Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Oh! The Possibilities...

For the past few weeks now, I have been pretty much obsessed with the Northern Irish Property News website that's similar to RightMove or PrimeLocation, but just for Northern Irish properties.

I have always wanted to live on the coast; there's just something special about being able to look out of your front window and just see the sea rather than someone else's house across the street from yours. To be able to take a walk on the beach in the evening, and have that fresh sea air when you walk out of your house every morning. In England, unless you're fairly well off, that dream is pretty much impossible. If you can see the tiniest glimpse of the sea from the tiny window in the bathroom, you're going to have to pay handsomely for it.

Not, it seems, in Northern Ireland. The property crash hit them more than most, with some houses that were worth over 200k now being worth less than 100k. Bad for them, good for me! I have recently been obsessed with what seems like a very quaint little area around Donaghadee and Millisle on the East coast of Northern Ireland, around a 35 minute drive from Central Belfast.

From Google Maps

The main reason I started to look there was simply because it was by the coast. The main reason I continue to look there is the price!! Now I don't profess to know anything about the area, but for these prices, it could be the scuttiest place on the planet and I'd still be interested!


Especially that first one, 70k and 5 bedrooms? Where do I sign!?

Now admittedly, the really cheap ones are in need of "sympathetic modernisation". For that, read "this place needs absolutely gutting". But that's actually a bonus for me - I don't want a perfect ready-to-move-in house that someone else has decorated and done up to how they like it. I would rather have a complete dive and need to rip everything out and start from scratch!

This house in particular has caught my eye, for both the above reasons - price and the fact its pretty much a blank canvas. This property has sea views right outside, and also views of a lighthouse and of a castle-like building, called Donaghadee Moat. A freaking castle! You can check out the full property listing here.


It doesn't look like much at the moment. It would need a LOT of work, but I've pretty much just been staring at it for a couple of days now, on and off, and I can see masses of potential. The main things I would do to the outside are:
  • relocate the Sky dish to the back or the side of the house, if possible, because it looks super ugly. Otherwise get a box, or get Virgin and remove it completely.
  • the house is lopsided in that it had two windows on the right there, and only the door on the left. I would either get a window put in there, or put something in its place to balance the house. A waggon wheel would look particularly cute!
  • paint the outside of the house, I think a lovely pastel yellow colour would look very nice. Use an extra durable masonry paint because of the sea spray in the air which will make it fade and chip faster
  • paint the windowsills and front door white and add some stand-out door furniture
  • add window boxes to the window sills
  • add something above the window, like some kind of coving to make the windows stand out rather than be sunken into the house. Maybe just a different paint colour, in a trapezium shape, or add fake brick cladding
  • re-pave the front area because the "smashed concrete" look just won't fly
  • add big pots to the front paved area (put in super heavy rocks at the bottom so chavs don't steal em) and put in some solar lights 
  • add a little porch over the front door, because the front of the house is completely flat (a very 70s style)
  • get the neighbour to clean their house, because it looks scutty. 

Image credits
Waggon Wheel - eBay -
Pastel Yellow - Malins Masten -
Silver Door Furniture - Trojan Hardware -
Paving - Wilkinsons -
Window Boxes - London Planters -
Terracotta Planter - Homebase -
Porch - eBay -
Bricks Above the Window - Photographer's Direct -
Solar Lights - Waltons -

I think these additions would make a massive improvement to the "curb appeal" to coin an American phrase. I think its really important that your house looks good on the outside as well as the inside, because we all work so hard on the internal decoration of our houses. Why should the outside let it down?

This is only a two bedroom property, but the overall dimensions are good. And if we're honest with ourselves, its likely to only be the two of us for quite some time, if not forever, so having a spare room for guests is all we'll really need. We could however, if we were struggling for space, reclaim some of the bathroom which seems to be massive with no good reasoning. Remove the bath, move the strange shower arrangement and put it in the left corner, put the sink next to the loo, and the bathroom could easily be halved in size. 


Downstairs orientation is a little difficult, because of the strange staircase. I would look into getting it replaced with a steeper one, so it doesn't jut out into the room quite as much, or maybe even a spiral (ooo!). Not sure how easy those thing's would be, but I'm sure I'd make it work. It definitely needs replacing with a more solid one, or at least one with a handrail. I don't really like that you can see between the treads either. The fireplace is coming right out, I hate fireplaces, especially big bulky ones like that. Its just taking up valuable space.


For some, the kitchen may be small, but for us it'd be a palace! Our current kitchen is so small that if you stand in the middle, you can pretty much touch all the walls. It would depend where stuff was in the kitchen, but I might move that door to the kitchen from the lounge to the other side, so I can put a big corner sofa under the stairs and along that wall, and have the TV wall mounted opposite the stairs. The kitchen itself is ok, its pretty dated but a lick of paint and new nobs on the cupboards and a bit of fitting for the white goods so they don't just look plonked there and it'd be absolutely fine. 

Oh the possibilities. I have SO many ideas for the decorating of each room. If only we could move over there right now :(

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