Restoring Charm

Posted by Erdem Gorgun at

Victoria Gedge’s goal was to preserve her home’s history while making it practical for modern living.

The one thing Victoria Gedge noticed when she viewed her future home for the first time was its smell. ‘I said: “We must buy it, because it smells like a National Trust property”,’ she says. ‘My husband Dale replied: “Damp is what you can smell,” but I was sold.’ They were looking to upsize after their wedding in 2013, as their current home could no longer provide enough storage to suit their needs. The couple were keen to remain in the same area of Norwich, but were on the hunt for a house with three bedrooms and a hallway entrance. ‘The type of property we had in mind isn’t hard to come across in Norwich, however there weren’t many within our price bracket,’ says Victoria. ‘Each one we viewed required a compromise of either size or location, until – unbelievably – we found our dream home right around the corner for an affordable price. It seemed too good to be true.’ Victoria and Dale made an offer the very same day, but it had already been sold. Disappointed and disheartened, they put their search on hold and even considered a loft conversion in their current home instead, but the universe had other plans for them. ‘By chance, we were walking along a tiny one-way street near the city centre one day and saw a “For Sale” sign poking out of the bush in a front garden,’ Victoria recalls. ‘We went straight on Rightmove to see the price, but it was way over our budget. We viewed it anyway, and I fell completely in love with it.’ Dale needed a little more convincing, though the promise of a games room in the cellar sealed the deal, and after some negotiating they managed to secure the house. But the excitement – or, more accurately, drama – was far from over. Victoria and Dale moved in just before Christmas to no double glazing and just a smattering of radiators. ‘I remember being completely freezing while wrapping gifts, and using candles to try and heat the living room,’ says Victoria. The house required seemingly endless work, and being Grade II listed only made matters more complicated. Consent was required for many a project to begin, while some renovations were off the cards altogether. The chimney, which Victoria had planned to restore in order to install a log burner, was a gust of wind away from collapsing onto the roof, and a leaking tap in the upstairs bathroom saw the entire room and ground floor hallway flooded. By far the biggest challenge was renovating the cellar. To solve its damp issues, the couple decided to get the room tanked, but despite being given the go-ahead in advance, a conservation officer – who turned up at the house unannounced after the procedure – informed them that they needed to apply for listed building consent, which would see work put on hold for six weeks. ‘During that time we had some extreme rain and the tanking failed,’ says Victoria. ‘The new floors had wet patches and the plaster was soaking, but the company completely washed their hands of it. I think my tears could have flooded the rest of the house.’ With basement woes eventually resolved and an extension underway that meant rejigging their brand newkitchen, Victoria took on the master bedroom. ‘As I was deciding on what to do with the floor and furniture, Dale was flying out to Sierra Leone as an NHS medic to assist with the Ebola crisis,’ she recalls. ‘I decided that I could at least have the bedroom completed for when he returned.’ Friends and family popped by to pick up a paintbrush and pour cups of tea, and the room quickly came together. Restoring their charming home has been a labour of love, and while the house isn’t quite finished, it has a whole new identity that is classic in style and sympathetic to its history. Plus, both Victoria and Dale adore it. ‘A house which throws as many curveballs as this one could test any relationship, but we’ve laughed and cried our way through the renovations together, and have come out the other side still as happy as we were when we purchased it,’ says Victoria.

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