Interior design

Home renovation journey: “How I renovated a dated Victorian property while preserving its striking period features”

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Megan Murray
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After shots of staircasr and living room

Westcross Property Renovation is the aspirational content you’ve been waiting to drool over. Find out how this stunning Victorian renovation happened below.

Helen and her husband, Jason, were on the look out for a period gem when they decided to buy a bigger property in Penarth, a small coastal town in South Wales.

As Helen had grown up in a period property she’d always hoped to own one herself one day and when she saw Westcross House she immediately knew it had potential, thanks to its beautiful cornicing, ceiling roses, fireplaces and original flooring. 

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The house was built in the late 1800s during the Victorian era and, while it ticked their must-have boxes of a large back garden and being close to the coast, the dated decor and damaged windows, brickwork and glass panels all needed a lot of work.

The couple have been working on the renovation together since March 2018 alongside their family business, Ladders Free, that provides a window cleaning management service to the retail, hospitality and leisure industries.

The finished product is beyond stunning and mixes old with new. Think a modern log burner and hot tub, stylishly dramatic navy bedroom and beautifully restored wooden floors for the living room. 

Before and after photos of kitchen
Westcross Property Renovation: kitchen before and after

What was your interiors inspiration?

“Our inspiration was my grandmother’s house; a large country mansion in Worcestershire and our family base for so many years. It was a welcoming, elegant and beautiful home. It was full of character and charm with a playful flair, which was something we wanted to recreate at Westcross House. We call our vision modern Victorian. Trying to get the balance of old versus new was always going to be a challenge, but we knew if we could get it right, it would be so rewarding.

“To achieve the contrast between old and new we renovated many of the original features such as restoring floorboards, cleaning up the original tiled floor and renovating all six original Victorian fireplaces. We added our own twist on things with colour and accessories as well as modernising aspects such as the derelict coach house, which we demolished and replaced with a contemporary garden lodge. We also added a frameless glass balustrade wall enabling us to have the concept of a never-ending garden.”

Before and after pictures of staircase
Westcross Property Renovation: staircase before and after

What was the biggest challenge you faced while renovating?

“The biggest challenge was living in the house when we had so many contractors here. I remember one day making cups of tea and coffee for 28 people and it definitely didn’t feel like home at that point. 

“It was hard feeling like we were living in a building site. No matter how much cleaning I did, it always felt like I had not cleaned for months due to the sheer volume of dust!”

Westcross Property Renovation's old and new dining room
Westcross Property Renovation: living and dining before and after

What is your favourite room?

“Myself, my husband and our daughter are all huge foodies but for years and years, both in previous properties and this one pre-renovation, we haven’t had a work surface. So, I can’t explain what a joy it has been to have the space and facilities in our new, amazing kitchen. My advice to anyone would be to get a Dekton worktop… you can’t mark it!

“I could see the potential the kitchen had from the beginning and so creating this room was the most magical part of this whole renovation for me. My daughter’s such a good baker… too good, if you know what I mean… and to see her enjoying this room puts a massive smile on my face and warms my heart.

“In the kitchen we exposed the original Victorian stone work and created two features with some lighting. We are so pleased we did, it’s always a talking point with friends and family. I also love the original lamp light on the staircase newel post, we have been told that this is a very rare find.”

Living room
Westcross Property Renovation: living room before and after

Best DIY hack?

“This may not count as a DIY hack per se, but I would encourage those renovating to look creatively at any surplus products or anything ‘left over’ and see how they can be used to create something unique.”

Helen’s favourite renovation Instagram accounts:

  • Rich and Naomi Sympathetic Restoration

    “Rich and Naomi post amazingly informative and interesting video content but above all, they are so helpful and supportive. They have very ‘sympathetically’ restored their home and I have loved watching and following their journey. Rich seems to be able to turn his hand to pretty much anything.”

  • Dust and Bricks

    “This is such a colourful house, using so many different colours and they really make it work. I am less adventurous when it comes to colour, so they add that little bit of brightness into my day. 

    “Following them has enabled me to be more experimental and we have managed to use some rich, dark colour schemes I would never have contemplated a few years ago. My last home looked like it had been white washed!”

  • Victorian House No 6

    “Jules of Victorian House No 6 not only has a beautiful home but she’s also a lovely person and has become a friend through the renovation community. 

    “It’s so wonderful to be part of this Instagram community which is so friendly and supportive. Everyone is so welcoming.”

Helen’s go-to homeware brands:

  • Abigail Ahern

    Big green vase from Abigail Ahern
    Best homeware brands: Abigail Ahern

    “I love Abigail Ahern, she always has a super on-trend product range. I love her maximalist style, which I am trying to adopt more of. I’m not there yet by any means but I do aspire to it!”

    Shop Collins vase at Abigail Ahern, £33

  • Ecover

    Ecover cleaning products
    Best homeware brands: Ecover

    “I use Ecover, an all-purpose cleaner, to clean my floors. It’s gentle on the original wood flooring and the original Victorian tiled floor which we exposed as part of the renovation.”

    Shop floor cleaner at Ecover, from £3.50

  • Dowsing & Reynolds

    Faux house plant from Dowsing & Reynolds
    Best homeware brands: Dowsing & Reynolds

    “I love Dowsing & Reynolds for faux plants. They are excellent quality, really realistic, good value for money and delivery and general customer service is amazing.”

    Shop faux fiddle leaf plant at Dowsing & Reynolds, £17.99

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Images: Westcross Property Renovation / courtesy of brands

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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