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From the ground up

PUBLISHED: 10:26 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013

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The dream of building their own house became a reality for the Rowes after finding a beautiful plot in Sandon, but that was only the beginning

SINCE Clare Rowe and her husband Steve married they have always been very keen on house renovation, but had always wanted to take on the ultimate challenge of a whole new build themselves.


'Steve runs a successful plumbing business,' explains Clare 'and has never been content to live in any of our houses without the urge to modernise and improve.' Shortly after the couple had completed the renovations on their previous home in the centre of Chelmsford, Steve came across a bungalow with a huge plot of land which was for sale in Sandon.

'As soon as I saw the plot, I knew that this is where we should bring up our family,' smiles Clare. 'The piece of land was really large and although we could move straight into the bungalow, I just knew that this would be ideal to build our dream house."

Once the property was purchased Clare and Steve didn't waste any time, and immediately started to make plans of what their new build home would look like. Steve knew he wanted to project manage the build to keep a strict eye on the overall costs and ensure that the finished result was what both of them were after.

'We were keen for the exterior of the house to blend in with other properties in the area,' says Clare, 'although we wanted the timber feather edge boarding on the top section of the house to weather naturally rather than painting it white or black as on other properties locally.'

The entire build took a mere six months to complete, an amazing achievement considering the size of the property and the fact that most of the materials were sourced by the couple themselves.


Traditional feel
When it came to the interior, Clare had firm ideas of how she wanted the layout of their new home and also the style of the decor. 'I wanted an overall traditional feel to the house,' explains Clare 'but loved the rustic country styles I had seen in many of the magazines I had been looking through.'

Starting from scratch is not always an easy thing, especially when you have a brand new property without the built in character you get from a period home and it is the traditional look you're after. Clare started by laying a stone floor throughout the ground floor and complemented the look with traditional kitchen units painted in a pale dusty green
with a centrepiece black Rangemaster oven.

'I always wanted a large family area where Jessica and Abigail could help me cook and the whole family could spend much-needed time together once Steve came home from work,' says Clare.

The entrance hall has been kept light and airy with the use of pale toned walls complementing the stone floor which leads into the main living area. Although the solid floor gives a slight hardness, this is overshadowed by the fabric sofas and warm russet tones in the furnishings which add the required softness to the room.

'In the evening when we light the fire, the room takes on quite a grand feel because of the stone floor, explains Clare.

Being in the eaves of the roof, Clare and Steve's bedroom had to be planned out well from the start. It was decided that one side should naturally have the window giving the beautiful view across the expansive garden, while the opposite aspect has built in wardrobes to
maximise on storage.

'I carried the traditional look into our bedroom with our wrought iron bed frame, which I love to bits,' says Clare with a smile. 'I added some modern bed linen and cushions to bring the look up to date and to add some softness to the room.'

The couple also decided to utilise some bathroom sanitary ware that Steve had been storing after he noticed a small chip on the edge of the bath, although once tiled and grouted the mark was invisible, but saved them the expense of buying another bath.

'I am always happy when we are able to save money like that,' says Clare. 'I am often in search of a bargain when buying furniture. The best one to date has to be the large sideboard in the hallway which I managed to buy for only £60, although Steve was also getting
in on the action with his bargain hunting with the reclaimed log burner for just £100.'

It seems that the new build option has been a good deal all round for the Rowe family.

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