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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.