Home renos: a prospect so many of us are obsessed with. The before and afters, the design choices, the journey and colour choices, with Instagram being the place to view some of Bristol’s best. Fourfromtwoterrace account creators Jess, a Social Media Manager, and Elliot, a Medical Sales Representative and ex Semi Professional Rugby Player, invite us into their exquisitely reimaged Bishopston home to learn more about renovating to fit not only your needs but your home's too.
“Having spent our early Bristol life in a flat in Clifton, which made a very lovely home for just over a decade, we found ourselves craving more internal and external space. We wanted more of that authentic ‘Bristol’ community spirit”, explains Jess.
And so four years ago, the couple, originally from Bath went in search of the perfect project.
“We have always loved Gloucester Road and the buzz here, it’s like its own little neighbourhood. Even during our time in Clifton, we would find ourselves being drawn West towards the amazing restaurants and bars on the high street here, so we knew as soon as we found a two-bedroom terrace home in need of some love, we needed to move quickly”, adds Elliot.
With the pair desperately wanting to put their stamp on a Bristol nest, they enlisted the help of local Architect, Frank Ghaidan from Ghaidan Architects, who helped bring their dreams into reality.
“The design and style developed as we made our plans, we wanted to get involved with the Architect, as we wanted to create our dream home, not someone else’s. As we delved deeper into what we wanted from the house, our designs changed slightly and we then decided it would be best to change up the layout of the house, as it was a little disjointed. One of the biggest lessons we learnt through the process was really considering in close detail how we might use the house as a whole, rather than considering one room at a time - what feel we wanted the house to give us and how to translate this through all the spaces to make it flow well. It also helped us to make it work to its best advantage at different times and as the light changes throughout the day. I think this approach is one of the main things that’s made the renovation as successful as it has been”, says Jess.
“Our focus was making this a family home that can be enjoyed all times of the day, 365 days a year. Jess is a really keen cook, so an open plan kitchen with an island was a must for us, you really appreciate worktop space when you haven’t had it. We wanted a space that we could cook and entertain in, without anyone feeling like they are missing out or secluded. We also wanted a living space in which we could completely relax and enjoy the amazing south west facing garden. If we had stuck to the usual kitchen out the back, living out the front design, it just wouldn’t have worked, and we had a bit of a moment of clarity in which we both thought, we need to design an extension and renovation that works for us and the house. If a kitchen doesn’t work out the back, let’s bring it to the front, and it’s the best decision we made!” explains Elliot.
As we sit in the sunny snug room to the back of the property, looking out over the stylishly zoned garden, it’s clear to see that no stone was left unturned in the couple’s renovation journey.
“We are both really keen gardeners, and something that we noticed about the garden in the flat in Clifton was that we’d use it for about two months of the year, lock it up over the autumn/winter months and then not really revisit it until the following year, whereas here we wanted to make it an actual useable space that was nice to either use or look out on at all times of the year. A theme that was constant throughout the design process was that we wanted to create a perfect vision line from the kitchen, through the lounge, out to the garden and bedding plants, which took time, and patience, and Jess shouting from the loft windows to move left, then right, then back again, but it was so worth it”, recalls Elliot.
“The Crittal doors in the living area/snug room give you the best of both worlds, and to throw the doors open and spend the afternoons/early evening listening to the breeze roll through the plants and trees in the garden is the perfect way for us unwind. With us both now working from home, the new layout of the house means it’s become a versatile space for us to work in, as well as enjoy and relax in, and feels much bigger than if we had stuck with the layout as it previously was”, says Jess.
With the building work being left to the professionals, the pair were able to focus on the interior design and final touches to bring their project to life.
“We really wanted to bring the outside in through our colour palette and interior choices. We toyed with the idea of a dark green kitchen for a while, but we wanted something timeless, and instead brought in hints of colour through textiles, furniture and plants. Whilst we are only one road back from Gloucester Road, the house and the garden is such a peaceful space, which is something I wanted to reflect in the interior design and styling. We used the Little Greene Paint Co. for almost all of our colour choices, we’ve found their paint to be the most durable and ‘life proof’. I would say that our style is very Scandinavian with little hints of tradition, to respect the age of the house; some of my go-to suppliers for interior accessories are Nordic Nest, Nkuku and ferm Living, with almost all houseplants purchased at Fancy Plants!’”, explains Jess.
“We both used some inheritance to fund this project, which just gave it so much more meaning to us, we wanted to do our family justice and build a home to create memories in. Some of our favourite pieces of furniture are our inherited Ercol chests of drawers which were Jess’ grandparents, we’ve then sourced a vintage coffee table nest for the living room and desk from the same maker to tie things together. It’s really special to be able to bring part of our family into the home”, adds Elliot.
As seasoned Instagram home account experts, Jess recites the pitfalls you can stumble against when going through your own renovation project.
“Instagram, Pinterest and other social media accounts are some of the best platforms when it comes to inspiration, as they are so visual. But I do think it’s so easy to lose yourself in someone else’s style. We both had to keep reminding ourselves of why we had chosen the style and design we had, and how this was connected to features and aspects of the house, as the more your scroll the more you think, oh that could work for us, we could do something similar, and before you know it, you’ve lost your unique style and vision.”
The couple, like so many, put their plans on hold over the past few years thanks to COVID-19, so with the project near completion, Jess and Elliot plan on taking the time to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
“Having the living area open out into the garden means that the downstairs of the house is constantly in use; you can cook dinner in the kitchen, tidy up, shut the internal doors and completely unwind with the doors open out into the garden from the living room. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in life and projects, we are constantly thinking ‘what’s next?’, but sometimes you need to take a step back and just take in what you’ve achieved, and this is the perfect space for that. It’s been a journey for us over the last four years, and the best piece of advice we can give is to work with your home, not against it. So often you see the same renovation over and over again, which might work well for some, but can be a bit forced with others. Work with the light and footprint of your home, and stay true to your style!”