Renovating a derelict cottage

Kevin Shaw transformed a derelict two bedroom country cottage into a four bedroom family home with a rear extension, mezzanine floor and a complete re-design of the building layout

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Kevin Shaw’s two bedroom cottage has had such a drastic transformation that only one bedroom has remained in the same place, and even that has had the door moved and a

Looking for a renovation project, Kevin saw the property for sale online and, as it was close to where he was living, drove around to see it one evening. ‘It was perfect. It had so much potential and was in an amazing countryside location. I didn’t hesitate to put in an offer,’ he admits. 

The start

The first thing was to clear the whole site, hiring a digger to remove all the brambles. He then demolished a dilapidated garage and car port before installing a new sewage treatment plant in the garden. ‘I basically did everything I could that didn’t need planning approval,’ he explains. ‘I wanted to see what I had to work with.’

Fact file

The owners: Kevin Shaw, a property investor, lives here with his partner Jessica Marco-Wadey, a patient co-ordinator for a cosmetic surgery company. The couple are expecting their first child imminently.

The Design

Kevin asked Sara Rudkin, an architect recommended by a friend, to work with him on the project. ‘A lot of the internal design features, such as the mezzanine floors, grew organically as the project went along.’ 

His brief to Sara was to transform a two-bedroom cottage into a four-bedroom family home without it looking or feeling as though it had been extended. Kevin also wanted to reclaim as much of the original materials as he could while adding lots of oak to create a feature and as part of the structure. ‘We didn’t waste anything; for example, the flagstones from the old path that led up to the house have now been used in the area around the front door.’

Apart from reconfiguring the interior, the house was extended in two phases, with planning permission submitted in two separate applications, both of which were approved within the standard eight-week schedule.

Phase 1

The first phase created a large kitchen with dining space downstairs and a new master bedroom with balcony above, both with bi-fold doors to make the most of the stunning rural views. ‘To give the kitchen a rustic feel we used oak beams instead of modern steels and I wanted to use an oak post as part of the island design,’ explains Kevin. ‘The post is topped with a second one, which goes right up to the top of the house to support the roof.’

Shortly after the work had started, Kevin met Jessica and she eventually moved into the house, becoming involved with the building project.

Phase 2

A second extension, added a year after the first, created a bay in the living room with space for a wood-burning stove. Along with the Rayburn cooker in the kitchen, this is linked into a multi-fuel thermal store providing heating and hot water, with provisions for adding solar panels at a later date.

At the same time, Kevin also gained permission for a two-storey garage and car port with space above for a dressing area and large en suite bathroom for the master bedroom. ‘The original plan was to have a separate two-storey double garage but the planning department didn’t like this idea as they felt that it could be turned into a separate dwelling later,’ says Jessica. ‘We were able to amend our plans and link it to the house instead though. This gave us space for the dressing room and en suite, so in the end it was the best decision for us.’

Adding a mezzanine floor

Following the two phases the house is now almost unrecognisable, inside and out. The entrance was re-positioned and now has a stunning vaulted hallway where the kitchen used to be. Kevin designed the oak staircase with local joiner Mark Hill. ‘We took weeks to get the design right,’ he admits. ‘When complete, it was perfectly made, but it didn’t look rustic enough to me, so I took to it with a grinder and hired a sandblaster to smooth off the hard edges and give it a worn, textured effect; it’s a good contrast against the clean-cut lines of the glass.’

Another talking point of the project is the library landing on the first floor. Kevin had always had something similar in mind but asked Building Control if he could put in another staircase to transform the space above into a mezzanine bedroom. Installing another floor meant that fire regulations would come into force and Kevin would have to fit fire doors in all the rooms. ‘Installing a sliding ladder to serve the bookshelves as well as the space above meant we didn’t need to change the beautiful oak ledge and brace doors for fire doors,’ he explains. ‘We just had to keep the area open and I fitted a glass panel for safety, turning it into a home office.’


Downstairs, joiners fitted wood panelling in the new front dining room. ‘I get my inspiration from all sorts of places – from National Trust houses and country pubs, hence the wood panelling, to more contemporary locations, such as restaurants,’ explains Kevin. ‘I saw similar lights to those in the hallway in a Japanese restaurant and liked them so much I took a photo.’

‘We also love auctions, antique fairs and car boot sales,’ adds Jessica. ‘I spotted the dining room cigar cabinet at a boot sale; it’s one of my favourite pieces in the house.’

The costs

General construction£62,500
Roof, balcony and external joinery£45,000
Plumbing and heating£44,500
Internal joinery and fittings£30,000
Windows and external doors£23,000
Landscaping and garden£20,500
Groundworks and foundations£19,000
Decorating, curtains and blinds£8,000
Flooring and tiling£7,500