April 24 2014 Latest news:
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When the McCullochs bought this pretty little house it had concrete floors and plastic windows but they could see it had great potential as Victoria Jenkins discovers.
As Kirstie and Fraser McCulloch were driving along to a viewing in Warwickshire they spotted Croft House, an old and very pretty four-bedroom dwelling. We loved it on sight and wished it was the one we were going to see. And it was! It just had a different estate agents board outside as ours hadnt put his board up, says Kirstie, a designer who works with her engineering manager husband in the same company.
When we walked in for the first time I found it a curious blend of bright colours combined with a worn and dated feeling. I think the sellers had done a quick paint job to spruce it up, she continues. However, it lacked character for instance, the hall, dining room and kitchen all had concrete floors while the cornicing and many of the fireplaces were missing. Unfortunately the original sash windows had been removed not long before we moved in and replaced with plastic double-glazed replicas.
However, the couple still loved it despite the single tiny bathroom and were delighted to hear that while the date mark stated 1892 their surveyor thought the house was probably Regency. So they went ahead and bought it as they had sold their own house and had been looking for some time.
That was six years ago and since then they have done a great deal of work to the house, breaking it down into two phases. They have also produced two little boys Jack (3) and Sam (1) as well.
Phase one was to ask architect Robert Callaghan to draw up plans to convert the loft and add an extension. Planning permission came through without problem and the couple set to work turning the empty loft into a bedroom with en-suite bathroom and study. They also refurbished the rest of the house by having a damp proof course put in, then rewired and treated the woodwork for infestation. They knocked a wall down between lounge and study which had once been the pork-salting room to create a drawing room and turned the smallest bedroom into another bathroom while the original single bathroom became their en-suite.
As it used to take two shifts to fill up this bath we also had a new boiler and an Ozo hot water tank installed, says Kirstie. There was also a rather useless old porch at the back of the house which had no space for anything other than dumping wellies and so on. So we demolished that and then built a much bigger conservatory further along so the kitchen led into it. We put a table and chairs in so we could eat here as the kitchen was too small.
They also replaced the missing fireplaces, buying reclaimed ones for the bedrooms and a reproduction for the main room downstairs from Coventry Demolition.
That was phase one, says Kirstie. Then we stopped for a while."This was in order to start their family. After Jack was born they started on the two-storey extension phase two. The original kitchen was tiny, dark and old fashioned so it had to go but it adjoined the asbestos-lined garage and an old outhouse which they could see they could utilise. First, they demolished the garage (in fact they have dispensed with a garage altogether) so the new extension of kitchen and en-suite bedroom above could take up its footprint. However, they kept the outhouse an old laundry and it is now their snug leading off the new kitchen.
We put in new wiring and replastered it and its a perfect place for the boys to play because I can watch them whilst cooking in the kitchen, says Kirstie. The snug has a woodburner so by relying on that and the Aga in the kitchen we don't need to switch on the central heating until it gets really cold.
The old kitchen has become a boot room which contains a large cupboard housing the washing machine and dryer. Work on the new extension took three months of building and another nine months to finish, what with fitting the kitchen, bathroom, decorating and laying the carpets and so on.
Somehow we managed to live among the upheaval and we did go slightly over budget, says Kirstie. Our kitchen units came from Unpainted Kitchens of Northampton and we painted them ourselves in Farrow & Balls Lime White. The oak worktops are from IKEA, specially cut to fit. The hideous concrete flooring has been covered with a suspended oak floor which continues throughout most of the ground floor and is new even though we bought it from Coventry Demolition again. The whole process was a long hard slog but well worth it.
As for the garden, it was just grass with some neglected vegetable patches, a hedge and a small row of shrubs. They replanted the lawn, got rid of the vegetables, planted lots of flowers and shrubs and laid little paths for the children to run along.
Now that weve finished I should say my favourite room is the kitchen, says Kirstie. Its a lovely welcoming room especially as we treated ourselves to an Aga, never having had one before. But Fraser in particular loves to cook and anyway we just love the warmth it gives. In the spring when its still chilly we can switch off the heating after the long winter months as the Aga can still keep us warm.
The McCullochs house is for sale (645,000) through Knight Frank.