Amy Russett loves to fill her beautiful home with traditional decorations and twinkly fairy lights. However, the house that she shares with her partner, Elliott, wasn’t always the cosy, stylish affair that it is now.
It took the couple over a year to get it into a liveable condition. ‘It was in such a poor state when we bought it that we knew we weren’t going to be able to move in straight away,’ says Amy.
‘Within an hour of getting our keys we were ripping up mouldy carpets and peeling off stained wallpaper, which we think must have been at least 50 years old! Even my gran and grandad got involved.’
Despite its faults, the couple had fallen in love with the house’s potential, from its deep window sills and old wooden doors, to its beautiful village location in the picturesque Chew Valley. Even the fact that they were going to have to change the house substantially didn’t curb their enthusiasm.
Welcome to our home…
We are Amy Russett and Elliott Jones. We’re both primary school teachers and we live here with our nine-month-old cocker spaniel, Wilf. You can find me on Instagram @harptree_home_living.
Our home is a semi-detached house in Somerset built in the 1920s, with three bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen diner.
Our best idea was moving the staircase and extending the floor so we could fit a bathroom upstairs.
‘We spent a couple of months really getting to understand the layout of the house and drawing possible plans in the evenings until we finally made it all work,’ says Amy.
‘We knew that the floorplan of the house was slightly larger than your average three-bed semi, and that if we were clever we could include all the things we wanted, such as a utility, pantry cupboard and entrance hall.’
The couple love cooking and entertaining, so a spacious kitchen-diner was also on the wish list, as was an upstairs bathroom, which they achieved by moving the staircase, using dead hallway space and extending the floor out further.
That wasn’t the end of the work, though – the entire property was renovated from top to bottom, with help from Amy’s dad. It was replumbed and rewired, each room was carefully stripped and restored, and the front of the house was landscaped to provide a larger driveway.
Despite it being their first home, Amy and Elliott were savvy when it came to budgeting, opting for a second-hand kitchen and lots of upcycling to create the traditional cottage feel with a twist they were after at a fraction of the price. ‘I love traditional décor but with a relaxed feel to it, and also a splash of colour here and there,’ says Amy.
‘Our bathroom has a traditional roll-top bath, but we’ve been bolder with our bathroom tiles to make it a bit more fun and up-to-date – and we’ve tried to apply this idea to most of the rooms using various colour schemes.’
There was lots of furniture left in the house from the previous owner, and Amy tried to make the most of it by revamping what she could so it would fit into her new scheme, as well as buying additional vintage pieces.
‘My favourite buy is our wardrobe that we painted in DeNimes by Farrow & Ball,’ she says. ‘It wasn’t straightforward though, as it wouldn’t fit up the new staircase! Rather precariously, we had to carry it up a ladder and fit it through the upstairs window instead!’
With the whole house coming together on such a tight budget, the couple are more than satisfied with what they’ve achieved and feel it was worth all the evenings and weekends of hard labour.
‘Breathing new life into a home that was very neglected and unloved, in such a beautiful part of the country, is something we feel especially proud of. The whole house feels so homely now and I love that every detail has been thought through so carefully during the renovation,’ says Amy.
As they did so much of the work themselves, there are many welcome reminders of how far they’ve come, and how much they’ve changed the house for the better.
‘I look at the kitchen, for example, which was second-hand (we bought it for £600!) and I remember painting it and then laying the wood flooring, which I became quite skilled at. We learnt a lot!’
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?