Amanda and her husband had been living in a Victorian mid-terrace home in the same area and while they loved that home it was after the birth of their first child that they decided they wanted to find a long-term home that would work better for them. Amanda explains, “We’d been really happy in that home and over the years had updated it all to our taste and added a loft conversion to create more space. Once Otis came along though, we realised that living across three floors as a family wasn’t ideal, and the home also had limited living space downstairs.
“Looking for something bigger we were always willing to take on a project, especially if it meant being able to afford somewhere in parts of Watford that would normally be out of our budget. We’d looked at quite a few options but they didn’t quite tick all of the boxes in offering the scope we wanted to know that we were buying a home that we could make our forever home.”
Talking to another mum in Amanda’s baby group about their search for a house she mentioned a particularly run down house in her road that she was certain would be coming on the market soon as she’d seen local agents photograph it. “I knew it was in a great road that was in a lovely part of Watford and near good schools. When we viewed the house its potential was perfect. It was incredibly run down and it would be a major project, but we were happy with that. We eventually bought the house direct from the owner and got the keys in October 2019.”
While the house had a good double frontage it was lacking in depth, but with plenty of garden space the couple put planning permission in to add a double extension to the rear of the home. “This would allow us to create a lovely large open plan kitchen which is just want we wanted for family life and entertaining. The extra space upstairs would then allow us to add an additional bedroom and two bathrooms.”
Planning was straight forward and approval was granted in January 2020. “I found some great builders, a family team of three, and I was able to work really closely with them on the build design and programme, helping to project manage and source all of the fixtures and fittings I wanted. Living here during the work just wasn’t an option, the house was so run down and there would mess and dust everywhere so we moved in with my Dad.
“Once the extension was in place the builders worked top down in completing the fit-out of the rooms so one of the first things I had to think about was flooring for the bedrooms and landing. In my head I had always liked the idea of a wood floor upstairs, and in particular a parquet style of floor. I’ve never been a fan of carpet, I just find that they always end up looking grubby quite quickly and are a magnet for things like my cat’s fur.
“I’d seen V4 floors on Instagram and was always drawn to the Zigzag herringbone styles so I started my search there and it was really straightforward to choose the floor. I wanted a wood floor that basically looked like natural wood, so nothing stained too dark or light, just something very authentic. So it was no surprise that when samples arrived it was easy for me to pick the Natural Oak finish as my favourite.”
The builders on the project completed the installation of the floors, creating neat transitions to the floor tiles in the new bathrooms, with the herringbone floors installed across the landing and into all four bedrooms. A ply-base was installed to ensure an even sub-floor was in place and once the floors were installed new skirting was added for a neat finish.
“When it came to the design of our master bedroom we originally painted the room quite a bright coral colour with some colour blocking on the panelling. My husband and I both looked at each other once it was completed and agreed, we hated it. It just didn’t feel relaxing at all so it was back to the drawing board knowing that actually I wanted our bedroom space to feel naturally calming, a bit of a sanctuary where calm tones make it easy to relax and fall asleep. In the end I selected a Crown paint, Tapestry Thread, which is used throughout the room and on all the doors and woodwork. Having one tone was so much nicer, creating a calm and neutral backdrop where I could add a few pops of colour. I absolutely love how the soft pastel pink hues blend so harmoniously with the natural oak floors. It was second time lucky on this room’s décor and now we love the finished scheme.”
The room also features a pink upholstered bed from John Lewis, Spark and Bell pendants over the bedside tables and soft dressings from H&M Home and Christy Home.
“For Otis’ bedroom he already had a lot of the animal toys in his previous nursery that he wanted to keep. Going from his original nursery to not really having a proper bedroom while we were living with my Dad, I really wanted his new room here to be a step-change to reflect him now being a toddler. I still wanted it to be a really fun space for him, but with a little bit of sophistication.”
The walls are finished in Little Greene James paint, and Otis’ love for animals is recognised in the choice of feature wallpaper which is Extinctopia in Glacier Blue from Divine Savages. The design takes its inspiration from Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkin’s elaborate Victorian theme park at Crystal Palace, South-East London, featuring prehistoric beasts as they skulk in the bushes and play in the water. “I introduced some accents of gold and sage into the design through some of dressings I’ve added to the space, along with all of his animals and his bright mustard tee-pee. I love how those tones, along with the blues, blend effortlessly with the floors.”
“The colour palette we’ve used throughout the house typically features a mix of pinks, greens and blues and it’s nice to have that connection on both levels now. The spaces are all quite different, but feel connected by the use of those colour themes.”
The Natural Oak herringbone floors also feature in the couple’s guest bedroom and a smaller bedroom which has been turned into a peaceful home office space.
“Heading into lockdown not long after the builders started work on the extension brought challenges, but once they were able to continue they really did do a fantastic job. They actually finished in the August but there were some delays to our kitchen arriving so we had to wait until the October to finally move in and begin to add all the finishing touches and decoration.
“We’ve still got a few bits to do inside, plus finish the garden, but we really are thrilled with our new home, and it certainly feels fit to be our forever home. The Zigzag floors are everything I envisaged when I decided I wanted parquet flooring upstairs. We love them and they are brilliant to live with, so easy to clean, and they add such a natural feel to the bedrooms which is exactly want I wanted.”