'If it'd been looked after, we couldn’t have afforded it' - This couple took a big risk to live in the perfect area

This couple totally transformed a project property they bravely took on to live in their desired location

Terrace garden with pale patio tiles and green metal furniture
(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

Location, location, location was at the forefront of this homeowner's mind as she and her husband went house hunting. They were both fully prepared to tackle a project property if it meant they would get to live in their preferred spot to raise their family

'We loved this area as it’s in between where we both grew up, so it’s neutral turf for us to start a life together. It’s also got great transport links, lots of greenery and our friends are nearby,' she says.

Living room open fireplace with tile surround next to vintage office drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

They found a three-bedroom, Edwardian house in south west London that was ripe for a makeover. It had been on the market for seven months, mostly likely due to the state it was in. ‘It’d been rented out by the room for the last 20 years. When we did the viewing, the living room was a bedroom, there were cupboards in front of windows, a plastic bag as a lampshade, and it was just so unbelievably unloved. 

‘It was clear every job had been done on the cheap, but if it had been looked after properly, we couldn’t have afforded it. We knew absolutely everything would need changing.’

Linving room with corner sofa with chaise end, diamond patterned rug and white window shutters

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

With their one-year-old daughter already in tow, within three weeks the couple had put their previous flat on the market, had the offer accepted on this house and found out they were expecting their second child.

‘We moved in when I was seven months pregnant, so we quickly made the house livable. We knocked through the living and dining room, which meant we could always see where the kids were, sanded floors and threw paint on the walls,’ she says.

Dining area with vintage wooden dining table and Macintosh dining chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

They knew they wanted to extend the kitchen, but as they were waiting on an inheritance which would help to fund the project, they began with jobs that wouldn’t be affected by this.

From replacing all the windows, removing the porch, installing a new front door, updating the electrics and replumbing, there was a lot to be done. 'In terms of rooms, we began with the girls’ bedroom to alleviate guilt,’ she admits.

Child's bedroom with bunk beds, pink decor and unicorn head

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

They added in character with cornicing and a ceiling rose, replastered, fitted new skirting and stripped the fireplace. ‘Then suddenly there was this beautiful room!’ she says. ‘Having one room complete gave us so much hope and reassurance for the rest of the house.’

Kitchen with blue island and units and blue bar seats

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

Once the couple was able to draw up plans for the extension, they showed them to their builder, who made professional versions, and submitted them for approval. Soon the 4.2 metre extension was underway.

‘We lived here throughout the whole thing, And the reason we survived the build was because the kids were so little that they took everything in their stride. They’d come downstairs and say “morning builders!” it was so cute,’ 

Bedroom with grey bedding, fitted wardrobe and open fireplace with blue/black surround

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

The builders put up a temporary MDF wall, sectioning off the living room, and screwed the old kitchen to the wall. ‘We had a mini compact house in the living room to live in. It was a big upheaval, but I saw it as an investment in my girls’ future home life.’

View through kitchen across dining room table towards Crittall-style doors

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

The biggest problem the couple faced was with the glass doors. ‘The doors arrived three weeks late, and when they did finally arrive, they were the wrong size. I was so angry as this could have jeopardised when we were having the kitchen installed,' she recalls. Luckily it worked out okay, and they got some money off as compensation. 

Bathroom with blue walls and white tiled panel bath

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

In terms of money, the couple didn’t have a solid budget, but they tried to do the big things first, and adjusted plans accordingly. ‘It was more like this is how much we’ve got, let’s just see how far we can get.

'We wanted to get the skeleton functioning well, and then it was a work in progress for a few years as we saved for extras, like new furniture.' 

Terrace garden with pale patio tiles and green metal furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

Now the house is complete, she is thrilled with the results. ‘There’s not a thing I would change,’ she says. ‘For what we did on the budget we had, I’m properly chuffed. It scrubbed up better than I could ever have imagined.

'That’s why I set up my home Instagram account, @lehomelehouse. If there’s one thing I can talk about for days, it’s the house,’ she laughs. 

Staff writer