House renovation: the total transformation of this 1970s home

double-height kitchen with mezzanine in this house renovation

I’d like to say that I was elegantly ambling down the rather unassuming country lane to reach this beautiful property. I was going to see it as it had undergone some drastic house renovation work. However, it was a fresh but damp autumn day. So the steep decline required a little bit more care underfoot than the poetic scene I could have set.

But the house renovation was worth the trek. Jonathan and Berni Carter’s home in Bridgnorth, Shropshire initially looks like a bungalow from the front with a crisp, contemporary white-rendered exterior. Look closer and you’ll realise it’s actually much larger. Because from the back, the property is actually an impressive two-storey build, with a double-height kitchen space at the rear. Built into the hillside, it enjoys spectacular views of the town’s most famous landmarks, including the cliff railway.

house renovation
The structural pendant light hanging down from the double-height ceiling adds a modern touch. It complements the more traditional dining table and chairs. Jonathan saw a similar design for sale, but made this one himself using metal poles and LED strips.

The couple were sold on the amazing views

It was those views which sold the house to Jonathan and Berni, who make me a cuppa using their nifty hot-water tap. They also offer me snacks as soon as I get through the door (perks of the job, right?). Berni tells me they had been searching for their perfect house renovation project for almost a decade. This included a five-year hunt for a self-build plot that didn’t come to fruition.

white rendered
The house is near Bridgnorth in Shropshire.

Finding the perfect house

“We were immediately drawn to the house,” Jonathan remembers. “Although it was like stepping into a time warp as it hadn’t been updated since the 1970s. It had great potential but was in need of love.” The couple made an offer on the property, sold their house nearby and immediately moved in. They developed a feel for the property and worked out exactly what they wanted to do.

house renovation
Removing a bedroom upstairs created a mezzanine, complete with a glass balustrade. This allowed light to filter through from the front of the house. It was a genius way to meet Jonathan and Berni’s brief for maximising light and making the most of the views.

Why the couple wanted to live in the house before renovating it

“I felt it was important to live in the house first to understand the layout and plan what we wanted to do,” Jonathan explains. “We needed to find the perfect architect to help us realise our dream of having an eco-house.” After a year, they’d come up with a brief. It included removing a bedroom to create a dramatic double-height, open-plan kitchen-diner on the ground floor with a connecting living area. It would both have links to the garden and top-rate energy-efficient solutions. The couple also wanted to renovate the remaining three upstairs bedrooms, ensuite and master bathroom.

Galley kitchen layout
Effectively a galley layout, the hob, ovens, and sink create a successful working triangle. An integrated dishwasher and built-in appliances keep a streamlined look.
house renovation
Jonathan and Berni were keen to have a style that would stand the test of time, look streamlined, and be easy to keep clean. The door to the right of the fridge-freezer conceals the new utility room, with laundry appliances and additional sink and prep space.

The couple’s renovation wish list

I ask Jonathan what was on the renovation wish list. He says a more spacious kitchen for entertaining. The couple also wanted lots of glazing to make the most of the views and afford plenty of natural light. Then they wanted a mezzanine landing and a neutral-colour handleless kitchen with an island and breakfast bar. In addition, they were after space for a large dining table and a utility room (concealed behind the full-height units).

Despite the ambitious house renovation plans, all the work was done within the property’s original footprint. The couple worked with architect Clare Williamson of CANDO. She helped refine their plans and look for ways to make the build as energy-efficient as possible. This meant replacing all the heating, water, and electric systems, as well as installing innovative ventilation, sound and lighting solutions. It also meant installing triple-glazed windows and doors. They double-plastered the ceilings, taped up voids, fitted external wall insulation and installed a new mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system. These all contribute to the building’s air tightness and prevent heat loss.

The hidden part of the kitchen

Hidden utility room
To keep an uncluttered look, especially when entertaining, the couple wanted all the workings of the kitchen to be hidden away. Concealed behind a cupboard door is the pantry area. It’s in the centre of the run of units to site laundry appliances and keep home essentials. It also provides space for an extra sink and a place to put dirty dishes. There’s also a coffee and tea station in one of the other cupboards.
house renovation
A level threshold from the kitchen into the garden creates the feeling of even more space. Bi-fold doors mean the couple can control how open they want the space. And the views from the house renovation are simply stunning.

As well as eco credentials, Berni and Jonathan were impressively savvy with their house renovation project. Getting good value for money was top of their agenda. So they mixed off-the-shelf styles with high-end fixtures and fittings to get the look they wanted within their budget.

They chose simple white gloss doors, grey full-height units and an island with raised breakfast bar from Howdens. They also invested in composite worktops from Silestone with high-quality appliances and that hot-water tap.

View more of this glorious house renovation

Master bedroom with countryside views
Complete with full-width sliding doors and a balcony with seating, the master bedroom is the ideal place to relax. The couple updated the balcony’s balustrade and deck-style flooring as part of the house renovation. The furniture inside is minimal, with the upholstered headboard acting as the focal point.

The most dramatic change was removing the fourth bedroom to allow for the double-height space and create the mezzanine landing area. This was quite a bold move, but it means flooding the whole house renovation with light. The couple also wanted to be able to see through to the garden from the front entrance. So Clare suggested moving the bathroom wall by half a metre to achieve this. While it meant decreasing the size of the master bathroom, the result was worth it.

house renovation
The family bathroom in the house renovation has a 1m-wide door, swinging out so as to not interrupt the flow. The space has enough room for a separate shower and bath as well as a WC and vanity unit.

After an afternoon spent learning all about their house renovation, I can see why Jonathan and Berni are so pleased with the finished result. They’ve shown me some old images of what the house used to look like and it’s barely recognisable. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the magnificent view, but the couple have maximised every opportunity to take it in. The star of the show is undoubtedly the floor-to-ceiling curtain window at the rear of the house. It floods downstairs and upstairs with light. And if you ponder on the mezzanine to take in the scene, you’ll even spot the cliff railway going up and down – now that’s poetic.

Natural light bathes the kitchen diner in this house renovation

Curtain window floods the space with natural light
Thanks to the new curtain window, bi-fold doors, and picture windows to the side of the house, natural light floods the kitchen-diner in the house renovation.

Featured image: Used both inside and out, the grey non-slip porcelain flooring helps connect the living space to the garden in the house renovation.

Photographs: Clive Doyle

So did you love looking at this house renovation as much as we did? Then you’ll also enjoy setting a renovation budget: where to start.

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