The owner transformed what was a dark and gloomy house into a light, bright family home, using thrifty ideas and clever styling
When looking for a new family home the owners dismissed this house many times, as there was so much that needed doing. ‘But after looking at lots of properties, my husband and I couldn’t find a house as big or with as much potential as this. We loved the location as it was just a short walk to our boys’ schools, so we made a family decision to take on this renovation project,’ she says.
The couple planned to start the renovations from the moment they moved in. As the sale was going through, they got builders and decorators to give quotes. ‘We wanted to hit the ground running, but we took our time to budget everything down to the finest detail before we began,’ the owner says. The first rooms they tackled were the boys’, as they wanted them to be settled in to their new home.
Downstairs, the kitchen was an L-shape, which didn’t make the best use of the space. The plan was to knock down a supporting wall in the kitchen to make a large open-plan cooking and dining space. ‘Our builder came highly recommended by a friend, but as we’d had bad experiences with previous workmen, we were nervous,’ the owner says. ‘He put us at ease and understood our ideas, while respecting our tight budget.’
The couple decided to wait four months for the builder to do the work, which gave them valuable time to save up for the project. Most of the budget was going towards the build. They moved out for a week when the building work started. Every day, our builder sent us photos and called if there was a problem. It was so good not to be living in the builder’s dust with our young family, while still keeping on top of how the work was going.
Luckily, the kitchen-diner was finished just in time for Christmas, so the family got to enjoy their new space for the first time over the holidays. ‘We couldn’t believe the change it made to our home, it was much brighter,’ the owner says. ‘The kitchen is my favourite spot, as it’s a great family space.’
The 1950s property wasn’t in a great state and hadn’t been decorated for many years. Every single room needed work. ‘The walls had been decorated in dark shades of orange and pink, there were dingy brown carpets, which made the house feel gloomy and the existing kitchen was tiny,’ says the owner. ‘The layout just didn’t flow from one room to the next and the side return extension blocked light coming into the hall. It needed a lot of TLC.’
The living room was the last room the couple tackled. ‘We ripped up the flooring and skirting and painted a feature wall in a deep, rich blue. As the rest of the house is neutral, I wanted this space to be decorated in a bold colour,’ says the owner. ‘I love the teal shade so much, that I’ve started to introduce it throughout the rest of the house with accessories and art.’
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The old kitchen units had doors hanging off and the worktops were badly worn. The couple allocated £7,000 for the kitchen, appliances and worktop. Having had a B&Q kitchen they’d loved in their previous house, they went back to them to have the space designed with a run of units and central island in the middle.
Once the kitchen was fitted, the owner felt the room was in need of a little extra storage and places to display accessories. The couple’s builder came up with the idea for the floating shelving, which he made by cutting up the old wooden worktop into planks, rounding the edges and then oiling them to make shelves for accessories.
The old dining room was very dark, with laminate flooring and an imposing, Seventies-style fireplace. The couple took out the fireplace and replaced it with an alcove. ‘One day, my dream is to put a log burner in here,’ says the owner.
Upstairs, the couple replaced the hollow internal doors with solid oak ones, put down new carpets and painted every room. The windows are large, so they got bespoke curtains and blinds made, which ate further into their budget. The master bedroom was decorated in calming greys and the boys’ rooms in fresh white. ‘I picked pale grey bedding to match the bedroom walls, so it felt calm and restful,’ the owner says.
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The boys’ bedrooms are fresh and bright. ‘We put a high sleeper bed in the biggest bedroom so that both boys can play in here together,’ says the owner.
The couple thought they could survive with the existing bathroom, but after a few weeks of use, it became obvious it needed to be replaced. Before, there was a double shower enclosure and no bath, so they wanted to change the layout to create a family bathroom that the boys could enjoy, and where they could relax.
‘We took out the large shower, and put in a bath under the window. We had a budget of £2,000 to do the whole bathroom. I’d had my eye on some Harvey Maria floor tiles, so we splurged on those, then picked an inexpensive suite from B&Q so we could stay on track,’ the owner says.
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‘Although we went over budget slightly with building works, we’re so pleased we didn’t let the amount of work put us off. Now we have a lovely family home that we’ve designed just for us.’
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