There have been times over the last decade when family and friends of Jonathan and Rachel Liversidge thought they were mad. But, ten years after beginning their ‘back-to-brick’ project, the Sheffield couple are finally reaping the rewards of their dream house, as Nik Brear found out
HOME decorating isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
For most of us, a lick of paint and perhaps laying a little laminate floor is as adventurous as we get.
Which is what makes the accomplishment of Sheffield couple Jonathan and Rachel Liversidge all the more extraordinary. The pair, from Beighton in Sheffield, have spent the last decade transforming a four-bedroom 1930s property into their dream home.
And now, ten years and thousands of pounds after they began, the finishing line is in sight.
“It’s had its tough moments, but we’ve got so much pleasure and satisfaction out of this project,” said Jonathan, who moved into the property with wife Rachel on July 1, 2002.
“We’ve spent the last ten years ripping the house down to its bare bones and putting it back together again.”
The ambitious pair took the house, originally built in the 1930s on the site of three terrace houses, completely back to brick - rewiring, replumbing and replastering every room.
They built a spiral staircase between the first and second floor, creating a duplex bedroom and dressing room.
They also extended the small kitchen at the back, opening it up into a giant kitchen and dining room with large picture windows to create a space that is now undoubtedly the house’s crowning glory.
“We love entertaining so we always knew we wanted a big area to cook and eat in,” said Jonathan, 41, who works as a partner at John Lewis in Sheffield.
Their goal now is to finish the garden - the last thing on their list - in time to throw open their huge patio doors and treat family and friends to a barbecue before the summer weather is gone.
“I’m definitely feeling the pressure to wrap things up in time for the ten year anniversary,” laughed Jonathan. “It’s such a nice round number!”
The project has meant long evenings, weekends and holiday leave for the pair, who’ve done most of the work themselves and invested close to £70,000.
“There was a point when our bedroom was the only liveable room and we lived in that room alone for 12 months,” said Rachel.
Jonathan agreed: “It could have been a nightmare but we’ve kept each other going and it’s been wonderful building something together that is for our future. We’ve really enjoyed putting in the effort and seeing our home come together. Our time hasn’t really been our own for ten years, but it’s always been an investment.
“We paid around £90,000 for the house and reckon we’ve probably doubled the value, though we’re waiting until the garden is completed this summer to have it valued.
“We’d never have spent the money we have if we were property developing. We’ve spared no time or expense on every detail because it’s ours.”
Both say their favourite thing about the house is that it appears to be a normal 1930s build from the front, with visitors greeted by the surprise modern extension on the back.
“Our taste has definitely changed in the ten years since we began,” said Rachel, 40, who works in Sheffield as a travel agent.
“We started out upstairs and everything up there is quite traditional, then you can see things becoming more minimalist and contemporary as we’ve worked our way downstairs.
“The only things left from when we moved in are some of the original features, including the original doors and cast iron fireplaces in the bedrooms.”
The couple also admit they love looking back at ‘before’ pictures of the project to see just how far their hard work has brought them.
“It is an incredible achievement and we’re proud of the home we’ve made,” said Rachel. “We’ve no plans to leave any time soon!”
Once their pad is finished this summer, the couple have some surprisingly simple ambitions for the ways they wish to enjoy it.
“I’m most looking forward to sitting in the back garden with a beer, reading a good book,” smiled Jonathan.
“Something I haven’t done in...oh...about ten years!”