No strangers to the renovation game, JP and his husband John had completed seven property projects before embarking on their eighth – an uninspiring detached house in the Surrey Hills.
‘We got together 22 years ago and had a plan from day one to end up in a detached house somewhere pretty with a view,’ says JP. He refers to this 1920s property as ‘the house that nobody wanted to buy’.
But despite the four small bedrooms, lack of light and sloping hillside garden, the couple saw potential. ‘The only reason we bought it was because of the view. The house would have to be changed completely into something bigger and much more beautiful.’
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Before starting on the house, the epic job of landscaping had to be completed. ‘We knew that once the house was extended, there wouldn’t be enough room to get the diggers in to take the huge amount of soil away,’ says JP.
Overshadowing the house, the wild, sloping garden made the rooms dark. ‘It hadn’t been tamed in years. There were 40ft high leylandii and other trees. You could barely see the sky,’ recalls JP. But with grit and determination, the couple transformed the garden in around five weeks.
‘All the plants were ripped out and we started from scratch. We created new terraces, based on the paddy fields of Bali.’
A passionate fan of the weatherboard architecture in New England, JP had long dreamed of recreating the look in a home of his own. Unfortunately, the council had other ideas, and the planning process was long and painstaking. Finally, the project was given the green light after one minor amendment.
With the help of architects, JP and John planned their new house, incorporating all the lessons they had learned over the years. ‘It wasn’t just a case of extending. Every wall was moved, and each window resized and relocated. We also built the veranda and steps,’ JP says.
‘John is amazing at house layouts. He’s able to visualise and gain space you never knew you had. He’s also the plumber, electrician, and carpenter – we make a great team.’
With entertaining a top priority for the pair, they wanted visitors to feel like they were on holiday. The large decking area at the top of the garden was repainted and it’s where they spend much of the time in summer, even late into the night. ‘It faces northwest and gets the most incredible sunsets,’ JP says.
The kitchen, with its 3.4m bifold doors, is another focus for entertaining. The peninsula is attached to the wall at one end, discouraging guests from straying into the chef’s space.
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Enquire online: Cabinetry, £POA, Classic Kitchens Direct
Buy now: Wall cabinets painted in Lamp Room Gray, Estate Eggshell, £64 for 2.5ltrs, Farrow & Ball at Homebase
In addition, a clever tactic for smooth service during meals was to create a separate utility prep area with a dishwasher, where dirty plates can be left in between courses, out of sight behind a partial wall. ‘It also makes the perfect bar,’ adds JP.
A cedar-clad feature wall injects a New England feel.
Warm, woody tones are tied together with the grey of the sofas and wood panelling in a formal and elegantly symmetrical scheme.
Warm wood, hide and leather tones give the space a sophisticated cosiness.
Continuing the outdoor-indoor theme, the main bedroom features a spacious, semi-enclosed balcony, used year-round. ‘We were nearly refused planning on the balcony and had to add the enclosing walls, which has actually worked out brilliantly, as we’re always sheltered from the weather,’ says JP.
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Buy now: White Round Window Mirror, £100, Cox & Cox
A pair of intricate angel wings provides extra texture against the shiplap wall planks.
Get the look
Buy now: Greywash Gilt Metal Angel Wings, £245, Cox & Cox
Buy now: Walls painted in Sulking Room Pink, Estate Emulsion, £47.95 for 2.5l, by Farrow & Ball at Homebase
The blue and white palette was inspired by a trip to Santorini.
Get the look
Buy now: Camborne Bedlinen Collection in Midnight, from £30, The White Company
Uncluttered furnishings make the best use of this attic space.
Painted shiplap has an authentic period feel in the bathroom, where a chest of drawers has been up cycled as a vanity unit.
Get the look
Buy now: Walls in Grey Moss, Absolute Matt Emulsion, £47 for 2.5l, by Little Greene
Follow JP on Instagram @jpslifeandloves
Words by Juliet Benning
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