Diving into a project like a home expansion is no easy feat, especially when it’s your first time on the property ladder. Fortunately, you can learn from the wisdom of those who came before you through the Internet. We love nothing more than receiving advice from the amazing renovators we talk to every day – and Louise and Calum Todd are no exception, offering plenty of advice to anyone new to their own project.
The couple bought their lower two-bedroom villa on a quiet side street in Edinburgh’s Corstorphine district after six years of economy. With its own front and back doors, the property looked less like an apartment and more like a bungalow. Four years after their initial renovation, the couple embarked on a walk-in kitchen extension to unlock even more potential and create an open-plan living / dining area connected to the previously underused garden. The result is a bright, colorful and characterful home full of ideas – pencils close at hand …
1. Have a contingency plan
The owners Louise Todd, graphic designer, her husband Calum, quality support manager, and their cats Merry and Pippin
The property An enlarged two bedroom lower 1930s villa in Corstorphine, Edinburgh
Project cost Â£ 74,000
Louise and Calum quickly went over budget. âThe initial work took a lot longer than expected and cost over Â£ 10,000,â says Calum. âIn addition to organizing the rewiring and plumbing, we put back the cornices and chair rails, painted the stained wood baseboards and window frames, stripped and repainted all the doors and replaced all the switches and outlets. .
Luckily the walls had paper in place and were ready to repaint, but the ceiling needed four coats. Unfortunately, the boiler died weeks after we moved in, so besides having no heat or hot water, that meant the paint was taking a long time to dry.
2. Make the most of essential jobs
âOur parents advised us to tackle one room at a time, but we attacked everything at the same time, also tearing the carpets in the bedroom,â says Louise. Despite the upheaval, upgrading to a new combi boiler – a fairly uninspiring task – gave the couple the idea to change the layout.
“There were two cupboards in the entrance and the living room housing the old water tanks, which we drilled to make a more convivial kitchen”, explains Louise. “It involved removing a fireplace mantel, so we needed a structural engineer and building rules in case it affected our upstairs neighbor’s property.”
3. Thinking of moving? Consider expanding
âIn 2019, we wanted more space, but it would have cost way too much to buy a house in the area, so we went for an extension instead,â says Calum. âThe architect and the builder were both fantastic. In the end, the planned 12-week project only took nine, even with the addition of built-in bookcases and a patio – we realized it would have been a nightmare for the layout later because the shared path would be ruined again.
âWe had been thinking about extending it for years, but when a neighbor got a building permit for something similar, we realized it was doable,â adds Louise. âCalum had a new job and I got promoted, so we both had higher wages to pay for the construction. We would only move if someone loud moved upstairs, but luckily we have lovely neighbors and the extension gave us the space we needed. We’re hardly using the old front lounge anymore – we love the open-plan vibe here, and you don’t have to turn off the TV if you’re having a drink! “
4. Use your skills to save money – and be prepared to compromise
âAs a graphic designer, I drew rough plans myself, but we hired an architect to create appropriate plans that would meet building standards,â says Louise. The couple took steps to lose weight wherever they could.
âWe kept the kitchen in the same place and added a series of additional units,â adds Louise. “I got a good deal on Howdens kitchen units and saved money by going out of the dishwasher and having only one pull-out carousel, which meant we could allow the Karndean parquet at Â£ 900. “
5. Glazing is a profitable investment
Knowing where to spend and where to save is one of the most valuable skills in a remodel, and Louise and Calum are glad they splurged on a particular purchase. âThe new aluminum folding doors are my favorite addition,â Calum says. âWe opted for the widest opening – as close as possible to a giant window. The patio becomes part of the room. Before, we only used the garden a few weeks a year, but now it is used all the time; it gets the sun from around 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer. ‘
6. Don’t be afraid to mix and match
Louise’s creative eye means she’s adept at putting together a diagram from seemingly mismatched pieces – and her house shows just how beautiful a space filled with vintage and recycled treasures can be. Lesson? Matchy-matchy isn’t always the best.
âIn art school, I was inspired by the architecture of the 1950s, which I mixed with contemporary pieces,â she says. âI love the color and richness of teak wood, a large part of our furniture is from Gumtree and vintage shops. We hope our home is comfortable and welcoming as well as visually appealing.