Originally from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, the owners have always felt they lived too far from the seaside. So when some of their family relocated, they decided to follow suit and settle in Christchurch, Dorset. 'With a ten-minute drive to the sea and ten minutes in the opposite direction to the New Forest, and the busting lights of Bournemouth just down the road, it felt like the perfect location,' they say. 'Plus the house is on a residential street with lots of families and has a great community vibe.'
The couple searched for a period property for quite a while and when this house came on the market, they were super excited, but then they found that the previous owners had taken out many of its original features and the decoration was dated.
The kitchen was also really small, as they often are in 1920s houses, but the bedrooms were very spacious. Also, on the upside, the garden was huge. 'It was 140ft long, so we had lots of outdoor space,' the pair say. 'Luckily, we could visualise what we needed to do to restore the original Art Deco features that the house would have had when it was originally built.'
The biggest project the owners took on when they bought the house was the kitchen extension at the back. 'It took three months from start to finish, even though the actual shell of the extension was built in three weeks,' they say. 'We used a local builder who was recommended to us, and we chose him after getting various quotes, which ranged hugely in price. His was the cheapest and we went for that because of the limited amount of money we had to work with. To cut back on costs, we project managed the build, arranging for contractors to come in at different times as needed and sourcing fittings and materials, such as radiators and flooring.'
The owners mapped out the plan of the kitchen themselves, as they were adamant that they wanted an island and the rest of the design had to work around it. 'We also wanted open shelves rather than wall units, as they feel more spacious and create an interesting focal point,' they say. 'Our dream was to have a blue country-style kitchen so we searched everywhere and luckily for us, it was one of the cheapest collections available. We did end up splurging on our solid bamboo worktops - when you look at them side on, the layered effect is beautiful.'
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View to garden
'It felt like a real accomplishment to finish the kitchen and we're really pleased with the outcome,' say the couple. 'The extension has really transformed the whole house and creates such a great sense of space. We love how it flows directly in to the garden, too.'
The pair have been innovative with their furniture choices and used an old trunk that belonged to one of their grandparents as a bench at the dining table. They've also made the most of every nook - in the corner of the dining room, a wall-hung shelf is ideal as a makeshift desk for home working.
The owners renovated the rest of the house themselves, painting, decorating and wallpapering with the odd bit of DIY here and there. 'Our style is quite traditional, in keeping with the age of the house, but with heaps of personality,' they say.
The couple wanted the decor to say something about them, so there are various elements that reflect their personalities dotted about the house. In the hallway, a photo gallery showcases happy family memories that they can all enjoy every time they wander past.
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The rich blue wall colour makes the bedroom feel cosy and intimate. It's also a great backdrop to the fun artworks the couple have on the wall plus the eclectic mix of prints on the bed.
The other side of the bedroom has lots of built-in storage so the room can be kept easily tidy. A handy built-in shelf is perfect for displaying some of the owners' vintage finds, and also doubles as a dressing area.
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Ripping up the old flooring, the couple were delighted to discover stunning floorboards underneath. 'We decided to paint them white to give an illusion of space and it meant that we didn't need to sand the floors, which is a really messy job,' they say. A vintage cabinet here is perfect for displaying an extensive shoe collection.
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'We went for toile wallpaper for something a little unexpected in the bathroom,' say the owners. A circle shower rail keeps the bathroom free from splashes and offers a more characterful look than a straight design.
'We're really proud of all the work we've done in our home,' say the couple. 'We learnt a lot of great new skills during our renovations. We love our home now and it feels so welcoming every time we walk through the door.'
This house tour originally appeared in Style at Home, July 2017.
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