No one was more surprised than Jen Rothbury when she and her husband Miles found themselves undertaking a renovation project.
“At 36 weeks pregnant, moving was the last thing I thought about, so when Miles suggested going to see a semi-rundown, it was just curiosity on my part,” Jen explains. “I walked out and said to Miles, ‘It was awful, wasn’t it? to which he replied: ‘No, I loved it!’ That night we looked at the floor plans and he explained how we could make it work – and the rest is history.
Miles and Jen got bigger to create their dream home.
The owners Jen Rothbury (@crack_the_shutters), physiotherapist, her husband, Miles, banker, and their sons, Leo and Magnus, as well as Danny the bastard The property A 1920s semi-detached house in Bramhall, Cheshire Project cost £ 171,000
Jen’s reservations were based on the house having the same number of bedrooms as their existing property. “But when we met the builders, they explained how simple it would be to add an attic conversion, giving us two more bedrooms and a shower room,” she says. Most exciting of all for Jen was the prospect of building in the back to create an open plan kitchen-diner.
The ramshackle kitchen certainly needed a facelift – it smelled musty with ripped and stained psychedelic linoleum and kitchen items falling apart. “Everything had to be done and I told Miles we would only buy it if we started the renovation soon after we moved in,” Jen explains. “The first thing we did was decorate the place to make it more bearable – even though we knew it was temporary.
Although the construction took eight months, with a kitchen installed in the study, the hardest part were the 10 weeks the family was without running water. “With thick brick dust in the air all over the house, it wasn’t the easiest environment to raise our then two-year-old Leo and baby Magnus,” Jen explains.
Other drawbacks included additional expense due to faulty gutters and an unsafe chimney. But once the builders left, it was clear that the unforeseen issues were worth enduring, and the open plan kitchen-diner quickly proved to be perfect for family living. One of the biggest hits is the snug. “We were going to have it as our dining room, but the fireplace had such great potential to be a warm focal point,” Jen explains. “We bought a new sofa and a new chair and that space immediately worked for us and the boys, especially in the evenings.”
The loft conversion created two generously sized guest bedrooms and a bathroom, and here, as elsewhere, Jen and Miles added wall panels to create character. “It makes a huge difference for relatively little effort,” Jen explains. “Miles did the actual carpentry – I just painted them. “
Three small pieces have been combined to create a stunning L-shaped master bathroom that Jen considers perhaps her most satisfying achievement. “I love the contrast between the pretty pink and the industrial look of the cladding wall,” she says. “I am even more proud of the floor that I painted myself. “
All of the rooms in the Rothbury’s house have their own unique identity and each has a sense of fun that reflects the personalities of the couple. “I find dark and heavy colors quite oppressive and tend to go for hues that are both calming and vibrant,” Jen explains. “There is so much to help you – online tutorials and different ways of doing things – and with a few basic tools, you can do so much on your own, cutting costs in the process. “
The result is a home that has proven to be an ideal home for family and friends, as Jen concludes: the spaces we have worked hard to create. ‘