire room. We always have wanted a house with either an original fireplace to burn openly or have a stove fitted and therefore this fire was just not what we envisaged for our house.

On our decision journey we floated the idea of getting just an open fire fitted for the ambience and the dream of what we had always wanted. Everyone told us that they are not heat efficient and stoves are far better for heat etc etc etc….thankfully after finding out that the feathers in our chimney had gone and that this would be a massive cost to rectify that idea was shot out of the window and back to the stove idea we went and to be honest I am so pleased that we couldn’t get the open fire as I think it would have been a big mistake considering the amount of heat that we are now getting from our beautiful stove!

Installation took two days and had a little bit of trauma in that when they took the fire out the flu was not aligned to the centre and the hole was smaller than expected. The original fireplace that would have been in the living room must have been off centre to the right for some reason and that was why the flu was not aligned. This was rectified by removing a piece of the wall in the flu and inserting a lintel to make the hole bigger for the inglenook to fit the stove into. We also had issues with access to the chimney as we were advised that they could use our neighbours roof until the fitters came and said that they would not be able to access it and therefore a cherrypicker would be required which added additional cost.

I just love the finished look and feel that we now get with the stove and I am so pleased that we bit the bullet and decided to get it installed. We now just have a few finishing touches to complete, i.e. replacing the old skirting and decorating, but once that it done it will look even more amazing than it does now.

If you have had a stove fitted I’d love to hear your experiences so do leave a comment below?



Buying Vintage

Buying vintage or second hand is not for everyone but it is a great way of getting unique and interesting pieces at relatively good prices and sometimes even bargain prices. It is also a good way of recycling and a more sustainable way of purchasing furniture. We have bought quite a few vintage pieces over the years and we have also sold or donated furniture that we no longer require or enjoy. I think that is important to try and give furniture new homes in this way rather than just sending it to the bottom of a skip. Another persons unloved item can turn into someone else’ most treasured possession.

I thought I would share with you some of our vintage buys that we have and also where we find it best to purchase items from.


I found this lovely washstand via gumtree and it was a bargain at that. When I bought it it was cream with decoupage flowers on it, a bit of sanding and a few coats of paint later and it looked a lot more fresh and up to date. I recently bought these new handles for it via amazon and I think they have jazzed it up rather nicely.



Auctions are somewhere that my parents love to browse and look at for furniture, they have bought a few items from auctions and fully advocate looking online or visiting the auction room before buying, they also say to know your limit when bidding. I have yet to visit an auction but it is somewhere that I am planning on going to in the future as I think you can find some fabulous pieces and if you know what you are doing can pick up some decent bargains.

Car Boot Sales or Charity Shops

This mirror was a car boot find absolutely years ago and it was just plain wood. When I was sprucing up the washstand I decided to give this a new lease of life by painting it up and adding some distressed character to give it a new lease of life.


I think buying at car boot sales has a knack to it and to be honest it isn’t somewhere that I regularly go to look for furniture but it’s always somewhere to go now and then to have a browse out of interest and if you see something it’s a bonus.

I have been in our local British Heart Foundation furniture shop a few times for a browse (we have also donated furniture to them that we no longer require) and we have bought two items from them so far.

First off was this mid-century bookcase. When I first saw this it was marked as £25 and by the time I had decided that it was definitely what I wanted it had been reduced to £10!! What an absolute steal! Mid-century furniture is very in style at the moment just take a look at all the amazing furniture on West Elm for a start, and it’s definitely a style that we love and have embraced whole heartedly so to find this beauty was a complete bonus.


When I bought it it did have glass doors that were immediately taken out as they looked dated and were a hazard for our toddler as I wanted her to have easy access to her books. My idea was to do it up and I do keep thinking I will spruce it up as there are little holes from the tacks off the runners where the doors were and I think it could probably do with being stripped and re-varnished or something but I am a little reluctant in case I ruin it…I’ll just have to keep researching on how to restore furniture before I make my mind up.

The second piece is this lovely vintage wardrobe which we think could be 1940’s. I think this cost around £65 and was in very good condition. It’s a perfect piece for our daughters room and adds a bit of character at the same time. I love the detailing on this piece even though it probably was quite simple for it’s time. The inside has a slide out rail and pigeon hole type storage to one side which I think is perfect for a children’s wardrobe.




I love browsing online for furniture and can’t tell you how many things I have mentally bought in my head. Buying online is tricky in regards to vintage furniture and I think it is always best to read reviews of people who have bought from the companies previously. Two places that I have bought from are Scaramanga and Mustard Vintage, but I also like to browse on MucknBrass as they have some amazing pieces and I have eyed up a couple of things on there that I would like to have in our house.

I bought these coat hooks from Scaramanga, we have one in our hall which has 5 hooks and then I have a 3 hook one in our bedroom to hang jewellery on etc. I think they look great and add some vintage industrial flare to the rooms. Scaramanga have some really good furniture pieces on their website as well so I would definitely recommend checking them out.

This side table from Mustard Vintage is a recent addition to our household and I absolutely love it. I literally saw it on their Instagram page and just had to buy it there and then. If you are on Instagram I would definitely recommend checking their page out, it is amazing and their styling is totally on point. They have some beautiful pieces of furniture, mostly mid-century (which is our style to a tee) however there are other pieces on there as well. All of which I could quite easily buy and fill our house with, I have to reign myself in every time I look on their page or go onto their website as I could just go absolutely crazy!

We would love to here any recommendations for buying Vintage or leave us a comment with your Vintage furniture experiences.