Home makeover: ‘The extension was a game changer’

Take a look inside Charlotte's inspiring home, transformed from a Victorian warren into a contemporary open-plan dream

‘I painted the plaster effect on the beam using leftover paint from the pink wall in the extension. It’s quite a narrow space so the open wooden shelves from IKEA are perfect for storing essentials without the need for wall cabinets’

Charlotte Anderson-Fox converted her Victorian terrace from a small warren of rooms into one open-plan space, perfect for family life.

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Here, she tells us all about her home makeover experience…

My story…

I fell in love with this house even before I went inside. The exterior had such a lovely Victorian feel that it ended up being the only house I viewed. I was living in a rental at the time but wanted to get on the property ladder with a house and garden.

‘I installed the log-burner and a new hearth when I did the floors before we moved in. I love styling this area with plants and accessories, and swapping my mirrors around to give it a fresh new look’
‘I installed the log-burner and a new hearth when I did the floors before we moved in. I love styling this area with plants and accessories, and swapping my mirrors around to give it a fresh new look’

I bought the house in May 2015 and luckily most of it was in good condition as it had been a renovation project. The previous owners moved before they got onto the kitchen, so I decided to tackle it before we moved in.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Charlotte Anderson-Fox, 33, a cake designer and maker. I live with my husband, Matt, 34, a greenkeeper, and my son, Archie, who’s 14. I Instagram about our home at @acraftylittlefox.

Where I live We live in a three-bedroom Victorian end-terrace in Benfleet, Essex. Myself and Archie moved here in May 2015.

‘I painted the plaster effect on the beam using leftover paint from the pink wall in the extension. It’s quite a narrow space so the open wooden shelves from IKEA are perfect for storing essentials without the need for wall cabinets’

We knocked through to create a bigger space and I replaced all the windows with modern sashes that look original but keep out the cold. I also freshened up the whole house with neutral paints, sanded the living room floor and installed a log-burner, before we moved in the August.

‘I bought the IKEA mirror to go above the fireplace, but I leaned it against this wall while moving some things about, and it looked good here so it stayed. This is often quite a messy spot, so the basket keeps shoes tidy’
‘I bought the IKEA mirror to go above the fireplace, but I leaned it against this wall while moving some things about, and it looked good here so it stayed. This is often quite a messy spot, so the basket keeps shoes tidy’

When I met Matt, we decided to do a two-storey extension, making use of the massive parking area at the side, as the house didn’t have a dining space, and the living room and Archie’s room were tiny.

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change The whole house had been renovated apart from the kitchen, which felt dirty and unsafe, so completely redoing it was the first thing on my to-do list. The living room and Archie’s bedroom were tiny so we wanted to create more living space. 

How I made it my own I knocked down the walls to create a bigger kitchen space and then eventually we added a two-storey extension on.

My favourite part I love the extension as we now have a decent-sized dining area that we didn’t have before, so we can all eat around the table. It’s a lovely space to relax in but we can also entertain easily and chat to each other if someone’s in the kitchen.

Home makeover: 'The extension was a game changer'

It took eight long months because of delays in planning and having to work around the roots of a neighbour’s tree. But now we’ve got a space that we can all live in comfortably and it’s completely changed how we use the house, for the better.

‘The prints on this cabinet get swapped about a lot and the vase was originally silver. I covered it with a whitewash to update it and I fill it with fake flowers ‘
‘The prints on this cabinet get swapped about a lot and the vase was originally silver. I covered it with a whitewash to update it and I fill it with fake flowers ‘

Dining area

‘We did the extension a few years after Matt moved in because the living room was tiny and we didn’t have a dining space. It should have been straightforward, but planning took ages, and we also spent a huge amount digging the foundations extra deep to protect the roots of a neighbour’s tree, which, annoyingly, they cut down shortly after.

‘I bought the rug on an impulse from a pop-up stall
‘I bought the rug on an impulse from a pop-up stall on the street one day when we had gone for a walk. As soon as I spotted it I knew it would look great under the table’

‘I would have loved Crittall doors, but everything needed to be done on a tight budget, so I chose these folding doors instead, which still look great.

‘I love this effect of dried flowers and pampas grass hung from the ceiling. I’d seen the look online when researching for my wedding but used it here instead. It was easy to do – I pushed the foliage through the slots on the light – but it looks so effective’
‘I love this effect of dried flowers and pampas grass hung from the ceiling. I’d seen the look online when researching for my wedding but used it here instead. It was easy to do – I pushed the foliage through the slots on the light – but it looks so effective’

‘I’d have also liked to add extra features, but the most cost-effective option was a basic white box, so I’ve spent time adding character with paint effects, furniture and accessories. The extra space means we have room to all eat together at a table, which wasn’t possible before.’

Kitchen

‘The kitchen hadn’t been touched since the 60s. There was a laundry room, a grimy old toilet and the actual kitchen space was tiny with a wall of ugly beige tiles and a side door to the garden. I wasn’t bothered about a downstairs loo, so I decided to open up the whole space.

Style idea! A black accent gives a unified look to an eclectic scheme
Style idea! A black accent gives a unified look to an eclectic scheme

‘I originally wanted a black kitchen, but I was on a serious budget and the cheapest option was B&Q who didn’t have any dark choices.

‘The black shelves are actually picture ledges, but they are a handy size for storing cups and bowls. I’ve had these metal signs for years and although they’re replicas, I love their vintage vibe’
‘The black shelves are actually picture ledges, but they are a handy size for storing cups and bowls. I’ve had these metal signs for years and although they’re replicas, I love their vintage vibe’

‘In the end I decided on this lovely light Shaker-style design and went for dark walls instead. When the builders were ready to finish the job, the upstand hadn’t arrived with the worktop, so I had to return that worktop and quickly ring round to find a local place that could supply what I needed that day, which was slightly stressful.’

‘This black IKEA cupboard is really narrow so it’s perfect to store my glasses, but not deep enough to take over the space, as I didn’t want bulky overhead cabinets. The wall is painted with blackboard paint that I’ve decorated with hand-drawn flowers for a pretty finish’
‘This black IKEA cupboard is really narrow so it’s perfect to store my glasses, but not deep enough to take over the space, as I didn’t want bulky overhead cabinets. The wall is painted with blackboard paint that I’ve decorated with hand-drawn flowers for a pretty finish’

Living room

‘Before we moved in, I painted everything with a neutral base so that I could choose the colour scheme over time without having to rush. I also ripped up all the flooring downstairs; it was cheap laminate that was buckling so I took a chance, pulled it up and thankfully there were lovely floorboards underneath that I sanded and then stained.

‘The stairs were originally painted white and had a more Scandi feel but I recently changed them to Railings by Farrow & Ball and they suit my look better now, though my style is always changing. The drawers are from IKEA but painting them pink and adding the decorative handles has turned them into such a lovely looking piece. The print is a copy of the one in Monica’s apartment in Friends, my favourite show’
‘The stairs were originally painted white and had a more Scandi feel but I recently changed them to Railings by Farrow & Ball and they suit my look better now, though my style is always changing. The drawers are from IKEA but painting them pink and adding the decorative handles has turned them into such a lovely looking piece. The print is a copy of the one in Monica’s apartment in Friends, my favourite show’

‘I replaced the original dated gas fire with a log-burner and attached a new fire surround. The original wall was where the back of the sofa now is. The room was tiny, so extending has made a huge difference as there’s room for a large sofa that we can all use at the same time.’

‘When we finished the extension, I was left with this really long expanse of wall at the back, so I did the colour blocking, using my favourite colour – Sulking Room Pink from Farrow & Ball – to break up the stretch and add interest. I’m really happy that we can have this large sofa from DFS now that we have the extension’
‘When we finished the extension, I was left with this really long expanse of wall at the back, so I did the colour blocking, using my favourite colour – Sulking Room Pink from Farrow & Ball – to break up the stretch and add interest. I’m really happy that we can have this large sofa from DFS now that we have the extension’

Office

‘This room is basically our hallway as – with a lot of small Victorian terraced homes – we walk straight into the house. I use it as my home office and it’s a lovely bright room so it’s perfect to show off my cakes. Also, when clients come to look at my designs, they don’t need to go into the main part of the house, which is a bonus.

‘I like to keep a display of my cakes on view ready for customers to see, and being by the window means this is a lovely, bright spot to work in. The room has the most shabby chic vibe in the house, but I think all my different styles complement each other’
‘I like to keep a display of my cakes on view ready for customers to see, and being by the window means this is a lovely, bright spot to work in. The room has the most shabby chic vibe in the house, but I think all my different styles complement each other’

‘I got the cabinet from a family member and painted it peacock blue then rubbed it down to give it an aged effect. I’ve had the second-hand table for years; it used to be the dining table in our old flat, and I love the chips and knocks as they really add character.’

Master bedroom

‘I wanted to give this room a Victorian feel as the bed is originally from that era; it was mine when I was a child and has followed me around all my homes. I painted the walls in Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath for a calm and relaxed feel. I love the coving and all the little touches of original features we have.

‘I love the frills on this bedding from Laura Ashley, it gives the room a delicate feel that I’ve balanced with industrial-style wall lights. My gallery wall is mainly made up of my fave family photos’
‘I love the frills on this bedding from Laura Ashley, it gives the room a delicate feel that I’ve balanced with industrial-style wall lights. My gallery wall is mainly made up of my fave family photos’

‘I wish there were more, and I’m gradually trying to add extra charm to the house. We inherited the carpet when we moved in and I would love to rip it up but I’m not sure what the quality of the floorboards are, so I need to investigate – that’s my next project.’

‘These drawers were handmade locally and are a quality piece of furniture that will last. The flowers drawing is one of my own that I’ve framed’
‘These drawers were handmade locally and are a quality piece of furniture that will last. The flowers drawing is one of my own that I’ve framed’

Bathroom

‘The bathroom was in good condition when we moved in, so thankfully I didn’t have to do much to it initially. When I started thinking about giving the room my own stamp, I saw some real copper used on a shop wall and loved it. I knew it wasn’t practical to use in my home, so I did some research and found this copper-effect paint from Craig & Rose.

‘I’ve replaced the classic colour combo of blue and orange with a modern twist of copper and inky blue’
‘I’ve replaced the classic colour combo of blue and orange with a modern twist of copper and inky blue’

‘You just paint the wall, dab it with a sponge then paint on the solution where you want the patina effect to be. I finished off the room by painting the doors and woodwork in Farrow & Ball’s Railings.’

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Feature and styling Lisa Moses. Photos Katie Jane Watson. 

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in HomeStyle magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?