Excitement and trepidation in equal measure, we received the keys to the bungalow on 14th September 2007 armed with energy, vision, and a bulging scrapbook of ideas, samples and sketches, eager to breathe life back into this tired, neglected gem!

We set to work immediately removing fixtures, fittings, layers upon layers of wallpaper, out-of-keeping decorative features, carpets, kitchen units, floor tiles, wall tiles — everything in fact to pare the property back to its original, sharp structure.  A full-on two weeks of hard graft!

We then worked intensively alongside tradespeople for three months on the renovation whilst all the major work was being done:  remodelling, complete replumbing, complete rewiring, glazing, fitting the kitchen and studding out the bathroom. We encountered potentially lethal electrics behind the kitchen tiles; ducting and void spaces from the old warm-air heating long-since replaced with radiators, and plumbing pipes traversing the walls previously hidden behind furniture. It was a mess to say the least. The most significant change was the removal of the partition wall between kitchen and living space which opened the house up, allowed light to flood through to the previously dark kitchen and was more in keeping with the architecture’s Californian origins.

As a stroke of luck, a friend offered us some original parquet flooring that they wanted to remove. We carefully salvaged it ourselves and set about laying it throughout the kitchen, kitchen store and inner hallway… painstakingly piece by piece. A week-long labour of love in itself, but so worth the time and care taken.

When we couldn’t be there during the day (continuing our design business from our temporary rental flat) we’d drive to the bungalow early eventing to get an 8-hour shift in to move things along ready for the trades’ arrival the next morning. We caught just a few hours’ sleep each night. This continued until the point that we had to close the business to push the renovation to a stage where we could at least move in, with mortgage, rent and storage costs eating away at our renovation pot.

Working through the night

We moved in to the bungalow on the 20th December in a partially completed state — though thankfully with the log burning fire having just be installed so we could keep warm and enjoy Christmas in the new house.

From this point on, with limited funds, the renovation was drip fed by our earnings and was to continue for the next two years on-and-off, including the installation of five skylights, the creation of bespoke cabinetry throughout the property, and final finishes such as oak and American walnut internal cladding, brushed steel door furniture and a hardwood door and exterior cladding to match. True landmark stages in the process included the sanding and varnishing of the parquet floor — which instantly transformed the space; the completion of the bathroom, and the landscaping…

Front before and after

LEFT: Estate agent’s photograph, June 2007. Shrouded in vegetation — front, side and back, we couldn’t even appreciate the size of the plot at the time as much of it was inaccessible. RIGHT: Re-loved, remodelled and landscaped.

Front drive before and after

We knew, before we even set foot inside on our first viewing, that this was the property for us… And not only that, it was the worst house on the best street and we wasted no time in making our offer! LEFT: Viewing the property with the estate agent back in June 2007.

Entrance Hall before and after

LEFT: The entrance hallway, mid-renovation, after having removed the low, suspended ceiling to add height and reveal the vaulting. RIGHT: The entrance hallway, afterwards, with custom-made hardwood front door and side-light, now flooded with light from the skylight overhead.

Breakfast Bar before and after

LEFT: Living space and breakfast bar area after starting to knock through into the kitchen. RIGHT: Creating the aperture between the kitchen and living space transformed this area into a light, bright place to socialise, maximising daylight & views front-to-back.

Lounge before and after

The living space, present day, with double doors opening out onto the side garden. A lintel was already in place from a high-level window which had been blocked in by a previous owner so they could erect a greenhouse against that wall.

Lounge before and after

We included a high-level triangular window to let in more light — and to see the loggia roof soar outwards as a continuation of the ceiling.

sanding the floor

The parquet floor is a feature in itself, and to see it restored to its original splendour was one of the most exciting & gratifying parts of the renovation.

Kitchen before and after

Kitchen before and after

LEFT: The kitchen, first viewing, June 2007 — small and dark with one tiny window, and leading out to a garden/store room. RIGHT: Now opened up to the living space, with a large skylight above and leading through to the new kitchen store & utility. We reclaimed unwanted parquet floor from another property and painstakingly laid it throughout the kitchen, kitchen store and inner hallway, piece by piece, to blend seamlessly with, and to extend that in the living space and entrance hall.

Hallway before and after

We removed the carpet from the inner hallway and laid our reclaimed parquet blocks piece by piece to extend this lovely flooring through to the back of the house.

Breakfast room before and after

The kitchen store was made firm & secure with a new ceiling and skylight, and glazed wall with access out to the garden. Cupboarding and a bespoke larder unit was installed as a continuation of the kitchen, with the utility cupboard tucked away at the end to house the boiler and washing machine.

Bathroom before and after

Originally a separate bathroom and W.C., the two had been knocked through by a previous owner. We stripped the bathroom back to bare walls, borrowed space from the hallway to create a walk-in shower and had the stack pipe capped to allow the outer wall to run flat. We included 2 feature walls — one mirrored to make the bathroom feel twice its size, and one clad in beautiful American walnut. A skylight was also added to let the daylight flood in.

Bed 1 before and after

As with all the rooms, the textured ceilings were made flat and walls stripped and painted white. Neutral, wool carpeting was laid through bedrooms 1, 2 & 3. A tall window was also inserted into bedroom 1 to give views out to the side garden, and to reflect the outside in the full height mirrored wall in the hallway. Integral bespoke wardrobing was also included in this room.

Bed 2 before and after

Bed 3 before and after

Bed 4 Studio before and after

The original garage had been converted by a previous owner into accommodation, with a new garage built on to its side. We insulated the room, smoothed the ceiling, sanded & varnished the floor and reconfigured its adjoining cloakroom. It’s a great space for a studio but would also make a lovely bedroom 4 with en-suite, or additional reception room.

After a two year wait whilst we researched, sketched, planned — and saved up! — work finally started on landscaping the grounds. We opted for a simple, wide pathway to the front door using reclaimed flags from the back garden. The double driveway was formed and linked to the additional garage driveway by a shingled walkway. The side garden began with marking out the perimeter fencing and then the structure took shape with carefully planned decked areas, pergola, borders and lawn. With such an usually shaped plot, the design not only made great use of the land but also maximised the line of sight from the house.  Reclaimed flags were laid as a back patio with the carport and second pergola sweeping around the garage to balance both sides of the property and extend its low, sleek lines.

We were very mindful that it had to look right from the front. We designed the fencing to overlap just enough to let light and breeze pass through without compromising on privacy and to match the property’s cladding too; and added a pergola in the far corner of the plot to create a ‘room outside’ from where you could sit and look back right across the decking and straight through the house. We topped the pergolas & carport with a bright white rail to match other properties’ carports on the Development but also to continue the house’s soffit line to the far corners of the plot.

Kitchen Garden before and after

The garden/store room was made solid & robust and a lovely glazed wall now opens out onto a herb deck.

Back garden, before and after

The original flags were lifted and used to make the pathway to the front door, the pathway around this garden and the patio area under the new pergola. The space was then turfed to give a private rear garden.

Back Garden and Patio before and after

We designed the pergola to wrap around the garage, offering a dining area to catch the evening sunshine — complete with a brick bar-b-que. We also included a handy log store and recycling area to keep everything tidy.

Side Garden before and after

This was impenetrable! Overgrown, with a dilapidated greenhouse along with the back of a juggernaut in which the vendor kept her professional racing car — all hidden behind a wall of Leylandi. Given the odd shape of the plot, we left the garden landscaping to the end, taking much time to plan, sketch, and resketch ideas to make the most of the property’s grounds. We designed this side garden to be an irregular shape of different zones of decking, planting and lawn. We designed the fencing arrangement too with partially overlapping panels to allow the light & breeze through whilst retaining privacy, with the line of the fencing running at an angle so as to give uninterrupted views of the frontage from indoors. The pergola carries a top rail at soffit level, matching that of the carport, together extending the sleek lines of the property to the far reaches of the plot.

Side Garden before and after

A real ‘room outside’ has been created in one of the most previously neglected parts of the plot.

Carport before and after

The fencing, carport, pergola and formalised shingled driveway have really sharpened up another derelict part of the plot, making full use edge-to-edge, corner-to-corner and creating hidden space for bins and composter.

Over the course of the bungalow’s transformation, neighbours seeing the work unfold have stopped to chat and remark upon how much they like what we’ve done and how pleased they are we bought it… Such lovely feedback to receive.

Flick through the book below to see full details of the remodelling — including bigger photos as well as a selection of ‘during’ photos too — they’ll either inspire you to get stuck in on your own projects… or put you off completely! We swore we’d never do it again… but that’s exactly what we’re now doing!