A couple defend spending almost double their £50,000 budget transforming a ‘soulless’ Edwardian terrace into a bright and playful family home on this week’s George Clarke’s Old House, New Home.
George Clarke visits Sofia and Cookie, from London, on Sunday night’s episode, to discuss renovating the four-bedroom house they had bought for £505,000.
The arty parents-of-one fell in love with the period property, and are determined to give the outdated home a complete overhaul and restoration for £50,000.
But when revealing their bright and colourful family home, Sofia and Cookie defend spending £90,000 on the project, calling it their ‘forever home’.
The couple transform the property into a bright and colourful family home which they say they hope to live in ‘forever’
And the sitting room at the back of the house feels under-utilised, with George suggesting they make the most of the large windows facing the garden and make the room into the kitchen
Project manager Sofia and website designer Cookie say they fell in love with the house the moment they saw it.
They bought the home for just over £505,000 with their son Alfred and their dog, Sausage.
Cookie reveals: ‘I love that every wall has texture to it, you’ve got the coving, you’ve got little details everywhere, there’s not a flat wall everywhere.’
Meanwhile Sofia says the restoration would only amplify the features within the house, adding: ‘We want to work with the period features, definitely.’
Cookie says: ‘I think it’s only had two owners since new, so it’s kept many of it’s original features.’
The family don’t do things by halves, with Cookie explaining: ‘In the last twelve months, we’ve got married, got a dog, had a baby, bought a house and started renovating a house.
Sofia laughs: ‘We’re quite a spontaneous couple. If we think we want to go for something then we just go for it.’
But the couple say they have quite a set idea of the style they want to renovate the property in: Arts and Crafts.
The four bedroom house was initially run-down and dilapidated, with the couple budgeting £50,000 to transform the property
They are able to create a stunning and chic family home after spending almost double their budget
The Arts and Crafts movement was an international trend in the decorative and fine arts that began in Britain between 1880 and 1920.
One of the leaders of the movement was British designer William Morris, who was famed for his distinct printing style.
Sofia admits she is devastated she can’t be as hands-on with the project as Cookie because of baby Alfred (pictured, with Sausage)
Cookie says: ‘I come from a design background, and I love Arts and Crafts stuff. I just don’t feel modern houses are build to the same standard as this stuff.’
The house has a reception room at the front, with a separate dining room and kitchen at the back, accessed by a generous hallway.
By the time George comes to visit, the couple had already set about their renovations, stripping everything from the walls to the floor out.
George is particularly taken by the hall’s balustrade, saying: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen such detail on the balustrade. You’ve also got lovely coloured glass on the windows by the sides of the door.’
And while he thinks most of the house needed renovation, George is shocked by the poor condition of the kitchen, which needed a total overhaul.
He says: ‘Oh my word, it’s definitely seen better days.’
Cookie reveals: ‘This kitchen is pretty much as we found it when we walked in.’
On the first floor there are two good-sized bedrooms, both with period-style fireplaces, as well as a box room with a small original bay window.
They also have a bathroom with a separate toilet, although Cookie says ‘ideally’ they would knock the two together into one bathroom.
And the third floor is one big loft space, with George saying it feels like ‘the jewel of the house’.
George Clarke visits Sofia and Cookie, from London, at their four-bedroom Victorian terrace in London on Sunday night’s episode of Old House, New Home (pictured, their run-down kitchen before the renovation)
Meanwhile the space that was originally their dilapidated kitchen is renovated to act as a dining room area
George explains: ‘It’s got the bones of a really good Edwardian home, but it’s just seen some better days hasn’t it?’
He suggests the couple cherish the original features, including floor tiles, stained glass windows and fireplaces, but chuck out the mishmash of kitchen units and unusable family bathroom.
But George immediately says he their estimated budget of £50,000, is unlikely, despite the couple saying they would take on almost all of the work themselves.
He tells the couple to demolish the wall between the dining room and kitchen to create one large space, but swap the functions of the two spaces, making the kitchen much bigger.
It would give the kitchen a nice view of a small baby play area, as well as the separate dining space with a garden view.
And upstairs would undergo a similar level of renovation, with the bathroom and toilet knocked through to be just one room.
Meanwhile the loft’s partition wall could be pulled down to create one large open space with an arty feel, packed full of antique pieces and easels.
George reveals: ‘There’s masses of opportunity in this house to bring out the Arts and Crafts style, and high levels of craftsmanship don’t come cheap.
And while the couple love the period features in the sitting room of the home, they find it dark and dinghy
The couple transform their main living room into a stunning bright family room, with colourful yellow wallpaper adding character to the space
‘But if they can do lots of the work themselves and spend their money wisely, they could end up with a beautiful slice of British design.’
Cookie is passionate about keeping as many original features as possible, saying: ‘They don’t make stuff like they used to do in the past.’
The couple strip the windows of their paint, before moving on to stripping and plastering the walls.
Craftsmen install reclaimed cornicing and prep the staircase, while a new entrance to the family bathroom are also created, and the chimneys are swept.
Meanwhile the bedroom in the home feels equally outdated and tired, but features a stunning period fireplace
The couple say their bedroom is the ‘most period’ room of the house, with William Morris inspired wallpaper
But despite the exciting progress, Sofia reveals they are facing difficult challenges staying in the property as a family.
Sofia says: ‘One of the most challenging things is living with the dust. Alfred and I have had to move out.’
She adds: ‘I think one of the most frustrating things for me is not being able to project manage, it’s something I’ve done myself in the past for my career, but I haven’t been able to come on site because of the baby.’
Meanwhile Cookie gets stuck in to some serious restoration work, stripping back the paint on the house’s fireplaces.
George calls the attic room the heart of the home, suggesting it is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of their Edwardian terrace
And their attic also undergoes a stunning transformation into a cool and trendy art studio, with clean white walls and oak flooring
He says: ‘They do look so much better in their natural state, I don’t know why people painted over them.’
Despite his dedication to the maintaining the traditional style of the house, there is also opportunity to add some character to the rooms with colour.
Cookie reveals he has delicately created a chart of different colour palettes for each room, so that every space had it’s own personality.
He says: ‘I’ve made a chart, these are downstairs colours, yellows and greens, while upstairs will be pinks, purples.
The couple’s tired and dinghy hallway didn’t do any favours to the period features in the home, including the stained glass windows
The couple are quick to rip down the wall between the bathroom and the toilet to create one large space
‘I want every room to be different and have it’s own colour scheme.
‘It’s not necessarily like an obvious choice for a house but I love colour so i wanted to be as bold as possible without it being overpowering.’
He adds: ‘Sofia hasn’t had much input into the colours of the house. She knows that’s my job, so she’s going to leave that up to me and I hope she’s happy with the results.’
What is the Arts and Crafts movement?
The Arts and Crafts movement was an international trend in the decorative and fine arts that began in Britain and flourished in Europe and North America between about 1880 and 1920.
William Morris, (1834–1896), was the towering figure in late 19th century design and the main influence on the Arts and Crafts movement.
The aesthetic and social vision of the movement grew out of ideas that he developed in the 1850s with a group of students at the University of Oxford who combined a love of Romantic literature with a commitment to social reform.
Morris began experimenting with various crafts and designing furniture and interiors.
His patterns were most often based on floral and fauna.
His bold and bright palette is also accompanied by handmade wooden furniture, oak flooring and William Morris wallpaper.
As a gift to the couple, George reveals he bought them an enormous wooden work bench to act as an island in the middle of their kitchen.
Sofia reveals she is delighted, saying: ‘I really love it. Originally I wasn’t sure about having an island, but I just like it. It ties everything nicely together.’
With time ticking along on the renovation, the couple make the final touches to their home.
Sofia says: ‘It still looks like a dust ball, it still looks like a building site but for the first time I’m really confident that we’re starting to get somewhere now.’
And, having spent the last few months transforming their family home, the couple stay away for a couple of nights to allow George and his team to complete the transformation.
When George first arrived, he called the kitchen and dining room ‘a depressing affair’, and says the fireplace in the lounge wasn’t what it should have been.
Sofia says: ‘It’s been a long time, a really really long time. It doesn’t look like the same place. I’m in a bit of shock.’
The former kitchen and dining room – with fabulous stained glass windows overlooking the garden – have been swapped around to create a huge kitchen diner.
Cookie says: ‘Definitely a good call to flip the two, those windows in this kitchen just make a magical space.’
George adds: ‘You couldn’t have done a better job with this kitchen, this is really special.
‘Knowing your style and your space n ad how much you love things that are beautifully crafted with texture and colour… Everywhere you look is beautiful.’
And in the sitting room, the space looks completely different after the couple installed a new fireplace and painted the walls a bright yellow,
George says: ‘Look how light and bright it is!’
Meanwhile Sofia calls it ‘all very grown up’.
Upstairs, the transformation has been just as vibrant, with the separate bathrooms knocked together to create a beautiful family bathroom.
Despite Cookie taking on the project full-time, Sofia reveals she and baby Alfred had had to move out of their home while it is a building site
George called the master bedroom ‘soulless’ before the renovation, but after the renovation it is a dedicated haven to the Arts and Crafts movement.
Cookie says: ‘This is definitely the most period of all of our rooms.’
George adds: ‘Every room is a gift in this house, but the top floor is something else.’
The generous loft had a partition wall right down the middle, depriving it of light from dual aspect windows.
But after the renovation it becomes a functioning art studio space which George called an ‘architectural gem’.
And having toured the house, a curious George can’t help but wonder how much the couple really had spent on their project.
He says: ‘This quality of craftsmanship at this level comes at a price. You’ve worked unbelievably hard to do a staggering amount of work yourself to save the pennies.’
‘I remember at the time thinking, “This is not going to be enough for what we want to do”.’
Sofia admits: ‘Yeah we, of course, went a little bit higher than expected. So the total was about £90,000.’
But Cookie defends their £40,000 overspend, saying: ‘We’ve done it to live in forever.’
With Sofia becoming emotional, George also appears to choke back tears, telling the couple it was one of the best projects he’d had the privilege of being involved in.
George Clarke’s Old House, New Home continues on Channel 4 next Sunday at 8pm