Home, Home and Garden

Our Hallway Renovation & My Understairs Office

It’s been AGES since I gave you an update on our house. And particularly our hallway renovation.

Over the last five years, we’ve slowly been working on home renovation projects. Our house had sat empty for a few years before we moved in, and hadn’t been maintained for an even longer period of time. This meant it had all sorts of issues that needed resolving. It has been a LONG process of saving up to do the work when we can afford it. However, we’re finally at the stage where there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Why Did We Renovate Our Hallway?

The hall in particular needed a huge overhaul. The existing stairs did not comply with Building Standards. This was mainly in terms of head height clearance, which there was no easy fix or workaround for.

There were many issues that we knew of when we bought the house, but replacing the stairs wasn’t one of them. I think I nearly cried when the Building Standards officer from the council told us that the whole staircase needed replacing. But it needed doing so we could get the necessary paperwork signed off, so needs must.

The Renovation

Here is the sorry sight before our hallway renovation:

hallway renovation project before photos

Whilst the stairs were being replaced, we decided it was a good opportunity to remodel under the stairs. Instead of one big cupboard that was really impractical – reaching anything at the back of the cupboard took about two hours – we opened up the space to create more living space. We live in a little terraced cottage, so any extra space we can create is welcome!

Here’s a photo from during the hallway renovation works. We all had to sleep downstairs for a few days!

hallway renovation in progress

And here it is now!

small home office under stairs

The Hallway Remodel

To retain some storage, as part of our hallway renovation we had doors installed as far back as we could under the stairs. This is for things that we need daily access to like the vacuum cleaner. We then got the joiner to make overhead cupboards for things that we don’t need so often, like our camping gear. We have really high ceilings, so putting overhead storage in doesn’t impinge on the headroom of the space. The joiner also revamped the existing built-in shelves, which you can see from the photos, were in a shoddy state.

Originally we were going to put our dining table in this space. The dining table lives in the living room, as we don’t have a separate dining room or space in our galley kitchen for it. However, it turns out we over-estimated the size of the space, and it isn’t big enough for a dining table and chairs!

home office under stairs

What it did give me room for was a small home office. Pre Covid-19 I had one child-free day a week to work on the blog . Therefore, it wasn’t supposed to be a full-time work station. But since March it’s been my full-time workspace whilst I work my day job from home, and it has worked pretty well.

The Furniture

Furniture wise, I couldn’t find a small enough desk to fit the space secondhand. So I got this beautiful console table made in the UK from reclaimed wood from MuJu Furniture on Etsy* (gifted) that I use as a desk. MuJu Furniture makes their furniture in a variety of sizes, and I went for the smallest size, which fits perfectly. I really love the desk. It’s such a beauty of a thing!

I do love Etsy for buying pieces for the home. Although the desk was gifted, I’ve personally bought lots of bits and pieces for my home over the years. I love being able to support independent sellers and shop products according to my values.

I bought the chair secondhand from Drum Farm Antiques on the outskirts of Edinburgh (currently closed due to Covid-19). This is a wonderfully eclectic place to while away a few hours wandering around the barns and storage units. However, I’ve found their pricing to be a bit erratic. I did find this chair for £10 though, which I was delighted with. The seat pad needs recovering, so I have an offcut of blue velvet to recover it with. I planned to use the tools in my local tool library to do it, but it has been closed since early March, so it needs to wait for now.

After losing the cupboard door that we used to hang our coats on, I got a coat rail for the wall opposite my desk. This came from Off The Grain Co* (gifted), a Yorkshire based husband and wife team who make beautiful handmade wooden furniture and decor and sell on Etsy. No, our rack doesn’t always look this tidy, but the internet doesn’t need to see our medley of coats! It’s almost too pretty to cover with coats!

hallway renovation completed

The Compromises

Like any renovation project, there are always compromises. We had wanted to sand and oil the original floorboards that were underneath the old laminate flooring. Whilst we were taking up the old laminate this looked like this might be possible. That was until the very last section that we removed, where the floorboards had been cut out at some point in the past and replaced with MDF. Angry was not the word!

I could not find any affordable reclaimed flooring. A local supplier quoted £54 per square metre for flooring that needed fitting, sanding, and sealing on top of the initial cost. Given the unexpected costs of replacing the stairs, this was way way out of our price range. Particularly as we need to floor the living room as well. So we had sadly to opt for cheaper laminate flooring instead. We did pick a classic oak style that I hope will age well.

under stair home office ideas

What’s Next?

We haven’t quite finished up our hallway renovation. Covid-19 came along before we could finish painting the stairs or carpeting them. The thing is, we need the kids out of the house when we do jobs like painting. They have been here since March, and will be until mid-August at the very earliest, so who knows when we will do it! I honestly don’t know how people have managed to do DIY in lockdown with kids around! We started the hallway project in December 2018 though, and have done different bits at different times as we can afford it, so we’re in no hurry!

We have one room left to do in our house now – the living room – which we are currently saving for, and then we are officially done! I’ve also painted my UPVC front door, which has made a surprisingly huge difference to our house.

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Last year I shared a look at our refurbished bedroom. We’d done a lot of insulation works, and redecorating works, but then left things where they were because we had a home extension plan.

Well, February saw us commence building works to create an ensuite off our bedroom. After quite a long time of pain and dust (a lot of dust), our extension is now complete, and we now have a bijoux en-suite wetroom. It might seem like a lot of pain to go through for such a small extension, but let me tell you, having that room upstairs is lifechanging!


To give us the space we needed to put the en-suite in, we extended our house to the side, over a single storey lean-to where our front door is, but we had problems with headroom so our shower is down some steps!

moral fibres shower

It’s a difficult space to photograph because like the rest of our house it’s very small, but we opted for a single colour scheme – white – to make the space feel as large as possible.

Whilst the work was on, we slept downstairs in the living room on airbeds for two months. It was wonderful to get back into our bed again. I had missed it SO much! Our bed made of 150 recycled plastic bottles, which is a fantastic use of plastic bottles. Sounds sweaty? Not at all – I wrote a full review of it over here.

We haven’t made any changes to our bedroom, beyond the addition of a door through to the bathroom. The only other minor change is that Silentnight recently sent me a set of their new Eco Comfort Pillows to try out, made from 100% recyclable plastic bottles. Each hypoallergenic Eco Comfort Pillow made prevents around 17 plastic bottles going into landfill or the ocean, and is made here in the UK, giving it a low carbon footprint.

The pillows are soft, plump and bouncy, and don’t require any fluffing up – a boon for people like me who would rather spend that time at night sleeping rather than plumping pillows! And like the Eco Comfort mattress, despite being made of plastic, the pillows are soft and breathable, and the only indication that they are made of plastic is the little label on the side reminding me that 17 plastic bottles were used.

Unlike some pillows, they are also machine washable to keep them fresh and expand their life.

Whilst the work was on we had the loft space in our spare room downstairs insulated. It was too cold to spend much time in, so before it was a bit of a dumping ground, but now it’s insulated it’s a much cosier space and useful space. There are loads of grants out there that will top up your loft insulation for free, making your home warmer and less costly to heat. If you rent, speak to your landlord about the grant schemes.

This spare room is now an office for my partner and me, a space for my partner to play drums, and a guest bedroom for any overnight guests. This makes it sound huge, but it is little – a desk in one corner, the drums in another and a sofa bed. It’s not quite finished but we are getting there slowly!

I’m hoping to share more updates as and when we progress!