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Restoring a period apartment
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Sam White has worked hard to restore a period apartment to share with his partner Louise Eddom, and this renovation has been recognised as Best Apartment and Best Budget Project in our Readers’ Awards 2011.
Although this apartment may be smaller than many period properties, it has still required a huge amount of restoration work. Its owner, Sam White, has completely renovated the 19th-century home he now shares with his partner Louise Eddom, introducing a fresh, elegant style throughout. This hands-on transformation was the judges’ firm favourite for the category Best Apartment in our Readers’ Awards 2011.
‘I was living in the apartment upstairs when this one came up for sale, so I was the first to hear about it,’ says Sam. ‘I’d done some work for the owner in the past so I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for. I’d intended renovating it for the rental market, but a month into the project, Louise and I realised how special it was, and wanted to turn it into our first home together.’ That decided, the original £10,000 budget was doubled and Sam took extra time off from his job and started the renovation, working to a higher specification that would involve redesigning the layout to let in more light and adding an en-suite shower room off the master bedroom.
Sam decided to tackle the remedial work first. ‘As with a lot of 1980s conversions, this one was done with a lack of respect for the building,’ he explains, ‘so the main problem here was damp. The ground had been raised above the damp proof course, leading to flooding into the cavity beneath the floor. Once the carpets, floorboards and joists were removed I could get on with making sure the damp couldn’t return. I dug trenches all around the walls outside to allow them to dry out above the damp proof course, and unblocked the airbricks.’ Internally, some studwork walls were then removed to bring in extra light and increase the amount of living space available. ‘Once the walls were down, sun streamed through the large sash windows in the sitting room and the true potential of this place shone through,’ says Louise.
Next, Sam removed the door to the hall, with its frosted glass and wire window above, and knocked out a wider opening so he could put in a pair of French doors; this has allowed more natural light into the previously dark hallway. To further improve the sense of flow, Sam chose to lay the same dark oak floorboards in the principal areas.
The main bathroom was also in a state of disrepair. ‘The wall behind the bath was rotten as years of water seeping through imperfect grout had soaked the lath and plaster,’ says Sam, ‘so my first job was to repair this and level the floor, which was uneven in places. I then finished the space with as many high gloss finishes as possible, as there’s no natural light in this room.’ He chose a black and white scheme, with a porcelain floor, metro tiles and a chrome towel rail. The effect is anything but cold or stark, however, thanks to a couple of attractive additions: the roll-top bath and a French-style chest of drawers modified to incorporate the sink has given the room feminine curves and glamorous period style
The kitchen was the last room to be transformed; Sam is a keen cook and was determined not to rush this vital area so waited until he and Louise moved in before starting. ‘Two things that were top of my wish list were a range cooker and a butler sink,’ he says. ‘Around those I’ve built storage that uses up every spare inch, and topped the cupboards with chunky work surfaces handmade from oak sleepers.’ Sam spent several days machining these to achieve just the right finish; stained and limed tongue-and-groove cladding in place of wall tiles complete the farmhouse style.
Work on the apartment is not quite finished yet: Sam wants to extend the kitchen outside to link the property to a small outbuilding, which will eventually become Louise’s new office. But for the moment, Sam and Louise are very happy with their home.
‘When you walk into this apartment, most of the time consuming jobs won’t get noticed,’ admits Sam, ‘but I strongly believe that without the effort put into every detail, the renovation would not have been a success.’ Louise adds: ‘Sam was responsible for restoring every inch of our home and he should feel incredibly proud. It was renovated with real passion to maximise the property’s potential and to create a beautiful home for us.’ Sam adds: ‘It has required a lot of hard work and that’s meant very long days. But by respecting the fabric of the building I think that the spaces within it provide the “wow factor”, not just the furnishings.’
Why this apartment won Period Living's Best Budget Project 2011
|New kitchen (materials, fittings and appliances)||£6,475|
|New bathroom and shower room||£3,400|
|Painter and decorator||£1,200|
|Gardening (decking, fencing and plants for courtyard)||£1,300|
|Furniture and accessories||£9,415|
|Total cost of renovation||£30,000 (inc furniture)|
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FEATURE NAOMI JONES PHOTOGRAPHS BRENT DARBY
Featured in the November 2011 issue of Period Living