We’d had our eye on this house for many years before the opportunity came up to buy it,’ recalls Sarah.
‘We were living in a 1920s three-bedroom house, but I had always dreamt of owning the double-fronted Victorian property across the street.
‘Houses like this don’t come up for sale very often,’ she adds. ‘We were always interested in it and over time we got to know the owner, too.’
Unfortunately, Sarah and her husband Adrian outgrew their semi-detached home before their dream home came on to the market.
They wanted to stay in the area because of good local schools, transport links and the friends they’d made, so their search for more space meant that they bought a different house around the corner, but their hearts were never in it.
‘The move was a bit rushed, and we soon realised that we could never turn it into the sort of house we wanted,’ she admits.
- The owners: Sarah Clough, a victim support volunteer, lives here with her husband Adrian, a solicitor, and children Alex, 16, and Tom, 14
- The property: A five-bedroom detached Victorian house
- The location: Teddington, Middlesex
- What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £70,000, while the bespoke orangery cost a further £70,000
At a coffee morning years later, Sarah heard that the original house she loved was finally for sale. ‘There was going to be an open day and any offers were to be submitted by the sealed bids process,’ says Sarah. ‘We went along and had a good look around, taking in the sheer scale of the work needed. But we were incredibly enthusiastic about how we could transform it, and convinced it would be worth the effort. We put in a good bid, and added a personal letter about how much we wanted to make it our family home. Presumably that did the trick because we got the house, which was incredibly exciting.’
With so much work needed to update the property, the couple set themselves a five-year plan. ‘It was definitely a long-term project, as every single room needed renovating,’ explains Sarah. ‘The roof needed to be completely replaced and that obviously had to come first. I was itching to get my hands on the kitchen, but I knew that would be some way down the line.’
Living with the dated 1970s-style kitchen took a great deal of patience for the family, as it was quite small for a house of its size. ‘The units had no backs to them and you could see straight through to the walls,’ says Sarah. ‘They ran along one side, with a table at the end, plus the terracotta floor always looked dirty. The design didn’t make the most of the lovely views to the garden, and the whole space felt dark and cramped.’
Carrying out one major project a year, it was another four years before the couple could start looking at the kitchen plans in earnest. With ambitious plans for the space, they decided to hire an architect to help them come up with a new design. ‘We interviewed a few local architects, but we’d used Simon Merrony (020 8943 8111, simonmerrony.co.uk) at our old house and had been very happy with his work.’
The couple’s idea was to add a large orangery at the end of the room to bring more light into the space, creating the spectacular kitchen the house deserved, with direct access to the garden. ‘We wanted quite a traditional look for the orangery as we felt it should be in keeping with the rest of the house,’ says Sarah.
With planning permission granted within the standard timeframe, the architect recommended three builders, and the project went out to tender. The quote from Pantraco’s Alex Serridge was successful and the nine-month project got underway, with the family keen to continue living in the house during this time.
‘The builders sealed off the back of the house and set me up with a temporary kitchen in the home office,’ says Sarah. ‘The main construction phase was during the summer, so it wasn’t too bad as we managed to have a lot of barbecues.’
An old lean-to at the back of the house was knocked down and the kitchen was extended to create the stylish orangery, while new windows and a new back door were added to the existing kitchen area.
When it came to choosing the kitchen, Sarah already had her dream design in mind. ‘I always knew I wanted to have a Cooks kitchen by Mark Wilkinson (01380 850007, mwf.com), but I was waiting until I had a space that was big enough to merit it,’ says Sarah. ‘In terms of design, it’s such a timeless classic, plus it suits the age and style of the house.’
To finalise the design, the architect discussed the plans with Mark Wilkinson and the Cloughs. The kitchen company’s ideas included putting in a breakfast bar to offset the room’s narrow look, adding a larder cupboard on the outside wall to help keep the contents cool, and enlarging the windows to bring in more light. ‘I love the big storage cupboard at the orangery end of the room – it’s so useful and looks fantastic, too,’ says Sarah. ‘The project really opens up the views and makes you feel as if the house and garden are connected rather than separate spaces.’
The renovation has been a big success for the couple. ‘We’re thrilled with the way it’s turned out,’ says Sarah. ‘There’s plenty of room for lots of people to be in here at the same time and not feel cramped. It’s a very popular room for the whole family – the kids love doing their homework in here – and it’s also a nice space in which to sit and read newspapers and generally relax.’
|Fixtures, fittings and appliances||£43,580|
|Labour and building work||£20,000|
|Furniture and accessories||£2,985|
|Walls and floors||£2,060|