Having set their hearts on a popular leafy estate of 1970s and 1980s houses in Whitley Bay, Patsy and Al came across this house in a probate sale that fit the bill. ‘We were first to view and offered the asking price straight away,’ says Patsy. ‘The sunny plot wasn’t overlooked and the trees made it feel like we were in the countryside. There were a lot of small rooms not being used to their full potential; it had the space we needed.’
They had extended their former house, a 1930s semi, twice to accommodate their growing family. But for this purchase, the couple decided to find the space they needed by looking internally. Four months after moving in, they had plans drawn up to knock three disconnected rooms together into one large kitchen/diner/living area measuring a generous 44 square metres, with extensive glazing to the garden.
‘Access to the garden was through a utility that was bigger than the kitchen with a stone floor, felt roof and no heating,’ says Patsy. ‘A dining room in the middle of the house – with a serving hatch – had a lovely outlook over the garden, but didn’t lead anywhere, so it just served as a storage room.’
The owners: Patsy Jackson, a self-employed administrator (@hepscotthousereno), her husband Al, a government officer, and their children, Hannah and Ellie
The property: A four-bedroom detached house in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear, built in 1980
Project cost: £143,000
The couple spoke to an architect and several builders to see if their plans were viable. ‘One builder just said, “I don’t like it and I don’t think it’ll work,” while others said we should extend out instead,’ explains Patsy. ‘However, I felt we already had the space we needed – it just wasn’t configured properly, and I didn’t want to lose too much garden.’
Eventually Northern Property Projects agreed to take on the project. The work involved taking out three supporting walls as well as the corner of the house. All beams and structural supports were hidden in the first floor to maintain a seamless ceiling height.
Part of the double garage was used to square off the kitchen and create a utility area at the rear. ‘Seven steel beams were needed in total, including a large goalpost that spans around the sliding doors,’ explains Patsy. ‘Cost-wise, it wouldn’t have been much more to extend.’
The work was full of challenges. As the first floor joists ran the opposite way to how the builders expected, each one had to be cut to accommodate the steel beam. A soil pipe which was boxed in between the kitchen and dining room also had to be relocated and concealed above the sliding doors.
Elsewhere, the dated conservatory was given a new roof and anthracite window frames. A new boot room was created in the hallway and two new bathrooms were fitted upstairs. ‘We halved our en suite to make space for a desk area in Hannah’s bedroom,’ says Patsy. ‘And the family bathroom felt cramped as the pipes were boxed in around the bottom. Now the pipework is all hidden, the skirting boards have gone and there’s a wall-hung vanity unit – making the room feel bigger.’
Next, Patsy plans to give her spacious hallway a monochrome and rattan makeover, turn the fourth bedroom into a storage cum craft room and possibly redecorate the lounge. ‘When we moved in, the only rooms we could decorate were the lounge, downstairs loo and Ellie’s bedroom as the building work would affect all the other rooms,’ she says. ‘My style is a mix of contemporary-classic with boho and industrial elements, but although I love the blue colour in the lounge, it feels disconnected from the rest of the house now.’
Although the couple may downsize when their children leave home, for now they’re enjoying the new space. ‘The nice thing about buying a house that needs a full renovation is that you end up with something totally your style and taste,’ says Patsy. ‘When builders disagree with your plans, you start doubting yourself, but the kitchen works so well for us now. We’re happy we stuck to our original vision.’
Subscribe to Real Homes magazine Want even more great ideas for your home from the expert team at Real Homes magazine? Subscribe to Real Homes magazine and get great content delivered straight to your door. From inspiring completed projects to the latest decorating trends and expert advice, you'll find everything you need to create your dream home inside each issue.