i-on Homes: From dilapidated Victorian terrace to dream family home
Jo Morris reveals how she turned a dilapidated Victorian terrace house into a dream family home in Trinity
We started to think about moving to a new house in spring last year when we realised our family had outgrown our home in in Stockbridge. In the first few weeks of our search, we went a bit mad, looking at massive projects in the Borders and Perth before we came to our senses and started searching a bit closer to home. Flicking through the ESPC one day, I spotted an unloved four bed Victorian terrace in Trinity with its own garden. It was brilliant on paper but needed so much work that it’d be a terrifying prospect in real life. We went along to the viewing anyway thinking ‘let’s just rule it out’; and found it packed with families anxiously checking it out as the closing date was the following day. First impressions were a mixture of “Wow, massive rooms!”, “What IS that smell?”, and “Could we really take on a project this size?”. But I had a feeling it would make a stunning family home so we went away, did the maths and made an offer. When we found out we had got the house, we were shocked and excited in equal measure.
With so many renovations needed before we moved in, we organised a bridging loan so we could stay in our existing home whilst the work was done. There was a tight window of 14 weeks from purchase to us moving in so we went with individual tradespeople rather than one contractor because sole traders tend to be more motivated to finish the project and move onto the next one. I project managed using a combination of Whatsapp, personal appearances and begging, but probably paid a bit over the odds because I wanted the job done quickly and with as much goodwill as possible - meaning I didn’t quibble over quotes.
The biggest design challenge was the kitchen. We wanted to knock through two rooms to give us an open plan space. I had been pretty cocky about designing the layout myself, having done so on previous projects but we realised quickly that the space was so big and key to how the home would work for us, that we needed professional help. We went to Colin at Development Direct as I was familiar with his style and credentials. He listened to how we wanted the space to work and designed a stunning kitchen -under budget. People congregate in there and it feels intimate and homely despite its size and modern aesthetic.
We were fortunate that we could flex on budget somewhat but we were careful to spend where it will count. The underfloor heating in the kitchen was way more expensive than I realised but it is brilliant and gives a luxurious feel to the space. We spent on light fittings where we thought it mattered so there’s a glitzy chandelier in the bathroom (from James Wilson interiors) and the statement metallic pendant light in the lounge ties the dark walls with the copper feature wall. Not everything is high end though, the spotlights on the landing and the feature lights in the kitchen were all less than £40 from Amazon and get almost as many comments as the ‘showbiz’ bathroom light.
When it came to working out a colour scheme, I was ready to go bold having lived with ‘off grey’ for 10 years. The bravest choice was painting the lounge black (Farrow & Ball Railings) with one feature wall in copper from Craig & Rose. With such high ceilings, the dark walls help the room feel more intimate. We’re lucky that my partner and I have the same design tastes. I know couples who have to negotiate on every little thing which means they compromise away any strong ideas or colours.
We converted a box room into the main bathroom where I designed the layout and sourced all the furniture and fittings online. I love the bath – its stone resin so is really tactile and makes the space feels so luxurious. Along with the kitchen, it’s probably our favourite room.
I feel like we’ve brought the house back to life. It’s a solid, beautiful home that feels safe and warm. We spent too much on it (who doesn’t??) but the payoff is a home that is perfect for how we live.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED...
Deadlines can be met if the team is motivated and you're on top of the potential hold-ups.
Dark colours work with high ceilings. Be brave and you'll create the wow factor.
Farrow and Ball Hague Blue walls love black and white photos.
Radiators needn't be expensive but getting the right output for a room is vital.
Spending on things you can't see hurts. Electrics, damp proofing, plumbing. None of them make your heart soar but they are essential. The other work is just cosmetic.
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