I have split the renovation of this project into sections. Part 1 focuses on the kitchen renovation, which you can read by clicking here.  This part focuses on the externals; windows, doors, lighting, paint colours, landscaping and the driveway etc.

As many of you know, this is a personal project so I have been able to share lots of photos on my Instagram page. When it comes to clients projects, I am more often than not unable to share photos due to privacy.

When we purchased Mill House in 2016 we knew the majority of the works would be internal as being a period property, it was already beautiful, it just needed some TLC. This means the elevations wouldn’t change drastically, unlike our previous project which was completely unrecognisable. Click here to see lots of before, during and after photos of French Gardens.

Here are the Mill House before shots of the front and rear (estate agent photos)



And of day one of the project…

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Rear exterior 2

Work started on a cold and wet February morning but the builders wasted no time. By the end of the first day the rear porch and small lean too at the front had been demolished and the original shaped bay window was able to breathe for the first time in god knows how long. The lean too was un-insulated, incredibly damp, full of mould and had an asbestos roof. Considering this property is in a conservation area, it is shocking what you were allowed to get away with before stricter regulations came in to play.

By the end of the week the scaffolding was erected to replace all four roofs, replace the guttering, soffits and fascia’s and repair the chimneys and render.

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Then it was goodbye old batons, felt and roof tiles…

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And hello new roof. Luckily the timber rafters were in pretty good shape and structurally sound so it was only the batons, felt and tiles that needed replacing along with new flashings around the chimneys. The new tiles are Spanish slate.

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The new opening for the large French doors was knocked through replacing the old kitchen window, back door and WC window. Internally, what was the old kitchen, rear hallway and WC are now all knocked together to make one big open plan space. Have a read of part 1 for the internal works.

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The soffits and fascia’s were replaced with timber and painted white. I love the ornate little corbels that were saved. You can see them on the before photos before the scaffolding went up and below, once it was down. All the guttering was replaced with seamless aluminium guttering. This is an absolute must if you are having a new roof. There are no joins, it is just one piece, seamless, and it is made from lightweight aluminium so it is much better quality than uPVC which is both un-sightly and not very durable. It is worth spending the extra money on aluminium as it will last a lot longer than uPVC and is more attractive.

The first really exciting ‘element’ of the build to arrive on-site were the new windows. You can read all about the Roseview Heritage windows here in a previous blog post in collaboration with the manufacturer.

The house was a mix of the original single glazed sash windows which were rotten and drafty and un-sightly uPVC ‘fake’ sashes. The whole lot had to go. The new and improved windows are double glazed acoustic glass, so not much noise can get through, it’s pretty amazing. It is defiantly worth spending the extra money on acoustic glass if you live on a road or near noisy water such as a river with lots of water falls!

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The day the scaffolding came down….hello beautiful house!

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The beautiful timber French doors were fitted and we were finally water tight. The French doors are 3.8m wide and were made bespoke by MH Joinery. I designed the doors to match the Georgian bar on the sash windows and added in the extra panels on the bottom. The doors open on parliament hinges so fold back on themselves for a large opening. A house of this style would have not suited contemporary bi-folds and I couldn’t be happier with how these timber French doors have turned out. They are beautiful, if anything, photos don’t do them justice.

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Unfortunately we were unable to remove the rear chimney due to Conservation Area regulations. We wanted to add a third window at both levels to create symmetry on the rear elevation.

All the render was repaired and replaced where needed on the chimneys and walls with a lime render. Lime render is used on old properties instead of sand and cement render to allow flexibility and breathability. Cement render will crack with any movement as there is no elasticity in the mix, it is also not breathable.

The original cream colour was disappearing and the new colour, Leyland S 1000-N, made the house look so fresh and bright. The external black window sills and front door surround were painted white as well as the stone frames around the window openings.

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The final external element was the beautiful timber front door made bespoke by Sam at SJL Joinery. I designed the door as a simple 4-panel timber door using a chunky bolection moulding and chrome ironmongery. I am quite fussy when it comes to ironmongery on front doors, I like to keep them simple as I believe that gives the most elegant look; just a night latch, dead lock and a simple large door knob. No fussy knockers of letter plates.

Good bye to the lump of uPVC.

And hello beautiful timber door.


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Next up was the landscaping. This was the front driveway and rear garden. Both had become very over grown and a complete mess from the builders.

Below is the front garden (estate agents photo)


And from the other side (the day we completed on the sale)

Front garden

As pretty as front gardens are, today we need bigger driveways for modern day family life. There is a long driveway going down the side of the house leading to the detached garage which can fit 3/4 cars but then you have to move every time someone wants to come out so having an extra bit of driveway at the front of the house would come in very handy so you wouldn’t always be blocking someone in.

This photo is taken from upstairs looking down on what became an overgrown mess. It was where the skips lived.

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Operation driveway in full swing. It is amazing how much bigger the space felt once all the large shrubs had been removed. The perimeter of the drive was laid with granite blocks and the driveway base was filled with hardcore before being compressed. The finished layer is 20mm shingle as it had to be a permeable area so rainwater could drain away easily, block paving was not allowed.


Now to the back garden. Before (estate agents photo)


It was a lovely garden and well maintained by the previous owners but there was so much dead space and the garden appeared so small, half the size it actually was. Beyond the trellis was a whole further garden than was completely hidden.

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Here is the hidden secret garden. So much unused space!

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The gardener got to work and out came pretty much every single shrub!

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The garden doubled in size immediately, and new turf was laid.


Now for the finished article!

Here is the front of the house…

The wall lights are the Calvi wall lights in black from Astro Lighting.

The front door, gates and garage door are painted Farrow & Ball Pigeon.













The back….

The rear wall lights are the Dunbar wall lights in silver from Astro Lighting.

The boiler room door is also painted Farrow & Ball Pigeon.


The driveway…(ignore the camera crew, it was the best shot I had of the driveway)


And the driveway going down the side of the house…


And lastly, the back garden…

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We couldn’t be happier with the end result. A period property bought back to life fit for 21st Century living.

Part three coming soon….

Catch the progress of this project from start to finish on ‘Best Laid Plans’ on Channel 4 on Saturday 28th October at 4:30pm.



















  1. Claire, what a transformation! You have such a good eye for design. I’ve just finished watching ‘Best Laid Plans’ and I had to save it so that I could watch it all again! Did you use Cornforth White on all the internal walls as it didn’t look like that shade at all, more like Drop Cloth but I’m guessing you’ve used the same shade throughout. The exterior is absolutely beautiful. Originally I thought you were mad taking out a front garden but having seen how it looks with the gravel and planting it was obviously the right idea. Beautiful property – personally I couldn’t bear to part with it!


    1. Thank you! Yes, the whole of this project is Farrow & Ball Cornforth White internally. Different lighting will always makes paint colours looks different. Oh yes, the driveway at the front was a must. I can vision everything and I knew it would work. Re parting with the property, thats property development for you. The next project is always better so you never miss the one before. This was our 4th personal one so we’re used to it 🙂


  2. Sorry if you mentioned it and I missed it but what colour did you use for the external mask art?
    Many thanks


  3. The finished house is absolutely gorgeous! Could you tell me the colour reference for your front door – it’s exactly the shade I have been searching for but with no luck!


  4. Hey, trying to look for the masonry paint key land code online but can’t find it! Do you have a link by any chance? I absolutely love this house and it has been inspiration for my Reno!


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