Buying a 1970s house wasn’t really on my wish list, but that was before a spell living in Australia made me and my husband Tom have a major rethink,’ says Zoe. ‘We were out there for eight years and it made us look at houses very differently when we returned to the UK. Changing priorities We came back when I was pregnant with Leo, and we had already decided to settle in the Hampton area, where Tom was brought up. It has great transport links, plenty of green spaces and good schools, which was important with two young children. We needed somewhere urgently, so initially we bought a new build terrace that needed nothing doing to it. But as Leo got older, and then Zac came along, we realised we would need more room.
Space and light had become even more important to us after living on the other side of the world, and whereas before we’d have been keener on an older property, the number of rooms and having a larger garden had whizzed up the list. Making plans Our estate agent asked us to consider a house that was new to the market. It was built in 1979, and the same people had lived in it ever since. Everything was done to a high standard, but it was dated and not quite to our taste. But we could see it had enormous potential; the rooms were large and light, and it had a stunning central hallway.
What can I do with awkward space in my kitchen? Photo Gallery
Once we’d moved in, we quickly realised that it would be relatively simple to create a spacious kitchen-diner by knocking two rooms into one. It was too cramped in the kitchen, and there was a large rectangular table in there, which was taking up far too much space. The old wooden units made the room seem darker, along with the dark wood windows. Downtowork With our builder in place, taking the wall down that separated the kitchen and the old dining room brought in lots of light.
We replaced the old French doors and the window with more practical white versions. We’d pushed ourselves budgetwise buying the house and wanted to keep costs down, so we found some great units at Ikea which fitted the bill. We did invest in the Cristallo solid surface worktop from Maia, which cost more than the units, but any little scratch or stain can be rubbed away, it’s amazing. The U-shape of the units left the back wall free for a stunning freestanding unit on metal legs where we keep everything for dining as it’s near the table.
And having a round table made space for a floor-to-ceiling unit in the corner to hide all the cleaning stuff. Finishing touches To save money, we used outlet stores where we could and got some great deals, such as our Smeg appliances. Although the items didn’t have packaging and we had to take them away there and then ourselves, it worked out much cheaper. The build took eight weeks and we’re so pleased with how it’s turned out, it feels so light and spacious, and there is plenty of extra storage. The result is much better than we’d ever have hoped for – it gives me a lift every morning.’