Oxford first

"I could see it could be transformed into something beautiful"

When Jeanne Flynn first saw her Oxford home in the grey days of winter 2010 it hardly looked at its best. The substantial semi-detached house had been converted to student accommodation and was a warren of bedsits with tiny sub-divided bedrooms, bathrooms and corridors, the whole worn by years of student living. "I wouldn't even put my coat down in the place," Jeanne remembers. "But when I saw it I loved it - it was a blank canvas and all I could see were possibilities. I could see it could be transformed into something beautiful," says Jeanne.

And it certainly is a beautiful family home now for Jeanne, husband Tim and their four children. The stately Victorian house has been transformed in a makeover that cleverly blends old and new. The house has been gutted and reconfigured, transforming dark, confined spaces into bright airy rooms where original details are complemented by contemporary fittings, decor and furniture. The new star feature of the house is a long low kitchen extension, clad in honey-toned Bath stone and floor to ceiling glazing and roofed in zinc and natural sedum.

This was a complex project, calling for sensitive refurbishment of the existing house alongside construction of a rear extension and basement. Its success is down to great teamwork by Jeanne, an entrepreneur with her own property business, and Sporn Construction, along with the other members of the project team. The house was acquired with planning consent for a rear extension, but Jeanne quickly saw the potential to add the basement. Basement excavation and construction proved challenging, because of the narrow access way to the garden and the water table.

Alongside the new build, the existing house was gutted and stripped back to bare brick for the renovation. Original sliding sash windows were refurbished, bespoke joinery crafted and fitted, period fire places installed and plaster coving carefully replaced. The space was reconfigured to create light and generous spaces while retaining and enhancing the Victorian character. A skylight was added over the stairwell to flood the centre of the house with light, while a small bedroom was sacrificed to create a bigger and far more luxurious master bedroom.

"A skylight was added over the stairwell to flood the centre of the house with light"

The renovation also involved making the home more sustainable through the incorporation of solar panels, upgrading insulation to walls and ceilings, and giving the extension a green roof.

The open plan kitchen and living area of the new extension are now the heart of the home. "We spend a lot of time there and the dining table is the homework space," says Jeanne. "It is a nice bright room with underfloor heating."

With their home completed, Jeanne and her family are now enjoying life in bustling Oxford, but they have not completely said goodbye to their builder. Since this project Sporn has carried out an extension just around the corner and is now doing another close by, clear evidence of the quality of their work.

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