Romance and Renovation

The trials and tribulations of keeping the love alive whilst the builders are in! 

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When we embarked on renovating our home, I thought the most challenging thing was going to be whether we could afford it and if we would be able to get the right tradesmen in to do what we wanted. I didn’t really think what it would mean for our relationship!

But if you have done any house renovations with a partner you will no doubt have encountered a number of renovation and romance frustrations. They say moving house is stressful, but what they don’t say is when you have unpacked the boxes and got your feet under the table the real trouble starts; arguing over who should have done what, who gets to pick the colours or furniture and the late night decisions about the most menial things you probably didn’t even know existed is the rather less talked about side of doing a house up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about any serious relationship issues here. The work we have done on the house has brought us closer together, helped us learn more about each other and appreciate each other’s strengths but it also challenged us in a way we hadn’t been before as a couple. It forced us to open up about our weaknesses and our pitfalls and both of us have had to admit we are wrong – many times.

When I talk to friends about their renovations, conversation quickly turns to the strain it can put on a relationship, so I know I am not alone.

The truth is, it is often hard work with plenty of big money decisions needed for a home you will have to live with for a while at least. If you are working full time and trying to do the property on the side you will have extra pressures too, and don’t even get me started if you are living in it at the same time. I am sure brick dust and half-done jobs have ended many a relationship!

The challenges we have encountered have varied from the sublime to the ridiculous. Most often it would be late night dilemmas over where electrical points needed to go. Having both worked full days at work, coming home to a cold, dark house and a note from the builder that the electrician was coming to first-fix the next morning was somehow a reoccurring situation that led to heated words each and every time. Trying to figure out where we wanted the TV, the table lamps, even the Christmas tree almost broke me on a couple of occasions.

I remember the first big-decision stale mate was where we would put the dividing wall to create a space for an en suite and dressing room. Naturally I was seeking a larger dressing room, and he a larger en suite. I think I stamped my foot in frustration at one point before realising reverting to a child wasn’t going to help anyone. In the end we amicably agreed on half and half and whilst I still dream of having a huge walk-in wardrobe, it was the right decision to make.

What I have learned from it all, is compromise is the most powerful tool.

I am still in confusion about his love of LED strip lights, which had to be installed under the open shelving in the kitchen but we agreed only under the lower shelves as a compromise.

I was desperate to have a Belfast sink and he wanted a stainless steel one – I got my way in the utility and he in the main kitchen.

He really wanted a gloss kitchen, and me a painted one. I won that one, however he got to call the flooring choice (his choice marble over my choice wood).

I was after a blue velvet sofa, he wasn’t convinced. Twenty thousands visits to sofa showrooms later – and the blue velvet sofa arrived. Along with a purple velvet chair he fell in love with?!

He still can’t understand why I am so unable to pick paint colours, and that I have insisted on repainting the living room three times. In return, I have forgiven him for blocking up a fireplace I wanted to be a working fire.

He had a love for Oak Furniture Land (every piece of furniture he had before I met him, no kidding, came from there) and I prefer a more eclectic look. He’s coming round to my way of thinking on this one.

What I have learned from it all, is compromise is the most powerful tool.

We have both learned to listen to the other, accept when it really matters, compromise where needed and that really, it will all work out OK in the end.

I think we have worked very well together and I know our home has been the better for it being a collaboration rather than one single person’s brain child. When people compliment us on our home we beam at each other, delighted that together, we did good. But for those of you out there undergoing a renovation now, please don’t feel like it is all sipping Prosecco from mugs on a mattress on the floor in a movie-tinted version of doing a house up. Ghost has a lot to answer for on that front! It is hard going on a relationship, but stick with it and know you will come out stronger on the other side.

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  • Sounds oh so familiar!
    I still remember the heated debates about carpet versus floorboards when we were renovating our current property. In the end I gave in and we have carpets…he can be so stubborn that I think if I hadn’t finally agreed with him we would still have the manky office carpet tile that was in there when we first moved in!!

    We will hopefully be moving next month, to our second renovation project together, and so this article is a timely reminder of what lies ahead!!

  • Haha There is always something isn’t there! Oooh good luck with the new project – it gets easier each time, promise! Claire xx

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