“Are you handy”? – renovating East Wing

April 22, 2021

Reading time: 35 minutes

In early September 2020, we had our first video call with Richard, the original owner of Mirounga. We were chatting about live-aboard life and what it takes to maintain a yacht. At one point Richard asked, “are you handy?”

We looked at one another and shrugged. We had decorated and done a little DIY before. Maybe we were a bit handy, yes.

“Good, the more you can do yourself, the easier life aboard will be…”

This was a big project, and as a result a long post, so we’ve added some quick links to help you navigate.

An unexpected renovation

At that point, we knew we had to move out of our home by November. We had two months to find somewhere to live until March, when we could move over to Bequia.

Ailsa’s dad David actually had two empty flats. Both, however, were in no fit state to live in.

One was above the empty pub he owns in Galashiels, but with it on the market for sale and in need of extensive work we decided against it. There was no point in carrying out renovation when a new owner may wish to start from scratch.

Instead, we looked closer to (David’s) home…

Maxwell Place

David’s house is ridiculous. There’s no other way to describe it.

Maxwell Place is a 220 or so year old house in the centre of Kelso, on old Abbey land. It has two wings extending from a traditional sandstone Georgian villa, extended and remodelled in the mid-19th century. It also has a Victorian garden, part of the original much larger gardens where Sir Walter Scott played as a boy.

David and Shirley bought Maxwell Place in 1988, aged just 36. Younger than we are now by a few years.

At least, they bought most of it. The central house needed fully rewiring and had not been decorated in decades. The West Wing was completely derelict, after being empty for 11 years with the upper floor unsafe to enter – lead pipes, 1920s wiring, and even the pipes from 1820s gas lighting still in place. But, having faced similar challenges in the past, they took on the house. The East Wing, a self-contained flat, was occupied by a separate owner. These days, there would be no way the flat can be considered a separate property – the water and electrical supplies are far too intertwined.

East Wing

East Wing

After renovating the West Wing and settling into Kelso, David and Shirley saw an opportunity when East Wing came up for sale in 1992. They bought it, fitted out one room as a main office, put down new carpets and repainted. It became the HQ for their publishing business. At one point in the late 1990s, seven people worked out of the office including them. There were rooms dedicated to product photography, managing magazine subscriptions and mailing, and processing page films for printing.

David still runs the business, long since shrunk to a small operation after everything became digital. He is the only full time employee. Around 15 or 16 years ago he simply moved his Mac, printer, phone and internet hub into one small room downstairs.

East Wing became a ghost office.

Our starting point

The large pre-press and IT systems were gone, but piles of negatives, magazines, camera bags and software remained. One room was full of Ailsa’s brother’s stored items. The kitchen, bathroom and two of the three bedrooms hadn’t been decorated since the early 80s. The potential master bedroom had fitted desks and storage taking up most of the room. There were spots of damp where slates or rendering needed fixing, along with a wall damaged by a leaking film processor twenty years ago.

We couldn’t even pop a bed and an electric hob in and make do; the place was too far gone.

The more time we spent preparing the flat for the renovation, the more potential we could see. Every room we cleared revealed some carpet that needed to come up, a wall to be stripped. Like picking a scab; we wanted to have a clean slate. The place, being perfectly located for Kelso’s town centre, had great potential as an Airbnb. We hoped that it would provide some income for David once we were gone.

We can’t quite remember when it became a full renovation project. When it went from “we’ll just make these spaces habitable” to a full overhaul, but it did.

It was certainly within a couple of weeks of deciding to take on the project that we knew we were in for a lot of work.


The work started in earnest with us clearing out the flat in mid-September, and both of us took time off work in October to spend time in Kelso. By the time we moved in in early November, the place was still very much unfinished.

Ailsa going loopy the weekend we moved in

The kitchen was functional, we had desks in an office and a place to put our bed, but that was it. The plaster was still drying in the living room, and the bathroom had nothing but a loo. We had to go next door to David’s house to shower or do laundry. Three rooms were painted, but there was no flooring beyond the floors we had stripped and sanded. We still had extensive plasterwork and tiling to be done. One room was still a chaotic mixture of old office stock and our belongings. The massive fridge-freezer we’d bought on Gumtree was still in the porch.

But we lived there. We could work not only 12-13 hour days at the weekend, but evenings as well. We can barely remember those first few weeks, but by Colin’s birthday 2 weeks after moving in the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and office were mostly complete and furnished. By the end of November, we had a finished living room. And by mid-December, only the entrance porch remained unfinished.

Colin the builder

We could finally call the place complete on 21 January, and enjoy living in it for two months before moving on. Covid caused some delays, particularly with carpet and flooring fitting, but it didn’t affect our timeline too much in the end.

What we did

We did as much of the work as possible. Ailsa project managed – leading on the design and outcome for each room, sourcing materials, suppliers and contractors, and keeping track of the costs and timelines. It was like having a second full-time job. She probably also put in the most hours, purely because of all the wallpaper stripping and painting.

DIY everything

Colin became a joiner, a plumber, and an electrician. After his first attempt at painting, he was spared further work in that field.

David fitted missing skirting and replaced dado rails. He backed Colin up on the bigger plumbing tasks, and Ailsa up on the bigger wallpaper stripping tasks. He and his friend and coworker Diane both put in immense effort into clearing out the old office items. David was also vacuumer in chief and did more runs to the town dump than we could count.

We used contractors as minimally as we could. Plastering, tiling, the building work involved in installing a stove, and fitting flooring were the only things beyond us.

We sourced items second hand where we could, and up-cycled forgotten items from David’s house. Very few things were bought brand new.

Budget, and final costs

We started out with a notional budget of doing the whole renovation for well under £10k, but in the end the house needed structural work beyond our control, with additional insulation and plasterwork needed.

In the end, we spent under £18k on fully renovating the flat, including appliances, furnishings and finishings, and things like van hire. Nearly £9.5k of this was on contractors, and £5k of that on the fabric of the building.

We may have gone over budget but we’re still very proud – Ailsa saved nearly £5k alone on buying items second-hand! We dread to think what the cost would have been had we bought a new kitchen and bathroom or used contractors for all the fitting, plumbing, and painting we did.

We’ve tried to break down the costs against each room, but not all contractors gave an itemised bill so the finals are estimates.

So, what did we do?


The kitchen needed complete removal and starting from scratch. We pulled the 35-40 year old units out, and removed the dreaded woodchip from the walls before smoothing them and painting them and the woodwork white.

An old concrete kitchen range hearth sat proud and would cause issues, so Colin and David broke it up and levelled the floor. David fitted new skirting where units had been removed. The only thing that remained in the kitchen was a shabby gas boiler, which was very hard to replace and would remain.

We simply didn’t have the budget to get a newly fitted kitchen, so we turned to Gumtree (for our non-UK friends, our equivalent of Craigslist). Ailsa found the Samsung American-style fridge-freezer for just £75, and repaired its faulty condensing unit and shelving herself for £130. Given the fridge would have been £800-1000 new we were pretty chuffed.

Fitted unit… for another kitchen

Our sister-in-law Rose pointed out a four-year-old second-hand IKEA kitchen for £150. It had a solid oak worktop that alone was worth twice that much, plus an oven, electric hobs, sink, a Bosch dishwasher, and plenty of units. We jumped on it. We didn’t know how it would fit – it had come from a long kitchen, where ours was square. But we were determined to make it work.

The two of us hired a van and removed it from the posh Musselburgh home where it was being dismantled by contractors, mid-renovation. This involved the terrifying step of having to ask for the 4m long worktop to be sawn into two. We then performed one of the most impressive feats of Tetris and somehow got the whole thing into a van.


After giving everything a good clean up, Ailsa laid the units out to work out how they could fit. Amazingly, they would all fit, and our guesstimate cut in the worktop was in the right place. The worktop fitting was less simple, but Colin was up for the job. He set up a makeshift workshop in the living room and managed to cut and join worktops to go around a tricky corner and the boiler flue. Next, he sanded away the varnish so they could be oiled once fitted. He also made a new shelf for the window, and even made a chopping board with an offcut.

We noticed as we fitted the units how curved the walls were – the joys of 200-year-old architecture! Colin disguised this by adding an oak trim to the back of the worktop, and Ailsa caulked away any telltale signs.

The three of us fitted everything. Very little went to waste – even the cabinet ends that were spare were repurposed to cover the area below the window. We didn’t have to buy a single new item from IKEA to finish the units.

Colin also turned his hand to electrical wiring, and added two new plug sockets above the worktops as the existing ones were all in awkward positions.

Finishing touches

Tiling by Rab the Tiler

The tiling was beyond us, so we got a professional in. Ailsa sourced the tiles from Victoria Plumb and had the excellent Rab the Tiler fit them. To complement the mustard shade, she used a couple of sample Farrow and Ball tins to paint behind the shutters.

We had to buy very little new – only the three sets of shelving/storage on the walls (two from IKEA, one from Amazon), a tap, the light fixture, a clock, and some kitchen accessories like a new draining rack. We also bought a step stool to reach the high cabinets, and some plants.

The wine racks were ones we’d had for years, refreshed with some bright paint by Ailsa. The Simple Human bin, with a £160rrp, was £10 on Gumtree. Ailsa gave a new life to a set of glass jars, made in a factory David’s father once managed, that had been in her childhood kitchen.

The flooring was a wildcard. We’d wanted Rhinofloor but nowhere had stock thanks to Covid, so David looked at some vinyl offcuts on Flooring Superstore. The floor we chose was nothing like our plan, but worked perfectly!

Finally, to disguise the ugly old boiler, Ailsa spray-painted it black. Total transformation.

Summing up

We love the quirky cottage feel we created, and the kitchen is a great space to cook and chat in. The birds chirping outside somehow fit perfectly with the space. And there is no way that we could have bought a kitchen and had it fitted for anything like our final tally!

Kitchen total spend – £1450


We’re incredibly proud of the kitchen and how little we spent, but the bathroom is the real star of the show.

Again, everything had to go. The wallpaper, a puffy vinyl designed to look like fake tiles, was particularly stubborn. It took Ailsa days of work, and bleeding nail beds, to remove it all. The cork flooring left dozens of tacks sticking out of the floor which we had to remove by hand. We badly wanted to rescue and re-sell the pink bathtub, but it was solid cast iron and the only way we could remove it was by taking a sledgehammer to it.

Before we could decorate, we had our plasterer put sound insulating skimmed board on two old lathe and plaster stud walls between East Wing and David’s home.

Again, once the bathroom was stripped bare, it was painted white, including the varnished wood door.

The inspiration

There were two things that inspired the bathroom. One was the fact that Ailsa had always wanted to use subway tiles, and never had the chance.

The other was that she found the most wonderful bath on Gumtree for £75.

Colin takes the bath for a drive

Colin somehow fitted the bath into the car and got it down to Kelso. Being a free-standing tub, we couldn’t use a traditional shower. It took a lot of research, but Ailsa managed to find an affordable alternative to the expensive Victorian Plumbing traditional shower and it worked perfectly.

The grey colour tone was inspired by the IKEA vanity and cabinet that we bought new (along with the towel chair). The shower rail, reminiscent of Psycho, and subway tiles, reminded Ailsa of New York bathrooms. The grey fit this, so she painted the underside of the bathtub to match.

The build

One of the most complicated aspects of the bathroom was working with the pipes. These had been hidden beneath the fitted bath previously, and now needed to be disguised. Colin came up with the idea to build a pedestal for the bath to sit on, and executed it perfectly. He also boxed in the pipes that ran to the sink and radiator.

Before the plumbing could be done, Ailsa built the new furniture, and painted the bath platform with floor paint. Rab the Tiler returned to fit B&Q tiles (a great tip – far cheaper than other sources).


Getting the bath up the stairs and into the bathroom was an experience. The ultimate “pivot!’ situation. We genuinely thought it wouldn’t be possible.

Colin, with David’s backup, plumbed in the new bath, as well as preparing for a washing machine to be installed in the cupboard beside the bathroom. He also plumbed in the basin, and together they fitted a new loo. Behind the scenes, Colin also had to create a new plug socket in the washing machine cupboard and wire in a timer switch for the new electric towel rail. You just can’t have a free-standing tub without a towel rail.

Finally, the flooring was fitted. Again, our first choice wasn’t available, so we chose on a whim, changing from a white limestone effect to a dark Greek key design. We love it.

Completing the design

The art and accessories were from all over – our house, David’s house, a clock and barometer from Amazon, and a new print from Manners London. The plants came from Mayfield Garden Centre to create a calming setting. The blind was from Swift Direct Blinds, and we added a USB charged vanity mirror as well as a new shaver socket. No detail was missed – the pull-cord for the light is silver and marble to match the grey, and Ailsa painted the door handle with the bath paint.

Summing up

This was our most expensive room if you don’t count the extensive building work in the living room, but was also our masterpiece! And we had spent well over £3k on a small shower room in the past so it still felt like a huge win.

Bathroom total – £2200 (around £800-1000 of which was insulation/plastering)

Living room

This was one of the most challenging, but ultimately simplest rooms. It was previously a photographic studio, painted with an expensive 18% reflectance grey paint and heavy Venetian blinds for blackout. It’s in an extension built in around 1850, so the windows and wall of this room, and the office next door, are of a different construction to the rest of the flat.

After getting the room clear, we started by stripping out the carpet, revealing undamaged well-preserved floorboards. We also began to strip wallpaper, where we could – it was incredibly difficult. Where the wallpaper did come away easily, it was because of damp. We also found that the walls above the windows, along with those in the office and part of the hall, had slabs of plaster ready to fall off above them.

In all of this, we were starting to notice how cold the room was. Unlike the older parts of the house, it had nine-inch solid brick uninsulated walls. We started to explore what we could do to make it warmer, and knocked an exploratory hole into what looked like a chimney breast.

We found a dead pigeon. But we also saw that the chimney was in good condition and just needed opening up for a new fireplace.

Stripped back

This room sat unfinished for a long time, or it felt like it. Once we knew we needed to warm it up, we asked our plasterer Will Evans to fit insulated plasterboard to the exterior walls, and fine finish them along with the ceiling. To do this, he wanted us to remove every bit of wallpaper.

Ailsa maintains that she lost some of her soul with that wallpaper.

The one thing we could do was sand down the floor and wax it, which Colin did beautifully. We also had David’s builder Alex Douglas come in to knock out the fireplace properly, tile the old hearth stone, and install a second hand wood-burning stove that he had available (another £300-400 saving). David had stored away boxes of slate tiles that Ailsa’s brother had considered using on a property once, but didn’t. We looked at using these in the kitchen, bathroom or porch, but they were really too rough. They were perfect for making a new hearth though.

After the plastering

Will insulated and plastered the walls, and then we were in for a wait. In a barely insulated room, in Scotland, in November, plaster takes rather a while to dry. We also had to wait for him to fit coving, and a ceiling rose. We hadn’t originally planned on these features, but as the room began to take shape we knew they would add the best possible finish.

Eventually, the room dried, and Ailsa could decorate. Because of the new plaster, this meant undercoating the whole thing with watered down white paint. A purchase, made by David, of some paint pads, made the very tedious work less onerous. The walls are a dark taupe, caramel latte, and the chimney stack is teal. The room gets so much light that it could cope with slightly darker shades. Colin and David fitted new skirting, and Ailsa painted the woodwork including the large storage cupboard. Colin carefully made a custom hearth surround and stained it oak to match the new mantel shelf, an Etsy purchase.


The style of the room evolved naturally, from the furniture we had, and the furniture we found. The sofa, footstool, dining table and corner unit were items we had already. That inspired the colour to an extent – the teal to compliment the sofa, the yellow IKEA curtains to match cushions that we already had. The two IKEA “Poang” chairs were both Gumtree buys, saving a fair few pennies.

The coffee table was a particular triumph. It’s a mid-century piece, G-Plan from Ailsa’s grandparents house. It had been in Maxwell Place since the mid 90s, and had for years sat in a window with pot plants on it. David was clearing out a room and about to take it to the dump – the top was badly faded and water-damaged. Ailsa stopped him, having fond memories of it. She painted the top aqua with Rust-oleum chalk paint, and a new TV table was born.

Evolving style

The only new items for the room other than the mantel shelf and curtains (hand-hemmed by Ailsa), were the log rack, rug and light fixtures. The main light was bought from IKEA with the second bedroom in mind, to match the one in the office, but we loved the light it cast so much in the office that we made a switch. Combined with the IKEA sisal rug, the armchairs, and the up-cycled coffee table, the room is unexpectedly Scandicool. The smaller light fixture by the door was inspired by a Tiffany-style fixture that had been above the stairs, but turned out to be horribly plastic. Ailsa hunted down a Tiffany-style uplighter on Amazon, with red to connect visually with the footstool and one painting. Nothing was unconsidered.

The art is mostly work by Colin’s late Auntie Mary, along with some pieces we picked up through the years. The beautiful monstera from Mayfield Garden Centre somehow completes the room.

Summing up

This is the one room that feels completely unrecognisable when you’re in it. Ailsa’s brother, who used to work from the room, could barely believe the transformation. With its gorgeous afternoon light and views of the Abbey, it’s miles away from the permanently darkened studio we knew.

It was, because of the insulation, plastering, and fireplace build, the most expensive room. Take those aspects away, and it was one of the cheapest.

Living room total – £3000, £2000 of which was contractors

Master bedroom

This room was another huge transformation, but one of the easiest ones. It was formerly David and Shirley’s office, and had been fully decorated and had custom solid beech desks fitted in the mid-90s. Because of this, the walls had paper on them and were relatively smooth. The carpet and wallpaper had both been fitted around the desks though, so weren’t intact.

Decoration central

David sold the desks and fitted new dado rails where they had been. He also replaced some of the existing dado rails which were unusually chunky. This was done using dado rails we already had, offcuts from his living room renovation in the mid-90s. He also lining-papered the walls below the dado rails which had needed patching and filling after the office stuff was ripped out, and repaired some damage from a previous roof leak.

Once David had prepared the room, Ailsa could paint. The papered ceiling became white, and the area above the picture rail was refreshed. All woodwork was painted, including a varnished cupboard door. She carefully restored the eyes of the twin lion heads on the window frame which had become lost under centuries of paint.

Ailsa’s inspiration for the room was the art she knew she would hang there – scenes from Iona, painted mostly by Auntie Mary. The walls above the dado rail became natural wicker, a colour that reminds Ailsa of white sand beaches. Below the dado rail and behind the shutters she used celestial cloud, a stormy dark blue. Compared to the other rooms, once it had been painted and caulked, the room was mostly done. Only the carpet remained – a sandy shade used throughout the house.

Furnishing and finishing

We already owned almost all the furniture we needed for the bedroom, including the leather Chesterfield sofa which fitted beautifully. All we had to add was one bedside table to match an existing one, curtains, a light fixture, a lamp, and a wardrobe.

Most of these things came from IKEA. The light shade was chosen to cast pretty shapes on the ceiling. The Sanela curtains from IKEA Ailsa hemmed to sit neatly above the vintage chest in the window. Ailsa built the wardrobe herself, defying IKEA‘s instruction to be two people. And, with a battle, we installed a roller blind from Swift Direct Blinds to provide shade from the summer sun. Then we could hang the art we had based the room around.

Summing up

We created a calming bedroom with luxury proportions, and without needing any contractor work it was satisfyingly cheap. We would have liked to buy a second-hand wardrobe, but wanted to fit a specific space so we didn’t mind spending £179 on a new one. For the overall total, it’s still a pretty impressive transformation!

Master bedroom total – £1000 (estimating £550 for the carpet and fitting)

Second bedroom

We hadn’t even been totally sure we would decorate this room. At first, our intention was to leave it as a locked storage space. Then we realised that it was a shame to leave it untouched when the rest of the flat was shaping up so well. We also felt that a 2 bedroom Airbnb would be far more marketable.

Once we cleared it out, we could see what we were dealing with. The carpet was worn through, so needed to be replaced. The walls were blown vinyl insulating fake-glypta from the 1980s. Ailsa was desperate to strip those walls. So desperate.

This was the one area where David put his foot down, otherwise letting us blast through the place like the Tasmanian devil. By that point we had found the walls under wallpaper to be in a pretty sorry state, so he wanted us to save the trauma/work of removing it and having to resurface the walls.

Working with what we had

Ailsa is still disappointed about those walls. But, turning lemons into lemonade, she decided to run with a retro theme. We had our country kitchen, seaside bedroom, NYC bathroom, and Scandinavian living room. This was to be our cosy reminder of times gone by.

She painted the ceiling and woodwork white, and most of the walls with natural wicker. On one feature wall, she used a shade called “dewy lawn”. The carpet is the same as the master bedroom and hallway.

The furniture is where this room shines. The bed was Shirley’s bought in 1988 and then moved around the house, with a new memory foam mattress. The dressing table and bedside tables were David’s parents’, from the 1930s. The bureau was Colin’s aunt’s, and the wicker chair came from his dad’s house. The freestanding mirror was one of David’s, acquired photographing furniture in the 80s. The art was either items we had, including needlepoint by both Ailsa and her mum, or bought from the local charity shops.

Summing up

We’re proud that the only new things in the second bedroom are the curtains, window blind and light fixture. This makes it another super-thrifty room, and although Ailsa has a love-hate with the puffy wallpaper, it’s a lovely cosy room and one she often chose to hang out in.

Second bedroom total (excl. mattress) – £1000, most of which was the carpet


This was one of the first rooms we finished. It was formerly… an office. There wasn’t much to it, being the smallest simplest room in the house.

Ailsa pulled out the old carpet tiles to reveal a decent floor, and stripped away the wallpaper to reveal less than decent walls. The area above the window had the same issue as the living room, with plaster falling away, so this wall was dry-lined by Will. In the end, we didn’t treat the other walls a great deal, the texture worked.

Colin sanded the floorboards and waxed them, and Ailsa went with a simple palette of white and natural wicker. Inspired by some wall pots she’d found for air plants and the rough walls, she decided the room was to take on a New Mexico theme. Thats where the yellow roller blind comes in. It’s also a blackout blind, should anyone want to pop an air bed or cot in the room.

An office for two

Once we added £30 worth of IKEA desks, our desk chairs, a Poang and coffee table we already had, and Ailsa’s old glitter lamp, we had an office. We used the same wicker lamp as the living room, with its lovely light patterns. A kilim rug and leather pouffe we bought in Marrakech, plus art by our friend Oto Kano, completed our calming workspace and perfect Zoom backdrop.

Summing up

We happily worked side by side from this room for months, and we’re glad it was the first totally finished space.

Office total cost – £800 (estimating around £500 for plastering and including cost of hiring floor sander)

Hallway and porch

Unsurprisingly, these were the last spaces we finished. We had stripped the old embossed pattern painted wallpaper and carpets away early on, but there was no point in finishing the spaces until all other work was done. We also had to deal with a lot of historic damp damage, needing patching, filling or lining. The cracked upper hall and stair ceiling got a complete new layer of plasterboard and plastering.


In the hall, we made the decision to again leave the aged texture of the walls. It’s not unlike old Italian palazzos. After the plasterwork was done, Ailsa painted everything on the same natural wicker/white palette as the office, and we had the same carpet installed as the bedrooms. Painting up to the area above the stairs was no small feat, and was where Colin was allowed to help for once. David installed a new light on the small landing outside the bathroom, and we created a utility room by plumbing a washing machine into the tank cupboard. We put new light fixtures in throughout.

We finished everything off with a new stair rail, voile roller blinds, and framed photos of Kelso and the Borders by David that are for sale to Airbnb guests. The hall was done and looking good by Christmas and we felt like we had a home at last.

The porch

We needed the inside to be insulated and plastered, and the outside to be rendered. We discovered in this process that the porch, which we assumed was a newer addition, was probably actually the remains of Georgian outbuildings joined to the flat by the stairs. It would explain some of the odd design choices. The giveaway was when Will tried to remove some old render only to find it was probably holding the structure up! What was underneath was the same reclaimed abbey stone a now-demolished coach house was made of.

Being unheated, the plaster work took weeks to dry. We had to welcome family at Christmas to a rather gloomy, clammy space. We also discovered a love of Crocs as we needed shoes that could be kicked on and off. In the end though, Ailsa could do her final bit of painting at last.

A warm welcome

Ailsa went with white and natural wicker for the most part in the porch, except the window wall which is caramel latte. On the spur of the moment, she decided to paint the inside of the door aqua, which totally changed the mood. The floor is a durable slate-effect vinyl to cope with dogs and bicycles.

We already had the teal storage unit, and added to it two cloak stands – Ailsa wanted something reminiscent of school locker rooms. The yellow rug completes the colour scheme – the aim is to give a taster of the moods and colours you’ll find upstairs. On the walls is our misspent youth. A Nirvana poster from Ailsa’s teens, a sign from a defunct local council, and contraband signage gifted to Colin when he set off from his frat house in Indiana in a VW bus. We realised, when Ailsa added an impulse bought globe from Lidl, that this entrance to our home reflected our love of travel and our history with the USA.

Summing up

By this point, guesstimates on costs get fuzzy. We were very tired.

Hall, stairs and porch total – £3000, possibly more because of all the plastering and flooring.

The biggest challenge of our lives

If you think reading about the renovation has been tiring and taken a long time, you can imagine what living through it was like.

Settled, for a while

This account doesn’t mention the fact that we had to cut down and re-mount pretty much every door in the flat after having the floors done. Nor does it cover the sheer amount of caulk and sealant Ailsa applied. We haven’t even mentioned the outdoor log store Colin made, the painted front door and gate, and the garden that David is working away on making summer-ready.

All told, we are prouder of East Wing than anything we have ever done. We know so much more about our abilities, our skills, and our way of working together. The thought of moving onboard Mirounga and maintaining her ourselves is far less daunting as a result.

We only really had a month of the flat being finished and feeling settled before we had to start packing to move to Bequia. By late February Ailsa had already taken on her next project, clearing out and decorating her childhood bedroom in David’s house as a place for us to stay when we go home when the flat is booked (more natural wicker). And then it was time to start making the house perfect for guests…

Oh yes, guests – East Wing is available to book for dates from late-April onwards. We already have a summer calendar that’s filling up fast. Get in there, and spread the word!

www.airbnb.com/h/eastwingkelso, or Google “East Wing Kelso”

C&A (and honorary D!).