Moving in…to new flooring, electric heaters and a very basic kitchen

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, Zoe finally moved back into her home only days before Christmas 2014, but there's still work to be done

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Meet the owner: Zoë Sheridan-Wasey

Zoë is a former marketing manager for a popular stove and fireplace manufacturer, a career she enjoyed for ten years while simultaneously undertaking five renovation projects. She has always loved home renovating and interior design, but this is by far her largest project to date: renovating, rebuilding and extending a large family home on her dream acre plot in Devon. This time, two small sons are competing with the build for her attention, while a completion date is looming…

Follow her blog over the coming months as she charts the highs and lows of the build.

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, we finally moved back into our home only days before Christmas 2014. On the one hand, it was amazing to just be home again, back in the village we love and close to the build. On the other, it was Christmas week, our fourth move in two years, we had no heating, the kids were on holiday from school and we knew we were going to miss the comfort of our temporary accommodation – a holiday let at Great Gutton Farm, in Devon, which came with the use of a pool and is owned by the lovely Suzi and John. With everything going on with preparations for the festive season as well as finalising the house project, it’s safe to say that not a single Christmas card was sent!

Once we were over the chaos of the move, the family and I soon settled into the pattern of life on site, which felt rather similar to camping in your own house. We had rushed to get two bedrooms, a playroom and the utility ready for moving in, so life revolved around the use of electric heaters in these rooms as well as Christmas DVDs hired from the library, lots of layers worn, and the constant cry of “shut the door!”, to keep in the heat we had in these rooms. Although not an ideal situation, one thing we did learn was the effectiveness of the new insulation – we may only have tiny electric heaters in the three rooms, but the heat generated was kept inside much more than we’d experienced in the house before the renovation started, even with the Rayburn constantly switched on.

The utility worked well as a temporary kitchen with microwave, hot plate and kettle, even if cooking standards dropped dramatically. A holiday comprising microwave meals and painting, although not exactly glamorous, was tempered by the realisation that every day we were moving forward, even if achingly slowly at times. Painting rooms is fine as you see a result, but the days of preparation work sanding and filling are so frustrating.

Once laid, the travertine floors look beautiful, but without heating, they are freezing to walk on without huge slippers. We can even tell who is where within the house by the slippers outside each door. We chose the travertine tiles both for their beauty and thermal conductivity, as when our underfloor heating beneath them is working, the areas covered by stone have the least resistance and will transfer heat very efficiently. We are installing the underfloor heating in the boys’ playroom and living room too, this time with carpet. I’ve found that underfloor heating can be used with most types of carpet, and most carpet shops now stock special underlay for use with this heating type. Just make sure that the tog value of the underlay itself does not exceed 1 and the combined overall value of the carpet and underlay combined does not exceed 2.5 tog. I can’t wait to walk on the warmed carpet – it will be like walking on the most luxurious flooring in these rooms.

However, before I can enjoy warmth underfoot in the living room, we must sort out the heating elsewhere in the house and finally fit a working kitchen that has more than a microwave for cooking – essential for preparing a belated Christmas meal in our new home!

An essential in winter, but especially when walking across the cold travertine flooring – each family member has their own pair of warming slippers