Mum transforms former church into dream family home and adds £380k to value

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In just over a year, Emily Barratt transformed a rundown former church building into her dream family home, doing most of the work herself.

Her hard work means the property is now worth £850,000, which is £380,000 more than it was purchased for – even though she spent just £95,000 on the renovation.

The 37-year-old, from Rochdale, purchased the building in Middleton in January 2020 for £470,000.

It had once been a church but had already been converted into a house when Emily bought it.

When viewing it, she saw it was filled with the previous owners’ items – but Emily saw potential.

‘We lived in a very small cottage built in 1710 prior to this, so I was keen to have lots of space,’ Emily, formerly a pottery artist, said.

‘I saw so much potential with this big, beautiful building that had such a lovely history, and thought it would make the perfect family home.’

Knowing it would need extensive renovations, she took time away from work to to focus full-time on the property while home-schooling daughter Minnie, seven, and son Rory, six.

She started by repairing leaks in the roof and fitting around 35 new windows, before moving on to making it more in keeping with their tastes.

Builders knocked the wall down between the kitchen and diner to create a large, open-plan kitchen-diner, as well as opening up a doorway to the room by knocking down a wall in the entrance hall.

To save money, she plastered the ceilings herself – except for the ceiling in the master bedroom, which she pulled down to expose the original church beams.

She pulled out the cream tiles, wooden cabinets and dark flooring in the kitchen to give it a complete modern overhaul, with a cream stone floor and matching walls to brighten it up, additional windows added and chic slate cabinets with white countertops.

In the family bathroom, she ditched the pink walls and old-fashioned three-piece suite, instead adding a statement floor of black, white and grey tiles, a stunning claw-foot tub, and a walk-in shower.

Emily updated the master bedroom by painting the walls a light, bright cream, with a statement floral wallpaper behind the bed, and added a plush beige carpet and neutral furnishings to complete the space.

Giving it a real hotel feel, she added a bathtub set on a raised platform, and French doors, to make the most of the countryside views.

The bedroom next to the master became an en suite and dressing room.

The kids each got a bedroom, transformed from dull and dated rooms to colourful spaces tailored to each child, and a dedicated playroom, complete with the original church parquet floor still in place.

Other bedrooms from the original eight in the home are being used as an office and guest rooms.

Emily did most of the work herself, except for plumbing, hiring builders to knock down the walls and insert steel beams, and roping in an electrician friend to fit lights and sockets.

She said: ‘The hardest part was tiling the floors and laying the carpets. I taught myself to do both, but they are quite physical and I’m not the strongest person out there.

‘I do DIY every day, including painting, tiling and upcycling furniture.

‘I did all the panelling and wallpapering myself and also sanded all the beams in our bedroom.

‘I also painted the outside the house – but I still have a few other sides left to do.

‘I love DIY, I find it really addictive and I’ll give anything a go other than electrics.’

Once the main living space was complete, Emily turned to the garage, where she added a bar and home gym.

In total, Emily has spent roughly £95,000 on the renovations – and her further plans include a garden transformation and further work on the utility room, pantry and lounge.

She said: ‘The biggest challenge has been trying to renovate in lockdown.

‘I had to order most things online and it was pretty difficult to return things.

‘I was also trying to fit renovating in around home-schooling my six- and seven-year-olds.

‘It’s also quite hard to stick to a budget for a room as it’s easy for costs to spiral when it’s a big space.’

The family love how the house looks so far and after sharing her progress on Facebook, Emily was inundated with comments from people who were amazed at the transformation.

One person said: ‘This is amazing, I’m absolutely in awe with the transformation. Blooming fantastic.’

‘Fabulous, what a transformation – really great and inspirational,’ another fan commented.

Someone else said: ‘You seriously need to sell tickets to an open day at your house. The work you’ve done is amazing and it just looks stunning.’

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