Half Built House

Exeter top tips

If you're keen to get a result similar to Chris and Amy, then take a look at some of the key ideas featured in the episode.

Sian, Chris and Amy

1. Dilemma of losing a bedroom for a bathroom - balancing your house

Losing a bedroom isn't always a complete no-no, so don't immediately rule it out on your refurb property. Chris' house was very unbalanced with the downstairs a light, contemporary open plan area and the upstairs an impractical combination of two decent sized rooms and three very small ones.

The original bathroom was tiny with little space even for a bath and the overall size of the property required a decent bathroom. Moreover it wasn't ever likely to sell to a big family, with a busy road outside and small garden.

In this case the house benefitted from the addition of a bathroom and en suite and losing a small bedroom.


2. Don't always lose period features like fitted cupboards

It's usually the best decision style-wise and for the value of the property to keep any period features, as long as they are in good condition and fit for purpose.

In Chris' dining room, it would have been easy to rip out the cabinets to either side of the fireplace as we were going for a modern feel to the room but I felt a mixture of old and new was more eclectic and suited the property. Repainted and sealed, they look great and left much needed storage in the room.

In the bedroom on the other hand, we did remove the built in unit as it was impractical and the space was needed for wardrobes / drawers.


3. Creating an en suite - without the loo!

En-suite's don't always have to have a loo if you can't fit one in, sometimes they can work brilliantly with just a large shower and basin. Our Exeter home had another loo downstairs so it was still a two loo house, and now has both his and hers washing areas!


4. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Remember when you are clearing out your new property or pulling out materials that things often have a resale value. Old furniture, new carpets not to your style, even old gas fireplace surround may have a value which may enhance your budget. Try selling it before you skip it!


5. Frosted film on windows

The new bathroom created didn't have opaque windows, but rather than go to the expense (and waste) of getting rid of a perfectly good window, we used decorative window film from www.brume.co.uk to create privacy whilst maintaining an airy feel. The small cut outs allow natural light in and are a contemporary way of adding interest.


6. Avoiding the clinical gloss white look

High gloss white is a bright, versatile and popular look for kitchen door fronts but can appear very clinical in period properties. In Exeter we softened the look with solid oak worktops and oak drawer fronts, textured slate flooring and rich amber glass lights. Use natural materials in different shades and textures if you're looking to avoid that dentist's surgery feel!


7. Upcycling mismatched chairs

We simply didn't have the funds to buy brand new furniture as well as everything else, so had to get creative. A pre-loved pine table was found on-line and repainted high gloss white. The kitchen's amber and deep grey colour scheme was picked out with the addition of four fabulous, mis-matched vintage chairs from the local Steptoe's second hand emporium - the chairs were repainted in grey and upholstered with an offcut from a local fabric shop. It didn't matter that the chairs didn't match. Their individuality gave interest to the room and also picked up on the chair theme of the wallpaper - perfect.


8. Painting floorboards

If you want a high gloss floor and your original boards are in good condition then painting and varnishing is a good option.

Make sure boards are secure, clean, have no nails sticking up plus all the electrics and plumbing is done under them before you paint.

For brilliant white, similar to Chris and Amy's dining room, use a water based eggshell to avoid yellowing, then use varnish for final protection. This is also a great temporary measure if you can't quite afford new timber flooring just yet but want your home to be easy to clean and look good in the meantime.


9. Timber over the fireplace

Opening up fireplaces is a great option if your renovation project has old fashioned gas fires or no period features. It's messy work but can reveal a lovely opening for shelving or plants and candles.

If you aren't going to install a new contemporary gas fire or wood burning stove, still consider adding a mantelpiece to gave the chimney breast focus. I found a gorgeous piece of timber at Toby's Reclamation yard, delicately etched on its outside edge. When cut to make the rear side flat and bolted safely on to the wall - one totally original mantelpiece.


10. Use different but complementary tiling in bathrooms

It's terribly boring when visiting properties to see the same tiles being used everywhere and I try and persuade clients to opt for differing looks which still work harmoniously together.

For the Exeter en suite shower room we fitted mid-grey linear tiles of different sizes to the walls and floor, then in the bathroom some very deep grey jewelled mosaics around the bath and dark grey basin unit with a black gloss floor. Two different looks but ones which also sat well together.


11. The magic caulking finger

Team HBH laughed when I said I wanted to do the silicone sealant and caulking - but this job is one which has to have love and care lavished over it!Caulk trousers

Those lines of sealant in kitchens, bathrooms and on decoration jobs are the final finish and it's all about the finger! It needs to be delicate, clean and wet, so always have a bowl of water and a cloth next to you, or you'll end up with caulk covered trousers like mine...

Comments (15)

  • aamena

    over 1 year ago


    the kitchen looks great. you've given me an idea as i'm renovating and having a full kitchen fitted. i like how you've mixed the wood with the white unit doors. where did you get the kitchen from?

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  • kelly

    over 1 year ago


    hiya,i love your program got some great idea's. Would like to know please what the boards are called that you use for plasterboards,remember it not being the usual plaster boards but something else that you used which looked easier to use could you please help me out?????????thanks ;-)

  • Sian

    over 1 year ago


    That's great Craig - good luck with your project! Check out the Moregeous blog for tips or feel free post a Q on there, easier to answer! Sian

  • Sian

    over 1 year ago


    Hi Kathy, the handles are from Ikea and they are called Buckla, great aren't they? Sian

  • Craig R

    over 1 year ago

    Craig R

    I have just had a quote on my small kitchen. Over £12000!!! How can you do so much work for so little? Any tips to half this quote please. Love this program it's inspired me to get my act together and get my house finished.

  • kathy evans

    over 1 year ago

    kathy evans

    are the kitchen handles from ikea? what is the name of them please?. having white gloss kitchen and thought they looked really good.

  • sian

    over 1 year ago


    Hi Amanda - lights from Rothschild & Bickers, they are beautiful aren't they? Hi Jazz - the kitchen is Ikea, cabinets, doors, end panels and handles. And Lynda, that amazing paper is Chairs 02 by Barneby Gates. Thanks for watching! x

  • lynda callaghan

    over 1 year ago

    lynda callaghan

    where did you get the stunning wallpaper from with the chairs on in last nights show please

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  • Jazz

    over 1 year ago


    Where did you get the kitchen from ? It is not listed in the suppliers.

  • Amanda

    over 1 year ago


    Those lights in the dining room were fab...can you say where they were from please

  • p wilkes

    over 1 year ago

    p wilkes

    I think you done an amazing job you and the team keep up the good work. My dad has worked his whole life trying to do his house up and still has no carpet snd thats where i grew up. Nice to see people getting the help they need by experts

  • Sian Bell

    over 1 year ago

    Sian Bell

    An ensuite needs a loo. I can hardly bear to listen to the dreadful pronunciation of a lovely Welsh name..... Sian...