How a single mum juggled a home renovation and being pregnant throughout Covid

Ali Topan

Rebecca Fordham at home with her children Mara, 6, and Reuben, 21 months

Rebecca Fordham at dwelling along with her youngsters Mara, 6, and Reuben, 21 months (Image: Daniel Lynch)

Complete home renovations are notoriously worrying: the finances that will get bust inside months, the builders who fail to show up, the schedule over-running and the relentless, each day decision-making.

Few, nonetheless, face the challenges Rebecca Fordham took on whereas restoring a ramshackle Victorian terrace home in Ferndale Street, close to the excitement of central Brixton, in south London.

‘I’m used to spinning a whole lot of plates on the similar time,’ says Rebecca, a former BBC Newsnight producer, who has additionally labored with organisations reminiscent of Unicef, International Witness and the Jo Cox Basis, managing multi million-pound budgets.

‘But it surely was a really worrying expertise. I used to be doing it by myself, as a solo mum or dad with a younger daughter, whereas additionally pregnant, and through a pandemic. Residing in short-term lodging whereas the work was being carried out, I used to be additionally home-schooling and project-managing the construct.’

Accomplished a few yr in the past, the house’s façade and three flooring of 1,413sq ft of immaculately inside designed, flowing residing area belie any restoration angst. By means of Rebecca’s artful remodeling of the ground plans, the home now includes a brand-new third ground, 4 bedrooms, and a light-filled open-plan area for cooking and eating, created out of the slender former kitchen and facet return.

Darkish engineered-wood flooring, a palette of eco-friendly paints from littlegreene.com and a novel artwork assortment gathered on intensive world travels are the hallmarks of this dwelling, which Rebecca was decided must be a wonderfully sensible but fashionable retreat for her rising household.

The four-bedroom house on Ferndale Road has had a whole new floor added and a new brick facade

The Brixton home has had an entire ground added and a brand new brick façade (Image: Daniel Lynch)

‘I wasn’t pregnant after I purchased the home, however I used to be after I accomplished on it, in June 2020, after I was within the midst of doing IVF in Greece,’ says Rebecca, who paid about £935,000 for the house, happening to spend one other £370,000 on its revamp.

Returning to England on the top of the pandemic, she moved into rented lodging along with her daughter, Mara, now six, and oversaw the year-long, multi-dimensional venture, which concerned stripping off the ugly pebble-dashing on the house’s façade and changing it with London inventory brick, taking out just about each inside wall, putting in two new boutique hotel-worthy bogs and having a brand new staircase constructed.

She lastly moved in when her second youngster, Reuben, was 10 months previous.

Rebecca's home is a cool mix of contemporary and traditional Victorian features

Rebecca’s house is a cool combine of latest and conventional Victorian options (Image: Daniel Lynch)

Such an enormous enterprise, Rebecca says, was pushed largely by a need to get again to her roots. Though she had a base in west London, she was introduced up in and round Brixton, and was eager to return.

‘Once I first seen the home, nonetheless, it was slightly unhappy,’ she says, ‘as all its unique character had been misplaced over time. The window frames had been previous, and the darkish rooms had peeling paint and worn carpets. But it surely was in a beautiful location, instantly reverse a leafy inexperienced area, and it wasn’t missed on the rear. I may instantly see how I may open it up.’

Frustratingly, she says, lots of her plans had been met with resistance from her first set of builders, which means she needed to struggle for what she knew would work brilliantly.

A world map takes up a whole kitchen wall in the travel-inspired home

A world map takes up an entire kitchen wall within the travel-inspired dwelling (Image: Daniel Lynch)

‘I used to be suggested towards having black wood-framed home windows, which really look fantastic, and was instructed to carpet the steps, as merely portray them can be too noisy – which turned out to not be true,’ Rebecca says. ‘I actually needed to stand agency.’ Altering builder – to central London-based kbbmaster.com – was one in every of her greatest strikes, she says.

Preserving in thoughts her imaginative and prescient for the home as a cohesive entire was one other key to its success, says Rebecca, who additionally runs moral sleepwear enterprise @talesofthread. Though every room – kitchen/diner, 24ft 4in-long sitting room and WC on the bottom ground, two giant bedrooms and a giant household lavatory on the primary, and two extra bedrooms and a bathe room on the second – ought to have its personal ornamental identification, she wished, she mentioned, ‘to realize simply the fitting steadiness of Nineteenth-century element and a clear, modern look’.

A bright and airy bedroom, one of four in the house

A shiny and ethereal bed room, one in every of 4 in the home (Image: Daniel Lynch)

To this finish, she researched and reinstated Victorian-era plasterwork, cornicing and coving, together with a fragile vine element in the principle residing area, and even added scalloped picket trim to the undersides of inside window ledges.

Nevertheless, to create the sunshine, ethereal really feel of a contemporary dwelling, she put in Velux home windows on the high of the home and outsized home windows (most likely the biggest on the street), in addition to bifold doorways main from the kitchen to the backyard. Excessive insulation components, state-of-the-art plumbing and eco-cred had been additionally excessive on the agenda.

Upcycling the place attainable, she used reclaimed Welsh slate for the roof and salvaged terracotta tiles, from norfolkreclamation.co.uk, for the backyard edging.

The bifold kitchen doors open up to an immaculate garden

The bifold kitchen doorways confide in an immaculate backyard (Image: Daniel Lynch)

The inside color scheme was additionally meticulously deliberate. The principle palette is white, with a number of choose hues picked out for daring assertion: the steps, for instance, are painted in littlegreene.com’s theatrical Lamp Black, and the archway between the kitchen and sitting room within the agency’s bright-yellow Trumpet. This cheerful pigment is used for the top-floor woodwork, the place it contrasts strikingly with lilac Hortense on a door body.

Flooring and tiling additionally give rooms their very own distinct look, on which Rebecca has spared no expense. As the proper counterfoil to the straightforward white Howdens kitchen, for instance, she spent almost £3,000 on the room’s cherry-red herringbone ground tiles, from bertandmay.com, enlivened once more by an enormous world map protecting one of many partitions, ‘as a technique to carry the entire planet nearer to the youngsters’.

Thought-provoking art work from everywhere in the globe additionally helps to serve this function. In the principle, china-blue bed room, a wall hanging by Egyptian textile grasp craftsman Wissa Wassef is now a collector’s merchandise. Displayed within the stairwell are items by modern Kenyan artist Michael Soi, and a mosaic made for Rebecca by a teenage woman in Libya throughout the Arab Spring.

Plain walls allow artwork from around the world to shine

Plain partitions permit art work from world wide to shine (Image: Daniel Lynch)

Within the classic furniture-filled sitting room, Farrow & Ball’s refined taupe Oxford Stone creates an ideal backdrop for Rebecca’s assortment of black and white images, which incorporates Malian photographer Malike Sidibe’s seminal Sixties {photograph} of a pair dancing, Nuit de Noel.

Photographic art displayed in gallery-style black frames

Photographic artwork displayed in gallery-style black frames (Image: Daniel Lynch)

However as a working solo mum, Rebecca says it’s the sensible – but nonetheless luxurious – inclusions that carry her nice pleasure. The inveterate multi-tasker says placing her washer on the primary ground subsequent to the household lavatory means she will be able to do the washing whereas keeping track of the youngsters within the bathtub, with a pull-down Victorian Kitchen Maid garments airer above (from castinstyle.co.uk) for hanging all of it.

It’s been the proper household dwelling, however Rebecca has now put the home available on the market, for £1,225,000. ‘I’m shifting nearer to Clapham, to be nearer household,’ she says. ‘The home is so lovely, I want it may someway levitate and include me.’

One of the two new bathrooms with a double sink and skylight windows

One of many two new bogs with a double sink and skylight home windows (Image: Daniel Lynch)

Her time at this home will stay on, nonetheless, in a novel she is writing exploring the lives of two south London moms, impressed partly, she says, by her expertise of her mixed-race daughter. With themes of origins, belonging and inheritance, the e book additionally options native landmarks, 
such because the community-run 
Papa’s Park, a playground and occasion area.

Is she planning on taking over one other renovation venture? It’s a no, says Rebecca. ‘Clapham is considerably dearer than Brixton, so I doubt I’ll have any cash left over to do a renovation venture,’ she says. ‘In addition to, I’m not going to place my household via one other venture.

‘I need to make our lives a bit simpler this time spherical.’

Rebecca’s home is on the market via Marsh & Parsons, marshandparsons.co.uk


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