House Refurbishment

On initial purchase, this house was the product of two houses (or rather a house and a corner shop), being roughly knocked into one.

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The conversion was very basic, consisting of just a simple single doorway cutting through the two properties on each level and the general state of the place was not much better than a shell.

The property consisted solely of a kitchen where the units were severely water damaged – the unit panels and worktops all swollen and crumbling, and two living rooms with blistered plastering and only a single electrical socket to each room. Upstairs there were two huge bedrooms, again with only a single socket in each and lots of perished plastering to be sorted. There was also a bathroom with a 40 year old suite comprising a chipped enamel steel bath, a cracked sink and an old fashioned high level toilet.

The house was getting on for 120 years old and it plainly showed. The hot water system, comprising of a rusty old steel header tank and copper cylinder had burst at some stage prior to purchase and the water damage included collapsed ceilings, badly peeled wallpaper, blown plaster and sunken floors beneath it.

So the property was purchased with a view to fully modernising it anyway and at the time of purchase, all it really had going for it was new UPVC double glazed windows throughout and a hell of a lot of potential. But even with its fully re-glazed windows, the external doors were still old, wooden, un-matching and rotten – Particularly the two doors at the back of the property.

Internally again, all the ceilings were 9 foot high and severely cracked. The window reveals were of a (severely bowed) hardboard lined construction with severely cracked architrave surrounds. They were also very draughty. What carpets there were, were soaked, dirty and stained throughout. They all had to go.

So, immediately after us moving in, the whole house was stripped bare, plaster was hacked away, load bearing walls were shored up and later removed and the bare bones construction of suspended ceilings and new partition walls was quickly added throughout. All the debris was temporarily relegated to the back yard for later removal.

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With the new shell now in place, the whole house was re-wired and skeleton plumbing and central heating was installed. After that all the walls and ceilings were plaster boarded, and sockets fitted in preparation for a full re-plastering throughout.

It was a conscious decision to finish each room once, properly, rather than attempt to employ any stop-gap alternatives along the way. And during the course of the renovation, the house would be future proofed as much as possible in its completion.

And in order to minimise any internal disruption to any already completed works, it was consciously decided to work from the upstairs, down, where the removal of debris through the back doors would not affect any of the downstairs landscape too much.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S . . .

Each room in the project was given a choice of different lighting options being main ceiling lighting and subdued wall lighting being 2-way switched wherever possible. In the bedrooms, there would be a double socket at each side of the beds for reading lights, alarm clocks etc. And extra power would be laid on for TVs and stereos, hairdryers and the like. A TV aerial point and CAT5 cabling was also to be added for each room.

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This is pretty much how the whole place looked before we started working on it

All rooms would be re-plastered throughout, with new window reveals and cills, door frames, skirtings and architraves. All upstairs ceilings would now be 7’9” high (still above the regulation height of 7’6”) rather than the old 9’, and a new, properly sized central heating radiator would also be fitted, as would rails for curtains.

All walls and ceilings would later be given a fully painted finish for ease of future maintenance. And any free standing furniture would be added later, along with fixed mirrors which would be essential for extra daylight, the illusion of added space and for dressing by.

BEDROOM 1

Being home to a super-king size bed, sliding mirrored robe doors and thirteen drawers… Welcome to the master bedroom…

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Uniquely decorated the finished plaster walls were to be party to a suite of fully installed beech finished furnishings. Lighting consisted of halogen down-lights to the ceiling and an individually switched reading light to the bed. The bookcase/display cabinet was made home to an internally wired stereo system and there was also provision made for a wall hung flat panel TV with full internet access opposite the bed.

This was to be the master bedroom, home to what seems the biggest bed in the world with a headboard that spanned nearly nine feet across the room. Made from a rounded art-deco edged laminate the headboard complimented the rest of the furniture in the room with the beech shaker style laminate drawers and black 40mm bench tops.

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Behind the mirrored wardrobe doors

There were drawers a plenty in this room with 4 making up the display cabinet area, 2 at the bedside and a further 7 hidden away behind the confines of the sliding mirrored wardrobe doors.

Also within the wardrobe, there was a full-width top shelf for storing things like bedding, suitcases, boxes or even archive files as depicted. Below that there were shelves for towels, bedding or jumpers and there were 2 half height and 1 three quarter height hanging rails for most clothing requirements. Drawers abounded for knickers and socks etc. Even the floor space between the interior fitment and the mirrored doors could be used for parking shoes along.

There was a double convector central heating radiator in the room along with thermostatic valves.

There were also 9 power points to the room now, 4 double and one single. And there was also an electrical feed via a switch-fuse for the flat screen TV and another in the display cabinet to power the stereo system by.

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BEDROOM 2

Situated in the middle of the property, this bedroom was built to quite comfortably take a double bed.

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Again, there was a choice of lighting to the room with ceiling lights around the perimeter and a single spot-light over the bed for reading by. There were also static bedside lights to the bedside cabinets switched from the wall by the bed-head and spotlights above the dressing mirror.

The furniture comprised of two bedside cabinets, one with an open ended shelf unit, two double wardrobes and two bookcase/display units overhanging either side of the bed. These units were finished in pear wood with satin chrome bar handles and mahogany bench tops. Other features included a fully working existing period fireplace and wiring for a stereo system and flat screen TV fitted above the fire on the chimney breast.

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As you enter this room, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the bulkhead ceiling that appears over the bed. Don’t worry though, there’s nothing sinister going on behind it. It was deliberately built for a half tester feature, where you drape curtains over the head of the bed. And even though this option was not followed through with, yet again this is another room packed with features for you to fully unwind in.

The chimney breast was fully integrated into the final shape of the room and still hosts the original fireplace as a feature and the additional furnishings provide a serenity that is essential in any bedroom.

There is a single convector central heating radiator in the room with thermostatic valves along with 4 double socket power points to the room, one either side of the bed, one below the mirror for hair driers, straightners etc, and one in the wardrobes for powering the adjacent flat panel TV.

Bedroom 3

This was to be the last of the double sized bedrooms. Features included pigeon holed shelving units for books, videos or DVDs at the doorway, and again, a choice of ceiling or wall lighting. There were two triple drawer units and a full length bench top to the far wall of the room.

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The option of leaving a relatively blank canvass like this did have some advantages though. For example, the bed can be positioned either as it is, or for more privacy from the landing, it can be positioned against the bathroom wall facing the window. Both options were designed to give the advantage of wall lighting directly over the bed.

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There is a small chimney breast in the room and it was initially intended to construct a wardrobe of some sort around this with a dressing unit to the left of it to capitalise on the daylight coming through the window. Other than that, the room is complete in as much as the fabric of the walls, the floor, the ceiling and the electrics.

There is a single convector central heating radiator in the room with thermostatic valves. There are 3 double socket power points to the room, one either side of the bed’s present position and one below the mirror for hair driers, straightners, TV etc.

Bedroom 4

The last of the four bedrooms was home to a single bed surrounded by wardrobes finished in a high gloss, light blue laminate fascias, with blue pine accents and polished chrome knob handles.

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Comprising of one double and one single wardrobe, and two single bridging cupboards, the whole of this span makes up the party wall between this room and the master bedroom. Opposite the wardrobes, there is a bank of drawer units consisting of six single and three double drawers. The drawer units were finished off with a high gloss black quarry worktop and a blue pine open ended shelf unit by the door. And above these drawers there are three shelves positioned up the alcove in the wall. Again these are finished in blue pine.

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Individually switched at the doorway, the lighting is made up with three halogen down-lights to the ceiling and a single halogen spotlight over the bed for reading with. There is also a double convector central heating radiator in the room with thermostatic valves.

There were five power points added to the room, 2 double and one single.

BATHROOM

Electrically, the room required low voltage lighting, extraction, and a shaver point. Power was also laid on for an electric shower unit over the bath. A large radiator was also fitted for the airing of towels on.

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The suite would be quite basic, comprising a larger than standard sized bath, washbowl with pedestal, back to the wall toilet pan and a recessed cistern. A mirrored wall was also fitted above the toilet and sink.

To finish off, the walls would be fully tiled, the lowered ceiling painted white and laminate flooring laid throughout. With its two-tone green marble effect tiling, expansive mirror and white opposing walls, the bathroom gives a relaxing and crisp atmosphere to unwind in.

Laminate flooring and a solid oak toilet seat completes the bathroom’s warmth and gives it an inviting appeal.

Switched from within the room via a pull switch (english regs), the lighting is made up with a triple spotlight unit to the ceiling, 2 halogen down-lights above the mirror and a single down-light on the extraction unit over the bath.

LANDING

The landing was to be a much needed new addition to the house as previously, to get to the bathroom from what was bedroom no 2, you would have to pass right through bedroom no 1. The full height walls surrounding the main staircase were dropped to banister height and pine bookcases were placed in front of it to capitalise on what would have otherwise been dead space.

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Another clever use of space was to include a full size desk area where the stair well used to be. This would mean increasing the available amount of floor above the stairs whilst not infringing on the head room underneath. It was tight, but in the end, it was successfully achieved.

Electrics were laid on to provide lighting over the stairs and over the desk area. The desk area was switched from both ends of the landing while the main landing light would be switched three ways, from both ends of the landing and the open plan living room at the bottom of the stairs.

Heating was provided by means of a radiator opposite the desk and hot and cold water services to the newly added shower room were laid along the length of the landing, initially supplied from the bathroom.

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Still a work in progress at the time, this would be the shower room off the landing

Sockets were also added at both ends of the landing for vacuuming and night lights and the desk area was given two double sockets to power a computer and all its peripheral devices. The desk area was also wired up with a TV aerial and Cat 5 cabling for internet access where a wireless router was affixed for Wi-Fi connectivity to the rest of the house.

New plastering, skirtings and architraves were included and the walls and ceilings finished with emulsion paint.

The landing … Access all areas, bedrooms and bathroom. With bookcases, a home office and shower room too. The shower room was directly opposite the master bedroom, offering a quick alternative access to washing facilities should the main bathroom be otherwise engaged.

The shower room was not fully completed when the photos were taken, but hot and cold water supplies had been laid on. The plumbing also included flow and return feeds for a towel radiator. The room was fully tiled and lighting and extraction had also been catered for. It just required the fitting of an 800mm square shower tray, valve and screen to complete it. The ceiling was of a timber, V-grooved T&G construction painted in white.

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Another good use of every available drop of available space is the Home Office area. Whereas most homes usually have to surrender a spare bedroom for this, no such sacrifices needed to be made here. As already mentioned, this area had been developed to house a full size office desk. Above the desk the ceiling has also been squared off to provide overhead task lighting and there were shelves added to provide storage solutions for additional office equipment.

And that completes the upstairs conversion for the house. So next, we look at the downstairs…

KITCHEN

The kitchen was a major change to the property. During the day, it was noted that a vast amount of sunlight poured through the front windows of the property and it was to be a major influence in capitalising on this for a light and airy feel to the finished property that the decision was made to go all open plan with it. This would help fully maximise on the daylight flooding the area.

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The kitchen would be sized just big enough to be fully functional but at the same time, comfortable enough to move around in. This would mean the exclusion of appliances not fully required within the limits of the room. We had to include a fridge, cooking facilities, sink and the luxury of a dishwasher. Washers, dryers and freezers were not a part of the plan as these could be put behind the kitchen in a purpose built utility room which would give the added bonus of supplies of water and electricity to the back yard, through the back door.

Again, the kitchen would enjoy the benefits of lowered ceilings, new electrics and woodwork throughout. It would also house the combination central heating boiler and gas meter.

With its open plan aspect to the adjoining living room, this kitchen was designed with everyday living in mind so it had to look good too.

Hosting just those appliances essential within a kitchen, like the oven, hob, extractor, sink, fridge and a dishwasher they were all fully integrated into the ample storage supplied by the Cherry wood cabinets. This kitchen also boasts a host of hidden extras ranging from the neatly hidden away gas meter and combination boiler, to the designer lighting options available and the in-built computer station. For functionality at its best.

Individually switched from the front door, the lighting is made up with 8 down-lights to the main ceiling, and 6 down-lights on the wall units along with the lighting in the extractor. Plinth lights come on with the unit lights but can be separately dimmed or isolated from a dimmer switch conveniently located inside the larder unit below the boiler. The central heating boiler (combi) is located within the top section of the larder unit, directly above the fully hidden fridge.

computerThe room was fully tiled with painted plaster on the surrounding walls and ceiling.

Provision was also made for a computer station which included Cat5 cabling from the broadband router situated upstairs in the home office area. The electrics included 3 chrome plated double sockets, a chrome plated cooker point and chrome plated 3 gang light switch to the lighting. In total, there are 7 visible sockets and 6 concealed sockets to work with. There was also a small double convector radiator with standard valves under the kitchen window.

UTILITY ROOM

This room was initially built to take up the overflow of kitchen appliances. It would house the washing machine; tumble dryer and freezer along with a sink of its own and extra storage cupboards for cleaning products, pet care, medicines etc.

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A plastic cladding ceiling was added along with another drying option in the form of an integrated clothes airing rack for drying washing internally when the outside weather is bad. And although not wholly a part of the Utility room, a wardrobe was added to the entrance for the storage of coats, an ironing board and vacuum cleaner, the things that people often forget about.

Heating, electrics and lighting were all added and a double glazed glass panelled back door was added to allow more light into the property. The dividing wall between the kitchen and utility room also included an internal window to allow full transference of daylight.

So now we have the utility room, a well thought out solution to those laundry day blues and much more than just kitchen overspill. It even has aq cat flap installed on the double glazed door.

dscf1949Switched from within the entrance from the room, the lighting is made up with a single 100 watt bayonet fitting bulb suspended from the plastic T&G ceiling. The double glazed back door also had a cat flap integrated into the glass panels which can be locked for incoming, outgoing or both options.

The room is fully tiled between the units with painted plaster on the surrounding walls and ceiling. And a tall slimline radiator can easily be added adjacent to the back door at any time in the future as the required plumbing was already laid on for it. Electrics provided include 2 double sockets above worktop level and three sockets under the worktops to power the appliances. The tumble drier had also been vented through the outside wall.

LIVING ROOM 1

This was always destined to become the main living area of the house but because of the open plan design to include the kitchen, a few problems were encountered in making it work. The positioning of the chimney breast now meant that to continue using the fire in that position, all the seating would leave you with your back to the kitchen and across doorways. So it was decided to change the focus of the room by repositioning the fire to the wall enclosing the staircase.

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This then left a redundant chimney breast intruding into the room. We had the option of removing it but chose instead to open it up and add a bookcase into it, doing the same with the adjoining alcove, thus creating a full feature wall to place a suite under.

2006_1221picshouse0023Electrics were added to the new electric fireplace, the book cases – to supply stereo, TV tuner box and DVD player/video recorders. And to free up the window wall for more seating, the TV was positioned at the end of the kitchen units on a purpose built unit. Thank God for flat screen TVs.

For variety of finishes, it was also decided to fit a suspended ceiling like those used in offices. And again, to capitalise on the daylight qualities of the house, all doors leading off this room were to be glazed. For night time illumination, the ceiling lights were switched at the bottom of the stairs and at the front door.

In the good old days, this is what would have been called the morning room, a place for the whole family to gather and go about their daily routines while saving the main sitting room for best.

The room, with its new open plan aspect into the kitchen enjoys the benefit of being flooded with natural daylight during most of the day. And even with the evening sun at the rear of the house, and with the clever use of glazed doors and internal windows, the sunlight just never seems to stop.

fireplaceAs you can see, the feature fireplace changes the focus of the room from what it used to be where the chimney breast was (now the bookcases), and a slim line LCD TV fits nicely between the kitchen and utility room, opposite a corner suite that was made to measure to specifically fit the room perfectly. Clever use of lighting also sets many different moods for in the evening, when the sun finally sets.

Switched from the front door and the bottom of the stairs, the lighting is made up with 2 banks of 5 halogen lights to the main ceiling although it is very rare they get used preferring instead to use the lighting given off from the kitchen units, the light at the bottom of the stairs and the variety of lights used on the feature fireplace which can be individually switched from its front face. The fireplace also includes two electric fan heaters switched from the front.

Electrics also include 2 double sockets and 2 single sockets around the room perimeter with additional sockets positioned within the bookcases to power up the television and stereo equipment installed within it. There is also a double convector radiator with thermostatic valves mounted on the wall above the suite and adjacent to the window.

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Having now created a four bed-roomed property, it now made sense that if it was ever to be fully habited, another toilet would at some time be needed. So to maximise on the ‘dead’ space under the stairs, it was decided that this was where to put it. The room comprises a close coupled toilet, corner washbowl and heated towel rail. It is half tiled with painted walls and ceiling above. Bevelled edge mirrors were also added and the toilet comes with a solid mahogany seat.

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Cloaks

dscf1958There’s nothing more disheartening when entering a house than having to battle past an array of coat hooks with coats spilling out into the hallway, so with this in mind it was decided that proper provision should be made for them.

So, situated en-route to the utility room, opposite the downstairs toilet we have a welcomed addition to any home… Storage space. It was a custom built wardrobe finished in beech effect vinyl laminates. The wardrobe featured a three quarter height hanging rail for all those coats that seem to clog up many a hallway and a convenient top shelf for other storage. And like previously mentioned, it also provided a useful solution for storing unsightly essentials like vacuum cleaners, mops and brushes or even step ladders.

Featuring a stainless steel effect plinth and cornice to the top, the wardrobe has two full height doors with a rounded art-deco edge to them. The handles were in a satin finished stainless steel.

LIVING ROOM 2

A lot of thought went into this room in defining its function. The house cried out for a fully defined dining area, but to use a whole room of this size would have been a huge waste. While living room 1 was for everyday living, living room 2 would be a lot more formal. Yes it would have dining facilities, but what else could it do? The advent of home cinema was to decide the final outcome of this room whereby it was designed for the sole purpose of entertaining.

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This room was the part of the property that was formerly the corner shop. And because the terrace was built on a hill, this room was also 20 inches lower than the rest of the property, creating even more problems.

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By removing the existing second staircase and the wall surrounding it, the room was opened up for its full potential. As mentioned, the room had two main functions to fulfil – entertainment and dining, so it was decided to fully define these separate areas whilst leaving the full scope and size of the room intact. And this was achieved by making the room split level. Entering through the door you would immediately be in the dining area – the same level as the rest of the house. But the sitting room/home cinema area would remain at its original lower level.

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And because of the more formal feel of the room, a degree of additional opulence was factored in with the use of natural products like travertine tiling to the rear wall being carried through to the under-tile heated floor of the seating area. A richer looking, natural oak flooring was used in the dining area, under which the created void had been left deliberately accessible for the storage of items like Christmas decorations or any other seldom used belongings.

And due to the now higher floor level to the dining area, the second of the back doors was taken out and a window added in its place. A gas fire and stone surround was fitted into the existing chimney breast too. In keeping with the rest of the house, the remaining walls would be painted, new skirtings, architraves and window cills were added along with a wooden banister rail and spindles to safely separate the two floor levels.

Adjacent to the chimney breast a double cupboard was added to house the home cinema systems, with an entertainment centre computer piped through the 60″ plasma TV, along with sound systems and gaming consoles.

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Additional lighting effects add a feeling of warmth to the room on those cold wintery nights

A room specifically designed for entertainment and social gatherings. Utilising both natural stone and polished oak flooring the room shouts of opulence. Add to that the feature lighting round the split level floors and dimmable main lighting, the room offers a luxurious welcome to all.

As you enter the room, you are on a suspended polished oak floor which defines the dining area of the room. Raised 20 inches above the solid floor to the rest of the room, provision had also been made for illuminated under-floor storage to this area. The home cinema part of the room was tiled with travertine over the floor and across the whole back wall tying the two areas neatly together.

Switched from within the doorway of the room, the lighting is made up of 2 separate dimmable light fittings (one for each area) which each host 10 halogen bulbs. Other lighting includes LED lighting around the stairs and the dividing wall between the two areas. These lights slowly change colour whilst in operation, providing a relaxing ambient mood to the room in the evening. A huge framed mirror is fitted in the dining area, giving the illusion of extra light and space to the room.

The un-tiled walls are of painted plaster as is the ceiling. There is also large double convector radiator to the main seating area with designer valves fitted. To the dining area, there is a single convector with standard valves.

Within the 2 side cupboards is the electric meter and electrics for the home cinema system, a media centre computer, games consoles and sound systems. The cupboard nearest to the chimney breast is also fully vented to allow storage of the aforementioned components whilst in use. The cabinet units are in a high gloss cream to compliment the stone fire surround and travertine flooring. They have stainless steel bar handles.

Around the perimeter of the room, there are five sockets strategically placed for accessories like additional lighting or use of the dreaded vacuum cleaner. There are two windows to the room, the largest being at the front with a smaller one at the rear. They both have vertical Louvre blinds and opening lights to them.

Originally purchased for the princely sum of only £16,000, the modernisation of this property to its current standard realised the selling price of £144,950. And even after all the expenditure on the refurbishment, that’s quite a tidy profit in anyone’s book.

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