Home renovation project: Georgian terrace house in London

When Helen Andrews moved her then-boyfriend Michael into her one-bedroom flat in Bethnal Green, East London, it quickly became clear they would need to look for a bigger place to accommodate Michael’s large record collection and their miniature schnauzer, Dolly.

‘Having lived and worked in the East End for the last 10 years, I love the character of the area and knew I wasn’t ready to move anywhere else,’ recalls Helen.

The couple – Helen, who works in advertising, and her now husband Michael, a builder and interior designer – focused their search on the surrounding area, looking at properties in streets they’d never walked down, and putting together a wish list of requirements.

Period property

‘We were keen to find a period property that had already been modernised, as I’d just started a new job and was worried about living on a building site while I got to grips with the new role,’ explains Helen.

‘Coming from a purpose-built 1950s flat, the period details in this property were amazing, and the basement had recently been renovated with an impressive rear extension that was home to a large open-plan kitchen and living area.’

Mile End house exterior
Image Credit: James French

The three-storey terrace was a stone’s throw away in Mile End, and although the layout of the kitchen needed work, Michael visualised how the new space could look, and knew the foundations were solid enough to allow them to create something special. A lovely garden and two good-sized bedrooms sealed the deal for this period property.

‘The house was perfect for us, and we couldn’t believe how peaceful the street felt, despite being just off a busy main road, and well located in terms of shops and transport links,’ says Helen.

‘We’d never explored Mile End and hadn’t realised what a charming and historically interesting area it was, particularly with its unspoilt Georgian terraces and grand squares. It was like being on a film set – and had been right under our noses all this time.’

Open-plan space

When Helen and Michael moved in, along with their dog, miniature schnauzer Dolly, they began work straight away. They started by knocking through the partition wall between the ground-floor living and back rooms to combine them into one large open-plan space. They removed the uneven floor and replaced it with wooden flooring, fitted shelving into the alcoves and created a study area in one corner.

Upstairs, the couple kept a more traditional tone, playing to the qualities of their period property, removing carpets and redecorating throughout.

Mile End house bedroom
Image Credit: James French

Downstairs in the basement, the kitchen has been replaced with contemporary cabinetry from Modulnova, with a large central island to make better use of the proportions of this period property.

‘The basement extension has a very modern feel, and we wanted the kitchen and dining areas to reflect that,’ says Helen.

Mile End kitchen island
Image Credit: James French

In the dining area, a bespoke oak table with banquette seating has been made to fit the space, and the opposite end of the room has been furnished with comfy sofas and soft lighting for relaxing.

‘Michael purposely designed the areas to be sociable yet cosy spaces for friends and family to enjoy, and now it’s perfect for entertaining,’ explains Helen.

Garden design

A few years ago, the couple hired garden designer Georgia Lindsay to help them landscape their outdoor space.

‘Her advice was invaluable, and she really helped bring the garden to life,’ Helen adds.

‘We now have a covered seating area at the end, which feels like an extension of the downstairs, all effortlessly linking together.’

Mile End jukebox
Image Credit: James French

Helen and Michael’s distinctive style can be seen throughout their home, with the couple mixing both contemporary and classic aesthetics alongside a striking collection of art and accessories. ‘We both love Mid-century furniture, and have filled each space with carefully chosen pieces that reflect our personalities,’ says Helen.

‘Our house has been created by us, for us, and has a strong sense of identity.’

Mile End house dining area
Image Credit: James French

Six years on and Helen and Michael couldn’t be happier.

‘We are thoroughly enjoying the home we’ve built and our local surroundings,’ says Helen.

‘The area has a rich history, and we know our neighbours for the first time since we moved to London.’

Last year, the couple’s Norfolk terrier Pearl joined the family, and is loving life in the East End.

‘We finally feel part of a local community, which is a special thing when you live in a big city – and that’s really important to us.’

Mile End living room
Image Credit: James French