PUBLISHED: 16:47 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013
Lin and George Watkins first spotted their 1830s four-bedroom home in the spring of 2004, and although it was in poor condition, they loved it straight away. "All the woodwork was stained a mahogany brown, which made it look very dark and gloomy,"...
"It had been rented out for five years then left empty for eight months," says Lin. "We were looking for somewhere with space enough for my elderly father, and this house came with a separate annexe. However, as we hadn't sold our own house we couldn't make an offer, and when we heard it had been sold we were very disappointed." Thankfully for Lin and George the sale fell through.
"We kept trying to sell our own house without success then heard again that this house had been sold. Then one day I came home to be told by George we had sold our own house so we immediately rang the estate agent. Amazingly, we were told that the house sale there had fallen through again."
The Watkins made an offer at once but it matched that of another buyer, so the estate agent rang the vendor in France and said that as the Watkins loved the house so much and had waited so long to get it, would he please consider them. To their relief he agreed and they bought it in August 2004.
"We kept the kitchen carcases but bought new cupboard doors and painted them all"
George is very good at DIY and together with Lin's flair (she used to work in fashion) they have transformed the property. First they put in a new reconstituted limestone tiled floor downstairs and then as there was a step halfway down the kitchen, George raised the floor to make it level. He also repaired the kitchen ceiling, removed three little windows and put in French windows instead.
"We kept the kitchen carcases but bought new cupboard doors and painted them all in Farrow & Ball 'Lichen'," says Lin. "We also removed a protruding breakfast bar to create more space and added splashback tiles and new faux black granite worktops. All our appliances were new but as the ceramic floor was in good condition it stayed."
The kitchen makeover was so successful that visitors frequently ask where they bought it!
Upstairs they gutted both the family bathroom and the en-suite, then George redesigned them, first enlarging the en-suite by moving the wall of an adjoining bedroom. "The main bathroom with its navy blue tiles and black floor was particularly gloomy, but we have transformed it from a dark hole into something with a light Mediterranean feeling," says Lin.
"George did many other alterations too, such as replacing the folding doors between the sitting room and conservatory," says Lin. "In fact, he replaced several missing doors as the house was chilly without them."
The indefatigable George also repaired the roof in the conservatory.
"The conservatory was here already but we refurbished it by laying a new floor of the same limestone tiles as were in the hall, dining and sitting rooms," says Lin. This gives a feeling of continuity and helps incorporate the conservatory into the main body of the house.
"As it has lovely views over the garden and to Clevedon beyond we eat here as often as possible. We saw a buzzard in the garden only the other day and lots of other wildlife, and every morning when we look out the colours of the sky are different - this morning they were a glory of blue and orange."
As for the annexe, which was occupied by Lin's father, George completely gutted and redesigned it so there is now a kitchen, sitting room, bedroom and en-suite all on one level.
"Then we looked at the paddock and wondered how on earth we would get the grass cut as it was knee-high," says Lin. "One company quoted us £400! Luckily George met a man at the local tip who uses specialist equipment to cut the grass on school playing fields, football pitches, reservoir embankments and other large areas. He agreed to come and see the paddock, and to our relief he said he could do the lot for 30!"
There was nothing in the garden when the couple arrived, but as Lin loves gardening this was soon rectified, and she has now planted lots of climbers.BY VICTORIA JENKINS. PHOTOS BY STEVE RUSSELL