Renovation tour - a stunning extension carried out from overseas

Home renovations are challenging enough, but managing it from another continent takes it to a whole new scale! 

This week, we chat to the lovely Grace from my_best_laid_plans, who managed her renovation from Dubai (while also having small twins on tow!).

The home has been given a rear extension and internal renovation, and the result is a beautiful family home. The decor is light, bright and homely looking - a reflection of the families sunny times in Dubai. Thanks to Grace for sharing her renovation story with us!



Can you tell us about your home and renovation project?

Our home is a 4 bedroom 1930s house in the Manchester suburb of Bramhall. We knew the village well and had always intended to move there when we returned from living in Dubai. I had seen the house from the outside in the summer of 2018 and when my husband got the offer to transfer back to the UK office, we saw the house had actually been reduced in price. Our friends went to view it for us in October and sent us some videos. 

It needed fully modernizing and was perfect for a rear extension... we put an offer in immediately. We went back to brick in every room, new electrics, boiler, extended the living room, converted the garage into a playroom, built an ensuite, put in windows, new roof and a 4 meter rear extension. Due to the required pitch of the extension roof we also had to raise the upstairs rear windows.

We adore the open plan area with the sky lights and French doors


You did much of the planning whilst living in Dubai - how did you make sure it all went smoothly?

We did ALL of the planning from Dubai... it was a bit crazy in hindsight. We found a local architect recommended online who did all the plans before we’d completed on the house. A main criteria when picking the architect and builder was somebody who was quick to respond to emails and messages as this was going to be our main way of managing the build from Dubai. 

The builder we chose had come recommended by a friend and was absolutely fantastic. He would regularly update us with Whatsapp pictures and messages so we always knew what was going on. My husband is so organized with finances and had multiple spreadsheets to monitor each area of the build costs. My father in law would also stop in at the house every week to see what progress had been made.. he was task master! 

It definitely got more tricky towards the end to manage other trades such as tilers and bathroom fitters. I would try and do drawings and plans for them to follow and much as possible. We spent every spare moment planning and ordering items for around 6 months!

Beautiful welcoming entrance hall


Did you have a budget and do you have any tips on how to stick to one?

Yes we had a pre determined budget for each aspect of the extension and renovation. We stuck to it as much as we could. The biggest surprise was the raised patio which was an additional £14,000 we hadn’t accounted for! As the garden sloped down away from the house we needed to have a patio and safe way of getting down into the garden.


My biggest tip for saving money is to source all of the finishes yourself. We saved a lot of money buying each element of the bathrooms from different online stores. We found some bargains on amazon and eBay. Our kitchen from DIY Kitchens also saved us thousands as we did all the design element ourselves and the builder made us a custom cooker hood from a timber frame and plaster board.

Doors painted black to give the effect of crittall style doors


What is your favourite part of your home now and why?

My favourite part of the house is definitely our big kitchen/dining/living space. It’s is so light and bright but also has a cosy feel. We didn’t go for a whole wall of glass at the back but instead picked a kitchen window infront of the sink and large timber French doors.

A different angle of the beautiful kitchen



How would you describe your style and what inspires you?

Oh that’s a hard one. I absolutely love white, wood and a splash of black which is quite Scandi. But I also love the modern cottage look with wooden panelling and some vintage finds. I’m hugely inspired by designers online.. I love @malmoandmoss @rebeccawakefield and @chrislovesjulia to name a few.

Ensuite with striking gold taps


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

Plan everything in advance!! All of a sudden you will be asked to make a decision and you don’t want to have to rush anything. Spend time looking at other houses to see what elements you like... for example window colours and door styles. These make a massive impact on a renovation. But also plan ahead the smaller details you’d like such as skirting boards and internal door styles. I spent more hours than I’d care to admit searching for door handles online 🙈

We love the panelling in the boot room area

Published: January 27, 2020

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