When the Boldings moved into their neglected Victorian villa, they couldn’t wait to start their top-to-toe revamp.
Hannah and Jasper Bolding were no strangers to property renovation but it wasn’t until they collected the keys to their new home in Brighton that Hannah realised the enormity of the work that lay ahead. ‘The property was everything we’d been looking for – a double-fronted period house with a good-sized garden – but it was in a horrendous state,’ she says. ‘The kitchen was grimy and old, the windows were mouldy and the bathroom was disgusting – all the woodwork was painted in a bright blue gloss. Our daughter Mya was just five at the time and I thought we’d bitten off more than we could chew.’ With carpets being laid and floors due to be sanded in the next few days, the couple didn’t waste any time. Juggling childcare with friends and family, Hannah and Jasper worked into the small hours to make the property feel more homely. ‘We got the brushes out and got on with it,’ she says. ‘I started by painting over the blue gloss throughout the house with an eggshell white and then I painted the old red kitchen units a soft grey as a stop gap before we had new cabinets fitted. ‘We just made it more easy on the eye – although now, whenever you bash the woodwork any chips reveal bright blue!’ As veteran renovators, Hannah and Jasper, a quantity surveyor, were aware that waiting for planning permission can hold up vital building works, and decided to submit their application for the kitchen extension before the sale was completed. ‘It was a risk, but we were hopeful as we weren’t in a chain,’ says Hannah. Thankfully, it paid off, and the builders were able to start work on the kitchen extension on schedule, four months after the couple moved in. ‘We took down a wall, extended into the side return to create a utility area, squared off an arch to modernise the space and erected a wall inside made from reclaimed Sussex bricks,’ says Hannah. ‘It all went very smoothly.’ The finished kitchen in white gloss has a contemporary feel, which fits Hannah’s design philosophy. ‘A Shaker-style kitchen might date, but clean lines and neutral colours are timeless,’ she says. ‘The exposed brickwork and worn wood help prevent the white units looking too clinical and sterile.’ Hannah decided to experiment with dark walls in the snug, just off the kitchen, sticking to her neutral design aesthetic but using black paint for a dramatic, luxe effect. ‘I wanted to do something different in this room without committing to the whole house,’ she says. ‘It’s a dark space anyway, with no natural light, so the opulent accessories and black walls work.’ Upstairs, the old bathrooms were ripped out. In fact, the only element of the original master bathroom that Hannah kept was the enamel bath. ‘It was immaculate,’ she says, ‘but everything else needed gutting.’ While the couple didn’t have a strict renovation budget, they tried to make savings where possible. ‘We funded the purchase with equity from our last property, topped up with savings,’ says Hannah, ‘but we did things gradually to keep an eye on figures. We also tried to do what we could ourselves to keep costs down.’ Hannah and Jasper both work, so finding time to decorate wasn’t easy. ‘It’s surprising what you can get done in an hour,’ says Hannah. ‘It never looks as good as a professional painter, but it’s much cheaper. I also painted the fireplace tiles in the sitting room; as soon as I’d done that, the space looked more modern. Little tweaks can make a huge difference, without costing you a fortune.’
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