Renovation Reflections with Sandra Baker

Last Summer Ventrolla had the pleasure of working with Sandra Baker, aka @the_idle_hands, to renovate the bathroom window of her period home. We restored the timber sash window during a phase of major renovations to Sandra’s already magnificent home. 

Now that the most significant work is complete, we’ve invited Sandra to share her still-fresh experience of home renovation, along with some tips for a successful project.

Tell us a bit about your home?

We bought our house seven years ago and I’ve been dreaming about these renovations since we got hold of the keys. We had the structural plans drawn up but concentrated on a room at a time. First up was the living room so that we had one nice room to live in. And finally, last summer, after living here for six and a half years, the bigger renovation works started to come to fruition. We were re-configuring a huge portion of the downstairs to make an open plan living area and upstairs to make better use of some of the unusual corridor spacing.

I’ve acted as project manager and predominantly worked from home throughout to be on hand to answer any questions from the constant stream of tradespeople entering the home. I’ve loved it and being there really helped but I can’t say I wasn’t delighted to wave goodbye to the builders just before Christmas.

brown sash windowBathroom Window Before
copper bath
Bathroom Window After

Is this your first renovation project?

I think I’m allowed to say this is our first as it’s by far and away the biggest. We’ve only done redecoration work before which feels a world away from what we’ve achieved here.

What do you find the most stressful thing about renovating?

At first, I was very enthusiastic and loved welcoming everyone working on the project – I was the jolly tea‐maker! But after six months and not one day without a builder, plumber or electrician wandering round the house I was less chipper. Hospitality went out of the window and they were left to fend for themselves with their own kettle! I thought I would cope better.

Also not having anywhere to cook or any running water downstairs was difficult for the whole family. Our little kitchen station moved around the house trying to hide from the builders – at one point it was situated right inside the front door. I have a beautiful banana‐hued bathtub upstairs which became badly mistreated and used as a washing up vessel.

before sash window repair
after sash window repair

What is the one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started?

Despite everything running pretty smoothly, I must reiterate how important it is to be really, really clear with instructions to everyone. I was there every step of the way but wish I’d sat everyone involved down together at some point. We had one instance of a wall being built in a slightly different place to where each the builder and the kitchen designer thought.

I discovered there is a fair amount of rivalry between the trades and so don’t expect anyone to speak to each other!


Any plans to do another renovation?

No – not for a very long time. I’m not a serial renovator. I just want to enjoy having all the extra time to enjoy my beautiful, new home.

Top tips for anyone considering a renovation project?

I think you need to stay focused on the result and work backwards. Quite early on you need to be deciding where you want radiators and lighting as these impact plumbers and electricians. Go into the details, like where you may need sockets to plug in phone chargers and whether you want three pendant lights to hang over your kitchen island. And while the tradespeople get on with the big jobs, you need to stay on top of the all the smaller details ‐ be prepared to spend every evening scouring online for the perfect handle.

Home improvement inspiration

To see the impeccable transformation of Sandra’s home, and get a huge boost of inspiration, visit @the_idle_hands

copper bath
The Finished Article