Real home: a bright home that's been extended for family life

After taking a chance on a house they hadn’t even stepped inside, Sally and Owen are as smitten as ever with their Swansea semi

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style
(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Peering into the empty Swansea house as they waited for their estate agent to arrive for the viewing, Sally and Owen decided there and then: this was the one they would buy. This 1950s semi, a short walk from the bay, had original wooden floor and cast-iron fire which they spied through the front room window. That sealed the deal, even before they saw the rest of the interior, and convinced them to put in an offer instantly.

For 17 years, that same house has been the stage as their lives have unfolded inside it; when sons Danny and Bobby were born, through to game nights, homeschooling and beyond, extending to meet their changing needs.

If you are looking to create more space like Sally and Owen, we have lots of ideas and helpful advice on extending a house. For more real home transformations, head to our hub page.

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘It was this room that made us fall in love with the house,’ says Sally. ‘We got the flooring treated and sanded for safety and to give it longevity. The large wooden dining table and bench allows more space for dining with guests’ For similar paint, try Black Blue, Farrow & Ball. Dining table and benches, Made

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)
Profile

The owners Sally Thomas (@sally.at.no_3), a nurse-turned-full-time-mom, her husband, Owen, and sons, Danny and Bobby
The property A three-bedroom 1950s semi with a loft conversion in Swansea
Project cost £49,200

The house had central heating installed and a loft conversion completed just before the couple moved in, but when their oldest son Danny was born, they soon needed more space. ‘A year later we’d already outgrown the compact kitchen,’ Sally says. ‘We wanted it to be a space that we could all enjoy – somewhere we could eat, cook, craft and play as a family – so we added a small brick addition with a glass roof, which allowed room for a dining table and let in lots of light.’

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘Painting the woodwork dark in the hallway was bold but we’re so glad we decided to go for it,’ says Sally. ‘It adds so much character to what was such a bland space, and makes the area feel warm and welcoming when you enter the house.’ Woodwork painted in Off-Black, Farrow & Ball. Pendant light, Ocean Lighting

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Eight years later, though, the family felt they hadn’t made the most of the downstairs space. ‘The kitchen felt small again and we weren’t making the best of the dining room,’ says Sally. 

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

The family kitchen has been extended to let in natural light, and features colourful bar stools painted by the couple’s children, Danny and Bobby. ‘The boys are both such visual people,’ says Sally. ‘Since the renovation, we’ve always involved them in all the decorative decision making in our home.’ Pendant lights, Easy Lighting. Bar stools, Ebay. Kitchen cabinetry, Benchmarx

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

‘We knocked through from the kitchen to the dining room and used a small part of our hallway to create an open-plan kitchen and living area. Some of the windows were repositioned and we had bi-fold doors installed so we can open up the room in summer,' she continues. 

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

Knocking two rooms into one and taking some space from the hallway means there’s now plenty of room for a large corner sofa in the open-plan layout. Corner sofa, DFS. Pink armchair, HomeSense. Coffee table, Habitat

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

'A new kitchen with an island gave us more work space than we’d had before, and we went with an all-white and wood colour palette for a fresh feel. We also had a beautiful wood-burning stove installed into the original chimney space.’

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘We all love absolutely every part of the new kitchen', says Sally.. It’s made such a difference to family life. We spend so much time in here cooking, playing board games, watching TV and listening to music.’ California Dreamin’ neon light, Light Up North. For a pink flamingo, try Wayfair

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Danny and Bobby have been at the forefront of the renovation project. Both sons are autistic, so ensuring that they felt settled was the family’s priority. Both boys had significant speech and language delay in their early years, ‘so we’re always mindful about selecting homewares that have meaning, evoke memories and encourage communication,’ says Sally. 

Sally and Owen have created a colourful family home by extending their 1950s semi in Swansea

‘Owen and I had always wanted a feature wall in our bedroom,’ says Sally. ‘When the boys were younger, they seemed to find patterned wallpaper really stressful, so we had never had anything other than paint. They’ve developed so much in recent years that we felt comfortable experimenting with botanical prints in our bedroom. It was so exciting! As soon as we saw Cole & Son’s Palm Jungle wallpaper we knew that would be the one for our first feature wall.’ Palm Jungle wallpaper, Cole & Son. Rocking chair, Ebay. Gold frame wall mirror, Kismet Vintage. Sinnerlig bamboo pendant lamp, Ikea

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

‘Wall art and brightly coloured furnishings, like the bar stools that the boys painted themselves, are all great conversation starters. We regularly make interior changes as the boys grow up and improve developmentally – so our friends are always curious to see what we’ve been up to!’

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘In Bobby’s room we added artwork and accessories that nod to his love of travel. His favourite word is adventure – it’s what we call our travels.’ Locker bedside table, Ebay. Cushions, Tullibee

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Upstairs, Sally and Owen redecorated all three bedrooms. ‘Danny and Bobby have had difficulties with night waking and self-settling virtually every night since they were born, so Owen and I decided to switch rooms with Danny and give all three bedrooms a makeover to see if we could improve their sleep quality,’ says Sally. 

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘Danny’s bedroom has a notable Disney theme,’ says Sally. ‘We spotted a vintage Mickey Mouse lamp [not shown] on holiday months before the revamp, but it was too heavy and expensive to buy on a whim. Once we had decided on a theme for his room, I tracked down the store. I’ll never forget Danny’s face when he opened it.’ Black chalk board paint, B&Q. Yellow throw, mycosyLondon on Etsy. Yellow chair, Kismet Vintage. Cushions, Debenhams

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

‘Room by room we exposed the original floorboards, had them sanded and treated, then redecorated. At one point we were all sleeping on mattresses in one room, wondering why on earth we had decided to do it!’

Sally and Owen have extended their 1950s semi in Swansea in colourful style

‘The family bathroom was updated in 2013 as the previous tiles were leaking and water was seeping through into one of the bedrooms,’ says Sally. ‘At the time, life was very full-on, getting to grips with all we needed to do to support the boys, so we went for a basic design, and chose everything quickly. It’s next on our to-do list as the layout could definitely be improved.’ Bath mat, La Redoute. For a similar bath, try Victoria Plum

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)
Contacts

Builders Clyne Building Contractors, 07799 078037
Kitchen Benchmarx Kitchens & Joinery
Flooring Kwiksand Flooring

After years of extending, reconfiguring, repainting and reorganising, today Sally and Owen’s house is a colourful, creative representation of all four personalities that reside there. It’s been 17 years in the making, and it will likely evolve further in years to come, but Sally and Owen finally have the one-of-a-kind home they always wanted.

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