A Loving Extension Of A Family Home

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We love when a renovation has some meaning behind it and the renovation of Insta account @homewiththemarks is such a great story, where Mark & Mark have lovingly extended and transformed Mark's grandparents house. With so many memories, it's so wonderful that the home has been kept in the family and brought up to date for modern living.

They have worked so hard to create their dream home, which has a stunning contemporary style with some traditional touches throughout. 

We chat with Mark and find out how they went about their renovation and get some advice for those of you just about to start out.


Can you tell us about your home and renovation project? 

Our home was built in the 1900’s and is a quaint detached cottage in the countryside of Aberdeenshire. The house used to belong to my partner Mark's grandparents and has been in the family for years. 

The property was at one point separated into individual flats, and Marks grandparents acquired each one individually to complete their own renovation project and transform it back into one house. 

In 2017, after a lot of searching for a new home, Mark and I decided to purchase the property ourselves and it has been lovely to be able to breathe a new lease of life into it, and ultimately make an old house new.  

When we purchased the property, it consisted of 4 bedrooms, 3 reception rooms, galley kitchen, bathroom and WC. It had a lot of damp throughout which needed to be treated, mainly the rear ‘lean-to’ extension which needed to be taken down completely and so there was a lot of prep work that required to be done before we could get going with the interiors. 

Beautiful timber cladding on the extension looks so good against the traditional original home


We decided to completely gut the place, literally taking the house back to the bare bones, which allowed us to deal with the issues that we had and pretty much start from scratch – installing a new heating system, electrics throughout and insulation. We even remodelled the upstairs layout to suit us better. 

The extension that we have added to the property has allowed us to create the contemporary open plan living space that we had always loved from more modern properties, and has allowed us to marry together old and new.

The extension is a modern timber clad, flat roofed structure containing a lot of glass; a complete contrast to the original granite house. We have completed all the main construction work and now have 3 bedrooms, en suite and main family bathroom upstairs, with downstairs consisting of the main reception hall, open plan kitchen / living space, snug, formal dining room, cloakroom and utility. 

We love the stunning monochrome contemporary kitchen


What was the most challenging part of the renovation? 

I would say the hardest part of the renovation was the length of time that it took to complete. We had originally planned for it to take around 12 months to complete, however it ended up taking over 20. There were some days where we couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, regretted ever taking the challenge on and wanted to pack it all in. 

We both worked two jobs throughout the renovation, 6 days a week – and even managed to come up to the house every day to do work, whether that was digging up floors, installing insulation into the walls or even just painting doors towards the end of the project. It felt like it was never ending. 

However that feeling once you move in, and can sit back and admire all the work you’ve put in – and know the blood, sweat and (a lot) of tears that have gone into it is priceless. 

The walk in shower is so luxurious and the lamp shower is such a great feature


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

We didn’t particularly have a budget, however we knew how much money we had to spend if that makes sense. Having never taken on anything like this before, we had no idea how much materials would cost, trades etc. 

Mark's Dad is a joiner and was our main ‘contractor’ if you would. He would pretty much turn his hand to anything. He was fantastic and would keep us up to date with the cost for every part of the project. 

We live by the motto of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ and so there were certain aspects of the renovation that we just weren’t willing to ‘scrimp’ on – main ones being the kitchen and bathrooms. That has meant that we’ve been unable to finish the whole house, however we’re very much of the opinion that we’d much rather hold off to save up and get exactly what we want, rather than rush into making decisions just for the sake of it – and probably end up being disappointed in the long run. It also means that there’s always something to keep us busy! 

The lounge in the open plan area looks so inviting


What part of the project are you proudest of? 

I would say the part I am most proud of, is the renovation in whole. We’ve seen so many older properties that have just left to deteriorate and fall into disrepair. The fact that the house has been in the family for years is special enough, however being able to prolong its life by modernising throughout is an achievement that we are both remarkably proud of. 

The freestanding bath is so elegant against the large grey tiles



What would be your biggest piece of advice for anyone about to start out? 

My biggest (two) pieces of advice to anybody taking on a renovation project would be ‘Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty’ and ‘It’s got to get worse before it gets better’. We were very hands on throughout the whole project – from tearing the place apart, to putting it back together again. 

Although we were unable and didn’t have the skills or tools to do a lot of the bigger jobs, we got stuck in where we could. Whether that was pulling up carpets, painting throughout, or just cleaning up after messy jobs – not only did it save us money in terms of labour, however also meant that once it was all done, we could sit back and appreciate all the hard work that had been put in. 

With any major project like this, you’ve also got to go through some tough times before things can improve. I remember one point where we had no heating in the house, we had one plug that worked in the whole place, a huge gaping hole from when the knock through was done and nothing but stone walls upstairs – I honestly couldn’t see how that shell could be turned back into a home. 

But it really has got to get worse before it gets better. And more than likely, just when you think things can’t get any worse – something else unexpected will crop up and they probably will! But it will improve! 

Striking dark grey dining area


Where is your favourite place in your home now? 

Our favourite place in our home is definitely the open plan living / kitchen space. It is the most sociable space and where we spend the majority of our time – it really is the heart of our home. We both love entertaining (when you used to be able to) and this space really does have it all. 

The chilled seating area down at the front of the house is lovely to sit and relax, especially when the fire is on. 

Then the contemporary kitchen design incorporating a relaxed breakfast bar seating area is perfect for chilling with friends and family. It’s true what they say – the party always does end up in the kitchen.  

We love the relaxed eating area in the open plan area


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: January 18, 2021


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