'When we bought this house we knew that, in its current state, it was completely unsuited to our lifestyle,’ says the owner of their three bedroom home. ‘Having said that, we could also see that it had huge potential. It had good foundations, decent-sized rooms upstairs, a reasonable footprint downstairs and a garden, too.
'However, the small kitchen and separate reception room made the ground floor feel enclosed. We envisaged an open-plan space that looked onto the garden.'
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The owner's husband is a builder, and had ambitious ideas for renovating large parts of the ground floor to give them the room they wanted, and proceeded to knock down the walls between the kitchen and rear reception room, and extended into the garden to create a generous-sized kitchen-diner/sitting room.
'We went for a flat roof with a slight overhang and a reinforced glass panel in the ceiling, as my husband liked the idea of growing a wild meadow garden on the top. It’s lovely looking up and catching a glimpse of the blooms.
Elsewhere, we raised the ground level in the garden to line up with the inside floor, and fitted bifold doors. ‘It’s so lovely having the doors open on a hot, sunny day – it feels like the garden is part of the room.'
With regards to decor, the couple knew exactly what they wanted long before building work began. 'We were both keen on a rustic look with industrial touches,' the owner recalls. 'Somewhere we could display the second-hand bits and pieces we’ve collected over the years. We both love natural textures, so wood and stone were obvious choices for us, and everything seemed to evolve organically from there.'
‘I think it’s fair to say that I have a slight scaffolding addiction, but what’s not to love? It’s hardwearing, affordable and full of character. Without the salvaged boards, our kitchen wouldn’t have half of its charm’
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'We painted one of the walls dark blue, and hired a local carpenter to make our kitchen units from scratch,' she continues. 'One day, he popped over to show me some worktop samples – they were all very nice, but just too neat for my liking. I showed him a battered old scaffolding board, and asked him for something closer to that. He was horrified!'
So they decided to make the worktops themselves. 'We burnt old scaffolding boards to give them a slightly singed effect (the process also makes the wood release natural oils, which helps to protect it), then glued them together. My husband cut the boards to size, then sanded and varnished them.'
'We chose a concrete top for the island and went for yet more scaffolding boards to clad the edges. We used the same blue hue as the feature wall on the cabinet doors, and I made all of the handles using leather belts.'
‘I didn’t want your everyday door handles on the cabinets, but the leather ones I liked cost around £40 each! So I bought a reel of belt leather, glued two strips together and used screws to attach them. Talk about designer style on a budget!’
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‘We couldn’t find a dining table that suited the space, so we bought some old snooker table legs and made one ourselves,' says the owner. ‘I definitely recommend popping by your local reclamation yard every once in a while. It can look a little intimidating, but be open-minded and think creatively. It’s a treasure trove – trust me!’
Instagram was a huge source of inspiration for me. I’m always seeking out new tricks to try and sharing snapshots of my own home @miffyshaw. ‘When we designed the kitchen I added as many base cabinets as possible because i wanted the walls free for some open shelves to display trinkets’
‘Plant boxes will brighten the exterior of any property,' says the owner. 'It also helps to have herbs close to hand when you’re cooking up a storm.'
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Between them, the couple has, more or less made, tiled and painted everything in this room. ‘I like that our home’s a little rough around the edges,' says the owner. 'It’s much more forgiving, particularly with a dog, small child and a builder husband. Plus it’s the perfect social space for our small family. It’s full of heart and soul, and I wouldn’t change a thing.’
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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