Renovation tour - restoring a period mill house







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We love a character property that has been brought back to life, and have admired @the.squiffy.mill for so long on Instagram. The owner Jen has transformed this home into something really special - a modern country family home which has so much style. We love the calming palette of deep blues and greens that work so perfectly in the stunning setting, and the open plan living which works so well for a young family.

As an experienced project manager, Jen took on the project management of her renovation herself, which meant she had full control of the work. Jen shares some great expert tips and advice for anyone about to start planning a renovation...we particularly love her advice on finding a great builder, which is so important for your sanity as you go through a renovation. 

Thanks to Jen for her time and beautiful pictures of her home.

Can you tell us about your renovation project and home?

We bought this home knowing we wanted to extend it, it was on a large plot but only had 1 bathroom, 3 bedrooms and a galley kitchen. It was magnolia from top to bottom, which was great because it meant we could live in it and take time working out what to do with it, a perfect blank canvas. 

The house is within a conservation area and had its permitted development rights removed - so even a greenhouse or playhouse in the garden needs planning permission. We worked with a local architect to obtain planning permission, it was rejected by our local council but we appealed and had it overturned.

The exterior of the property - how beautiful is the pond as a backdrop?!

What was the biggest challenge during your project?

Finding the right trades. It's taken time and a lot of tears, we've had to remove trades from site and this affected the timeline of the renovation but the quality of work and our budget were more important. It was also the best thing to do for our mental health, sounds strange, but we were constantly on edge and worried when we had a builder we didn't trust and struggled to communicate effectively with. It made the renovation even more stressful than it needed to be. In the end I took the opportunity to resign from my job as a project manager, and finish the renovation, project managing it myself.

Stunning master bedroom with beautiful panelling

Did you stick to a budget and were there any hidden costs?

We monitored our budget closely, but we couldn't stick to it and made conscious decisions and choices along the way that meant we had to plough more money into the renovation. 

The most frustrating 'hidden' cost we had was the builders digging down for days and finding no stable ground, racking up costs, only to go with pile foundations which we could have just opted for in the first place. 

Family bathroom with traditional furniture and feature tiles

How would you describe your style?

I'd say modern country maybe? I like to keep things fairly minimal, clean with muted colours but I like the cosy country and period features of an old home.

The dark green wall works so well in this setting

What is your favourite part of your home now?

Probably the kitchen, its bright and it's exactly my style - that mix of country and modern. I feel very proud of that room as I designed it from scratch and worked with a joiner to create it. It took hours of research and drawing, but it really works from a practical viewpoint, everything has its place and it flows well.

The kitchen is elegant and simple and we think the exposed brick behind the oven works so well

What is your biggest piece of advice for someone starting a renovation?

Don't be afraid to be a 'pest'. From the very start when you are finding a builder. You may not be lucky enough to have a personal recommendation, so does the builder have references? Can you go and visit previous jobs? Do they have good reviews online? 

And then when they are on site, question and challenge as you see appropriate; Where is the timeline? Does that fitting have to be positioned there? When will they need to know your tile choice? You may feel like a pest, but it's the best way to keep it running smoothly and any good tradesperson won't have an issue with these questions.

Published: November 6, 2019

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