A Dated House Gets A Spectacular New England Makeover







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The home of Insta account @front_of_house_reno is one of the biggest renovation projects that we have seen for a while.

Set on a large plot, the family have taken a largely untouched 1970s house and transformed it into a luxury New England style home. Having a clear vision of what they wanted, they managed to have the designs and planning application submitted shortly after they moved in, which meant they could carry on with transformation.

What we love about this home is the attention to detail, not only in the beautiful interior and exterior style, but also the time spent choosing the energy and water supplies which has made this home far more sustainable. Thank you to Alex who shares with us her renovation story.

Can you tell us about your home and renovation project?

Somehow in between two lockdowns we managed to sell our house and buy this one in November 2020. Firstly like many we never intended to buy a renovation project, we're total novices having only ever updated a kitchen and bathroom previously! 

Like so many others we saw a house we liked, tried to sell ours but couldn't get a buyer in time. By the time we had a buyer, we'd missed out so we started frantically looking within a 1 mile radius of the kids school. This one had been on previously but its lack of kerb appeal meant that we'd dismissed it without a second glance. Desperate to move and to not lose our buyer, we decided to take a look down the road and absolutely loved the location and plot size. 

The previous owners had done little to maintain it over recent years and there was a hole from the loft to the landing, a leaking conservatory, dodgy heating and the garden was incredibly overgrown. 

The house was made up of lots of different spaces downstairs and one of the kitchen windows had a lovely view onto a walled courtyard for the bin storage. 

Half the house was single story and the other half double storey. Our plan was to keep the footprint but to build on top of the single storey part with two new bedrooms and ensuites. In the end we did increase it slightly but only out the front where we pushed the garage and porch a bit further forward.

The team started at the beginning of December 2021 (almost exactly one year after we moved in) and we were back in the house by the end of June 2022. It was taken back to its bare bones and we actually didn't realise but the single story part was flattened (apart from one small wall!)

The front of the house before the transformation
The front of the house following the huge transformation

Your home was a huge transformation, was the planning application a challenge and did you have to make any compromises? 

Having (quite literally) cased the joint and the road, we quickly realised that planning wouldn't be an issue as at least 3 houses had been entirely knocked down and rebuilt and they were all totally different. 

With an offer accepted we quickly instructed a local recommended architect and shared our ideas and dream of a New England style home. Designs were drawn up and, 2 days after we moved in, we submitted our planning application. 

It was a fairly major face lift for the house but we actually thought the style was sympathetic to its previous style and our planning application was approved with no objections. We did however make sure to brief the neighbours with photos and plans before the application went in.

What was the toughest part about the renovation?

The toughest part was definitely making decisions and just having time to get to site and check everything. 

My favourite part was the knock down phase, as you could just watch it all unfold knowing you didn't have to do anything yet!!

The gorgeous open plan kitchen with views onto the garden

Did you have a budget and how did you stick to it? 

We had a figure in mind as to what we hoped it would cost but it came in more than that because we added bits. Instagram is definitely to blame in part as there are so many lovely ideas that you want to recreate in your own home. 

We are not very handy so we wanted to do as much as we possibly could while we had the team in the house.

One of the beautiful 4 double bedrooms, with colours that compliment the New England style

What are you most proud of and why? 

I think we've done a good job of future proofing the house. We've installed an air source heat pump, air con and a 7,500 litre rainwater harvesting tank that feeds our irrigation system, washing machines and toilets. We think it will save around 900 litres of water usage a week as long as droughts don't last too long! 

After moving 3 times in 2 years we are definitely not doing it again so we've also made our 4 bedrooms all doubles with ensuites so that there is plenty of space for the kids (now 6 and 8) into the future.

One of the en-suites following the large renovation

What would be your advice for anyone just about to start out? 

Find a builder that is personally recommended and trusted by someone you know and move out! Within days they had totally gutted the house and the progress was rapid and meant we could move back in after 6 months. 

Keep a close eye on costs, plan and spreadsheet everything as much as you can before you start so that you can quickly order items and keep track of your spending. 

Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and to make changes as it needs to work for you. 

Don't stretch yourself too much on the initial plans and quote, have contingency funds set aside as there will be extras that you will want to add. If it's your forever home then it's definitely worth stretching as you don't want to regret it later on.

The cosy lounge area in the new open plan extension

If you are thinking about a renovation project in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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Published: September 27, 2022

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