The owners: Fi Duke, a renovation project manager and interior designer, and Paul Briggs, a recruitment director, live here with children Sophie, 12, and Tom, 10
The property: A five-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Chelmsford, Essex
Project cost: £108,000
When Fi Duke and husband Paul Briggs bought their three-bedroom Victorian home in Chelmsford around eight years ago, their daughter Sophie was four and son Tom was two, and they could see that they would possibly outgrow the property. However, it was the potential to extend the house out to the side and convert the roof space that sold it to them. ‘I could see straightaway that it had tons of potential,’ recalls Fi, ‘and it’s kind of grown with our family.’
As they couldn’t afford to do everything at once, the couple started with the most pressing renovations, before gradually working their way through the house as their budget allowed. First on the list was a new roof, and replacing the old windows with better-insulated sash windows.
As the family had discovered problems with the plumbing, next to be tackled was the bathroom. ‘We pulled everything out and started again with white Victorian-style sanitaryware in keeping with the house.’
A year in, with planning permission secured, work then began on the kitchen. ‘The old space was quite small and had a door leading out onto the classic Victorian side return,’ says Fi. ‘So we extended out into this area to create a much larger open-plan kitchen/dining/entertaining space.’ Using a local architect to put together basic drawings from Fi’s designs, the couple then selected builder Ian Wallaker, who had been recommended by friends.
With the children getting older, the couple also felt that they could do with an additional bathroom, so converted the loft into two bedrooms and a bathroom for the children, turning the second bedroom on the first floor into a home office for Fi’s business, and the back room into a guest room. The couple decided to hire local specialist Chelmer Loft Conversions for this.