Casa Crilly and the Double Renovation

I said I’d come back to you with more about my side-hustle, sneakily mentioned last summer and not referred to since. It has been a bit crazy on the house front and so I didn’t really know where to start: then Christmas happened and then the latest lockdown and so we find ourselves in February with a lot of catching up to do.

The exciting project that I’ve had on the down-low is a new renovation project, a little seaside holiday cottage in Dorset that I bought as an investment last summer. Just as a bit of background, I’ve been working on this holiday cottage idea, obsessively, for around five years but it has never been the right time to take the final leap and buy somewhere. I had found places over the years, but they had always been a little bit too far away for me to keep my eye on them, or they needed too much work, or they looked generally just too high maintenance for my current time-poor, young-kids situation .

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a cottage came up that was pretty much perfect, apart from not having any real kitchen, or heating, or phone line, or internet, and apart from the fact it needed some walls knocking about and a new bathroom and all new glazing and new floors, and I thought: THIS SEEMS LIKE A BRILLIANT IDEA!

So here we are, about to embark on a cottage reno. It actually feels easier than any other work we’ve done – I’m relatively detached from it because it’s not a home, it’s a business – but who knows what will happen as time goes on? We’ve already made quite a good start, but things have obviously been delayed because of lockdown, so once we get going properly there will be loads to write and talk about.

And I’m really excited for it to be done and for people to start staying there, because the location is so good. It’s completely off the beaten track, down a footpath that then leads down to the most beautiful beach that’s quite wild and wonderfully undeveloped. It was the location that got me, really…

…which brings me onto the other huge change: we actually moved house too! Just before Christmas. I think a lot of friends and family now firmly have us down in their address books as “the couple who have lost the plot”, but those who managed to see the new place before lockdown get why we did it. The views are incredible and we’re in a location that we didn’t ever think would come up, not in our lifetime at any rate. But we’ve managed to land ourselves another great big renovation project with the panoramic landscapes. I feel massively excited about that, or desperately stressed, depending which day of the week you ask me. I had completely forgotten that Mr AMR and I seem to have to disagree on absolutely everything for at least a month before finally listening to each other and realising that we actually want the same thing after all. It’s a process.

Our house is a completely different kettle of fish to the last house; it was built in the seventies onto a hill and has huge expanses of glazing and split levels and the whole house is surrounded by lush gardens, all you can hear is the sound of the brook and the singing birds. It’s quite a change going from the elegance and fine detail of a Georgian house to the simplicity of a modernist one, but then we always had mid-century places before so I suppose we must just be drawn to them!


So yeah: two renovations to think about and I think that they will probably overlap a little, which could be fun. Crazy-face emoji. Make sure you’re following on @casacrilly Instagram page for updates, just in case this lot of building work kills me off and it’s the last of my home content forever. I also have a Pinterest board, if you’re into that sort of thing – it was never really meant for public consumption, but it gives you a good idea of where I’m heading with things: Casa Crilly Pinterest.

Kind of bad timing, all of this, seeing as though we’re in a lockdown again, but I’m spending a lot of time planning and writing lists and annoying Charlie the Builder with my ever-changing plans. I think he probably rues the day he met me! He should set up a club with Mr AMR, hahahaha…..

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  1. Ruby
    February 22, 2021 / 9:33 am

    How exciting for you and your family! Good luck with your 2 homes! :-) I wish we could move but we can’t afford it having both lost our jobs to covid in 2020. Life is officially on hold for the foreseeable.

    • February 24, 2021 / 5:24 pm

      Ah, just one – we will never really use the holiday let, it’s a business xx

  2. Ann
    February 15, 2021 / 6:23 pm

    Hi Ruth, You do realize you’re holding a top brand electrical screwdriver-wise?
    Me, also serial mover (had my 18th move 3 years ago ) and eventually I started to do some DIY-ing (is that a verb in English?) myself. Therefore I know this Makita tool is da bomb. A real big help, even if you’re just going to assemble your IKEA cupboard.
    Good luck with the double renovation!

    • February 15, 2021 / 9:47 pm

      Yes, Mr AMR has all the gadgets. He’s very handy. Me, on the other hand…. LOL.

  3. Nanaka
    February 13, 2021 / 11:19 am

    Just… WOW. :o)
    Totally loved your Georgian house for it fulfilled all of my romantic fancies, but can also really see you again in a new home. It sounds dreamy and James Bond worthy from what you told, haha! (Also I instantly thought about Charlie’s Angels, the house where the villain played by Sam Rockwell lived?! Yeah. Maybe just another fancy.)

    • February 14, 2021 / 12:50 pm

      Yes, James Bond villain pad is the final aim! LOL

  4. Megan
    February 13, 2021 / 3:58 am

    Please tell us you’re taking the giant man statue in the garden to your new house!

    • February 14, 2021 / 12:51 pm

      Literally the most-asked question! Hahahahaha! No. He’s absolutely MASSIVE and would require an arctic lorry and then a crane. We’re on a hill. It would be a logistics nightmare! x

  5. Carol
    February 12, 2021 / 5:10 pm

    Hi – did you bring the thinking man statue?

  6. February 12, 2021 / 3:57 pm

    That is exciting, espeically for a serial house renovator like you seem to be. I am still struggling to get things finished with my current home, so I wouldn´t even dream about starting a n project!

    Anne from Doctor Anne

    • February 12, 2021 / 4:40 pm

      Anne I’m serious about this being the last home move. LOL! x

  7. Julia
    February 11, 2021 / 5:34 pm

    I think of you as “the couple who have lost the plot”, and I don’t even know you. Anyway, hope it all goes smoothly.

  8. February 11, 2021 / 1:22 pm

    I wondered what your next business venture was going to be and had thought perhaps something else in the beauty line, but a vacation cottage is a fab idea! I’m assuming you will use it too and not just rent it out? As gorgeous as your Georgian house was, I always liked the mid century place you had before that and I got the impression you connected to it in a way that didn’t really happen with the last house. We are also moving again this Spring, 18 months after taking on the current reno project. The next (and hopefully last) one doesn’t need anything like the work this one did, but hey, what else is there to do in lockdown.

    • February 11, 2021 / 1:44 pm

      No it’s just for letting, it’s too small for all of us – just a very romantic couples retreat! Thank you re the moving; I loved the Georgian but we did rush in and go for house without considering any other factors, which was madness! Hopefully won’t ever move again now as contrary to popular belief I don’t enjoy it that much! : )
      Good luck with yours! x

  9. Gillian Pidler
    February 11, 2021 / 11:43 am

    Not gonna lie I was a little bit gutted when I heard you’d moved from the fairytale Georgian house, it was soooo beautiful, and the garden was stunning but this also means more house content which I’m totally up for. Happy renovating Ruth, can’t wait to see all the pics etc.
    Wishing you all many happy memories in your new home.

  10. Carol
    February 11, 2021 / 10:35 am

    OMG u r a special kind of crazy however I appreciate the entertainment. Sorry but ur life & adventures are the most excitement I get these days.

  11. Rachael
    February 11, 2021 / 7:51 am

    OMG you’ve moved house! Your Georgian home was (still is I presume!) stunning, but location is everything. I have a slight obsession with houses and interiors, so I get it.
    Were you sad to leave your old home, or did you know you’d move on one day?
    Whatever you decide to share, it would be great to see how both your new projects develop and come together.

    • February 11, 2021 / 1:44 pm

      We knew it was coming, perhaps a few years down the line, but when this house came up it sort of expedited things! x

  12. Beka
    February 11, 2021 / 3:01 am

    You are amazing! I cannot wait to read allllll about these developments. Thank you for being so fabulous Ruth. Also, I LOVE your new cover photo for the site.

  13. February 11, 2021 / 12:16 am

    This is so exciting, congratulations on the new place! Can’t wait to see all the renovations come to life! x

  14. Lisa
    February 10, 2021 / 9:52 pm

    So when will it be available to rent? assuming we’re allowed to leave the country…. love the new header picture.

    • February 11, 2021 / 1:45 pm

      Hopefully by late spring, if I stop arsing about!

  15. February 10, 2021 / 8:22 pm

    Your house in Bath looked gorgeous but it sounds like you and Mr. AMR really love the new place and it sounds like renovating is something that’s been a positive, passionate side gig and creative outlet for you. In these tenuous times, that’s a wonderful thing.
    Excited to see progress on both!

  16. Tesni
    February 10, 2021 / 7:18 pm

    That holiday sounds like the most idyllic spot! Where do we sign up? Been wanting go to Dorset for ages.

    Good luck with the renovations.

    • February 11, 2021 / 1:46 pm

      Should be ready by late spring! x

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