1930s extension project

Sasha and Will Johnson have renovated on a budget to create a home to suit their lifestyle

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When Sasha and Will Johnson got engaged, they decided to pool their resources and buy a property together.

‘We had both been living in new-build townhouses when we first met,’ says Sasha.

‘We loved the idea of taking on a renovation project, but as it would be our first experience of renovating a property, Will and I weren’t keen on tackling anything that was particularly challenging. We didn’t have a huge budget either, so that was an influencing factor too.’

The couple had been living on the outskirts of Bangor. However, they had set their heart on moving somewhere closer to the town centre, ideally near the beach.

Fact file

  • The owners: Sasha Johnson, a writer, lives here with her husband Will, an art director at an advertising agency
  • The property: A three-bedroom semi-detached house built in the 1930s
  • The location: Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland
  • What they spent: The couple bought the property for £150,000 in 2009 and have spent around £28,000 extending and renovating it. It has recently been valued at around £180,000

Stairway with gallery wall

Office area with wooden desk

Interior design

Once the building work was complete, Sasha and Will eagerly turned their attention to the rooms’ interior design.

‘I was so happy when the house reached the decorating stage. While the building work was going on, I had found it quite difficult to envisage how it would all turn out,’ Sasha explains. ‘I put together swatches and ideas, then together we drew up room schemes.’

Luckily for Sasha and Will, they share similar tastes in furniture and colour schemes, so they enjoyed browsing for modern and classic furniture as well as searching for unusual pieces online.

‘I love contemporary design, but I prefer to mix and match styles rather than stick to one look,’ says Sasha. ‘When you contrast old with new, it adds interest, texture and personality to a living space.’

Their first job was to paint all the walls white, which lifted the interior and provided a clean, crisp contrast for their furniture.

‘Although Will and I kept some pieces from our previous homes, we sent most of it to local auctions because we wanted to start afresh,’ says Sasha.

The kitchen

They then started shopping around for the units for their new open-plan kitchen. They visited several kitchen showrooms before deciding on a local company in Belfast.

‘They were competitively priced and offered a good range of contemporary kitchens,’ says Sasha. ‘We had set our heart on a high-gloss finish in ivory and chose dark-toned laminate work surfaces as an exciting contrast.’

The living room

The living room at the front of the house was the last room to be decorated. ‘It lay untouched for months. We called it our second garage, because it was filled with all the things from our previous homes,’ Sasha explains. ‘We decorated it in calming neutrals. Although we spend a lot of our time in the open-plan living area, I love to sit and relax in this room.’

While the project wasn’t without its problems, the couple are pleased with the results and feel it was a learning curve too.

‘This was our first renovation project – I can’t believe how well the house has turned out,’ says Sasha. ‘We absolutely love it.’


Building work, including extension and rewiring£16,800
Kitchen, including all appliances£4,500