Couple transform run-down 500-year-old cottage into stunning family home

A young couple have turned their 500-year-old cottage into a modern family home – and did most of the work themselves.

Costing £65,000 back in 2016, the 16th century property has now been transformed and turned into the perfect home for the family after five years of work, and the couple couldn’t be prouder.

Stephanie Gowland, 29, and her husband Graeme worked together on the cottage in Northumberland, doing most of the renovation work themselves to keep costs low, even when Stephanie was pregnant with Olivia, four, and Goldie, two.

Graeme would do work such as joinery in the evenings and on weekends whilst Stephanie would help with decorating, sanding and tiling.

Stephanie said: “The cottage was very dated, dirty and run-down. It had always been a rented property and you could see it had never been truly loved.

“It wasn’t liveable and had a lot of issues like damp. I think we snagged it purely because others were put off by the amount of work it required but we saw its potential with high ceilings, exposed beams and attached barn.”

The first point of call was for the couple to clear the damp in the property. Stephanie and Graeme did this by opening up all of the sealed windows in the cottage during the summer months.

Next, the couple stripped back the cottage completely and this uncovered new features such as an old stone fireplace.

Just as the couple were starting to make some progress, Stephanie became pregnant with their first daughter Olivia in 2016 and the new parents then needed to kick things up a notch in order to get the home into a liveable condition.

Stephanie said: “A lot of our decisions were quite rushed and progress completely slowed when our first daughter arrived, and then soon a second daughter.

“We’ve been slowly working our way around the house ever since – but this turned out to be the best thing for us, because living in the house while decorating has made us realise how we use the spaces and what it really needs.”

The couple brought in some plasterers and builders to help with some lime pointing and the project then went into fifth gear.

Stephanie fell pregnant with her second daughter Goldie in May 2018.

Stephanie said: “Keeping motivation going through the cold, dark winter nights before we got the house liveable was a particularly tricky time – especially when I was pregnant and the countdown to move in was on.”

She added: “I did a lot of painting whilst pregnant but always stopped when I knew I needed to.

“In the exhaustion of late pregnancy I lost a bit of interest and started making quick decisions just because I wanted to move in and start nesting.”

The house is mostly decorated in the mother-of-two’s signature style which is rural glam meets muted neutral tones.

The couple’s favourite project is their new kitchen which cost over £4,500. It boasts wooden countertops, brass handles and light brackets on the walls.

Exposed bricks and wooden beams feature throughout the home, staying true to Stephanie’s personal style.

She said: “I think it’s important to decorate according to your surroundings, light and the history of the building. Being sympathetic to the original features which make the home so unique – they need to be embraced.

“We’ve learnt to appreciate new and old and learnt to combine the two. The colours we’ve chosen don’t compete with the features and instead allow them to shine.

“I’ve steered away from bright colours, instead adding them in with accessories like cushions and table cloths when I fancy a seasonal mix-up.”

Of the £65,000 estimated spend, the costs include £8,000 on the boiler and radiators, £2,500 on their new bathroom, £9,000 on plastering and pointing, £1,500 on adding a fireplace and stove, and £4,500 on their brand-new kitchen.

The rest of their budget was spent on materials, hiring equipment and their garden project.

The couple cleared out their garden space, levelled it and added flowers, a lawn, gravel and a seating area.

Stephanie said: “We’ve learnt so much and have learnt from our mistakes along the way – renovating is so much more than re-painting.”