Giving a bungalow a radical facelift

Patricia and Stephen Carson have given their bungalow a radical facelift, creating a a contemporary, open-plan space with a stylish new look inside and out

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After living in their red-brick bungalow for 16 years, Patricia and Stephen Carson felt it was time for a change. ‘We had spent many very happy years here, but there was a fair amount of wear and tear beginning to show on the building,’ explains Patricia. ‘The porch roof began to leak, and the railings on the old balcony at the back of the house were starting to be past their best, with more than a few signs of rust. The white uPVC windows were also beginning to look a little dated. We wanted to either totally revamp the property or move to a new one.’

Having discussed the idea of moving, the couple decided they would much rather stay in their existing home and explore the possibility of giving it a new look. ‘I loved the thought of building a fabulous contemporary house or buying a recently built, ultra-modern design, but the more we looked at the options, the more we realised how good we had it living here,’ says Patricia.

Fact file

  • The owners: Patricia Carson, an artist, lives here with her husband Stephen, a company director
  • The property: A four-bedroom, split-level bungalow built in the 1960s
  • The location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • What they spent: The couple bought the property in 1995 for £155,000 and have spent around £405,000 renovating it. It is now worth around £800,000

Dining area in remodelled bungalow

Planning the redesign

The couple approached architectural consultant Colin Cowan of Cowan Architectural, who had been recommended by a friend, to come up with ideas for remodelling the house. Following the couple’s brief for four large bedrooms, each with an en suite and dressing room, Colin suggested adding a first floor to the left-hand side of the property to give the couple the space that they needed. This would mean that instead of having four bedrooms on the ground floor, two would be moved upstairs so that all four rooms could be made much bigger and would include the en suites the couple wanted.

At the rear of the house, an extension would enlarge the ground-floor area to create an open-plan kitchen/dining/living space, with doors leading out to a patio and decked area. In addition to the planned alterations to the internal spaces, Colin recommended giving the exterior of the property a radical facelift by re-rendering the entire facade. ‘We were thrilled with Colin’s suggestion,’ says Patricia, ‘as it seemed a great way to create a striking, contemporary exterior look.’

Planning permission

Planning permission was granted within three months and without any problems, so the builder, who was also recommended to the couple, was able to begin working on site without any delays. The remodelling needed to transform the house was so extensive that Patricia and Stephen decided to move out for the duration of the project, renting a house nearby. ‘It meant we were able to closely follow the progress of the work,’ says Patricia.

The building work was eventually completed within the planned schedule of a year, and Patricia and Stephen were amazed by how different the remodelled house looked after this amount of time. ‘Covering the red brick with a combination of white and grey render and natural stone cladding, replacing the roof slates and doors, and changing the windows from white uPVC to black aluminium has been incredibly effective,’ says Patricia. ‘Most people now assume this is a new-build rather than a renovated 1960s bungalow.’

Stairs in redesigned bungalow

Living room in redesigned bungalow

Interior design

With a stunning new exterior and interior layout, the next big project for Patricia and Stephen was deciding on the interior finishes. ‘I had a clear vision of how I wanted the spaces to look, but felt that I needed some guidance due to the scale of the project,’ says Patricia. ‘Although I know my likes and dislikes, the thought of researching and sourcing furnishings and fittings for every room proved to be quite daunting, so I enlisted the skills of interior designer Lee Austin. He completely understood what I wanted, and was on my wavelength when it came to choosing colours and styles of furniture. He even specially designed pieces of furniture to suit the scale of some of the rooms, such as the curved sofa in the living room and the chair in our bedroom. It was wonderful to have him on board as it took away all the stress from the interior design side of the whole renovation.’

Patricia and Stephen are delighted that, despite its scale and ambition, the project ran so smoothly and on time. ‘It amazes me to think back to our red-brick bungalow and imagine that it still stands behind this contemporary new structure,’ says Patricia. ‘It is essentially a new house for us, but I’m so pleased that we adapted our old home rather than starting from scratch.’

The costs

Building work£250,000
Flooring and wall tiles£35,000