Finding a house to renovate

In the first of a new monthly blog series, aspiring interior designer, Hannah Davey, explains how she and her family found their home in Bedfordshire and began the process of transforming it…

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In June 2014, we brought a house after much searching, a few near misses and the customary tears. It wasn’t a box-ticker, in fact it ticked only two of our boxes – ‘tranquil setting’ and ‘five bedrooms’. The rest of our must haves – old, no building work, large garage, three bathrooms, spacious rooms, attractive to look at – were all missing. But in danger of sounding like Phil and Kirsty, we knew we had to compromise.

We decided that if we couldn’t find what we wanted, we would go for the complete opposite and start a journey to turn it into our dream family home. Undoubtedly the most (and possibly only) desirable element of our purchase was the name….

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House on the Bridge

An uninhabited five-bedroom house (TICK), sitting on a half-acre plot next to a small river (TICK)…that was where the box-ticking stopped. With no garage, no heating, one functioning bathroom and a distinct and embedded damp smell, moving in was met with apprehension all round. But with two previous renovations in the bag, and big exciting plans, we dug in, brought some electric heaters (and scented candles) – and got stuck in to the project.

Starting our journey

Sixteen months on and we are well into the journey. We had planned to start the main build in July after Claudia finished her GCSEs – so in the lead up we made improvements where we could. The addition of the oak-frame garage was a real turning point.

We also knocked a bedroom and the only working bathroom together to create a large family bathroom – a mini project that I loved, and a space we now all appreciate. It really is an oasis to retreat to – and with underfloor heating it’s not unknown to find us reading in there before bed!

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The oak-frame hallway extension went up and was glazed, which started to hint to the finished look of the house. Now, we are simply waiting for the builder to start. The start date was pushed back from July to August, then the end of September, and now October – well, we will see what next month’s update holds. I have everything crossed that we will have a house with no roof, a kitchen decommissioned and the washing machine plumbed into the garage – just in time for winter…

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  • Hannah Davey is an aspiring interior designer who owns and runs a performance brake disc manufacturing company. She lives with husband Robert, a relationship director at a bank, and children Claudia, 16, Jemima, six, and Rafferty, four.