During their first renovation project, Henry Hudson and Holly Johnson were able to see past the neglected state of the Victorian house that they have transformed into a fresh, bright home.

Project Notes

  • Homeowners: Henry and Holly Johnson
  • Project: Victorian renovation
  • Location: Derby
  • Size: 140m²
  • Build time: July 2014 – Dec 2016
  • House cost: £250,000
  • Build cost: £46,322
  • Value: £375,000

“We were living in rented accommodation and at first we almost totally dismissed it due to the amount of work it needed — but once we properly looked around it I liked it straight away” says Holly.

“I just saw all the technical challenges and how much there was to do,” adds Henry of the house, located in Derby. “Holly really saw the value in all the original features.”

Original Victorian staircase

One of the main draws of the house was its original features, such as the detailed Victorian staircase

“When we first moved in, the house was just a building site,” says Holly. “There wasn’t even a sink downstairs and instead of a bathroom upstairs there was just a weird little space with a basin, toilet and bidet!”

Henry and Holly knew from the outset that they would carry out all the work they could themselves, only hiring in tradespeople where completely necessary. “We used just four trades,” says Henry. “A plumber, one builder to remove structural walls, an electrician and a plasterer — the rest we did ourselves. We did also ask a local joiner to create replicas of some of the original skirting boards that couldn’t be saved.”

Original Victorian staircase

Henry found tiling the hallway floor very tricky due to the uneven nature of the old walls

Originally a four bedroom house, Henry and Holly have sacrificed the fourth bedroom to create an upstairs bathroom, stealing space from the adjoining bedroom by moving the wall slightly.

Keen to increase floorspace, the entire chimney stack that ran up from the living and dining rooms through the bedroom and into the loft has been removed in order to add space to the now-smaller third bedroom.

Master bedroom

On the first floor, a small fourth bedroom was sacrificed so that the bathroom could be moved upstairs

Henry and Holly prepared microwave meals in the bedroom while the wall that separated the kitchen and dining room was removed, before creating the fresh, classic kitchen diner.

“We had to dig out around 12 tonnes of soil from the kitchen by hand,” says Henry. “There had been black and red original quarry tiles laid directly on earth so we needed to add insulation and also a DPC [damp-proof course].”

Shaker style kitchen diner

The new kitchen diner has been formed by combining the old separate kitchen space and dining room

Shaker style kitchen diner

The new Shaker-style kitchen combines freestanding painted units from a local kitchen company with an island and larder unit which were made by a local joiner

Along with saving on labour costs by doing what they could themselves, the couple also decided to keep the original windows — they completed the project for less than £47k .

Open plan kitchen diner

The red and black quarry tiles that were once in this room were painstakingly relaid in the new downstairs WC — oak engineered floorboards have replaced them

The couple also saved on plastering costs by only having skimming work carried out where absolutely necessary. “We filled areas where we could and only got the plasterer in to skim the parts that were really bad — we were trying to be as frugal as possible but also wanted to keep some of the original character of the walls,” says Henry.

Victorian renovation living room

In the living room an old electric fire was removed to reveal the original fireplace opening, into which a woodburning stove has been fitted

“It is so nice to find you can do things you didn’t know or think you could,” says Henry.

Victorian end of terrace

Henry and Holly with their dog outside their Victorian home

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