It has been amazing that lots of followers online have felt encouraged to advise us on our renovations and what they would like to do with the house and unfortunately our answer has always been, ‘Arh but yes we are renovating to commercial constraints’. We love the fact that people have invested in our journey in a virtual way, because we see this as your home also, so we want to know what you think. We have had some wonderful tips and ideas from you out there, but the transformation of St Marks Stays grand hallway definitely generated the most response and it made us laugh a lot!
Everyone who visits here seems to have the same response as us, from our first viewing of St Marks, in that the front door is pretty awesome and sets the tone of the hallway when you enter through it. Now we are no grand hotel by any means, but if you remember that this just used to be a vicarage, the hallway is quite the entrance for a one family dwelling. With this in mind, we wanted to treat the decoration of this space carefully and there in lay the dilemma.
Despite the estate agent photo making the stairway look stunning, when you saw the various different types of wood up close, it was apparent that this needed a lot of work, or money to make it genuinely grand again. We had opinions, of ‘Don’t touch that wood’ to ‘Add in glass’. The wood was not good enough to just leave and the budget certainly did not cover a modernisation such as glass.
Joanne had always had the thought of staining the stairs black, which is purely her taste and sometimes we had to remember that this is our home also and so ultimately we would have to live with any decision we made. The main decision to stain the stairs in the end was due to commercial constraints. With a home, you could spend every weekend getting that wood sorted, but when you are a business that needs to be open and you also know guests expect to stay at a finished place and not a work in progress, then we made the quicker decision, based on the budget being that we were doing the DIY ourselves.
So we went black!
The previous carpet was threadbare and had to be replaced for health and safety reasons, as it was going to become an issue going forward. Despite wanting a stripe carpet, it looked too busy with the curtains that we already had in place, with that decision being made back in March. We also loved the idea of a proper stair runner. Yet again though, three reasons stopped us going down that route. Firstly, when we took up the existing carpet, we saw that we would have to spend more time than we had removing the white paint to make it work. Secondly, the dreaded budget was not ideal for the additional cost of a stair runner. Thirdly from a very practical point of view, we knew having a stair runner would entail more time cleaning with three parts to maintain, especially with the fact that dog hair would collect on the edges of the runners.
The hallway now has new lights and the church pew sits under the stairs in the entrance hall which feels fitting for the history of the house.
The gong by the dining room, apparently is the original dinner gong of Bolton School. So if you stayed here in your youth, you are going to love giving it a good old whack if you come back to stay here with us.
The downstairs toilet continues with the black colouring and we decided to go with a very opulent theme of a giant buddha mural, chandelier and a gold ceiling, simply because the room is big enough to carry it off. Joanne loved so many images she had seen of Abigail Ahern’s dark interior design projects, so we decided to go for it. We used the toilet and sink from bedroom two to upgrade this downstairs toilet, rather than waste too many items in our overall renovations. Finally, some of you may remember Joanne debating on Instagram if to buy a second hand mirror from Edmondson’s. Well she went back to buy it when she realised how cool the Buddha would look in the reflection of the convex mirror. Not at all practical for doing your make up, but the effect is brilliant.
All in all, we have learned on so many occasions along the way so far, that renovating to commercial constraints, such as budget, time and the practicalities of having a public building that no-one is going to look after except you, is tough and pretty pants to be honest. However, having a business that is unfinished, unopened, or over-spent would be so much worse and a waste of time really. So we go with the choices we have and love the fact that we have at least such choices in life to take. What we have is absolute luxury compared to so many life experiences that we have seen others have, throughout the years and the people that understand us, will certainly not be the people that are going to be upset by our renovations choices, but simply embrace St Marks Stays as a home from home.