Nestled within a row of cute cottages in one of Cardiff’s most popular suburbs was a rather ugly duckling of a house that was sliding into a run down state. When it came to the market it was feeling sorry for itself, with damp the only tenant in the empty former much-loved home.
Floors were missing, plaster on the walls was crumbling, and the interior design that still existed dated the last update as sometime in the 1970s.
But back in 2020, looking past the crumbling cement floor, the descending wallpaper, and the dated decor there was the chance for someone to buy the worst house on the street in a popular and pricey location and turn it into one of the best houses, undoubtedly adding value.
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Located on a popular street in the suburb of Rhiwbina, a buyer did indeed snap it up and over the next two years has turned this cottage from an ugly duckling into a stunning swan – it’s a lesson to inspire everyone on how to totally and truly renovate and transform a property from tired to terrific.
Contemporary white decor, a complete top to bottom renovation project, and a rear extension has transformed the property into arguably the best cottage on the street. Before the refurbishment, the cottage front door opened into a grubby front lounge with dated stone fireplace and half of the concrete floor missing.
Now an appropriate cottage-style porch has been added that has instantly increased the home’s kerb appeal. It has also added extra square footage to the floorplan and provides an uplifting welcome, as well as a place to peel off and store a wet raincoat and muddy boots.
The cottage facade has gone from a faded white pebbledash to a smooth render sporting a more modern, soft grey. Now, instead of being the beast amongst the cottage beauties around it, this renovated abode can arguably take the beauty contest crown.
Stepping inside and maybe a potential buyer will be surprised, and maybe saddened, to see the interior is not dripping with original cottage features, but looking at each space in the house before the renovation, there weren’t many to save anyway.
But look at the house as a whole and there is period character sitting perfectly and comfortably amongst the new decor, in fact the new owner has actually revealed original features that were previously hidden.
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There are now exposed wooden beams to delight in the bedrooms, original stripped doors, solid oak flooring, a fireplace in the third bedroom that all add charm from the past into the decor of the present.
The new bespoke oak and glass staircase is a stunning showcase feature and is just one of many luxury additions that have been added to the interior design that elevates this cute cottage into a stunning and stylish dream home.
The spacious lounge might be cloaked in contemporary white that visually expands its walls to make the room appear bigger, but there’s warmth and texture added via tactile and natural materials such as wool and cotton and the introduction of smooth, blonde wood; no cold and sterile decor here.
There are timeless choices for furniture and space clearly allocated in this reception room for lounging and eating.
There’s the use of a classic design choice for the layout of the whole of the ground floor space too, that ensures the spaces flow seamlessly.
One well used method is the inclusion in the design of wide doorways between the three rooms but with no actual doors installed – this means visual flow, light and view sharing between the spaces.
The use of the same flooring continuously throughout the ground floor links the spaces visually too. Plus being able to see the rear garden courtyard tempting you to explore as soon as you step inside the living room entices you to further travel through the cottage.
But before you do get to the garden, definitely stick your head inside the bathroom, which is tucked between the living room and kitchen in the linking passage from the front to the back of the house – you won’t be disappointed.
This super stylish bathroom wouldn’t look out of place in a five star boutique hotel. The contemporary, smooth statement bath will forever be inviting and stylish, framed by a feature wall of porcelain tiles in a monochrome colour scheme that pays homage to the distinctive patterns of marble.
The gentle curves of the bath are echoed with the choice of the basin that almost looks like a work of art, and thought has been given to where works of art, and bathroom essentials, can be placed too.
Behind the basin a protruding wall panel has been constructed which, of course, hides the plumbing but also provides a display shelf above; perfect for those miniature statue accessories as well as your toothbrush.
The brushed gold fixtures and fittings add to the sense of luxury that swirls around the entire bathroom space unabated.
Every aspect of the quirky shape of this room has been utilised. The doorway that used to lead to the central stairs is now closed up as the stairs have been moved to the front of the property, and the alcove that remains allows the full size bath to fit comfortably into the space and provides another display area above.
Into the rear kitchen and it is like a display in a designer kitchen shop, with contemporary gloss kitchen units complemented by the warm tones of the chairs at the central island breakfast bar and splashback.
But there’s contrast here too, with the continuation of the white matt walls as a backdrop to the shiny grey units, the cold gloss surface to the tactile chairs and use of wood texture.
Light floods in from a well positioned roof window adjacent to the bathroom that continues into the kitchen, and there’s another one in the roof of the rear extension. But, of course, the bi-fold doors out into the unrecognisable garden are the main source of sunshine.
The garden, although smaller than previously, has been designed to give maximum usage, with a lower patio area perfect for the BBQ and the upper deck perfect for the deck chairs.
Elevating the decked area is clever on a number of levels; literally. Being higher means more chance to catch the sun for longer. Being higher gives the garden more interest by offering different levels that can also be used for zoned functions. Being higher means a far more pleasant outlook from the kitchen than just a flat level garden would.
The kitchen is not only stylish but also spacious for a cottage, with room for a little sofa or armchair at the end looking out over the garden to use as a quiet spot to relax and look out on rainy days.
Back through to the front of the house and as you stroll towards the new corner staircase, spotting the inner front door you may not have noticed on the way in adds to the list of thoughtful design included in this complete renovation project.
It’s a black framed, multi-panelled glass door that not only adds to the contemporary styling as being very ‘on trend’, it also means that when you open the main front door you are not greeted by an unwelcoming, dark entrance with a solid door to block your view.
But in this thoughtfully designed cottage, this choice of inner door means even when it is closed the view you see from the front door mat is straight through the cottage, past the lush interiors, right to the back of the house and into the garden – and it means you can’t wait to get in and explore.
It would have been cheaper to have bought and installed a standard, solid door, but the choices in this renovation don’t appear to have been guided by budget but rather by style, design and what the cottage needs to be the very best, modern version of itself.
Up the bespoke stairs, noticing the glass panel choice instead of solid spindles that again promotes the contemporary styling of the house, and there are more treats waiting for you.
It seems unlikely from the street looking up at this cottage that there are three bedrooms and a second bathroom inside, and all on the first floor, but that just proves you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or a property by its facade.
More thoughtful design choices can be found up here with the most obvious being the removal of ceilings to extend the space in each bedroom into the attic area above. This has allowed beams to be exposed and add character, as well as increasing the sense of space by revealing more of it vertically.
But it’s not the only way more space has been added up here. The removal of the chimney breast on both floors has allowed the relocation of the stairs. The dark and spooky looking former landing is gone as well as the central staircase, allowing the second bedroom more space too.
Bedroom three at the back is a delightful space both in its unique shape and by boasting a period fireplace that was one of the only original features the previous version of the cottage could offer. It’s been restored and now looks stunning.
But the whole of the cottage looks stunning, with the tasteful interior design continuing upstairs where metallics and black are in evidence to bring a modern ambience, but where most of the furniture choices are timeless classics.
And so to the final space to explore in this dream home, and some may say it’s the best left until last – a shower room that continues the luxury and the distinctive design that flows throughout the floorplan.
Open the door and the eyes dart from the stunning feature artwork via porcelain wall tiles that back the shower. This additional feature ensures there is a visual punch that greets you as soon as you open the door, a clever visual design trick first encountered with the tiling behind the bath in the bathroom below.
When designing or redesigning a room not everyone gives ample thought to how a room presents itself as soon as someone opens the door – what’s the view that first greets them and forms their first impression? The bathrooms in this cottage have been given that careful consideration with their feature tiled walls opposite the door.
The metallic brushed gold fixtures and fittings first seen in the bathroom below and the calm pale green tiles are a winning combination and the underfloor heating adds the finishing touch of luxury.
The remarkable renovation that is oozing with style and design to inspire you and ideas to pinch, is for sale with Thomas H Wood for £345,000, call them on 029 2062 6252 to find out more. And if you never want to miss the best dream homes in Wales, renovation stories and interiors, join the Amazing Welsh Homes newsletter, sent out to your inbox twice a week.