Real home: A dilapidated 1920s house has its elegance restored

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s restored 1920s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents.

 Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents
(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

No one was more surprised than Jen Rothbury when she and her husband Miles found themselves taking on a renovation project.

‘At 36 weeks pregnant, moving house was the last thing on my mind, so when Miles suggested going to look at a run-down period semi, it was just curiosity on my part,’ says Jen. ‘I came out saying to Miles, 'That was awful, wasn’t it?' to which he replied, 'No, I loved it!' That evening we went through the floor plans and he explained how we could make it work – and the rest is history.’ 

Miles and Jen extended to create their dream home. 

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

The wooden windows at the front of the house were rotten and had to be replaced. The shutters collapsed when Jen tried to open them, inspiring her Instagram name @crack_the_shutters (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

Instead of removing the original black and terracotta tiles in the hallway, Jen and Miles laid a vinyl covering over the top. ‘This space doesn’t get much natural light so we thought it needed a lighter, less sombre look,’ says Jen. ‘We’re delighted with the result – as well as it being low-cost. No one realises it’s vinyl.’  Nostalgia 09 vinyl flooring, Best 4 Flooring (opens in new tab). Radiator, Cast Iron Radiator Centre (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Cornforth White, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) Try the Mullan, Ideas 4 Lighting (opens in new tab), for a similar wall lamp

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )
The profile

The owners Jen Rothbury (@crack_the_shutters (opens in new tab)), a physiotherapist, her husband, Miles, a banker, and their sons, Leo and Magnus, plus Danny the mongrel
The property A 1920s semi-detached house in Bramhall, Cheshire
Project cost £171,000 

Jen’s reservations were based on the fact that the house had the same number of bedrooms as their existing property. ‘But when we got the builders round, they explained how straightforward it would be to add a loft conversion, giving us two extra bedrooms and a shower room,’ she says. Most exciting of all for Jen was the prospect of building out at the back to create an open-plan kitchen-diner.

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

The wall above the island proved the perfect space to add a shock of greenery, so a shelf made of old scaffold board was put up. ‘The difficult part was making sure it would remain stable as we were putting it onto plasterboard and it’s very heavy,’ says Jen. Eildon in-frame cabinetry, First Impressions. Units painted in Cornforth White (opens in new tab) and Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Aga, AgaLiving (opens in new tab). Bar stools, Garden Trading (opens in new tab). Sign above cooker, Sign Hive (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

‘The kitchen-diner has established itself as the heart of the home, where we all gravitate to,’ says Jen. Corinth Tumbled Travertine flooring, Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab). Pendant light, Elstead Lighting (opens in new tab). United painted in Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

The dilapidated kitchen was certainly in dire need of a facelift – it had a musty smell with ripped and stained psychedelic lino and kitchen units that were falling apart. ‘Everything needed doing and I told Miles we’d only buy it on the condition that we began the renovation soon after moving in,’ says Jen. ‘The first thing we did was to decorate the place to make it more bearable – even though we knew it was temporary.’ 

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

The sloping ceiling with a bare-brick wall adds cosiness and texture here. Positioned to look out to the garden, the table has chairs for grown-ups and a bench for the boys. Dining table, The Table Guy (opens in new tab). Wishbone dining chairs, ByKallevig (opens in new tab). Woodwork painted in Stiffkey Blue, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Tripod floor lamp, Value Lights (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Although the building work took eight months, with a kitchen set up in the study, the hardest part was the 10 weeks that the family were without running water. ‘With brick dust thick in the air throughout the house, it wasn’t the easiest environment in which to bring up our then two-year-old, Leo, and baby Magnus,’ says Jen.

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

Adjacent to the kitchen-diner, this sociable space has a cosy sofa at its heart. ‘When I’m in the kitchen, the boys like to snuggle up on here,’ says Jen. ‘It’s lovely to see what they’re doing but still have separate zones in the same area.’ Sofa, Sofa.com (opens in new tab). Coffee table, Habitat (opens in new tab). Rug, Made (opens in new tab). Wall light, La Redoute (opens in new tab). Table lamps, Ikea (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Other inconveniences included extra outlay due to faulty guttering and an unsafe chimney stack. But once the builders had left, it was clear the unforeseen problems had been worth enduring and the open-plan kitchen-diner quickly proved perfect for family life. One of the biggest successes is the snug. ‘We were going to have it as a dining room but the fireplace had such great potential for being a warm focal point,’ says Jen. ‘We bought a new sofa and chair and this space instantly worked for us and the boys, especially in the evenings.’ 

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

To reflect the period feel and allude to the decorative ceiling, moulding strips were used to create panelling on several walls. Coffee table, The Cotswold Company (opens in new tab). Overmantel mirror. John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Industrial Retro wall lights, Homary (opens in new tab). Dried Plaster Chalky emulsion, Craig & Rose (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

The loft conversion created two generous-sized guest bedrooms and a bathroom, and here, as elsewhere, Jen and Miles added wall panelling to create character. ‘It makes a massive difference for relatively little effort,’ says Jen. ‘Miles did the actual joinery – I just painted them.’

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

Being long and narrow, this spare room needed a lift colourwise, so Jen added yellow to the blue to create this classic combination. Ceiling and walls in mainly white maximise light, while a section of blue wallpaper adds interest. Panelling painted in Blackened (opens in new tab); Bumble Bee wallpaper (opens in new tab), both Farrow & Ball. Curtains, Ikea (opens in new tab). Table lamp with jam jar shade, Iconic Lights (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

Three small rooms were combined to create a stunning L-shaped main bathroom that Jen regards as possibly her most satisfying achievement. ‘I love the contrast between the pretty pink and the industrial look of the brick-slip wall,’ she says. ‘I’m even more proud of the floor that I painted myself.’

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

‘I painted the existing tiled floor white then stencilled and varnished it,’ says Jen. ‘Replacing the old tiles would have cost more than £3,000.’ Hampton cabinetry, basins and mixer taps, all Roper Rhodes (opens in new tab). Units painted in Camisole, Valspar (opens in new tab). Zarzis (opens in new tab) floor tile stencil, Dizzy Duck Designs. Mirrors, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). London Town brick slips, Kuci Design (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

All the rooms in the Rothburys’ home have their own identity, and each has a sense of fun that reflects the couple’s personalities. ‘I find dark, heavy colours quite oppressive and tend to go for hues that are both calming yet lively,’ says Jen. ‘There’s so much out there to help you – online tutorials and different ways to do things – and with a few basic tools, you can do so much yourself, keeping costs down in the process.’

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

Wall panelling has also been used in this bedroom. The addition of little pegs mean accessories can be changed regularly  Panelling painted in Oval Room Blue, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Bed, Happy Beds (opens in new tab). Bedside tables and wall lamps, Ikea (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

The upshot is a house that has turned out to be a home fit for both family and friends, as Jen concludes: ‘I’m so looking forward to seeing my boys grow up in what now feels like our forever home, and make memories in the spaces we have worked hard to create.’

Jen and Miles Rothbury’s home owes its uniqueness to the couple’s creative talents

The bedroom colour scheme is coordinated and tranquil. ‘The intention is that when guests stay here they feel like they’re escaping the chaos of the rest of the house,’ says Jen. Bed, The Cotswold Company (opens in new tab). Bedside cabinet, La Redoute (opens in new tab). Towel ladder, Vaunt Design (opens in new tab). Wall and panelling painted in Vert de Terre, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez )

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