Hortons speaks with husband and wife, Celie & Chris, of Milestone Cottage in Leicestershire about renovating their beautiful home and the challenges that they have faced.
Originally from Birmingham, Celie and Chris have been married for just over 2 years.
“We moved to Leicestershire for a slower paced and better quality of life.”
Paramedic Celie and Welder Chris live together with their two dogs Rogue and Logan.
Being creative is something that comes naturally to the couple, evident in a history of renovation projects.
“We did some minor work on our first home at the age of 20 which was mainly just redecorating, but we then took on the challenge of converting a regular van into a campervan.”
The pair now live in @milestone_cottage, a property built in 1878 directly opposite a milestone (hence the name), which means they are now ‘keepers’ of the milestone.
“Chris purchased the house without me even seeing it.”
Before Celie had even viewed the cottage, Chris took a risk and purchased the property without his wife knowing.
“I was away for a week with work and when I returned he said that he’d found a house that he wanted us to view, and at the end of the viewing he told me that he’d actually already bought it!”
Thankfully, the risk paid off and Celie instantly fell in love with the potential of the cottage.
“We moved in on December 5th 2019 and have been renovating ever since; we have achieved so much so far but we still have a long way to go.”
Celie and Chris mentioned that the biggest challenge that they have faced while renovating is living within the property while work is being carried out.
“We were completely oblivious to how hard it would be to live in the renovation and the time it would take to complete jobs.”
“Chris and I have renovated the property completely by ourselves, with the exception of my Dad who is a plasterer.”
The pair have done everything including knocking down walls, welding steels, fitting a kitchen, and even plumbing the bathroom.
“When you pay a tradesman the work is normally done within a set time frame.”
“When carrying out the work yourself while working full time, it takes much longer and often leaves jobs half finished with a trail of destruction leading from one room to the next.”
The mess that comes with renovating was definitely a shock, and an accident involving a very sharp nail caused Celie and Chris to be wearing shoes indoors for much longer than planned!
“Chris and I have strived for a ‘modern country cottage’ feel whilst embracing my love of dark colours and clashing patterns.”
“We’ve completed about 90% of the downstairs renovation, creating an open plan living space by knocking down one internal wall, fitting bifold doors and installing a new kitchen, all whilst maintaining the incredible original features.”
“We have also decorated the living room and the separate dining room.”
Around half of the work is complete upstairs, with Celie and Chris fitting a new en-suite in the guest bedroom and knocking through into one of the four bedrooms to make a huge family bathroom.
Despite no longer having a fourth bedroom, the pair feel that turning the property into a three double bedroom and two bathroom home provides a much more functional family home for them to grow into.
“Our home is filled with shades of blues and greens with a mixture of real and artificial plants to try and embrace the environment that we live in.”
Celie and Chris both feel very fortunate to now live in the countryside amongst the rolling fields, a huge contrast to their previous outlook which included huge tower blocks in central Birmingham.
Celie started the @milestone_cottage Instagram account just before they moved into their new home at the end of November, completely unaware of the huge interiors and renovation community on Instagram.
“I’d previously never been into social media that much, but as I started to post before and after images and share mine and Chris’ achievements, it’s safe to say that I’ve never looked back.”
Celie loves the support and the motivation that the Instagram community provides, often asking her following for advice on things such as colours, products and processes.
“Renovation burnout is a real thing, but on Instagram there is always somebody to listen to your rant who’s either been through the same as you or is currently in a similar position.”
Celie still finds it amazing that people directly message her to ask for help and advice, taking great satisfaction in inspiring others.
Celie and Chris haven’t lived in the area of Leicestershire for very long, but they already feel at home and have some favourite local businesses.
“We love Lucy’s Lock Up in Barwell as they have a huge collection of second hand chesterfield chairs and sofas, and it’s actually where we purchased our sofa from along with many other vintage pieces.”
“Kingfisher Farm Antiques and Collectables is another favourite of ours and we’ve spent many an hour here, delving into their huge collection of interior and exterior pieces as well as searching through their storage containers to find hidden treasures.”
In terms of the future, Celie and Chris plan to continue working full time, while utilizing every spare second to push on with their renovation.
“Thankfully, all major building works have now been completed and we are hoping to have the remaining rooms finished within the next 6 months, taking the total time to complete renovation up to 18 months.”