Making Renovation Decisions

Decision fatigue has set in and there are ongoing challenges in making renovation decisions.

It’s a matter of heart versus head 

Making renovation decisions can be so hard. I’ve mentioned this before but it’s just not easy trying to balance architectural authenticity, traditional and sustainable building methods, with the practicalities of modern day living. Every decision we make here is considered but we often feel conflicted. It’s a matter of heart versus head.

These are the 4 current renovation decisions that we are trying to overcome: 

Restore or replace wooden the sash windows. 

When we first moved in, we were adamant that we would restore all the original sash windows. By original, I mean Victorian – these windows, as far as I am aware, were all part of Starre Corners red brick, Victorian facelift. We have even started working on then so why have a renovation dilemma now?  

Having lived through seven winters at Starre Corner it’s become clear that even with draught excluding improvements, the windows continue to be an energy efficiency issue. Much of the heat we generate is just going out the window.  

There is an imminent renovation decision to be made here; do we continue restoring the windows, with the addition of double-glazed glass units or do we opt for new replica wooden windows which will provide greater warmth, comfort and increased energy efficiency? 

Conclusion – the dilemma continues but we are swaying towards keeping the windows but first we need to wait to see if all the other insulation improvements make the house warmer and more energy efficient. 

Old front door v new front door 

We have never had any intention of replacing the beautiful, original wooden front door. We believe it is a Georgian door, as opposed to Victorian. It’s one of our favourite features in the house BUT, this year with the cost-of-living crisis hitting us all, it’s really made us consider the energy efficiencies of Starre Corner. The front door leads straight into a room we call, the cinema room, due to it having a ceiling mounted projector. It’s a relaxed, family room where the girls can entertain their friends and watch a film.  

This is a room we struggle to keep warm, despite internal wall insulation. Without a doubt this issue is part caused from draughts blasting in from around the door – we can see day light. Having spoken to a local joinery company they have quoted for an identical replacement door. Our heads tell us yes to replacing the door, but our hearts tell us no.

Conclusion – We’ve put this idea on hold for now. It’s a decision too far. We will do everything possible to not replace the door. Before making the final decision, we will make sure we have exhausted every possible draught exclusion possibility.  

Dig up the internal floors and insulate. 

Again, something we were adamant we wouldn’t do was dig up the flooring. In the original part of the house, Norfolk pamment tiles have laid for a good few hundred years.

Seven years of Starre Corner wintering however have made us think differently.  

Pamment tiles lay directly on bare earth and the radiate coldness throughout the winter months. Laying a rug down help take off the chill but even natural, breathable rugs become damp. If we take up the original pamments, dig down and fill with glass insulation beads, will we be able to relay the floor so that it still looks original? Can you imagine the chaos and mess of bringing in a mini digger into the house? It’s best not to think about it. 

Conclusion – yes, we will insulate the floor. We will carefully take up every single pamment, dig down the floor and lay a breathable, natural insulation layer. Yes, the challenge will be relaying the pamments but we will do our upmost to reinstate. Hopefully, they will look as though they’ve never been touched but realistically it will be tricky to replicate the years of natural wear and underearth movement. 

Exposed brickwork – keep it or cover it up? 

If we asked you what you think about us covering up the exposed brick, we know most readers would tell us to keep the exposed brick. At the start of our renovation journey, we would have agreed. It looks characterful and adds a great depth and texture to a room. 

Unlike Victorian bricks, 300-year-old Norfolk reds are not suited to being exposed; they are incredibly soft and crumbly. The look amazing but the reality is they are incredibly dusty and impractical. No brick sealant will stop them crumbling. Our hearts tell us to keep the bricks exposed but our heads tell us otherwise. 

Conclusion – Having lived with exposed bricks throughout most of the renovation the prospect of living with it for much longer becomes less appealing. We will be covering up most of the exposed brick work. 


The longer our renovation project goes on, the harder it becomes to make renovation decisions. Every decision counts when we’re trying to restore Starre Corner in a sympathetic manner.

If you would like to read more about our renovation project, please follow the link.

Did you know that Elegantly Knackered is on You Tube too?

7 thoughts on “Making Renovation Decisions

  1. Rachel

    This so resonated with me right now and we aren’t even living in our renovation project yet. (I’m calling it a restoration rather than a renovation to make myself feel better!! 😂) It’s smaller than yours, but choc full of original features. Some casement windows have 12mm glazing bars which puts them as original, and we desperately want to keep them. But we know it’s going to mean condensation, draughty and hours and hours of my mister’s time painstakingly repairing them. We’re getting to the stage where it feels weird and wrong to discard the hand forged nails that were holding up our lath and plaster ceilings! They had to come down; they were rotting, but it just goes to show how hard it is to make decisions about a house that is so full of craftsmenship. Good luck!

    1. Louisa Sugden Post author

      I hear you, Rachel. We must think of ourselves as custodians of our homes and as such we must do what we can to restore, but also move forward so that future custodians can benefit from our improvements. Good luck with your restoration.

  2. Teena

    Hey, been through so much of this myself whilst living in a static van, for over 7 years, with a baby! The instant decisions seem fun at first but it quickly gets exhausting, not least, it’s a financial commitment every time!
    Windows: We had a mix of Georgian and Victorian. We spent a fortune adding sealed units and draught exclusion, and heavily interlined curtains, but always regretted not investing in good replica windows.
    Georgian door: A portiere rod and a glam heavy curtain which can be stored away in the summer?
    Floors, number the bricks or pamments, like a jigsaw puzzle. Make sure it’s not chalk that washes off in rain. (Get a pub chalk pen that is weatherproof). If you re-lay in exact order they’ll look good as old. 😀
    Exposed bricks- ugh the dust! Unless people are from Norfolk they may have no idea how stupid old Norfolk Reds are. Like crumbly moisture sponges!

    Good luck with it all!

    1. Louisa Sugden Post author

      Hi there
      I agree, 7 years of decision making is exhausting. That’s how long we’ve been doing this too. We decided not to live in a static which has both advantages and disadvantages.

      The windows are a tricky one. We’ll have new window if need be, but the door must stay. I totally agree about the curtains hanging on a portiere. I have some fantastic vintage velvet curtains which are currently doing a fantastic job.

      Yes, totally agree about the pamment – numbering them is the plan. I am sure they will benefit from a clean-up and butting up to each other a bit better.

      I cannot live with Norfolk reds brick dust. It’s a step too far 🙂

  3. Helen Nicholas

    Louisa; we replaced all of our sash windows with hand made replicas. Eye watering in terms of cost and you can’t have the lovely old glass. It’s the best thing we ever did and the windows are beautiful too. It would be the first thing I ever did if we ever renovated again. We wasted a a couple of thousand on refurbishing and it really is a waste of money, nothing compares to what we have now. Never use the heating and before the bed always felt damp xxxx

    1. Louisa Sugden Post author

      This is exactly the conversation we have been having Helen. Just as the original windows were upgraded in Victorian times, maybe we need to upgrade again now. Houses do evolve afterall.

    2. Louisa Sugden Post author

      This is exactly the conversation we have been having Helen. Just as the original windows were upgraded in Victorian times, maybe we need to upgrade again now. Houses do evolve after all.

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