Summer 2016 saw a couple of interesting road trips for me (especially being mid-reno myself) in the form of being a judge for the Real Homes Transformation Awards panel (see the other judges & categories here, in case you fancy entering next year). It was very flattering to be included in such famous company, but I reckon I’ve good quals after twenty years of getting my hands dirty doing up houses for myself and clients. I still, after all this time, find other peoples’ homes endlessly fascinating and inspiring.
I visited three properties in the North West, two in London and one in, um, Kent, I think?! I just know it was a Very Long Drive from North London, but we as RH judges were utterly dedicated you know. Blown away isn’t the phrase, boy, do we have some clever renovators in the UK! I genuinely came home musing over all the little design touches they’d created and how I’d shoehorn them in here at Moregeous Mansions.
Without further ado, let me show you the overall winner and it is a spectacular house, truly innovative and I’m well chuffed for them ’cause I voted for it. Am I allowed to say that? Too late, I already did!
There were just so many brilliant things about Fiona and Benjamin’s house, not least of all the attention to detail. This was so evident in the stair case area which runs through from the ‘basement’ living room / kitchen up to the top floor bedroom via two mezzanines. The walnut treads and risers are a dream, the black steel detailing a perforated metal work a designer’s delight and the exposed brick, well, you know me ‘n’ bricks. Fabulous.
More property porn in the form of a green wall visible from a huge, basement to roof glazed wall which incorporated door to both the mini garden area and the bedroom terrace. So clever this idea, which made the whole home connected to the outside with views to the sky and gave the feeling of much more space to the actually very restricted plot. It’s decadent, yes, because it means ‘lost’ floor area to the room above, but it gives much needed light to basement living area. Most homes have to compromise somewhere and this was definitely the right choice.
Making use of every square inch of space is a smart move in any home, large or teeny, and is something which regular builders and meanie developers rarely do. It always seems to be canny home renovators or DIYers with the best ideas. Here Fiona’s incorporated a clever book store for already-read-and-watched-a-few-times items as part of the mezzanine floor and also tucked bedroom drawers under the eaves on the top floor.One great piece of advice to home renovators or self builders is to design for YOU, for how you want to live in your home. If you try and please everyone, you’ll risk ending up with bland blah bleugh. Decide how you want to love and live your space and just go for it!
Fiona decided they didn’t need the big wow kitchen beloved of so many modern renovations, so despite a huge amount of advice on the kitchen being the heart of the home, hers is compact, simple and tucked away. And it works brilliantly with how they live.More beautiful bricks here, which look original but which the owners installed in the form of this super herringbone pattern living space floor. I literally lusted over this. When I bought my first actual house in Stockport in 1998 (second property after my first apartment) we laid a brick floor in the teeny kitchen, mostly because we couldn’t afford anything else and they’d been ‘free’ when we knocked a wall down. They weren’t herringboned and were bloody freezing as underfloor heating simply wasn’t an option back then, but I adored them and Fiona’s floor took me back nearly twenty years and made me smile. Fiona’s floor is also toasty warm, so definitely is an improvement on Sherborne Road.Another one of my favourites was the kitchen winner, designed and installed by Olivia and Daniel in Yorkshire. I loved that they’d poured their hearts, souls and sweaty bits into this little cottage and had done so much of the work themselves. This is a fab video which gives some tips on how to bring a touch of the industrial to a period cottage or property, whilst retaining the personal touch. Very clever couple.
Their cream shaker units are super affordable from Howdens and, though some of the kitchens in the competition mix were much more costly, this one won, which makes the naughty subversive streak in me quite happy. This doesn’t mean that the others weren’t fabulous, of course they were, but I (and apparently the other judges too) appreciated the fact that Olivia and Daniel have mixed a period feel with a touch of the industrial, brought in the delicious Basalt blue, then added copper and personal touches. The space feels warm and cosy yet cool too, suitable for a young couple, a family or a party space.
I’d probably spray that chrome extraction tube copper too, if it were mine 😉 Nice design touch finishing the white metro tiles at the window transom too, well though out.Worthy winners and two of my favs there, did you like them too? Any pertinent design tips for you there?
Dying to get cracking with our kitchen here at home but deep in bathroom land currently, with a touch of utility room design on the side. Soon, though…. very soon 🙂
Thanks Real Homes for inviting me to help judge, I loved every minute of it! x