The new house: BEFORE

The new house: BEFORE

You’ve had a sneak peek of the outside of our new house in south London, this time I want to show you the inside, before we get to carried away with renovations and forget to share the before shots! I’ve been sharing a few sneak peeks on Instagram and Snapchat but here I want to show you the exciting plans we want to carry out.

Our new home is an early 20th-century terraced house near Brixton that has been subjected to various – I would say naff – additions and decorative choices by previous owners that are not in keeping with the period of the property. Our plan is to restore it to its former glory, strip back the horrible, ugly Seventies and Eighties features and bring back a little bit of its character. I’ve been eagerly watching George Clarke’s Old House New Home on Channel 4, where he helps homeowners transform their tired old homes into modern interiors. Like the homes on the show, I want to tear out terrible taste and make the most of the home’s history, while creating a contemporary home that’s suitable for modern living.

The new house: in progress
Figuring out the layout

That means knocking down walls to create an open-plan living, entertaining and dining space, sourcing original features such as fireplaces and ridding the home of the most garish colours I’ve ever seen. We’re going to be getting builders in to do the hard work, but I love putting my hand to a bit of DIY and we’ll be doing a lot of the decorating ourselves. Not only to save money, but I think it makes it all the more rewarding when you’ve put hard graft, blood sweat and tears into making something look beautiful and ultimately, your own.

The new house
The estate agent’s plan

Above is the plan as it is. The downstairs comprises a kitchen and living room as two separate spaces. At the moment the plan just doesn’t work for us, we’re spending a lot of the time walking around that wall from one space to the other. And if one of us is cooking and the other wants to relax on the sofa, we can’t chat or see each other. It doesn’t really work for entertaining either.

We would love a big, open-plan space, where you can see right from one end through to the greenery of the garden at the other. We’d be able to have a big dining table to gather friends over and entertain, the living room would no longer feel like a waiting room (we’re quite close to the road) but a part of the house, and we’d be able to open a set of double doors directly onto the garden and connect with the outside.

At the moment the only bathroom is also downstairs. There is planning permission for an extension to move it upstairs and create a dining space on the ground floor, but for various reasons, including mainly budget, we’re going to leave that big job for the moment. It’s a decent, clean bathroom and we’d rather create a lovely living space first. I’m itching to get that wall between the kitchen and living room down!

The new house: in progress
Putting my architecture degree to good use and drawing up plans
The new house: in progress
The first ‘phase’ of work will be knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room and creating a light open space

So focusing on the downstairs living spaces, here is the plan before:

The new house: BEFORE
BEFORE: The kitchen and living room are separated by a wall

And some before images, these are very much BEFORE, I have no idea what the previous owner was thinking with the colours and there is certainly a lot of work to do. But every one likes a before photo right? So here it is, warts and all…

The new house: hallway BEFORE
BEFORE: the hallway
The new house: hallway BEFORE
I got too excited about ripping the carpet off the stairs, I forgot to do a before shot!
The new house: hallway BEFORE
It’s got some real potential: I love the cornicing and the shape of the handrail

Just wait, the garish colour is to come… The hallway is actually one of the nicest spaces, with its cornicing and the stairs which I’ve already stripped of smelly brown carpet. The first job we have to do is move the boiler from behind the fireplace (yep, I did say that, it’s behind that horrible 1970s electric fireplace, why anyone would put it there I don’t know…) and put it in a cupboard upstairs. That involves a fair amount of disruption to the bedrooms and living room so there’s still cardboard boxes everywhere.

We want to rip out all that built in shelving and take out the laminate flooring and (hopefully) paint the original floorboards. The windows are going to be replace with wooden sash windows and I want to get wooden shutters to give a bit of privacy from the road.

BEFORE: the living room
BEFORE: the living room – WHAT is that feature wall?! And don’t get me started on the fireplace…
BEFORE: kitchen
BEFORE: You need sunglasses for the kitchen

The kitchen is bright yellow and smells quite damp and musty. The units would run along the other side of the room (where the camera is positioned above) so that the window can become a door to the garden. I think there was originally a chimney breast where the extractor fan is, so I want to open up either side and create some larder storage, giving enough space for a big dining table in front.

The bedrooms will mainly stay the same, it’s more decorative work than any big changes. We’ll be painting, sanding the original floorboards and painting them white, installing new built-in wardrobes and replacing the ugly PVC windows that are letting a lot of noise into the front bedroom. At the moment we’ve moved into the back, spare room which is a lot quieter and easier to sleep in.

BEFORE: the bedroom
BEFORE: Oh they did like a feature wall… the main bedroom
The new house: before
BEFORE: The main bedroom, there’s lovely original floorboards
BEFORE: the space bedroom
BEFORE: the spare bedroom

And here is the plan of how it will look after with the wall knocked down and the double doors to the garden.

The new house: AFTER
AFTER: when the kitchen and living room become one big space 

This is how I would like it to look – lovely and light, still in keeping with the period of the property but with contemporary touches. The floors will be painting white and the walls soft grey. We’ll add back some period features, such as a fireplace to create a focal point, but the rest of the space will be quite modern, with a large contemporary sofa and mid-century furniture. I want to keep it very natural and laid-back, with lots of natural textures – wood, linen, lambs wool –  and calm muted colours.

Light, bright period property with painted white floors
Image above: via Light Locations, below left: JJ locations, below right: Farrow & Ball‘s lamp room grey

Light, bright period property with painted white floors  Light grey walls and exposed floorboards

If you fancy looking at more inspiration for light, relaxed interiors suited to period homes, I’ve also started a Pinterest board for the refurb, which you can check out here:

I’ll be sharing updates as we go along, all our DIY projects, makeovers, trials and tribulations, so do check back here, or follow our progress on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter with the hashtag #cshhouserefurb

  1. Pingback: Soft blush pink bedroom makeover – BEFORE - cate st hill

  2. Wow, this house has amaaaaaazing bones! I don’t know what the previous owners were thinking with the fuchsia or yellow paint but seeing beyond that, you can see how great the place is. I can’t wait to see more. 🙂

    xx, Cleshawn |

    • Thank you! It has huge potential, if you see beyond the colour! I’m sharing some more on instagram stories, if you want to have a look x

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  4. Jenny @Seasonsincolour

    So exciting!! Looking forward to seeing the progress, i’m sure you can turn this into an amazing home!

  5. Good luck with the project Cate!

  6. Wow! Looks like my sort of project! I’m hoping to do a similar thing in my new flat, looking forward to seeing your updates for inspiration 🙂

  7. It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing transformation. Can’t wait to see it!


  8. SO excited to see this progress, it sounds lovely!

  9. How exciting Cate – looking forward to seeing it all take shape! xx

  10. It’s going to look lovely, you have the right vision for it. How exciting to have it all ahead of you, a lovely place to make your own. I look forward to following your progress.

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