Situated in Leamington Spa, the home was built as a former coach house in the 19th Century serving the adjacent Huntley Lodge, and subsequently converted into a separate home in the 1980’s.
New owners Albert and Christina started their search for a new home over a year ago. With their now 18 month old daughter and plans for a second baby they were looking to find a new house which offered more space and the scope to become a long-term family home.
Albert explains, “We’d been keeping an eye out for properties on Rightmove for a while when this one popped up. We were keen to be near the centre of town and ideally wanted somewhere with parking to make like easier with two young children, but with the budget we had our choices had been limited. When we spotted this one it ticked those boxes, although it would need a lot of work to update it into our perfect family home. It was a re-possession and with that came a bit of a headache securing it. After being gazumped twice it was obviously meant to be, as we finally secured the home many months after first viewing it.”
“We were delighted to have finally found our new home, but with the huge amount of work it needed we decided it would be best to stay with parents so we could crack on with the renovation work before we moved in. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do with the house, creating family friendly open plan living, decorated and furnished in an ultra modern yet homely style. Christina is half Norwegian so I think that’s where the desire for an element of minimalist Nordic inspired design crept into the brief.”
With the planned second baby now on the way the couple were keen to complete all of the work and move in before the baby was born. By chance, on the day of exchange Christina saw an advert looking for home renovation projects transforming older style properties into more modern homes. “It wasn’t something we had thought about doing, we had plans set for the renovation and builders ready to go, however Christina figured we had nothing to lose my applying and we were quite shocked when within a week we had heard back and they sent producers down to take a look at the home and talk to us about what we were planning. They wanted to feature the project on the Old House, New Home series so suddenly, rather than manage everything on our own, we were going to be offered extra advice and guidance from George and the production company’s interior designer.”
The home comprised four bedrooms, a large family bathroom and downstairs a kitchen, dining room, lounge and disconnected second reception space. Inside it was extremely dated, with a low timber panelled ceiling, varnished brick features, lead effect windows, an unsightly old brick fireplace and no natural flow to the spaces, or easy route out to the garden. It really was a case of rip it all out and start again.
Structurally the main building work involved comprised of removing the wall between the current kitchen and dining room to create the modern open plan space they desperately wanted, and take out the window in this area to create a larger opening with bi-fold doors leading out to the garden, which would also flood the space with natural light.
“When George first met with us we knew this is what we wanted to do and he agreed it made perfect sense. The second reception room was very disjointed from the rest of the living spaces and I’d been trying to work out how to improve this to make it a more useable space, which was also more connected to the rest of the home. We totally agreed with his suggestion to steal a small amount of space from the existing lounge, which was generous in size anyway, and increase the hallway area to allow for a more natural flow to what would become a new utility room and modern home office.
“George also noticed that the timber cladding on the ground floor ceiling concealed a huge void which we could reduce in size, allowing us to increase the ceiling height and accentuate the feeling of space to the open plan areas. “
As the builders commenced the main structural work thoughts turned to interior design, fixtures and furnishings.
“We explained our taste and aspirations to the designer. While there was an element of collaboration she was led by our brief and we came up with a scheme focused around a white interior with green accents and pops of colour delivered from art and soft furnishings.”
“We liked the idea that from the outside the home was characterful and kept its original materials and form, but when you walked in you were greeted by a contrasting contemporary, bright and spacious family home.”
The finished home certainly lives up to this. The kitchen, from Second Nature, is predominately matt white. The couple chose the island in Copse Green, which then formed the basis for the use of Farrow & Ball Green Smoke on accent walls inside the home. The greens are soft and cosy and also connect the now more accessible and upgraded garden space to the inside of the home.
Over the dining table is a feature pendant, the Melt Light from Tom Dixon, which uses a process called vacuum metallisation to create its unique reflective form.
The contemporary theme runs into the welcoming living room space. In place of the old brick fireplace is a new modern gas fire, which looks like a log burner, adding a cosy contrast to the clean white interior and contemporary dressings. A large relaxing sofa and accent chairs from Hay Design add to the cosy feel.
The hallway is now bright and spacious, a welcoming change for dealing with two small children, and the previously disjointed second reception room is a modern home office. Adding a sky light and doors out to the garden from the office makes this a perfect quiet haven away from the rest of the house, but it now feels connected with the rest of the spaces.
“When it came to flooring we were really keen to have wood floors. I’d installed a slate floor in our last home which was in keeping with its barn style, but it was very cold and not very child friendly so we felt wood would be a better choice for this home, something warmer and more tactile under foot.
“We also liked the idea of having one wood floor finish throughout the downstairs of the home. The designer suggested a few options and we really liked the idea of a herringbone style of floor. It would add an extra element of texture into the spaces. She did steer us towards the Zigzag White Island Sand floors, they were lighter than we first thought we might go for but when we considered it with everything else in the interior scheme we agreed it would be a perfect choice to accentuate the light, space and contemporary feel we wanted to maintain inside the home.”
“Before installation the sub floors needed levelling work, carried out by our builder, who also installed the wood floors for us. As soon as they were completed we knew we had made the right decision, they looked great. They are lovely and subtle with their muted light tones, which just works brilliantly with the overall design theme. They keep the spaces bright and modern and deliver subtle texture and tone without being dominating.
“Our style was all about keeping the spaces clean, white and modern and then adding textures through feature walls, soft furnishings and art, and it really works. We love that it’s a really social layout too, but also functional for how we live. Everything about the home says cool and contemporary but with a homely cosiness added in to soften the spaces.”
“It was a big job, but all of the work was carried out in less than three months. Not living there helped speed up the process, and whilst the production company were keen to work to their scheduling, we had our own pretty important schedule of having the home ready before our second baby arrived. We finally moved in at the end of the June, just weeks before our baby’s due date. We can’t wait to see both kids’ growing up here, enjoying our beautiful new family home.”
Interior design completed in conjunction with Amazing Productions
View the project in Episode 4 of Series 3 Old House New Home at Channel 4 on demand.