Step inside this traditional Victorian semi with a contemporary finish

The owners of this Victorian semi were never interested in buying a house that needed a lot of work. But when they laid eyes on this doer-upper in Manchester, they saw the potential and changed their minds. 

‘Although all the major building work had been done by the previous owners, the house was a completely empty shell, with nothing in it at all: no kitchen, no radiators, not even a loo,’ says the owner. ‘But although it looked like a massive project, we could see that most of the work that needed doing was cosmetic.’

They had four weeks to turn the building site into a home before Christmas, and they set themselves the challenge of getting everything finished in time for the big day. ‘We had two or three weeks of hell, living with the work going on. After the damp-proof course was put down, the installation of the kitchen, proper radiators and fireplaces, and the plastering began simultaneously, so we had all of those projects on the go at the same time.’

‘For the first two weeks we lived in the master bedroom with a microwave and we ate a lot of takeaways. But the first room to be finished was the living room, so we moved in there, which made things easier. Also, I work from home and have a background in project management, so I cracked the whip during the day, which moved things along quickly.’


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‘The house is light and airy, and I was keen to keep it bright, so I knew I wanted a white gloss and wooden kitchen, and we worked around that idea. For us, the kitchen is a real focal point of the home, so it was important to create a great family space.’

‘We were lucky to have a space big enough to create a large family kitchen-diner that could accommodate an island, a table and a sofa area – we are in here all the time’

Get the look
Buy now: Knopparp sofa, £79, Ikea
Buy now: Similar dining chairs, £30 each, Super Studio

Living room

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The owners played it safe with paint colours, opting for grey and white walls. They chose classic furniture that wouldn’t date and added jewel-like pops of colour, using cushions, rugs and accessories.

Get the look
Buy now: 
Similar Tripod Floor Lamp, £134, Wayfair


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The colour of the bold feature wall is mimicked in accessories, and mirrored furniture adds a touch of chic to the bedroom.

Get the look
Buy now:
 Similar Four Poster Bed, £745, Maisons du Monde
Buy now:
 Farrow & Ball Hague Blue Matt Emulsion, £43.50 for 2.5L , B&Q

Son’s bedroom

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‘Our son’s bedroom is timeless and can grow with him, adding new prints to the frames and additional grown up toys on the shelves over the years.’

The owner personalised her son’s bed by painting it and adding bunting. A small wigwam is the ideal place for little ones to make up adventures.

Get the look
Buy now:
Similar teepee, £101, Etsy


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Calming Scandi greys and whites have been used in the nursery, while the chair adds a pop of colour.

Get the look
Buy now:
Similar Star Wallpaper, £30 per roll, Wallpaper Direct

Guest bedroom

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‘The guest bedroom is simply decorated to create a relaxing space for visitors’


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‘Tackling the bathroom is next on our list. We left it until last as it was usable’


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‘All the stress and hard work was definitely worth it. The sense of achievement of turning a shell of a house into a lovely home in four weeks feels fantastic – and we did it just in time for Christmas!’

Image credits: Colin Poole

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