There is a growing army of renovators turning the most ordinary of homes into something special. Natasha Brinsmead looks at some examples and explains how an external makeover can create the home of your dreams.

Ranch Style Dressing

A fantastic example of the potential that small, uninspiring bungalows have, this particular property in Surrey, designed by Back to Front Design (01252 820984) and developed by Jon Wood of Osprey Property Developments (01731 814991 has been transformed into a US-style home, offering views over the countryside and a verandah. The original plans were rejected and the planners insisted that the roof bulk was kept to a minimum.

A bungalow converted into a ranch-style home
  • Roof was raised to create first floor accommodation
  • The house was extended to both sides and a new garage created
  • Composite weatherboarding by Marley Eternit, bought from Marco Industries (01795 436600), has been used to clad the exterior
  • Old plastic windows have been replaced with timber windows
  • New timber dormer windows have been created, plus the addition of French doors and an extra first floor window to the side of the house mean the house now receives far more light
  • Concrete roof tiles were replaced with slates — terracotta ridge tiles and ball finials complete the look
  • A decked verandah has been added to the front of the property to tie in with the overhang of the new roofline and to add a new dimension to the formerly ‘flat’ façade

Contemporary Update

Turning this four bedroom detached house in Poole, Dorset, into a sleek, contemporary five bedroom home was the work of Rebecca Lang. Unperturbed by the house’s uninspiring exterior, she has transformed both the front and back of the property.

A four-bedroom detached house converted into a five bedroom family home
  • Mismatched brickwork has been given a coat of render, painted to fit in with other houses in the area
  • The pitch of the roof has been altered, and now includes rooflights and striking dormers
  • Faded old concrete roof tiles have been replaced with new matt grey concrete tiles
  • Shabby, small PVCu windows have been replaced with grey aluminium-clad timber windows
  • The position of the old white garage door has been changed and is now located to the front of the projecting area of the house. In addition the door has been replaced to tie in with the smart new contemporary front door
  • White rainwater goods have taken the place of the old black ones and are almost hidden against the light-coloured render
  • Large concrete slabs on the driveway have been replaced with block paving

A Green Makeover

Built in the 1960s, this once tired and ordinary house has been extended upwards and updated, and is now a contemporary family home with a host of eco-friendly features.

A 1960s house updated with new facade and eco features
  • Gable ends were extended upwards to provide new rooms within the roof
  • The upper storeys have been clad in untreated sweet chestnut, whilst the lower storeys have been rendered
  • The roof has been covered in natural zinc sheeting with sanding seam joints
  • The worn-out metal casement windows have been replaced with composite timber aluminium windows
  • New windows have been added to leave the original façade almost unrecognisable. The vertical panel of double-height glass not only lights the staircase within, but also acts as a striking contrast to the horizontal strip window next to it
  • Contemporary landscaping takes the place of the previous unimaginative scheme

Return to Glory

Another Back to Front Exterior Design creation, The Lodge at Ragdale Hall has undergone a complete overhaul in terms of its exterior design. The basic shape of the building has been kept intact, whilst external decoration has dramatically improved.

The Lodge at Ragdale Hall has had a complete exterior makeover
  • The small gable to the right of the façade has been removed to ‘clean up’ the roofline
  • The building has been given a new slate roof
  • The tired brickwork has been given a coat of render
  • Bargeboards, painted in the same colour as the windows and doors, have been added to give the roof more character in the form of three-dimensional shadowing
  • Bespoke timber windows replace the PVCu versions
  • A sunny new porch has been built, complete with a sloping glass roof and front door, to echo the design of the new windows
  • All the old rainwater goods have been replaced with smart, colour-coordinated models
  • A new driveway, plus a mix of plants, finishes off the look

‘Airport Lounge’ No More

Built in the 1950s and architect designed, the owners of this bungalow bought it primarily for its fantastic location. Previously known locally as the ‘airport lounge’ it has now been brought up to date to be a stylish contemporary home that makes the most of its surroundings.

An modernised 1950s bungalow
  • Unattractive brickwork has now been covered with a coat of render
  • Dated windows and doors have been replaced with contemporary powder-coated aluminium versions that draw plenty of light in, but still offer privacy
  • A new terrace has been created to add an extra dimension to the façade
  • A smart projecting wall, featuring apertures which mirror the shape of the windows, has been created to add to the entranceway
  • The unusual curved roof and flues have been retained and fit in well with the new exterior design

A More Radical Approach

A little more than just an external ‘makeover’, but a fantastic example of what can be done with a 1960s dormer bungalow nonetheless, H&R’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Holmes’ second project resulted in this beautiful Arts & Crafts-style family home, yet retained many of the features of the original building.

A 1960s dormer bungalow converted into an Arts & Crafts-style family home
  • New wing added to the side
  • Cottage-style windows fitted, including two new oriel windows to the first floor
  • Handmade clay tiles replaced concrete roof tiles and were also used for tile-hung cladding
  • Hefty brick chimneys added to fit in with the Arts & Crafts look
  • Oak porch built to turn the entrance into a feature
  • Stone wall built around property
  • Integral garage incorporated into the main body of the house
  • Render applied to ground floor level
  • Brick plinth built

Suburban Drama

This very modest 1960s three bedroom detached home in suburban Buckinghamshire wasn’t much to look at — until the owners, with the help of talented local architect Jeremy Spratley (01491 411277) and builder Simon Durrant (01628 477791) added an extra room and, perhaps more importantly, transformed its outside appearance from boring to contemporary chic.

An updated 1960s three bedroom detached house
  • The house has been extended to create an extra bedroom
  • The dark stained timber that had been used to dress the brick and block building at first floor level has been removed and replaced by untreated western red cedar — a motif carried through to the rear elevation
  • Initially planned to spray the existing PVCu window frames but eventually decided to replace with them new windows (in the same openings) with contemporary dark grey profiles
  • New landscaping scheme
  • New gutters and downpipes
  • Contemporary white render and new front door


Bungalows are often perfect makeover candidates. Although they have a reputation for being more suited to slightly older generations, they offer huge design potential — plus they often come with generous gardens so offer lots of potential for extending. George Hesse of exterior refurbishment specialist Back to Front Exterior Design feels it is a shame when people buy bungalows then demolish them. “People are often put off by the bungalow’s low, skulking form, but they offer huge potential to look more attractive,” he says. “There are plenty of people who feel that single-storey living would be perfect for them, but who also want a fantastic design.”

Our Sponsors