Through the keyhole of a Regency home in Cheltenham
PUBLISHED: 13:54 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:21 28 May 2019
Embracing the challenge of bringing a sadly dilapidated Cheltenham house back to life
Once it had been a beautiful example of Regency architecture.
But by the time Steve Crumblehulme and his partner Leigh bought it, the three-storey Grade 2 listed house in Cheltenham was sadly dilapidated. "Not only that but once the owners had taken out all their antique furniture we knew we had a challenge to make it look as good," he says.
That was in the summer of 2014 but now the place looks completely different.
First Steve and Leigh began by re-weighting and rehanging the original sash windows so as to keep out the damp. "Each window was about a day's work and it took the company two weeks in all," says Steve.
Then they had the front of the house jet-washed from top to bottom as it was covered in generations of soot. "It caused a bit of a drama when water came through the wooden panelling above the windows," says Steve. "This is when we realised that the limestone was crumbling. We had to replace some missing bits of limestone and got it from the same quarry which had supplied the original stone nearly 200 years ago. Then we gave the front a new lime render."
They realised the kitchen needed rewiring when a fridge plug exploded, startling their guest. "She thought it was indoor fireworks, set off to celebrate her birthday," says Steve. In the end they had to gut the whole kitchen and lower the ceiling too for a cosier feeling.
"Because of water damage we had to remove the plaster from one wall but the exposed brickwork looked so good we kept it like that," says Steve. Then the kitchen was completely refitted with new units from Joseph and Kingsley of Cheltenham with crystal quartz worktops.
"We also had to replaster some of the bedrooms and all three levels of the hallway."
The couple knew they would have to have a new bathroom on the day they moved in. They found the loo plonked in the centre of the room, looking unlovely and with a missing cistern cover.
"That was another room we stripped," says Steve. "First we installed underfloor heating and then retiled the floor and most of the walls. As for the vintage bath it looked very worn but we decided to keep it so had it re-enamelled. It's been a challenge though finding a plug to fit it. We bought the other fittings new from Bathroom Village with a Hansgrohe shower."
One part of the listed house that they were allowed to alter was the annexe at the rear. They removed the roof and installed a new one with two Velux windows, added a new back door and replastered.
"There was already a loo but we upgraded it by adding a sink," says Steve.
The final touches involved buying a new boiler then sanding and varnishing the original floorboards in the sitting room and the kitchen. "Those in the kitchen were hidden beneath a slate tiled floor," says Steve. "Then we found extra floorboards in the garage and stripped them too to make shelving."
The garden was a labour of love, he adds. "There was a large summerhouse that was full of damp and actually took up most of the garden. We produced a sketch for a builder but he wanted to charge us £32,000 - using our design as well! So we demolished the old one and spent the summer of 2017 building the new one ourselves. We also bought in huge railway sleepers to create borders along one side."
A lot of hard work but were there any setbacks? "Yes," says Steve. "The biggest challenge was coping with flooding after a street drain was blocked in a summer storm in 2016. We had to redecorate all over again and live surrounded by industrial dehumidifiers for four months!"
Part of the basement has been turned into a studio (with a separate entrance) for Steve's reflexology business, Sole Therapies. But he has also just launched Menomagic, an organic paraben-free cream he first created for his mother. It acts to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, itchy skin and anxiety and it's already had some very favourable responses.
Steve finishes, "We love our home as it is a great balance of modern and contemporary. It's full of character and the kitchen and garden especially are great places to entertain our family and friends. We are also very lucky that there is nothing but parkland on one side of the house so makes us feel we're in the countryside - despite being in the heart of Cheltenham."
- Bathroom Village, bathroomvillage.com
- Ben Carrington of Lime Carrington, 01452 762029, carringtonlime.co.uk (repaired and cleaned façade.)
- C&M Electrics, 07816 774350
- Cheltenham Glass Splashback, 01684 592777
- Malt House Emporium, 01684 423150, malthouseemporium.com
- Menomagic, menomagic.co.uk
- Shuttercraft, 01242 649592, shuttercraft-gloucestershire.co.uk