You could say home renovations have become second nature to the owners of this beautiful Victorian home located in Gosforth, an urban district that sits north of Newcastle city centre.
Carmen Gabriel and her husband have completed a number of home renovations and home build projects over recent years as family circumstances have led them to move home more that the average family.
Carmen explains, “People do laugh when they hear how many times we have moved and taken on new projects over recent years – but it was never intentional. I guess it was just family circumstances and opportunities which have led us to take on three family home projects.
“It all started with our first home which was a self-build located in the more rural outskirts of town. We found a fantastic plot in a beautiful countryside location and relished the challenge of a self-build project, creating exactly the space we wanted and finishing it to our own taste.
“We really enjoyed the home, but a few years later as our eldest son was reaching school age we decided a move closer to the city would be right for us as a family, giving us more options for his schooling and a chance to enjoy city life.”
A move back to the centre of Gosforth initially meant downsizing. The couple found a lovely home which they put their previous building experience into renovating, however it wasn’t long before they realised they wanted more space. “We thought downsizing would be fine, but we were starting to think about another baby and came to conclusion we really did need more space.
“As luck would have it a larger house, just a few doors down on the same street, came on to the market, and as we were happy with our city life location we decided to make the move to this bigger home – literally just 20 metres away from where we were.”
This next house was another big renovation project, and the couple wanted to create the perfect family home. With plenty of experience under their belts they headed into this next renovation with a really good understanding of the process and how to create the spaces they wanted in a quick amount of time.
The home is a Victorian terrace laid out over three levels. Downstairs there was a kitchen and old dining room at the rear, which opened out to a backyard. “We immediately saw the potential to knock through and add an extension to the back of the home to create a beautiful large open plan living and kitchen space – perfect for family life.
“The project really was a top to bottom affair. Everything required attention, but I sometimes feel that this makes life easier and more efficient then trying to add-on or work around existing spaces.”
The couple completed projects upstairs including adding new dormer window features to the loft bedrooms to make them more spacious and bright, along with installing new bathrooms and decorating the five bedrooms to their taste. Next was completing the downstairs family spaces and extension.
“My design vision for this home was to reflect the elegant feel of the house and its Victorian features, whilst adding modern touches that blended effortlessly. Throughout the process of selecting interior finishes I focused on this mix of elegant and contemporary styling.”
The finished living spaces certainly reflect this. Carmen has kept the spaces light and bright selecting crisp white paint finishes for the walls from Dulux and Farrow and Ball.
“I tend to naturally lean towards darker coloured furniture and flooring, so I love how maintaining white walls creates a bright contrast to this to keep the rooms feeling light and spacious.”
The home’s two main living spaces comprise a cosy living room to the front and then the large open plan family room to the back. For the front living room Carmen has maintained a more traditional feel. The old gas fireplace was replaced with a beautiful reclaimed Victorian slate surround she sourced from Olde Worde Fireplaces, who specialise in restoring reclaimed antique fireplaces. You’d think it was part of the homes original features.
A feature mirror from Maison de Monde and traditional country style oak furniture from The Cotswold Company add to the elegant cosy feel, with a Barker and Stonehouse sofa completing the space. The finished room conveys elegance and cosiness in abundance, perfect for cosy nights in by the fire.
Moving onto the new open plan space Carmen wanted this room to edge more towards a contemporary theme. “This space is where we would spend most of our time. It needed to work for us, our two young boys and the family dog Yogi. Somewhere we would be happy to spend time from first thing in the morning at the breakfast bar, to last thing at night when we’d clear away the kids toys, light a fire and watch a box set.”
“Key to this space was first selecting the kitchen, and I’m a great believer in if you have used a supplier before that has delivered great service and beautiful products, stick with them. So having had a Second Nature kitchen before we revisited then and designed a similar style of kitchen for this home.”
The design they chose combines the perfect mix of traditional elegance with modernity. The kitchen cabinetry combines a contrast of white chalky units and charcoal blues around the island. Polished nickel handles, a mirrored splashback and Silestone quartz worktop from Consentino add to the modern touches.
The lounge area in the family room features a more modern style of sofa from Barker and Stonehouse, perfect for relaxing as a family, with the wood burner they have installed creating a lovely contemporary focus piece.
Now to the wood floors, which feature throughout all of the living spaces. When it came to choosing wood floors this was a simple task, as this was not the first home the couple have installed Urban Nature Foundry Steel wood floors.
“We’ve actually chosen these floors for all of our renovation projects. When we were working on the first new build project a friend suggested we visited Darren at Cramlington Flooring. He was great as he listened to our brief and came up with several options.
“He couldn’t recommended V4 Wood Flooring highly enough. He said he has installed hundreds of floors and V4 has remained one of the best for quality, good looks and problem free installation. He said the engineered wood floors also feel robust and stable, don’t suffer from gaps or problems and looked after well will look like new for years to come.
“We took his word for it and chose Urban Nature Foundry Steel. We loved their warm oak tones and rustic character which creates a lovely contrast to our taste for modern white walls. We were so delighted with these wood floors in our first project, that for us it has been a very easy choice to install them in all of our projects since then.”
In this home the floors have been installed with underfloor heating in the kitchen and dining area and then extend throughout the ground floor completing the look in the entrance hallway and cosy living room. Testament to Darren’s recommendation that the floors are easy to install, the installation of the floors throughout the downstairs of the home was completed by him in under two days.
“We didn’t hesitate to choose these floors again. They are so beautiful and have never been anything but fabulous to live with. I love that the floors add warmth and contrast and a slightly aged feel against clean white walls and more modern dressings. They make a space feel so homely and inviting.”
“They are absolutely brilliant with the dog. Our very first house had wood floors in before we started work on it and he would slip and slide all over then, so much so that we ended up putting down carpet temporarily as it got so bad. These floors have a lovely natural texture to the surface, and they also feel cosy and warm to the touch, so he loves sprawling out on them. It does help that he also matches the colour as any fur goes pretty much unnoticed.”
“I find that’s another advantage of choosing a darker wood – they are extremely forgiving and low maintenance – exactly what you need with two young boys.”
The project was completed from start to finish in less than four months. “I guess once you’ve done a few they get easier each time. You’ve learned from your mistakes and already have a good idea of what you want from each space. Finding wood floors we love so much is a big help as it removes the dilemma of choosing flooring each time, and then it becomes easy to build up the design palette from there.”
The home is an absolutely wonderful space now it is all completed – but true to form the couple are about to move again and have another new build project underway. “We decided with the boys getting a little bit older it’s time to move back towards the countryside where we have secured a beautiful plot where they will have access to a large garden, glorious countryside views and a great school.
“Will we be installing the same wood floors in that house? Absolutely. We love them and we are hoping that this move and project will be the last for a while as we are creating a wonderful family home in an idyllic location where we can enjoy a more relaxed way of life as the boys grow up.”
You can see more pictures of this wonderful home and follow the progress of their new build project on their popular instagram account @northumberland_family_home.