When an estate agent placed the details of a repossessed 1960s house in front of Eileen Foxwell, she thought he hadn’t taken any notice of her criteria. ‘Mark and I had always lived in attractive Victorian houses,’ she explains. However, her interest in mid-20th-century design made her curious to view it. ‘I was immediately struck by the light, the openness and the views from the top floor. I knew it would suit our style perfectly – even though it was the ugliest house on the street.’
Having stood empty for two years with old furniture left behind and filthy carpets throughout, the house was in a poor state. Laid out over three storeys, with the living room on the second floor and the bedrooms on the ground floor, the house makes the most of far-reaching views over the surrounding countryside and nearby Chilterns through large aluminium picture windows. In the living room, a marine plywood sloping ceiling creates a dramatic feature, and the space leads up to a mezzanine above.
Eileen and Mark had a month left in their rental property, so they cleared the property, removed the carpets and painted the walls before moving. With a fairly small budget for the renovations, the couple were prepared to do most of the work themselves, and got started with the bathroom so that they had at least one room that was new to make the house liveable while they did the rest of the work.
The owners: Eileen Foxwell, an antiques dealer, and her husband Mark, a creative director
The property: A two-bedroom, 1960s terrace
The location: Chesham, Buckinghamshire
What they spent: The couple bought the house for £242,500 in 2010 and have spent £29,500 on renovations. It has recently been valued at £320,000
Laid out over three storeys, the 1960s terrace is accessed by a bridge. An appreciation for the authentic materials of the house’s era has been the ethos to much of this renovation, and the couple have lovingly reinstated elegance to a building that many people would ignore or consider to be unattractive architecture.
Wooden open-tread stairs maximise the sense of space and light in the living room. The mezzanine level is the ideal spot for Mark’s home office.
The striking marine ply ceiling and beams create a grand entrance, while the original aluminium front door keeps the house true to its 1960s styling.
The couple lived with the kitchen for six months before beginning work. They knew the original 1960s electric cooker with iron rings had to go. Mark came up with the idea of relocating the kitchen to the dining room and turning the existing space into a utility room. An Arne Jacobsen dining table and chairs take pride of place in the space, which replaces the original dining room. Alno Kitchens supplied the black gloss kitchen cabinetry and the pendant lights are from Ikea.
They planned the layout, shopped for the products online, and then removed the suite themselves before preparing the space for their plumber. Eileen did the slate tiling herself, following a Reader’s Digest step-by-step guide. The suite is from Bathstore.
Eileen has turned the second bedroom into a painting studio, which opens onto the garden. She displays her quirky toy collection in reclaimed units found at a shipping warehouse. The white wicker chair is from Ikea and the grey curtains are from John Lewis.
Eileen has decorated the interior with a simple yet sophisticated palette of black, white and wood, and likes to add interest with bright accent colours through accessories, fabrics and artwork. ‘If I feel like a new look, I can easily change the accent colour and I often mix and match inexpensive high-street finds with designer pieces for an eclectic look,’ she says.
Author: Louise O’Bryan, Stylist: Helenka Maciej-Hill, Photographer: Jamie Mason