Situated in a country lane on the outskirts of St John, it?s difficult to believe that this beautiful, stylish and spacious home was once a run-down, derelict ?two-up-two-down?. The owners of No. 1 Oak Villas, Barry and Cindy Wilby, have spent seven long years rebuilding and renovating this 1930?s property into their ideal family home.
The project started in 2001, when the property suddenly came up for sale whilst Barry, who is a partner and contracts manager of building company, R.J. Le Sueur, was working on the restoration of No. 3 Oak Villas. ?When the house came onto the market, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to take on a challenge of my own. Despite first impressions, I knew the property had really great potential to become a lovely home for me, Cindy and our three daughters. However, when I first approached Cindy with the idea she was very reluctant!?.
Due to the extreme state of disrepair, Cindy wasn?t convinced that the plans would be a success. After much deliberation, and a promise to the family that he would transform the house beyond all recognition, Barry finally decided to make an offer, which was accepted straight away. The building work began the very next day after the deal went through court. The Wilbys were determined to move into the new house as soon as possible!
Over the next 5 months Barry spent every single minute of his spare time completing the first stage of the development, with the help of his colleagues. Sometimes working up to 100 hours a week, including his daytime job, Barry was permanently exhausted and various setbacks made him almost want to give it all up.
?We experienced a period of extremely bad weather. After digging all of the foundations out by hand, torrential rain and high winds forced all the ground to collapse back in, meaning I had to start all over again. It poured down relentlessly for two straight months, making it a long, uphill struggle. From laying the foundations to placing the final tile on the roof, we were constantly battling against the elements. However, our perseverance and hard work paid off when our new home was ready to move into.?
Less than two years after the family settled in, Barry and Cindy decided to begin stage two of the development ? building a garage on the side of the house and extending one of the existing upstairs bedrooms. Cindy was concerned about additional building work but this time, it was more straightforward.
?Although we were very content with the house, we felt that we were ready to make further improvements by creating more living space. We knew we really needed a garage for extra storage space and that gave us the opportunity to extend above the new garage. Although Barry was again working through high winds and cold weather, the process as a whole was far less stressful and undemanding. And our youngest daughter loved her new big bedroom!?
The family had a break from major building work for the next couple of years, but that didn?t mean a complete rest! ?Barry isn?t happy unless he has at least one project on the go at any time ? he is definitely a perfectionist! However, from 2004 to 2006, we only had cosmetic work done, such as redecorating the bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms. The front and back gardens aren?t left alone for long either!?
Stage three began in April 2006, taking approximately 6 months to complete, when the ground floor of the property was given an extensive refurbishment. The wall between the existing dining room and living room was demolished to form a large family room. The old kitchen became the new dining room and yet another extension was added to accommodate a generous kitchen, utility room and shower room.
?This development was the most challenging, because simple everyday tasks became a mission! We were living off microwave meals cooked in the make-shift kitchen/diner and Barry was again working day and night under halogen lamps in the freezing cold. But the end result was absolutely more than worth the wait!?
Impressively, Barry crafted the large country-style kitchen entirely by hand, a seemingly endless but undeniably rewarding feat. The stunning, intricate designs of the cabinets are complimented by French terracotta floor tiles and an Aga-style Rangemaster. The vast window that runs the length of the garden side wall and a great roof window allows for ample sunlight during the day, making the room even more light and airy than it already is.
When it came to the décor scheme, Barry and Cindy were definitely in agreement. ?The whole house is decorated and furnished with neutral, pastel shades. We love oak furniture, huge mirrors, pictures and lamps, so you will find plenty of these throughout the house! We like old fashioned, retro-style accessories and these also feature through the home, especially in the kitchen and family room. We really enjoy furniture shopping, even now that our home is ?complete?, and are always eager to discover one-off pieces.?
Though saying that the property is now finally finished isn?t entirely true. Barry?s itchy feet don?t give him much peace, and this year he has been working on stage 4 ? the installation of an attractive brick porch at the front of the house and a charming makeover of the back garden, which already features a gazebo and fish pond with a fountain.
?Living on a building site can be trying at times, but the reward at the end of it far outweighs the cons. Barry has well and truly exceeded his promise to us ? he gave us his word that he would transform the house beyond recognition, but he has gone above and beyond this. I had no idea such a run-down, empty shell could ever turn into the lovely home we have today.?