Updating a 1960s home

Extending, updating and remodelling their house has given Sarah and Jed Furniss a stylish, contemporary family home that stands out from the crowd

When Jed and Sarah Furniss needed to move home in a hurry, they took an unusual route and chose to swap houses with another couple – exchanging their existing flat for a detached, four-bedroom house in Fulwood, in the city of Sheffield.

‘Sarah was expecting our first son, Harry, and we were desperate for more living space and a garden, so we put our flat on the market. When one couple who viewed our flat told us that they were downsizing for their retirement, we jumped in and suggested a swap,’ explains Jed.

Fact file

  • The owners: Sarah Furniss, a teaching assistant, and her husband Jed, an estate agent, live here with their two sons, Harry, seven, and five-year-old Max
  • The property: A detached Wimpey home, built in 1963, extended to five bedrooms
  • The location: Fulwood, Sheffield in South Yorkshire
  • The cost: The house was valued at £500,000 before Sarah and Jed decided to extend, remodel and refurnish. They spent £150,000 and the property is now worth £675,000

Swapping houses

‘The size and location of the house were perfect, but the property itself wasn’t our ideal,’ he continues. ‘It was originally built by Wimpey Homes in 1963 and had been clad in a mixture of several different materials, including dark-stained timber, stone, brick and render, which wasn’t to our taste.’

‘We would have preferred something with high ceilings and period features, so it definitely wasn’t the house of our dreams,’ admits Sarah. However, she adds: ‘The house did tick all the other boxes we wanted. It’s a four-bedroom home and detached, with a large private garden, and it stands right next-door to a fantastic primary school.’

The couple knew that they could put their own stamp on the property in the future and agreed to a trade with the current owners. This involved simply making up the difference in price.

Jed and Sarah moved into their new house in September 2001 and set about creating a family home. Baby Harry arrived that December and their second child, Max, was born two years later.

Open plan living space

Planning to extend

One of the major drawbacks for the family was that all four of them had to share just one bathroom, which was situated on the first floor.

‘We had looked at various ways of fitting in an en suite upstairs, but it just wouldn’t work,’ says Jed. ‘We also considered extending above the garage, but were advised that this section would need to be entirely rebuilt to support an extra storey – plus, it would have been too near to our neighbour’s house.’

Eventually, the couple decided to build a new two-storey extension on the other side of the house, where there was an existing uPVC conservatory. They approached architect Jillian Mitchell of Project Logistics Architecture to come up with an appropriate design.

‘We told Jillian that we wanted a larger master bedroom and en suite bathroom, but were concerned that to reach it we would need to create a dark corridor,’ says Sarah.

‘We also stressed that, although we didn’t particularly need additional space downstairs, the existing conservatory was a well-used room, where Jed enjoyed watching football.’

Neutral living room

The design

Following a measured survey, Jillian came up with two very different design options. The first delivered precisely what the Furnisses had asked for, while the alternative offered a far more cohesive solution for the whole house. The alternative would cost an additional £50,000 to implement.

The couple decided to go with the second, more expensive option as they thought it was a more radical design, consisting of a spacious sitting room downstairs and a new master bedroom and en suite upstairs.

The new sitting room includes an integrated glazed space overlooking the rear garden, for which the couple were happy to sacrifice their old conservatory. It has a sloping ceiling inset with three rooflights and, unlike the conservatory, can be used all year round without the problem of being too cold in winter and too hot in mid-summer.

Bathroom with monochrome design

Dining area

Reworked layout

What used to be the family’s old dining room now contains a practical utility space. Situated next to the kitchen, it features a sink area and plenty of much-needed storage.

The original kitchen was in perfect condition, so the couple chose to keep both it and its wooden flooring. By carefully moving doors and forming new openings, though, the kitchen now links to an open-plan dining/family room, with double doors that open out onto the deck. This is a perfect space for entertaining in the summer months.

A separate snug to the front of the extension is used as a den for Jed. It also contains a home cinema where the whole family can gather to watch TV.

Upstairs, the original four bedrooms and bathroom remain in the same positions. Just a small amount of space was taken from two of the bedrooms to create a corridor leading into the new extension – the master suite.

Maximising light

To solve the problem of this newly created corridor being too dark, a glazed shaft was built into the roof. This drops light down into the internal space.

A series of nine rooflights also features in the continuation of the sloping roof above the new master bedroom. This gives views out over the rear garden, as well as providing lots of natural light.

‘We also ended up adding three quirky, low-level windows to the master bedroom. They look down into the back of the sitting room,’ says Jed.

With such a large space to fill and because Jed is 6ft 4in tall, the couple added a super-king-size bed. The back wall of the room has been fitted with fullheight wooden wardrobes and the walls decorated with flower prints.

The bathroom

The couple wanted a luxurious, hotel style for their en suite, but found what they wanted mostly on the high street. There’s a walk-in shower with glass screen, double basins and a freestanding bath situated in the centre of the space.

The exterior

Extending the existing roof plane over the newly built accommodation ensures that the extension now blends seamlessly with the old house, and the mish-mash and dated external finishes have been replaced by a simplified palette of light-coloured cedar, white render and grey-painted window frames. Once the new extension was completed, Sarah and Jed realised that the freshly painted walls made the older part of the house feel rather scruffy. So they took the opportunity to decorate every room inside in neutral colours, to tie in with the extension. New carpets then brought everything together.

‘There was very little money left after the build to buy furniture, but we did shop around for the best prices and managed to get what we needed without really overspending,’ says Jed. ‘Everyone comments that the transformation has been incredible – it really looks like a new, individually designed house. We are both really pleased we decided to swap it for our old flat when we did.’


Bathroom and tiles£5,200
Lights and electrics£3,000
Furniture and fireplace£5,000