Spider Lane, a 3 bedroom house, again in Stroud, Gloucestershire, was our second project and needed a lot more work! This was a complete renovation, but we also did a lot of reconfiguration to the interior to make it a much more usable space. I hate wasted space in houses. In fact, reconfiguring badly designed interiors has become a bit of a speciality now! So if you have a problem property and would like to learn how to maximise the space you’ve got, drop me a line.

OK, back to Spider Lane. There was a very small kitchen (with what would have been a pantry/coal house) and tiny bathroom downstairs (apologies to for the poor quality images on this one, but I’ve misplaced the photo’s so had to scan from the nagatives, not very successfully as you can see!).

Spider Lane Kitchen

There was no fitted kitchen, so we removed the few cupboards there were to give us more of a blank canvas. We had virtually no amenities, but spot the champagne bottle on the side! ;)

Spider Lane Pantry

The pantry/coal house (well, that’s what my gran used it for in her house!) come immersion tank room / general waste of space

The hallway was small and dark. The door to the bathroom was almost opposite the front door and there was a built in under stair cupboard that took up even more space, so it really felt cramped.

Spider Lane Stairs

We removed the under stairs cupboard which immediately gave the hallway more space. In fact we actually replaced the whole stair case with an open tred stair, which not only made the space feel much bigger, but also allowed natural light to pour down from upstairs.

Spider Lane Lounge

The doorway from the lounge to the kitchen. We bricked this up and inserted french doors in the lounge wall to give direct access to the garden and to allow for much more natural light.

Upstairs there was a small landing and 3 bedrooms. One large master bedroom, one long thin bedroom and a small’ish front bedroom. To allow us to move the bathroom from downstairs we had to reconfigure all the rooms.

Spider Lane Bedroom

We took a portion of the master bedroom to extend the landing and create additional space to the long thin bedroom, making it more square, which then gave us enough space to subdivide that room to create the new bathroom.

Spider Lane Landing

So as not to eat into the new bedroom too much we opted to hang the door opening outwards on to the landing. As this was effectively a ‘guest bedroom’, it meant the door could be left open allowing for lots of natural light.

Even though we had shaved more than a metre off the master bedroom, the upstairs actually felt much bigger. It’s a common mistake to think that by reconfiuring and making some space physically smaller this will actually make the room feel smaller – it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Once decorated the master bedroom was still a good size and if you’d not seen it before, you’d have never known. That is why clever reconfiguration can actually significantly improve your property… but, and it’s a big but, unless you have a clear vision and understand about perception of space and the way natural light works, there is a danger of getting it very wrong indeed and making your property much less user friendly.

The garden also hadn’t really been touched for years and although large, was again badly configured.

Spider Lane Garden

The house was sat on a corner plot, so the back garden was very large. Much larger than the neighbouring properties, but unfortunately not big enough to build another house! Shame.

Spider Lane Garden

There was a LOT of digging out to be done! And all by hand.

Spider Lane Drains

There was also a problem with a broken soil pipe that had been leaking for years and seeping into the brickwork causing some damp under the original stairs that had to be repaired.

So, how did it all come out?

Spider Lane Refurbished Lounge

Light from the french doors really made the room feel bright and airy. We took out the old 1950s fireplace and replaced it with a stylish cast fireplace. The flooring continued throughout to the hall, pulling those areas together and making both rooms feel much bigger, with a good natural flow between the spaces.

Spider Lane Refurbished Kitchen

The kitchen was knocked through to incorporate the old pantry and bathroom to give a large open space. We included a breakfast bar giving somewhere to sit and eat. The immersion was replaced with a new combi-boiler and the original back door was relocated to the centre of the wall. New double glazing was installed throughout.

Spider Lane Refuirbished Bathroom

The new bathroom, although compact, was perfectly serviceable and didn’t feel out of proportion to the rest of the house.

Spider Lane Refurbished Garden

The garden was landscaped, with new fencing all around (this was still in progress when this photo was taken!) with specifically designated areas. Lugging the sleepers all the way from the front road nearly killed us both!

Spider Lane Front Garden

The front garden was also landscaped and the exterior of the house painted all round.. We also replaced the nasty plastic porch with something rather more in keeping with the newly refurbed house.

Did we hit problems? Of course. For example, the builder who was due to fit the kitchen disappeared the day it turned up (in fact when I finally got hold of him his exact words were “f*** off, I’ve got another job that pays more” – charming, eh?). So we had no kitchen for over a week, until I eventually fitted it myself! You learn very quickly when needs must. And because the new boiler was sighted in the kitchen under the new bathroom, we had no hot water either! Luckily for us we had a friend across the road who allowed us to use her shower!

(MARK’S TIP: When relocating bathroom and kitchens make sure you know where the main soil stack is located, otherwise this could add extra unnecessary costs to your renovation.)

In fact we ended up doing pretty much everything on this one ourselves, including fitting the bathroom, kitchen, building the walls, knocking down the walls!, laying the floors, tiling, some of the plumbing and electrics, landscaping, painting and decorating inside and out… phew, I’d forgotten what a big project this actually was. I’m exhausted now just remembering it all! But it did give us incredible practical experience we’d never had gained any other way, that has really stood us in good stead with other projects we’ve done since.

Spider Lane Reconfigured Floorplan

The floorplan after reconfiguration. As you can see it’s not a huge house, but well proportioned, which gave good balance and flow.

All this was achieved without the expense of building any extensions… and when we sold the house we got the highest price for any property in that area, which still hasn’t been bettered nearly 10 years on. Reconfiguration is a very powerful and potentially lucrative solution to property problems… if you know what you’re doing of course.

It was during this project we acquired our new permanent house guest… (who is still with us 14 years on)